Bob Dylan, Nuns & Children, Russell Brand, Jihadis, London, Abortion In 1959, Ernest Hemingway, Jare

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

After The Fall

Sasha Frere-Jones | New Yorker | 27th October 2014

Finally, Bob Dylan's Basement Tapes emerge in their entirety — 6CDs, 139 songs. The quality is uneven: "Better to approach it as a toolbox than as a serial listening experience". But the historical value is immense. These were the years in which Dylan invented his mature style and placed himself beyond ordinary criticism: "The question would be less about his identity or his relevance than about what duties he was assigning himself" (3,370 words)

The Cloister And The Cradle

Shannon Reed | Vela | 8th October 2014

When medieval nuns venerated Mary and the child Jesus, some must have been sublimating maternal desires of their own. "I imagine a tired nun, still fertile but untouched, falling asleep on a thin, hard mattress, her eyes resting on the Christ child statue given to her by her own family: She loves him. Does she want to have a child? Does she wish she had one? Is the statue just beginning to reach out a hand to her? Is he her child?" (3,400 words)

Beverley Hills Buddhism

Nick Cohen | The Observer | 27th October 2014

Russell Brand's political tract, Revolution, deserves at least one accolade: Never before, I think, has a book provoked so many high-quality hatchet jobs. Here is one from The Guardian's hard man, Nick Cohen, and if you don't like it, then no doubt more will be along shortly. "The rich can buy anything in Britain, and they have now brought us their own opposition. Russell Brand is the voice of the discontented wealthy" (1,100 words)

How Do You Deal With Wannabe Jihadis?

Gary Brecher | Pando Daily | 24th October 2014

Upgrade them to business class and send them off to Syria. It's a good bet that they won't come back: "The death rates for foreign jihadis are horrific ... These pampered amateurs make big fat targets". From a Western point of view Islamic State "has become extremely useful, a sort of global kidney, drawing in and filtering out a pool of potentially troublesome young males, all done far away, in the bowels of Syria" (2,260 words)

London: All That Glisters

David Goodhart | Demos Quarterly | 24th October 2014

London is eight times larger than any other British city, and richer by far. Almost half the advertised graduate jobs in Britain are London-based. Yet the "white British" are leaving London. In 1971 they made up 86% of the population; in 2011, 45%. Why? Because for most Londoners the quality of life is low. It's not just the prices; it's the crime, the stress, the indifference, the inequality, the crowding, the dirt, the social churn (3,900 words)

Having An Abortion In 1959

Diana Wiener | Buzzfeed | 23rd October 2014

Non-sensational and thought-provoking. A 74-year-old grandmother tells her story. You did it, it cost, there might be problems. "In those days, there was no health insurance. My father paid the $125 hospital bill and brought me home on Saturday morning, just in time for my appointment at the beauty salon. The next afternoon, 250 people attended our wedding. It was a beautiful and sunny Easter Sunday. I wore white" (2,560 words)

How Do You Like It Now Gentlemen?

Lillian Ross | New Yorker | 13th May 1950

Profile of Ernest Hemingway, "who may well be the greatest living American novelist and short-story writer". On a visit to New York he brings the manuscript of a new book, Across The River And Into The Trees. He stays at the Sherry-Netherland. Marlene Dietrich drops by with pictures of her new grandson. "Hemingway said he looked like a winner, and that he would be proud to own a piece of him if he ever got into the ring" (11,500 words)

Interview: Jared Diamond

Oliver Burkeman | Guardian | 24th October 2014

Conversation with the author of Guns, Germs and Steel and other non-fiction blockbusters, about power and culture. Humans dominate other animal species mainly because they alone have sophisticated language. But how do some groups of humans come to dominate others? Geography has a lot to do with it. If you want to build winning society, it helps to start with the right natural endowments, as Western Europe did (2,560 words)

One-Legged Poets

Anthony Daniels | New Criterion | 24th October 2014

"I picked out a couple of slender volumes by Henley and Davies, and then asked the bookseller whether he knew of any other poets with wooden legs whose work I could buy. He said he had never been asked that before. I pointed out that if literature can be classified as black or white, heterosexual or homosexual, colonial or post-colonial, why could it not also be classified by the number of its author’s legs?" (3,600 words)

Google Scholar Turns Ten

Steven Levy | Backchannel | 17th October 2014

Google Scholar indexes learned journals, and negotiates with publishers to ungate at least the abstracts. Its inventor, Anurag Acharya, is still in charge ten years after launch, and still working on ways to make Scholar better. One continuing challenge is to identify authors correctly: "There are a lot of Jay Smiths out there. And if you think that’s an easy problem, there are about 200 Chinese last names that cover 95% of authors" (2,500 words)

Video of the day: Mapping The Antikythera Shipwreck

What to expect: Underwater robot produces high-resolution maps of sunken Ancient Greek ship

Thought for the day

Punctuality is the virtue of the bored
Evelyn Waugh (

The Death of Old Europe 3rd November, St Mary Moorfields Church, 7pm
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