Bob Dylan, Drones, Japan, Mess, Alan Greenspan

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

Bob Dylan: The Triumph Of Genius

Christopher Ricks | Irish Times | 14th October 2016

A critic reflects on Dylan’s Nobel: “The art of song is a triple art, and it doesn’t make sense to ask which element of a compound is more ‘important’, the voice, or the music, or the words. Literature is best thought of – most of the time – as the art of a single medium, language. The cadences, the voicing, the rhythmical draping and shaping don’t make a song superior to a poem, but they do change the hiding places of its powers. Or rather, they add to the number of its hiding places” (650 words)

The Appeal Of Drones

Hugh Gusterson | Institute For Advanced Study | 3rd October 2016

Most pilots now being trained by the US Air Force are drone pilots. A Predator drone costs $4.5 million and a Reaper $22 million, against $47 million for a manned F-16 and upwards of $148 million for an F-35. But the cost advantage cuts both ways. “In 2009, Shia insurgents in Iraq used software available for $29.95 on the Internet to hack into drone video feeds that were not encrypted so that they could use U.S. drone footage for their own battle planning” (1,400 words)

Uncaring But Terribly Efficient

Colin Jones | Japan Times | 22nd June 2016

How Japan’s koseki, or family registry system, works. “All legally significant transitions — birth, death, marriage, divorce, adoption, change of gender — are supposed to be registered in a koseki; registration gives them legal effect. Need to prove when you were born? Koseki extract. Need to show you have authority to apply for a child’s passport? Koseki extract. Want to commit bigamy? The authorities will refuse a second marriage if your registry shows you are still encumbered with a first” (1,800 words)

There Is Magic In Mess

Tim Harford | Undercover Economist | 20th October 2016

Two ways to manage your stuff: Are you a Filer or a Piler? “To most of us, it may seem obvious that piling is dysfunctional while filing is the act of a serious professional. Yet when researchers looked at high-performing office workers, they found that they tended to be pilers. They let documents accumulate on their desks, used their physical presence as a reminder to do work, and relied on subtle cues — physical alignment, dog-ears, or a stray Post-it note — to orient themselves” (3,100 words)

The Cult Of The Expert — And How It Collapsed

Sebastian Mallaby | Guardian | 20th October 2016

As chairman of the Federal Reserve under Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, Alan Greenspan “seemed to control the American economy with the finesse of a master conductor”. His legend rubbed off on other central bankers. They were lauded as world-saving technocrats, a higher and wiser level of government, above politics. But in truth Greenspan, though brilliant, was a politician himself, “a master of the dark arts of Washington”. When he stepped down, the idol was found to have feet of clay (5,100 words)

Video of the day: Borrowed Time

What to expect:

Pixar short. “A weathered Sheriff returns to the remains of an accident he has spent a lifetime trying to forget” (6’45”)

Thought for the day

The operation of the Church is entirely set up for the sinner; which creates much misunderstanding among the smug
Flannery O'Connor

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