Paddington Bear, Cremation, Racial Discrimination, Ukraine, Chris Rock, Google Glass, Kuwait, Mean P

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

An Immigration Lawyer Reviews “Paddington”

Colin Yeo | Free Movement | 1st December 2014

Elegant, sad, funny, enlightening. "He is in many ways typical of my clients. He is an illegal entrant and as such commits a criminal offence under section 24 of the Immigration Act 1971 punishable by six months in prison. For offering a home to Paddington — or harbouring him, as the Home Office would have it — Mr and Mrs Brown could face prosecution under section 25. The maximum sentence is 14 years" (1,880 words)

Death Becomes Him

Eric Puchner | Matter | 1st December 2014

Portrait of Caleb Wilde, philosopher-mortician. "Before he buries us, he wants to make us more human." But when he does bury us, he brings a sharp knife. The bit where he cuts a pacemaker out of a corpse's chest in paragraph two is not for the squeamish. Nor is the discussion a little further down about cremating the obese: “Danger is they take all damn day to cook, and leak out on the floor” (5,800 words)

How Racial Discrimination Actually Works

Ezra Klein | Vox | 1st December 2014

Notes on the problems of measuring racial bias in law enforcement. The first thing researchers do when analysing the statistics is to control for variables other than race — for example, income, type of stop, neighbourhood, prior record. But these variables are themselves a function of race. We control out the very things that we ought to be measuring if our aim is to understand the way that racism actually works (2,200 words)

Jewish And Proud Of It

Vladislav Davidzon | Tablet | 1st December 2014

Interview with Ukrainian nationalist Borislav Bereza, member of parliament for the Right Sector party, which is "widely considered to be emblematic of the new iteration of Ukrainian Fascism”. But Bereza, a "synagogue-going Jew", says Right Sector is neither anti-semitic nor homophobic: "I personally want to go on the record as saying that I love the work of Freddie Mercury and I like to wear nice things designed by Armani" (2,270 words)

In Conversation: Chris Rock

Frank Rich | New York | 30th November 2014

Interesting throughout, with moments of real brilliance — on show business, politics, race, America. "George Bush revolutionised the presidency. He was the first president who only served the people who voted for him. He operated like a cable network. Obama is a network guy. He’s trying to get everybody. And I think he’s figured out, and maybe a little late, that there’s some people he’s never going to get" (7,300 words)

Long Live Smart Glasses

Rachel Metz | MIT Tech Review | 26th November 2014

Google Glass was a breakthrough idea, prematurely executed. Smart glasses need the kind of rethink which turned the Newton into the iPad. "Researchers are going to keep plugging away until we get to a point where the technology blends into the glasses themselves, rather than sitting so obviously atop them." The prism-like display was obnoxious. The next generation of smart glasses may be more like contact lenses (1,530 words)

Drunks, Be Thankful You’re Not In Kuwait

Gary Brecher | Pando Daily | 27th November 2014

You can buy black-market whisky for $300, drink ethanol and die, or make home-brew. And good luck with the last: "Even when these DIY wino kits work, they taste like spiked vinegar, because brewer’s yeast is illegal, so you can only use baker’s yeast. This does not give you the kind of stuff that Depardieu and Putin share a joke over." Exploding stills "account for a good number of the raw facial scars you see around here" (2,930 words)

Mean People Fail

Paul Graham | 28th November 2014

Successful startup founders tend to be good people. Mean people fail, because they fight, and you don't learn by fighting. "When you think of successful people from history who weren't ruthless, you get mathematicians and writers and artists. Their m.o. seems to be spreading. The games played by intellectuals are leaking into the real world, reversing the historical polarity of the relationship between meanness and success" (920 words)

The Men Who Stole Russia

Anne Applebaum | New York Review Of Books | 28th November 2014

Review of Putin’s Kleptocracy by Karen Dawisha, which explains much about Vladimir Putin's rise to power by digging deep into the financial machinations of the late 1980s and early 1990s when the Communist Party fell apart and the Russian state was up for grabs. A "murky story suddenly becomes clear". The old KGB never went away. It went quiet, regrouped, got rich, and, when Boris Yeltsin faded, put its own man into the Kremlin (4,200 words)

A New Dawn For Podcasts

Jason Fried | re:Form | 25th November 2014

Podcasts are the new radio. Or, rather, they are the old radio — the radio people used to have in the 1930s and 1940s when "dozens of programs in different genres, from mysteries and thrillers, to soap operas and comedies" were made for audio. When television came, the drama and the serials went there. Radio was for the car. But now that the world has earphones, the special qualities of audio are being rediscovered (1,240 words)

Video of the day: Slavoj Žižek: Events

What to expect: Philosopher explains his concept of an "event" (6'30")

Thought for the day

It is hard enough to remember my opinions, without also remembering my reasons for them
Friedrich Nietzsche (

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