Georges Simenon, Bolshiness, Politial Correctness, Powerball, Islam, Language

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

The Art Of Fiction: Georges Simenon

Carvel Collins | Paris Review | 1st September 1955

“I am an artisan. I need to work with my hands. I would like to carve my novel in a piece of wood. My characters — I would like to have them heavier, more three-dimensional. I would like to make a man so that everybody, looking at him, would find his own problems in this man. My characters have a profession, have characteristics; you know their age, their family situation. I try to make each one of those characters heavy, like a statue, and to be the brother of everybody in the world” (5,200 words)

Bolshiness Is Back

Adrian Wooldridge | The World In 2017 | 2nd December 2016

How to react responsibly to resurgent populism. “Liberalism’s champions need to take worries about immigration more seriously and check their instinct to ride roughshod over minorities such as evangelical Christians. They also need to redouble their efforts to fix capitalism’s most obvious problems. High levels of inequality are threatening stability. Economic concentration is allowing companies to extract record profits. Overregulation is driving businesspeople to distraction” (840 words)

Political Correctness: The Phantom Enemy

Moira Weigel | Guardian | 30th November 2016

“If you say that something is technically correct, you are suggesting that it is wrong – the adverb implies a ‘but’. To say that a statement is politically correct hints at something more insidious, namely, that the speaker is acting in bad faith. He or she has ulterior motives, and is hiding the truth in order to advance an agenda or to signal moral superiority. To say that someone is being ‘politically correct’ discredits them twice. First, they are wrong. Second, and more damningly, they know it” (5,500 words)

What If You Bought The Powerball?

Andry Kiersz | Atlantic | 13th January 2016

Written when the Powerball jackpot had a cash value of $930 million. In the Powerball draw, five white balls are drawn from a drum of 69 balls, and one red ball is drawn from a drum of 26 balls. That makes 11,238,513 possible outcomes for the white balls; multiply by 26 red balls and you get 292,201,338 possible Powerball tickets. At $2 per ticket, you could buy every possible ticket for $584,402,676. So: Spend $585 million, get $930 million. What’s the catch? (1,050 words)

Advice for Young Muslims

Omar Saif Ghobash | Foreign Affairs | 29th November 2016

An Arab diplomat’s letters to his son. “There is nothing written in stone that places Muslim women below Muslim men. Treating women as inferior is not a religious duty; it is simply a practice of patriarchal societies. The limits placed on women in conservative Muslim societies, such as mandatory veiling, have their roots not in Islamic doctrine, but rather in men’s fear that women, if left uncontrolled, will overtake men by being more disciplined, more focused, more hard-working”

In Search Of The World’s Hardest Language

The Economist | Medium | 1st December 2016

And the winner is: Tuyuca, spoken by a few hundred people in the eastern Amazon, which divides nouns into 140 classes. The noun-class for “bark that does not cling closely to a tree” is also used for baggy trousers, and for wet plywood in the process of coming apart. Tuyuca uses “evidential” verb-endings to signal the source of a speaker’s knowledge: diga ape-wi means that “the boy played soccer (I know because I saw him)”, while diga ape-hiyi means “the boy played soccer (I assume)” (2,100 words)

Video of the day: The Big Cloth

What to expect:

Documentary about the Harris Tweed industry on the isles of Harris and Lewis in the Outer Hebrides (4’52”)

Thought for the day

I love children, especially when they cry, for then someone takes them away
Nancy Mitford

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