Encyclopedia Britannica, Byron, Arab Spring, Kris Kristofferson, Farming, Space Insurance


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

Everything Explained: Encyclopedia Britannica

Denis Boyles & Keith Rice | Signature Reads | 6th June 2016

Discussion of the changing nature of Encyclopedia Britannica. The Ninth Edition of 1902-03 was a “scholars’ edition — a collection of monographs by very knowledgeable people”, without any “overarching statement”. The Eleventh Edition of 1910-11 came with an agenda. The editor, Hugh Chisholm, meant “to create a single statement about the optimism of the age and the triumph of technology. When considered as a book, it’s forty million words, but the topic is a single one: progress.” (1,800 words)

Byron Burning

Corin Throsby | Times Literary Supplement | 9th June 2016

Byron had, arguably, the most interesting life of his time; which made the burning of his memoirs one of the great literary crimes of all time. And it was his publisher who did the deed — John Murray, egged on by the Byron family lawyers, on the grounds that publication would ruin Byron’s reputation for ever. Presumably the manuscript told of incest and sodomy, among many other things. But better Byron’s own account of his supposed sins, surely, than a thousand ill-informed biographies (3,200 words)

Who Killed The Arab Spring?

Derek Chollet | War On The Rocks | 9th June 2016

America looked on as the Arab Spring failed — and was right to do so, argues Marc Lynch in The New Arab Wars. “Greater American involvement would have made things worse. Obama’s greatest sin in the eyes of the Washington consensus was to have learned the lessons of Iraq.” The counter-revolutions and civil wars in the Middle East since 2011 have been driven by regional power politics. They are horrible to watch, they are not over yet, but no outside force can hope to end them (1,900 words)

Kris Kristofferson: The Outlaw is Back

Neil Strauss | Rolling Stone | 6th June 2016

Kris Kristofferson “happens to be one of the greatest songwriters of all time”. He went quiet for a few years following a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. But a new diagnosis — Lyme’s Disease — and new medication has brought him back. He’s 80, his memory is poor, but he’s working again, on stage with Willie Nelson and doing voice-overs for Fox. He says he “doesn’t feel creative”, but, happily, his daughter says otherwise: “He leaves little pieces of songs lying around the house all the time” (2,500 words)

How To Grow Weetabix

James Meek | London Review Of Books | 9th June 2016

Most of Britain beyond the cities is farmed fields. Few people, save for the farmers, have much idea what goes on there. It’s worth a close look. Britain still produces most of its own food. How and why has British farming — unlike British manufacturing — survived globalisation? Since protectionism is a big part of the story, what would Brexit bring? “Farming, an activity thousands of years old, continues to have mastery of the British lowlands, at a time when the world is awash with cheap food” (12,800 words)

The Space Insurance Market

Katie Woodward | Factor | 6th June 2016

The insurance industry covers 30 satellite launches each year and some 200 satellites in orbit for a total exposure of $25bn. What are the risks? Manufacturing defects, as with everything. Space debris — see Gravity — went from minor to major threat in 2007 when China blew up a weather satellite. But the space equivalent of an earthquake would be “an anomalously large solar proton flare” which could disable “a large number of satellites” by blowing their power circuits (1,080 words)

Video of the day: Which Composer Would You Eliminate?

What to expect:

Comically ill-conceived promotional video from the Orchestra for the Age of Enlightenment (3’43”)

Thought for the day

Of course one should express pity; but one should guard against having it
Friedrich Nietzsche

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