Media, Llamas, Memory, Interrogation, Brutes, Handles


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

Matthew Gentzkow On Media Economics

Douglas Clement | Minneapolis Fed | 23rd May 2016

Interview. Interesting throughout. Watching TV was OK for the average child in pre-internet days because it was better than many things that the average child might otherwise have been doing. TV-watching was more of a problem for adults because it crowded out newspapers and radio with their higher ratio of information to entertainment, and it correlated with a decline in voting. Too early to be sure about social media, but history says we worry too much about new technology (8,800 words)

How Not To Raise Llamas

David McDannald | Oxford American | 24th May 2016

On reflection probably a short story, but reads equally well as memoir. A San Francisco writer moves to West Texas to liquidate his dead cousin’s threadbare ranch. The cattle have been stolen, the goats can be sold — but what about the llama, too ugly to be saleable and too wild to set free? “With a malformed upper lip and bottom teeth like porcelain shards he might have made a more attractive insect. Each time I led a buyer to the corral, the llama sprayed us with a hot shower of spit” (1,800 words)

Some Things Are Worth Forgetting

Rebecca Onion | Slate | 13th May 2016

Interview with David Rieff. George Santayana’s claim that “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” is not just wrong, it is an incitement to tragedy, at least when applied to nations. Exalting the memory of past conflicts is the best way of ensuring that they will be re-enacted by later generations, as in the Balkans, and Northern Ireland, and the Middle East. Honour the dead, but don’t let them run public life. And if you get rid of a dictator, take his name off the street signs (2,500 words)

Nothing But The Truth

Robert Kolker | Marshall Project | 24th May 2016

Detectives have worn down suspects for decades with high-pressure techniques familiar from police procedurals: The claustrophobic room, the relentless questioning, the insistence on a theory of the case that assumes the suspect’s guilt. It works, but too well. You get a lot of false confessions. The American government, shamed by waterboarding and Abu Ghraib, is funding research into new approaches. The main finding so far: Interrogators get the best results when they sit back and listen (5,900 words)

What The Hell Is Going On?

Tyler Cowen | Marginal Revolution | 25th May 2016

Our current political cacophony is the sound of embittered men behaving badly. “The contemporary world is not well built for a large chunk of males. A feminized culture allergic to most forms of violence, post-feminist gender relations, and egalitarian semi-cosmopolitanism just don’t sit well with many — what shall I call them — brutes? Quite simply, there are many people who don’t like it when the world becomes nicer. They do less well with nice. And they respond by behaving less nicely” (680 words)

Wittgenstein’s Handles

Christopher Benfey | New York Review of Books | 24th May 2016

On the handle as metaphor in Wittgenstein, Simmel, Frost, Emerson and others. When designing a house for his sister during a respite from philosophy, Wittgenstein approached the construction of door handles “with an almost fanatical exactitude”. They touched something deep within him. He returned to philosophy inspired to develop a new account of language in which he argued that words worked like handles: They could look “more or less alike”, but do very different jobs (2,000 words)

Video of the day: Hyper-Reality

What to expect:

Sci-fi vision of a very near future saturated with social media and virtual reality. By Keiichi Matsuda

Thought for the day

Most of the change we think we see in life is due to truths being in and out of favor
Robert Frost

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