Drugs, Gender, Bible, Books, Stars

How To Buy Drugs

Misha Glenny & Callum Lang | LRB | 7th November 2019

Post-mortem on Dream Market, the Internet’s “biggest and most dependable source of illegal drugs” until it shuttered earlier this year. The story pieced together here is that American and European police tried and failed to hack into Dream Market’s database; so they organised a denial-of-service attack which effectively closed Dream Market’s website to buyers for months, causing vendors to migrate to punier rival sites, where they became sitting ducks for the huge police raid which soon followed (2,900 words)

On My Decision To Change Gender

Deirdre McCloskey | Quillette | 10th November 2019

Libertarian economist takes stock of her life since changing gender 20 years ago; Donald became Deirdre. “Becoming Deirdre has evoked not the slightest passing instant of regret. Not once. Nada. Without the change I would have become by now a quite horribly miserable old man”. But there was a price to pay: Donald’s wife and children refused all contact with Deirdre. “My son lives not too far from me. He won’t speak. None of my marriage-family is permitted to speak to any of my birth-family” (4,700 words)

Poetry And Prophecy, Dust And Ashes

Phil Christman | Plough | 11th November 2019

Perceptive appreciation of Robert Alter’s translation of the Hebrew Bible. The clarity of Alter’s translation has the perverse effect of restoring the incomprehensibility of the original text. “We are left with an engagingly, frustratingly, horrifyingly human book, full of misery and violence, chauvinism and misogyny, idealism and generosity, genealogies and blueprints; and, running through it all, a character too weird to be represented by the text, who taunts us, makes us, kills us, and invites us to respond” (2,750 words)

Who Needs Literature?

Isaac Bashevis Singer | LARB | 11th November 2019

Classic critical essay asking (in 1963) whether readers are losing their appetite for serious fiction because real life has become so much more interesting. “I have reached the point that a newspaper report interests me more than a literary work. I sometimes fear that all of humankind may sooner or later come to my conclusion that reading fiction is a waste of time. Modern readers are connected to all the corners of the world, and nothing invented by the mind can compare with what takes place in reality” (2,650 words)

I Was An Astrologer

Felicity Carter | Guardian | 6th November 2019

A psychic explains her trade. Listen while the client tells you their problems, which may take the full hour, this is the main reason they have come to you. If time remains, cast a horoscope. “Say Saturn, planet of restrictions, is about to transit the First House of self – your life will contract! You’re going to get more responsibilities than usual! Or maybe you’ll be denied the chance to take on more responsibilities! Or a cold, critical person will come into your life! And anyway, it’s a good time to go on a diet” (1,600 words)

Video: Earth Intruders. In which Björk’s face merges with a lava lamp to form a backdrop against which figurines dance like escapees from an early Kara Walker silhouette (3m 53s)

Audio: Devotion | Digital Human. Remembering Terry Davis, the computer programmer who spent ten years building a operating system, Temple OS, on direct orders, he said, from God (28m 45s)

“Think what has never been thought before about what you see every day”
— Erwin Schrödinger

A note to readers in London:

Please come to an evening of argument with The Browser at 6.30pm on Wednesday 20th November in the House of St Barnabas, 1 Greek Street, Soho. What to expect: friends, drinks, discussion of thought-provoking pieces from The Browser. To attend, RSVP uri@thebrowser.com 

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