Newsletter 981

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

A Perfect Day — Then The Unimaginable

Kevin Cullen | Boston Globe | 16th April 2013

Reaction to the Boston bombing. "If it was home-grown, it was probably an aberration, the work of a lunatic. If it was foreign inspired, we will never feel safe again in our own town. President Obama asked the country to pray for Boston. But we need more than prayers. We need answers. We need peace of mind, and we’ll never have that again on Patriots Day. Ever. Because somebody came here on our Patriots Day and launched their own revolution"

Clarita von Trott

Giles MacDonogh | Giles MacDonogh | 15th April 2013

Biographer of Adam von Trott zu Solz, conspirator against Hitler, pays tribute to von Trott's widow, dead at 95. "Clarita von Trott had borne her burden with superhuman fortitude: the hanging of her husband, her own imprisonment, the brief abduction and renaming of her children, and finally this mealy-mouthed contempt on the part of her late husband’s Oxford friends: people who rewarded his friendship with distrust, mockery or betrayal"

An Open Letter To Beatrice Ask

Jonas Hassen Khemiri | Asymptote | 15th April 2013

Swedish novelist challenges Swedish justice minister to sample racial prejudice: "For twenty-four hours we'll borrow each other's bodies. First I'll be in your body to understand what it's like to be a woman in the patriarchal world of politics. Then you can borrow my skin to understand that when you go out into the street, down into the subway, into the shopping center, and see the policeman standing there, it brings back memories"

Cracking The Voynich Code

Batya Ungar-Sargan | Tablet | 15th April 2013

Backgrounder on enigmatic 240-page book written in as-yet undeciphered code or language and illustrated with drawings of plants, tubes, nudes and goats. Ink on early-15C vellum. Unearthed — or, just possibly, forged — by a Lithuanian antiquarian in 1912, who claimed it was written by Roger Bacon. "A beacon for a secular community of quasi-Talmudic scholars whose interpretive ingenuity and stamina have few parallels"

Andrew Solomon | New Yorker | 13th April 2013

Reflections on North Dakota's move to criminalise "selective" abortion in case of foetal abnormality. A bad law. But calls attention to difficult moral and practical questions. Advances in medicine and childcare, changing social attitudes, give an abnormal child a much better chance of leading a happy and fulfilling life. "It will get harder to select against people in these categories because we see so much more joy in their lives"

Obituary: Victor Carranza

Anonymous | Telegraph | 15th April 2013

King of Colombia's emerald industry. A life of great risk, great reward, great violence. "His notorious private army known as the Black Serpent was reputed to have killed hundreds of Left-wing insurgents and to have driven peasants off their land". Brokered a truce between emerald miners and drug cartels. Survived two assassination attempts, served three years in jail for kidnapping, died of cancer

Video of the day: On Cat Food Boredom

Thought for the day:

"That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history" — Aldous Huxley

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