China, Bathtubs, Rhyme, Pope Francis, Genetics


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

China: From Illusion To Empire

Chuang Journal | 21st March 2016

Sweeping overview of China’s economic and political history. All coherence is imposed or imagined. Even to think of China as a “country” is a relatively recent and largely Western conceit. Imperial China was many peoples with a single ruler. Communist China was an artefact. Post-Communist China is an “economic category”: Obviously it contains something huge and exceptional, but nobody knows what that something is (3,800 words)

The Empty Bath

Colin Burrow | London Review Of Books | 18th June 2015

Bathtubs play “a small but significant role in the Iliad“. At the end of Book 10 Diomedes and Odysseus “wash off the sweat they have worked up during a night mission in which they have slaughtered a dozen Thracians and captured their horses”. They go first into the sea, then they “climb into polished bathtubs”. And why not? After nine years on the beach, “it’s conceivable they equipped their huts with full en suite” (4,300 words)

Rhyme In Modern English

Anthony Madrid | Berfrois | 30th March 2016

Rhyme ruled English poetry until the mid-17C. “One would no more attempt to write a poem without rhyme than one would today attempt to make a song without a rhythm. The drive to make a song is partly a drive to channel rhythm; the two are very tightly bound up with each other. That is the level of hold that rhyme had in 1550. If you wanted poetry at all, you wanted rhyme. It wasn’t like today. People lusted for it” (440 words)

The Name Of God Is Mercy

Terry Eagleton | Guardian | 30th March 2016

Pope Francis is a “Jesuit who behaves like a Franciscan” — in worldly terms, an aristocrat who behaves like a pleb. He emerges from Jimmy Burns’s new biography as “a man of remarkable kindliness and humanity, which is more than can be said of a fair number of his predecessors”. His earlier career in Argentina casts a shadow, though; “he may not have collaborated with the Fascist authorities, but nor did he stand up to them” (1,170 words)

The Augmented Human Being

George Church | Edge | 30th March 2016

Fascinating throughout, on genetics, genetic engineering, de-extinction and Crispr. “Aging reversal is a much better target than prolonging longevity because it takes decades to prove that you have extended longevity; also, if you’ve done it on somebody that’s quite old, the economic consequences are dire. If you can reverse to an age where you essentially don’t use any medicine, this will be much more cost effective” (6,100 words)

Video of the day: More Enjoy Fencing

What to expect:

Motion-tracking sensors and visual effects add a psychedelic layer to fencing (2’02”)

Thought for the day

Society attacks early, when the individual is helpless
B.F. Skinner

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