France, John Hersey, Opera, Museums, supernovae, Amartya Sen

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

France’s Forgotten Class

Simon Kuper | Financial Times | 6th June 2015 | | Read with 1Pass

Simon Kuper sits down with public housing tenants in Lyon to find out what life is like for poor whites in France — and actually, it's not too bad, thanks to an active public sector which provides decent housing, health care and public transport. It's a "paradise" compared to Manchester. "The French state swallows more than half of national income but it gives a lot in return. France remains one of the world’s least unequal countries" (3,070 words)

Notes From Hiroshima

Jeremy Treglown | Times Literary Supplement | 3rd June 2015

The first few paragraphs stumble slightly, but persevere to enjoy and admire this evocation of John Hersey, who reported for the New Yorker on the bombing of Hiroshima. Hersey was already a war correspondent of great distinction. In 1943 he was at Guadalcanal with the US Marines; in 1945 he captured echoes of the Holocaust in Poland. In Hiroshima one year later he wrote a masterpiece that has never gone out of print (5,400 words)

Four-And-Twenty Bluebeards

Matthew Spellberg | Music And Literature | 4th June 2015

Discussion of Duke Bluebeard’s Castle by Béla Bartók, exploring how fantasy and reality are represented in the text and music of opera. "Each door is its own tone poem. The clatter of the xylophone announces the torture-chamber. A solo violin, ravishing but also corrupting, courses through the golden treasury. The libretto also suggests another image for suffusion: Bartók’s music must cover the whole theater in tears and blood" (6,000 words)

Museums Can Change

Michael O'Hare | Democracy | 1st June 2015

Great museums may have 90% or more of their art in storage. The opportunity cost is colossal, culturally and financially. If the Art Institute of Chicago sold 1% of its collection it could endow free public admission for ever. Another 1% would pay for an additional building. Another 1% would fund 200 new staff positions. But how to jolt museums into action? Start by forcing them to value their collections (7,600 words)

Wish Upon A Sea Floor

Oliver Morton | Intelligent Life | 1st June 2015

"There is a wind that blows from the heart of dying stars, a wind so strong that it reshapes the atoms in its path and drives them out as spindrift into space. This storm-tossed spray spreads out across the galaxy, filling the space between stars. And it settles on everything. It falls on the other stars, and on the nurseries where stars are born. It falls on comets and planets. It falls into puddles. It falls into oceans. And there it settles" (920 words)

The Economic Consequences Of Austerity

Amartya Sen | New Statesman | 4th June 2015

European governments reacted to the 2008 financial crisis by trying to cut public spending — a proven recipe for deepening recession. They deliberately confused the need for reform with the need for austerity, creating "a kind of chemical compound" which almost killed Greece. Central bankers and finance ministers displayed a "breathtakingly narrow view of human society" and a "basic lack of interest in deliberative democracy" (3,800 words)

Video of the day: Drone's Eye View Of Crossrail

What to expect: Promotional video showing time-lapsed construction of London's new underground train line (5'54")

Thought for the day

The certainties of one age are the problems of the next
R.H. Tawney

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