Future Cars, Benedict Anderson, World Bank, Per Se, Bruce Chatwin

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

Cars And The Future

Ben Thompson | Stratechery | 12th January 2016

Electric cars are expensive to make but cheap to run. Apple and Google are perfecting driverless technologies. Uber and Lyft are perfecting rides-on-demand. Very soon the average person will not want to own a car. So why are private car sales skyrocketing? Because the consumer is not yet quite convinced. Somebody needs to put all the pieces together. It may be the greatest economic opportunity of our time (1,900 words)

Frameworks Of Comparison

Benedict Anderson | London Review Of Books | 14th January 2016

The late, great political scientist Benedict Anderson discusses the kindling of his fascination with Indonesia, which began at Cornell when he overheard a remark by Allan Bloom to the effect that Ancient Greek philosophers had no concept of political power as such, although they did categorise different systems of government. "This set me thinking about power in the context of Java and Indonesia" (5,600 words)

How To Save The World Bank

Ngaire Woods | Project Syndicate | 12th January 2016

The World Bank is "quietly sliding into insignificance" as its natural borrowers — governments and projects in the developing world — turn to other lenders. The Bank is too slow and too bureaucratic. "One clear indicator of the Bank’s performance is how high a premium governments are willing to pay to avoid it". They would rather pay market rates for commercial lending than wait two years for a subsidised loan (970 words)

Per Se Slips And Stumbles

Pete Wells | New York Times | 12th January 2016

Pete Wells may well be the best restaurant critic the Times has ever had; he is certainly the boldest. He leaves his emotions in play, and here the emotions are disgust and dismay. The once-flawless Per Se is charging ever-higher prices for erratic food and insulting service. As a diner at this "grand, hermetic, self-regarding, ungenerous restaurant" your job is "to feel lucky to receive whatever you get" (Metered paywall) (1,400 words)

Nicholas Shakespeare On Bruce Chatwin

Alec Ash | Five Books | 12th May 2014

Classic interview. Bruce Chatwin's biographer discusses books which influenced Chatwin's life and writing: Robert Byron's Road To Oxiana, Mandelstam's Journey To Armenia, Borges's Labyrinths, Sebald's Rings Of Saturn, Edith Sitwell's Planet And Glow-worm. Sitwell's anthology of literary fragments was recommended to Chatwin in his schooldays and gave him, after long gestation, his structure for The Songlines (2,090 words)

The State Of Frequent Flyer Miles

Gary Leff | Boarding Area | 10th January 2016

If you care deeply about frequent flyer miles, this may be the most compelling read of the past 12 months. It begins as it means to go on: "Fourteen years ago you could Priceline the Hyatt Regency San Francisco in the mid-$30s per night. Hyatt recognized elite status on these rates, and even let you earn status on them too. Priceline rates counted for Faster Free Nights credit provided there was something charged to the room" (2,640 words)

Video of the day: Soap Bubbles Freezing

What to expect: Time-lapse. Just what the headline says. Beautiful (1'21")

Thought for the day

Victorious warriors win first, and then go to war
Sun Tzu

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