Sleeping Rough, Gifted Children, Cats, Erudition, Apple, Sully

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

Is This A Mid-Life Crisis?

Nicholas Lezard | New Statesman | 8th September 2016

In which a writer of modest means, approaching middle age, decides to realise one of his childhood dreams, of sleeping rough on Hampstead Heath, with a bottle of wine and a packet of biscuits, like a tramp, or Colin Wilson. “It was a clear night, the moon quarter-full, and the wild, or wildish, spaces beckoned. What’s the worst thing that could happen? Someone might proposition me in a manner I would find unwelcome, but I’m fairly confident I can brush off any admirers” (850 words)

How To Raise A Genius

Tom Clynes | Nature | 7th September 2016

The Center for Talented Youth at Johns Hopkins University welcomes adolescents who score “in the top 1% on university entrance exams”; alumni include Mark Zuckerberg, Terence Tao, Sergey Brin and Lady Gaga. After tracking gifted children for 45 years Hopkins finds that the smartest people really do get to run the world. “Early cognitive ability has more effect on achievement than either deliberate practice or environmental factors such as socio-economic status” (3,400 words)

The Case Against Cats

Colin Dickey | LA Review Of Books | 7th September 2016

Because our pet cats are so “cute and beloved”, we close our eyes to the havoc they wreak in the natural world around them. They kill whatever they can. “When researcher Scott Loss tallied up the number of animals killed by North American housecats in a single year, the results were absolutely staggering: between 6.3 and 22.3 billion mammals, between 1.3 and 4 billion birds, between 95 and 299 million amphibians, and between 258 and 822 million reptiles” (2,300 words)

The Trouser Cords Of Armenia

Shihab Al-Din Al-Nuwayri | Paris Review | 6th September 2016

Lines from The Ultimate Ambition in the Arts of Erudition, a medieval encyclopaedia of the Arab world. “One speaks of the ruddiness of the Byzantines, the coarse
ness of the Turks, the churlishness of the Gīl, the foulness of 
the Chinese, and the shortness of the people of Gog. 
One speaks of the plagues of Syria, the boils of al-Jazīra, the fever of Khaybar, the 
madness of Homs, the sweats of Yemen, the pestilence of Egypt, the 
pleurisy of Iraq, the carbuncles of Persia, and the ulcers of Balkh” (737 words)

The Unbitten Apple

Nicholas Carr | Rough Type | 7th September 2016

Reflections on the closing of the iPhone’s headphone jack. “Apple wants to be pristine, untouched by outside forces, entire unto itself. Apple’s ideal now is the unbitten apple, the immaculate fruit. One by one the portals go, the entrances and exits are sealed. Today it was the headphone jack that was exorcised. The phone will become even slimmer, even lighter, even more elegant. It will be better insulated against the elements. It will be more totemic. It will be purer” (306 words)


Patrick Smith | Ask The Pilot | 7th September 2016

A pilot considers Clint Eastwood’s latest film, Sully, about U.S. Airways captain Chesley Sullenberger. “I’m uneasy calling anybody a hero. Nothing they did was easy, but on the whole they did what they had to do, and what, we should hope, any other airline crew would have done in that same situation. It wasn’t heroics that saved the day; it was, to use a word I normally dislike, professionalism. And nowhere in the public discussion has the role of luck been adequately acknowledged.” (1,900 words)

Video of the day: Kenzo World

What to expect:

Quiet for a minute — then wow. By Spike Jonze. Starring Margaret Qualley (3’48”)

Thought for the day

One can praise every institution by pointing back to its beginnings
J.W. von Goethe

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