Giraffe Edition 24


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

How To Be Good

Larissa MacFarquhar | New Yorker | 5th September 2011

Another superb profile from the New Yorker's archive, de-paywalled for the summer. Derek Parfit is perhaps the most original moral philosopher in the English-speaking world. He believes there are true answers to moral questions, as there are to mathematical ones; and that "there is nothing more urgent for him to do in his brief time on earth than discover what these truths are and persuade others of their reality" (10,670 words)

Israel: What’s Different This Time

Lisa Goldman | Weekly Wonk | 24th July 2014

The assault on Gaza overshadows another event in Israel — Shimon Peres steps down as president. Peres shared the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize with Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin; but his vision then of "a Palestinian state next to an Israeli one, open borders and regional economic cooperation", seems today "like a tasteless joke". The Israeli centre is shifting towards "hyper-nationalism". Peres's liberalism is dead (1,600 words)

How To Get Paid To Drop Out Of Races

Sarah Barker | Deadspin | 24th July 2014

Conversation with Matt Scherer, professional track pacer — or "rabbit" — whose job is to help other people run fast. He leads a race through the first lap or so at a precise speed, set by the race director, before stepping quietly off the track. "Once I established myself, runners were excited when I showed up because then they felt like they didn't have to think about the first 500 or 600 meters. I got satisfaction from that" (2,139 words)

Shivering In Tolkien’s Shadow

Josephine Livingstone | Prospect | 17th July 2014

JRR Tolkien completed his prose translation of Beowulf in 1926 at the start of his writing career. He declined to publish it during his lifetime, perhaps fearing for its quality. He need not have worried. It is "a great work of translation", faithful and deft. "The force of Tolkien’s passion for medieval art occasionally overwhelmed his scholarship, but its sheer strength also explains the lasting power of his work" (1,585 words)

Public Displays Of Transaction

Chiara Atik | Matter | 21st July 2014

Old hat to you, no doubt, but new to me: Venmo is a social media app which combines, more or less, the functions of PayPal and Twitter. Other people can watch you making payments. "A lot of people seem unaware of the stories they’re telling in their transactions. This will likely change once it becomes more mainstream, but for now, it’s the Wild West of uninhibited, relatively public commerce" (784 words)

Guinea Worm Is Almost Eradicated

Dylan Matthews | Vox | 22nd July 2014

The guinea worm is a debilitating parasite which infected 3.5 million people in 1986. Last year there were just 148 cases. Eradication is in sight, achieved without a vaccine or a cure. The key was publication education — teaching suffers not to bathe in public water sources, which spread the worms' larvae. Cost of campaign: $350 million. Huge win for ex-president Jimmy Carter, whose NGO led the effort (960 words)

Video of the day: Circle Illusion

What to expect: Optical illusion. Who are you going to believe — your eyes or this video?

Thought for the day

"Life always kills you in the end, but first it prevents you from getting what you want"
—  Douglas Coupland

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