Space, Mark Lilla, John Mighton, Neoliberalism, Mosul, Boxing

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

Why Land On The Moon?

Homer Newell & Robert Jastrow | Atlantic | 1st August 1963

Captivating. From 1963. Two NASA scientists argue through the case for and again massive American investment in a manned Moon mission. Is this the best use of limited tax dollars? Could a robot do the job more cheaply? “The automatic instrument must be designed with great complexity to achieve even a crude imitation of human sophistication. The balance of cost and reliability then tips in favor of the human participant, expensive though it is to bring him to the scene” (3,800 words)

Mark Lilla On Identity Politics

Rod Dreher | American Conservative | 16th August 2017

Interview with a “frustrated liberal” about the tension between identity politics and universal human rights. Interesting throughout. “To understand what ails this country you need to pay attention to difference. In order to fix what ails us you need to hold onto the universal democratic ideal. It is very hard to make identitarians see this. Politics is not a speech act. It is not about getting recognition for certain groups who have problems, it is about acquiring power to help them” (4,500 words)

John Mighton: Mathematics And Art

Marc Bendavid | The Believer | 18th August 2017

Conversation with Canadian mathematician and playwright John Mighton about how his two vocations illuminate one another. “The sources of satisfaction aren’t that different in many ways. The big difference is you can’t as an artist verify, in any kind of public way, that your work is good, or sound or provable or true. Judgments of what has value are always changing. At least once you’ve proven something in mathematics, generally it’s considered true over the generations” (4,040 words)

The Idea That Swallowed The World

Stephen Metcalf | Guardian | 18th August 2017

“Neoliberalism is a name for the premise that, quietly, has come to regulate all we practise and believe: That competition is the only legitimate organising principle for human activity. Thirty years on, and it can fairly be said that Hayek’s victory is unrivalled. We live in a paradise built by his Big Idea. The more closely the world can be made to resemble an ideal market governed only by perfect competition, the more law-like and ‘scientific’ human behaviour, in the aggregate, becomes” (4,700 words)

Endtimes In Mosul

Patrick Cockburn | London Review Of Books | 17th August 2017

Tales of civilian life in Mosul as the Iraqi army closes in after seven months of siege. Those who flee across the Tigris risk death from Islamic State snipers. Those who stay risk death from aerial bombing. Ahmed, a taxi driver, chooses flight: “A sniper shot him in the back and killed him, along with nine other members of his party, before they had even put their tyres in the water. Only one man got across to the other side. Ahmed’s mother stayed beside his body for three days” (3,300 words)

McGregor Versus Mayweather

William D'Urso | LARB | 20th August 2017

Just climbing into the ring will be a triumph for Conor McGregor: He gets “the biggest fight available in a sport in which he has never before competed”. The punters love him: The odds against him have shortened from 225/1 to 3/1. “McGregor won’t win. Absolutely not. For Mayweather, hitting him will be as easy as it would be for an adult to smack a child. That’s not hyperbole. Oh, you disagree? You have questions? Give me your hand. I’ll walk you through this” (2,600 words)

Video of the day: Adam Savage Visits Third Man Records

What to expect:

Documentary about Jack White’s pressing-plant and retail store in Detroit (27’50”)

Thought for the day

All people are exceptions to a rule that doesn’t exist
Fernando Pessoa

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