Browser Newsletter 1105

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

Best of the Moment

The Rectangular Canvas Is Dead

Jed Perl | The New Republic | 7th September 2013

"Painting, which for centuries reigned supreme among the visual arts, has fallen from grace. Which is not to say that painting is dead, or dying. But the painter’s basic challenge, the manipulation of colors and forms and metaphors on the flat plane with its almost inevitably rectangular shape, is no longer generally seen as the primary place in the visual arts where meaning and mystery are believed to come together"


Adam Gopnik | New Yorker | 9th September 2013

On the reaction against neuroscience as the answer to everything. "Neuroscience can often answer the obvious questions but rarely the interesting ones. It can tell us how our minds are made to hear music, but not why Mozart is more profound than Manilow. Asserting that an emotion is really real because you can somehow see it happening in the brain adds nothing to our understanding"

Jellyfish And World Domination

Tim Flannery | New York Review Of Books | 5th September 2013

In form, a review of Stung! On Jellyfish Blooms and the Future of the Ocean, by Lisa-ann Gershwin. In substance, a compendium of amazing and mostly horrifying facts about jellyfish, which are, apparently, taking over the world, or at least the marine portion of it. They can halt battleships, overturn trawlers, shut down power stations, wipe out fisheries, blockade continents. The Black Sea has become "effectively jellified"

Why You Can’t Travel Back In Time And Kill Hitler

Lauren Davis | i09 | 7th September 2013

All kinds of reasons, according to writers who have gamed this one through. For example, you may find you are part of a predestination paradox: "Katherine Heigl travels to 1889 Austria in order to kill the infant Hitler. She succeeds in killing the baby by jumping into a river with it, but Adolph's mother buys another baby and raises it as her own. And that baby grows into the Adolph Hitler that Heigl's character set out to kill"

Washington Words

Ben Schott & Mark Leibovich | New York Times | 8th September 2013

Glossary of current American political slang. A "Washington read" means "scanning the index of a book for your name". Looking over your interlocutor's head at a party in the hope of spotting someone more important is a "scalp stare". To "litigate" — in a sense new to me — is "to resolve or avoid bureaucratic conflict", as in, "We should cancel the speech, but I need to litigate that with the speaker's office" (Metered paywall)

Video of the day: John Lewis Home Insurance

Thought for the day:

"You should work to reduce your biases, but to say you have none is a sign that you have many" — Nate Silver

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