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Justin E. H. Smith | Substack | 18th July 2021
Towards a cultural history of the beaver. "Every mention of beavers is the prelude to a joke", in part because the main association of the animal in antiquity was with male genitalia. Subsequently, as ideas of labour evolved, it began to symbolise the virtues of hard work. Jean-Paul Sartre enjoyed referring to Simone de Beauvoir as le castor, "no doubt because of her remarkable industry" (3,930 words)
Matt von Hippel | 4 Gravitons | 9th July 2021
Brief and highly readable introduction to the "big bang" theory of the origin of the Universe, and to the observations and inferences on which it relies. We may balk intuitively at the proposition that matter could emerge spontaneously from an "empty" universe, but physicists schooled in the equivalence of mass and energy embrace the idea easily. "Mass is just energy you haven’t met yet" (995 words)
Lane DeGregory and John Pendygraft | Tampa Bay Times | 11th July 2021
Beginning of a series following new police recruits in Florida. Despite the outcry about policing tactics and violence in the last year, these 30 people still showed up for training. This initial look at their motivation reveals a variety of intentions: several see the job as a way to help people, some want to change the system from the inside, and one former Marine just wants to be a hero (2,134 words)
Object Of Sound | Sonos | 9th July 2021
Look-back on the Harlem Cultural Festival, a six-concert series held in New York City in the summer of 1969, when artists including Nina Simone, B.B. King and Gladys Knight played to crowds of up to 300,000. Woodstock, held in the same year, became an instant pop-culture reference. But only now, thanks in part to Questlove, is Harlem's equivalent getting the memory it deserves (26m 51s)
Browser Interviews | 18th July 2021
Soumaya Keynes, Europe Economics Editor at The Economist, on the best way to learn economics, how to combine home treadmills with insightfully trashy TV, and the value of cheesy-sounding self-improvement habits (23m 22s, or read the transcript here).
“I am not inclined to ruin myself for the sake of hurting my enemies”
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