Killer Robots, Industry, Iraq, Regulation, Food History, Childhood


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

Attack Of The Killer Robots

Sarah Topol | Buzzfeed | 26th August 2016

Drone terrorism of the near future. “A quadcopter one inch in diameter can carry a one-gram charge. You can write some code to say: ‘Here are thousands of photographs of the kinds of things I want to target’. A one-gram shaped charge can punch a hole in nine millimeters of steel. You can fit about three million of those in a semi-tractor-trailer. You can drive up I-95 with three trucks and have 10 million weapons attacking New York City. They could be here in two to three years” (8,100 words)

The Economics And Politics Of Manufacturing Fetishism

John Kay | 29th August 2016

The subject here is the privileged position of manufacturing industry in public policy, rather than the devising of new fetishes. “The idea that manufacturing is the central economic activity, and everything else is somehow subordinate, is deeply ingrained in human thinking. The perception that only tangible objects represent real wealth and only physical labour real work may have been formed in the days when economic activity was a constant search for food, fuel and shelter” (2,040 words)

Abandoned In Iraq

Seth Harp | Rolling Stone | 29th August 2016

Gripping story from 2004 Iraq of two American soldiers who fought their way back home after being caught in an ambush and abandoned by their unit. “When a little white jalopy came juddering down the road they decided to hijack it. Redus ran in front of the car with his rifle aimed at the windshield. Torres covered him from behind. They must have looked wretched in the headlights: two red-eyed gunmen, with dried blood covering their hands and faces, reeking of sewage, shouting in English” (6,200 words)

Drugs Versus Chairs

Scott Alexander | Slate Star Codex | 29th August 2016

On the predatory pricing of the EpiPen. “Imagine that government creates the Furniture And Desk Association, which says only IKEA is allowed to sell chairs. IKEA responds by charging $300 per chair. Other companies try to sell stools or sofas, but get bogged down for years in litigation over whether these technically count as ‘chairs’. When a few of them win their cases, the FDA shoots them down anyway because they haven’t done studies showing that their chairs will not break” (1,440 words)

Louise Fresco On Food

Sophie Roell | Five Books | 25th August 2016

Food scientist recommends favourite books on the history of food. The tone is a bit preachy at the start — we are all ignorant because Internet — but soon relaxes into the anecdotal. On the colour of Cheddar cheese: “If you let cows graze, then depending on the season and the quality of the grass, the colour of the milk fluctuates. But the consumer likes to have the summer colour, which is bright yellow. So, starting in the 18th century, an artificial colour is added to the cheese-making process” (6,030 words)

Wish Lanterns: Xiaoxiao

Alec Ash | Picador | 29th August 2016

Beautifully-drawn miniature of a girl’s early childhood and schooling in northern China. “Here, on 4 September 1985, Liu Xiao was born. She was delivered by a midwife at home, on her parents’ bed. For the first hour she didn’t cry, and everyone was beside themselves. Then she began bawling to the gods and they tearfully wished she would shut up. At the age of seven days her ears were pierced with a needle and red thread, an old tradition to bring a child good luck and health” (1,800 words)

Video of the day: Réseau Ferré De France

What to expect:

How to turn your country into a model railway. The making of a French Railways commercial (1’38”)

Thought for the day

The poorer I am, the more valuable my money
Dan Liebert

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