Helmut Kohl, Cats, Lemons, Economics, Anger

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

A Raging Battle Over Kohl’s Legacy

Melanie Amann et al | Der Spiegel | 23rd June 2017

Enthralling glimpse of the underside of German politics. Helmut Kohl’s widow tussles with Angela Merkel and CDU grandees for control of Kohl’s political legacy — including hundreds of private files covering German unification. “Those who had the chance to visit him during his final years experienced a man who had mellowed with age and appeared to have made peace with the world. The petty desire for revenge that had driven him for so many years had transferred to his wife” (3,400 words)

Extremely Outlying Cats

Annalee Newitz | Ars Technica | 19th June 2017

A history of the domesticated cat. A study of the DNA of more than 200 ancient and modern cats spanning the past 9,000 years reveals “five distinct clades of ancient wildcats” originating across present-day Europe and Asia. “The clade from Egypt and Southwest Asia began to dominate the world”. But there is no evidence of humans’ breeding cats until the Middle Ages. “We are at the dawn of cat domestication. Today’s wildcats and house cats are still virtually the same” (970 words)

The Mafia And The Market For Lemons

Cara Giaimo | Atlas Obscura | 7th June 2017

Historical data shows a suggestive correlation between early Mafia activity and lemon-growing in late-19C Sicily; the Mafia’s origins may lie in protection rackets targeting a vulnerable crop. “Lemon trees need well-fertilised soil, steady water, and protection from wind and extreme temperature, which come at great cost. Trees need to be coddled for seven or eight years before they produce enough lemons to sell. When they do bear fruit, it’s easy enough for people to steal it” (1,470 words)

How Effective Is Economic Theory?

Arnold Kling | National Affairs | 23rd June 2017

Physicists generally expect to see clearly whether or not Newton’s theories are working. Economists, by contrast, do not know for certain when their canonical theories are working, since the real world produces infinitely more variables than any economic theory can pretend to capture. Economic theories are not effective theories. “There is really no avoiding some movement in the direction of understanding economics as an interpretive discipline, a little like history” (6,900 words)

Powerlessness And The Politics Of Blame

Martha Nussbaum | Humanities | 22nd June 2017

What modern democracies can learn from the ancient world about anger, fear and vengeance. “The Greeks and Romans saw a lot of anger around them. But they did not embrace or valorise anger. They did not define manliness in terms of anger, and tended to impute it to women, whom they saw as lacking rationality. However much they felt and expressed anger, they waged a cultural struggle against it, seeing it as destructive of human well-being and democratic institutions” (7,800 words)

Video of the day: A Journey

What to expect:

As if Escher made a video. A sphere rolls through a plywood maze (2’00”)

Thought for the day

War is as old as mankind, but peace is a new invention
Sir Henry Maine

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