North Korea, Paul Manafort, Hell, My Lai, Rongorongo


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

Science In North Korea

Andrada Fiscutean | Outline | 24th January 2018

Nuclear and chemical weapons get priority in North Korean science, followed by research into the health of the ruling family, according to a defector. “Hyeongsoo told me he worked at the Mansumugang (Long Life Health) Institute from 1990 to 1995, and that it employed 100 scientists and 30 assistants and animal caretakers at the time. The scientists studied life extension and weight management for the ruling Kim family, even as food was scarce for the average citizen” (2,445 words)

American Hustler

Franklin Foer | Atlantic | 29th January 2018

A not-so-short history of Paul Manafort, containing more personal detail than any reasonable person would wish to know, but enormously illuminating on two main fronts: The rise of the lobbying profession in Washington, DC; and the vast sums that American lobbyists have made by selling their supposed influence overseas. “You have to understand, we’ve been working in Ukraine a long time, and Paul has a whole separate shadow government structure. In every ministry, he has a guy” (12,200 words)

Hell And The Mercy of God

Jerry Walls | Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews | 16th January 2018

Interesting if inconclusive philosophical discussion of one of the more troubling aspects of Christian doctrine, prompted by Arian Reimers’ book ‘Hell And The Mercy Of God’. Theodicy finds arguments for the existence of Evil as a test for humanity, a precondition for free will, a logical requirement for the existence of Good. But what of Hell? How can a benevolent God allow his beloved creations to be tormented forever, with no recourse, under the sovereignty of the Devil? (1,900 words)

Wrath Of The Centurions

Max Hastings | LRB | 25th January 2018

On the horrors of war; in particular, here, the My Lai massacre, the subject of a new study by Howard Jones. But in war, horrors are more the rule than the exception. “Young men of all nationalities are capable of doing unspeakably cruel, barbaric things, if their commanders allow them to suppose that these are acceptable. While My Lai was quantitatively the worst war crime committed against civilians by US forces, many killings similar in character, if not in scale, took place elsewhere” (4,700 words)

Language At The End of the World

Jacob Mikanowski | Cabinet | 28th January 2018

Speculations on the origin and meaning of rongorongo script, developed by Easter Islanders after their first contact with European adventurers in the 18th century. “The Rapanui seem to have intuited the concept of writing, and the power of literacy that came with it, and then set about creating a system of their own. When they did so, they began entirely afresh, building it from first principles and local materials. As a consequence, it resembles no other writing system on Earth” (3,900 words)

Video of the day Symmetry

What to expect:

How symmetry is fundamental to our understanding of physics. Animation from the Royal Institution (3’59”)

Thought for the day

Every book is the wreck of a perfect idea
Iris Murdoch

Podcast of the day Soundtrack Of Silence | Q’ed Up

A young man about to lose his hearing tries to furnish his memory by re-listening to his favourite music
(48'11")

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