Punishment, Autism, Germanwings, Pigs, Fencing, Denmark

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

The Desire To Punish

Neil Levy | Aeon | 19th February 2016

We tend to think that people don’t deserve to be punished if they didn't mean to do something bad. But if we once admit chance or luck into the judicial calculation, where do we draw the line? What about the good luck of being born with a particular set of genes, or of growing up in a particular environment? Yes, familiar questions, but always worth reopening to consider the case for unfamiliar answers (1,300 words)

Steve Silberman On Autism

Alec Ash | Five Books | 17th February 2016

Interview. "Kanner studiously avoided mentioning Asperger’s work, which remained untranslated into English until 1991. During that time the recommended course of treatment for autism became institutionalisation, which was a nightmare for autistic people, while their parents bore the burden of allegedly having caused their kids’ disability by not loving them enough. It was horrifying for everyone involved, except for clinicians" (3,200 words)

For The Love Of God, Open This Door

Joshua Hammer | GQ | 22nd February 2016

The German co-pilot who crashed his Lufthansa Airbus into a French mountainside last year had a seven-year history of clinical depression, some of which was known to his employer. Six months before the crash a doctor diagnosed him with "emergent psychosis". A week before the crash he was searching the Internet for "information about the locking mechanism on an Airbus A320 cockpit door". Apparently, he found it (6,500 words)

Death Of A Pig

E.B. White | Atlantic | 1st January 1948

"I had assumed that there could be nothing much wrong with a pig during the months it was being groomed for murder; my confidence in the essential health and endurance of pigs had been strong and deep, particularly in the health of pigs that belonged to me. The awakening had been violent and I minded it all the more because I knew that what could be true of my pig could be true also of the rest of my tidy world" (3,700 words)

The Fencing Master

David Treuer | Granta | 22nd February 2016

On learning fencing at Princeton under Maître Michel Sebastiani. "One must fence on three levels at once. A level of first intention: a committed attack that one expects to fail. A second level, which is a calculated response to how you anticipate your opponent will react to your first move. And then to where the real game is – the third intention: your answer to your opponent’s reaction to your first move" (6,600 words)

Liberal, Harsh Denmark

Hugh Eakin | New York Review of Books | 22nd February 2016

Danes are "simultaneously among the most tolerant and also the most racist of any European population". They oppose immigration in general and Muslim immigration in particular. They are "less concerned about terrorism than about the threat they see Muslims posing to their way of life". "Tolerance is seen as good, yet excessive tolerance is considered naive and counterproductive for sustaining Danish national identity” (4,500 words)

Video of the day: Stephen Hawking On Black Holes

What to expect: Animation based on recent Reith lectures. Enigmatic, trippy, poetic — if incomprehensible (1'29")

Thought for the day

Do not ask what to believe, ask what to anticipate
Eliezer Yudkowsky

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