Radio, JFK, Science, Guernica, Venezuela


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

Ghost Radio

Zaria Gorvett | BBC Magazine | 2nd August 2017

Elegant investigation of an unmanned radio station transmitting pure noise out of St Petersburg. “Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, for the last three-and-a-half decades, it’s been broadcasting a dull, monotonous tone. Every few seconds it’s joined by a second sound, like some ghostly ship sounding its foghorn. Then the drone continues.” Best guess: The drones keep the frequency clear of other broadcasters, so that Russia can use it in the event of national crisis (2,100 words)

CIA Doubts About JFK’s Murder

Larry Sabato & Philip Shenon | Politico | 3rd August 2017

Newly declassified files reveal serious doubts within the CIA in the 1970s about the cause of John F. Kennedy’s assassination. CIA analysts did not directly challenge the official story that Oswald alone fired on Kennedy. But they came to think that Oswald was motivated by American attempts to assassinate his idol, Fidel Castro; and that US investigators overlooked clandestine meetings in which Oswald received encouragement from Cuban and Soviet officials. Why did they not say so at the time? (2,300 words)

Threads In The Tapestry of Physics

Sheldon Lee Glashow | Inference | 3rd August 2017

Observations on the roots of science. More a set of notes than a purposeful essay, but never a dull sentence. Strong on the history of measurement, and on chemistry’s debt to alchemy. “The days of the week inherited links to the seven ancient metals and to the seven temperaments associated with the planets: gold to sunny Sunday, silver to lunatic Monday, iron to martial Tuesday, mercury to mercurial Wednesday, tin to jovial Thursday, copper to venial Friday, lead to saturnine Saturday” (5,900 words)

Picasso And Tragedy

T.J. Clark | London Review Of Books | 2nd August 2017

“What marks Guernica off from most other murals of its giant size is the fact that it registers so powerfully as a single scene. It is patched together out of fragments, episodes, spotlit silhouettes. Part of its agony is disconnectedness – the isolation that terror is meant to enforce. But this disconnectedness is drawn together into a unity: Guernica does not unwind like a scroll; it is a picture – a distinct shape of space – whose coherence is felt immediately by the viewer for all its strangeness” (6,900 words)

Venezuela’s Unprecedented Collapse

Ricardo Hausmann | Project Syndicate | 31st July 2017

Venezuela’s economic catastrophe “dwarfs any in the history of the US, Western Europe, or the rest of Latin America”. The economy has shrunk by 35% since 2013, or 40% in per capita terms, since the population is also shrinking through emigration. Venezuela is now the world’s most indebted country. Imports of goods and services have fallen by more than three-quarters. The mortality rate for newborns has increased 100-fold. It is like Romania under Nicolae Ceausescu, but worse (1,008 words)

Video of the day: Norwich Cathedral Flow Motion

What to expect:

Action-packed aerial tour of Norwich Cathedral and surroundings by Rob Whitford (1’53”)

Thought for the day

Periods of happiness are the blank pages of history
G.W.F. Hegel

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