Trees, Elevators, Jack London, Index Funds, J.L. Austin, Trump Interview

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

What The Trees Say

Thomas Pakenham | New York Review of Books | 23rd November 2016

Admiring, informative discussion of new books about trees, The Long, Long Life Of Trees by Fiona Stafford, and The Hidden Life Of Trees by Peter Wohlleben. Both stand comparison with John Evelyn’s 17C masterpiece, Sylva, or a Discourse of Forest Tree. “How long can a great oak survive? Sober estimates are impossible, since the oldest oaks are invariably hollow, and most of the annual rings are therefore missing. Wild estimates (including my own) vary between six hundred and one thousand years” (2,900 words)

Learning From Elevators

Paul Dawson | Fluxx | 22nd November 2016

Malfunctioning lifts don’t fall. At worst, they rocket upwards and crash into the roof. “The most terrifying potential lift incident is the dreaded free-fall to the bottom of the shaft if a cable snapped. Talk to anyone in the elevator industry though, and they will tell you that the last instance of this was in 1945 when an errant B-25 bomber pilot turned the wrong way and ran in to the Empire State Building — severing all of the cables on two separate elevators in the process” (1,800 words)

Jack London, A Century On

Michael Caines | Times Literary Supplement | 22nd November 2016

London, “a second-rate writer of genius”, died one hundred years ago at the age of forty — and he was lucky to get that far. “During his short life he smoked sixty Russian Imperiale cigarettes a day. He drank so much that his kidneys began to fail before he reached thirty-five. He ate for dinner, when he could get them, two whole and barely cooked ducks. He was also addicted to morphine. By the end, he had become the absolute inversion of the image that made him and his fictional characters famous” (1,400 words)

Jack Bogle’s Revolution

Michael Regan | Bloomberg Businessweek | 22nd November 2016

Interview with Jack Bogle, inventor of index funds and founder of Vanguard, which manages $3.5 trillion. “We live in a risky world. But you have to invest. If you put nothing away for retirement, I can tell you, to the last penny, how much you will have when you retire: nothing. My advice to investors is just to throw their 401(k) statements into the wastebasket. Don’t peek. Open the envelope when you retire and have a cardiologist standing by, because you’re going to be totally amazed” (5,800 words)

Saturday Mornings With J.L. Austin

Nahul Krishna | Aeon | 23rd November 2016

Thumbnail sketch of the life and ideas of Oxford philosopher J.L. Austin, whose primary medium was conversation, and whose primary interest was the use we make of speech. “The gangster who, wielding a knife, says to me: ‘Nice fingers. You don’t want them broken’ is saying something true, but that’s not all he is doing. He is also warning me of the consequences of my failing to repay what I owe him (illocution) and thereby bringing it about that I conjure up the monies posthaste (perlocution)” (3,800 words)

An Interview With Donald Trump

Arthur Sulzberger et al | New York Times | 23rd November 2016

Transcript. On Hillary Clinton: “I don’t want to hurt the Clintons. I really don’t”. On the use of torture: “General Mattis is a strong, highly dignified man. I met with him at length and I asked him: What do you think of waterboarding? He said — I was surprised — he said, ‘I’ve never found it to be useful’. He said, ‘I’ve always found, give me a pack of cigarettes and a couple of beers and I do better with that than I do with torture.’ And I was very impressed by that answer” (Metered paywall) (12,000 words)

Video of the day: The Calculus Of Bad Driving

What to expect:

How to drive safely in the rain, explained with Sharpies and some ruled paper (4’09”).

Thought for the day

Our thoughts may be delusive, but they cannot be fictitious
T.H. Huxley

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