New Republic, Bhopal, Pregnancy Denial, Supreme Court Lawyers, Facebook

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

The New Republic: An Appreciation

Ta-Nehisi Coates | Atlantic | 9th December 2014

Magnificent. "All my life I have had to take lessons from people who, in some profound way, cannot see me. TNR billed itself as the magazine for iconoclasts. But its iconoclasm ended exactly where everyone else's does — at 110th Street. Worse, TNR encouraged incuriosity about what lay beyond the barrier. It told its readers that my world was welfare cheats, affirmative-action babies, and Jesse Jackson" (1,830 words)

The Worst Industrial Disaster In History

Siddhatha Deb | The Baffler | 6th December 2014

Bhopal, India, thirty years on. "The Indian government initially claimed extremely modest figures for deaths and injuries, but there are estimates, based partly on the number of funeral shrouds sold the day after the accident, that at least 3,000 people died within the first 24 hours. After that, the assessment fluctuates wildly, but it’s likely that more than 20,000 people have died from effects of the gas" (4,840 words)

The Babies In The Freezer

Nabeelah Jaffer | Pacific Standard | 8th December 2014

Can you carry a baby without knowing it? It's complicated. Mothers who kill their newborn babies "usually claim to have been in denial about their pregnancies". In cases of pregnancy denial "the enlarged stomach is often absent". A "surprising number of pregnant women" — about 1 in 2,500 — deny the pregnancy even to the point of birth. They "turn up at the hospital with labor pains that they describe as stomach cramp" (4,490 words)

The Echo Chamber

Janet Roberts & Joan Biskupic & John Shiffman | 8th December 2014

What determines whether the US Supreme Court will hear your appeal? In theory, the merits of the case should be decisive; but in practice, success seems to depend largely on hiring the right lawyer to represents you. Out of 17,000 lawyers who appealed to the Court in 2004-2012, a mere 66 were involved in 43% of the cases that the Court agreed to hear; and half of those 66 had previously clerked for Supreme Court judges (12,800 words)

Facebook’s Plan To Wire The World

Lev Grossman | Time | 8th December 2014

Mark Zuckerberg wants to get the whole world signed up on Facebook; which implies extending internet access to more than 4 billion people who currently live offline, at a cost "in the low tens of billions" of dollars. The numbers are big, but Zuckerberg is "comfortable" with them. He "starts from the position that all problems are solvable, and moreover solvable by him. If he does nothing else, Zuckerberg scales" (6,200 words)

Video of the day: Cinema Space Tribute

What to expect: Clips from recent great science fiction films, with music from "Interstellar" (4')

Thought for the day

A scholar is just a library’s way of making another library
Daniel Dennett (

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