Power, June, Picasso, Fakes, Words

The Self-Destruction Of American Power

Fareed Zakaria | Foreign Affairs | 13th June 2019

America reached its zenith as a world power when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, and entered its decline with the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Many factors combined to cut short the American moment; the greatest of them was the aftermath of 9/11. “Washington made decisions hastily and in fear. The world saw a country that was thrashing around like a wounded lion, tearing down international alliances and norms. American behaviour abroad shattered the moral and political authority of the United States” (2,860 words)


Gooseberries In The Gloaming

Lia Leendertz | Boundless | 6th June 2019

Gorgeously-done almanac entry for June, including advice on the gradations of twilight, the migrations of mackerel, and the making of elderflower champagne. “June is true summer: strawberries, roses and rainy picnics, ice cream and sunburnt shoulders. Meteorological summer begins on the 1st, astronomical summer on the 21st The countryside is full and fresh, gardens and hedgerows are bursting with colour. If you want your garden to look wonderful, you can hardly fail, for everything flowers in June” (2,900 words)


In Pablo Picasso’s Studio

Francoise Gilot | Literary Hub | 13th June 2019

The French painter and writer remembers her childhood, and her first meetings with Pablo Picasso, whose muse and lover she would soon become. Picasso, a Spanish national, remained in Paris through the Nazi occupation, working in the Rue des Grands-Augustins and keeping open house each morning. Regulars included Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Jacques Prévert and Jean Cocteau. Picasso welcomed the bustle as a spur to creativity: “It’s like the flare of a match. It lights up my whole day” (5,700 words)


A Few Thoughts About Deep Fakes

Stephen Wolfram | 12th June 2019

Neural networks will soon enable the production of undetectable fake videos, mapping one person’s face on to another person’s body precisely enough to fool any human eye and almost any computer. “There will be ways to protect against being ‘faked’ by doing things like wearing a live cellular automaton tie. But the real way to combat deep fakes is to use blockchain technology — to store, on a public ledger, hashes of images and sensor data from the environment where the images were acquired” (1,900 words)


Mr Bad News

Gay Talese | Esquire | 1st February 1966

Profile of Alden Whitman, chief obituary writer for the New York Times from 1964 to 1976. “While death obsessed Hemingway and diminished John Donne, it provides Alden Whitman with a job that he likes very much, and he would possibly die sooner if they took the job away and put him back on the copydesk. He admits that, after having written a fine advance obituary, his pride of authorship is such that he can barely wait for that person to drop dead so that he may see his masterpiece in print” (4,900 words)


Video: Waterfall 1.49. Experiments in optical illusion inspired by the drawings and imagined objects of M.C. Escher and Roger Penrose (1m 55s)

Audio: Infinite Scroll | Secret History Of The Future. Tim Standage and Seth Stevenson look at how past generations dealt with their anxieties about information overload (37m 40s)

Afterthought:
“Nobody panics when things go according to plan, even when the plan is horrifying”
— The Joker


Uri Bram, the CEO of The Browser, will be in Singapore on June 15th and 16th, and is keen to meet subscribers and friends there. Please email him — uri@thebrowser.com — if you would like to meet