Best Of 2021: Unwanted Bowling Trials

In the last days of December, The Browser recollects some of our favourite reads from the year gone by.

Unwanted Corkpull

Kelly Pendergrast | Real Life | 1st April 2021

Arguably the best article I have ever read about the moral economy of corkscrews (or corkpulls, as they are called here). They are skinny and they break, or they are swole and they clutter up the kitchen drawer. Worst-case scenario: It's a big one, it's a gift, and you can never throw it away. Rivalled in its unwantedness only by old extension power cords and Container Store paper-towel holders (3,500 words)

Inside Pro Bowling Balls

Stan Horaczek | Popular Science | 27th July 2021

I had no idea the inside of a bowling ball looked anything like this, nor of the physics involved. "The rotational forces generated by the asymmetrical chunky green block inside the Intense wouldn’t be able to influence the orb’s trajectory as well if the cover couldn’t firmly grip the lane. Crushed mica mixed into the surface of this ball increases friction once it hits dry boards near the pins" (585 words)

Trials In Renovation

Geoffrey L. Manton | Lying Four | 11th February 2021

Green committee chairman at a Connecticut golf course recalls the battle to roll back modern trends in course design. Since the early 20C "golden age" trees have been planted, greens have shrunk and sightlines have disappeared. Members opposed him, but he remains an idealist. "I’m interested in the sense of place that a golf course possesses: how it attaches the player to the land" (3,666 words)

Quantum Mischief

Natalie Wolchover | Quanta | 11th March 2021

A Wonderland-ish way of thinking about the world. Once we allow for the theoretical possibility of retroactive causality (we have no hard evidence that cause must precede effect, nor, indeed, any evidence that causality exists at all) we may come to see causality as a mutual relationship between events irrespective of time. "A causes B" and "B causes A" become "simultaneously true" (3,700 words)

Plea Bargaining In The Shadow Of Narrative

Simon Stern | nonsite | 2nd August 2021

Only a tiny percentage of criminal convictions in the US result from trials. The majority of defendants plead guilty, yet the narrative of American justice relies on the storytelling of a court case. The plea bargaining process lacks the drama of a full hearing but deserves much greater scrutiny. The "resigned pragmatism" and gamesmanship required to make a plea deal does lasting damage (2,423 words)

An Author Obsessed

Abbott Kahler | Marshall Project | 24th March 2021

A celebrated author — Sara Gruen, of Water For Elephants — receives a fan letter from a man imprisoned for murder. Persuaded of the man's innocence, she sets about trying to win his release. Her engagement becomes a "frenzied obsession". She hires lawyers and investigators. She stops writing. Five years later she is “absolutely broke” and “seriously ill”. Was she being played? (7,800 words)

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