Death, Middle East, Germany, Rhythm, Attention, Beauty

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

Ushering My Father To A (Mostly) Good Death

Karen Brown | Longreads | 24th November 2017

Daughter’s account of her father’s death, which he chooses when the “brutal routine” of dialysis becomes too much. “On the first morning he knows his head need never lift off his pillow again, he exhales slowly and asks me to hack into his email account. I help him write farewell notes to doctors, old colleagues, admired friends, former girlfriends. He dictates as I type his words and click send. He wants to let them know he’s near the end, and how much they’ve meant to him” (3,600 words)

The New Great Game In The Middle East

John Jenkins | New Statesman | 24th November 2017

Ex-diplomat assesses the likelihood of a new general war in the Middle East, with Israel and Saudi Arabia on one side, Iran and Hezbollah and the other. “What we are seeing is the eruption of a previously submerged rivalry between an expansionist Iran and a historically cautious Saudi Arabia that has been years in the making. The rivalry flows from Lebanon through Syria and Iraq, across to Bahrain, Oman and Yemen and up the Red Sea. It also affects Pakistan and Afghanistan” (2,700 words)

The End Of The End Of History

Klaus Brinkbäumer | Der Spiegel | 23rd November 2017

Germany is meant to be the “stable centre of Europe”. If its politicians cannot form a government after an election, democracy itself is diminished — and democracy is already fragile enough. “The idea of democracy as the endpoint of development was megalomaniac. Turkey and Russia have turned their backs on democracy, Poland and Hungary look to be not far behind. The United States is foundering. One would hope that should be enough to focus minds in Berlin” (920 words)

Malcolm In The Middle

Birger Vanwesenbeeck | LARB | 24th November 2017

In praise of the late Malcolm Young, rhythm guitarist for AC/DC, always there yet never insistent. “There has perhaps not been another rock musician who emblematizes so closely the Neostoic Renaissance ideal of Constantia. Even as his brother, lead guitarist Angus Young, moves all over the stage in his school uniform doing his well-known duck walk, Malcolm remains stationary, occupying his assigned place to the right of the drums, doing his characteristic muted headshake” (1,130 words)

Is The Economy Suffering From Smartphones?

Dan Nixon | Bank Underground | 24th November 2017

If the average adult looks at a phone screen 150 times a day, this must surely have some impact on other activities. Correlation is not causation, but productivity growth has been weak across advanced economies over the past decade, while global shipments of smartphones have risen ten-fold. The overall impact of digital technologies on productivity is a wider issue — but we risk over-estimating the gains from easier access to information, relative to the losses from constant distraction (1,505 words)

The Mate Selection Trapdoor

Michael Ryan | Nautilus | 23rd November 2017

How sexual beauty evolves. “A hallmark of sexually attractive traits is that they are costly. Whether they are the showy tail of a peacock or the bright colors of a guppy, these traits usually take more energy to produce, more time to maintain, and are more conspicuous to predators. This must happen often: A mutation gives rise to a conspicuous sexual trait, but it goes extinct while waiting around for a mutation in the preference gene that will deem this trait attractive and thus beneficial” (2,200 words)

Video of the day Obsession

What to expect:

One band, 567 printers, and a lot of paper. The latest from OK Go, directed by Damian Kulash and Yusuke Tanaka (3’40”)

Thought for the day

I am trying to be unfamiliar with what I’m doing
John Cage

Podcast of the day Pet Translator | Talk The Talk

Linguists discuss the plausibility of an app for translating animal speech into human speech

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