Shootings, New York, Persia, South London, Musical Instruments

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

Thresholds Of Violence

Malcolm Gladwell | 19th October 2015

An essay for the New Yorker, ungated on the author’s website. How school shootings catch on. Think of it as a slow-motion riot. Riots are started by outliers, people “with a threshold of zero”. Each follower lowers the threshold for more to follow. “The problem is not that there is an endless supply of deeply disturbed young men who are willing to contemplate horrific acts. It’s worse. It’s that young men no longer need to be deeply disturbed to contemplate horrific acts” (6,070 words)

When Will New York City Sink?

Andrew Rice | New York | 7th September 2016

Slowly but surely, rising sea levels will swamp New York within the century. Manhattan will become the new Venice — then the new Atlantis. “The deluge will begin slowly, and irregularly, and so it will confound human perceptions of change. Areas that never had flash floods will start to experience them, in part because global warming will also increase precipitation. High tides will spill over old bulkheads when there is a full moon. People will start carrying galoshes to work” (6,600 words)

Persian Heretics And Heresies

Christopher de Bellaigue | Tablet | 12th September 2016

The opening paragraphs suggest an article about sex in ancient Persia; but that is merely the jumping-off point for a discussion of the Islamic conquest of Persia. “Oppressed and taxed if they converted, oppressed and taxed if they did not, the Persians entered Arab Iraq as soldiers, slaves and freed-men, subjected to levels of stigma and abuse that must have been wholly disconcerting to the former world conquerors.” The Persians were incorporated into Islam, but never quite assimilated (5,100 words)

A Brief History Of South London

Dirty South | Deserter | 12th September 2016

A miniature masterpiece in the Horrible Histories genre. PG-13 for regionally appropriate language. “Bankside became the home of theatre in London and therefore the world, putting on the plays of Shakespeare and Marlowe in its four theatres. Plays banned from the City thrived in lawless Southwark. South London became central to the work of Dickens, Blake and Thackeray. OK, I’m just going to say it: South London is the cradle of the English language. Deal with it” (2,300 words)

How To Invent A Musical Instrument

Sharon Thiruchelvam | Long+Short | 2nd September 2016

Despite advances in technology across the board over the past hundred years, the canon of musical instruments has barely changed. The saxophone – the last newcomer to make it big – was patented by Adolphe Sax, a Belgian flute and clarinet player, in 1846. The theremin is approaching its century. And perhaps that is indeed the end of the story. If synthesisers can produce all sounds, neither composers nor performers will ever again feel the need for a new instrument (2,800 words)

Video of the day: A Visit With Vincent Van Gogh

What to expect:

Doctor Who and Amy take Vincent Van Gogh to see his legacy in the the Musée d’Orsay in 2010 (3’25”)

Thought for the day

There are few things of greater advantage than learning to appreciate the strong points of your opponents
J.W. von Goethe

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