Empire, AI, Tongue, Gym, Poet


Your periodic free edition of The Browser, perusing the internet for writing worth reading. Join now for five hand-picked articles every day.


Simón Bolívar: Theorist of Empire?

Peter Morgan | JHI Blog | 20th October 2021

At the same time that Bolívar was leading a campaign to expel the Spanish from his homeland, he was imagining how the British Empire might assist in the creation of an independent South America. As such, he counterintuitively "belongs with Thomas Hakluyt, Edmund Burke, and James Mill as a British imperial thinker". He was not against empire itself, merely "despotism" (1,684 words)


The Uselessness Of Useful Knowledge

Robbert Dijkgraaf | Quanta | 20th October 2021

Artificial intelligence is a development in the history of science comparable to alchemy, and that's not a bad thing. The latest self-learning algorithms are created with "the same wishful thinking and misunderstanding that the ancient alchemists had when mixing their magic potions". But this is a "necessary adolescent phase" of overconfidence that the past suggests will bear fruit in time (1,208 words)


Tongue Stuck

Irina Dumitrescu | Rumpus | 12th October 2021

On the sensation of linguistic impediment. "When I try to write in Romanian, my tongue does not feel injured. No. It feels as though my tongue were cleaving to the roof of my mouth, as if I had unthinkingly eaten two large spoonfuls of peanut butter and lost both the power to speak and the air from my lungs." The author wrote this piece in Romanian first and then translated it (2,685 words)


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Browser Interview: Byrne Hobart On Finance. Interesting throughout. For high earners, the opportunity cost of reading newsletters is higher than the financial cost of a subscription; this puts a premium on novelty, decision-relevance and concision. "Moby-Dick has a scene where Ishmael is negotiating his equity comp package (he gets 33 bps)." Meme stocks represent both earnestness and nihilism about efforts to get rich (3,960 words)

Podcast: Episode 1 | Blind Landing. Investigative series about one of the biggest controversies to date in women's gymnastics: how the vault at the 2000 Olympic Games came to be set two inches too low (25m 00s)

Video: The Drunken Boat | Shihan Ma. Contemplative short documentary about a man who sits on the South Bank in London as a "poet for hire". He types out an original poem for passersby while they wait (16m 46s)


Afterthought:
"The true secret of happiness lies in taking a genuine interest in all details of daily life"
William Morris

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