Browser Daily Newsletter 1303


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

Unmasking Japan’s Beethoven

Roland Kelts | New Yorker | 2nd May 2014

Mamoru Samuragochi was celebrated in Japan as a second Beethoven — deaf, brooding, brilliant. His Symphony No. 1: Hiroshima, became "a kind of theme song of national survival" after the 2011 tsunami. Then the story took an unexpected turn: he was neither deaf, nor even a musician. His works were ghosted by an adjunct professor at a Tokyo college — who decided, after two decades, that he wanted the credit for himself (1,280 words)

Thoroughbreds Are Running As Fast As They Can

Roger Pielke | FiveThirtyEight | 3rd May 2014

Human runners continue to set new records for speed. But racehorses appear to have hit their limit: the Kentucky Derby has been won in roughly two minutes and two seconds every year since 1949. Secretariat's 1973 record may stand for all time. Why? Perhaps because American racehorses are bred from such a small and static gene pool; 95% of them descend from a single 18C horse. A case for genetic engineering? (900 words)

The Sewol Tragedy: Causes And Contributing Factors

Ask A Korean | 2nd May 2014

Devastating analysis of the South Korean ferry-boat disaster which killed 300, mostly schoolchildren. It was hardly an accident. "The Sewol's bill of lading shows that the ship carried 3.7 times the allowed cargo weight. In order to balance the ship, the company almost certain drained a huge amount of ballast water. The net effect was to make the ship extremely unstable due to excess weight" (4,600 words)

So You Want To Live For Ever

Charlotte Allen | Weekly Standard | 2nd May 2014

On the modern quest for immortality, assisted by genetics and computing. Aubrey de Grey, "an extremely spry Methuselah", believes the children of today can live to 1,000 if they take the right care of their bodies. Ray Kurzweil foresees a merger between humans and robots — and until then he takes 250 pills a day. If we have yet to abolish death, efforts to postpone it radically are improving our understanding of ageing and disease (5,100 words)

The False Promise Of The Digital Humanities

Adam Kirsch | New Republic | 2nd May 2014

The term "digital humanities" has passed into the language of academia even before its meaning is clear. The minimalist version means simply the application of computer technology to traditional scholarly functions, such as the editing of texts. The maximalist agenda insists the availability of digital technologies should lead to a revolution in the field to which they are applied — that the primacy of text is over (4,337 words)

The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent And Depraved

Hunter S. Thompson & Michael MacCambridge | Grantland | 3rd May 2014

The mighty Grantland introduces, annotates and reprints Hunter S. Thompson's report for Scanlan's Weekly from the 1970 Kentucky Derby — first classic of gonzo journalism and the start of Thompson's collaboration with artist Ralph Steadman. "I warned Steadman about some of the other problems we’d have to cope with. Neither of us had brought any strange illegal drugs, so we would have to get by on booze" (9,000 words)

Video of the day:  Gan-Gan

What to expect: A grand-daughter's memories of her grandmother; an animated scrap-book

Thought for the day:

"Absence is to love as wind is to fire: it extinguishes the little flame, it fans the big" — Umberto Eco

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