Gay Jail, Art Market, Mid-Life Crisis, Grothendiek, Spreadsheets

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

In The Gay Wing Of LA Jail

Ani Ucar | LA Weekly | 18th November 2014

Los Angeles Men's Central Jail "is a cauldron of racial tension where violence is easily stirred" — except in K6G, "the gay wing", where inmates have "surprised everyone by setting up a small and flourishing society behind bars". Pressure from straight inmates to get placed in K6G has led the Sheriff’s Department to use a “classification officer” for "weeding out impostors" by means of "a series of questions about gay culture" (4,210 words)

At The New York Art Auctions

Kenny Schachter | ARTnews | 18th November 2014

London dealer's notes from recent New York sales. "Sotheby’s disappointing auction felt like a long, rambling sermon, the kind where everyone is fidgeting in their seats, hankering to leave. A Jasper Johns’ flag fetched $36 million, but overall, the results, especially when combined with those of the following day sale, felt like a bit of a market correction. Some of the hot air was being let out some of Koons’s balloons" (2,930 words)

The Real Roots Of Midlife Crisis

Jonathan Rauch | Atlantic | 17th November 2014

Forty-six is the saddest age. "You look at your life and think, Is this all?" But stick around. Don't do anything drastic. Things will improve. "About 10 years later you look at your life again and think, Actually, this is pretty good”. Life has a U-bend in the middle; and on the far side of it we learn to be happy again by accepting our limitations and setting more realistic goals for ourselves. We become wiser (6,110 words)

The Messiah Of Zooming Out

Steve Landsburg | Big Questions | 17th November 2014

Tribute to the late Alexander Grothendiek, "the greatest of all modern mathematicians and arguably the greatest mathematician of all time". He "rewrote the foundations of geometry". His method was not so much to solve problems as to discover what possibilities they contained: "Once you figure out how general it is, the explanation will stare you in the face". He was "the messiah of zooming out" (1,700 words)

A Spreadsheet Way Of Knowledge

Steven Levy | Backchannel | 24th October 2014

Prescient view from 1984 about the emergence of computer spreadsheets and their potential for transforming American finance. "Entrepreneurs and their venture-capitalist backers are emerging as new culture heroes, settlers of another American frontier. Less well known is that most of these new entrepreneurs depend on their economic spreadsheets as much as movie cowboys depend on their horses" (5,400 words)

Video of the day: The End Of Old Europe

What to expect: David Hargreaves, editor of The Browser Looks Back ( , talks about the opening weeks of the First World War (42 minutes)

Thought for the day

Power and violence are opposites; where the one rules absolutely, the other is absent
Hannah Arendt (

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