Big Ships, Leon Wieseltier, Rattlesnakes, Clausewitz, Knausgaard

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

Ships Are Too Big

Adam Minter | Bloomberg View | 14th June 2016

Container ships doubled in size between 1955 and 1975, then quadrupled again by 1995. Shipowners wanted to capture the gains both from globalization and from economies of scale. Which worked, up to a point — but the point was passed a decade ago. The latest mega-carriers are too big for most ports. The concentration of risk means sky-high insurance costs. And yet shipowners are still building ever bigger, in a sort of arms race, hoping to drive rivals out of business. A crash looms (790 words)

Syrian Refugees And Us

Leon Wieseltier | Brookings | 13th June 2016

Speech comparing the suffering of Syrian refugees with that of Jews fleeing the Holocaust. “Morality is often regarded as a creation of reason. It may be that the imagination is a more necessary foundation, because the injustices that we are asked to relieve are most often injustices that we ourselves have not known. We will never give help if we cannot picture need. YouTube is not the answer: it is proof that all the documentation in the world may not move people to action” (2,060 words)

How To Wrangle A Rattlesnake

Andrea Valdez | Texas Monthly | 13th June 2016

From the author’s handbook, What Every Texan Should Know. All chapters recommended. “Professional snake handlers use a pinning hook, but amateurs should employ snake tongs, a long bar with a handle and a set of jaws on the other end. Depending on the snake’s length (they range from 36 to 60 inches), use the tongs to grip it around its middle or a third of the way down from its head to limit the striking distance. With your other hand, grab its tail above the rattle and guide it into a large, lidded bucket” (335 words)

The Book Of War

Hendrik Bering | New Criterion | 14th June 2016

“The enthusiastic approval of Adolf Hitler is scarcely the kind of endorsement most authors would want.” But in modern warfare all sides turn to Carl von Clausewitz. He is an “equal opportunity theorist”. Lenin read him. Mao too. On War has some outdated chapters about tactics, from Clausewitz’s days fighting Napoleon, but it is mainly a book about how to think in war, not how to fight. Clausewitz said he meant it “to guide the future commander in his self-education, not to accompany him to the battlefield” (3,200 words)

My Struggle — An Exchange

James Wood & Karl Ove Knausgaard | Paris Review | 15th June 2014

Conversation between critic and writer. Topics include childhood, fiction, religion, politics. Knausgaard: “There is a new kind of moralism evolving, where the obligation is to the language. There are some words you can no longer say and some opinions you no longer can express. This is a kind of make-believe. It makes everybody comfortable, they feel good about themselves — while at the same time there is anger growing in the part of the population that doesn’t have its voices heard” (4,300 words)

Video of the day: Patience

What to expect:

Montage of gorgeous scenes from high-definition time-lapse videos. An embarrassment of riches (2’20”)

Thought for the day

Life must be kept up at a great rate in order to absorb any considerable amount of learning
Robert Frost

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