Larry Summers, Bitcoin, Emoji, Barcelona, Las Vegas


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

A Conversation With Larry Summers

Tyler Cowen | Mercatus Center | 20th September 2017

Interesting throughout. Topics include education, monopoly power, investment, philanthropy, unionisation, table tennis, immigration, bitcoin. “The understanding should be that if you immigrate to the United States you’re immigrating to the United States to become an American. That reflects acculturation, one crucial part of which is speaking English and understanding that you’re going to be learning English and that you’re going to be carrying on your life in English” (10,200 words)

If I’d Known What We Were Starting

Ray Dillinger | LinkedIn | 20th September 2017

Collaborator with Satoshi Nakamoto in the creation of Bitcoin argues that cryptocurrencies have gone downhill ever since. “I believe that block chain technology, once the current state of confusion is over, will contribute vastly more to the world than all the scams put together have taken or destroyed. But good lord, what we started. I hate to even imagine how many billions of dollars of scams and failures and thefts have been perpetrated by abusing people’s faith in technology” (1,800 words)

The Rise of Emoji

Andrew Caines | TLS | 20th September 2017

A horrible thought, but what if emoji are the future of writing, as well as its past — a reversion to the pictographic tradition of Egyptian hieroglyphs, after the relatively brief reign of the printing press and the written word? Already, emojis are a much richer language than hieroglyphics ever were — 2,666 symbols, against roughly a thousand known hieroglyphs. “Emoji represent how eager we are to influence the emotions of others, and to resolve ambiguity in language” (1,824 words)

Terrorism: The Lessons Of Barcelona

Nafees Hamid | New York Review Of Books | 19th September 2017

Studying ISIS recruitment in Spain. “I was given a complicated task: find radicalized people, conduct interviews, surveys, and psychology experiments with them, and then get them in and out of a brain scanner in order to run neuroscience experiments on them. After having escaped a few dicey situations by jumping out of windows, and having narrowly avoided being kidnapped by an informant, I began to appreciate knowing the authorities could be nearby” (3,030 words)

Philosophy As The Las Vegas Of Rational Inquiry

Daniel Dennett | Secular Humanist | 17th July 2017

“Every society has a subpopulation that loves trashy, glittery entertainment — porn, gambling — and it would be foolish to despoil some beautiful area with it. Concentrate the glitz and sleaze in one place with a minimal impact on the rest of the world. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas! I see philosophy as the Las Vegas of rational inquiry, where outrageous doctrines are taken seriously. What happens in philosophy stays in philosophy, by and large, and a good thing it does, too” (880 words)

Video of the day: Full Circles

What to expect:

Dancer Carlos Acosta seeks to revive an academy of arts in Cuba (3’25”)

Thought for the day

In order to be the master, the politician poses as the servant
Charles de Gaulle

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