Water, Congo, Syria, Jim Jones, Hitler, EU

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

This Is Water

David Foster Wallace | Kenyon Commencement Address | 21st May 2005

"None of this is about morality, or religion, or dogma, or big fancy questions of life after death. The capital-T Truth is about life before death. It is about making it to 30, or maybe 50, without wanting to shoot yourself in the head. It is about simple awareness ... of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, that we have to keep reminding ourselves, over and over: “This is water, this is water”" (PDF) (2,930 words)

Life On The Congo

Samuel Middleton | Roads & Kingdoms | 11th September 2015

Adventures on a Congo River cargo barge. "The other passengers know what’s coming, but I don’t. Her brother, clutching his plastic carrier bag of possessions, takes the only option left: He jumps from the moving barge feet-first into the river, holding the bag high above his head. A few seconds later, his sister paddles up to him. He clambers into the pirogue and turns to wave. The passengers on the barge cheer and wave back" (2,620 words)

Abandoning Syria: Few Options Left For Stopping The War

Christoph Reuter | Der Spiegel | 18th September 2015

Clear and timely survey of the last four years of conflict in Syria, where 250,000 people have died. Explains how we got here, and each of the international powers' (wildly divergent) interests. Discusses the country's cruelly unpromising prospects for the future: "A bombed city can be rebuilt, but a destroyed country, abandoned by those who want to live a life of dignity, work and raise children, is a different story" (2,410 words)

The Divine Inspiration Of Jim Jones

Adam Morris | Believer | 3rd April 2015

The mass "revolutionary suicide" at Jim Jones' settlement in Guyana (by "drinking the Kool-Aid") is completely misremembered. Jones was a radical communist and not at all religious. Starting with a church and congregation was a strategic ploy inspired by Father Divine's hugely successful Peace Mission movement, which at one point claimed over 1% of the US population as members, and which Jones tried to commandeer (6,520 words)

Hitler’s World May Not Be So Far Away

Timothy Snyder | Guardian | 16th September 2015

“Americans, when they think about the Holocaust at all, take for granted that they could never commit such a crime.... The reality is somewhat more complicated." Future great catastrophes – perhaps tied to climate change – may catch us unaware as a result. “When a global order collapses ... a simplistic diagnosis such as Hitler’s can seem to clarify the global by referring to the ecological, the supernatural or the conspiratorial” (5,300 words)

The Crises That Threaten To Unravel The EU

Gideon Rachman | Financial Times | 15th September 2015

"For the first time in decades, some of the fundamental achievements and tenets of the EU are under threat. These include the single currency, open borders, free movement of labour and the notion that membership is forever." It risks becoming another "League of Nations - a high-minded body, committed to international co-operation and the rule of law - that was eventually swept aside by international events that it could not cope with" (940 words)

Video of the day: Levitate by Rives

What to expect: Touching spoken word poem (3'26")

Thought for the day

Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers

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