Newsletter 1004

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

Best of the Moment

Was The Great Gatsby Broke?

Kevin Roose | New York | 13th May 2013

Bootlegging was a low-margin business. Gatsby might have accumulated $1.25m before moving to West Egg. The house would have cost about $2m. If he borrowed half, his mortgage would be costing $23,000 a month. Add $165,000 for parties, $50,000 for cars and clothes, and he would have consumed his capital inside a year. "Mr. Gatsby certainly was not thinking about creating future retirement income for his later years"

The Arithmetic Of Interstellar Travel

John Quiggin | Crooked Timber | 12th May 2013

Settling a colony on a distant star would cost more than the GDP of Earth for the life of the Universe. "On behalf of my fellow Australians, I'm going to make a counter-offer. For a mere $10 trillion, we can find you an area of land larger than a typical European country, almost certainly more habitable than the new planets, and much closer. We'll do all the work of supplying water and air"

Alice E. Kober, 43; Lost To History No More

New York Times | 11th May 2013

Michael Ventris gets all the credit for deciphering Linear B, the ancient Aegean script discovered on clay tablets in 1900, which baffled scholars for decades. But Alice Kober, a Brooklyn schoolteacher, did most of the work. She spent years analysing the pictograms, published her findings, and was on the verge of a solution when she died. "The contributions of this brilliant American woman have been all but lost to time"

Syria: Our Ringers Versus Your Ringers

Gary Brecher | NSFW Corp | 8th May 2013

"When you look at this war strictly as a military struggle, you notice something weird: over two years of fighting, the lines are almost totally static". That's because it's a very local conflict, between rooted communities, street against street. "You just don’t leave your neighborhood unmanned in a sectarian war, ever. Most of the locals in this war only want to hold their block of houses, basically as far as kin and sectarian ties hold" (pass-through link)

Moby Ben, Or, The Washington Super-Whale

Brad De Long | Grasping Reality | 11th May 2013

Why hedge funds hate Ben Bernanke. Because the way they see it, he's betting against the market by driving up the price of long-term bonds, and in due course he should have to close out his position or go bust. Like JP Morgan's "London Whale", who folded on a $6bn loss when he was in danger of taking down the bank. But the analogy is wrong. Bernanke can't go bust, and he doesn't take orders. He doesn't have to fold

Don’t Make Fun Of Renowned Dan Brown

Michael Deacon | Telegraph | 10th May 2013

"Renowned author Dan Brown woke up in his luxurious four-poster bed in his expensive $10 million house, and immediately he felt angry ... The critics said his writing was clumsy, ungrammatical, repetitive and repetitive. They said it was full of unnecessary tautology. They said his prose was swamped in a sea of mixed metaphors. He particularly hated it when they said his imagery was nonsensical. It made his insect eyes flash like a rocket"

Video of the day: Oreo's Wonderfilled Anthem

Thought for the day:

"I am an author because I want to ask questions. If I had answers, I'd be a politician"— Eugene Ionesco

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