Healthcare, Richard Burton, Twitter, Facebook, Macron

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

The Problem Is The Prices

Sarah Kliff | Vox | 16th October 2017

Political turmoil over healthcare insurance in the United States obscures a deeper problem, which is that hospital tariffs are borderline insane. “Take a bill I was sent last year: a $629 fee charged for an emergency room visit where a Band-Aid was placed on a 1-year-old’s finger. The bill included a $7 fee for the Band-Aid — and a $622 facility fee. It is not that we go to the doctor too much. The culprit is that whenever we do go to the doctor, we pay an extraordinary amount” (2,700 words)

How A British Spy Drank His Way Across America

Christopher Dickey | Daily Beast | 15th October 2017

One of the great explorers of the Victorian age, Richard Burton visited Mecca disguised as a Pashtun merchant and found the source of the White Nile. In 1860 he travelled through the southern states of America as they girded for war. And yet, of this, he wrote nothing. “Whom Burton saw, or what he did, remain even more obscure than certain vacant periods in Sind”. He may have been busy spying for the British government. More probably, and more prosaically, he was too drunk to remember (4,800 words)

One Person’s History Of Twitter

Mike Monteiro | Medium | 15th October 2017

A stylised and contestable account of Twitter’s failings, but interesting and informed. “When companies tell you they need to be more transparent it’s generally because they’ve been caught being transparent. You accidentally saw behind the curtain. Twitter is behaving exactly as it’s been designed to behave. Twitter, at this moment, is the sum of the choices it has made. Even when the coop is covered in chickenshit, the chickens will come home to roost” (2,700 words)

What Facebook Did To American Democracy

Alexis Madrigal | Atlantic | 12th October 2017

The upshot of this excellent, wide-ranging article is that we can’t actually know what Facebook did to American democracy in the 2016 election, because Facebook’s presence is so ubiquitous and so opaque. Only Facebook knows what targeted news and advertisements you are seeing, and why. But those who learn to game Facebook win big. “The very roots of the electoral system — the news people see, the events they think happened, the information they digest — has been destabilized” (5,400 words)

Emmanuel Macron: We Need Political Heroism

Klaus Brinkbaumer et al | Der Spiegel | 13th October 2017

Interview. Hard to imagine any other world leader talking with quite this level of candour and clarity. Macron opens with a short lesson on Hegel, and continues in a philosophical spirit reflecting on the problems of France, the virtues of Germany and the crisis of the European Union. “France is a country of regicidal monarchists. It is a paradox: The French want to elect a king, but they would like to be able to overthrow him whenever they want. The office of president is not a normal office” (6,100 words)

Video of the day: Laika, Our Hero

What to expect:

The story of Laika’s one way trip into space in 1957 — in approximately her own words, had she been capable (4’35”)

Thought for the day

A joke holds our attention because we assume that all the elements presented to us are essential
David Mamet

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