Eagles, Karl Marx, Trees, Duchamp, Likeability


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

An Endless Buffet For Bald Eagles

Susan Matthews | Audubon | 19th September 2016

The chickens at White Oak Pastures roam freely. Which is fun for the chickens — and even more fun for the 75 bald eagles which have taken up residence in the trees nearby. “The slaughter here is relentless”. For the bald eagles the farm is “an all-you-can-eat buffet”. Each day, each eagle kills and eats four chickens on average — a daily loss to the farm of about $1,000. “You’re supposed to give 10 percent to the church and we don’t really do that, but we’re giving 10 percent to nature” (3,200 words)

Leaving His Marks

Ferdinand Mount | Times Literary Supplement | 21st September 2016

In a “remarkable” new biography of Karl Marx, Gareth Steadman Jones “performs the delicate task of disassembling the doctrine without dismissing the thinker, cutting the wires that link the two with all the delicacy of a bomb disposal expert”. Marx warmed to the possibilities of democracy in his later years; but admitting as much would have meant “junking the fiery rhetoric of his twenties and thirties”; and whereas Marx had many gifts, “climbing down was not one of them” (5,030 words)

Tree School

Peter Wohlleben | Nautilus | 22nd September 2016

Trees learn. They learn to store water in winter, to lean against neighbouring trees for support. When they are desperately thirsty, they cry out, inaudibly to humans, at ultrasonic pitch. The sound comes from vibrations in the tree trunk when the flow of water from the roots to the leaves is interrupted. This is “a purely mechanical event”. But taken in isolation, the human voice is a purely mechanical event. What if the trees are warning one another that water is running low? (1,800 words)

Duchamp’s Urinal

Damon Young | Aeon | 22nd September 2016

Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain, a factory-made urinal, was probably the most influential artwork of the 20th century. It was the first conceptual art, and the concept here was contradiction: A urinal was not art; yet when displayed by an artist in an art gallery it was art. So art could be anything. Duchamp was both mocking the art world and vastly extending its possibilities. “Instead of paintings and sculptures, art was suddenly Brillo boxes, an unmade bed, or a light-bulb plugged into a lemon” (2,900 words)

Women As Complex Beings

Caroline Siede | Boing Boing | 15th September 2016

Why we don’t warm easily to Hillary Clinton. “We don’t have cultural touchstones for flawed but sympathetic women. We recognize Sanders as a fiery activist, Biden as a truth teller, but we don’t have an archetype — fictional or otherwise — through which to understand Clinton. We don’t have female protagonists who are flawed in ways that are messily realistic, not just charmingly endearing. We haven’t been taught to empathize with flawed women the way we have with flawed men” (1,990 words)

Video of the day: Is Growth Improving Our Lives?

What to expect:

Animated explainer from the World Economic Forum. What does GDP measure, and what does it miss? (1’38”)

Thought for the day

One acts for others so as to share their enjoyment
J.W. von Goethe

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