Oligarchs, Shopping, Nuclear Power, Language, Homer

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

Challenging The Oligarchy

Paul Krugman | New York Review of Books | 29th November 2015

Review of Saving Capitalism, by Robert Reich, which argues that rising American inequality is driven by the capture and abuse of political power. The very rich have normalised the buying of political influence sufficient to increase their monopolies and rents. "The result is a vicious circle of oligarchy. That, Reich suggests, is the story of America over the past generation. And I’m afraid that he’s right. So what can turn it around?" (3,175 words)

The Deeper Meaning Of Black Friday

Ian Bogost | Atlantic | 27th November 2015

The material frenzy of pre-Christmas shopping may seem to mock the spiritual feast. But perhaps it is a complement. "Whether one is a believer or not, Christmas is about a particularly excessive gift — an ultimate gift, the gift of God’s only son, whom the scriptures declare would sacrifice his life for all mankind. Excess is the origin story of Christmas, rendering Black Friday strangely compatible with the liturgy" (1,100 words)

The New Atomic Age We Need

Peter Thiel | New York Times | 27th November 2015

World leaders can cut carbon emissions radically by turning back to nuclear power. If America had continued building nuclear power stations at the rate planned before Three Mile Island, its power grid would already be carbon-free. The dangers of nuclear power are greatly overestimated, even taking human error into account, and much less than the proven perils to health of coal-fired power plants (Metered Paywall) (1,190 words)

English Is Not Normal

John McWhorter | Aeon | 13th November 2015

English started out as a Germanic language brought to Britain by the Angles, Saxons and Jutes, which interbred with the Celtic languages of the Scots and Welsh. The Vikings added a later Germanic overlay, Old Norse. The Normans imposed a thick layer of French. The Middle Ages imported scholarly Latin. The outcome is a language simple in some ways, complicated in others, that can take a lot of rough handling (3,400 words)

Caroline Alexander’s Epic Challenge

Eben Shapiro | Wall Street Journal | 25th November 2015

Interview. Caroline Alexander discusses her English translation of The Iliad, the first by a woman, and already being praised as a classic in its own right. “The Iliad can only be seen as an evocation of the tragedy of war. This is not a revisionist view. Ask any Homer scholar. It would be wrong to say, however, that it is 'antiwar'. The epic is too wise to imagine a universe in which war will not happen" (1,300 words)

Video of the day: Pick A Lock In Seconds

What to expect: How to pick any off-the-shelf lock. Recommended for defensive purposes only (18'40")

Thought for the day

Never take investment advice from someone who has to work for a living
Nassim Nicholas Taleb

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