Theodicy, Art History, Altruism, China And Japan, Muhammad Ali


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

Africa & The Problem Of Evil

Justin McBrayer | The Critique | 13th September 2016

Given the high incidence of war and poverty in many African countries, you might expect to find a correspondingly high level of scepticism there about the existence of an all-seeing, all-loving God. Quite the opposite: Africa is “the most religious continent in the world”. The Saharan region is dominated by Muslims, sub-Saharan Africa is largely composed of Christians. “Religious belief tends to track both poverty and wealth/income inequality, and Africa has plenty of both” (2,590 words)

The Tyranny Of Art History

Vulture | Jerry Saltz | 12th September 2016

Art historians impose order retrospectively. Everything that matters must lead up to the present moment. “Things are always said to be going forward, and progress is measured mainly in formal ways by changes in ideas of space, color, composition, subject matter, and the like. Synthetic shifts and tics combine into things we call movements like Cubism, Constructivism, Futurism, Art Nouveau, Color Field, etc. The problem is anyone who doesn’t fall into this timeline is out of luck” (1,500 words)

The Man Who Gave Himself Away

Michael Regnier | Mosaic | 13th September 2016

A brilliant American scientist formulates the evolutionary basis of altruism — then puts it to the test. “He would seek out the homeless in Soho Square or at the nearest railway stations, Euston and King’s Cross, and give them anything they asked for, from the money out of his pay packet right down to the clothes off his back. By the end of 1974, Price had given up everything. Some time before dawn on 6 January 1975, in a squat not far from Euston, he killed himself” (4,100 words)

Hostile Neighbours: China And Japan

Bruce Stokes | Pew Research Centre | 13th September 2016

Opinion polling in China and Japan shows that recurrent political tensions and territorial squabbles are underpinned by mutual antipathy and distrust, which have increased sharply in the past decade. “The Chinese and the Japanese see each other as violent. Roughly eight-in-ten Japanese describe the Chinese as arrogant, while seven-in-ten Chinese see the Japanese in that light. About three-quarters of the Japanese say the Chinese are nationalistic. Neither public sees the other as honest” (1,800 words)

Muhammad Ali’s Lessons In Journalism

Gerald Eskenazi | CJR | 12th September 2016

The newspapers that eulogised Muhammad Ali in death had hated him in life — the early part of it. at least, when he was seen as a dangerous radical. “It took the New York Times five years to refer to him by his adopted name after he changed it from Cassius Clay”. Journalists who spent time with him were chastened and improved by the experience. They were “forced to become tolerant, hearing another side of life from a person some of my colleagues loathed, and even feared” (1,300 words)

Video of the day: Grand Zero

What to expect:

A man returns to his hometown to discover that he has inherited a pyramid scheme. PG-13 for language (14’34”)

Thought for the day

We would know much more about things if we weren’t intent on discerning them too precisely
J.W. von Goethe

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