Banking, Panic, Refugees, Architecture, Chess, Forecasting

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


Charles Goodhart | Bank Underground | 5th April 2017

Banking regulation should penalise bad bankers personally, rather than their banks. “If a bank CEO knew that his own family’s fortunes would remain at risk throughout his subsequent lifetime for any failure of an employee’s behaviour during his period in office, it would do more to improve banking ‘culture’ than any set of sermons and required oaths of good behaviour. The root of the problem is the bad behaviour of bankers, not of banks, who are incapable of behaviour, for good or ill” (1,600 words)

The Case Of The Suffocating Woman

Scott Alexander | Slate Star Codex | 5th April 2017

On panic attacks, hyperventilation and feelings of suffocation. “Panic attacks decrease markedly during pregnancy, and disappear entirely during childbirth. This last is really remarkable. Childbirth is one of the scariest things you can imagine, your body’s getting all sorts of painful sensations it’s never felt before, and it’s a very dangerous period in terms of increased mortality risk. But in terms of panic attack, it’s one of the rare times when you are truly and completely protected” (3,500 words)

The Useful Village

Ben Mauk | VQR | 4th April 2017

A year in the life of a tiny east German village which becomes home to a transit camp for refugees from the Middle East and Africa. Touching and vaguely encouraging. “As of yet there is no talk of integration. First things first: Get the lights on, install new pumps. Throw up some fences. The journalists report that there will soon be seven refugees to each villager in Sumte. Sieben zu eins becomes a viral catchphrase to describe fears of a nation overrun by impecunious foreigners” (11,800 words)

Building In The Shadow Of Destruction

Colin Dickey | Longreads | 3rd April 2017

Reflections on the rise and fall of vast buildings. “Somehow we know by instinct that outsize buildings cast the shadow of their own destruction, and are designed from the first with an eye to their later existence as ruins … No one who has threaded through the metal detectors and endless layers of security can fail to notice the sense of desperation that is the modern skyscraper — an awareness of its physical tenuousness, the overwhelming desire of its bones to return to earth” (3,400 words)

Computer Moves

Andrew Blevins | Real Life | 3rd April 2017

The superiority of computers has not diminished the pleasure that humans take in chess; on the contrary, it has brought new excitement and allure to the game. Which is an encouraging model for artificial intelligence in other fields. “Chess’s automation seems to point not toward a dystopia of human replacement, but toward a future where humans and computers support each other, and where the ability to automate the things we do for enjoyment doesn’t, of necessity, diminish our joy” (3,800 words)

When Economics Failed

Noah Smith | Bloomberg View | 4th April 2017

Having failed to foresee the crash of 2008, macroeconomists have lost credibility as forecasters. At best they can claim to predict the effects of specific policies; but even that claim is suspect. “If the economy is dominated by random noise, that noise will permeate the data used to validate macroeconomic models. If forecasting is impossible, then picking the right policy-evaluation model will also be impossible. Also, the inability to forecast is often a clue that a model is just plain wrong” (850 words)

Video of the day: INORI

What to expect:

Face-mapped dance performance. Flashing lights (1’11”)

Thought for the day

I am asked if I think university stifles writers. My opinion is that it doesn’t stifle enough of them
Flannery O'Connor

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