Escaaltors, Altruism, Clive James, Bar Fights, Nellie Bly, Superpower Relations

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

Why Does It Take So Long To Mend An Escalator?

Peter Campbell | London Review Of Books | 7th March 2002

"Escalator failures are system failures, not acts of God. So our sour voices, unwilling to accept that these things just happen, demand to know why an escalator is not working – and, more particularly, why it has not been working for so long. It adds mystery to irritation (surely they are eager to get things going again) when there is no sign of activity behind the blue-painted barriers which surround a stalled machine" (4,950 words)

The Reductive Seduction Of Other People’s Problems

Courtney Martin | Medium | 11th January 2016

"If you asked a 22-year-old American about gun control, she would probably tell you that it’s a lot more complicated than taking some workshops on social entrepreneurship. But if you ask that same 22-year-old American about some of the most pressing problems in a place like Uganda — rural hunger or girl’s secondary education or homophobia — she might see them as solvable. Maybe even easily solvable" (1,990 words)

Writing Toward The Twilight

Dwight Garner | New York Times | 13th January 2016

Clive James "has been on a vivifying late-career tear", publishing six books since he received a diagnosis of terminal leukemia in 2010. He is "burning out, not fading away". His latest volume of poems, Sentenced To Life, is "a harrowing collection, gravid with meaning, unflinching in its appraisal of the author’s mistakes, including infidelity, and plain-spoken in its reckoning with his life’s terminus" (Metered paywall) (1,020 words)

Presidential Candidates Ranked By Usefulness In A Bar Fight

Ali Davis | Bitter Empire | 14th January 2016

Number Three would be John Kasich, apparently. "Kasich is your stealth weapon. Kasich is the guy who shows up to the bar in business casual and turns out to be carrying a butterfly knife. He’s the guy who palmed a handful of darts twenty freaking minutes before you even sensed there would be a fight. You do not want Kasich in any sort of a leadership position ever, but you definitely want him on your side in a bar fight" (2,500 words)

Ten Days In A Madhouse

Nellie Bly | Longform | 1st October 1887

The journalist Elizabeth Jane Cochrane Seaman, writing as Nellie Bly, goes undercover in 1887 to report for the New York World on conditions in the women's wards at Blackwell's Island Insane Asylum, where she passes as insane for ten days. Her book-length account of cruelty and neglect, of which this is an extract, led to a grand jury investigation and to sharply increased funding for the insane (6,600 words)

Superpower Management

Brad DeLong | Grasping Reality | 16th January 2016

You might want to skim the first 12 paragraphs, in which Brad DeLong explains why he is not going to talk about the economics of the Trans Pacific Partnership, and reserve your concentration for the remainder of the transcript, in which DeLong compares past and present superpower relations: Between a declining Britain and a rising America 150 years ago; and between a rising China and a declining America now (2,900 words)

Video of the day: Pierre Boulez Conducts Mahler

What to expect: Pierre Boulez and the Concertgebouw Orkest Amsterdam perform Nachtmusik II from Mahler's 7th Symphony (11')

Thought for the day

Insanity is rare in individuals, but it is the rule in nations and epochs
Friedrich Nietzsche

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