Newsletter 1021

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

Best of the Moment

Jewish Humour: Such Small Portions

Anthony Gottlieb | New York Times | 1st June 2013

It exists, but its specificity is exaggerated. "The association between Jews and joking has become so powerful that Jewish humor is now all too easy to detect even where it doesn’t really exist. This phenomenon should perhaps be named the Mrs. Morgenbesser Effect. When asked how she was faring, the mother of Sidney Morgenbesser, a New York philosopher, is reported to have replied, 'Not so good — thank God'" (Metered paywall)

Pumps Versus Plugs

Steven Johnson | Medium | 31st May 2013

What people don't seem to get yet about the convenience of electric cars: 95% the time you will be charging the car at home, which is as convenient as refuelling can get. Imagine never having to visit a gas station again. "You pull into the driveway, turn the car off, plug it in, and you’re done. Electric cars are 'hard to refuel' only because we’ve been acclimated to the tedious grind of driving to gas stations and standing around a pump"

On The Moscow Metro And Being Gay

Dmitry Kuzmin | Words Without Borders | 1st June 2013

On being gay in Russia when official and public homophobia is on the rise (again) and new laws have been passed against "propaganda of homosexuality". It's an echo of Soviet prison-camp methods, when career criminals were pacified by allowing them to brutalise political dissidents. "Citizens are presented with an opportunity to look down upon another person and gratuitously make that person’s life miserable"

Picasso: Room For Greatness

Jackie Wullschlager | Financial Times | 31st May 2013

Review of Picasso and Truth: From Cubism to Guernica a "thrilling" new critical and biographical study by T.J. Clark, Marxist and professor of art at UC Berkeley. “The World, for the bourgeois, is a room. Rooms, interiors, furnishings, covers, curlicues are the individual made flesh. And no style besides cubism has ever dwelt so profoundly in these few square feet, this little space of possession and manipulation” (Metered paywall)

The Jargon Of Junk Food

Paul McFedries | IEEE Spectrum | 31st May 2013

Manufactured foods need manufactured words. Food companies strive to increase stomach share by cranking up the pillar ingredients — salt, sugar, and fat — to a bliss point of overwhelming flavour. The optimal mouthfeel is a vanishing caloric density at which the food melts in your mouth so quickly that the brain is fooled into thinking it’s hardly consuming any calories at all, so it just keeps snacking, or auto-eating

Video of the day: Annoying Noises That Teenagers Make

Thought for the day:

"All rhetorical questions are accusations"— David Mamet

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