Newsletter 1011


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

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Best of the Moment

Why Is Europe So Messed Up?

John Cassidy | New Yorker | 20th May 2013

We pretty much understand the broad outlines of the financial crisis in Europe. Banks over-borrowed and over-lent. States bailed them out. Which left governments grappling with rocketing debt ratios. The puzzle is why leaders think public spending cuts are the right response, when all they have done is to make things worse. "It’s all quite mad, but that doesn’t mean it will end anytime soon". Short of a revolution

The Relentless Charm Of Nigel Farage

Edward Docx | Prospect | 20th May 2013

"Close up, he smells of tobacco, offset with a liberal application of aftershave." Out and about with Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party, steering Britain towards an exit from the EU. "Ukip is indeed a rag tag bag — but not of fruitcakes; rather, of cussed, contrary, wilful, protesting, obstreperous, bantering Englishmen and women, the like of which have been with us all the way back to The Canterbury Tales"

Profiling Is Great, Except When You Do It to Me

Farhad Manjoo | Slate | 20th May 2013

Plausible reconstruction of how the IRS came to scrutinise Tea Party groups. If tax officials are required to spot signs of political activity in groups applying for exemption, it makes sense to look for short cuts: for example, groups that seem to be part of a new political movement, Tea Party. Trouble is, that's "profiling". Just like the TSA officer pulling over a traveller in a turban. It's easy, logical, and wrong

A Colon Resection

Luke Allnutt | One Eyed Dog | 20th May 2013

Extreme cancer blogging. No detail spared. I muted the title — check the URL — which refers more directly to colostomy. Take daily before food. "At first, the emptying was done by the nurses, but after watching them doing it enough, I finally managed to sit down on the toilet. I wiped my new plastic anus and then folded the little pouch shut — no more unhygienic than going the normal way really"

We Are All Princes And Paupers

Veronique Greenwood | Nautilus | 17th May 2013

Thrilling piece on the math of genealogy. Every sentence an eye-opener for the non-adept. "Anyone who was alive 2,000-3,000 years ago is either the ancestor of everyone who’s now alive, or no one at all." "Everyone of European heritage alive today is a descendant of Charlemagne." "Past a certain number of generations back, your number of ancestors stops growing exponentially, because they start being the same people"

Interview With Todd May, Philosopher

Matt Bieber | The Believer | 16th May 2013

On the virtues of death as against those of eternal life. "Life is short, and if death were to be a good thing, it would be a better thing much further down the road than it is for human lives now." But immortality is another matter: Imagine the boredom. So, if, like Indiana Jones, you can save someone from death only by giving them an elixir of eternal life, it's a harder choice the more you think about it. Neither option is a good option

Video of the day: Holland: The Original Cool

Thought for the day:

"The enemy is the gramophone mind, whether or not one agrees with the record that is being played at the moment"— George Orwell

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