Newsletter 1054

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

Best of the Moment

The Wastefulness Of Automation

Frances Coppola | Pieria | 8th July 2013

If robots put more and more workers out of jobs, will governments have to provide basic incomes for everyone, in place of wages? That will put upward pressure on tax rates; but even for the rich, heavy taxation may be preferable to an economy in which there is little or no demand for the goods which they and their robots produce. Then again, maybe it would be better just to stop building robots, and keep people working

America Against Democracy

Will Wilkinson | The Economist | 9th July 2013

I'm sorry if we're a bit Snowden-heavy today, but this cri de coeur, arguing that a "deep state" has captured American government, demands to be read. "I'd very much like to know what led Mr Obama to change his mind, to conclude that America is not after all safe for democracy, though I know he's not about to tell us. The matter is settled. It has been decided, and not by us. We can't handle the truth"

Bin Laden Raid Reveals “State Failure”

Asad Hashim | Al-Jazeera | 9th July 2013

Leak of Pakistan government report into the harbouring of Bin Laden, and the US raid. Mostly whitewash: everything blamed on official incompetence. But lots of fun facts: "The closest he came to detection was in 2002 or early 2003, when he was in a car that was pulled over for speeding. The then clean-shaven Bin Laden aroused no particular suspicion from the traffic officer, however, and was allowed to go on his way"

Aeroflop: Snowden In Moscow

Dmitri Trenin | Foreign Policy | 9th July 2013

Russian perspective on Snowden affair. "In hindsight, Russia obviously miscalculated when it allowed Snowden to board the Moscow-bound flight." Nobody expected to have him hanging around this long. The political damage has been containable, but there have been no offsetting benefits. He can stay a while longer if he keeps quiet. But Russia will want him out before Obama visits in September

America’s Senseless Spying On Europe

Abraham Newman & Henry Farrell | Foreign Affairs | 10th July 2013

Disclosures that America has been spying on European Union citizens and institutions puts in jeopardy a transatlantic security relationship that had been growing markedly closer and more trusting in the past decade. "If European governments now decide to curtail that cooperation, Washington will have only itself to blame". European regulators could also fine American companies for sharing data with the NSA

Philosophy Of The Acrobat: On Peter Sloterdijk

Keith Ansell-Pearson | LA Review Of Books | 8th July 2013

Review of You Must Change Your Life, described here as "a tour de force that engages the history of philosophy, religion, and thought, both Western and Eastern, in ways that make you think deeply about the evolution of the human being these past few thousand years". In brief: religions are not systems of beliefs or truths, but systems of thought and behaviour. Interesting throughout, but heavy going

Video of the day: Myths And Misconceptions About Evolution

Thought for the day:

"With so many critics, you feel they're writing so people will say they're good critics" — William Empson

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