First Dates, Tycoons, Cultural Appropriation, Elizabeth Bishop, Fridge poetry

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

A Statistical Argument For Not Being Nervous On First Dates

Emma Pierson | Obsession with Regression | 19th October 2015

On a date, "if your mutual attraction is really statistically significant and large enough to matter, it should emerge regardless of" small changes of circumstances, like the shirt you wore. By contrast, "a glance at across a bar doesn’t give you a lot of data and increases the probability you’ll make an incorrect decision. As a statistician, I prefer not to work with small datasets." (On Tinder, the "errorbars are huge") (600 words)


Deborah Friedell | London Review Of Books | 22nd October 2015

Review of a new biography of Donald Trump. He took after his father, a building tycoon criticised for profiteering “but never prosecuted.” But his father was “parsimonious” – Trump’s “sense of showmanship” came from his mother, along with a “lifelong obsession with the royal family.” His one regret "in the women department" is that he “never had the opportunity to court Lady Diana Spencer.” (He believes he 'had a shot'") (2,730 words)

In Defence Of Cultural Appropriation

Yo Zushi | New Statesman | 12th October 2015

While "the new race activists" attack all forms of "cultural cross-pollination," cross-cultural borrowing is actually a progressive force. Adopting others’ music, style or cuisine can bring together diverse groups, e.g. rock ‘n' roll placing white youth alongside black fans at gigs in the 1950s. By opposing appropriation, Western activists "[place] themselves on the side of those who insist on terrifying ideals of “purity”" (2,070 words)

Clarice Lispector And Elizabeth Bishop’s Fraught Relationship

Alexandra Pechman | Poetry Foundation | 29th September 2015

American poet Elizabeth Bishop spent nearly 15 years in Brazil, and was an early champion of her younger, less famous peer. But her praise was ambivalent and her Portuguese imperfect. Bishop admired the stories which were "closest to her own," but Lispector's contemporary fame derives from her most experimental and difficult novels. Bishop's help with promotion in the U.S. was "distinctly American and opportunistic" (2,490 words)

The Past And Future Of Magnetic Poetry

Cara Giaimo | Atlas Obscura | 8th October 2015

Fridge magnet poetry may have debts to William Burroughs or David Bowie but its inventor was songwriter Dave Kapell, whose sneeze scattered some words he'd cut up as a writing experiment. He stuck them onto magnets and the product went "viral before viral was a term." Today, the stainless steel surfaces of the "chef-industrial kitchen" are non-magnetic, but the word games have migrated to apps and "LOLCat Poetreez" (1,220 words)

Video of the day: Arnold and Andre

What to expect: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Wilt Chamberlain, and Andre the Giant have dinner (2'45")

Thought for the day

Time is a great teacher, but unfortunately it kills all its pupils
Hector Berlioz

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