Gluck, Conflict, Crusades, Populism, Drones


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

The Composer Who Broke The Rules

Patricia Howard | OUP Blog | 29th July 2017

Gluck’s correspondence with a Parisian journalist offers a rare account of the creative process in classical music. The journalist questions Gluck’s scores down to the level of individual notes; Gluck always has the answer. Challenged about the “lack of melody and unvarying repetition” in a chorus from Iphigénie en Aulide, Gluck replies: “I could have composed a more beautiful chorus and made it more attractive by varying it. But then I would have been a mere musician and ignored Nature” (990 words)

Regarding Civil Conflicts

Branko Milanovic | Global Inequality | 3rd July 2017

Whatever the cause of a civil conflict, it is rarely a lack of mutual understanding. “Shia and Sunni in Iraq have lived together as neighbours for centuries. Does anybody think the Spaniards and Catalans do not sufficiently know each other? Or Serbs and Croats and Bosniaks who speak the same language and who intermarried prior to the 1990s more than if the marriage pairing was random? The same is true for Catholic and Protestant Irish, Ethiopians and Eritreans, Greek and Turkish Cypriots” (1,030 words)

Why Did Europe Lose The Crusades?

Noah Smith | Noahpinion | 3rd July 2017

Four possible reasons: Technology, politics, geography, motivation. The culprit: Motivation. The Muslims had a technological edge, but not a decisive one. Both sides were divided among themselves. Geography favoured the Muslims. But mainly, the later Crusades foundered for want of religious zeal among Christian leaders. “Only the First Crusade seems to have resulted from a mass outpouring of religious devotion among people who actually knew how to fight wars and lead armies” (2,100 words)

Economics Of The Populist Backlash

Dani Rodrik | Vox EU | 3rd July 2017

A simple truth rarely admitted by politicians and economists: Trade almost always makes some people poorer. “Under competitive conditions, as long as importable goods continue to be produced at home, there is always at least one factor of production that is rendered worse off by the liberalisation of trade. In other words, trade generically produces losers”. To compensate the losers, governments must redistribute the gains. Without redistribution, as now in America, losers get angry (1,960 words)

I Could Kill You With A Consumer Drone

Brett Velicovich | Defense One | 27th July 2017

“I’m holding a drone that can fly thousands of feet in less than 30 seconds. I can click a button to activate a tracking device, ordering my drone to follow a vehicle or person. If it loses its radio link it can automatically return to its launch location. Except, this drone is not meant to come back. It is not meant to take nice photos. A small mechanism allows it to carry and drop a 2.5-pound payload — potentially grenades, bombs, even poison. You can buy it at your local Apple store” (1,080 words)

Video of the day: Where Ideas Come From

What to expect:

David Lynch explains, in an interview with The Atlantic. “Ideas are like fish. You have to go out and catch them” (2’34”)

Thought for the day

Love is friendship on fire
Susan Sontag

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