Browser Daily Newsletter 1304


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

The New Yorker In The Forties

David Remnick | New Yorker | 5th May 2014

Immensely elegant essay, turning on the character of Harold Ross: "The war made The New Yorker. Ross knew it, even if the knowledge was tinged with regret ... By the end of the decade, The New Yorker was flourishing, but Ross was a wreck. He suffered from ulcers, lung ailments, and general exhaustion. By the end of 1951 Ross was dead. The fifties were left to the men and women he had nurtured, hectored, cajoled, and, yes, inspired" (2,623 words)

The Largest Vocabulary In Hip-Hop

Matt Daniels | 1st May 2014

The digital humanities in action. Quantitative analysis shows Wu-Tang Clan and other rappers to deploy a wider vocabulary than Shakespeare did. Which is not to say they use better words, nor use their words to better effect, but still, an unexpected result, vitiated by some methodological weaknesses: "Each word is counted once, so pimps, pimp, pimping, and pimpin' are four unique words" (1,070 words)

Interview: Chuck Palahniuk & Tom Spanbauer

Kathryn Borel | The Believer | 5th May 2014

Fight Club author discusses his writing, and his debt to Spanbauer, his writing coach: "I’m writing for a young audience whose only power is how they appear, their attractiveness, their youth, their energy. Their worst fear is being publicly humiliated. I wanted to explore humiliation as the greatest disaster that could befall a character, and then demonstrate the character living beyond that humiliation" (6,000 words)

What Happens When Scotland Votes Yes?

Allan Massie | Daily Mail | 3rd May 2014

Speculative timeline of events after Scotland chooses independence. Starts well: "Mark Carney will say the Scottish pound will be pegged to Sterling. Chief of the General Staff Sir Peter Wall will say that arrangements are under way for a transfer of command for the Scottish regiments to Edinburgh. Tony Hall will say BBC Scotland will become the SBC, funded by the Scottish licence fee". But it's downhill from there (2,590 words)

Secrets From Belfast

Beth McMurtrie | Chronicle Review | 26th January 2014

Riveting. The story of Boston College's oral history project to record the testimony of IRA fighters in the Northern Ireland troubles. The interviews were carried out by an IRA veteran; the project was supposed to be secret; but the researchers published prematurely. Britain sued successfully for transcripts through the US courts, and has since detained Gerry Adams, Sinn Fein leader, in connection with a murder 40 years ago (7,800 words)

The End Of Food

Lizzie Widdicombe | New Yorker | 5th May 2014

Bay Area tech guys invent food substitute called Soylent: 35 blended nutrients to keep your body fully fuelled for $50 a month so you can treat traditional food as an occasional recreation. Intended market: "Cubicle workers craving efficiency". Soylent has the consistency of sludge, the mouth-feel of pancake mix, and just enough flavouring to mask the raw vitamins. Usage note: "In the first week you fart pretty bad" (6,330 words)

Video of the day:  SpaceX Reusable Vehicle Test

What to expect: Film of rocket going up, and coming down — intact

Thought for the day:

"Time spent arguing is, oddly enough, almost never wasted" — Christopher Hitchens

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