Browser Daily Newsletter 1280


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

Kitchen-Sink Dreamer

Jonathan Meades | FT Magazine | 4th April 2014

Writer celebrates the food of his childhood — English home cooking which survived into the 1950s despite wartime and post-war food rationing, but was lost for decades when industrial food triumphed in the 1960s. "Hock was boiled and served with buttered greens and mash. Tripe and onions simmered in peppery milk. Brown trout were fried in butter till their skin was crisp yet their white flesh still moist" (2,647 words)

Why We All Love Numbers

Alex Bellos | Guardian | 4th April 2014

Book introduction. Grab-bag containing lots of interesting nuggets. Pythagoras thought odd numbers to be masculine and even numbers to be feminine; we have the same instinct 2,500 years later. For a distinctive number, take a round number and add one — Levi's 501, Room 101. "Eleven has just gone that one past 10. It has recognised that there is an order to things, and now it is exploring the distance beyond" (2,400 words)

How Many People Does It Take To Colonize Another Star System?

Sarah Fecht | Popular Mechanics | 2nd April 2014

A lot. You'd do well to send out a minimum of 10,000 people; 40,000 would be even better in case most died during the journey. And send them in separate batches of space ships, as further insurance against any particular disaster. You need numbers that large in order to represent the full range of human genetic diversity, maximising the capacity of the colonists to adapt to new environments (1,050 words)

Mom In Hell

Noah Smith | Confessions Of A Supply-Side Liberal | 6th April 2014

Theodicy. How might you be happy in Heaven, if someone you loved — your mother, for example — were in Hell? "If people only cared about themselves, then it would make sense, but we care about other people too. And it’s just flat-out impossible for most people to be totally happy while knowing that someone they love is being tortured eternally in the most horrific concentration camp in the cosmos" (580 words)

Why The Government Should Provide Internet Access

Ezra Klein | Vox | 1st April 2014

Interview with Susan Crawford, former White House tech adviser, on America's need for a "public option" providing universal low-cost high-speed internet access. "This is by nature a monopoly. It really makes sense to have one wire going to your house. The problem is we've gotten stuck with the wrong wire. We've got a cable wire and it should be fiber and it should be then shared by lots of competitors" (2,150 words)

The Greatest Ex-Nazi Writer

Adam Thirlwell | New Republic | 5th April 2014

Who has heard of the German poet Gottfried Benn? Where is he in the anthologies? Nowhere. Yet Benn was "one of the great German poets of the twentieth century", and the "equal of Eliot or Montale". The problem is "not the work but the life". He was a Nazi — if not for long. He writes "from a cancelled perspective". A new selection of his writing translated by Michael Hofmann transmits his genius (4,580 words)

Video of the day:  Hope Of A Favourable Outcome

What to expect: Images from Victorian phenakistoscopes; light indie rock

Thought for the day:

"Politeness is for people toward whom we feel indifferent" — Emile Chartier

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