Braille, Rudaalis, Prison, Crosswords

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

The War Of The Dots

Ben Marks | Collectors' Weekly | 4th March 2016

A sightless Frenchman called Louis Braille invented the six-dot tactile script that bears his name in 1829. Braille quickly became the European standard. But in 19C America Braille was just one of 30 competing scripts. American institutions favoured an eight-dot system called New York Point, until Helen Keller intervened decisively in favour of Braille in 1909, calling New York Point "a defective mode of punctographic writing" (2,500 words)

As Long As A Woman Has A Husband

Nidhi Dugar Kundalia | Caravan | 6th March 2016

The rudaalis of Rajasthan are low-caste women taken as mistresses by the local Rajput lord, with the particular job of mourning any death in the lord's family. “Someone has to cry when the members of our royal families die, right? High-caste woman do not cry in front of commoners. Even if their husbands die, they need to preserve their dignity. These low-caste women, rudaalis, do the job for them" (3,500 words)

Tales From The Big House

David Harris | Rolling Stone | 20th December 1973

Prison reminiscences of a small-time crook with a big criminal record. "Between 1937 and 1973 Earl Johnson was convicted of nine felonies and sentenced to 30 years in the penitentiary. All told, with good time taken into account, Earl spent better than 21 of the last 36 years in prisons. During those two decades he was known by 12 different names. His first five were 4724, 6393, 56139, 58972 and 62268" (7,800 words)

A Plagiarism Scandal In The Crossword World

Oliver Roeder | FiveThirtyEight | 4th March 2016

A new database of crosswords shows that "at least 16 USA Today puzzles since 2003 and at least 49 Universal puzzles since 1998 have exactly replicated the theme answers of a previously published New York Times puzzle". Which is dismaying if true but not necessarily illegal. "Despite the generally aggrieved consensus in the crossword community, the legal issues surrounding crossword repetition are murky" (2,900 words)

Video of the day: New Yorker Cartoons

What to expect: Documentary. Bob Mankoff explains his job as cartoon editor of the New Yorker (2'41")

Thought for the day

The world is never quite as bad as it should be for intellectual purposes
Bernard Berenson

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