Newsletter 813

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

Best of the Moment

Boss Rail

Evan Osnos | New Yorker | 15 October 2012

How a high-speed rail disaster exposed China's corruption. "An engineer who worked on the railway’s construction told me, 'There is an expression in Chinese: when you take too great a leap, you can tear your balls'" Comments (

Cuban Missile Crisis: How The US Played Russian Roulette With Nuclear War

Noam Chomsky | Guardian | 15 October 2012

When the world stood still. Kennedy secretly recorded White House meetings, which may help explain why his stand was "relatively temperate". But, says Chomsky, a closer look at what took place adds grim overtones to these judgements Comments (

At The Corner Of Hope And Worry

Dan Barry | NYT | 13 October 2012

Affecting snapshot of small-town America. Donna Dove runs a diner in Elyria, Ohio. It cost her all she had to open it. Turning over enough to pay the bills and have a little left over is relentless, hard work Comments (

Allow Me To Evade That Question

Josh Freedman | McSweeney's | 15 October 2012

All-purpose monologue, for use in presidential debates. "In America, anything is possible. That’s the American dream—making the impossible possible. And if there’s anyone that can achieve the American dream, it’s Americans"

 Comments (

From Cooling System To Thinking Machine

Carl Zimmer | Being Human | 10 October 2012

History of ideas about the brain. From Aristotle's idea of the brain as refrigerator to Hilary Putnam's brain-in-a-vat thought experiments. And what about the future? Would you upload your brain to a computer? Comments (

My Life As A Girl

Stephen Burt | VQR | 12 October 2012

Harvard English professor discusses his cross-dressing habit. "I am a literary critic and a writer of verse, a parent and husband and friend, before and after I am a guy in a skirt, or a guy in blue jeans, or a fictional girl" Comments (

FiveBooks Interview


Philip Marsden on The Sea

The travel writer casts his net over books about the sea and comes up with a haul including Moby Dick and a naval history Of Britain Read on (



Are Western states true democracies? Has democracy become a casualty of the financial crisis? Can you have too much democracy? Read on to find out Read on (

Reader Recommendations

@henrylf ( 13 Little-Known Punctuation Marks: From the interrobang to the certitude point, @Mental_Floss ( #writing (!/search?q=#writing) #browsings ( More like this (

Book of the Day

Book of the Day (’s-star-atlas-and-reference-handbook-by-ian-ridpath-editor)

Norton’s Star Atlas and Reference Handbook  by Ian Ridpath (editor)

Andy Lawrence says ( : “It is a kind of field guide – the amateur astronomer’s bible. The maps are just beautifully done. They are incredibly clear” FiveBooks Archive (

Video of the Day

Stratos Jump: Lego Edition


Felix Baumgartner tribute More videos (

Quote of the Day

Andrew Roberts, on the Nobel Peace Prize (

"If the Norwegians really admire the EU so much, why haven’t they joined it?"

More quotes (

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