Space, Hitchcock, Iran, Finance, Magic, Realism


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

What Is Space?

Daniel Whiteson & Jorge Cham | Nautilus | 22nd June 2017

Non-physicists tend to think of space as a sort of vast theatre in which things happen. Physicists think otherwise. “Space is more like a huge blob of thick goo. Normally, things can move around in the goo without any problems, just like we can move around a room full of air without noticing all the air particles. But under certain circumstances, this goo can bend, changing the way that things move through it. It can also squish and make waves, changing the shape of the things inside it” (4,700 words)

Hitchcock Talks About Lights, Camera, Action

David E. Williams | American Cinematographer | 12th June 2017

Interview with Alfred Hitchcock from 1966 about technical aspects of film-making, including the shift from black-and-white to colour. “I couldn’t use the Mount Rushmore Memorial according to my established pattern. The authorities wouldn’t let me work on the faces at all. I had to work between them. I wanted Cary Grant to slide down Lincoln’s nose and hide in the nostril. Then Grant has a sneezing fit, while he’s in the nostril. That would have made the setting very functional” (6,100 words)

The Shah Of Iran: An Interview

Oriana Fallaci | New Republic | 1st December 1973

“Either one is a revolutionary or one demands law and order. One can’t be a revolutionary with law and order. And even less with tolerance. If Allende wanted to rule according to his Marxist ideas, why didn’t he organise himself better? When Castro came to power, he killed at least 10,000 people. Well, in a sense, he really was capable, because he’s still in power. So am I. And I intend to stay there and to demonstrate that one can achieve a great many things by the use of force” (5,100 words)

The Future Of Financial Intermediation

John Kay | 24th June 2017

What do investment bankers do all day? “To an extent that almost defies belief, what they do is trade with each other. The paradox of modern capital markets is that although there is less and less need for market activity from the point of view of either the end users of finance, or the investors who are the ultimate beneficiaries of finance, the volume of market activity has increased exponentially. It is time to raise question marks over the entire market-based model of financial-services provision” (2,900 words)

Magical Warfare And False Beliefs

Nathan Nunn & Raul Sanchez de la Sierra | Vox EU | 25th June 2017

Further account of recent research into magical beliefs in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, with obvious application to beliefs in general. Why, despite the evidence of their own eyes, do fighters insist that amulets can protect them from from bullets? In some way, because this is a winning strategy at the group level. It makes more members of the group more willing to fight more boldly, and so win. “The ‘right’ amount of ‘wrong’ beliefs can achieve the socially efficient outcome” (1,700 words)

Why Did The Old Masters Not Paint Realistically?

Tyler Berry | Quora | 23rd June 2017

They did. But popular expectations of realism have changed since the arrival of photography and video. “We’re conditioned to think that clarity and resolution equal realism, and don’t question all the false visual information that we’re fed from these media”. Great painters “see through detail, and grasp the very essence of a subject. The lifelikeness isn’t found in details, but beyond them. Great artists know that detail without purpose contributes very little to the lifelikeness of their work” (1,700 words)

Video of the day: Drunk On Youth

What to expect:

Memoir of growing up in the 1950s on Crosby Street in New York (3’25”)

Thought for the day

I cannot believe in a God who wants to be praised all the time
Friedrich Nietzsche

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