Mirrors, Joseph Conrad, Ndrangheta, Diversity, George III

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

The Mirror Effect

Ian Mortimer | Lapham's Quarterly | 9th November 2016

The invention of the glass mirror around 1300, and its spread across Europe in the following 200 years, allowed people to see themselves clearly for the first time. In 1400 mirrors were for kings. By 1500 the prosperous city merchant could afford one. “He could see his own reflection and thus knew how he appeared to the rest of the world. People’s ability to appreciate their unique appearance led to a huge rise in the number of portraits commissioned, especially in the Low Countries and Italy” (1,400 words)

Literary Architecture: Heart Of Darkness

Matteo Pericoli | Paris Review | 10th November 2016

Conrad’s novel imagined as a building. “The skyscraper is composed of a clean, well-defined volume and a formless, organic, irregular mass that seems to be enveloping the volume while supporting it and, at the same time, oozing from it like a leak from a crack. The shape of the central, glass and steel building is that of an upside-down truncated square pyramid—tall and slender, bright and reflective like a spear stuck into the ground. The accretion is geometrically fluid. with few openings” (458 words)

The Real Spectre

John Hooper | 1843 | 12th November 2016

The power of the Sicilian Mafia has been largely usurped in the past 20 years by ’Ndrangheta, a criminal fraternity born in 19C Calabria which has since has evolved into a real-life SPECTRE, a multinational of guns and drugs and murder, founded on the cocaine trade, with subsidiaries in every country. “It’s like McDonald’s. Wherever you go, you find the same hamburger. With the ’Ndrangheta, you find the same institutions, the same rules, the same code. That is one reason for its strength” (4,200 words)

The Coalition For Diversity

Tyler Cowen | Marginal Revolution | 13th November 2016

“When I speak with Democrats, and with Progressives in particular, they view themselves as the people concerned with diversity. That is a significant cognitive mistake. Until Democrats and Progressives can grasp their lack of diversity, they will struggle to make their way forward in the new political climate of the United States. They will not understand how anyone could view them as divisive, since they automatically think of diversity as being on their side” (740 words)

Through the Eyes Of King George

Sara Georgini | Smithsonian | 10th November 2016

The British Crown unseals the Windsor Castle archives, a “treasure trove of nearly 350,000 documents” including George III’s essay on the loss of the American colonies. “He had never seen the American continent, and rarely set foot outside London. But his private papers reveal that he closely tracked the war’s path in maps and regiment lists. A man of routine, he dated his daily letters to the minute as the conflict raged. He tried to picture the England that his children would inherit” (1,500 words)

Video of the day: High And Low

What to expect:

Surreal music video. Gets markedly better after the first 50 seconds (3’40”)

Thought for the day

Science is organised scepticism
Sir Martin Rees

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