Britain, Video Games, The New Yorker, Toasters, Hubert Robert


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

How Remain Failed

Rafael Behr | Guardian | 5th July 2016

The kingdom was lost for want of a nail, more or less. The campaign to keep Britain in the European Union had all of the arguments and most of the administrative resources on its side. So how did it lose? In short: David Cameron. He called the referendum to quash eurosceptics, then vetoed aggressive campaigning for fear of upsetting them. “The starting premise of the remain campaign was that elections in Britain are settled in a centre-ground defined by aversion to economic risk” (6,100 words)

Clash Rules Everything Around Me

Tony Tulathimutte | Real Life | 27th June 2016

In Clash of Clans, a game of phones, you scheme, fight, plunder, spend, die. Like many video games it is less an escape from reality than a stylised version of it. “Let me take you around my base. Info bubbles importune me to brew spells, research upgrades, and collect resources. Every tap of the screen brings on a new funny plip or jackpot chime. My wealth is housed in enormous bins of gold doubloons and globes of magenta elixir. I will spend it all today and get it all back again tomorrow” (3,080 words)

The Genius Of William Shawn

David Remnick | Literary Hub | 5th July 2016

William Shawn made his mark at the New Yorker directing the magazine’s coverage of World War Two. He was “quiet, subtle, secretive and elliptical”; Harold Ross found him “indispensable”, and ensured his succession as editor in 1951. The magazine was soon prospering so mightily that Shawn “found it necessary to limit the pages in a weekly issue to 248 — as fat as a phone book in some towns.” Whatever the story, whatever the cost, he “did not consult the ledger books; he sent a writer” (2,600 words)

The Perfect Toaster

Reed Stevenson | Bloomberg | 3rd July 2016

Revolution at the breakfast table. A cult Japanese toaster turns “store-bought bread into something that smells, tastes and feels like it popped out of a baker’s oven”. The secret is water: Steam the bread at a low temperature, then crank up the grill to get a crust. The designer had his eureka moment while making toast for a picnic on a rainy day. The Balmuda costs $230 and looks gorgeous, like high-end audio equipment. To get it, simply go to Japan and join a three-month waiting list (580 words)

Ruins Sublime

Christopher Woodward | Literary Review | 4th July 2016

If you wanted ruins in the romantic era you went to Hubert Robert, court favourite of Louis XVI, whose paintings “combined the vigour of archaeological research with the lassitude of decay”. His crumbling colonnades indulged “the new artistic taste for the asymmetrical and fragmentary” while capturing “the doubts of rising empires about their own fates”. He also turned the Louvre into a museum, walked the tightrope, translated Virgil, and designed a dairy for Marie Antoinette (1,550 words)

Video of the day: William Perry’s Nuclear Nightmare

What to expect:

Cartoon with voiceover. Former US Defense describes how nuclear terrorism could ravage America (5’40”)

Thought for the day

The nature of genius is to provide idiots with ideas twenty years later
Louis Aragon

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