Browser Daily Newsletter 1215

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

The Greatest Catastrophe

R.J.W. Evans | New York Review Of Books | 21st January 2014

Review of six recent books about the causes of WW1, of which "the most consistently subtle, perspicacious, and thought-provoking" is Christopher Clark's The Sleepwalkers. Most take the view that the European powers should share the blame — "All sides had taken risks and been complicit in decisions that made war likelier" — although Max Hastings, in Catastrophe 1914, sees Germany as the major culprit

A Postliberal Britain

David Goodhart | Demos | 17th January 2014

On reconciling liberalism with nationalism. "Postliberalism sees a special attachment to fellow citizens not as a prejudice but as a priceless asset. People will always favour their own families and communities; it is the task of a realistic liberalism to strive for a description of nation and community that is open enough to include people from many different backgrounds, without being so open as to become meaningless"

Social Media For Robots

Nick Hawes | Conversation | 20th January 2014

Introducing a "Wikipedia for robots", which "allows the knowledge created for one robot to be shared with another robot, anywhere else in the world, via a web-accessible database. When one robot in Germany learns what a toaster is and how it works, it can upload that information into the network. A robot in Japan which has never used a toaster before can log in and learn how to recognise one"

The Five Best Punctuation Marks in Literature

Katherine Schulz | Vulture | 16th January 2014

At the top of the list, a pair of brackets from Lolita: “My very photogenic mother died in a freak accident (picnic, lightning) when I was three...” The sentence goes on for 84 more words, eleven commas, one colon, one semicolon, and another set of parentheses. "But the reader, like Humbert Humbert’s unlucky mother, stops dead. It is also Lolita (and Humbert) in miniature: terrific panache containing terrible darkness"

Why Bitcoin Matters

Marc Andreessen | NYT Dealbook | 21st January 2014

Bitcoin stands now where personal computers did in 1975 and the Internet in 1993 — a new technology with enormous implications, still misunderstood and trivialised. Bitcoin provides a better way of ordering property rights in the digital economy: "Everyone knows that the transfer has taken place, and nobody can challenge the legitimacy of the transfer. The consequences are hard to overstate"

Video of the day:  メグとパトロン - パリパリパーリー

Thought for the day:

"An actor is someone who has been trained to pretend he is not being watched" — Peter Greenaway

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