Oklahoma, Reproduction, Arzamas, Esther, Corporations

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

The City Born In A Day

Sam Anderson | New York | 17th August 2018

The founding of Oklahoma City in 1889 was “the most disorderly episode of urban settlement this country, and perhaps the world, has ever witnessed.” Plots of land were given away to whoever got there first on a given day, April 22nd. “The town had an almost instant population of 10,000 with no organization whatsoever — no government, no law. Within days there were wooden houses, slapped together quickly out of preassembled frames; within months, brick warehouses and shops; within years, grand stone mansions; within decades, skyscrapers, convention centers, sports arenas” (4,000 words)

All Reproduction Is Assisted

Andrea Long Chu | Boston Review | 14th August 2018

“Sex change, like having a child, is a very stupid idea. I’m not even supposed to write ‘sex change’; I’m supposed to write ‘gender confirmation surgery’, as if all the doctors did was to throw your inner woman a big thumbs-up. That’s ridiculous, obviously. Later this year, I will pay another person a lot of money to carve me into a different shape. She will probably do a good job, but it will be disappointing anyway. What I want isn’t surgery; what I want is never to have needed surgery to begin with. I will never be natural, but I will die trying” (946 words)

Like A Day Of War

Daniil Turovsky | Meduza | 13th July 2018

Remembering the day in 1988 when a train loaded with explosives blew up in the Soviet city of Arzamas, levelling 84 apartment blocks. Many thought a nuclear bomb had detonated. No cause for the catastrophe was ever satisfactorily established. Conspiracy theories abound to this day. “There was a second train — a secret train — at the station. Some believe it was carrying nuclear weapons, and that the explosion was supposed to happen as the two trains passed each other, but the engine operator, Yuri Mikanovich, got there late. It would have been a second Chernobyl” (6,900 words)

Esther The Wonder Pig

Jason McBride | Walrus | 15th August 2018

Profile of “the Kim Kardashian West of the hog world”, a pig called Esther, whose popularity on social media enabled her Canadian owners to open a sanctuary around her for 65 more animals, many of them factory-farm refugees. “I want to touch her. I place it there gingerly, as if about to get a manicure. It’s like resting my hand on the side of a 650-pound hot-water bottle, if that hot-water bottle were wrapped in a wire-brush welcome mat. Esther smells faintly, mysteriously, of maple syrup—something I later learn is a common odour of some pigs” (5,400 words)

Corporations In The Age Of AI

Julian Birkinshaw | Harvard Business Review | 13th August 2018

“There has been a lot of discussion about what’s left for humans to do, as AI improves at exponential rates. The customary answer is that humans need to focus on the things they are uniquely good at, such as creativity, intuition, and personal empathy. But I think we now have to ask: What’s left for firms? If computer technology has the capacity to simplify and streamline transaction costs, more and more work can be done through these smart-contract arrangements, making traditional human-managed firms obsolete” (Metered paywall) (1,550 words)

Video of the day Mr Death

What to expect:

A conversation with Mr Death as he goes about his work, grumbling that he has far too much to do nowadays

Thought for the day

I have had my results for a long time: but I do not yet know how I am to arrive at them
Karl Friedrich Gauss

Podcast Post No Evil | Radio Lab

Simon Adler and Tracie Hunte explore the history of Facebook’s attempts to police objectionable content
(1h 10m 36s)

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