Americans, Stalin, Boanthropy, Les Murray, Byron

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

Albion’s Seed

Scott Alexander | Slate Star Codex | 27th April 2016

Speculative discussion tracing the red/blue schism in American political culture back to the early English colonists, who arrived in four distinct groups: Puritans to New England in the 1620s, Cavaliers to Virginia in the 1640s, Quakers to Pennsylvania in the 1670s, Borderers to Appalachia in the 1700s. On this reading, Puritans and Quakers merged into progressive America, Cavaliers and Borderers into conservative America (9,500 words)

On Stalin’s Team

Donald Rayfield | Guardian | 27th April 2016

Lively review of Sheila Fitzpatrick’s “superbly researched” book about Stalin’s “team” of ministers — “a group of 40 to 50 people (almost entirely men) who colluded in murdering over half their fellow members … In other circumstances, they might have made a competent chamber ensemble: Stalin, Voroshilov and Kaganovich all sang church music; Molotov was a fair violinist; Andrei Zhdanov played the piano” (1,440 words)

Stanford Turned Me Into A Cow

Kara Platoni | KQED | 22nd April 2016

In virtual reality, do we have to be ourselves? Certainly not — and it’s surprising how quickly you can adjust to having the body of a cow, or even to being a piece of coral in a coastal reef. It’s more difficult learning to be a lobster, though. “A lobster has eight arms. Moving the first arms of the lobster is very simple. You move the physical two arms, and the virtual arms do what the first two do. How do you move arms three through eight?” (2,590 words)

Les Murray: The Art of Poetry

Dennis O'Driscoll | Paris Review | 1st April 2005

“An idea is the worst thing to start building a poem from. The questions to ask are: What’s the dream dimension in this? How good is the forebrain thinking, but also how good is the dream here? Where’s the dance in it, and how good is that? How well integrated are all three; or if there is dissonance, is that productive? And, finally, what larger poem is this one in? Who or what does it honor? Who does it want to kill?” (11,800 words)

Lord Byron’s Darkest Summer

Nina Martyris | Lapham's Quarterly | 28th April 2016

On the evening of April 5, 1815, Mount Tambora, in the Indonesian archipelago, lost its head. So furious was the volcanic eruption that the top third of the 4,300-meter mountain disappeared. More than 10,000 people were incinerated. The dust-filled skies and sunless spring in distant Europe spurred two remarkable works of apocalyptic literature: One was Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; the other was Byron’s Darkness (1,550 words)

Video of the day: Hello Tokyo

What to expect:

Five days in Tokyo time-lapsed into five minutes of video, by Christoph Gelep (5’19”)

Thought for the day

There is not the least use preaching to anyone unless you catch them ill
Sydney Smith

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