Race, Words, Dying, Cruising, Instructions

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

Race Is A Made-Up Label

Elizabeth Kolbert | National Geographic | 9th April 2018

When people speak about race they are usually referring to skin colour, and treating it as a marker of major genetic and cultural difference. But visible differences between peoples are accidents of history. They reflect how our ancestors dealt with sun exposure, and not much else. “That race is a human construction doesn’t mean that we don’t fall into different groups or there’s no variation. But if we made racial categories up, maybe we can make new categories that function better” (3,700 words)

Pay For Your Words

Peter Pomerantsev | Granta | 9th April 2018

“There used to be two kinds of words: written or spoken. Written statements were more consciously edited. You’d take full responsibility for what you wrote. Then there were the words used in bars and restaurants and rows, still performative but meant to remain largely unrecorded. Social media occupies a third space – the worst of both worlds. A post only makes sense in the context of a specific time and conversation, but it can be judged with that severity long after the fact” (1,450 words)

Giving Up On Preventive Care

Barbara Ehrenreich | Literary Hub | 18th April 2018

Barbara Ehrenreich explains why, at 76, she has given up on screenings and tests for medical conditions common to old age, and will let Nature takes its course. “I reject the torment of a medicalized death, I refuse to accept a medicalized life. As the time that remains to me shrinks, each day becomes too precious to spend in windowless waiting rooms under the cold scrutiny of machines. Being old enough to die is an achievement, not a defeat, and the freedom it brings is worth celebrating” (3,300 words)

Symphony Of The Seas

Oliver Franklin-Wallis | Wired | 1st April 2018

How cruise-ships went from pensioners’ playgrounds to floating pleasuredomes, culminating in the 2018 launch of Symphony Of The Seas, the largest passenger ship ever built, five times the size of the Titanic, carrying 9,000 passengers, 40 restaurants, two theatres, 23 pools, two climbing walls, a carousel, a golf course, and a park. “To put it another way, Symphony Of The Seas might be the most ludicrously entertaining luxury hotel in history. It just also happens to float” (4,500 words)

The World Of Instruction Manuals

Helen Schumacher | BBC | 5th April 2018

The changing nature of instruction manuals tells a potted history of improved product design, increased government regulation, and globalisation. Over the past 20 years, inspired by the example of Apple, manufacturers have tried to design products that work intuitively; no manual needed. The booklet that comes in the box will consist almost entirely of health and safety warnings in a dozen or more languages. If you do need to know how the thing works, you look for a YouTube video (2,300 words)

Video of the day Barcelona Archi’llusion

What to expect:

The architecture of Barcelona re-imagined by Menilmonde, with some help from Photoshop (3’04”)

Thought for the day

Let heaven exist, though my place be in hell
Jorge Luis Borges

Podcast of the day Deep Work | The Ezra Klein Show

Ezra Klein talks to Cal Newport about strategies for thinking deeply and staying focused
(1h 20m 18s)

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