Mars, Autonomous Vehicles, Blindness, Alcohol, Rain


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

Our Long Obsession With Mars

George RR Martin | Guardian | 1st October 2015

George RR Martin's affectionate history of Mars in science fiction. It was the 1960s' Mariner space programme "that put an end to the glory days of Old Mars." "Mariner’s findings thrilled scientists ... and gave us a detailed and accurate picture of the nature of the inner planets, but for the readers and writers of science fiction, the excitement was mingled with disillusionment and dismay. This was not the Mars we wanted" (2,880 words)

The Day Vehicles Started Driving Themselves

Joab Jackson | Joab Jackson | 19th March 2004

First hand account from 2004 of the first autonomous vehicle race. "Each vehicle had to find its own way. It was as if after 400 years of close adult supervision, machines were finally being allowed to take a few baby steps on their own." It's hard not to feel sympathy for the little vehicles that (generally) couldn't, as they break down or clam up or get tangled in barbed wire and bushes. The winner made it seven miles. (2,930 words)

Losing Sight

Léonie Watson | Tink | 3rd October 2015

Personal narrative of going blind due to insufficiently treated Diabetes Type I. "To offset what would otherwise be an incredibly boring view, my mind ... shows me a shadowy representation of what it thinks I would see if I could. Since my mind is constrained only by my imagination, it rather charmingly overlays everything with millions of tiny sparkles of light, that vary in brightness and intensity depending on my emotional state" (2,550 words)

Guns and alcohol

Eugene Volokh | Washington Post | 2nd October 2015

Law professor and gun-control skeptic argues there is a valid (though imperfect) analogy between guns and alcohol; prohibiting guns would be unsuccessful and undesirable much like Prohibition was. Every day "about 30 people are killed in homicides where the killer was under the influence of alcohol, plus alcohol-related drunk driving accidents." Some regulations are certainly "wise," but broader "alcohol-control measures" weren't (740 words)

I Met You In The Rain On The Last Day Of 1972

Anonymous | Craigslist | 24th September 2015

For the novelty of reading narrative non-fiction (or, quite possibly, fiction) in the guise of a Craigslist "Missed Connections" post. "You confessed over pecan pie that you were engaged to a man you didn't love, a banker from some line of Boston nobility.... I didn't mention Vietnam, but I got the sense that you could see there was a war waging inside me. Still, your eyes offered no pity, and I loved you for it" (1,000 words)

Video of the day: Verschleif

What to expect: The innards of things, revealed by sanding. Directed by Laurin Döpfner (2’28”)

Thought for the day

Life is the art of drawing sufficient conclusions from insufficient premises
Samuel Butler

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