Transhumanism, Iceberg, African Fiction, Stravinsky, Averages, Rock Music

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

Transhumanism: A Debate

Richard Jones & Zoltan Istvan | Demos | 24th March 2016

American futurist Zoltan Istvan argues that “transhumanist” visionaries (such as himself) are needed to set radical expectations for the future — immortality, machine intelligence, artificial bodies — which tech billionaires will fund and scientists will deliver. British physicist Richard Jones retorts that this smacks more of religion than of science; and if you want to make scientific progress, you don’t take directions from religion (2,335 words)

The Iceberg

Marion Coutts | Literary Hub | 6th April 2016

Extract from Marion Coutts’s astonishing account of the illness and death of her husband Tom Lubbock. “Something has happened. A piece of news. We have had a diagnosis that has the status of an event … The news is given verbally. We learn something. We are mortal. You might say you know this but you don’t. The news falls neatly between one moment and another. You would not think there was a gap for such a thing” (3,800 words)

How Not To Talk About African Fiction

Ainehi Edoro | Guardian | 6th April 2016

African fiction has been a “branding disaster” for the past 100 years. Publishers buy, package and sell novels on the basis of thematic preoccupations. The genius of the author — the starting point for evaluating a European or American novel — scarcely gets a look-in. African fiction must do a job, fill a niche. It is deemed worth reading if it “explores colonialism”, or “offers a searing representation of the scourge of misogyny” (1,600 words)

Stravinsky: The Final Interview

Robert Craft | New York Review of Books | 1st July 1971

Topics include euthanasia, tuberculosis, and, eventually, music. “The pertinacity of Liszt’s orchestral music wholly eludes me. The Dante Symphony is hell, and the tone poems can survive only by constantly renewed neglect. An inventive harmonist? Well, he contributed more than he stole, but we cannot listen to music one element at a time. His colors are sometimes novel, but tinted bathos is still bathetic” (2,250 words)

Our Average Age

Dan Kopf | Priceonomics | 5th April 2016

The “average” has triumphed as our shorthand for data, because averages are easy to compute. In pre-computer days scientists favoured the “median”, more readily extracted by hand from small data sets. Newton used the “midrange” — the value midway between the two extreme values of the data set. “It is not until 1635 that there is an absolutely clear case of a scientist using an average as a representative value” (2,700 words)

Touring And The Future Of Metal

Jem Aswad | Billboard | 5th April 2016

Interview with big-time rock-band managers Cliff Burnstein and Peter Mensch; sharp on the psychology and financials of touring. Artists knowingly underprice concert tickets because they want sold-out shows. Scalpers profiteer, but that may be the least bad option: “The fans get screwed anyway. It’s a question of the optics … It’s gotten to the point now if someone came up with an all-auction system, that would be the best way to do it” (4,700 words)

Video of the day: Japanese Boy

What to expect:

Jazzy, scatty music video with geometric CGI graphics (4’09”)

Thought for the day

The secret of all victory lies in organising the non-obvious
Oswald Spengler

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