Nazi Germany, Houellebecq, Dementia, Mangoes, Robots


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

New Light On Nazi Germany

Ian Kershaw | Telegraph | 17th June 2016

For all that has been written about the Nazi concentration camps, Nikolaus Wachsmann’s new history, KL, is the “first comprehensive study, based on mastery of a huge literature and stupendous research”. Wachsmann “writes of the camps as places where people lived.” Prisoners become “individuals, not just objects of terror”. KL offers a “corrective” to the modern view that Germans generally and spontaneously supported Hitler: The camps were there to coerce those who did not (750 words)

Drinking With The FT: Michel Houellebecq

Simon Kuper | Financial Times | 17th June 2016

A drink and a smoke with Michel Houellebecq, France’s best-selling novelist, whose most recent book, Submission, depicted France under an Islamist government. “In most of his publicity portraits, Houellebecq looks revolting. But in the flesh he is rather elegant, even handsome.” He is also, in his own view, the world’s greatest living writer – though he thinks Balzac was better. “I’m still at a good age. In general, one does best at 60. I can still do one great book. Not two” (2,100 words)

The Disremembered

Charles Leadbeater | Aeon | 26th March 2015

If your memory fails, are you still the same person? Dementia “raises deeply troubling issues about our obligations to care for people whose identity might have changed in the most disturbing ways”. Everyone touched by the disease “goes through a crash-course in the philosophy of mind”. And morality too. What are your duties to somebody who doesn’t know who you are? “The person I’m dealing with, the person I’m yelling at, is a stranger. He looks like my husband, but Howard’s gone” (2,800 words)

A Dad’s Guide To Indian Mangoes

Rupa Battarachya | Lucky Peach | 19th June 2016

An email from home brings advice. “By far the juiciest of mangoes is called langra or langda which literally means ‘lame’. There is unverified rumor that this variety, which is best grown in Varanasi or the anglicized Benares (the holy city in India), may be named after Timur the Lame or anglicized Tamerlane who was a descendant of the Mongolian Genghis Khan. He ravaged India despite being disabled and hence perhaps the name of the mango. It is slimmer with a smaller seed” (670 words)

Robots

Ananya Bhattacharya | Quartz | 18th June 2016

The future of work, Amazon edition. Amazon bought the robotics company Kiva in 2012 and began deploying Kiva robots in Amazon warehouses in late 2014. “The click-to-ship cycle used to be around 60-75 minutes when employees had manually to sift through the stacks, pick the product, pack it, and ship it. Now, robots handle the same job in 15 minutes”. The robots also take up less space: A Kiva-equipped warehouse can hold 50% more inventory per square foot (375 words)

Video of the day: Scenes From 2001 In The Style of Picasso

What to expect:

A computer did it. You build a Deep Neural Network, show it lots of Picasso, then show it some Kubrick (1’50”)

Thought for the day

Invisible threads are the strongest ties
Friedrich Nietzsche

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