Germany, Wealth, Aleppo, Chimeras, Trees, Colombia

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

A Legacy of East Germany: Hatred

Stefan Berg | Der Spiegel | 5th October 2016

East Germans are prone to extreme xenophobia because they emerged relatively recently from a closed society which emphasised uniformity and rejected diversity. They are particularly opposed to outsiders who define themselves by religion, because East Germany was an atheist society which treated religion as ignorant or wicked. Many East Germans “now behave less like free citizens and more like released prisoners whose learned demeanor does not correspond to present-day requirements” (1,760 words)

Fortunes Are Inherited, Not Made

Ryan Avent | Evonomics | 4th October 2016

The wealth of humans derives from the societies in which they live, if not the families into which they are born. “It is impossible to imagine Bill Gates’s wealth without Bill Gates’s ingenuity and effort. But it is far easier to imagine Bill Gates’s wealth being produced by someone other than Bill Gates within the institutions of modern American economic society than it is to imagine Bill Gates generating Bill Gates’s wealth in the France of the 1700s, or in the Central African Republic today” (1,800 words)

Inside Aleppo: A Doctor’s Diary

Abdulsalam Daif | New Statesman | 5th October 2016

“There are no doctors left in Syria and the need for medical help there is sometimes beyond comprehension. It’s odd to think that this has become normal life for me. It’s normal to work under these conditions, to be threatened with arrest on one side and kidnap on the other, to have to conduct major surgery underground and constantly see buildings around us reduced to rubble. In the last year alone our hospital was targeted five times. That’s become normal” (718 words)

Human-Animal Chimeras And Dehumanisation

John Evans | OUP | 1st October 2016

On the ethical implications of genetically engineered human-animal cross-breeds. “We can all agree that the world is not ready for a talking pig, and there is clearly a dystopian novel waiting to written about the pig given human consciousness but without the ability to interact. Moreover, an entity with a human body but a pig brain, which would be useful for human transplants, would certainly be controversial. But what would make one of these entities human and another not human?” (825 words)

Venus Of The Woods

Fiona Stafford | Paris Review | 4th October 2016

In praise of the ash tree. “Whether standing in spacious parkland or rising naked from a sea of bluebells, the ash’s curvy limbs taper to an end with tips pointing to the heavens. A young ash is often like a half-open peacock’s tail, not quite ready to display its beauties; the branches of a mature ash will slope down toward the earth, before sweeping up again, as if to send the buds flying. Through the summer the boughs cascade in all directions, wave-shaped and covered in green sprays” (2,040 words)

Notes From Colombia

Chris Bertram | Crooked Timber | 4th October 2016

Observations on the peace referendum. “What does the future hold? I suspect that endless war will not be the outcome. It is going to be hard to get past this point in the process, but FARC realistically have nowhere else to go. After initially being incredibly fearful and anxious, people were more optimistic within a day of the vote. But even if war is over, the ‘no’ vote suggests that the future will be difficult, because it is a barometer of the political balance of forces within the country” (2,200 words)

Video of the day: The Bobby Bonilla Retirement Plan

What to expect:

Why the New York Mets are still paying $1.19 million each year to a player who retired in 2001

Thought for the day

We should not let ourselves be burned for our opinions, since we can never be quite sure of them
Friedrich Nietzsche

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