Seasteading, Gambling, Freeman Dyson, Exotic Animals, Mad Philosophers


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

Go Wet, Young Man

Tyler Cowen | Bloomberg View | 7th December 2016

When libertarians talk about “seasteading” they mean the creation of self-regulating societies on floating platforms in international waters, beyond legal reach of existing governments. Seasteading is a utopian project in its pure form, but available and even affordable if you admit of compromise. “There is a good deal of de facto seasteading today, in the form of cruise ships. They sail in international waters, are owned by private corporations and the law on board is generated by contract” (770 words)

How I Got Rich Beating Men At Their Own Game

Cat Hulbert | BBC Magazine | 6th December 2016

A professional casino gambler recounts her life and explains her trade. “In blackjack, you play against the dealer. Adding up the face value of your cards, you try to come as close to the number 21 as you can without going over. You play your hand before the dealer plays his or hers, which gives the house a slight advantage. But if you have an idea where the 10s, face cards and aces might remain in the deck you gain a slight advantage over the house. It’s not as hard as you might think” (6,800 words)

My Physics Dream Team

Steve Paulson | Nautilus | 7th December 2016

Freeman Dyson, soon to turn 93, talks about working with many of the greatest scientists of the past century. “Leon Cooper was a kid who came to the Institute at Princeton, and he had this crazy idea that he could understand superconductivity. He tried to give a talk, and Oppenheimer just interrupted all the time and told him it was nonsense. So Cooper went to Illinois, where he met Bardeen and Schrieffer, and the three of them produced the theory of superconductivity. They all got the Nobel Prize” (4,100 words)

No Looking At My Elephant

Mary Wellesley | London Review Of Books | 8th December 2016

Caroline Grigson’s Menagerie traces the history of exotic animals in England from the Middle Ages to the 1830s. It is in large measure a record of royal and aristocratic whimsy. George IV commissioned three portaits of his pet giraffe. Samuel Pepys beat his monkey half to death. The Duke of Richmond ordered a sloth bear from Hans Sloane in 1735 and declared himself swindled: “This is nothing butt a common black bear, which I do not know what to do with, for I have five of them already” (2,700 words)

Who Would Destroy The World?

Phil Torres | Bulletin Of The Atomic Scientists | 6th December 2016

Tyrants and terrorists rarely want to destroy all humankind. For that, fear the radical philosopher with nukes — a sort of better-equipped Unabomber. “Negative utilitarians believe that the ultimate aim of moral conduct is to minimise the total suffering in the universe. The problem with this view is that it seems to call for the destruction of humanity. After all, if there are no humans around to suffer, there can be no human suffering. The most ethical actor would be a world-exploder” (1,550 words)

Video of the day: Literal Bohemian Rhapsody

What to expect:

The lyrics of Queen’s anthem meticulously transformed into a noir thriller (5’04”)

Thought for the day

I speak only one language, and it is not my own
Jacques Derrida

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