Navy, Heroes, China, Grief, Circus

Editor’s note: Please do look in on the latest edition of The Browser's video newsletter, The Viewer. What The Browser is to words, The Viewer is to pictures — Robert

The Navy And The Shirtless Professor

Benjamin Wofford | Washingtonian | 10th April 2020

Entertaining account of the US Naval Academy’s long and vain struggle to sack a flamboyant Annapolis professor who has been, in the Navy’s view, “a threat to order and discipline, a corrupting influence, and, reading between the lines, a profound pain in the ass”. The writer of the piece has much sympathy with the Navy’s position in this feud; but I suspect that you, like me, will be rooting for the professor, Bruce Fleming, who cries out to be played in a film version by a de-aged Jack Nicholson (5,000 words)

Fran Lebowitz Is Not Leaving

Michael Schulman | New Yorker | 9th April 2020

Behind the New Yorker’s metered paywall, but, if you have a free click, this is the right use for it. Fran Lebowitz’s distinctive combination of high seriousness and cynical frivolity provides both inspiration and consolation. “When they compile a list of the heroes of this era, I will not be on it. Mostly I’ve been reading. And I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to think about this, because it is a very startling thing to have something happen that doesn’t remind you of anything else” (5,080 words)

How Xi Jinping Won The Crisis

Yanzhong Huang | Foreign Affairs | 13th April 2020

Chinese president Xi Jinping has “not only muddled through the crisis”, but has “emerged as a stronger leader”. He and his government may yet face more international criticism for “setting the pandemic loose”, and for a “blundering initial response” in December and early January; but, as COVID-19 now ravages the rest of the world, “few can deny that China is fast becoming the safest place on Earth”. History “will be written by the victors of the COVID-19 crisis”, and Xi “looks like a winner, at least for now” (1,007 words)

Collective Grief

John Danaher | Philosophical Disquisitions | 12th April 2020

How and why to grieve in such times. “Grief is best understood as an emotional process through which we restore ourselves to some equilibrium after having relationships with deceased loved ones disrupted. There is a danger that, in the fog of the pandemic, with bodies mounting in the morgue, and pleas for us to maintain our distance, that we don't get the time to think about our relationships with these individual lives. We are too busy trying to minimise the damage to our collective way of life” (2,290 words)

P.T. Barnum's Fake News Circus

Nathaniel Rich | New York Review Of Books | 12th April 2020

Robert Wilson’s life of Phineas Barnum is the fifteenth full-scale biography since Barnum’s death in 1891. The showman’s perceived character has evolved over the years, and not for the better. We still want to “celebrate Barnum’s outrageousness”; but we are less forgiving now of his cruelty to animals, his coldness towards his family, and his “casual” early racism. After his first wife died, Barnum said that he “planned to spread her ashes on his icy front stair to prevent his second wife from slipping” (3,150 words)

Video: Wong Ping’s Fables 2. A rebellious cow serves jail time for killing a policeman, then builds a successful new career as a clothing manufacturer. Plus: Conjoined rabbits (13m 30s)

Audio: Maxine Sanders | The Last Bohemians. A London witch explains her calling. Topics include: Seeing auras, casting spells, astral projection, and sex magic (53m 28s)

Bonus Audio: Our Audio Editor Caroline Crampton was interviewed on the podcast Metalearn, speaking about the principles of podcasting and how she listens and works.

“Take actions such that you would be glad to receive the news that you had taken them”
— Eliezer Yudkowsky

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