Cartooning, Blues, Rogue Trains, Pantheism, Time


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

How Cartoons Won The Internet

The Economist | Medium | 6th December 2016

The funnies have cut free. Top online cartoon sites — XKCD, Oatmeal, SMBC — attract up to ten million visitors each month. The last golden age for cartooning was in the 1930s when Pulitzer and Hearst newspapers introduced comic supplements. The decline of print cartooning in the 1980s was partly a matter of economics, partly of bad management: The industry was controlled by a few syndicates which wanted universal, inoffensive humour. Now, online, the auteurs are back in charge (2,140 words)

Picking Up The Piedmont Blues

Benjamin Hedin | Oxford American | 2nd December 2016

The early blues lies on the edge of living memory, and memories are failing. The great blues guitarist and banjo picker Algia Mae Hinton is still vigorous at 87; but the music she was playing at 20 is lost to us, save for fragments. “Blues pilgrimage tends to be belated, the talent old or dead. Robert Johnson and Charley Patton were gone when their searchers came calling. Skip James, Fred McDowell, and Elizabeth Cotten were in their last years. Of their earlier selves there is only surmise” (2,700 words)

Catching A Rogue Train, With Data

Daniel Sim et al | Data Gov Sg | 30th November 2016

Data scientists investigate “a spate of mysterious disruptions” over a period of months on the Singapore metro. Their story unfolds like a thriller, with traces of Edward Tufte. “What we’d established was that there seemed to be a pattern over time and location: Incidents were happening one after another, in the opposite direction of the previous incident. It seemed almost like there was a ‘trail of destruction’. Could it be something that was not in our dataset that caused the incidents?” (1,700 words)

The Bees And The Butterflies

Verlyn Klinkenborg | New York Review of Books | 5th December 2016

Review of The Moth Snowstorm, by Michael McCarthy, a lament for humanity’s destruction of the natural world which also celebrates Nature’s resilience and beauty. In effect, McCarthy postulates a sort of pantheism. We have an inborn reverence for Nature that tempers our destructiveness. We have not lost our capacity for taking joy in Nature; we could not lose that capacity; rather, we have lost sight of the joy which Nature can bring. We will do better as a species if we reawaken that sensibility (3,100 words)

The Woman Who Sees Time As A Hula-Hoop

Ed Yong | Atlantic | 29th November 2016

Most of us visualise time in the form of a calendar, which we know to be a metaphor. But a few people visualise time differently, thanks to a form of synaesthesia. Time occupies shapes in the air around them. Emma sees “a hula hoop, which stretches horizontally in front of her and touches her chest at one point — always December 31st, no matter the actual time of year. Emma uses her calendar to organize her life, attaching events to the various months and zooming around the hoop to access them” (995 words)

Video of the day: The Next Rembrandt

What to expect:

Using digital techologies to produce a perfect simulation of a new Rembrandt painting (4’19”)

Thought for the day

Victor Hugo was a madman who thought he was Victor Hugo
Jean Cocteau

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