Newsletter 1009

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

Best of the Moment

Australia’s Aboriginals

Michael Finkel | National Geographic | 17th May 2013

Portrait an Aboriginal village, and of its matriarch, Batumbil. "She does not like sand flies and she has no qualms about killing them. But she does believe she’s related to them." Diet includes sea turtle, dugong, tree worms. "During the two weeks I’m in the bush, two people are eaten by crocodiles, a seven-year-old girl and a nine-year-old boy. I express my grief about this to Batumbil, but she remains unperturbed. These things happen"

Why Are We Not Much Better At Parenting?

Stuart Armstrong | Practical Ethics | 15th May 2013

"We’ve come a long way, as a species. We’re better at many things than we ever were before – not just slightly better, but unimaginably, ridiculously better. We’re better at transporting people and objects, we’re better at killing, we’re better at preventing infectious diseases, we’re better at industrial production. But in some areas, we haven’t made such dramatic improvements. And one of those areas is parenting"

Mr Smith Goes To Washington, Mr Wesson Goes To Church

Martin McClellan | Medium | 15th May 2013

Not sure what genre to assign this to. Satire? Whimsy? Anyhow, it's a very nice piece of writing, inspired by a new Arizona state law stipulating that no weapon collected during a buyback program can be destroyed. "When does life begin for a gun? Is it first casting, first barrel boring, first test fire? Is it before the gun is formed when the metal is mined, or the carbon fiber manufactured? The Bible is mostly silent on firearms"

Bill Gates: ‘Death Is Something We Really Understand’

Ezra Klein | Washington Post | 17th May 2013

Interview. Health care in the developing world. "When you’re running a poor country health-care system, you can’t treat a year of life as being worth more than, say, $200, or else you’ll bankrupt your health system immediately. But here's the good news: If you spend less than 2 percent of what rich countries spend, but you spend it on vaccinations and antibiotics, you get over half of all that healthcare does to extend life"

Review: ‘Edmund Burke’, By Jesse Norman

John Gray | New Statesman | 16th May 2013

Nominally a review of Norman's biography of Burke, but largely given over to a stinging critique of Margaret Thatcher's Conservatism. "By insisting that economic progress must come before anything else, she turned social institutions into more or less efficient means of achieving whatever is presently desired. Institutions ceased to be places in which people could find meaning and became mere tools"

The Humble Hero

Anonymous | The Economist | 18th May 2013

Shipping containers delivered a huge boost to globalisation by cutting the time taken to load and unload cargo. "In 1965 dock labour could move only 1.7 tonnes per hour on to a cargo ship; five years later a container crew could load 30 tonnes per hour. This allowed freight lines to use bigger ships and still slash the time spent in port." Journey times halved, cargo was secure from pilferage, dock workers lost their bargaining power

Video of the day: Imagine The Band

Thought for the day:

"Should not the Society of Indexers be known as Indexers, Society of, The?"— Keith Waterhouse

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