Francis Fukuyama, Flying Donkeys, The Simpsons, Deborah Devonshire, Genetic Feedback

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

Political Order And Political Decay

David Runciman | Financial Times | 26th September 2014

Perceptive and admiring review of Francis Fukuyama's new book, which argues that a well-ordered society requires three things: a strong state, the rule of law, and democratic accountability. "What matters most of all is getting the sequence right. Democracy doesn’t come first. The strong state has to come first, because democracy eats away at the capacity of government to exert its authority" (1,920 words)

Flying Donkeys For Africa

Jonathan Ledgard | Wired | 22nd September 2014

Cargo drones could transform Africa, making good the general lack of roads. They would need to be cheap, simple, and quiet — like flying donkeys. Start by building a network to serve governments, hospitals and relief agencies; open it later to anyone with cargo to ship. "Economists have estimated that $1 spent on roads in Africa returns $4 in productivity. How much better value would $1 spent on cargo drone routes be?" (3,600 words)

Simpsons Showrunners Reflect

Jesse David Fox | New York | 23rd September 2014

On the eve of The Simpsons' 26th series, three of its main writers and directors discuss how the show has evolved. "We really put so much data in. We debuted when pretty much everyone had a VCR. It was always the goal to make the show more dense than anything on television and to reward people for paying attention. It was really perfect to grow as the online culture grew, which celebrates minutiae" (4,500 words)

Obituary: Deborah Devonshire

Mark McGinness | Spectator | 25th September 2014

Last of the six Mitford sisters. What a life. Took tea with Hitler, married a duke. "JFK would phone in the middle of the night; Aly Khan gave her a racehorse; Patrick Leigh Fermor wrote sparkling letters to her for more than fifty years; Lucien Freud painted her; the Prince of Wales was a constant visitor and confidant. Her enthusiasms included chickens, and Elvis. Her great regret was that they never met" (920 words)

A Closed Loop

Jamie Davis | Aeon | 26th September 2014

Genes are "open to negotiation". They don’t issue a one-time set of instructions which produces a predetermined result. The development of the organism is shaped by a “feedback loop” which incorporates and adapts to new information from the actual environment. For example: Identical twins "have the same DNA, and therefore the same genetic fingerprint, yet their actual fingerprints are different" (3,500 words)

Video of the day: Waltz On The Walls

What to expect: Dizzying, perspective-defying modern dance in mid-air (2'20")

Thought for the day

Routine, in an intelligent man, is a sign of ambition
W.H. Auden (

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