Deception, Back Obama, China, Self, Tailspin

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

Inflatable Tanks

Sir Humphrey | Thin Pinstriped Line | 25th June 2018

On the value of elementary deception in warfare. “Inflatable tanks allow you to deceive the enemy about your strength and location. In an era where accurate conventional munitions are scarily expensive, deception takes on renewed importance. If your foe can only afford 100 nice and terribly capable anti-armour missiles, and you have 400 inflatable tank decoys in the field, then they need to be utterly certain that they’re not about to expend a very capable rocket blowing up a large balloon” (1,700 words)

Where Is Barack Obama?

Gabriel Debenedetti | New York | 24th June 2018

He still lives and works in Washington, DC. Why the silence? “Obama cast himself as the country’s secular minister as much as its commander-in-chief, someone who understood the moral core of the nation. What explains his near absence from the political stage, where he might argue publicly against the reversals of his policy accomplishments? What is keeping him from speaking more frequently about the need to protect democratic norms and the rule of law, to be decent people?” (6,400 words)

Common Misconceptions About China

Kaiser Kuo | Supchina | 25th June 2018

China was a collection of warring states until modern times. “Qin didn’t give way neatly to Han; there was a long and horrifically bloody war between rival contenders before Liu Bang emerged on top to found a new dynasty. There was a staggeringly long period of disunity from the end of the Han until the Sui reunified China in the late 6th century. Tang nominally lasted until 907, but in 751 it was riven by a huge rebellion. Song reunified things in 960, but Song never really ruled all of China” (1,150 words)

When The Self Slips

Anna Ciaunica | Aeon | 21st June 2018

Discussion of clinical cases in which the sense of self disappears or diminishes. What remains? “I start to ask Jane what she thinks, but she gently interrupts me and gets up without finishing her tea. ‘I just need to check that the world is still out there’, she says. Jane moves around a bit, touches objects, looks at the windows, smells the soap perfuming her hands. I feel myself on the outside of the glass containing her experience. But is there a way for her to reach back out?” (2,900 words)

Protected And Unprotected

Moises Naim | Carnegie Endowment | 22nd June 2018

Review of Stephen Brill’s “Tailspin”, which argues that twentieth-century America partitioned into two nations, the exploiters and the exploited, due in large part to the unintended consequences of what seemed at the time to be progressive policies. The Administrative Procedure Act of 1946 allowed lobbyists to capture government agencies. Free speech absolutism led to Citizens United. Meritocracy allowed the smartest to capture everything, and feel they were entitled to hold on to it (1,500 words)

Video of the day Yuval Noah Harari: On Being Gay

What to expect:

Harari argues that being gay brings with it an intellectual edge. You learn to distrust social propaganda (7’15”)

Thought for the day

Omissions are not accidents
Marianne Moore

Podcast Volcanoes | Infinite Monkey Cage

Brian Cox and guests discuss the the part which volcanoes will probably play in the end of the world
(42m 31s)

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