Plants, Doklam, Airports, Genesis, Moby-Dick

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

Memories Of Plants

Sarah Laskow | Atlas Obscura | 5th September 2017

Talk of plant cognition still counts as flaky, but even mainstream scientists are coming to the view that plants have “abilities, previously unnoticed and unimagined, that we’ve only ever associated with animals”. Plants can “see, smell, feel, hear, and know where they are in the world”. They can form enduring memories. “In certain plants, epigenetic memories of drought, along with other stressors such as low light and herbivory, can even make the leap across generations” (3,850 words)

China’s Objectives In Doklam

Jonah Blank | Rand | 8th September 2017

China and India have dialled down their confrontation on the Doklam Plateau, nothing much has changed on the ground, but the dispute clearly shows China experimenting with a more muscular strategy in Asia. “A high-profile scare on the Doklam Plateau — inhabited only by seasonal Tibetan and Bhutanese yak-herders — may have been intended to send India an implicit message: namely, not to repeat its decision to shelter the Dalai Lama in 1959, a key cause of China’s 1962 invasion” (2,200 words)


Henry Grabar | Slate | 7th September 2017

In forty years American airports have gone from symbols of optimism to symbols of the “Great American Freakout”. Passengers expect to be delayed, suspected, manhandled, humiliated. Airport security is a “perpetual worry machine”. Stress spills over into hysteria: “Full-on panic stampedes” are easily triggered among nervy passengers. Possibly related: “The airport bars open early and endow patrons with both fortitude and an aura of righteous intoxication rarely found in morning drinking” (2,750 words)

The Rise And Fall Of Adam And Eve

John Gray | New Statesman | 9th September 2017

The Biblical story of Adam and Eve is a “barely coherent” collection of “incredible events” concocted by a scheming God who lures his creations into games they are bound to lose. How could such a story hold its power down the ages, inspiring some of Europe’s greatest works of art? Because its power is the power of myth. Myths embrace contradictions and puzzles. They demand interpretation. Genesis loses its power only when you try to treat it as fact — the error of the Church (2,100 words)

Original Reviews Of Moby Dick From 1851

Literary Hub | 8th September 2017

The critical reaction was mixed. “Mr. Herman Melville has earned a deservedly high reputation for his performances in descriptive fiction. He has gathered his own materials, and travelled along fresh and untrodden literary paths, exhibiting powers of no common order, and great originality. The more careful, therefore, should he be to maintain the fame he so rapidly acquired, and not waste his strength on such purposeless and unequal doings as these rambling volumes about spermaceti whales” (1,600 words)

Video of the day: Quartet For The End Of Time

What to expect:

Music by Olivier Messiaen, animation by Simon Russell (3’46”)

Thought for the day

Never claim as a right what you can ask as a favour
John Churton Collins

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