Matt Taibbi, Bilingualism, Cake-Cutting, Great Barrier Reef, Blonde On Blonde, Aleppo

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

The Fury And Failure Of Donald Trump

Matt Taibbi | Rolling Stone | 14th October 2016

Enjoyable if belated philippic against Donald Trump. “Trump’s early rampage through the Republican field made literary sense. It was classic farce. He was the lewd, unwelcome guest who horrified priggish, decent society, a theme that has mesmerized audiences for centuries from Vanity Fair to Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas. When you let a hands-y, drunken slob loose at an aristocrats’ ball, the satirical power of the story comes from the aristocrats’ deserving what comes next” (4,700 words)

Bringing Up Babel

Robert Lane Greene | 1843 | 13th October 2016

On bringing up a child bilingually. Short-term drawbacks, long-term gains. “Like all bilingual kids, Henry sometimes uses the words or grammar of one language in the other. Kom herned is perfect Danish, but come heredown is goofy in English. Bilinguals hit developmental milestones at the same rate as their monolingual peers. But they are prone to errors, and their total vocabulary is divided between two languages. So they usually lag behind slightly in the schooling language” (1,800 words)

Cut Your Cake And Eat It Too

Erica Klarreich | Quanta | 6th October 2016

Computer scientists have worked out how to divide a cake unarguably fairly among any number of people, thereby solving a problem that has frustrated mathematicians for decades. But don’t try doing this at home: “The algorithm is extraordinarily complex: Dividing a cake among n players can require as many as n^n^n^n^n^n steps and a roughly equivalent number of cuts. Even for just a handful of players, this number is greater than the number of atoms in the universe” (1,700 words)

Obituary: The Great Barrier Reef

Rowan Jacobsen | Outside | 13th October 2016

“The Great Barrier Reef of Australia passed away in 2016 after a long illness. It was 25 million years old. For most of its life, the reef was the world’s largest living structure, and the only one visible from space. It contained more biodiversity than all of Europe combined. No one knows if a serious effort could have saved the reef, but no such effort was made. The Great Barrier Reef was predeceased by the South Pacific Coral Triangle, the Florida Reef, and most other coral reefs on earth” (1,280 words)

Mystic Nights: The Making Of Blonde On Blonde

Sean Wilentz | Oxford American | 13th October 2016

“Blonde On Blonde was, and remains, a gigantic peak in Dylan’s career. From more than a dozen angles, it describes basic, not always flattering, human desire. It never degrades or mocks primary experience. Its doomed, hurtful love affairs do not negate love, or abandon efforts to remake love, to liberate it: quite the opposite, as in the litanies of its concluding psalm to the mysteriously wise Sad-Eyed Lady. Blonde On Blonde is a disillusioned but seriously hopeful work of art” (6,700 words)

Lessons On Surviving A Siege

Janine di Giovanni | Atlantic | 13th October 2016

After the siege of Sarajevo and the horrors of the Bosnian civil war, the West said: “Never again”. But in Aleppo and in the Syrian proxy war the barbarity is being repeated. “I don’t remember cannibalism in Sarajevo, but I do remember a bleak day in the winter of 1993 when a dog with a human hand limped by from the site of nearby shelling. Similar hideous scenes occur daily in Eastern Aleppo, where 250,000 people have been under government siege since September” (1,800 words)

Video of the day: The Spielberg Face

What to expect:

The defining image of a Spielberg film is the face of a child staring wide-eyed in wonderment (9’34”)

Thought for the day

I have an instinct for loving the truth; but only an instinct

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