Browser Daily Newsletter 1339


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

The Obliteration Of A Person

Marion Coutts | Guardian | 15th June 2014

A wife's diary, as a brain tumour consumes her husband, artist and critic Tom Lubbock. "Tom is speaking to me less. The way his intellect is made manifest through language is being destroyed. Great chunks of speech are collapsing. Holes are appearing. Avenues crumble and sudden roadblocks halt the journey from one part of consciousness to the other. He strings words together like ropes across voids" (3,800 words)

Francis: A Pitch-Perfect Pope

Simon Kuper | FT Magazine | 13th June 2014

Pope Francis, "the world's most popular leader", is deeply marked by the "three towering influences" of his Argentine youth: the Catholic church, Juan Domingo Perón, and football. "Francis is usually explained through his Jesuit background. But he can also be understood as a typically Argentine Peronist politician. He is a brilliant populist communicator like Perón. Football is central to his communication" (860 words)

I Don’t Believe Robots Will Eat All The Jobs

Marc Andreessen | 13th June 2014

Venture capitalist counsels caution. "Robots and AI are not nearly as powerful and sophisticated as people are starting to fear. With my venture capital hat on I wish they were, but they’re not. There are enormous gaps between what we want them to do, and what they can do. There is still an enormous gap between what many people do in jobs today, and what robots and AI can replace. There will be for decades" (1,900 words)

The Temptation Of Despair

Michael Ignatieff | New Republic | 14th June 2014

Review of "The Temptation of Despair" by Werner Sollors, a "melancholy, disjointed, awkward, but deeply powerful book" about the aftermath of World War II in Germany. Sollors tells of "a society in ruins and a people at the edge of psychic collapse". But his book is also "a story of temptation overcome. The destroyed cities were rebuilt brick by brick, the refugee wanderers found homes and new lives" (2,880 words)

Owning Digital Content

Thomas Baekdal | Baekdal | 13th June 2014

Should the "first sale doctrine" apply to digital goods in America? It grants a buyer the right to do whatever they want with a product that they have legally purchased; but it currently only applies to physical goods; which is why Apple and Amazon can limit what a buyer can do with a download. It feels wrong. But perhaps a digital product is more like a bus ticket: it confers a right of use, not ownership of the bus (2,350 words)

Hug Some Concrete

Bill Gates | Gates Notes | 12th June 2014

In praise of Vaclav Smil, "an original thinker who never gives simple answers to complex questions", and his book, "Making the Modern World: Materials and Dematerialization", about basic everyday commodities — such as cement, steel, paper, aluminium. China has used more concrete in the past three years than America used in the whole 20th century. Even so, we should have enough stuff for the next 50 years (1,320 words)

Video of the day:  This Is Not A Time To Lie

What to expect: Chinese love poem read over strangely retro animation; charming

Thought for the day:

"If you are looking for infinity, just close your eyes" — Milan Kundera

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