Silk Road, Alphabets, Style, China, Syria, Ishiguro

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

On 24th February, at 6pm, The Browser is hosting a free event in London about information overload. See details at the bottom of this email.

Dark Leviathan

Henry Farrell | Aeon | 20th February 2015

A political history of Silk Road. The intention was libertarian — an online marketplace where the only laws were those of supply and demand. But as Silk Road grew, its functioning required "increasing levels of bureaucracy and rule‑enforcement and, eventually, the threat of violence against rule‑breakers". Founder Ross Ulbricht "ended up reconstructing Hobbes’s Leviathan; he became the very thing he was trying to escape" (3,100 words)

Most Writers Love Words. This One Loves Letters

Carlos Lozada | Washington Post | 12th February 2015 | Metered paywall

A review of a book about the alphabet by the mischevous poet, novelist and presenter of the BBC programme Word Of Mouth, Michael Rosen. The author, says the Washington Post's reviewer, is an "alphabet anarchist". He doesn't believe that the 26-word alphabet is the last, um, word on the matter. Someone might one day improve the mechanics of transmitting thought. Odder things have happened in the history of letters. (1,335 words)

Is There Such A Thing As Correct English?

Oliver Kamm & Simon Heffer | Prospect | 19th February 2015

Two style policemen debate correct English. Simon Heffer and Oliver Kamm, who both write regularly on language and grammar, disagree over the balance between correctness and permissiveness. Heffer argues that rules make correct English, defined by being reliably clear and accessible. Kamm thinks that many of the "rules" of English grammar are petty obsessions with the unimportant. Both write carefully disciplined prose (1,925 words)

They Have Miao

Angela Köckritz | Die Zeit | 14th January 2015

The Beijing correspondent for Die Zeit, Angela Köckritz, went to Hong Kong to report the protests which had filled the streets of the city in September 2014. As many reporters do in China, she travelled with her assistant, translator and friend Zhang Miao. One day, Miao vanished from sight and turned out to be in jail. This is what happened when Köckritz tried to find out why her assistant had been arrested. (6,645 words)

Yarmouk Miniatures

Matthew McNaught | N+one | 18th February 2015

Syria's long descent into barbarity seen by Matthew McNaught through the eyes of his Syrian and Palestinian friends and the plays of Saadallah Wannous. An elegy for a society which, before the civil war, enjoyed some tolerance, culture, diversity and stories. This is the tragedy, observed in the microcosm of one part of Damascus, a few individuals and stories they liked, of how the country slipped into savagery. (10,676 words)

Kazuo Ishiguro’s Turn To Fantasy

Alex Clark | The Guardian | 19th February 2015

The Buried Giant is Kazuo Ishiguro's first novel for 10 years. The author of The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go tells Alex Clark that his new book will surprise some readers. Set in the chaotic period just after the Roman occupation of Britain has ended, this is a country of knights on horseback and dragons. A world in which Ishiguro says "things like ogres and elves could be completely banal" (5,010 words)

Video of the day: Gotham City SF

What to expect: San Francisco by night. Black and white. Time-lapse (3'42")

Thought for the day

The essence of every love is a child, and it makes no difference at all whether it has ever actually been conceived or born
Milan Kundera

Information Overload

The Browser & Cronycle invite you to a discussion about information overload in London at 6.30pm on February 24th.

Discussants will include:
* Bill Emmott — editor and film-maker
* Anatole Kaletsky — columnist and economist
* Dayo Forster — international editor of The Browser

Moderated by Robert Cottrell, editor of The Browser.

Venue: Forge & Co, 154 Shoreditch HIgh Street, London E1 6HD.

Drinks from 6pm. Discussion starts at 6.30pm.

Admission free, but please reply to this email to register in advance.

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