Ampersands, American Football, Ted Cruz, Uber, Insects

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

The 27th Letter

Mairead Small Staid | Harriet | 29th January 2016

The history and poetics of the ampersand. "In the cursive scripts of ancient scholars, the letters of the Latin et grew together, a miniature vineyard. Two letters become one. The prevalence of the ampersand in wedding invitations signifies a closeness that 'and' merely shrugs at. The symbol looks like nothing so much as a knot about to be tied. Of course, symbols are easy, next to acts. But they are not meaningless" (2,000 words)

The Collision Sport On Trial

David Maraniss | New York Review of Books | 25th January 2016

You can argue that NFL professionals know the risks of football and are well compensated for them — though no thanks to the sporting authorities, which denied the evidence of brain damage for years, as the film Concussion shows. But what of America's three million school-age amateurs? Can football "repair itself and be made safer"? Or must it be considered "an unacceptably debilitating and duplicitous enterprise" (3,900 words)

The Field Guide To Ted Cruz

Erica Grieder | Texas Monthly | 29th January 2016

"I am aware that for many readers the suggestion that Cruz is a mainstream Texas conservative is not reassuring either way." But he isn't extreme or unstable. He speaks with a "lawyerly precision". And he is clever. He even wrote his own book, A Time For Truth. "When I say that Cruz is smarter than us, I don’t mean it to imply a value judgment or even a contrast with other politicians. This is just how it is" (4,500 words)

Cheap Cab Ride? You Missed Uber’s True Cost

Evgeny Morozov | Guardian | 31st January 2016

Uber lost a billion dollars in the first half of last year, buying market dominance. But whose cash is Uber burning? Investors include Google, Jeff Bezos, Goldman Sachs. "Uber is a perfect example of a company whose global expansion has been facilitated by the inability of governments to tax profits made by hi-tech and financial giants. Uber has so much cash because, well, governments no longer do" (1,190 words)

Insect Literature

Damian Flanagan | Japan Times | 23rd January 2016

One problem with translating Kafka's Metamorphosis into Japanese is that Japanese don't find giant beetles repugnant. "Appreciation of insects is one marker of Japanese cultural uniqueness". Buddhism teaches that a person may be reincarnated as any kind of animal or insect, "creating a strong sense of continuity between the human and insect realms. That butterfly flapping above your head may contain the soul of a deceased lover" (840 words)

Video of the day: The Best Teacher I Never Had

What to expect: Bill Gates talks about Richard Feynman (2'36")

Thought for the day

The science of medicine relies on the sameness of our inner organs
Hannah Arendt

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