Browser Newsletter 1136

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

Best of the Moment

The Practice Of Practising

Stephen Hough | Telegraph | 14th October 2013

Concert pianist's notes on how to practice, and why to practise often. "It's not just that pieces need to be kept in the memory (muscle and mind), but the very act of playing the piano is physical and athletic. It involves reflex and endurance ... We need to know what might go wrong in a performance and why. There is no such thing as a difficult piece. There are merely moments in pieces which are problematic" (Metered paywall)

Kazakhstan’s City of Gold

Sheila Fitzpatrick | The Monthly | 15th October 2013

The case for Kazakhstan. It's had a rough history. The government isn't all that bad, compared to others in the region. "I arrived in a sceptical frame of mind, expecting to find something like a comic-opera dictatorship, but ended up more sympathetic." There are problems with human rights, and lots of Soviet echoes, but Nazarbayev seems to have the right priorities: modernisation, education, ethnic and religious harmony

The Debt Ceiling And Presidential Power

Saul Jackman | Brookings | 14th October 2013

In times of crisis the American president can do whatever he thinks necessary to protect the nation. A debt default would surely count as a crisis: meaning that, if default arrives, President Obama can raise the debt ceiling or take other appropriate action by decree. He will look like a strong leader; and it's hard to imagine Congress uniting in order to overturn his actions retrospectively and force the nation into default

Fama, Shiller & Hansen

Justin Fox | Harvard Business Review | 14th October 2013

A most unusual Nobel prize for economics this year, shared between Eugene Fama, for arguing that financial markets are efficient; Robert Shiller, for arguing that they are not; and Peter Hansen, who would seem to fall somewhere in between, to the extent that anyone understands his work. It's hard to imagine a Nobel physics prize being distributed in this way — for a lively debate, rather than a fundamental discovery

The Problem With Literary Festivals

Dolores Montenegro | New Statesman | 14th October 2013

They ought to be all about authors and readers. But they've been commercialised in a cynical way so that they're more about money and celebrity. Bill Clinton can get £40,000 for speaking at Hay, whereas a professional author will be lucky to get a case of Cava and the chance to sell a few books. Nor do organisers make much effort at stage management, with the result that most presentations are dull

Video of the day: Meat The Future

Thought for the day:

"If there is any test that can be applied to movies, it's that the good ones never make you feel virtuous"— Pauline Kael

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