Giraffe Edition 16

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

Wrong Answer

Rachel Aviv | New Yorker | 14th July 2014

Sad, moving, almost tragic tale. Principal and teachers of desperately struggling middle school in Atlanta start rigging pupils' test scores to raise overall grades and save school from closure, with connivance of local education authorities. Everybody means well. The pupils have no part in it. The scheme works, but too well. The implausibly good scores are flagged by a local newspaper, and investigators move in (9,000 words)

Why Do We Have Blood Types?

Carl Zimmer | Mosaic | 15th July 2014

Blood types were recognised by medical science in 1900. Types A and B go back at least 20 million years to a common ancestor of humans and gibbons. A few people have no blood type at all. But even now it's a matter of debate what useful function is served by having various incompatible types of blood. It doesn't seem to affect our physiology. Perhaps the diversity helps defend us against disease (3,760 words)

The Great Philosophers: Hegel

Alain de Botton | School Of Life | 15th July 2014

Admirably candid bluffer's guide. "Hegel put his finger on a crucial feature of modern life: we long for progress and improvement yet we are continually confronted by conflict and evidence of setbacks. His insight is that growth requires the clash of divergent ideas and therefore will be painful and slow". New readers beware: "He writes horribly. He is confusing and complicated when he should be clear and direct" (1,530 words)

Melissa Lane Discusses Plato

Nigel Warburton | Five Books | 14th July 2014

Interview with Princeton philosophy professor, discussing outstanding books about Plato. "What we find in Plato, explicitly, is tremendous anxiety about the nature of writing. Of course the great paradox is that he’s writing, he’s reflecting on the limits of writing, the challenges of writing, of this new technology, very much the way we now reflect on the Internet and social media, how is this going to change our culture?" (3,890 words)

Interview: Sir Norman Rosenthal

David Carrier & Joachim Pissarro | Brooklyn Rail | 15th July 2014

Gossipy conversation in which Rosenthal reminisces about his life in the art trade from librarian at Askews to exhibitions director at the Royal Academy. "All art that we find interesting is both objectively and philosophically modern. If Poussin is good today, then he’s modern. Who knows whether Cézanne will be interesting in 200 years? It seems to me that if they’re good today, that’s all that matters" (13,300 words)

Minding Our Minds

Jay Tolson | Hedgehog Review | 1st July 2014

Bibliographical essay highlighting books and essays about the modern concern with attention and focus — whether we are losing our ability to concentrate on things that matter, owing to the accelerating pace of modern life and the distractions of new media. Ranges in time from George Simmel's 1903 essay The Metropolis and Mental Life to Malcolm Crawford's forthcoming book The World Beyond Your Head (3,200 words)

Video of the day: Western Spaghetti

What to expect: Classic stop-motion short using visual metaphors for food

Thought for the day

"Art is making something out of nothing and selling it"
—  Frank Zappa

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