Snowplows, Monopolies, Citizen Kane, Roe vs Wade, Mockingbirds

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

Keep Your Hands On The Wheel

Leath Tonino | Outside | 23rd February 2017

Riding a snowplow along the most perilous road in America — Highway 550 in Colorado at the Red Mountain Pass through the Rockies. Dozens have died here, including three plowmen, since the clearing of the pass began in 1935. “The rig is 13 feet tall, costs $200,000, gets two and a half miles to the gallon, and fills the lane like a football player in a too-small suit. Three hundred and twenty-five horses snort beneath the broad hood. The cab is richly perfumed with diesel fuel, warm and snug” (3,411 words)

Are Google And Facebook Monopolies?

Luigi Zingales & Tyler Cowen | Chicago Booth Magazine | 22nd January 2018

Cowen says no. Zingales wants to say yes, but cannot marshal the arguments. Zingales: “The monopoly that Facebook and Google have of our data, number one, prevents entry, and number two, gives them tremendous power”. Cowen: “If I go into Sears, yes, they put some Sears brands out front. If I go to Amazon, they make it easy to me to buy Alexa. There’s not an actual problem with consumer welfare here. Keep in mind the standard of American antitrust law: Are consumers harmed?” (1,800 words)

William Randolph Hearst For President

Jonathan Zimmerman | Lapham's Quarterly | 22nd January 2018

‘Citizen Kane’ is said to be Donald Trump’s favourite film. The reaction when Hearst ran for president in 1904 helps to explain why. “It is not simply that we revolt at Hearst’s huge vulgarity; at his front of bronze; at his shrieking unfitness mentally, for the office he sets out to buy. There never has been a case of a man of such slender intellectual equipment, absolutely without experience in office, impudently flaunting his wealth before the eyes of the people and say, ‘Make me President’” (1,570 words)

I Am Jane Roe

Norma McCorvey | Longreads | 5th April 2017

Extract from the autobiography of Norma McCorvey, who, as “Jane Roe”, was party to the lawsuit, Roe vs Wade, that reshaped American abortion law, a role that she came to regret. “I was six months pregnant by the time the trial was over. The good news was that we had won the case. The bad news was that I had lost. Henry Wade announced he would appeal the case — and until that appeal was decided, he would prosecute any doctor who performed an abortion” (4,650 words)

Is it Really So Wrong To Kill A Mockingbird?

John MacNeill Miller | Millions | 21st January 2016

Harper Lee knows her birds. In ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ she tells the story of the Finches whose battle against Jim Crow is captured in a metaphor about mockingbirds. Atticus Finch tells his children: “Shoot all the blue jays you want, but it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird”. And yet, as Finch must know, both blue jays and mockingbirds are protected species. The difference is that the mockingbird “has an elaborate literary pedigree, as a symbol of the faded magnificence of the American South” (2,090 words)

Video of the day Daniel Barenboim On Claude Debussy

What to expect:

Barenboim, at the keyboard, plays and discusses — exquisitely — Debussy’s “Pagode”

Thought for the day

The parties with the most to gain never show up on the battlefield
Naomi Klein

Podcast of the day America’s Violent Birth | Lapham’s Quarterly

Lewis Lapham talks to historian Holger Hook about the American Revolutionary War

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