Free 3 min read

Idiomatic Expressions That Need Explaining


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Let's chew the fat — unless you have other cats to whip (autres chats à fouetter)though, if so, you could always borrow a cat's paw (猫の手も借りたい), if you will pardon my French. Anyhow, that's enough walking through hot porridge (chozeni kolem horké kaše); if we don't stop soon you will be telling us where lobsters spend the winter (где раки зимуют). So here's where the dog is buried (Вот, где собака зарыта): Browser readers told us about idiomatic expressions in any language which are completely incomprehensible until you have them explained to you.

Douglas Gray wrote in to tell us that, in Mexico:

dando tres pies al gato means, very roughly “ giving three feet on the cat" – that is, a dangerous or impossible or unnecessarily complicated situation.

Charales Troob informed us that:

"to have a bee in one's bonnet" is derived from the Scottish idiom a head full of
Free 1 min read

Jim Fruchterman on listening at scale and using technology for social good


Jim Fruchterman talks about the trajectory of his life from Stanford and rocket science via Silicon Valley to his present role as a "karmic consultant" helping non-profits, charities and communities to develop effective tech-based strategies and solutions in areas such as disability, education, and climate. Jim is a MacArthur fellow, CEO of Tech Matters, and founder of Benetech

Jim Fruchterman on Twitter  

Tech Matters: https://techmatters.org/

Jim's recommended book:  What's the Future, by Tim O'Reilly

WTF?: What’s the Future and Why It’s Up to Us: O’Reilly, Tim: 9780062565716: Amazon.com: Books
WTF?: What’s the Future and Why It’s Up to Us [O’Reilly, Tim] on Amazon.com. *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. WTF?: What’s the Future and Why It’s Up to Us
Free 21 min read

Lars Doucet On Taxing The True Value Of Land


Uri: I’m delighted today to welcome back Lars Doucet, this time to talk about the economic philosophy called Georgism, which is all about taxing the true value of land.

Lars, like many people I studied economics in college but am now just completely unable to think about it, I know it’s very important but when I see things like a full and rigorous explanation of Georgism I just really struggle to focus.

So, I thought today we could have a conversation about Georgism that just aims to give people like me a basic intuition for the land value tax. And we’ll assume the reader is coming in un-cantakerously, such that you don’t need to prove the claims of Georgism so much as outline what they are and why they’re plausible. (You’ve written extensively about this, so anyone who wants more details can follow up

Free 12 min read

The Man In Seat 61 on global train travel, hidden subsidies, and Burmese numerals


Sylvia Bishop: Hello, and welcome to Browser Interviews. Today I am overexcited to be here with Mark Smith, The Man in Seat 61 - and his dog Pip, if I heard that right?

Mark Smith: Yeah!

Sylvia Bishop: Mark, thank you so much for coming on. To start with, for our readers who don’t know Seat 61, can you give us a quick overview of what this wonderful project is?

Mark Smith: Well, it’s to help people with train travel. If you want to travel from the UK to just about anywhere in Europe, or around Europe, or indeed by train and ferry around the world, it’s the place to start and have a look at what the options are.

Sylvia Bishop: Yes. I did a quick check and I think you cover every continent except Antarctica, which is reasonable!

Mark Smith: There aren’t many trains

Free 5 min read

Foods With Misleading Names


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Mongolian barbecue was invented in Taiwan. Homard a l'Americaine was devised by a French cook in Paris. English muffins were first made in New York City. French fries were invented in Belgium when Belgium was still called the Spanish Netherlands. No Dijon mustard is made in Dijon. The Jerusalem artichoke is native to North America. Russian dressing is unknown in Russia.

We asked our beloved Browser readers to surprise us with more and better examples of other foods and drinks which make utterly misleading claims about their places of origin, which they duly did....

Tom McLaughlan writes in with four suggestions:

​1) You can't buy spaghetti bolognese in Bologna.
2) Austrians created the croissant.
3) Sauerkraut is Chinese.
4) Vindaloo from India was originally Vinha d'alhos from Portugal.​

Buon appetito/Guten appetit/Bon appetit/Desfrute de sua refeição/Buon appetito/请享用​

Basel Kirmani tells this charming tale:

In Hong Kong
Free 28 min read

Learning, by John Jay Chapman (1911)


Part of our Browser Classics series, recommending outstanding essays from centuries past.

John Jay Chapman was an American essayist. He "injured himself so badly, in remorse after a student brawl, that medical staff amputated his left hand," and edited the journal The Political Nursery (which surely could use a revival?). He was the author of 23 books including Learning and Other Essays, of which the following is the title essay.

Text courtesy of Project Gutenberg


An expert on Greek Art chanced to describe in my hearing one of the engraved gems in the Metropolitan Museum. He spoke of it as ‘certainly one of the great gems of the world,’ and there was something in his tone that was even more thrilling than his words. He might have been describing the Parthenon or Beethoven’s Mass—such was the passion of reverence that flowed out of him as he spoke. I

Free 19 min read

Alexander Berger On Philanthrophic Opportunities And Normal Awesome Altruism


Alexander Berger is the Co-CEO of Open Philanthropy, focused on their Global Health and Wellbeing grantmaking. He speaks to The Browser's Applied Divinity about how the world is getting better, why that means philanthropic opportunities are probably getting worse, and the normal awesome altruism of having kids.

On Donating Kidneys, Giving Money, And Being Normal

Applied Divinity: Several years ago, you donated a kidney to a complete stranger. At the time, The Economist wrote of you:

Mr Berger would be angry that I called him a saint. He thinks "deifying donors only serves to make not donating seem normal." He'd rather such donations be seen as "one of the many ways a reasonably altruistic person can help others."

I also don’t want to deify anyone, but objectively speaking, this isn’t normal behavior right? How would you like to be seen?

Alexander Berger: I think kidney donation (and donating

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