Mapping, Brains, Chinese Thought, Translation

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

Internet Mapping, Digital Hell

Kashmir Hill | Fusion | 10th April 2016

When an online mapping service cannot locate a precise address, it defaults to the central point in the general area. The central point of the United States is the Taylor farm near Wichita, Kansas. Every fleeing debtor in America is robotically assumed to be in Joyce Taylor’s front yard. “There are now over 600 million IP addresses associated with that default coordinate”. “That poor woman has been harassed for years” (2,700 words)

The Elephant Brain

Suzana Herculano-Houzel | Nautilus | 7th April 2016

If the brain generates intelligence, then more brain should mean more intelligence. But not so. “The elephant in the room is, well, the elephant”. An elephant brain is three times the size of a human brain. Why is the elephant not three times cleverer? The answer is found here with the aid of an elephant’s brain and a meat slicer. In brief: The elephant’s brain is big, but badly organised. The neurons are all in the back (2,800 words)

Revolution In Chinese History

Ian Johnson | New York Review of Books | 11th April 2016

Newly discovered ancient writings on wet bamboo sticks force a remapping of Chinese intellectual history. They recount “freewheeling” political debate among scholars and philosophers 2,500 years ago. Confucianism was just one school among many. But all traces of this liberalism and pluralism were erased by the book-burning Qin emperor when he unified China a century later. “Competing ideas were lost — until now” (3,900 words)

English Is Basically A Trap

Philip Oltermann | Guardian | 9th April 2016

Michael Hofmann, the “world’s most influential translator of German into English” talks about his work. “I have come to be very fond of German again. There are reaches of simplicity that English cannot do without sounding ignorant and stupid. In English you always have to sound as if you are making an effort. English is basically a trap: class trap, dialect trap, feeling trap. It’s almost a language for spies” (1,950 words)

Video of the day: The Cartoonist Is In

What to expect:

The New Yorker’s Bob Mankoff discusses cartoons about illness and health (2’38”)

Thought for the day

Mistakes are always initial
Cesar Pavese

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