Best Of 2021: Czech Molar Basketry

This week, The Browser looks back at some of our favourite selections from the year gone by.

Letter From A Czech Urinal

Marcia DeSanctis | Off Assignment | 27th January 2021

Looking for a loo in Prague Castle while preparing to interview President Vaclav Havel, the writer wanders mistakenly into the men's room and finds — Vaclav Havel. "You disarmed me with a look of utter calm, as if we were not in a stinking restroom, as if my face were not pink with embarrassment, as if you were not just straightening your navy wool sweater over your trousers" (780 words)

Molar City

Tom Thor Buchanan | Hazlitt | 23rd March 2021

Letter from Los Algodones in Mexico, the "dental tourism capital of the world", home to five thousand people, five hundred of whom are dentists. "I’ve had some two-dozen-plus cavities filled, two root canals, my wisdom teeth extracted, my enamel soaked in fluoride gel. I think of my teeth as a kind of debt. Even the archaic word for cavities — caries — implies shouldering a burden" (4,100 words)

Basketry Gone Wild

Kris De Decker | Low←Tech Magazine | 4th November 2021

To meet the challenges of rising sea levels, the world should look to the Dutch, who "built their country partly at the bottom of the sea". Fascine mattresses — vast hand woven platforms braided from flexible willow boughs or reeds — were in use there from at least the 17C and the modern equivalent is still "basically everywhere" in the country. It's the perfect sustainable sea defence (2,431 words)

Daddy Isn’t Coming Back

Manuela Saragosa | FT Magazine | 12th November 2021

Moving and direct essay about a suicide. The writer's partner had a schizoaffective disorder; he took his own life after a long struggle with meds. Years later, her children have questions. "'You’re not going to cry, are you?' my son said, his voice steeped in dread. We stood in silence for a while, listening to the rustle of leaves in the breeze, taking in the empty space, bursting with absence" (1,997 words)

The Richest Black Girl In America

Lauren N. Henley | Truly Adventurous | 16th February 2021

Lively life of Sarah Rector, a young girl from a poor Oklahoma family who became a millionaire through a quirk of America's post Civil War land settlement system. Her grandparents were slaves owned by a Native American tribe and so she was allotted a portion of the tribal lands. The oil discovered there gave her an annual income of millions, but also made her vulnerable to exploitation (4,755 words)

Prosecuting In The Police-Less City

The Editors | Harvard Law Review | 10th March 2021

Much of interest about working relations between US police and prosecutors. Most big cities have legal powers to abolish their own local police departments; but they cannot abolish local prosecutors' offices, which are mandated by state law. Could local prosecutors (district attorneys) function effectively in the absence of local police? Yes, and the result might even be a better justice system (9,850 words)

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