Browser Newsletter 1066

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

Best of the Moment

The Danger Of Human Rights Proliferation

Guglielmo Verdirame & Jacob Mchangama | Foreign Affairs | 24th July 2013

"The expanded and diluted notion of human rights allows illiberal states to change the focus from core freedoms to vague and conceptually unclear rights that place no concrete obligations on states. Enabled by such rhetoric, no human rights violation can stand scrutiny on its own merits. Instead, human rights violations are relativized. Cuts in development aid can be labeled human rights violations just like torture in North Korea"

Book Review: 2121, By Susan Greenfield

Adam Roberts | Sibilant Fricative | 23rd July 2013

A true hatchet-job. "People often say they have a novel in them. Greenfield actually did have a novel in her. Unfortunately it’s a very bad novel. How is it bad? Let me count the ways. It is badly conceived, badly realised, badly characterised, badly paced and above all badly written In fact, ‘badly’ hardly does the prose style justice. It is catastrophically, hilariously, chew-your-knuckles-whilst-reading, Plan-9-From-Outer-Spaceily written"

Summer Vacation Is Evil

Matthew Yglesias | Slate | 24th July 2013

"The country claims to take schooling seriously, but the school calendar says otherwise. There’s no other public service that we would allow to just vanish for months at a time. To have no Army in February, no buses or subways in March, airports closed down for all of October would be absurd. Schools, it turns out, matter a lot, too, and having them shut down all summer critically undermines them"

There’s No Formula For Fixing Detroit

Justin Fox | Harvard Business Review | 24th July 2013

And that's a good thing, because top-down, badly-engineered big plans to boost the city have only plunged it deeper into debt and decay. Better to nurture local initiatives, of the kind already reviving the downtown. "There's an incipient venture-capital and startup scene, and lots of small creative businesses. The area's pro sports teams are almost all back downtown. Young, upwardly mobile people are actually moving to Detroit"

Enjoy The Rules

Freddie DeBoer | New Inquiry | 24th July 2013

Review of Jaron Lanier’s Who Owns the Future?, but also a rather brilliant essay on the collapse of America's social contract, as middle-class jobs disappear. "There are, actually, certain outcomes that society must ensure if it is to go on functioning. The essential function of the social contract is to prevent the people from burning everything down. Trust me: it is not the cops that keep people from invading your home and stealing your stuff"

Forgotten Wars

Henry Reynolds | Inside Story | 25th July 2013

Vital sections of Australian history still need to be written. "Was there a war between invading settlers and Aborigines that lasted from the beginning of settlement to the early twentieth century? If so, what does it mean for the way we interpret the whole national experience? Is there, even now, a general acceptance of Aboriginal resistance as a legitimate defence of their property and sovereignty? Can we see the warriors as patriots?"

Video of the day: RHex The Parkour Robot

Thought for the day:

"Drawing is like making an expressive gesture with the advantage of permanence" — Henri Matisse

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