Paperweights, Decline Of The Wast, Librarians, Truth, Getting Got

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

A History Of Paperweights

Chantel Tattoli | Paris Review | 20th September 2017

The purpose-built paperweight was born in 1845 when a glassmaker named Pietro Bigaglia showed off his “Venetian balls” at an industrial fair in Vienna. French glassworkers ran with the idea. “It was just three years before the February revolution and the creation of Napoleon’s Second Republic. The time was right. With affordable paper and dependable mail services, letter writing had become a newly popular pastime, and something had to keep those sheets in order” (1,700 words)

What Is Great About Ourselves

Pankaj Mishra | LRB | 18th September 2017

Critical account of liberal failures in America and Europe, drawing on books by David Goodhart, Bill Emmott, Mark Lilla, Timothy Garton Ash. “Is it finally closing time in the gardens of the West? The wails that have rent the air since the Brexit vote and Trump’s victory rise from the same parts of Anglo-America that hosted, post-1989, the noisiest celebrations of liberalism, democracy, free markets and globalisation. Westernists long to make their shattered world whole again” (3,300 words)

Keepers Of The Secrets

James Somers | Village Voice | 20th September 2017

Conversation with an archivist at the New York Public Library about the methods and joys of archival research. “You can get a book anywhere. An archive exists in one location. What warms my heart is when a person comes in and discovers what’s actually here. It’s inductive versus deductive reasoning. When a person comes in and just finds out what’s actually in front of them — that’s really happy. When they come in and look for something, and then say they can’t find it, that’s frustrating” (3,300 words)

Truth Is Not Just About The Facts

Julian Baggini | TLS | 21st September 2017

From time to time, not very often, the world gives philosophy a job to do. Now is such a moment. A big abstract noun – truth – is at the heart of a cultural and political crisis. What does philosophy prescribe? Rigour. “Truth is not relative. The post-truth debate cannot be readily fixed by a better theory. A statement is true if and only if it corresponds to a state of affairs or event that obtains in the world. To say something is true is to say that it is the case whether I want it to be so or not” (1,530 words)

Facebook Is Out To Get You

Zvi Mowshowitz | Don't Worry About The Vase | 23rd September 2017

How to avoid being taken to the cleaners by car salesmen, Facebook, and other predators. “Some things are fundamentally Out To Get You. Costs are hidden. Extra options are foisted upon you. Television eats people’s lives. So do video games. So do drugs and alcohol. This property is a way to distinguish cults from religions. Cults want it all. Religion wants its cut. You can only pay off those who charge a bounded price and stay bought. Before you pay the ransom, be sure it will free the hostages” (2,040 words)

Video of the day: Is Reality Real?

What to expect:

Exploration of the philosophical argument that our universe is a simulation (8’46”)

Thought for the day

Might becomes apparent only through injustice
Raymond Radiguet

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