Your weekly free edition of The Browser, perusing the internet for writing worth reading. Want to get five outstanding article recommendations each day, hand-chosen and beautifully summarised, with no ads and no fuss? Join now.
Owen Hatherley | Tribune | 15th April 2021
Lovingly created signage makes a city look lovely and creative. Cheap and nasty signage makes a city look cheap and nasty. The medium is the message. Berlin sends all the right messages, with well-turned fonts and neons; East Berlin copied West Berlin's aesthetics, so the reunified city is surprisingly cohesive. Pre-war London signs were gorgeous; post-war London signs are tawdry (1,300 words)
Kenrick Davis | Sixth Tone | 19th April 2021
China’s tiny professional wrestling scene is attracting a fanbase by putting a local twist on western tropes. "The villain, Steve the English as a Second Language Teacher, cements his bad guy status by bringing textbooks for the IELTS — an English exam loathed by Chinese students — into the ring. He battles heroes such as Bamboo Crusher, a fighter with painted panda eye marks" (3,058 words)
Hannah Thomasy | Undark | 7th April 2021
Horribly gripping. What it's like to be a volunteer in a "challenge trial". Your body is "challenged", by being infected with germs, or parasites, so that your reactions, and the effects of unproven drugs, can be monitored. "Bernot couldn’t see the larvae, but he could soon feel them: a tingling, itchy sensation as the worm larvae wriggled through his skin and into his bloodstream" (2,700 words)
Detailed dissection of a 1990s American advertising campaign. The "got milk?" slogan and accompanying TV adverts — the most famous of which was directed by an early career Michael Bay — became ubiquitous in pop culture. This show zooms in on the craft and conflicts involved in creating such a campaign, and asks whether it was actually effective in getting more people to drink milk (65m 09s)
by Leo Tolstoy | Courtesy of Five Books
A Tolstoy biographer (and translator of Anna Karenina) gives her view on the best translation of War and Peace. When recent revisions by an American scholar are taken into account, the 1922 translation by the husband and wife team Louise and Aylmer Maude comes top, and deserving of the title 'definitive'. "The Maudes both spent long years living in Moscow and spoke flawless Russian. Although neither came from a literary background, they knew Tolstoy well" (1392 pages)
Editor's Note: The conversation between Robert Cottrell and Stephen Dubner on all things Freakonomics is now available to watch online.
"It's not the voting that's democracy, it's the counting"
— Tom Stoppard
Tired of waiting for the latest instalment? Subscribers get:
- five hand-chosen, expertly-summarised pieces each day
- the latest, greatest articles from publications you wouldn't read otherwise
- additional selections of audio, videos and quotes
- a weekly Best Of featuring our absolute favourite pieces
- no ads, and no fuss.