War, Yuval Noah Harari, Cowboy Church, Hierarchies, Footbinding

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

The Morality of Killing In War

Helen Frowe | Times Literary Supplement | 16th March 2017

We expect and accept that soldiers on opposing sides in a war will kill one another intentionally, whether their cause is right or wrong. But killing for a bad cause is surely bad; why should war have its own moral universe? “It is hard to explain how soldiers engaged in necessary and proportionate defence against an unjust threat, such as Allied soldiers engaged in defence against Nazi aggression, could have somehow forfeited their usual rights against being harmed” (1,300 words)

Questions For Yuval Noah Harari

Andrew Anthony | Guardian | 19th March 2017

Author of Sapiens and Homo Deus answers questions about the future of humanity. “Today more people die from eating too much than from human violence, which is an amazing achievement. In the past, the main economic assets were material – wheat fields, gold mines, slaves. War made sense because you could enrich yourself by waging war against your neighbours. Now the main economic asset is knowledge, and it’s very difficult to conquer knowledge through violence” (4,500 words)

Jesus Takes The Reins

Lyndsie Bourgon | Hazlitt | 10th March 2017

Forty years on from its beginnings in Texas, the American Fellowship of Christian Cowboys numbers 200 churches. “People want to find a place where they can live the life they think they remember”. Services are short. People say ‘howdy’. The baptismal font is a horse trough. “The church is either a barn or a round corral. A barn is where you’re fed and sheltered and someone cleans up after you. A round corral is where you’re exercising and growing. In either case, it’s a long building” (2,100 words)

In Defence Of Hierarchy

Stephen Angle et al | Aeon | 22nd March 2017

Democracies preach equal rights and equal opportunities for all. But there can hardly be equal power or equal wisdom for all. A well-functioning society needs to optimise relations between strong and weak, wise and foolish, old and young. It needs well-functioning hierarchies. Lots of them. “Hierarchy can be understood as a signal as to when deference – deferring to others – is expected. Good hierarchies signal the right kinds of deference, oppressive hierarchies demand the wrong ones” (3,000 words)

The Handwork Of The Footbound

Hill Gates & Laurel Bossen | Stanford University Press | 16th March 2017

Why did Chinese mothers smash and bind their daughters’ feet? This torture has usually been explained as a way of improving marriage prospects: Tiny feet were thought beautiful in imperial China, and they signalled higher social status, since a wife with broken feet could not work. The truth was more prosaic and even more brutal. Broken feet were a means of immobilising a child at home, where she could be forced to work with her hands, alongside her mother, spinning and weaving (2,020 words)

Video of the day: Dawn Of Fire

What to expect:

A glowing river of molten lava flows from Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano towards the sea (3’05”)

Thought for the day

The secret of a happy life is to know when to stop, and then go that little bit further
Colin Dexter

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