Aristophanes, Babylon, Disability, Photoshop, Steve Mnuchin, Probability


Hic sunt camelopardus: this historical edition of The Browser is presented for archaeological purposes; links and formatting may be broken.

Good Dirty Fun

Simon Goldhill | Times Literary Supplement | 31st August 2016

The sheer rudeness of Aristophanes’s comedies leaves modern translators “profoundly embarrassed”. When Peter Hall directed Lysistrata, he put his cast in masks because “the play was so rude he couldn’t imagine doing it face to face with a modern London audience”. But Aristophanes, for all his “willy jokes”, is central to classical Greek culture. “We cannot hope to understand how the Athenians represented themselves to themselves without looking at comedy and tragedy together” (PG-13 for language) (2,440 words)

The Lost City Of Babylon

Justin Marozzi | Guardian | 8th August 2016

“If Mesopotamia is the cradle of urban civilisation, Babylon is its firstborn child.” The recorded origins of Babylon go back more than four thousand years, but the great city of historical legend was built in the sixth century BC by the Assyrian tyrant Nebuchadnezzar II, using labour and treasure seized at the destruction of Jerusalem. Herodotus devotes ten pages of his Histories to Babylon, saying that “in addition to its enormous size it surpasses in splendour any city of the known world” (2,400 words)

Could I Ever Abandon My Disabled Son?

Carla Christensen | Narratively | 9th August 2016

A mother reflects. “Long ago, when Bond was still a toddler, my then-husband and I whispered in the night about the prospects for our lives. My husband said, ‘You know, in primitive cultures, they’d leave a child like this out on a rock’. I was pretty sure he was speaking hypothetically, from a place of despair. But his comment gave me pause. He can’t be the only one who has tried to weigh the efforts to keep disabled people alive against their quality of life, even their right to life” (1,800 words)

You Shouldn’t Believe Your Eyes

Amelia Tate | New Statesman | 30th August 2016

Ex-Photoshop engineer explains how to spot when an online image has been tampered with. “One of the first and most useful things you can do is to perform a reverse image search, using a service like Google Images or TinEye. You may want to use both, because they sometimes provide different results. If you find any matches, look for the earliest appearance. If the earlier version looks different than the version you have, then your version is probably modified” (1,600 words)

The Deal Of A Lifetime

Max Abelson & Zachary Mider | Bloomberg Businessweek | 31st August 2016

Well-crafted profile of Steve Mnuchin, Wall Street financier in charge of fund-raising for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Mnuchin’s friends assume that he doesn’t much care for Trump’s politics, and that he knows Trump’s chances of victory are small, but that he still thinks it’s worth gambling on this once-in-a-lifetime chance of becoming Treasury Secretary. “If you ask him about his motivations he sounds less like a political obsessive than an investor closing a deal he can’t quite discuss” (3,030 words)

Terrorists Versus Chairs

Scott Alexander | Slate Star Codex | 31st August 2016

How distant does an outlying event have to be, before it can reasonably be excluded from a calculation of current risk? For example, by starting our sampling period before or after 9/11, we can produce radi%shy;cally different accounts of the incidence of death by terrorism in the United States. Giant asteroids strike Earth once every ten million years; a strike today might kill a billion people; should we therefore say that on average giant asteroids kill a hundred people per year? (1,095 words)

Video of the day: A Droplet When No-one Is Watching

What to expect:

Short abstract meditation. The music is Song On The Beach, by Arcade Fire

Thought for the day

In the contest between ease and liberty, the first hath generally prevailed
Lord Halifax

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