Robots, Asylum, Shakespeare, Thomas Cook, Julius Caesar

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

We Are Living in a Robot Moment

Brian Phillips | Grantland | 25th September 2015

"The Campaign Against Sex Robots’s position here goes right to the core problem of humans and human-created automatons": objectification. Robots "offer the possibility of simulating ... power in a realm free of ethical implications." "Even acknowledging the desire feels dangerous," because we might then be tempted to objectify humans too. But "Novels, TV shows, painting, sculpture" are actually about objectification too (2,570 words)

The Terrible Flight From The Killing

Hugh Eakin | New York Review Of Books | 22nd October 2015

Europe is experiencing its largest influx of refugees since World War II. At the heart of the crisis lies a “fundamental problem”: “there are virtually no legal ways for a refugee to travel to Europe. You can only apply for asylum once you arrive in a European country," which people from the relevant countries can't do legally, so "the rules virtually require those seeking protection" to put themselves in the hands of smugglers (4,570 words)

A Facelift For Shakespeare

John McWhorter | Wall Street Journal | 25th September 2015

"Much of Shakespeare goes over our heads because, even though we recognize the words, their meaning often has changed significantly over the past four centuries." E.g. "look thou character" once meant “note these things well,” but there's no way for us to infer that. Supposedly "only about 10% of the words that Shakespeare uses are incomprehensible in modern English" – but that's enough to make the plays unintelligible (980 words)

Package Tour To Mecca?

Tom Kirk | University Of Cambridge | 21st September 2015

"In the age of Empire, the spiritual journey became a major feature of British imperial culture, attracting the interest of Queen Victoria, Winston Churchill and others – and resulting in one of the earliest Thomas Cook package tours," who were "called in by the Government ... after a scandal surrounding the near-sinking of a pilgrim ship that made the front page of The Times" (1,250 words)

My Favourite Stories From Ancient Rome

Anonymous | Kontextmaschine | 28th September 2015

Two brief historical anecdotes. "When kidnapped by pirates, a young Julius Caesar basically took charge of the ship, ordered his captors around & even read them his poetry (while reminding them they'd be crucified afterwards, which the pirates found hilarious). Once free he raised a navy, captured them, and had them crucified." But that's nothing compared to the Sicilian slave-slash-stage magician Eunus... (330 words)

Video of the day: Meltdown

What to expect: Two polar bears give up on the North Pole and seek new vocations. Directed by French Canadian Carrie Mombourquette (1’30”)

Thought for the day

Those two fatal words, Mine and Thine
Miguel de Cervantes

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