Cosmology, Bathrooms, Mars, Spaghetti Westerns, Presidents

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

The Coming Amnesia

Geoff Manaugh | BldgBlog | 23rd February 2017

If the universe goes on expanding, the time will come when all galaxies are so far apart that they will cease to be visible from one another. No observer will have reason even to theorise that other galaxies exist. “All evidence of a broader cosmos will disappear. Cosmology itself will be impossible.” But what if something like that has already happened — if our Big Bang theory is a “side-effect of having lost some other form of cosmic evidence that long ago slipped eternally away from view?” (1,800 words)

Why Nothing Works Any More

Ian Bogost | Atlantic | 23rd February 2017

The philosopher in the lavatory. Technology may solve problems, but they are usually problems caused by earlier forms of technology. “Toilets flush three times instead of one. Faucets open at full-blast. Towel dispensers mete out papers so miserly that people take more than they need. Instead of saving resources, these apparatuses mostly save labor and management costs. To flush a toilet or open a faucet by hand offers almost wanton pleasure given how rare it has become” (1,700 words)

Mars Needs Lawyers

Maggie Koerth-Baker | Five Thirty Eight | 23rd February 2017

The laws of space are like the laws of the sea. Your ship must be licensed and regulated by a UN-recognised state — but you can choose which state, so most of the world’s merchant shipping is registered with flag-of-convenience countries such as Liberia. The way things are going, the first Mars mission may well be privately financed; it will almost certainly be an international effort; and, legally, it could fly a flag of convenience. Will Liberia be the first government of Mars? (2,200 words)

A Fistful Of Dollars

Mark Harris | Film Comment | 15th February 2017

Charles Bronson wanted $25,000 to star in a new western from novice director Sergio Leone; instead Leone hired a cowboy from the TV series Rawhide for $15,000. It seemed like a bad gamble for both. The film, Magnificent Stranger, was ridiculed as “crude, cheap, and brutal, with dim lighting, laughably casual dubbing, and an almost wordless storytelling style”. It vanished unseen for two years. Then UA bought it cheaply and renamed it A Fistful Of Dollars. Clint Eastwood never looked back (1,700 words)

President Of Our Dreams

Fyodor Lukyanov | Russia In Global Affairs | 13th February 2017

A considered Russian view of Donald Trump. “To use forex terminology, Trump is a cyclical correction of the market. Trump is an American nationalist, inclined to mercantilism in the economy and a strong-arm approach in politics. This is nothing new, if one admits the fact that the liberal era is over for the time being. Russia actually wanted to see such a president in the United States, not Trump personally but his type, understandable and not overly disposed towards political correctness” (1,020 words)

Video of the day: Miyazaki Dreams Of Flying

What to expect:

Take a few minutes out from the real world, with this collage of flying scenes from Studio Ghibli (3’39”)

Thought for the day

Progress means that bad things happen faster
Terry Pratchett

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