Saudi Arabia, Iowa, El Chapo, Psychiatry, Freedom Of Speech

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

Behind Saudi Arabia’s Bluster

John Jenkins | New Statesman | 9th January 2016

Former British ambassador to Saudi Arabia argues for staying close to the regime despite increasing panic and brutality. "You might think the execution of Sheikh Nimr unconscionable, and that it should be condemned. That would be a perfectly ethical position to hold. But it is not a policy. The reason for states' lashing out is the fear in which they exist. Doing something to address that fear is a large part of the answer" (1,900 words)

The White Man Pathology

Stephen Marche | Guardian | 10th January 2016

Iowa campaign rallies by Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, seen through Canadian eyes. "The vagueness of American politics is what astonishes the outsider". Sanders supporters are richer, Trump supporters are angrier. Both sides embrace the same contradictions: "America is the greatest country in the world, America is falling apart. Government is the problem, which is why government must solve it" (7,300 words)

El Chapo Speaks

Sean Penn | Rolling Stone | 9th January 2016

The eventual interview is trivial; there is too much Sean Penn here and not enough El Chapo; still, the logistics are fascinating. "I ask Alfredo how he can be sure we are not being followed. He points out a red switch below the cockpit controls: 'That switch blocks ground radar'. He adds that they have an inside man who provides notification when the military's high-altitude surveillance plane has been deployed" (10,700 words)

The Most Influential Psychiatrist Of His Time

Allen Frances | Lancet Psychiatry | 7th January 2016

Obituary. Robert Spitzer "shaped psychiatry far more than anyone else in the past half century", first by his "single-minded and almost single-handed crusade" to end the categorising of homosexuality as a mental illness; second by his editorship of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which defines the conditions and symptoms which psychiatrists should be seeking to treat (1,360 words)

Nigel Biggar | The Critique | 7th January 2016

Can one coherently support a right to free speech while also insisting on a moral obligation not to use that freedom to provoke grave offence? Is "freedom of speech" the same thing as "freedom of expression"? "Speech connotes an articulate statement, a contribution to rational conversation, a social or public phenomenon. The focus of expression, on the other hand, is on the individual subject, whose inner self is being expressed" (1,360 words)

Video of the day: Ray Kurzweil talks to Marvin Minsky

What to expect: Discussion of the prospects for Artificial Intelligence (24'01")

Thought for the day

I have learned from my mistakes, and I am sure that I can repeat them
Peter Cook

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