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Prometheus And The Fishpond

Sigrid Schmalzer | Made In China | 27th September 2022

The Chinese state's increasing interest in "ecological civilisation" — an idealised harmony between humans and nature created by historical agriculture practices — is a double-edged sword. It both helps to cement political control by "establishing a totalising vision for top-down state intervention not only in society but also in nature," and also expands the opportunity for environmentalism (3,056 words)

How Big Is Infinity?

Patrick Honner | Quanta | 27th September 2022

Explanation of the curious child's favourite question that is (mostly) accessible to the non-mathematician. Hold tight for the introduction to set theory and cardinality. "Saying 'My love for you is independent of the axioms' may not be as fun as saying 'I love you infinity plus 1,' but perhaps it will help the next generation of infinity-loving mathematicians get a good night’s sleep" (2,352 words)

BrowserBites explores a new idea each day, in under a minute. Join Uri Bram (Publisher of The Browser), Sebastian Park (@SebPark), and guests as they blitz through an idea in less time than it takes to brush your teeth.
Browser Bites
Browser Bites explores a new idea each day, in under a minute. Join Uri Bram (Publisher of The Browser), Sebastian Park (@SebPark), and guests as they blitz through an idea in less time than it takes to brush your teeth.
Finding infinity a bit too big to handle? Start by focusing on a nice manageable number - say, five. As in, "The full Browser sends you five outstanding articles every day, which is just the right amount for a human brain".
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The Storykeeper

José Vergara | Los Angeles Review Of Books | 27th September 2022

Interview with Svetlana Alexievich, winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature. For her "documentary novels", she gathers oral testimony and collates it like a composer with musical phrases. "It’s all intuition. It just feels how it has to be... It’s not that I’m coming up with my material — there were real people sitting there. I take a piece of life and take away all superfluous things." (4,479 words)

The Disappearing Art Of Maintenance

Alex Vuocolo | Noema | 22nd September 2022

A 21C inclination towards built-in obsolescence is creating a world that is hard to maintain. As a result, we are losing the art of good maintenance, which — although expensive — can head off the need for repairs later on. It's a philosophy that could serve us well as climate change accelerates. "Repair is when you fix something that’s already broken. Maintenance is about making something last" (4,328 words)

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Whence, Wherefore, Whither Utopia?

Deanna K. Kreisel | 3 Quarks Daily | 26th September 2022

On the contemporary lack of utopias. The Victorians loved to use fiction to speculate about a better future. Now, the word "utopia" evokes "impossibility, naïveté, and dunderheadedness". Bleak as our prospects may often seem, this kind of earnest thought experiment is a necessary part of taking action: "We need at the very least to have some ideas about what we want on the other side" (2,397 words)

The Death Cheaters

Courtney Shea | Toronto Life | 29th August 2022

Dispatch from "Longevity House", a members' club for biohackers in Toronto. The founder is open about his treatment. Is it snake oil? "He concedes that the machine probably doesn’t do anything that you can’t get from a daily journal practice or meditation. But people aren’t interested in those things, which are generally free and unsexy and don’t look good on social media, he says" (4,804 words)

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Obituary: Saul Kripke

Jane O'Grady | Guardian | 21st September 2022

Saul Kripke began speculating on the nature of God at the age of three and had read all Shakespeare by the age of nine. His Naming And Necessity was "one of the major philosophical works of the 20th century". He argued that words could not have "correct" meanings, and calculations could not have "correct" results, because the ultimate rules of mathematics and of language were arbitrary (1,900 words)

How Does The Jewish Calendar Work?

Julia Métraux | JSTOR Daily | 19th September 2022

The Jewish calendar for High Holy Days reconciles monthly lunar cycles with the solar-based, year-long Gregorian calendar. The key to the calculation is that the number of days in 19 solar years equals the number of days in 235 lunar cycles. The "larger arc" of the Jewish calendar thus follows a 19-year cycle, comprising 12 ordinary years of 12 months each and 7 leap-years of 13 months each (890 words)

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Start your day by reading Morning Brew - the daily email that makes reading the news actually enjoyable. Best part? It's free & only takes 5 minutes to read. If you're interested in business, current events, or just want to learn something new there's no reason not to try it.

Should we keep solar or lunar time? It's a doozy. Maybe just keep Browser time: every time another five outstanding articles arrive in your inbox, another day has passed.
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On Sundays, Browser readers receive a special edition with puzzles, poems, books, charts, music and more - plus selections from our decade-plus archive of the finest writing on the internet. Here's a taste of this week's edition - our archive picks.

Book Of The Week

The Trees
Percival Everett | Graywolf | 2021

Emmett Till artwork, designed by Kelly Rickert for the Goodman Theatre production of Ifa Bayeza’s 'The Ballad of Emmett Till'

Recommended by Mary Corey at the Los Angeles Review Of Books:
"How can a book about the scope and horror of lynching be such a side-splitting page-turner? Perhaps because revenge, even fictional revenge, is particularly sweet when it is so long overdue. Everett, with his masterly fusion of detective fiction and supernatural avenger fantasy, transcends the familiar themes of white cruelty and Black victimhood. It is furious, political, and historical, but it is also art"

Chart Of The Week

The Cartoon Guide To Vertebrate Evolution

by @albertonykus at Deviant Art
The Browser Sunday edition is a smorgasbord of delights. If you enjoyed this taster, subscribe for puzzles, crosswords, art, charts, articles and more each Sunday - plus five articles daily, in your inbox:
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The End Of Cinema

Jared Marcel Pollen | Verso | 20th September 2022

Engaging account of Jean-Luc Godard's early years, from 1959 to 1967, when he made "perhaps the greatest series of films made by a single filmmaker" — 15 feature films including the masterpieces À bout de souffle, Pierrot le Fou, and Week-end. "If we can compare Godard’s work during this period to anything, it would be the novels of Thomas Pynchon and James Joyce" (1,500 words)

Oligopoly And Social Norms

Mançur Olson | Yale University Press | 20th September 2022

Notes on the logic of cartels. Many points of interest, including a theory of why, in many countries, the medical profession strives to limit the number of new entrants more strictly than the legal profession does. "In legal systems without much limitation on the initiation of litigation, additional lawyers can raise the demand for their colleagues by increasing the likelihood of legal disputes" (1,100 words)

Oligopoly is never good - so don't let a limited few idea-producers sell you their limited ideas. Read more widely with the full Browser: we'll send you five outstanding articles every day, plus a video and a podcast. Nice.
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In Egypt, Foreigners Dominate Belly Dancing

Chahrazade Douah | New Lines | 21st September 2022

Egyptian belly dancing is full of contradictions. Purists consider it "one of the last authentic Egyptian art forms". It is also now mostly performed by non-Egyptians. Since the golden age of belly dancing ended in the 1960s, a rise in religious conservatism has made it an unattractive occupation. Dance moves and costumes are regulated and performers do prison time for violations (2,221 words)

Philosophy’s Lost Prodigy

Lincoln Allison | Engelsberg Ideas | 20th September 2022

Recollection of Gareth Evans, a philosopher who died forty years ago at the age of 34. It was obvious, this friend writes, from their first Oxford class that Evans was "at least the intellectual equal of the tutor". Even before he graduated the great minds of the field were lining up to meet him. But not everyone was happy "to be told at whatever level of frankness that they were stupid" (1,734 words)

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