China, Chimeras, Luck, Culture Wars, Genealogy, Railways

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

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What To Expect When You Are Expecting The PLA

Eric Chan | War On The Rocks | 9th March 2018

Primer for US military officers meeting Chinese counterparts; also a general introduction to Chinese negotiating and bonding techniques. You will be welcomed as a “friend”, but only in order to impose the obligations of friendship upon you. “Chinese culture is very high-context, reliant on nonverbal communication and understandings developed over time. Flattery, cajolery, and fulsome phrases are used with acquaintances, but genuine expressions of emotion are almost never used” (1,840 words)

It’s Time to Make Human-Chimp Hybrids

David Barash | Nautilus | 8th March 2018

“It is by no means impossible or even unlikely that a hybrid or a chimera combining a human being and a chimpanzee could be produced in a laboratory. Human and chimp share roughly 99 percent of their nuclear DNA. Such an individual would not be neither human nor chimp: rather, something in between. If that prospect isn’t shocking enough, here is an even more controversial suggestion: It would be a terrific idea”. It would force humans to place a proper value on animal life (3,170 words)

Smart But Not Rich

A. Pluchino et al | MIT Technology Review | 1st March 2018

The distribution of wealth follows the 80:20 rule: 80 percent of the wealth is owned by 20 percent of the people. But the distribution of human skills is symmetric about an average value: Average IQ is 100, nobody has an IQ of 1,000 or 10,000. The same is true of effort: Nobody works a million times more hours than anybody else. So why are a few people a million, let alone a billion, times richer than others? The missing factor has to be good and bad luck, compounding over time (1,200 words)

A Field Guide To The Culture Wars

Venkatesh Rao | Ribbonfarm | 6th March 2018

The new rules of social interaction, and where their fault-lines lie. “Hyperneurotypicals versus non-neurotypicals is a relatively new battlefront that might easily turn out to be among the most consequential. It pits autism spectrum individuals against fine-grained authoritarian-left norms. The non-neurotypical argument is that the regulation of thought and speech by the authoritarian left imposes an impossible cognitive burden on a disadvantaged minority” (4,600 words)

Marriage And Death In The West

Angela Chen | Verge | 1st March 2018

What we can learn from genealogical data of three million people born between 1600 and 1910. “Genes obviously play a role in longevity, but environmental factors matter too. Genes are responsible for about 16 percent of the variation in how long people lived. Genes that influence longevity act independently instead of interacting with each other. The correlation in lifespan should increase very quickly between two first cousins compared to two identical twins. But that pattern didn’t appear in the data” (850 words)

Every Single National Rail Timetable

Ed Jefferson | City Metric | 16th March 2018

Facts about rail travel in Britain derived from feeding a computer with every single rail timetable in the country, a total of 3,717 pages. The record for stops in progressive alphabetical order within a single journey is ten, on the weekday 07.42 Arriva Trains Wales service from Bridgend to Aberdare, which stops at the following stations in sequence: Barry, Barry Docks, Cadoxton, Cardiff Central, Cardiff Queen Street, Cathays, Llandaf, Radyr, Taffs Well, Trefforest. The longest station name has 33 letters (980 words)

Video of the day The Broccoli Tree

What to expect:

Heartbreaking tale of a tree in Sweden so beloved that, eventually, some loveless person cut it down (3’52”)

Thought for the day

Adventures are never fun while you’re having them
C.S. Lewis

Podcast of the day The Disability Belt | Today Explained

Why the regions of America with the highest disability rates vote for a president who slashes disability benefits

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