London, Deutsche Bank, Cultural Revolution, Minds, Air Safety, China


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

London After The Fire

Gavin Stamp | Apollo | 31st October 2016

After the Great Fire of 1666, Christopher Wren and others argued for rebuilding London on a neo-classical masterplan, with wide, straight avenues linking vast piazzas. The schemes were scuppered because negotiating property rights would have taken years, and merchants were impatient to rebuild. The old street plan was largely retained, producing a “magnificent, beautiful compromise” between monumental new buildings and the “scale, intimacy and intricacy” of the medieval city (1,200 words)

The Downfall Of Deutsche Bank

Ullrich Fichtner et al | Spiegel | 28th October 2016

“The collapse of Deutsche Bank is the result of years of failed leadership, culminating in a complete loss of control by top managers between 1994 and 2012. Hilmar Kopper, Rolf E. Breuer and Josef Ackermann, the leaders of Deutsche Bank during those fateful years, turned over the bank to a hastily assembled group of Anglo-American investment bankers who modified the staid German financial institution to serve their own purposes — looting it and robbing it of its very soul” (10,600 words)

China: The Virtues Of The Awful Convulsion

Ian Johnson | New York Review of Books | 27th October 2016

Historians are still struggling to piece together a full account of the “astounding” violence which swept China in 1966-67, the onset of the Cultural Revolution. But demonising the Red Guards no longer seems an adequate response. History has moved on. The Red Guards were “similar to the generation of Germans who came of age in the Hitler years. These young Germans participated in the war, suffered a crushing defeat, but later, many of them helped build democracy and liberalism” (3,700 words)

What Other Kinds Of Minds Might There Be?

Murray Shanahan | Aeon | 19th October 2016

Can we even imagine “radically exotic forms of consciousness”? Thomas Nagel, in wondering what it was like to be a bat, reasonably assumed that “we all believe bats have experience”. We have much in common with bats, therefore. But “to explore the space of possible minds is to entertain the possibility of beings far more exotic than any terrestrial species. Could the space of possible minds include beings so inscrutable that we could not tell whether they had conscious experiences at all?” (8,300 words)

Evacuating With Luggage

Patrick Smith | Ask The Pilot | 29th October 2016

A plane on fire in Chicago. A real emergency evacuation — and still, passengers grab for their luggage. Blame the passengers; but blame the airlines too, for useless pre-flight safety demonstrations filled with “confusing instructions about electronic devices, the minutiae of putting on an oxygen mask, and impossibly complex tutorials on how to don a flotation device”, while omitting “the short and far more valuable admonition to leave your damn things behind during an evacuation!“ (790 words)

China And The Industrial Revolution

Ana Swanson & Joel Mokyr | Washington Post | 28th October 2016

Interview. China led the world in technology until the late thirteenth century, but then fell further and further behind Europe for the next 700 years. What happened? “China wanted stability and security, and they achieved that for a long time. The Europeans didn’t want stability, they wanted progress. China’s stability got disrupted by Europeans with more powerful ships and guns; eventually, China crumbled under the onslaught of European modernity. It’s a tragic story” (Metered paywall) (2,080 words)

Video of the day: Pano – LA

What to expect:

Another Los Angeles time-lapse. But somehow, one always has room for another Los Angeles time-lapse (6’04”)

Thought for the day

Men cannot be pleased against their will
Dr Johnson

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