Waterparks, Estrangement, Rites, Vidal, Sand

For Whom Is The Water Park Fun?

Barrett Swanson | The Paris Review | 3rd July 2019

If you’re asking, it’s not for you. An ambitious, exhausted young professor receives an “injunction to relax” from a tenured superior and heads (with a coupon) to Noah’s Ark water park, “aggressively themed after the biblical flood.” He reminisces about “the weird, existential thawing” of childhood holidays, where by “virtue of geographical displacement” the troubles of home could be “momentarily suspended.” He sees horrible echoes of climate change in every ride, and fails to resist imagined social pressures (2,693 words)

Down The Rabbit Hole

Issendai | 17th March 2015

Part of a long series on “Estranged Parents’ Forums,” where an outside observer sees abusive histories in the elisions and evasions of people who themselves feel they have been badly wronged. Fascinating psychological vertigo. One bad sign is when a poster claims to have no idea why they’ve been cut off, despite describing long conversations on the topic. “Saying I don't understand the problem when you really mean I don't agree this is a problem will not make the problem go away. It will make the person who DOES think it a problem go away” (3,159 words)

Gay Rites Are Civil Rites

Scott Alexander | Slate Star Codex | 8th July 2019

Highly speculative. “For me, the important part of religion isn’t the part with gods, prophets, or an afterlife … it’s about a symbiosis between a society and an ideology.” In present-day San Francisco, it’s the annual Gay Pride Parade which “builds social trust and helps turn a city into a community.” Everyone’s invited: corporations, cops, boy scouts, beer brands. Will “Pride” follow the same trajectory Christianity once did, from telling the establishment “where they could shove their respectable values” to embodying it? (3,073 words)

Myra Breckinridge And The Life Of Gore Vidal

Camille Paglia | Lithub | 27th June 2019

Essentially two essays, one on Vidal and one on his novel, fused together. “Myra Breckinridge was a surprise sensation: 85,000 copies were sold even before its release in February 1968,” when “it was still very difficult to convince most people to take gender seriously as an analytic category.” Vidal, “the most graceful of born aristocrats”, was prolific both professionally (“publishing hundreds of essays and 24 novels”) and personally, and seems to have seen himself in his “gender-shifting” heroine (2,954 words)

Time Is Running Out For Sand

Mette Bendixen et al | Nature | 2nd July 2019

Everything you didn’t know you wanted to know about the sand trade. Desert sand is too smooth, so most industrial sand comes from rivers. Demand outstrips the natural replenishment rate. “Most of the trade in sand is undocumented.” Singapore claimed to import 80 million tonnes from Cambodia, but Cambodia only recognises 4% of that. Sand-mining of the Mekong delta means 500,000 people will have to leave their homes. Skip the last section unless you’re interested in global sand-governance (1,460 words)

Video: The Power Of The Pentatonic Scale. Bobby McFerrin plays the audience (3m 03s)

Audio: The Dead Can’t Do You Nothing | Scene On Radio. An eight year old’s honest view on death, and interviews at a cemetery (22m 38s)

“See enough and write it down”
— Joan Didion

Editor’s Note: Browser Editor Robert Cottrell is taking a well-earned holiday from July 1st to July 14th. During this time, The Browser will be edited by Publisher Uri Bram, with podcast selections by Lindelani Mbatha and videos by Nontsikelelo Mapoma

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