Snakes, Definitions, Childbirth, Coma, Tsunami

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

Touching Death: A Snake-Handling Preacher

Jordan Ritter Conn | Ringer | 25th August 2017

What to expect when you worship at Cody Coots’s Tabernacle in Middlesboro, Kentucky. “When the time comes, when they sense that the Spirit has led them to do so, a few kneel down toward the collection of boxes brought for the service. They unlock the hinges and reach inside, and when they emerge, they hold poisonous snakes. A cottonmouth. A copperhead. A rattlesnake. They lift them to the sky as they dance, crying out to Jesus and touching death while they sing his name.” (6,500 words)

Politics By Definition

Debbie Cameron | Language: A Feminist Guide | 27th August 2017

How should lexicographers define “woman”, when almost every aspect of the word is contested? Not an easy task, nor an impossible one. They should include historical usage, but they also include evolving current usage. The same goes for “marriage”: “What would we think of an entry for ‘marriage’ that defined it, in 2017, as ‘the union of a man and woman’? That’s what it used to mean. But in many parts of the English-speaking world the law has changed to permit same-sex marriage” (1,900 words)

Managing Victorian Reproduction

Anne Huebel | Remedia | 21st August 2017

A political history of modern childbirth. “At the beginning of the eighteenth century, labor and birth were managed by women who were not trained medical professionals. Only in cases of obstructed births that could not be accomplished vaginally was a male medical practitioner called, usually after days of labor. His role was limited to saving the mother’s life by delivering a dead child, which he accomplished by dismemberment. The male doctor was, therefore, dreaded by the mother” (4,050 words)

Into The Grey Zone

Henry Marsh | New Statesman | 27th August 2017

Neurosurgeon discusses Adrian Owen’s efforts to detect consciousness in seemingly vegetative patients by means of brain scans. “The hemispheres are powered, in ways we do not understand, by the brainstem, the part of the brain between the hemispheres and the spinal cord. In the medical model, the brainstem is equivalent to an electric cable supplying the millions of light bulbs. Small injuries to the brainstem can cause profound coma – all the light bulbs will be dimmed at once” (1,250 words)

The School Beneath The Wave

Richard Lloyd Parry | Guardian | 24th August 2017

Gripping account of the hours after the Japanese earthquake of 2011, when there was still time to seek refuge from the approaching tidal wave, but few did so. Schools lacked emergency plans. Villagers were used to earthquakes, and assumed the danger had passed. “There was the loudspeaker car from the town hall going up and down, saying, ‘Super-tsunami imminent: evacuate, evacuate!’ Sirens, too. Everyone in the village must have heard them. But we didn’t take it seriously” (5,520 words)

Video of the day: Actors Playing Real People

What to expect:

Dialect coach critiques the vocal styles of actors playing real-life characters (29’10”)

Thought for the day

Yesterday I got out of bed like there was no tomorrow
Leigh Stein

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