Newsletter 1012

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

Best of the Moment

Iran’s Elections: Missing The Point

Charles Crawford | Blogoir | 22nd May 2013

Short, pithy, packed with more wisdom than you find in bloviations ten times the length. If you are a State Department spokesman, asked what you think about exclusion of women from Iran's presidential elections, here's what you say. Condemn the exclusion, amplify the reasons, leave open the option of working with the winner. "Simple, clear, principled and flexible. Always the best combination. It's called diplomacy"

How Much Does Jamie Dimon Matter?

Bethany McLean | Reuters | 21st May 2013

To JP Morgan and its admirers, a lot. He runs a huge bank probably as well as any human could. To his detractors, he's key-person risk write large. "If I were a conspiracy theorist I might even suspect that all the fuss about Dimon is supposed to make us 'watch the birdie'. A distraction from the real point, which is how we structure a financial system that serves the needs of consumers and businesses in as safe a way as possible"

Pet Dogs And Longevity Preferences

Worthwhile Canadian Initiative | 21st May 2013

More on life, death, and longevity. Humans find it hard to distinguish between quality of life and length of life, at least when it comes to their own. They may have a view on highly invasive end-of-life care, other than which, they tend to conflate quantity of life with quality. In which case, how about a proxy? What does your choice of pet say about you? Do you want a poodle, or a miniature poodle?

Learning From Los Gatos

Steven Johnson | Medium | 21st May 2013

Why George Packer is wrong to see the tycoons of Silicon Valley as a "libertarian geek oligarchy". Silicon Velley succeeds because it tries hard to find progressive ways of creating wealth. Founders get to be billionaires; but tens of thousands of managers become millionaires from share options; and waged workers get better conditions, and a bigger share of profits, than in most other parts of American industry

Institutional Causes Of China’s Great Famine

Kevin Bryan | A Fine Theorem | 19th May 2013

A recommendation for this note in particular, but also for this new website in general, which promises summaries and discussions of recent economic research. This account of a 2011 academic paper confirms that there was a general food surplus in China in the famine years of the late 1950s and early 1960s. The problems were entirely in food distribution, where Maoism fostered chaos, perverse incentives, lying, waste, and hoarding

Video of the day: Watchtower Of Morocco

Thought for the day:

"I have a great belief in Dan Brown’s attractions as a writer. The belief is all the greater because I can’t quite define what those attractions are"— Clive James

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