Giraffe Edition 20


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

Musical Gold

Rebecca Mead | New Yorker | 21st July 2014

Portrait of three thirty-ish New York siblings, the Carpenters, who deal in rare stringed instruments. They can find you a good Stradivarius "in the low millions". They seem pretty accomplished at selling themselves, too: "The combined effect of their personalities can feel overwhelming, like an elixir that is more potent than anticipated". Their aim is to create "the Gagosian gallery of the fine-instrument business" (6,960 words)

Getting By Without Russia

James Meek | London Review Of Books | 19th July 2014

Russia has a big history. It has gas and nukes. It looks big on the map, but its size is exaggerated by Mercator projections, and it doesn't have a lot to offer in any other respect. Its neighbours are not mere "props and brackets for its weight". Could the world manage without Russia? Yes, and so it should while Russia is in the hands of Vladimir Putin — "the privatisation of a beautiful old prison by one of its former jailers" (777 words)

The Secret Of Minecraft

Robin Sloan | Medium | 21st July 2014

To know how to play Minecraft, you have to know how to play Minecraft. It isn't intuitive; there is no in-game tutorial. The knowledge passes between players, and gets codified in third-party books and websites. The purpose of acquiring this arcane knowledge is not to beat the game, but to continue the game, to build new things. Minecraft is telling us something encouraging about our cultural needs (1,300 words)

Sana’a

Maciej Cegłowski | Idle Words | 7th July 2014

Notes on a visit to the capital of Yemen, for tourism. "From the outside, the buildings look like confectionery. The icing is decorative white trim made from lime. Many houses have a sort of carved stone cage affixed at some of the windows that serves as a cooling station for meat or water. It’s set up so that the breeze will blow through and chill whatever's inside. There is a lot of strategic draught management in Yemeni architecture" (6,700 words)

Are Liberals Rescuing Marriage?

Noah Smith | Noahopinion | 20th July 2014

The conventional wisdom of 1960s and 1970s America was that liberal values undermined marriage. But now the reverse seems to be true: educated liberals are the ones who get married, stay married, and care for their children; whereas "uneducated Americans" are "abandoning marriage and two-parent child-rearing". Perhaps liberal morality is "better adapted for creating stable two-parent families in a post-industrialized world" (850 words)

The Most Terrifying Thought Experiment Of All Time

David Auerbach | Slate | 17th July 2014

Roko's Basilisk. I admit right away that I don't understand this. But I want to understand it, I'm reasonably sure that it ought to make sense, and I'm going to read it a couple more times in the hope that it does. It seems to involve a variant of the Monty Hall decision-making problem, crossed with the time-travel possibilities of Looper, within a computer-simulated world reminiscent of The Matrix (2,210 words)

Video of the day: Phonat — Ride The Prejudice

What to expect: If Duchamp and Dali got together to make a music video, it might look like this

Thought for the day

"Working is hard, but thinking about working is pretty fun. The result is the software industry"
—  Paul Ford

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