Geoengineering, King Lear, Timothy Snyder, Bookshops, René Girard, Integers

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

We Change The Earth Too Little

Ross Andersen | Atlantic | 5th November 2015

Conversation with Oliver Morton about geoengineering. Humans are already changing the Earth. Why not change it the better? "The challenge is developing the institutions to use technology in a just and responsible way. Putting a million tons of stuff into the stratosphere is not something that's going to break the bank of even quite a small country. It is, however, going to upset a lot of other people" (3,450 words)

The Year Of Lear

Fintan O'Toole | New York Review of Books | 4th November 2015

In 1606 Shakespeare wrote Macbeth, Antony and Cleopatra, and a first version of King Lear. James Shapiro's book, The Year Of Lear, "plunges these tragedies back into the whirlpool of plots and plagues, of religious and political anxieties, from which they emerged. He does not drown them in historical detail, but he does bring them before us still wet from their struggle to emerge from the urgent currents of politics and power" (3,900 words)

Timothy Snyder’s Holocaust

Walter Laqueur | Mosaic | 4th November 2015

"Seldom if ever can I remember having encountered so maddening a combination of right and wrong, imagination and fantasy, good sense and absurdity located together in such close vicinity." Walter Laqueur's review of Timothy Snyder's Black Earth, about the Holocaust and Hitler's war aims, is massively rewarding even if you think it unfair to Snyder. Wonderful to know that Laqueur is writing as well at 94 as he did at 49 (2,960 words)

My 2.5 Star Trip To Amazon’s New Book Store

Dustin Kurtz | New Republic | 4th November 2015

Amazon's first bookstore, in Seattle, is puzzling because it is so ordinary. The only oddities are the assumed familiarity with — one shelf is labelled “Most Wishlisted Cookbooks" — and a clumsy layout betraying inexperience with retail. Every book is shown face out. Customers "butt brush” in narrow aisles. Is this lazy recreation of a chain bookstore really the best that Amazon can do? And, if so, why do it? (2,570 words)

Obituary: René Girard

Cynthia Haven | Stanford News | 4th November 2015

René Girard was "the new Darwin of the human sciences". He argued that conflicts are caused more by the sameness of human beings than by the differences between them. Our desires are not our own; we want what others want. Duplication of desires leads to rivalry and violence, which individuals and societies can resolve by offloading blame on to an outsider, a scapegoat, whose elimination restores unity (1,480 words)

The Google Of Math

Siobhan Roberts | Nautilus | 22nd October 2015

Neil Sloane is "the world's most influential mathematician". He created and maintains the "Google of mathematics", a database and search engine of significant numbers and sequences. If you hit on a number in your research, you check Sloane's database to see if others are on the same track. “The encyclopedia of integer sequences inspires much more new research than any single mathematician” (2,940 words)

Video of the day: Mythopolis

What to expect: Animation. Characters from Greek mythology solve problems in the modern world

Thought for the day

You can pretend to be serious; but you can't pretend to be witty
Sacha Guitry

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