Browser Daily Newsletter 1323


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

US Man Finds Lost Mother In Amazon Tribe

Maureen Callahan | New York Post | 24th May 2014

The story has been told before, in the measured tones of the BBC (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-23758087) ; but here it is in the harsher register of the New York Post, and the added raw detail makes it well worth a second pass. An American anthropologist fathers a son with a teenage Amazonian tribal woman, leaving grief and disruption in his wake; the mother tries and fails to adapt to America; years later, the son moves to join her in the jungle (2,300 words)

For Hire: Dedicated Young Man With Down Syndrome

Michael Bérubé | Al-Jazeera | 25th May 2014

A father tells of his son's search for employment. "What is Jamie capable of doing for a living? Our first checklist filled us with despair: factory work, nope; food service, nope (not fast enough); hotel maid service, nope; machine and auto repair, nope. At the supermarket he had trouble with the U-boat, the device that carts dozens of boxes out into the aisles — and besides, they were only hiring graveyard shift" (3,370 words)

Abolish The Week

Ben Schreckinger | Slate | 26th May 2014

The sun gives us days. The moon gives us months. The earth gives us years. But where did the week come from? Seemingly from Babylon, where they started to slice the lunar month into four. It passed into Jewish culture and thence into Christian culture. But the Romans managed perfectly well without weeks — and so might we, if we want to experiment with more flexible and perhaps more efficient rhythms of life (1,780 words)

You Are Probably Using The Wrong Dictionary

James Somers | 18th May 2014

If your dictionary makes for pedestrian reading, take a tip from the great New Yorker stylist John McPhee, and switch to an early Webster's, up to and including the 1913 edition. Noah Webster's learning shines through; the pages are rich in Milton and Shakespeare. "To glisten, or glister, is to shine with a soft and fitful luster, as eyes suffused with tears, or flowers wet with dew". Beat that for a definition (3,280 words)

How Citibike Is Like Ecuador

Felix Salmon | Medium | 26th May 2014

Deep dive into why New York's bike-rental scheme is wobbling badly. Much useful wisdom about public-private partnerships. Basic problem: the private operator is incompetent, but can't be dislodged, because there isn't an alternative. The renting formalities are so complex that they repel casual users who are meant to provide the profits. The "Citibike" branding has been so successful that no secondary sponsors can be found (2,240 words)

The Collapse Of The USSR And The Illusion Of Progress

John Weeks | Open Democracy | 26th May 2014

The Soviet collapse 25 years ago freed the Baltic states and the communist satellites of eastern Europe to prosper. Elsewhere the legacy is mixed. "In at least half of the countries of the former USSR a new dictatorship replaced the old, often with the same cast of oppressors. The vast majority of the ex-Soviet population finds itself under authoritarian rule at a standard of living well below the level of 1990" (1,255 words)

Video of the day:  Esa-Pekka's Verse

What to expect: An Apple iPad commercial built around the music of Esa-Pekka Salonen

Thought for the day:

"It is a cliché that most clichés are true, but then, like most clichés, that cliché is untrue" — Stephen Fry

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