Browser Daily Newsletter 1281T

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

The Colour Of His Presidency

Jonathan Chait | New York | 6th April 2014

Barack Obama's presidency has put race explicitly at the centre of American politics. "Race, always the deepest and most volatile fault line in American history, has now become the primal grievance in our politics, the source of a narrative of persecution each side uses to make sense of the world". Conservatives have always been good at understanding this. Liberals have been taken largely by surprise (8,490 words)

The Mathematical World

James Franklin | Aeon | 7th April 2014

On the philosophy of mathematics. Two essential characteristics distinguish mathematics from other sciences: Complete abstraction, and the claim to discover absolute truths. But is mathematics anything more than a set of internally consistent rules — and therefore, at some level, a tautology? Or are those rules determined by external realities? Short answer: the latter. Symmetries and ratios exist in nature, for example (2,400 words)

London’s Super-Prime Housing Market

Alex Preston | The Observer | 5th April 2014

Enthralling in all sorts of ways. Writer tours properties for sale and to let in London, pretending to be shopping on behalf of a tax-exiled relative. Includes a glimpse inside One Hyde Park, the Qatari-backed block near Harrods, said to contain the most expensive apartments in London, where the walls of the underground gym are covered in eelskin and "each of the building's four penthouses has its own panic room" (5,300 words)

Rwanda: Not My Worst Day

Alex Ntung | African Arguments | 7th April 2014

Sketch of life in the Rwandan capital, Kigali, as peace returned after the 1994 genocide. "One very uncomfortable element of searching for the dead was that we needed to ask around to find out where they were likely to have been killed. As we asked people, we were aware that they might have been involved in some way with the killings or, at least, have done nothing to try to stop the slaughter or offer refuge" (1,950 words)

Amtrak’s Insane Boarding Rules, Explained

Matthew Yglesias | Vox | 6th April 2014

Actually, they aren't explained; they are held up for mockery, and various ways of getting around them are suggested. As to why Amtrak forces passengers in big-city stations to queue in holding areas for a preliminary ticket inspection before proceeding to platforms, the mystery endures. An enjoyable piece in its own right; recommended here also to signal that Ezra Klein's new platform, Vox, is up and running (1,000 words)

The Recovery Puzzle

Monica Hesse | Washington Post | 5th April 2014

Truly excellent piece of real-world reporting, looking over the shoulder of a project manager in Ohio who is setting up a food-processing plant and advertising for people to run it. He expects to be deluged by quality applicants, given the state of the economy. In practice he gets a succession of no-shows and don't-cares. Lessons for prospective interviewees: Be young, be keen and be early (Metered Paywall) (3,300 words)

Video of the day:  Adventure Awaits

What to expect: A butter advertisement. But a really good one

Thought for the day:

"As a general rule, conversations about people are interesting, and conversations about objects are dull" — Scott Adams

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