Miscarriage, Coffee, Colin Wilson, Offices, Drowning

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

The Wait

Jessica Grose | Lenny | 15th February 2017

A bad sonogram, a lost baby. “The fetus had a common chromosomal disorder — 99 percent with this disorder don’t make it to birth and the 1 percent that do have massive health problems. It was just bad luck, and not the kind of thing I should worry about happening again. They call it a ‘good’ miscarriage. Someone tells me that the miscarriage is a blessing, that my body was doing the right thing. When they say this, I want to punch them, but later I find the thought comforting” (2,600 words)

The Coffee Shaman

Sam Dean | Lucky Peach | 16th February 2017

George Howell “pushed light roasts and single-origin beans” while the rest of us were still drinking Nescafé. He invented the Frappucino, sold out to Starbucks, then travelled the world for decades meeting growers. Now he is back with a new method for grading coffee beans — and it seems to work: “The third cup tastes unbelievable, so good that each hit from the cupping spoon exerts a magnetic effect on my tongue as powerful as the crumbs at the bottom of a bag of Doritos” (6,000 words)

Colin Wilson: Overpriced At Nothing

Phil Baker | Times Literary Supplement | 15th February 2017

Engaging and not wholly unsympathetic discussion of the life and thought of Colin Wilson, who wrote a brilliant work of existentialism at 24 while sleeping rough on Hampstead Heath, and declared himself to be “the major literary genius of our century”. He then vitiated that claim by writing 300 more books, none of them much good, including World Famous UFOs and The Kingdom Of The Neanderthals, and newspaper articles mixing Barthes and Derrida with Nostradamus and space aliens (2,060 words)

What Makes The Perfect Office?

Tim Harford | Undercover Economist | 16th February 2017

Employers — and architects — tend to think that offices should be uniform and uncluttered. But employees tend to prefer clutter, especially clutter of their own making. Employees are right. Mess in the office is more often a consequence of productivity than an obstacle to it. It’s no accident that the most brilliant start-ups gravitate towards garages. “What people love is the ability to control the space in which they work – even if they end up filling the space with kitsch, or dog photos” (2,060 words)


Fenella Souter | Sydney Morning Herald | 11th February 2017

What it’s like to (almost) drown. “Drowning people don’t flail or call out. They can’t. By that point, instinct and the nervous system have taken over. Breathing takes precedence over vocalising. Their legs don’t appear to be kicking, their body is upright, head tipped back. Their mouths are dipping above and below the waterline as they desperately try to exhale and inhale. They put their arms out to the sides, trying to lift themselves up”. And yes, your whole life does flash before your eyes (3,200 words)

Video of the day: Marcel Proust In 1904

What to expect:

The only known film of Marcel Proust, glimpsed at a wedding in 1904. Introduction in French (2’42”)

Thought for the day

Virtue is so praiseworthy that wicked people practise it from self-interest
Marquis de Vauvenargues

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