Browser Newsletter 1161


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

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Best of the Moment

Brief Interviews With Very Small Publishers

Nikkitha Bakshani | The Morning News | 14th November 2013

Just what it says. And terrific fun. "Grief Digest, simply put, is a magazine for the bereaved, by the bereaved. An ornithological zookeeper loses an epileptic terrier, a lifelong Rockies fan is widowed twice in nine years ... Girls and Corpses, a quarterly, exhibits Playboy-primed models in compromising positions with rotting corpses. Editor-in-chief Robert Rhine tells me that there is at least one real corpse in every issue"

The Impossibility Of Being Literal

Robert Lane Greene | Economist | 14th November 2013

On the auto-antonymic properties of literally. We are taught that it means, 'not metaphorically'. But hold on. "The word’s oldest meaning, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, is 'Of, relating to, or of the nature of a letter, or the letters, of the alphabet'. It is only by extension that 'by the letter' has come to mean 'real things in the real world'. And that jump makes 'literally' — are you sitting down? — a metaphor" (Metered paywall)

The Robots Are Here

Tyler Cowen | Politico | 7th November 2013

The rise of robots and artificial intelligence presages greater inequalities and more conservative politics. "Those with the skills to work seamlessly with technology are increasingly rewarded, while those whose jobs can just as easily be done by foreigners, robots or lines of code suffer accordingly ... Americans will also become more politically conservative, as the digital winners seize control of the narrative"

Du Côté De Chez Swann

Adrian Tahourdin | Times Literary Supplement | 13th November 2013

The first volume of Proust's master-work, A la recherche du temps perdu, was published on 14th November 1913. André Gide rejected it for the Nouvelle Revue Française — he thought Proust a "snobbish dilettante". It was taken on by Bernard Grasset, who told a friend: “It’s unreadable; the author paid the publishing costs." A reviewer for Figaro found the book “highly original” but sadly lacking in plot

John Tavener’s Soul Music

Nico Muhly | 13th November 2013

Expert appreciation of Tavener's compositional style, and its influence. "This kind of music-making creates thoughtful musicians. It is difficult to imagine that the choristers of Durham Cathedral who had to figure out what to do with Tavener’s 11-minute Ikon of St Cuthbert of Lindisfarne didn’t then return to their diet of Byrd and Tallis with a heightened sense of how to achieve maximum impact through understatement"

El Bulli For All

John Lanchester | London Review Of Books | 13th November 2013

Lanchester samples Ferran Adria's free online Harvard course, Science & Cooking, and pronounces it excellent. "Homework involves an experiment to calibrate the accuracy of your oven, and calculations to ascertain the number of molecules in aubergine with buttermilk sauce ... It teaches the mystery of how mathematics penetrates into matter. The course is more rigorous, and more educational, than I’d thought it would be"

Video of the day: The Lego Movie Trailer

Thought for the day:

"People are much less interested in what you are trying to show them than in what you are trying to hide" — Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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