Handles, Daoist, Papers, Seasons, Lincoln

Every day, the Browser Newsletter brings you five fascinating reads like the ones below

A Short History Of Door Handles

Edwin Heathcote | Apollo Magazine

Useful and overdue. Doors generally are under-designed. “We have all become more aware of when we cannot avoid touching elements of buildings. The door handle is a critical interface with the structure and the material of the building. Yet it is often reduced to the most generic, cheaply-made piece of bent metal which is, in its way, a potent critique of the value we place on architecture and our acceptance of its reduction to a commodified envelope rather than an expression of culture and craft” (1,600 words)

Daoist Robots

Yuk Hui & Nathan Gardels | Noema

Discussion of Chinese and Western philosophical traditions. “At risk of oversimplification, one may say that Chinese thought is relational, while Western thought, beginning with the Greeks, is about being-as-substance. In the West, we can think that knowledge progresses toward an end. But it is difficult to find any such absolute in Chinese thought. The Daoists think that it makes no sense even to wonder what is the biggest, the smallest, the endpoint, because there is always something beyond” (3,100 words)

News By The Ton

Benedict Evans | BenEvans.com

On the microeconomics of the newspaper industry. Per capita newspaper circulation has been falling since the 1950s in developed markets; so has the newspaper industry’s share of total advertising spend. People say of Google and Facebook that “if you’re not paying, you’re the product’. But it was the same with print newspapers. “If you read old accounts for, say the New York Times Company, you can see that they were giving the product away at close to cost and making the money from selling your attention” (1,660 words)

Elegy For A Country's Seasons

Zadie Smith | New York Review Of Books

Beautiful, sad, persuasive notes on climate change and our human response. “We do not seem able to pull ourselves out of its familiar — essentially religious — cycle of shame, denial, and self-flagellation. This is why (I shall tell my granddaughter) the apocalyptic scenarios did not help — the terrible truth is that we had a profound, historical attraction to apocalypse. In the end, the only thing that could create the necessary traction in our minds was the intimate loss of the things we loved” (2,010 words)

What Lincoln Knew About Language

Ward Farnsworth | Volokh Conspiracy

Though famed for his love of simple language, Abraham Lincoln used simplicity sparingly, often for hammering home a conclusion. “He used large Latinate words for complex intentions, short Anglo-Saxon words for plain truths. He liked to circle with larger words, early in a sentence, and then finish it simply. If you want to experiment with this, try finishing your arguments with words that are simpler and shorter than the ones you've recently been using — in other words, with a Saxon clincher” (840 words)

Video Of The Week: World-Famous Portraits Transformed Into Living People | Denis Shirayev. Exactly what the title suggests (with a one-minute preamble). Mona Lisa and other iconic figures reanimated (8m 30s)

Poem Of The Week: Migrating Birds, by Monica de la Torre, at Poetry Foundation

Victor gets a real sense of power
from making his own raisins. He buys
pounds and pounds of grapes
and leaves them to dry
on the kitchen table

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