London, Seymour Hersh, Web Design, Drones, Cooking As Art, Productivity, Immortality


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

How The Left Tired Of Liberal London Life

Janan Ganesh | Financial Times | 13th August 2015 | | Read with 1Pass

London takes the free movement of people, goods, services, capital and ideas to thrillingly anarchic extremes. Millions thrive in the "productive chaos of an open city". The critics of London's triumph are a sad coalition of left-wingers and reactionaries, nostalgic for an imagined past, a middle-class museum where "everything was so captivatingly earthy that more people left than arrived year after year" (880 words)

Evil But Stupid

The Editors | n+1 | 12th August 2015

Seymour Hersh's account of the killing of Osama Bin Laden was greeted with hoots of disbelief when it appeared the London Review Of Books in May. But as best one can tell, Hersh was right in all his main points: Pakistan knowingly sheltered Bin Laden; the US got a tip-off; Pakistan agreed to the raid. Almost alone, Hersh still behaves as a journalist should — and the rest of the press cannot forgive him for that (4,400 words)

Non-Sokratic Dialogue On Website Design

Brad DeLong | Grasping Reality | 11th August 2015

If Socrates were discussing website design with Brad DeLong, and they took Vox as the benchmark of best practice, and Ezra Klein showed up in the comments, this is what you would get. Main point: The website is just a content-management system. The audience lives on social media. You can work hard to make your website distinctive and coherent, but for most readers the context is irrelevant. They found the article on Facebook

The New America: Little Privacy, Big Terror

David Cole | New York Review Of Books | 13th August 2015

If the Israeli Supreme Court can review every targeted killing after the fact to ensure that it conforms to the limits of law, why can’t US courts do the equivalent? Discussion of books by Bruce Schneier and others about drones, surveillance, terrorism. Most of the legal and ethical problems created by new technology can be mitigated, but independent scrutiny is essential, because the core issue is almost always accountability (4,340 words)

Canon Of Taste

Jill Neimark | Aeon | 11th August 2015

Is cooking an art on the level of music or painting? If so, what is the tongue's equivalent of the four-note phrase which opens Beethoven’s Fifth? Perhaps it was something served in the 18th century and then forgotten. But great art is timeless. Let us profit from modern science to recover the ingredients and flavours and techniques of past ages, and reconstruct a canon of great dishes in terms of which all others can be understood (2,700 words)

Efficiency Begins At Home

John Kay | 12th August 2015

Gains from technology are readily quantified when they happen in the workplace. They used to be fairly easily measured in the home, too: A washing machine substituted for a given quantity of labour. But how do you measure convenience, and pleasure, and novelty? "All the world’s music is streamed to my computer. We worry about the slowdown in growth and productivity. The evidence of our eyes seems to tell a different story" (618 words)

The Iliad And The IPO

Andrew Schwarz | Harvard Law School | 12th August 2015

Almost all companies go public with strong takeover defences in place. Which is counter-intuitive, since the purpose of an IPO is to raise money, and takeover defences depress the achievable share price. Perhaps the reasons are metaphysical. Warriors, poets, athletes seek everlasting fame. Founders too. Corporations are "endowed by the law with perpetual existence". The founder wants to live forever through the company (1,130 words)

Video of the day: I'm Running For Parliament

What to expect: I have never seen a campaign ad quite like this one. I would like see many more (1'03")

Thought for the day

The best argument against democracy is a five-minute talk with the average voter
Winston Churchill

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