Billy Frost, Ramadan, China, Theophrastus, Strychnine

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

So Long, Billy Frost

Gentle Author | Spitalfields Life | 8th June 2016

Notes from a conversation with the Kray twins’ driver, who died last week. “Reggie pushed Mickey into a storeroom. Then Ronnie got Mickey in a headlock and Reggie pulled out a big hunting knife and pushed it straight through Mickey’s arm. Ronnie said to Reggie: ‘Do it properly, stick it up his f–king guts!’ Mickey howled when the knife went through his arm”. “Personally I didn’t like all the violence, but if you’re going to do protection and be a villain then it comes naturally” (1,730 words)

In Search Of The Ramadan Moon

Basma Attasi | Al-Jazeera | 6th June 2016

The appearance of the crescent moon in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar marks the start of Ramadan. Moon committees call in their sightings to the Supreme Court, which makes the final decision; this year’s date was June 6th. Scientific instruments are not used, because “seeing the moon with the naked eye should be the criterion for declaring the start of a new month”. The average daily fast during Ramadan ranges from 11 hours in Sydney to 22 hours in Arkhangelsk (1,200 words)

China’s Memory Manipulators

Ian Johnson | Guardian | 7th June 2016

It isn’t only Tiananmen. In China you see the suppression, destruction and rewriting of history at every turn. There is no local history. The rebuilding of cities and the vast shifts of population means that hardly anybody knows what their own street looked like thirty years ago, let alone what happened there, if the street existed at all. National history is whatever the Communist Party wants it to be. “A country that has so completely obliterated and then recreated its past – can it be trusted?” (4,400 words)

Unsung Hero Of Science

Andrea Wulf | Atlantic | 7th June 2016

If Aristotle was the father of zoology, then his friend and pupil Theophrastus was the father of botany. Theophrastus studied and classified plants. If more of his work survived, he might have more of Aristotle’s fame. Of his three hundred books we have only two, and fragments, but we know from these that he wrote the first accounts of cotton, pepper, cinnamon, frankincense, and the Banyan tree, and that he speculated, two thousand years before Darwin, about “mutation according to place” (1,200 words)

Body On Moor

Jon Manel | BBC | 7th June 2016

A man gets on a train in London, travels 200 miles north to the Peak District National Park, walks out to a remote part of Saddleworth Moor, and dies. Cause of death: strychnine poisoning. Six months later, nobody knows who he was, or why he apparently chose to die in this place, scene of the notorious “Moors murders” in the 1960s. His pockets contained only cash, a strychnine bottle made in Pakistan, and the train tickets which enabled police to reconstruct his journey. They were return tickets (3,700 words)

Video of the day: Six Minutes In Tokyo

What to expect:

Not a time-lapse, for once, but a montage. Which somehow makes the city seem even more surreal (6’06”)

Thought for the day

It is hard enough to remember my opinions, without also remembering my reasons for them
Friedrich Nietzsche

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