Browser Daily Newsletter 1305

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

Ukraine: The Only Way To Peace

Anatole Lieven | New York Review Of Books | 5th May 2014

Civil war is not yet inevitable, but to forestall it the West must be clear and open about its capacities and intentions. It will not fight for Ukraine. It cannot enable the Kiev government to retake the east militarily. The best possible outcome is apparent to all: "A federal Ukraine with elected regional governments and robust protection for regional interests". The West should work for that while it is still a possibility (1,800 words)

Why The Mona Lisa Stands Out

Ian Leslie | Intelligent Life | 6th May 2014

It wasn't always considered the greatest painting of all time. Nineteenth-century critics preferred Titians and Raphaels. The Mona Lisa achieved iconic status only when it was stolen from the Louvre in 1911 and recovered two years later. That exploit made it the most famous painting in the world; the cumulative effect of repeated exposure has persuaded us that it is also the best; it comes "wrapped in inherited opinions" (1,730 words)

Sudden Death: A Eulogy

Kenyon Review | 1st May 2014

Jollier than it sounds. People used to drop dead in late middle age from strokes and heart attacks. Now they don't, much, thanks to scans and defibrillators. Save for accidents, we expect to have pretty good advance notice that the end of life is approaching. Which is a good thing, on balance. But when we are more confident of our grip on life, do we enjoy the miracle of each passing moment that little bit less? (2,030 words)

The US Constitution Is Impossible To Amend

Eric Posner | Slate | 5th May 2014

The Founders blundered. They made passing a constitutional amendment too hard. The rules require a two-thirds majority of Congress to propose an amendment, and a three-quarters majority of states to ratify it — two supermajorities. "The pig must pass through two pythons". The Framers didn't foresee that the country would become so populous and diverse as to make the required degree of consensus impossible (1,250 words)

Healthcare: The Final Reckoning

Tim Harford | 6th May 2014

How to ration public health care. In Britain the buck stops with the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. It doesn't say who gets treated; it does say what treatments should be available. A $10,000 pill that extends life by ten years — Yes; a $10,000 pill that extends life by ten hours — No. But there's more to life than just longevity; trying to quantify the quality of life makes for the most difficult decisions (860 words)

Video of the day:  Superpower For Hire

What to expect: Short documentary about private military contractors

Thought for the day:

"Monogamy is a way of getting the versions of ourselves down to the minimum" — Adam Phillips

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