Guillotines, Trees, Teeth, Equality, Guns

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

The Family History Of The Guillotine

Edward White | Paris Review | 6th April 2018

“Contemporary reports of the first guillotinings describe a sense of anti-climax among spectators. This revolutionary method of death was devoid of the grandiloquent theatre attending a traditional execution. Some thought this progress: now executions would cease to be a source of entertainment. In fact, it marked the evolution of the spectacle from medieval to modern. The slow, sombre process of old was replaced by swift, clinical brutality, filled with pints of spurting blood” (2,700 words)

What Makes A Tree A Tree?

Rachel Ehrenberg | Knowable | 30th March 2018

“If one is pressed to describe what makes a tree a tree, long life is right up there with wood and height. While many plants have a predictably limited life span, (what scientists call ‘programmed senescence’), trees don’t, and many persist for centuries. In fact, that trait — indefinite growth — could be science’s tidiest demarcation of treeness, even more than woodiness. Yet it’s only helpful to a point. We think we know what trees are, but they slip through the fingers when we try to define them” (1,850 words)

The Class Politics Of Teeth

Mary Otto | Dissent | 5th April 2018

“Our heads may be attached to our bodies, but generations of dental and medical providers have been educated separately. They work in different worlds. And many patients get lost in between. The fact that more than a million Americans a year turn to hospital emergency rooms for non-traumatic dental problems such as toothaches is a grim reminder of the disconnect between the dental and medical care systems. These visits cost roughly $1 billion a year, but the patients seldom get the services they need” (2,700 words)

More Equal Than Others

Amia Srinivasan | New York Review Of Books | 5th April 2018

“Today, the American commitment to basic equality is apparently consistent with not only enormous socioeconomic inequality, but also enormous inequality of opportunity, much of it still determined by race and gender. The seeming compatibility of basic equality with gross material and social inequality has led more than one critic (Marx most obviously) to wonder if talk of being ‘created equal’ is a hollow spiritual promise designed to placate those suffering from earthly misery’ (4,040 words)

Too Young To Own A Gun

Jerry Metcalf | Marshall Project | 2nd April 2018

“I’ve strolled the yard of the prison where I’m incarcerated and spoken with men who committed acts of gun violence in their youth. The overwhelming majority said they support raising the age for gun ownership. Most believe the age should be raised much higher than 21. In almost every conversation I had, the men mentioned how immature their thought processes were when they pulled the trigger, and how they didn’t really come into their own until their late twenties” (900 words)

Video of the day Art For Lawyers

What to expect:

A London law firm commissions an artwork. But why? The investigation becomes the work of art (8’57”)

Thought for the day

You get what you want in life, but not your second choice too
Alison Lurie

Podcast of the day Emily Wilson’s Odyssey | Slate Audio Book Club

Meghan O’Rourke, Parul Sehgal, and Katy Waldman discuss translations of Homer’s Odyssey
(1h 05m)

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