Browser Daily Newsletter 1256


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

Sandy Hook: The Reckoning

Andrew Solomon | New Yorker | 10th March 2014

A voyage into the life of Adam Lanza, who killed his mother, himself, and twenty-six others in December 2012. Includes conversations with Peter Lanza, Adam's estranged father. "Most people would like to have things that belong to others; many people have felt murderous rage. But the reason that almost no one shoots twenty random children isn’t self-restraint; it’s that there is no level at which the idea is attractive" (7,560 words)

The Domestic Basis Of American Power

Francis Fukuyama | Lawfare | 9th March 2014

Domestic political constraints impose a "discount rate" on the transformation of national resources into effective policy. China has a low discount rate: The political system is highly efficient. The EU has a high discount rate: it lacks a crunchy decision-making structure and an effective executive power. America is in between: "The economy is relatively strong, but the political system has been subject to considerable decay" (2,220 words)

Mastering Rage In Prisoners

Jonathan Asser | Guardian | 9th March 2014

Writer with history of extreme anger finds new vocation, teaching self-control to violent prisoners. "I communicate by sitting with my shoulders open and directly facing him, which shows I'm giving him my full attention and taking the risk he poses very seriously, while also showing the rest of the group I have the confidence to manage his risk. Every nuance of my body language is critical right now" (2,760 words)

Satoshi: Why Newsweek Isn’t Convincing

Felix Salmon | Reuters | 10th March 2014

Post-mortem on Newsweek's cover story claiming to have identified the inventor of Bitcoin. The writer, Leah McGrath Goodman, did a "huge amount of work" amassing circumstantial evidence. Her fatal error was to frame her story as a revelation of fact. She would have done much better to frame it as a quest, sharing the evidence and ending with a tentative identification of the most-plausible candidate (2,390 words)

Interview: Jorge Luis Borges

Denis Dutton & Michael Palencia-Roth | Philosophy And Literature | 14th April 1976

From the archives: A conversation about the philosophical inspirations of Borges's writings. Interesting throughout. "If you’ve read what I may be allowed to call 'my works' you’d find that there is a very obvious symbol of perplexity to be found all the time, and that is the maze. I find that a very obvious symbol of perplexity. A maze and amazement go together, no? A symbol of amazement would be the maze" (2,040 words)

A Brief History Of Databases

Stephen Fortune | VVVNT | 5th March 2014

From punch cards to NoSQL by way of file systems, database management systems, and relational databases, "the history of databases is a tale of experts at different times attempting to make sense of complexity". The data-processing industry was kickstarted by the 1880 US Census, when human tabulators needed eight years to compute the results. Relational databases have dominated data storage since 1979 (1,500 words)

Video of the day:  Thanks, Dan!

Thought for the day:

"Opinions are valueless. What matters is who holds them" — Karl Kraus

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