SALT, Allman Brothers, Rule 30, China, Genius, Apocalypse


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

The Hedge Fund Managers Are At The Bellagio

Hamilton Nolan | Deadspin | 1st June 2017

Report from a conference of hedge-fund managers in Las Vegas. “All of the younger men looked like Jared Kushner, and all the younger women looked like Ivanka Trump might look if she had to work 14-hour days. Their lives stretched out in front of them, down the Bellagio’s gaudy, carpeted halls. They could fall in love over credit strategies, have a marriage announcement in the New York Times at 26 and a scandalous divorce announcement in the New York Post at 44“ (3,600 words)

Mama Tried

John T. Edge | Oxford American | 1st June 2017

When the Allman Brothers Band arrived in Macon in 1969, the “interracial troupe of six” were “a sight to see on the streets of town”, with “hair cascading down their backs or mushrooming skyward; faces obscured by bushy muttonchops and droopy mustaches; love beads and bear claws around their necks”. The only place they could get served was at Mama Louise’s restaurant; but that plenty good enough. “To this day, the bright taste of her sweet potato pie still dances on the tip of my tongue” (2,400 words)

Oh My Gosh, It’s Covered In Rule 30s!

Stephen Wolfram | 1st June 2017

In which a chance photograph reveals that the designers of a new British railway station have generated much of the external decor algorithmically using Rule 30, a “one-dimensional binary cellular automaton rule” formulated by Stephen Wolfram in 1983. “When we look at the pattern, our visual system particularly picks out the black triangles. And, yes, it seems as if triangles of any size can ultimately occur, albeit with frequency decreasing exponentially with size” (1,900 words)

China’s Astounding Religious Revival

Roderick MacFarquhar | New York Review Of Books | 1st June 2017

Vivid account of the place of religion in Chinese history and politics, drawing on Ian Johnson’s Souls Of China, which documents the great religious revival taking place in China today, seemingly tolerated by President Xi Jinping. “Ordinary people seeking faith to give meaning to their lives are not waiting for Xi to lead them to his promised land. Daoists, Buddhists, and Confucians are allowed to rebuild temples, and memories of past practices persist, enabling believers to return to them” (3,800 words)

Hungarian Education

Scott Alexander | Slate Star Codex | 30th May 2017

Laszlo Polgar studied intelligence at university in Budapest, wrote a book called Bring Up Genius, and said that any child could become a prodigy with the right upbringing. He found a wife who was ready to let him test his philosophy in practice; and, seemingly, he was vindicated. The Polgars’ three daughters became the 1st, 2nd, and 6th-ranked female chess players in the world. They all spoke seven languages. How was it done? And is it replicable? (2,300 words)

End-Times For Humanity (2900)

Claire Colebrook | Aeon | 1st June 2017

Our fascination with apocalyptic films and books betrays our fear that the prosperity and comfort of the developed world is too fragile to last. The anarchy of Mad Max and The Road is not science fiction, but the reality waiting to encroach on us if our states fail. “Nothing could be more precarious than a species that contracts itself to a small portion of the Earth, draws its resources from elsewhere, transfers its waste and violence, and then declares that its mode of existence is humanity as such” (2,900 words)

Video of the day: Vintage Minis

What to expect:

Animation summarising the plots of 20 books, including ‘Desire’ by Haruki Murakami and ‘Death’ by Julian Barnes

Thought for the day

The Enlightenment discovered the liberties. It also invented the disciplines
Michel Foucault

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