Angela Merkel, Mattresses, Chinese Pigs, Electric Power, Identity

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

Angela Merkel, Person Of The Year

Stefan Wagstyl | Financial Times | 15th December 2015

The refugee crisis has transformed Ms Merkel from a “step-by-step” chancellor to a conviction politician. By keeping Europe’s doors open for more than 1m mostly Muslim refugees, if it works well, Ms Merkel will leave a legacy as enduring as her mentor, former chancellor Helmut Kohl, who presided over German reunification. But to her critics she is rash, arrogant and self-righteous (2,050 words)

Why Are There So Many Mattress Stores?

Cecil Adams | The Straight Dope | 4th December 2015

In brief: Because the store is just a showroom. The product is delivered from the warehouse to your home. No inventory to maintain, the staff work on commission, and the markup is stupendous. Gross profit margins on mattresses run at 30 to 40 percent for wholesalers and the same again for retailers — up to 50 percent for makers of super-luxe products. Retailers can charge $3,000 for a mattress that costs $300 to produce (780 words)

52 Things I Learned In 2015

Tom Whitwell | 9th December 2015

All worth knowing. With links. "More than half of the world’s feed crops will soon be eaten by Chinese pigs". "White packaging can make food taste less sweet". "18th Century books looked almost exactly like smartphone screens". "If you expect purchases to be driven by logic, add some cents to the price". "In Silicon Valley, people don’t pitch their idea, they pitch a growth strategy" (1,490 words)

Barnby Dun

Colin Grant | Granta | 14th December 2015

Life in the shadow of a South Yorkshire coal-fired power station, built in 1958 and demolished in 2012. For the latter, tractors pulled a metal cable "like a giant cheese wire" through the base of the towers. "The second tower seemed more resistant. There was an ominous clanking from within as if the tower had indigestion and was now beginning to groan. Then it, too, sunk down into the ground, gently and quickly" (3,900 words)

The Crisis Of Character

Brendan O'Neill | Spiked | 14th December 2015

The distinctive feature of modern identity politics is not "the obsession with identity" but "the instability of identity". The presumption of identity as something fixed and permanent is being abolished in favour of the right and freedom of the individual to "identify as". The preferred identity can change with the situation. There may be gains to private life from this flexibility, but it throws public life "into disarray" (1,390 words)

Video of the day: Quantum Computers Explained

What to expect: Animation. Explains well why we need quantum computers, less so how they work (7'16")

Thought for the day

There has never been a protracted war from which a country has benefited
Sun Tzu

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