Reddit, Neuroscience, Friends, Laws, Gorey

Your periodic free edition of The Browser, perusing the internet for writing worth reading. Join now for five hand-picked articles every day.

Organised Lightning

Mario Gabriele | The Generalist | 21st February 2021 | U

Deep dive into the history and workings of Reddit, "conductor of cultural currents" and "town square" of the Internet from the days of Aaron Swartz (who rewrote its code) to those of GameStop. But Reddit's stock-market value is barely one-tenth that of Twitter; it is "one of the most misunderstood and undervalued companies in the world". Can it, should it, reach out to a wider public? (5,950 words)  

Jed Rakoff | Literary Hub | 23rd February 2021 | U

A judge's notes on eugenics, lobotomy, recovered memory syndrome, and their effects in law. "The natural impulse of forward-thinking people to employ the wonders of neuroscience in making the law more 'modern' and 'scientific' needs to be tempered with a healthy skepticism, or some dire results are likely. The history of using 'brain science' to alter the law is not a pretty picture" (2,400 words)

Friends Of Robin Dunbar

Rachel Cooke | Guardian | 21st February 2021 | U

Review of Robin Dunbar's new book, Friends, which "revisits and unpicks" the author's famous conjecture that humans can maintain up to 150 concurrent friendships (the "Dunbar number"), of which five are "intimate". Dunbar did his initial research in the 1990s, before the rise of social media; but he has seen nothing since to change his number; in real life, 150 friends is plenty (980 words)

Drafting Guidance

Office Of The Parliamentary Counsel | June 2020 | PDF

How to draft laws clearly. This is a style guide intended for British lawyers and legislators, but it contains much of more general application and value — for example, advice on syntax in Section 1.2; on gendered pronouns in Section 2.1; on formulae and tables in Section 3.5; on expressions of time in Part 8; and on a miscellany of potentially troublesome words and phrases in Part 11 (27,000 words)

Born To Be Posthumous

Julie Phillips | 4Columns | 11th February 2021 | U

Sporting a long fur coat, rings on all his fingers, and the full beard of a Victorian intellectual, Edward Gorey incarnated the "gothic camp aesthetic" of his own illustrations, which were populated by Firbankian men, long-skirted women, and hollow-eyed children. "Where in his psyche did all those fey fainting ladies and ironic dead tots come from? And, not unrelatedly: Was Gorey gay?" (1,120 words)

Video: It Was A Very Good Year (In Studio) | Frank Sinatra. Short film of the singer expertly recording the 1965 hit with a live orchestra (7m 11s)

Audio: Lady Henrietta Spencer-Churchill Of Blenheim Palace | Duchess. An insight into today's aristocracy, who have to share their stately homes with the public to survive (36m 25s)

"He who cannot howl will not find his pack"
Charles Simic

Editor's note: This week's Spectator features an action-packed review of As We Were, the magnificent week-by-week chronicle of the First World War by David Hargreaves and Margaret-Louise O’Keeffe, which began life as a series of weekly despatches on The Browser's sibling website, Century Journal, and grew over the years into a monumental achievement falling somewhere between Tolstoy's War And Peace and Vasily Grossman's Stalingrad. As We Were is now available for order in book form, as a four-volume edition with slip case, price £100. You can find a short video introduction here:

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