Dystopia, Architecture, 911 Operator, Zadie Smith, Gravity

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

In The Depths Of The Digital Age

Edward Mendelson | New York Review of Books | 7th June 2016

Virginia Woolf’s claim that “on or about December 1910 human character changed” was a hundred years premature. Human character changed on or about December 2010, when everyone started carrying a smartphone. “For the first time, practically anyone could be found and intruded upon, not only at some fixed address at home or at work, but everywhere and at all times. Before this, everyone could expect some time at least in which to be left alone. That era now came to an end” (4,300 words)

Design For The One Per Cent

Alex Cocotas | Jacobin | 6th June 2016

Architects claim wrongly the status of fine artists. When challenged about the social consequences of her work for the super-rich, Zaha Hadid said: “It’s for the government to take care of. It’s not my duty as an architect to look at”. But architects carry a greater responsibility. They have the power to inspire bad people to build bad things. “No one lost a home when Dylan went electric. Ordinary people, whether they like it or not, must live with the consequences of architecture’s creations” (3,500 words)

On Being A 911 Operator

Rachael Herron | The Toast | 6th June 2016

Notes from 17 years answering emergency calls. “I’ve listened to a lot of people die, and take it from me, people don’t slip away quietly with a soft sigh of disappointed resignation. The body is built to fight, and even in the most exhausted of frames, it can kick up a racket on its way out. It’s not polite. It rattles and gasps and wheezes like an accordion being run over by a tractor-trailer. I’ve heard so many people die that sometimes I can tell the person is dying before the caller does” (1,350 words)

Zadie Smith In Conversation

Ted Hodgkinson | Granta | 5th September 2012

“It’s an enormous power and advantage women have, this understanding of time and mortality. I always think of the menopause: what a gift it is to women to have, in their own bodies, this piece of time-keeping which allows them to understand, in their bodies, that death is coming. Men don’t have that – you see so many men heading towards their deaths in utter shock and incomprehension because right until the final moments they thought they were going to be given some kind of reprieve” (1,900 words)

We Were Wrong About Gravity

Chuck Klosterman | Literary Hub | 7th June 2016

Newton up-ended Aristotle’s theory of gravity. Einstein up-ended Newton’s theory. Would you bet against somebody in the future up-ending Einstein’s theory? In principle, disprovability is the basis of scientific method. But in practice scientists are generally pretty insistent that what they know is true, and the rest of us go along with them. “We constantly pretend our perception of the present day will not seem ludicrous in retrospect, simply because there doesn’t appear to be any other option” (3,300 words)

Video of the day: Stradivarius Of The Recorder

What to expect:

Ernst Meyer, perhaps the greatest recorder craftsman in history, died on June 4th at the age of 62 (3’08”)

Thought for the day

Whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not of truth
Friedrich Nietzsche

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