Guns, Moonshine, Cats, Cols, Mao

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

The Political Philosophy Of Guns

Thomas Wells | The Critique | 25th July 2016

“I’m going to have to be blunt. Gun control advocates rely excessively on a public health case that is not only much weaker than they believe it to be but also crowds out the kind of arguments that might win over their opponents. Their confidence that they are on the right side of history has blinded them to the fact that they have chosen to fight on the wrong ground. They keep harping on about guns killing people. As if guns were like cigarettes, and as if the numbers were big enough to matter” (4,900 words)

The Art Of Distillation

Phil McCausland | Oxford American | 26th July 2016

A Mississipi Delta moonshiner explains his craft: “I prefer it cracking up around the 120s or 130s. Occasionally if it’s higher, that’s okay, too. I’m not ever guilty of cutting anything down. But, during a normal run, you’ll have an initial segment of body and a tailing segment and the proof is highest after about seven minutes into the run and then it begins to taper off a half hour into it. We normally separate those out, so you’ll have a higher proof, and you can mix those back together” (3,900 words)

Miss Cat Geniality

Hazlitt | Omar Mouallem | 25th July 2016

On common cats, cat shows, and the transformational effect of Kitty Litter. “The semiconductor was the most important invention of 1947, but considering that 100 million house cats live in 37 per cent of American homes, Ed Lowe’s highly absorbent granulated clay was a close second. Cats evolved in the desert. Their urine is highly concentrated and extremely noxious. Kitty Litter meant a cat could live exclusively indoors, thereby completing 10,000 years of domestication” (3,300 words)

Cols And Passes Of The British Isles

Graham Robb | Penguin | 26th July 2016

A rambler reflects on the joy of cols — the saddles and gullies which offer the walker or cyclist a passage between hills and mountains. “In the silence of the pass, when the road was no longer spinning out its tale, fragments of another story would come into focus: a ruined hut or the pedestal of a cross, a meeting of tracks, the first glimpse of a new horizon, a change in the wind which brought the smells of a different pays. Named cols are among the oldest traces of a human presence in the landscape” (1,300 words)

Looking Back On The Great Leap Forward

Frank Dikötter | History Today | 26th July 2016

Each new opening of Chinese archives reveals Chairman Mao’s rule to have been even more terrible than previously imagined. The Great Leap Forward in 1958 was supposedly a project to collectivise the economy; as farms failed, it turned into a man-made famine; we now know that it sanctioned a nationwide descent into mass killing and torture. “Mao emerges as one of the greatest mass murderers in history, responsible for the deaths of at least 45 million people between 1958 and 1962” (1,300 words)

Video of the day: We Are The Superhumans

What to expect:

Uplifting Channel 4 promotional video for the Rio Paralympics 2016 (3’09”)

Thought for the day

Always apologise, except when you have done something wrong
Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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