Newsletter 941

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

Broken Justice

Conrad Black | National Review | 28 February 2013

Fine polemic against the American justice and prison system, from a writer whom nobody could accuse of bleeding-heart liberalism, but whose sensibility has been sharpened by his own spell of prison time. "The U.S. has 5 percent of the world’s population, 25 percent of its incarcerated people, and half of its academically qualified lawyers"

The Cannibal Cop On Trial

Daniel Engber | Slate | 27 February 2013

Beware: disturbing content. "It's hard to say exactly what Gilberto Valle is accused of doing. He never kidnapped anyone, or raped anyone, or murdered anyone. He was never violent to the women who will take the stand. He's never tasted human flesh. But he thought about these things, and he talked about these things. Did he plan to do them?"

In Praise Of Concision

Brad Leithauser | New Yorker | 26 February 2013

For myself, I prefer "conciseness", but that is the only word of criticism I have for this (yes) short note in praise of brevity in poetry. Haikus, of course. But pride of place to Strickland Gilliland's two-word masterpiece, "Fleas". With special mention for Donald Hall’s “Exile", which was first written at 100 lines, then shortened to six

While America Slept: How The US Botched China's Rise

Kishore Mahbubani | Foreign Policy | 27 February 2013

America fought long and hard to maintain its leadership over the Soviet Union. Why has it made little attempt to thwart China's rise? Two main reasons: because America has been distracted by its adventures in the Middle East; and because America went on assuming, at least until very recently, that its global position was unassailable

Syria: Death Of A Country

Anonymous | Economist | 23 February 2013

"The country jammed between Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Israel is disintegrating. Perhaps the regime will collapse; it could fight on from a fortified enclave, the biggest militia in a land of militias. Syria looks increasingly likely to fall prey to feuding warlords, Islamists and gangs—a new Somalia rotting in the heart of the Levant"

Omens: The Future Of Humanity

Ross Andersen | Aeon | 25 February 2013

Portrait of Nick Bostrom, head of Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University. His field of study: very-long-term trends that may support human flourishing—in outer space, for example—or lead to human extinction. "Bostrom’s intellectual project is to reach into the epistemological fog of the future, to feel around for potential threats"

Video of the day: Tony Blair On Iraq, Ten Years Later

Thought for the day:

"If belief in human rationality were a scientific theory it would long since have been falsified and abandoned" — John Gray

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