Browser Daily Newsletter 1231

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

Cheap Words

George Packer | New Yorker | 10th February 2014

Big thumb-sucker about the history of Amazon, the (fairly evil) genius of Jeff Bezos, and the fate of books. Amazon has led revolutions of scale and technology in bookselling and publishing. But its basic innovation has been one of sensibility. Unlike other publishers and booksellers, Amazon truly doesn't care whether a book is any good or not. “Jeff is trying to create a machine that assumes the shape of public demand"

A Conversation With My Copyeditor

Edan Lepucki | The Millions | 7th February 2014

Hmm. I would have broken copyeditor into two words, but that aside, a terrific interview. "Copyeditors watch for dangling modifiers, subject-verb and antecedent-pronoun agreement, repeating words, chronology, consistent names and dates, among other things. And they are expected minimally to verify dates, proper nouns, foreign words, brand names, slogans or advertisements"

What’s The Point If We Can’t Have Fun?

David Graeber | The Baffler | 8th February 2014

Animals play. Humans play. To explain play in Darwinian or utilitarian terms means arguing that it is something else in disguise. But what if play is the real point of our lives? "Let us imagine a principle. Call it a principle of freedom. Let us imagine it to hold that the free exercise of an entity’s most complex powers or capacities will, under certain circumstances at least, tend to become an end in itself"

Sit On The Floor

Nico Muhly | 8th February 2014

Composer tells what it's like to have a new opera produced at the Met. "My role was avuncular rather than paternal. I sat there, but tried to look a little bit distracted so as not to feel like a vengeful harpy, obsessing over the score. I made encouraging grunts and muffled noises, and tried, as best I could, to promote a calm and productive team spirit. I’d go and get coffee for anybody who wanted it"

Why Inside Llewyn Davis Is A Masterpiece

Dorian Lynskey | New Statesman | 7th February 2014

Coen brothers' film is "fabulous, complex, divisive". Oscar Isaac’s performance as Davis is perfectly judged: "If he were any less talented we wouldn’t want him to succeed. If he were any better we wouldn’t understand why he was failing." Davis is "clearly profoundly depressed". He’s "not demanding to be a star; he just wants to eat and sleep". Critics complain of "tonal monotony", but this film "looks how depression feels"

Video of the day:  Cube

Thought for the day:

"We share our lives with the people we have failed to be" — Adam Phillips

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