Browser Daily Newsletter 1265

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

Parsing Is Such Sweet Sorrow

Emma Pierson | FiveThirtyEight | 17th March 2014

Romeo And Juliet is wrongly named. It should be called Juliet and Her Nurse, or Romeo And Benvolio, if the title is meant to reflect the main relationship in the story, as measured by the dialogue between characters. Juliet speaks only 155 lines to Romeo, and he speaks only 101 to her. There again, the "perfect sonnet" that Romeo and Juliet exchange on first meeting "must count for more than 14 random lines" (1,070 words)

A Mad World

Joseph Pierre | Aeon | 19th March 2014

Psychiatrist discusses "diagnostic creep" — the conceptualising of more and more patterns of behaviour as mental illness. "We don’t think that everyone is crazy, nor are we necessarily guilty of pathologising normal existence". The question is always whether treatment might be useful: "A continuous view of mental illness extends into areas that might actually be normal, but still detract from optimal, day-to-day function" (2,100 words)

Zero Dark Cavity

Betsy Morais | New Yorker | 17th March 2014

A new chewing gum could save the US Army $100m a year by reducing tooth decay. "They’re calling it combat gum". Dental emergencies "account for 10% of all injuries that cause soldiers to be evacuated from the battlefield", not counting battle itself. The gum contains a "synthetic sequence of anti-microbial peptides" which mimics bacteria-killing molecules naturally found in saliva. Civilians will get it eventually (750 words)


Jason Fagone | Grantland | 18th March 2014

The "greatest juggler alive, maybe of all time", is a 40-year-old Floridian named Anthony Gatto, who alone can "juggle eight clubs for 16 catches". And he's giving it all up. A few bit parts with the Cirque du Soleil; that aside he runs a concrete company in Orlando, Florida. Why? You won't find a surprising answer here; he got bored, mostly, and needed more money. But prepare to learn a lot about juggling along the way (6,300 words)

Inside The Milk Machine

Mark Kurlansky | Modern Farmer | 17th March 2014

Big gruelling piece with detail that animal-lovers (and milk-drinkers) will find troubling. Industrial farming has made America the world's biggest milk producer. Today’s dairy cow is being constantly impregnated, and produces six to seven times as much milk as she did a century ago. One-fifth of the Holstein cow's genome has been re-engineered in the past 40 years. Is there a way back towards kinder, gentler milk? (3,500 words)

The Sacred In Art

Kenan Malik | Guardian | 18th March 2014

Believers may wonder whether non-believers can "truly comprehend the meaning" of religiously inspired art. Non-believers should turn the question round and ask: What is it that is "sacred" about sacred art? There is as much transcendence in a Rothko painting or a Neruda poem as in a Bach cantata or a Dante verse. Great art is about finding meaning and purpose in life, even — or especially — if we ourselves put it there (2,800 words)

Video of the day:  Grand Budapest Hotel

What to expect: Short documentary about the making of the film

Thought for the day:

"Nations are far too complex to be loved in their entirety" — John Keane

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