Browser Daily Newsletter 1182

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

The Decay Of American Political Institutions

Francis Fukuyama | American Interest | 8th December 2013

Big essay identifies three main problems. First: Judiciary and legislature play too large a role in government, relative to the executive branch. Second: The accretion of interest group and lobbying influences has distorted democratic processes and eroded the ability of the government to operate effectively. Third: Under conditions of ideological polarisation, the American system of checks and balances produces gridlock

Job’s Misery

Joan Acocella | New Yorker | 9th December 2013

Reflections on the Book of Job. "The story is bewildering, from beginning to end. How could God, being God, allow Satan to seduce him into destroying a good man? More important is the moral: that we have no right to question God for doing such things. Furthermore, the Book of Job seems to claim that all wrongs can be righted by property. If everything was taken away from Job, the problem is settled by God’s giving it all back"

World Of Spycraft

Justin Elliott | Pro Publica | 9th December 2013

Quite literally fantastic. According to leaked Snowden documents, "American and British spies have infiltrated World of Warcraft and Second Life. Fearing that terrorist networks could use the games to communicate secretly, move money or plot attacks, intelligence operatives have entered terrain populated by elves, gnomes and supermodels. The spies have created make-believe characters to snoop and to try to recruit informers"

How Robots Will Transform Human Intimacy

Thomas Rodham Wells | Philosopher's Beard | 4th December 2013

We've heard plenty about robots in the workplace. What about robots in the home — as servants, carers, lovers? "The arrival of cheap robot-servants will revolutionise the political economy of households. We will be able to produce consumption goods like meals and child-care much more efficiently since the number of human hours involved will be much less. The standard 'team' of two adults will no longer be required"

Ukraine Without America

Steven Pifer | Brookings | 6th December 2013

America is too busy elsewhere in the world to play a leading role in the political struggle for Ukraine. There's also a measure of Ukraine-fatigue in Washington; successive governments have squandered the political capital earned in the Orange Revolution of 2004. But for the time being American reticence is a good thing. Leaving the European Union to confront Russia reduces the stakes all round

Video of the day:  Dragon

Thought for the day:

"Quotations are useful in periods of ignorance" — Guy Debord

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