Immortality, Calais, Ancient Writing, Journalism, Mexican Tunnels, Work

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

The God Quest: Why Humans Long For Immortality

Philip Ball | New Statesman | 30th July 2015

The hope of longer life used to be tempered by the fear of ageing: Who would want a thousand-year-old body? As scientists begin to understand the biology of ageing, and how to halt it, radical life extension starts to look much more attractive. But beware those who claim to have the formula already: “Most gerontologists who are widely known to the public are unscrupulous purveyors of useless nostrums.” (3,500 words)

Fortress Calais

Matthew Taylor et al | Guardian | 27th July 2015

Migrants struggling to enter Britain beseige the entrance to the Channel Tunnel at Calais, which "increasingly resembles a fortress". High fences topped with razor wire separate the migrants from the motorways, but they are readily scaled. Police remove 1,000 stowaways from the backs of lorries bound for England every 24 hours. The "Jungle", a shanty town for 3,000 transients, "is becoming more permanent by the day" (1,550 words)

Words Without Borders

Matthew Battles | Lapham's Quarterly | 29th July 2015

The art of writing gets off "to a supremely leisurely start" in Ancient Greece. The Greeks make their alphabet from Phoenician letters in the ninth century BC. But writing is for commerce, not for culture. Centuries more pass before literature appears. "The artistic culture of ancient Greece had little need of writing; its power was held by the performers, the singers, to whom scribes and 'authors' could appear only as rivals" (2,320 words)

You Can’t Trust Journalism

Felix Salmon | Fusion | 27th July 2015

What journalism can learn from science. Gathering knowledge is a "complex, iterative task". Ideas are shared, challenged, refined. That's more or less how science works. But not journalism. In journalism everybody competes, nobody co-operates, nobody opens up their data for checking and replication. "What I’d love to see would be a nonprofit journalism outfit which did nothing but re-report any big or interesting scoops" (2,250 words)

How The Sinaloa Cartel Digs Tunnels

Monte Reel | New Yorker | 27th July 2015

Mexico's Sinaloa drug cartel dug a mile-long tunnel to get its leader out of prison last week. Which seemed an incredible feat; but digging tunnels is one of the cartel's core skills, for smuggling drugs across the Mexican-American border. "Many include elevators, electric lights, ventilation ducts, and cleverly disguised exit shafts. They reach as deep as seventy feet, and they tend to be tall enough for an adult to walk or ride through" (5,060 words)

Keynes And Hard Work

Tim Harford | Financial Times | 30th July 2015 | | Read with 1Pass

J.M. Keynes was right to predict global prosperity, wrong to predict that this would mean lives of leisure for all. Where did his analysis break down? "The noble answer is that we rather like some kinds of work. We enjoy spending time with our colleagues, intellectual stimulation or the feeling of a job well done. The ignoble answer is that we work hard because there is no end to our desire to outspend each other" (650 words)

Video of the day: The Plagiarist In The Kitchen

What to expect: Jonathan Meades introduces his new cookbook of borrowed recipes (4'40")

Thought for the day

There is bad in all good authors; what a pity the converse isn’t true
Philip Larkin

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