Browser Daily Newsletter 1319


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

The Case For Reparations

Ta-Nehisi Coates | Atlantic | 21st May 2014

The exploitation of black Americans remained brutal well into the 20th century; the effects endure to the present day in wealth and income differentials and in widespread segregation of schools and housing. Whether or not you agree that reparations are the answer, Coates makes his argument well: "To celebrate freedom and democracy while forgetting America's origins in a slavery economy is patriotism à la carte" (15,800 words)

Pakistan: Worse Than We Knew

Ahmed Rashid | New York Review Of Books | 22nd May 2014

In form a review of Carlotta Gall's "The Wrong Enemy", about America in Afghanistan; in substance a warning that terrorist groups are taking over Pakistan. Until a year or two ago Pakistan's Interservices Intelligence (ISI) assisted "almost every terrorist group based in Pakistan", thinking to use them as tools. Instead, Pakistan has become a tool for the terrorists. The ISI has seen its error, and reversed course, but too late (4,150 words)

Lessons Of The Power Loom

James Bessen | Slate | 21st May 2014

Developers of new technologies tend to seek patent protection only once the field gets relatively crowded. While the technology is relatively new and the market is big enough for everybody, open-source development works to general advantage. This was true of spinning and weaving machines during the industrial revolution; it has been true of computing technology during the digital revolution (1,090 words)

In Yellowstone Park You Can Get Away With Murder

Dylan Matthews | Vox | 22nd May 2014

Literally true of a 50-square-mile portion of Yellowstone National Park, because Americans charged with criminal offences are constitutionally entitled to a jury "of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed". Nobody lives in the part of Yellowstone where the jurisdictions of Idaho and Wyoming overlap; it would appear impossible to raise a jury to try anybody for any crime committed there (1,790 words)

The Moby Dick Variations

Robin Sloan | The Message | 22nd May 2014

How much can you change a novel before it stops being the same novel? It's a question straight out of Borges, whose Library of Babel contained every possible permutation of every possible book. What if you posited a Branch Library Of Babel containing only variants of "Moby Dick"? Where would that end? (1,280 words)

Poems Of A Lifetime

Clive James | Times Literary Supplement | 14th May 2014

Great poets know when to stop. They don't overload what they want to say with too much verbal artifice or borrowed erudition. "For a poet to be all sound is nearly as bad as for a painter to be all paint. I still find that a Swinburne poem affects me like a painting by John Bratby: there is so much impasto that the only tension lies in your wondering whether it will slide off the picture and fall on the floor" (2,553 words)

Video of the day:  Commencement Mashup — Eight Easy Steps

What to expect: Great clichés from great speakers

Thought for the day:

"Disgust is intuitive microbiology" — Steven Pinker

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