Browser Daily Newsletter 1181

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

Go Ahead — Scare Yourself

Ezra Klein | Wonkblog | 6th December 2013

The public spat between 23andMe and the US Food and Drug Administration should force the FDA to update its rules and philosophy. The FDA views gene-testing as a medical product, whereas, to others, it's an information product. "The danger isn’t that a genetic test will harm you directly but that you will act rashly on the information it provides. But is preventing patients from making bad decisions the FDA’s mandate?"

Jesus’s Resurrection: What Really Happened?

Jay Parini | Salon | 29th November 2013

Intelligent discussion of the nature and significance of the Resurrection, for Christians and for others, weighing Biblical sources, historical circumstance, and mythical echoes. Should we imagine it simply as a resuscitation of Jesus's body, much like the raising of Lazarus? Or as some greater physical transformation? "The raw facts remain: Jesus first appeared to Mary Magdalene. Furthermore, she didn’t recognize him"

Why Do We Value Gold?

Justin Rowlatt | BBC | 7th December 2013

Take the periodic table of the elements. Discard the gases, liquids, explosives and poisons, all of which would be highly impractical for use as currencies. Discard the metals with very high melting points, the rare earths which are hard to distinguish from one another, the metals which rust and corrode, and you are left with two elements — gold and silver; and even silver tarnishes, making gold the optimal store of value

Everyone On The Couch

Theodore Dalrymple | City Journal | 9th December 2013

Savaging of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which "colonises human experience". Weakness, sadness and anger are labelled as illnesses. "The DSM is an instrument for weakening human resilience, self-reliance, fortitude, and resolve. It turns humans into mechanisms, deprives their conduct of meaning, and makes them prey to entrepreneurs of misery"

Notes On 21st-Century Relationships

Douglas Coupland | FT Magazine | 6th December 2013

A dozen scattered paragraphs, a jewel in every one. "I sometimes wonder about people who wake up and spend most of the day online. When they go to bed at night, they’ll have almost no organic memories of their own. If they do this for a long time, you can begin to say that their intelligence is, in a true sense, artificial. Which, I guess, means sex lives have never been as artificial as they are now"

How The Bitcoin Protocol Actually Works

Michael Nielsen | DDI | 6th December 2013

Does exactly what the headline says. Walks you through the workings and history of Bitcoin from generic principles to a useful level of understanding without straying too far into algebra. The conclusion also explains why Bitcoin is the worst choice for anonymity, at least over time. When somebody works out who you are on the Bitcoin graph, which eventually they will, they have your whole transaction history for ever

Video of the day: Stephen Fry Explains Cloud Computing

Thought for the day:

"Power and violence are opposites; where the one rules absolutely, the other is absent" — Hannah Arendt

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