Caesar, Collectors, Lem, Udon, Murder
Your periodic free edition of The Browser, perusing the internet for writing worth reading. Join now for five hand-picked articles every day.
The War For Gaul
James O'Donnell | Princeton University Press | 13th September 2021
The translator of a new edition of Julius Caesar's Gallic Wars shares his impressions of the book and its author. "The book is magnificent: amoral, certainly, but clear, vivid, and dramatic, a thing to be remembered and read for the ages ... At the same time, there should be no denying that it is a bad man’s book about his own bad deeds. It is the best bad man’s book ever written" (950 words)
The Digital Death Of The Collector
Kyle Chayka | Substack | 18th September 2021
Every time a platform like Spotify rearranges its software, our physical memory of digital cultural artefacts is eroded. "It’s as if the bookshelves have started changing shape on their own in real time, shuffling some material to the front and downplaying the rest like a sleight-of-hand magician trying to make you pick a specific card — even as they let you believe it’s your own choice" (2,854 words)
Stanisław Lem | MIT Press Reader | 20th September 2021
Science fiction short story that the Polish writer published in 1964, now appearing in English for the first time in a translation by Antonia Lloyd-Jones. Best known for his much-adapted novel Solaris, Lem's protagonist for this tale is a physicist now held in an asylum because of his belief in the consciousness of stars. Branded a "pyroparanoiac", he contends that the Sun is a living being (9,525 words)
Video: Japanese Curry Udon Noodles | Peaceful Cuisine. Instructional video showing how to make this popular dish from scratch. There is no voiceover, only onscreen annotations, encouraging the viewer to watch carefully (14m 09s)
Podcast: Afrikka Didn't Need To Die | Algorithm. Beginning of a compelling series about how a reporter built an algorithm that searched FBI data for serial killings in order to catch a murderer (37m 17s)
Interview: Ada Palmer Talks To Baiqu Gonkar. Ada Palmer is a cultural historian and the author of science fiction novels, including the award-winning Terra Ignota series. This week, she talks to Baiqu about big tech’s censorship problem, the false narrative of the singular hero in history, and Machiavelli's laundry (42m 19s, or read the transcript here)
"Nothing is illegal if one hundred well-placed business men decide to do it"
— Andrew Young