Browser Daily Newsletter 1184


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

The Boy Whose Brain Could Unlock Autism

Maia Szalavitz | Matter on Medium | 11th December 2013

Neuroscientist studies his own autistic son. “You know how powerless you feel. You have this child with autism and you, even as a neuroscientist, don’t know what to do.” His theory: autism derives from cognitive excess, not deficit. "Autistic people take in too much and learn too fast. While they may appear bereft of emotion, they are actually overwhelmed not only by their own emotions, but by the emotions of others"

A Nice Gentle Murder

P.D. James | Spectator | 12th December 2013

The Golden Age of English detective fiction, between the wars, was also a Golden Age for women writers: Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Josephine Tey, Margery Allingham, Ngaio Marsh. "The detective stories of the interwar years might deal with violent death, but essentially they were and remain novels of escape. Whatever our secret terrors, we are not the body on the library floor" (Metered paywall)

Steve Jobs’s Southern Transplant

Marc Perrusquia | Commercial Appeal | 5th December 2013

Detailed, well-reported account of how a dying Jobs got a new liver in Memphis, and an extra 2.5 years of life. Interesting for the light shed on this secretive period of Jobs's life; for the deep dive into how the American organ-transplant market functions (your chances improve drastically if you have money and initiative); and for the relationship between Jobs and his doctor, who took over Jobs's Memphis house

How Ukraine Was Lost

Christian Neef & Jan Puhl | Spiegel | 9th December 2013

Very interesting. Alexander Kwasniewski, former Polish president who was leading EU negotiations with Ukraine, on lessons learned. Russian trade sanctions worked. The EU pushed too hard for Tymoshenko's release. "Brussels was naïve. From Putin's perspective, Ukraine is an important factor, perhaps the most important one of all. He can't achieve his goal of creating his own Euro-Asian union without Ukraine"

Kitchen Holiday Gift Guide

Megan McArdle | Bloomberg Opinion | 8th December 2013

An institution. Full of good ideas, from a $13 microplane grater to a $1,400 Thermomix. "The Thermomix is basically a blender/food processor with a scale and a heating element. The killer app is sauces and custards; you can literally put in all the ingredients for a hollandaise or a bechamel all at once, push a few buttons, then come back 10 minutes later to a perfectly cooked sauce"

Al Qaeda: The Right Amount Of Violence

Owen Bennett-Jones | London Review Of Books | 11th December 2013

Well-organised discussion of Al-Qaeda's decline after 9/11, with the loss of Afghanistan, and its resurgence since 2011 with Syria as its haven. Bin Laden went too far in attacking America. His successors have more immediate aims, and greater subtlety. "If a group kills too many civilians, popular support drains away; if it uses too little violence, the government will dismiss it as irrelevant and its cadres will drift off to more active outfits"

Video of the day:  How To Sequence The Human Genome

Thought for the day:

"If geometry stirred us emotionally as much as politics we would not be able to expound it so well" — André Maurois

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