Signalling, Isaiah Berlin, Human rights, Brains, Saudi Arabia

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

“Ethics” Is Advertising

David Chapman | Meaningness | 5th October 2015

Provocative piece about "Consensus Buddhism" as a signal for openness and membership of the "left" tribe, like eating tofu or liking Bob Dylan. Westerners don't "[take] “Buddhist ethics” seriously as ethics. When you, a leftish Westerner, gradually convert to Buddhism, “Buddhist ethics” never requires you to change your moral actions or ethical thinking." And this is part of the unacknowledged American social class system (6,830 words)

Henry Hardy On Isaiah Berlin

Henry Hardy & Nigel Warburton | Five Books | 15th October 2015

Berlin was an emigré Russian Jew who "achieved a key position right at the heart of the British establishment, which he somehow underlined by always wearing a three-piece suit." Towards the end of his life, Henry Hardy began collating and publishing his many unpublished manuscripts; here, Hardy picks five key Berlin books, and clarifies ideas such as the Hedgehog and the Fox and positive and negative liberty (5,340 words)

Justice Over Rights?

Doutje Lettinga & Lars von Troost | Open Democracy | 6th October 2015

As many human rights NGOs focus more on inequality, they risk overstepping their remit. Four possibilities: they may replace the fight for rights with one for justice, alienating more cautious supporters; commit to justice only when the two overlap; ignore justice-related issues, alienating more radical supporters; or seek to conflate the two concepts as much as possible. in any case, some type of compromise will be necessary (1,110 words)

This Is Your Brain. This Is Your Brain As A Weapon

Tim Requarth | Foreign Policy | 14th September 2015

The transformative potential of neuroscientific research on the erasure of traumatic memories, and on brain-controlled technologies to help paralysed patients perform motor tasks. As military research institutes show increasing interest, the spectre of a dangerous neuroweapon also grows. “After all, just 13 years elapsed between the discovery of the neutron and the atomic blasts in the skies over Hiroshima and Nagasaki” (3,760 words)

The Prince Of Counter-Terrorism

Bruce Riedel | Brookings | 29th September 2015

Newly anointed King Salman of Saudi Arabia is “the last of the generation of leaders who built the modern kingdom ... into a propserous, ultra-conservative regional power with enormous oil wealth." His surprise decision to shuffle the succession line, making counter-terrorist prince Muhammad Bin Nayef heir, throws the spotlight on the despotic monarchy’s attempts to retain control amid increasing volatility in the region (6,630 words)

Video of the day: I Wanna Be Yours

What to expect: Strange "poetry reading" from John Cooper Clarke (0'57")

Thought for the day

Shadows are harshest when there is only one lamp
James Richardson (

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