Sicily, Syntax, Drone Pilots, Milosz, Hemingway, Bob Lutz

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

How Sicily Became Ungovernable

Walter Mayr | Spiegel | 10th November 2017

The lemon trees bloom four times a year, the island is blessed with sunshine, Greek temples, Byzantine frescoes, Arab art, sandy beaches and Michelin stars. Sicily ought to be “a slice of paradise”. But any visitor can see the “the slums of corrugated-metal huts in Messina and the dying cities in the interior”. The emigration rate is the highest in Italy. Unemployment, especially youth unemployment, is sky-high. Sicily is still Mafia country. The public prosecutor in Palermo has 42 bodyguards (3,020 words)

Sentence Structure For Writers

David Crystal | OUP | 10th November 2017

Don’t keep the reader (or listener) waiting. Put the work at the end of the sentence. The reader wants a verb. The sooner the writer gets to a verb, the sooner the reader understands what the sentence is about. If you write, “A big red jug full of warm milk was on the table”, you ask the reader to hold eight words in mind before getting to the point — which is lot to ask when your reader is a child. Say instead: “On the table was a big red jug full of warm milk” (920 words)

Avengers in Wrath

Dave Blair & Karen House | Lawfare | 12th November 2017

We think of remote drone pilots as somewhat akin to high-powered video-gamers, wreaking havoc on a screen. And perhaps they are. But they experience their role as something much closer to real-world combat and killing. The imperative is not “kill or be killed”, as it would be in localised combat, but rather, “kill or someone else will be killed” — and the stress is almost as great. “A world without your fire support could easily become a world without your comrades” (7,600 words)

Poems From The Abyss

Charles Simic | New York Review Of Books | 12th November 2017

The Lithuanian-born Polish writer Czesław Miłosz was “a figure whose own life seemed to embody the turmoil of the twentieth century. He lived through both world wars and the Russian Revolution, experienced fascism, communism, and democracy, lived in Eastern and Western Europe and, later, the United States, and he returned again and again to these events in his writing. When asked about his home, Miłosz said that he came from another planet, another time, another epoch” (4,030 words)

What Was It Like to Be Hemingway?

John Banville | Nation | 26th October 2017

It was fun, until the injuries and alcoholism piled up. “He latched on to a lot of influential people and learned how to be a celebrity. He wrote a clutch of good stories and a handful of novels ranging from fresh and original through mediocre to abysmally bad, Later in life, he blundered into depression, alcoholism, paranoia, and manic delusion, and killed himself. At best, much of his life was only of passing notoriety; and yet the legend lives on, as tenacious as ever. How to account for it?” (3,300 words)

Kiss The Good Times Good Bye

Bob Lutz | Automotive News | 11th November 2017

Auto-industry elder statesman declares game over. “It saddens me to say it, but we are approaching the end of the automotive era. Travel will be in standardized modules. The end state will be the fully autonomous module with no capability for the driver to exercise command. The tipping point will come when 20 to 30 percent of vehicles are fully autonomous. Countries will look at the accident statistics and figure out that human drivers are causing 99.9 percent of the accidents” (1,500 words)

Video of the day Improvisations

What to expect:

‘Mary Had A Little Lamb’ rendered for piano in the style of composers from J.S. Bach to Steve Reich (3’50”)

Thought for the day

A theory should not attempt to explain all the facts because some of the facts are wrong
Francis Crick

Podcast of the day Times Of Cloud | Paris Review

Treasures from the archive, with Eileen Myles, Maya Angelou, George Plimpton and Wallace Shawn

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