The Browser
Cecily Cecily

Writing Worth Reading

Marijuana: It’s All In The Implementation

Marijuana legalization seems to be “on track toward decisive and irrevocable public acceptance”. Like gay marriage, you might think: “Both have crossed the magic 50 percent line defining majority support”. But what if the better analogy is with Obamacare? Not so good. “Marijuana legalization, unlike gay marriage but very much like Obamacare, requires the government to execute a complicated new program well” (1,620 words)

How The Romans Invented Facebook

Review of Writing on the Wall: Social Media—The First 2,000 Years, by Tom Standage. The thesis: “Informal networks flourished for centuries as society’s main sources of information and commentary, before mass media emerged to turn news into a one-way conversation. The rise of the Internet has made everyone a potential publisher, and, thus, media has reverted to its natural, social state. Everything old is new again.” (1,470 words)

Stay Put, Young Man

Labour mobility used to be a powerful source of economic efficiency in America. No more. Americans are moving to different states only half as often as they did in the 1950s. And when they do move, it’s usually because they need to find cheaper housing — which often means, perversely, moving away from where the work is. Since 2009 the median house price has risen 13%, while the median income has fallen 4% (3,450 words)

The Doctors Who Control Medicare

American Medical Association organises a committee of doctors which meets secretly every few months to set prices that doctors everywhere charge Medicare for procedures — MRI, heart-stent insertion, etc. In effect, doctors themselves decide how much the government will pay them. In almost any other business, such price-rigging would be illegal. In health care, it’s both legal and horribly expensive (6,000 words)

A Malevolent Forrest Gump

Review of Strom Thurmond’s America. The former senator’s loathsomeness on racial issues obscures his larger role in US politics, says O’Donnell. “He was there at all the major choke points of modern conservative history”

The Siege Of Academe

“Higher education is a publicly subsidized, heavily regulated, culturally entrenched sector that has stubbornly resisted digital rationalization.” But it can’t do so forever. Barbarians are at the gate. When will they break through?

We Can Live With A Nuclear Iran

Pillar presents the most comprehensive case against war with Iran that I’ve seen. It won’t stop hawks from continuing to clamor for another foolish war, but he provides all the arguments you need to puncture bellicose fear-mongering

We Can Live With A Nuclear Iran

“One must ultimately ask whether the conjectured consequences of an Iranian bomb would be worse than war with Iran. The conjectures are just that. They are worst-case speculations, not adequate justifications for going to war”

Myth Of American Productivity

US manufacturing output has continued to rise despite recession and lay-offs. But what’s being measured here is the value added in the US. Companies are getting better at managing costs. Worker productivity isn’t increasing

The Information Sage

Profile of Edward Tufte, infographics guru. “A philosopher king who reigns over his field largely because he invented it.” Now he’s working with the White House, trying to make government statistics easier to manage and understand

Rules Of Misbehaviour

Profile of “America’s most influential advice columnist”, Seattle sex-counsellor Dan Savage, and his “Chaucerian panorama of correspondents: gay Mormons, incestuous siblings, weight-gain fetishists, men yearning to be cuckolded”

The Marijuana Frontier

Writer buys house in Mendocino County, California, finds two-thirds of local economy geared to marijuana. Food stores sell turkey-roasting bags by the case, because they’re used to package pound-weights of cannabis

Agnostic Cartographer

Google Maps as battleground for international disputes over borders, sovereignty, place-names. Google runs 32 region-specific versions of Maps to comply with national laws around world

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