Dogs, Henry Ford, Weather, Coat Hangers, Chess, Experiments


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

Down Dog

LA Review Of Books | 26th January 2016

Essay. "This morning I killed the family dog. Precious had become incontinent, her days spent on a damp doggie bed emitting horrible, keening noises unthinkable in a healthy golden retriever ... A callous person does the math, weighs a urine-scented home against the opprobrium of friends. Even now I’m justifying, offering excuses for calling Down Dog. Does it count that I deliberated for 24 hours before deciding?" (2,760 words)

On The Road

Shannon Wianecki | Smithsonian | 26th January 2016

When Henry Ford took Thomas Edison and Harvey Firestone on two-week road-trips across America in a Model T, Ford chopped wood, Edison banned shaving, and they called themselves "the Vagabonds". But they didn't exactly rough it, either. Behind them followed "50 of Ford’s vehicles, heaps of supplies, personal attendants, an official film crew and a truck customized with a refrigerator and gas stove" (930 words)

With A Gumshoe Gait

Inigo Thomas | London Review Of Books | 25th January 2016

Robert McFadden of the New York Times is the Raymond Chandler of weather reporters. Here he is on the May 2000 heat wave: "The molten sun beat down mercilessly. The hot, slow afternoon was a furnace. The parks lay green and motionless. Pavements shimmered like burning lakes. It might have been one of those torrid days in August when the heavy iridescent air presses down on the spirit and all seems hopeless" (870 words)

The Wire Hanger’s Flexible Symbolism

Ravi Mangla | Atlantic | 24th January 2016

The standard wire hanger measures 17 inches lengthwise and 44 inches when straightened. It was invented in 1903 by a Michigan engineer who came back from lunch and had nowhere to put his coat. The cardboard tube along the bottom brace, beloved of dry cleaners, was added in 1935. "The wire hanger’s pliable design and relative ubiquity have fostered a close and complicated relationship with the human body" (930 words)

Chess v. Allah

Jonathan Kay | Walrus | 25th January 2016

The fatwa against chess issued by Saudi Arabia's Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al Sheikh has been "treated as a wacky backpager by much of the Western media". But the Grand Mufti has a point. Played and analysed at a high level, chess "channels the spirit of Medieval metaphysics"; it changes the way that the player see the world. "Unlike simple hobbies, chess is less a distraction from religion than a full-blown replacement" (970 words)

A Crusade Against Correlation

Richard Nisbett | Edge | 21st January 2016

A study shows that men who take Vitamin E get less prostate cancer. So we know that Vitamin E reduces prostate cancer. Right? Wrong. It could be that "the guy who’s taking Vitamin E is also doing everything else right". We need a controlled experiment. And yet: "A huge range of science projects are done with multiple regression analysis. The results are often somewhere between meaningless and quite damaging" (4,400 words)

Video of the day: None Of That

What to expect: Animation. A tiny nun infiltrates a museum to cover the naughty bits of statues (4'09")

Thought for the day

There will always be a lost dog somewhere that will prevent me being happy
Jean Anouilh

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