Your weekly free edition of The Browser, perusing the internet for writing worth reading. Want to get five outstanding article recommendations each day, hand-chosen and beautifully summarised, with no ads and no fuss? Join now.
Sally Coulthard | Lapham's Quarterly | 3rd March 2021
Why "black sheep" are proverbially unwelcome in the family. Black wool is hard to dye; so, over the course of centuries, shepherds selected among their flocks for sheep with white wool, which was easier to dye and thus to sell. But the gene for dark wool is recessive; a white sheep can carry a black-fleece gene and nobody will be any the wiser until the sheep gives birth to a black lamb (1,600 words)
Laleh Khalili | Merip | 9th February 2021
Delicious survey of Iranian cookery. Major Anglophone cookbooks in this cuisine have come in two waves: first from the Iranians who left after the 1979 revolution, and then in recent years as "the children of those original exiles come of age and begin to search for community, belonging and an unreachable Iranian past". These works contain coded clues about the tensions within the diaspora (3,979 words)
Pete Takeda | Rock And Ice | 1st January 2007
Arguably the greatest mountaineering yarn ever told. How the CIA hired a world-class climbing team in the 1960s to place a plutonium-powered spy radio on a Himalayan peak for intercepting data from Chinese missile tests. The device was swept away in an avalanche on the way up. It is still buried somewhere high on the mountain, leaking radiation into the headwaters of the Ganges (4,700 words)
Beginning of a five part series documenting a food writer's years long attempt to create, produce and sell a new and better pasta shape than anything you can currently buy. This first episode is mostly about the problems with what's on offer now — long pasta doesn't hold enough sauce and cooks unevenly, short round shapes easily turn to mush in the pan — and how the process of marketing an alternative is much more complicated than he first imagined. It's all highly entertaining, although Italian culinary purists may disagree (28m58s)
by Massimo Pigliucci, Skye Cleary and Daniel Kaufman | Courtesy of Five Books
Fifteen contemporary philosophers describe a worldview they’ve embraced—Stoicism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Existentialism—and indirectly summarise two-and-a-half-millennia of human wisdom on well-being, relationships, morality, and death. “The real question is not whether you have a philosophy of life, but rather if stands up to scrutiny. That is, whether or not it’s a good philosophy of life” (295 pages)
“What sane person could live in this world and not be crazy?”
― Ursula K. LeGuin
Tired of waiting for the latest instalment? Subscribers get:
- five hand-chosen, expertly-summarised pieces each day
- the latest, greatest articles from publications you wouldn't read otherwise
- additional selections of audio, videos and quotes
- a weekly Best Of featuring our absolute favourite pieces
- no ads, and no fuss.
Reach 50,000+ smart, curious readers: sponsor the Browser.