Movable Type, Emperor Akihito, India, Epigenetics, Cheating, Gene Wilder

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

The Prints And The Pauper

Keith Houston | I Love Typography | 2nd September 2016

China developed movable type twice over, long before Gutenberg. Contemporary descriptions tell of a commoner called Bi Sheng who made movable type using baked-earth blocks in the mid-11C; but his system failed and no trace survives. In the early 14C a civil servant called Wang Zhen made movable type from wooden blocks — and this, too, failed. The insuperable problem was the language. A Chinese font would need at least 50,000 character blocks, expensive to make and cumbersome to use (2,300 words)

The Emperor’s Speech

Mark Jarnes | Japan Times | 29th August 2016

When Emperor Hirohito announced Japan’s surrender in a radio broadcast in 1945, his language was so formal and oblique that few understood what he was saying. When his son Akihito made an “appropriately indirect” televised address last month about his old age and failing health, listeners were almost as confused: “His vague wording initially led some to wonder if he had in fact abdicated, or whether he was simply laying down the foundation for such a move in the future” (940 words)

Thunder From The East

Gideon Rachman | Open | 2nd September 2016

The rise of China has amazed the world. The trajectory of India is much harder to assess. India looks set to surpass China as the world’s most populous country within a decade, and as the world’s largest economy at mid-century. But India lags far behind China in the factors of prosperity — education, literacy, infrastructure. A dynamic India could be a global leader in its own right. A listless India would probably find itself stuck in an uneasy coalition with America and Japan to contain China (5,700 words)

How To Get Another Thorax

Steven Rose | London Review Of Books | 1st September 2016

Epigenetics “seeks to explain how, starting from an identical set of genes, the contingencies of development can lead to different outcomes”. Genetics and development are treated as complementary forces, not competing or exclusive ones. “DNA is protectively wrapped in a cling-film of proteins – histones – portions of which have to be peeled away before any particular length of DNA can be read; environmental factors affect the peeling process, and therefore the selection of genes to be read” (3,500 words)

The New Cheating Economy

Brad Wolverton | Chronicle Of Higher Education | 28th August 2016

Investigating the companies that help students cheat. “Mr. Baley went looking for a company to take the whole class for him. He typed a few words into his browser and turned up dozens of results. One company impressed him. Its representatives responded promptly, and guaranteed a ‘B’ or better, or his money back. At each stage, he says, he dealt with people who were efficient, responsive, and reliable. In fact, the cheaters performed better than he thought they would” (4,500 words)

Gene Wilder Plays Son Of Mel Brooks

Jerry Leichtling | Longform / Village Voice | 4th September 2016

Profile of the late Gene Wilder as a rising film star, famed for his work with Mel Brooks and starting to strike out with his own projects. “Wilder on screen and in person evinces lovability; boyish softness and tenderness. He gets letters from women who want to mother him. But more from girls who see a tender father, brother, son, and lover figure. In real life, he’s Mister Lovable, too, but underneath you get the feeling that he, like Brooks, is one tough son of a bitch” (1,400 words)

Video of the day: The Evolution Of Stop Motion

What to expect:

Collage of stop-motion techniques From “The Enchanted Drawing” (1900) to “Kubo And The Two Strings” (2016)

Thought for the day

If people should ever start to do only what is necessary, millions would die of hunger
Georg Christoph Lichtenberg

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