Newsletter 963


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

Derrida: The Excluded Favorite

Emily Eakin | New York Review Of Books | 25 March 2013

Good, clear primer on Derrida's life and thought. "Derrida sought to show that speech is inextricable from writing, no more or less authentic. The difference between the two depends, as all differences do, on a process of enforced absence or repression: a is a only because it is not b, and thus b is never entirely out of the picture"

Boris Berezovsky, 1946-2013

Keith Gessen | n+1 | 25 March 2013

An appreciation — if that is the right word — of the dead Russian oligarch. Berezovsky was "a man who had been given a magnificent mind, and limitless energy, and who devoted these, primarily, to destruction, speculation, and manipulation". He was, in his way, enthralling. But he profited from, and encouraged, a lawlessness that ruined his country

Remember: A Country Is Not A Company

Stephen Kinsella | Harvard Business Review | 25 March 2013

"For countries the notion of national insolvency is a newer, and potentially very misleading, idea. Countries aren't corporations. Technically almost every country would be insolvent if if was asked to pay all of its debt using its available assets. All governments in practice secure their national debts on their abilities to levy taxes"

Beauteous Beasts

Emily Anthes | Aeon | 25 March 2013

On the science and morality of genetically modified animals. "GloFish mark the beginning of a new age, one in which we can directly manipulate the genomes of our creature companions to make them more alluring. Now that biotechnology is giving us new ways to reshape animals, how far should we allow ourselves to go in the pursuit of animal beauty?"

Bodog, The Real Mongolian Barbecue

Brett Forrest | Roads & Kingdoms | 5 March 2013

Sensibility alert: Much of this article is a detailed account of butchering a goat and dressing its carcass. After which, the meat is mixed with hot stones and cooked inside the goat's hide to make bodog, Mongolian dish dating back to Genghis Khan, whose armies had to cook and eat in the field without pans, stoves or cutlery

Chess And 18th-Century Artificial Intelligence

Adam Gopnik | BBC | 22 March 2013

Reflections on The Mechanical Turk, an eighteenth-century device which purported to be a chess-playing machine, but which worked by means of a human chess-player concealed inside the cabinet. The inventor, Johann Maelzel, "picked up chess players on the run, wherever he happened to be, as Chuck Berry used to hire back-up bands on the road"

Everything You Need To Know About Moleskine

Zachary Seward | Quartz | 20 March 2013

Profile of Italian firm that makes expensive pseudo-French notebooks. Full of interesting detail. "The term 'moleskine' was used by British writer Bruce Chatwin to describe the notebooks in his 1986 novel The Songlines. In 1997, a Milanese stationer, Modo & Modo, began producing the notebooks again, using Chatwin’s coinage"

Video of the day: Graphene: The Super Supercapacitor

Thought for the day:

"Quotations are useful in periods of ignorance or obscurantist beliefs" — Guy Debord

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