Nazi Germany, Lynching, Putin's Lies, Smart Toasters, Fab Labs


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

Why Are We So Obsessed With The Nazis?

Richard Evans | Guardian | 6th February 2015

They haunt us because they were so much like us. They came to power in a "modern European society" of "great cities, classic buildings, bustling urban streets"; they were "economically advanced, technologically sophisticated and culturally literate". Racism was the bedrock of their ideology; racism troubles us still. We can easily wonder "what we might have done in the Third Reich had we been there" (4,555 words)

Lynching In America

Equal Justice Initiative | 8th February 2015

The history of race in America is still being written; read this chapter and weep. Lynchings were not local aberrations; they were planned and publicised events which "generally took place in communities where there was a functioning criminal justice system that was deemed too good for African Americans". Four thousand people were mutilated, hanged, beaten to death and burned alive between 1880 and 1940 (PDF) (6,800 words)

Why Putin Lies About Ukraine

Leonid Bershidsky | Bloomberg View | 9th February 2015

Russia's refusal to admit that it has gone to war in Ukraine is a positive sign, of sorts: "Putin's lies aren't directed at concealing the war from Russians. They know what's going on. Putin's lies are a message to the West, a signal that Russia isn't yet fully committed, an invitation to compromise. Western leaders may not admit it, but they want Putin to keep lying. Once he stops doing that, a point of no return will be passed" (1,030 words)

Beware The Sentient Toaster

Ian Steadman | New Statesman | 10th February 2015

The internet of things will be full of surprises, most of them unwelcome for users as companies work out what they can get away with. Samsung's "smart" televisions are recording and transmitting household conversations. Drivers who fall behind on leasing payments find their cars remotely bricked. "Think of what happens if we let companies make pacemakers with Wi-Fi and then they go out of business" (2,220 words)

Digital Reality

Neil Gershenfeld | Edge | 10th February 2015

MIT physicist discusses digital fabrication. 3D printing gets all the notice, but it's only part of the story. MIT's Fab Lab has ten million-dollar machines which between them can make almost anything. The lab is equivalent of a mainframe computer; it works, but only a few people can use it. The deep change will come when we get to the iPhone stage, packing the power of the Fab Lab into an affordable personal device (8,400 words)

Video of the day: You Are A Simulation

What to expect: TED talk by George Smoot, arguing that we are characters in a computer game (19'30")

Thought for the day

A doubt that doubted everything would not be a doubt
Ludwig Wittgenstein

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