Video Games, Iconography, Batman, Thomas Pynchon, China, Zetas

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

Men, Life, And Video Games

Peter Suderman | Reason | 13th June 2017

The young unemployed American male lives with his parents, plays video games all day, and seems genuinely happy. Video games turn out to be very good at redirecting aspirations. “A military shooter might offer a simulation of being a crack special forces soldier. A racing game might simulate learning to handle a performance sports car. It’s a simulation of being an expert. It’s a way to fulfil a fantasy. That fantasy is one of work, purpose, and social and professional success” (4,800 words)

In Clouds

Sally Barnden | TLS | 14th June 2017

Delightful short tour of the Warburg Institute’s collection of photographic images of art, which are sorted by subject — “or, technically speaking, by iconography” — in conformity with Aby Warburg’s dictum that European art from Roman antiquity to the end of the eighteenth century “had a finite and classifiable number of subjects”. Thus the drawer for “Virgin and Child” divides into subcategories including “with St Anne”, “with John the Baptist”, “in landscape” and “in clouds” (1,200 words)

How Does Batman Make His Money?

Chris Sims | Looper | 13th June 2017

The marriage of Bruce Wayne’s parents united two of Gotham’s oldest fortunes. Thomas Wayne’s money came from real estate, Martha Kane’s from chemicals — “with the implication that one of their companies was the same plant where a certain crook plunged into a vat and emerged as the Joker”. Wayne Industries is highly diversified. “Bruce Wayne even owns the Daily Planet, which technically makes him Superman’s boss even when they’re not hanging out with the Justice League” (3,700 words)

The Fake Hermit

Natalia Portinari | Piauí | 13th June 2017

In search of Thomas Pynchon, pursued via conversations with his translators and past friends (if you talk about him you cease to be a friend). Interesting — and respectful — throughout. “Thomas was very thin and very handsome, like a Romeo kind of guy. He was like an Italian lover, very, very sexy. He wasn’t interested in money. He had a very dry sense of humor, so that’s why we got along so well. He never hurt my feelings. He tried to be a hippie, but it wasn’t easy for him. He was a hard worker” (8,200 words)

There Is No Thucydides Trap

Arthur Waldron | Supchina | 13th June 2017

Spirited assault on Graham Allison’s argument that China and America are destined for war, because wars happen when a rising power threatens an incumbent power, as Thucydides supposedly showed in his History Of The Peloponnesian War, about Athens and Sparta. Allison is wrong about Thucydides and wrong about China; he knows far too little of both; “the whole Thucydides Trap — not clear who coined this false phrase — does not exist, even in its prime example” (2,500 words)

How America Triggered A Massacre In Mexico

Ginger Thompson | ProPublica | 12th June 2017

Terrifying account of the revenge exacted by drug-cartel bosses in a small Mexican town after their phone numbers are leaked to the DEA. “There’s no missing the signs that something unspeakable happened. Entire blocks lie in ruins. In March 2011 gunmen from the Zetas cartel swept through like a flash flood, demolishing homes and businesses and kidnapping and killing dozens, possibly hundreds, of men, women and children. The destruction and disappearances went on in fits and starts for weeks” (10,200 words)

Video of the day: Isolated

What to expect:

Pleasingly surreal Japanese cartoon animation

Thought for the day

If a machine is expected to be infallible, it cannot also be intelligent
Alan Turing

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