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Organised Fun: Who’s It All For?

Clive Martin | The Face | 14th March 2023

Former London dweller returns to the city and discovers that something has changed. Gone is the habit of popping into a just-discovered club or exhibition. Thanks to the "experience economy", everything is now "strangely occupational". Every event is marketed and monetised, and usually sells out in advance. All of this organised fun is "the antidote to, and the accelerator of, alienation" (3,318 words)

Podcast: How To Think Like A Mathematician | The Infinite Monkey Cage. Randall Munroe of xkcd fame guests on this BBC radio gameshow about how to use maths to solve everyday problems (42m 35s)

Here's a maths problem for you: if this edition of The Browser contains two recommendations, while the daily full Browser recommends five articles, a video and a podcast, how much more interesting could your day be?

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Sound Shadow

John Cotter | Guernica | 13th March 2023

On the many and varied frustrations of going deaf. "As time passes, as the hearing aids become insepara­ble from my sense of self, I’m coming to view the hearing world with not resentment but confusion. How can it be so easy? Hearing people laugh at a joke when I didn’t know words were spoken. They adjust themselves in space without looking. It’s exotic to watch them" (3,285 words)

Mystified by cryptic crosswords? We at The Browser are here to help. Pick up the ultimate guide, by Dan Feyer and Uri Bram, and let us guide you through the meaning of those clues - so you can get on with puzzling.

On Taste

Thomas Kaminski | Claremont Review Of Books | 24th May 2021

The concept of taste in art originates in an individual's unique, physical sense of taste. Yet we still mediate the idea of "good taste" through collective filters: what is in vogue, what received opinion dictates, and what experts say. To escape this we must admit that some encounters with art are more meaningful than others. "Either you have experienced the power of art or you haven’t" (4,046 words)

Either you have experienced the power of the full Browser or you haven't: five outstanding articles, a video and a podcast, in your inbox daily.

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The Editors | Harvard Law Review | 10th March 2023

If your herd of 170 goats commits a trespass, is that one offence or 170 offences? In America, the prosecutor decides. Crimes often comprise a number of offences that could be itemised separately, i.e., "stacked". Plea-bargaining prosecutors may threaten to stack charges, since stacked charges tend to attract higher sentences. Is this fair? Can the sum of the parts be greater than the whole crime? (8,100 words)

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Strippers, JFK, Stalin

Ellen Jovin | Delancey Place | 9th March 2023

When you write a book about grammar, and you go on a book tour, Jovin reports, people will always ask you about the Oxford comma. In one classic example which she cites, and which has not aged well, the Oxford comma distinguishes "We invited the strippers, JFK, and Stalin" from "We invited the strippers, JFK and Stalin". Even with the comma, in that case, I think one would read on (990 words)

If your herd of 170 goats reads The Browser, have they read five great articles, or 850? The finest legal minds are unsure. Maybe leave the goats outside for a minute, and just enjoy the full Browser yourself: five outstanding articles, a video and a podcast daily.

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Where Has All The Chartreuse Gone?

Jason Wilson | Everyday Drinking | 24th February 2023

The Carthusian monks who make this French herbal liqueur have decided to scale back their production. Being a global drinks conglomerate is not compatible with the values of a religious order that requires a vow of silence and a mode of living that has barely changed since the Middle Ages, they feel. But if you can get your hands on a bottle, it pairs well with citrus peel and vermouth (2,750 words)

Video: The Hole | John & Faith Hubley | YouTube | 15m 37s

Dizzy Gillespie and George Mathews improvise the dialogue of this 1962 Oscar-winning classic. "It’s a mix of everyday small-talk and, as time passes, the ever-present fear of nuclear war. Mathews’s character is convinced that the weapons won’t be used — true accidents don’t happen. Gillespie’s character sees the danger. There’s a real naturalism to the dialogue, and it’s packed with highlights"
Animation Obsessive

Packed with highlights, eh? You know what else is packed with highlights? The full Browser, of course. We send five outstanding articles, a video and a podcast daily: nothing but highlights.

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Riding The Goddamn Elephant

A.S. Hamrah | Baffler | 9th March 2023

I admit to a weakness for A.S. Hamrah's film criticism much as I do for Jay Nordlinger's music criticism and Pete Wells's restaurant criticism. In each case the writing is distinctive, confident, and enjoyable in itself, whatever one's degree of enthusiasm for the underlying art. This overview of Oscar contenders reads more like a hit-list than a hit-parade, but Fire Of Love comes off well (4,400 words)

A Lot With A Little

Simon Sarris | Mostly Water | 10th March 2023

An appropriately brief note on the power of suggestion in poetry and photography. I knew of the haiku, which tends to dwell on nature and the seasons; but the senryu, which tends to dwell on human nature, was new to me. This one I relished: "the grumbler / finally stands up to leave / then grumbles for an hour". As for Fan Ho's photographs, reproduced here, they are black-and-white magic (680 words)

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Yasheng Huang On The Chinese State

Tyler Cowen | Conversations | 8th March 2023

Interesting throughout. One of Tyler Cowen's best conversations to date. MIT professor Yasheng Huang discusses the strengths and weaknesses of the Chinese state, how the imperial examination system conditioned Chinese society for centuries, why the Communist Party dictatorship worked relatively well under Deng Xiaoping, and why the Covid crisis has so shaken Xi Jinping (7,500 words)

Mystified by cryptic crosswords? We at The Browser are here to help. Pick up the ultimate guide, by Dan Feyer and Uri Bram, and let us guide you through the meaning of those clues - so you can get on with puzzling.

The Art Of Computational Narrative

Samuel Arbesman | Cabinet Of Wonders | 8th March 2023

To call a limited set of computing commands a "language" used to feel like a metaphor. But as coding has become a popular skill, so programming languages have acquired the characteristics of natural languages. "Python, with its emphasis on white space, is more decorous in its diction and appearance than Javascript. The pointers of C programs have the telegraphic feel of Hemingway" (890 words)

Can't read C? Puzzled by Python? Never mind, there's still plenty to read in plain old prose. Let us direct you to the best: the full Browser recommends five outstanding articles daily, plus a video and a podcast.

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The Invention Of The Polygraph

Amit Katwala | CrimeReads | 8th March 2023

Extract from a new book about the lie detector. Gus Vollmer, 1920s police chief in Berkeley, California, sought to prove Daniel Defoe's idea that "there is a tremor in the blood of a thief". Vollmer had a subordinate create "a Frankenstein device" that measured a subject's blood pressure and breathing rate. Then he tested it on the officer that built it — who had been slacking off on duty (3,284 words)

What Plants Are Saying About Us

Amanda Gefter | Nautilus | 7th March 2023

Are plants intelligent? They can distinguish between the self and others, communicate with those around them, and interact with their environment in a way that can seem "cognitive". And yet they have nothing we could identify as a brain. The researcher interviewed here argues that accepting plant intelligence requires a new conception of human intelligence, too (5,069 words)

Are you an intelligent plant? Got questions about the world that need anthers? Is dull reading driving you to the a-xylum? Well, leaf it to us. The full Browser sends five outstanding articles, a video and a podcast daily - so your new reading habits are guaranteed to sucseed.

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