Browser Daily Newsletter 1176

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

The Big Sleep

Ian Parker | New Yorker | 2nd December 2013

If you take sleeping pills, this piece is for you. It begins and ends with a gripping close-up account of a team of Merck scientists pitching a new type of sleeping pill, suvorexant, to the US Food and Drug Administration; sandwiched in the middle is a history of the market leader, Ambien. The whole hangs together a bit awkwardly, as though the Merck end of the story didn't quite pan out as expected, but still, fine bedtime reading

London Property: Always Affordable

John Kay | 30th November 2013

London property is always affordable: but the buyers change. In the 19C British politicians and aristocrats owned the finest houses in the West End. In the early 20C the leaders of British industry and commerce overtook them. Now a global elite has moved in; London property prices reflect global wealth and global inequality, and are setting new records. A house near Buckingham Palace is being sold for £250m

Battlefield Morality

Paul Vallely | 30th November 2013

"You have only three seconds to decide what to say. An angry soldier in front of you is about to shoot an unarmed prisoner. What words can you use to stay his itchy trigger finger?" The optimal answer to this question, according to a military ethicist, is: "Marines don’t do that". You appeal to the soldier's deepest loyalty, which is not to any code of rules, nor even to his country, but to his fellow soldiers

Elements Of Eloquence

Christopher Howse | Spectator | 30th November 2013

Review of a new book on English style that champions rhetorical elegance over plain words. "The shiniest piece of information I picked up is that, in English, adjectives go in this order: Opinion-size-age-shape-colour-origin-material-purpose-noun. So you can have a lovely little old rectangular green French silver whittling knife. But if you mess with that word order in the slightest you’ll sound like a maniac" (Metered Paywall)

Dabbler Diary: Ballad Of A Fat Man

Andrew Nixon | The Dabbler | 2nd December 2013

A model of the genre. Every paragraph a joy. Especially the reflection on re-reading Camus after many years. "The first time I read The Outsider it was the story of Meursault, a counter-cultural existential hero who commits a symbolic act of violence, striking a blow for the alienated individual against the oppressive structures of conventional society. Yet the second time I read it, it was just the story of Meursault, a psycho twat"

Video of the day: Amazon Prime Air

Thought for the day:

"In mathematics you don't understand things. You just get used to them" — John von Neumann

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