Browser Daily Newsletter 1324


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

Ghosts Of Tiananmen

Ian Johnson | New York Review Of Books | 27th May 2014

Discussion of recent books on the 1989 Tiananmen massacre and its legacy by Louisa Lim and Rowena Xiaoqing He. "June 4 was a watershed in contemporary Chinese history, a turning point that ended the idealism and experimentation of the 1980s, and led to the hypercapitalist and hypersensitive China of today". The Communist Party found political repression and economic liberalisation to be a winning formula (3,906 words)

The Art Of The Orchestral Excerpt

Elizabeth Eshelman | McSweeney's | 27th May 2014

Notes from the life of a tuba player. "Orchestral excerpts are short — an average of 30 seconds — and, as the name implies, they are passages from symphonies. They are the basis of auditions for the holy grail of tuba jobs: principal tubist in an orchestra, a position which, if you make it at the highest level, means a performance career with a six-figure salary. It doesn’t get any better than that for the tuba" (1,600 words)

How The Novel Made The Modern World

William Deresiewicz | Atlantic | 23rd May 2014

Review of "The Dream of the Great American Novel" by Lawrence Buell; and "The Novel: A Biography" by Michael Schmidt. Schmidt's book works: "It isn’t just a marvellous account of what the form can do; it is also a record of what it can do to us." Buell's doesn't: "Buell’s prose gives the impression of having been produced by a machine. So does his book as a whole. He never tells us why you’d actually want to read these works" (4,100 words)

Why We Don’t Destroy Smallpox

Susannah Locke | Vox | 27th May 2014

Smallpox was eradicated in 1980, but labs in the US and Russia still hold virus samples. If those escaped, smallpox could spread again. So why not destroy them? Five reasons: America and Russia don't trust each other; other countries might have hidden stocks; smallpox could survive in dead bodies; we might yet learn things from the samples; the virus could be synthesised from public information (930 words)

The Falling Man

Tom Junod | Esquire | 8th September 2009

From the archives. Tremendous essay on Richard Drew's 9/11 photograph of a man falling from the World Trade Centre. "There is something almost rebellious in the man's posture, as though once faced with the inevitability of death, he decided to get on with it. He is in the clutches of pure physics. In the picture, he is frozen; in his life outside the frame, he drops and keeps dropping until he disappears" (7,263 words)

Video of the day:  Google Cars - First Drive

What to expect: Google promotional video for new cars; even so, quite inspiring

Thought for the day:

"I can normally tell how intelligent a man is by how stupid he thinks I am" — Cormac McCarthy

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