Browser Newsletter 1125

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

Best of the Moment

Coffee Experiments

Seth Brown | Dr Bunsen | 30th September 2013

How to make the best possible cup of coffee. Using controlled, randomized experiments. And algebra. "As a result of these experiments, my brewing setup is simple, quick, and inexpensive. I buy the cheapest whole-bean shade-grown coffee I can find in my preferred roast. To brew a cup of coffee, I grind the beans with a blade grinder and brew with the Aeropress. The entire brewing process takes about 5 minutes and produces great coffee"

Losing Sight Of Magritte

Francine Prose | New York Review Of Books | 1st October 2013

Masterpieces are works of art that never lose their fascination. Magritte's paintings are lesser works. They capture us in our adolescence with their cleverness and their pretentions, but we outgrow them. "It’s a bit like getting a joke, which is pleasant to do in a museum until you reach a point when you want something more from art: the deeper pleasure we receive from Carpaccio, Velasquez, Jackson Pollock, the fifteenth-century Sienese painters"

The Elvis Impersonator And The Plot To Kill The President

Wells Tower | GQ | 1st October 2013

Remember the Elvis impersonator in Mississippi who supposedly mailed ricin to President Obama, but was apparently framed by a neighbour? Read on, for the deeply strange tale of these two men from Tupelo, Kevin Curtis and Everett Dutschke: "Theirs is a story of human dismemberment and righteous causes, of martial arts and murder intrigues, sexual perversity, political conviction, and resentments dearly held"

There Are No Significant Facts About Human Beings

Charles Foster | Practical Ethics | 2nd October 2013

Chance conversation with a biographer provokes a philosopher to wonder how well we can characterise ourselves — let alone other people. "I have no real insight into my motives or influences. I say that I have views and desires, but I have no way of saying whether they are really mine, rather than parroted. It’s immensely unlikely that I’ve ever had a remotely original thought. My genes and my preferences are bequests from unnameable donors"

Truth In Consulting

Venkatesh Rao | Ribbonfarm | 2nd October 2013

Consultants are people who understand work but don't believe in it. They mostly work for clients who don't really believe in consultants. "Most consulting is bullshit and acknowledged to be as such. Some of it is accidental bullshit offered by consultants who don’t know they are hawking bullshit. More than you might suspect is bullshit explicitly demanded by clients who get very upset if you are not willing to provide it"

Video of the day: Lego Calendar

Thought for the day:

"We are stories. Ethics is the business of trying to make the stories good ones" — Charles Foster

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