James Madison, Frederick Law Olmsted, Ramanujan, Hillary Clinton, Basil Bunting


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

Were The Framers Democrats?

Cass Sunstein | New Rambler | 31st October 2016

The Framers’ Coup, Michael J. Karman’s “magisterial” study of the drafting of the US Constitution, “may well be the best book ever written on the founders and their handiwork”. The Framers, conservatives by the standards of their day, feared direct democracy and the redistribution of wealth. James Madison “the most important actor on the scene”, manoeuvred into place a Constitution which professed popular government while ensuring “ultimate control by an enlightened elite” (1,900 words)

The Genius Of Winding Paths

Michael J. Lewis | First Things | 31st October 2016

A wanderer and writer acclaimed for his trilogy of books about the society and economy of the slaveholding South, The Cotton Kingdom, Frederick Law Olmsted was 36 when he decided to try a profession that was new to him and new to America — landscape architecture. “Had he remained a journalist, he would have been one of the great commentators on American life. Instead, in 1857, in a decision that remains inexplicable, he applied for the position of superintendent of Central Park” (4,030 words)

Touched By The Goddess

Krishnaswami Alladi | Inference | 28th September 2016

A number theorist reviews The Man Who Knew Infinity, Matt Brown’s film about the Indian mathematical genius Srinivasa Ramanujan, and his Cambridge mentor, G.H. Hardy. “Hardy recalled visiting Ramanujan in a nursing home in Putney: ‘I had ridden in taxi cab number 1729 and remarked that the number seemed to me rather a dull one’. Ramanujan replied: ‘No, it is a very interesting number; it is the smallest number expressible as the sum of two cubes in two different ways'” (7,000 words)

Hillary Rodham Clinton: What It Took

Michael Kruse | Politico | 4th November 2016

“The guarded 69-year-old woman whom Americans have watched so closely is a personality forged by a career-long collision with the constantly shifting set of gender-based expectations people have put on her. There’s no question that her inside-the-system strategy, the long life of triangulation and shifting, adjusting her goals and even her persona, is what created the path that led to her presidency. It may also be her biggest challenge in governing the American people” (6,400 words)

Basil Bunting vs T. S. Eliot

Mark Hutchinson | Times Literary Supplement | 2nd November 2016

The young Basil Bunting swashbuckled his way around the world as a sailor, prisoner, airman, journalist, diplomat and spy. But as a poet he got nowhere. T.S. Eliot stood in his way, dismissing him as an inferior copy of Ezra Pound. By the 1960s Bunting was a sad and ageing sub-editor on a newspaper in northern England. He “started piecing together a new work on the train to and from work each day”. The result, somehow, was Briggflatts, “one of the finest poems of the twentieth century” (5,800 words)

Video of the day: Unsatisfying

What to expect:

“A video about unsatisfying situations: the frustrating, annoying, disappointing little things of everyday life” (1’16”)

Thought for the day

Impartiality is a pompous name for indifference
G.K. Chesterton

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