Topology, Bananas, America, Oil, Beslan

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

On The Surfaces Of Things

Joshua Batson | Hypocrite Reader | 23rd December 2015

A topology primer. "Say you begin with a ball of clay. Its surface is a sphere. You toss it on a potter’s wheel, flattening the base a bit. As the wheel spins, you press on the sides, then depress the center, then squeeze the walls you have formed a bowl. Since each change was so mild, you must never have changed the fundamental shape of the object. We must say that the surface of a ball is the same shape as the surface of a bowl" (4,100 words)

Tales From The Supply Chain: Bananas

Dan Wang | Flexport | 15th December 2015

Supermarket bananas are all the same, genetically speaking — clones of a strain called Cavendish, now doomed by a fungal disease. "In a few years you won’t be able to find the bananas you like now. It’s happened before. Your grandparents grew up eating the Gros Michel, a creamier, fruitier banana that was wiped out by a similar disease." The Gros Michel also had a slippery skin — hence our legacy of banana-skin jokes (1,650 words)

America Is Moving Left

Peter Beinart | Atlantic | 24th December 2015

Tea-Party Republicans are generational outliers. On race, gender, drugs, immigration, policing, prisons, taxation, healthcare, America is growing more liberal. "The press often depicts American politics as a battle pitting ever more liberal Democrats against ever more conservative Republicans. That’s inaccurate. Young Democrats may be more liberal than their elders, but so are young Republicans" (7,020 words)

Big Oil Should Kill Itself

Anatole Kaletsky | Project Syndicate | 23rd December 2015

Oil is over. Low-cost state producers in Saudi Arabia, Russia and Iran own what is left of the market. Western majors should cease squandering capital on futile exploration, and embrace liquidation — or let corporate raiders do the job for them. "If a consortium raised the $118 billion needed to buy BP at its current share price, it could immediately start to liquidate proven reserves worth over $360 billion" (1,090 words)

The School

C.J. Chivers | Esquire | 14th March 2007

Esquire calls this account of the Beslan massacre one of the "seven best pieces ever published". Gripping throughout. The bloodbath at the Russian school seized by Chechen terrorists ended with 331 dead including 186 children. "When the gym became noisy with crying children, they selected a hostage to stand, then warned everyone: Shut up or he will be shot. But children can stay quiet for only so long" (17,800 words)

Video of the day: re:belief

What to expect: Stop-motion film about memory, using 3D-printed objects for zoetropic effect(6'52")

Thought for the day

Economists put decimal points in their forecasts to show that they have a sense of humour
William Gilmore Simms (

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