Intervention, Euclid, War, Sabermetrics, Lévi-Strauss, Lady Chatterley

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

The End Of Interventionism

Alex De Waal | Boston Review | 13th October 2016

The era of Western enthusiasm for military intervention is over. “The central failing of military intervention is not coordination, secretiveness, or dishonesty, though these certainly exist. The problem is the iron law of organised violence: intervention is war, and war commands those who choose to fight, however much they believe they are its masters. This became evident in both Iraq and Libya. In each instance, those who believed in quick, clean applications of force were deluded” (288 words)

Euclid As Founding Father

Adam Kucharski | Nautilus | 13th October 2016

Euclid’s Elements refounded mathematics on the basis of definitions and self-evident axioms, and so revolutionised our approach to knowledge: “A person of reason would have to accept a proven fact, no matter what their personal beliefs or convictions were”. Euclid’s logic soon reshaped science and the arts. More slowly, it also reshaped politics and governance. “The distance from proofs about equilateral triangles to the foundations of Western democracy turned out to be two millennia” (2,350 words)

Aleppo Is The Future Of War

Paul Mason | Guardian | 10th October 2016

The founding of the Red Cross and the signing of the Geneva convention in 1864, inspired by the horrors of the Battle of Solferino, institutionalised the principle that hospitals and doctors were never legitimate targets in war. Now, with the bombing of hospitals by the Russians in Syria, the Saudis in Yemen and the Americans in Afghanistan, that principle is in ruins. “It’s not enough to point to the new techniques of war. Something has been eroded about our perception of humanitarian principles” (1,100 words)

Underestimating The Density Of The Fog

Robert Seawright | Above The Market | 7th October 2016

How sabermetrics first came to baseball. In 1977 “a really smart night watchman in Kansas” called Bill James created and sold a 68-page book of mimeographed sheets called the Baseball Abstract (featuring “18 Statistical Categories That You Can’t Find Anywhere Else”). “Only 75 people responded to that first ad, although Norman Mailer was one of them. It was hardly an auspicious beginning. I was an early adopter. So was John Henry, who would later buy the Boston Red Sox” (9,800 words)

A Philosopher Among The Indians

Adam Kuper | Times Literary Supplement | 12th October 2016

Breaking with his fellow French thinkers who rarely looked beyond Parisian intellectual circles, Claude Lévi-Strauss was a cosmopolitan who forged his theories in New York while escaping the Nazi occupation of France. After learning of structuralism from the linguist Roman Jakobson, he worked each day in the New York Public Library applying structuralist principles to kinship systems. There, “he came up with a Cartesian first principle: the original cultural rule was the incest taboo” (2,600 words)

The Publishing Gamble That Changed America

Barney Rosset | Literary Hub | 13th October 2016

The founder of Grove Press tells how he successfully challenged US censorship by publishing an unexpurgated edition of Lady Chatterley’s Lover. The first step was to import the book and so force a prosecution. “When I received the airmailed copy, I wrote the Customs Service informing them that they had let Lady Chatterley slip through. Shame on them. I then redelivered it to their New York office to make sure they knew that this dangerous book had indeed arrived on our shores” (3,100 words)

Video of the day: Magnetic

What to expect:

Music by Dan Sultan. 3D-printed stop-motion projection-mapped video by Dropbear (3’46”)

Thought for the day

Opera is obviously the first draft of a fine spectacle; it suggests the idea of one
Jean de la Bruyere

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