Mad Men, Houellebecq, Carr/Morozov , Singapore, Sperm, India & Bangladesh


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

The Shock Of The Pretty

James Meek | London Review Of Books | 25th March 2015

Reflections on watching seven seasons of Mad Men. A triumph of style. But things that matter are deliberately swamped by things that look good. The serious issues of the 1960s — racism, sexism, homophobia, war — are made to seem an organic part of America's growing-up. "The adult straight white America of the new millennium permits itself to shake its head with bemused affection for its impetuous younger self" (6,800 words)

Houellebecq In The Flesh

James Lasdun | New York Review Of Books | 24th March 2015

Michel Houellebecq's raddled face says as much as his writing. "At fifty-seven he has the miraculous look of someone almost double his age. Etched, haggard, battered, half-collapsed, his face seems destined to become one of the great ruins of our literary era; something to measure up to Beckett or Auden for druidic ancientness. His mouth has a musculature that seems evolved to express infinitely fine gradations of disenchantment" (1,270 words)

The Taming Of Tech Criticism

Evgeny Morozov | Baffler | 24th March 2015

Nicholas Carr is "the poet laureate of First World problems". In The Glass Cage he argues that technology is eroding our skills and dulling our instincts. But does it follow that we should begin a radical questioning of technology and the social arrangements to which it gives rise? Apparently not. "The user-producer axis exhausts Carr’s political imagination". The job of the technology critic is not to change Google, but to write about it (5,200 words)

Obituary: Lee Kuan Yew

Philip Bowring | Guardian | 22nd March 2015

Lee Kuan Yew lived a life big enough to overfill many obituaries. Yesterday's Telegraph piece (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/11437131/Lee-Kuan-Yew-Asian-statesman-obituary.html) focused on Lee's personal story. Philip Bowring for the Guardian looks more at Lee's political methods, his ideology and his legacy. "The moral authority that he commanded left him the arbiter of anything he cared about. Like a Mao in miniature, he seemed both to enjoy and have contempt for the adulation that surrounded him" (3,820 words)

The Sperm Economy

Emma Boyde | Financial Times | 25th March 2015 | | Read with 1Pass

A human sperm donor will usually be paid modestly and may expect his donation to produce at most one child; but the clinic can sell the semen for up to €1,000 per half-millilitre. Each donation may produce many children. Denmark says that some donors father at least 100 children, and perhaps many more, because the numbers do not count mothers who buy sperm directly to self-inseminate at home (900 words)

India’s Great Wall

Kai Friese | n+1 | 24th March 2015

India fortifies its border with Bangladesh to keep out Muslim migrants, in a crude show of nationalism with cartographic complications, since there are 106 pockets of Indian territory inside Bangladesh and 92 the other way around, some of which are counter enclaves — an island of Bangladesh surrounded by India surrounded by Bangladesh, or vice versa; dating from the days when local princes settled their gambling debts with land (5,500 words)

Video of the day: The Bucket Board

What to expect: An artist and a carpenter craft a perfect skateboard from garbage (3'00")

Thought for the day

We are inclined to believe those whom we do not know, because they have never deceived us
Samuel Johnson

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