Choice, Feathers, Borges, Work, Israel

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

An Interview With Galen Strawson

Tamler Sommers | Believer | 1st March 2003

“No one can be ultimately deserving of praise or blame for anything. This is very very hard to swallow, but that’s how it is. It all comes down to luck: Luck — good or bad — in being born the way we are, luck — good or bad — in what then happens to shape us. We can’t be ultimately responsible for how we are, in such a way as to have absolute, buck-stopping responsibility for what we do. At the same time, it seems we can’t help believing that we do have absolute buck-stopping responsibility” (6,200 words)

An Obsession With Rare Bird Feathers

Kirk Johnson | National Geographic | 23rd April 2018

A young American flautist steals hundreds of rare birdskins from an English museum to feed his obsession with tying salmon flies. “If he owned these birds, he would have an unrivaled stash of feathers for the rest of his life. In his concert hall locker he had stashed an empty suitcase, a miniature flashlight, a wire cutter, latex gloves, and a glass cutter. After the performance he swapped his flute for the suitcase, made his way to Euston Station, and boarded an evening train to Tring” (2,500 words)

Merely A Man Of Letters

Denis Dutton | Philosophy And Literature | 14th April 1976

Brief and delightful interview with Jorge Luis Borges. “Encyclopedias have been my life’s chief reading. I used to go to the Biblioteca Nacional in Buenos Aires, look for the Encyclopædia Britannica, pick up a volume, and read it. One night I was richly rewarded, because I read about the Druses, Dryden, and the Druids — a treasure trove, no? Then I came to the idea of how fine it would be to think of an encyclopedia, a very rigorous one, of an imaginary world, where everything should be linked” (2,200 words)

Convenience Store Woman

Sayaka Murata | Longreads | 14th August 2018

Japanese woman, seemingly with autistic traits, narrates her work as a store clerk. “I lay out the pristine food neatly on the shelves of the cold display: in the middle I place two rows of the new flavor, spicy cod roe with cream cheese, alongside two rows of the store’s best-selling flavor, tuna mayonnaise, and then I line the less popular dry bonito shavings in soy sauce flavor next to those. Speed is of the essence, and I barely use my head as the rules ingrained in me issue instructions directly to my body” (5,600 words)

Imagining A Federalist Israel

Benjamin Wittes | Lawfare | 14th August 2018

A modest proposal for bringing peace to Israel and Palestine: Deep federalism. “Tear up all internal borders within the combined territory of Israel and Palestine, carve up the land into small and highly autonomous provinces unified by a national government empowered in the realms of foreign relations, national security, certain criminal enforcement, human rights … Being a minority at the national level is less of a burden when you’re a majority in the community that governs your day-to-day life” (7,600 words)

Video of the day Poker Players Remember

What to expect:

For the New Yorker, three professional poker players described their most memorable hands (10m 50s)

Thought for the day

There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception
James Thurber

Podcast Michael Pollan | Conversations With Tyler

Michael Pollan talks to Tyler Cowen about psychedelic drugs, eating well, and writing
(59m 20s)

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