Newsletter 1008

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

Best of the Moment


Ben Faccini | Aeon | 16th May 2013

On the lives of street children, and the conflicting emotions they arouse within us. So well done as to be almost unbearable. "They’re forced to exist in a world parallel to ours, and, out there, in their other world, in their bus stations and gutters, in the filth and vileness of their refuse dumps, they survive as best they can, with the same emotions we all share. We diminish ourselves by refusing to look them in the eye"

How The Case For Austerity Has Crumbled

Paul Krugman | New York Review Of Books | 16th May 2013

After the financial crash of 2008, rich countries tried to restore growth with government spending. Not enough, but they had the right idea. Why did they reverse course in 2010, cut spending and worsen their recessions? Answer: a few economists — Kenneth Rogoff, Carmen Reinhart, Alberto Alesina, Silvia Ardagna — swayed elite opinion with arguments for austerity which were as persuasive as they were wrong

The Contradictions Of Alex Ferguson

Brian Philips | Grantland | 15th May 2013

"His career overlapped with an enormously chaotic period in the history of soccer. He was a working-class socialist who furthered the aims of billionaires. He was a traditionalist with deep local roots who facilitated the commercial globalization of the game. He was a loyalist who destroyed his own allies. He was a bully and a thug, at times, with what seemed, at times, like a strangely beautiful way of looking at the world"

Why Business Still Loves Capital Markets

John Kay | 15th May 2013

Apple's move to raise $17bn through a bond issue, despite having cash reserves of $145bn, highlights the changing relationship between business and capital markets. Companies don't raise capital for investment. They raise it for exercises in financial engineering — tax minimisation, share buybacks, hedging. "Capital markets are no longer mechanisms for putting money into companies, but mechanisms for getting money out"

Google Glass

John Lanchester | London Review Of Books | 16th May 2013

Introduction to Glass for non-tech readers. It's likely to be a monster hit, because it's full of useful and attractive features. But it comes with big downsides. It turns users in on themselves even more than cellphones already do; and it makes covert recording too easy. "Technology and privacy have had many skirmishes in the past, but the coming generation of wearable computing has the potential to escalate the conflict to all-out war"

Of Presidents And Penguins

John Gaffney | Berfrois | 15th May 2013

François Hollande's first year as French president has been a catastrophe for him and a wasted year for France. The source of his incompetence: "an incomprehension of the subtle norms and exigencies of the office he holds; in a word, he and all the people around him do not understand the republic they are in charge of". He wants to be "simple" and "normal". But that's not how you lead a country. And his girlfriend doesn't help

Video of the day: The Last Jewish Waiter

Thought for the day:

"Asking who won a given war is like asking who won the San Francisco earthquake"— Kenneth Waltz

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