Newsletter 821

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

Best of the Moment

President Obama's Executive Power Grab

Andrew Romano & Daniel Klaidman | Newsweek | 22 October 2012

After his initial bipartisan approach failed, President Obama has been expanding his own executive power. "The result is an extraconstitutional arms race of sorts: A new normal that habitually circumvents the legislative process" Comments (

Ask A Banker: What's A Derivative?

Anonymous | NPR | 17 October 2012

Imagine a million-dimensional graph where each input is some fact about the world whose future value is uncertain. Everything in the financial world is an attempt to catch a glimpse of that graph (h/t Jacob Goldstein) Comments (

Healthcare And Cars Are Not Isomorphic

Yichuan Wang | Synthenomics | 22 October 2012

Why competitive markets don't work in health care. It's almost impossible for consumers to know whether they're getting the optimal quantity and quality of treatment. When they most need it, they're least able to shop around Comments (

The Voter-Fraud Myth

Jane Mayer | New Yorker | 22 October 2012

Republican lawyer Hans von Spakovsky promotes strict voter-ID laws. It's like he "gets up in the morning wondering, What can I do today to make it more difficult for people to vote? Even though there is no voter fraud to speak of" Comments (

A Snowball Flung On The Uppermost Slopes

David Warsh | Economic Principals | 22 October 2012

This year's economics Nobel has made Al Roth famous, for his matching markets. What of co-laureate Lloyd Shapley? He's an 89-year-old recluse, a peer of John von Neumann, and maybe the greatest mathematical game theorist of all time Comments (

Once This Landscape Was A Pristine Wilderness

Mark Duell & Ashley Cooper | Daily Mail | 17 October 2012

Striking photo gallery of Canadian tar sands mining project. "The sheer scale of devastation is almost beyond comprehension. Oily, stained ground stretches for hundreds of miles where there used to be forest." (h/t Peter Timmerman) Comments (

FiveBooks Interview


Gregory Long on Gardening

The president of the New York Botanical Garden tells us about the books that all aspiring gardeners should have on their bookshelves, from reference works to the most fun guide to making the best of your garden
Read on (


The Fall of Lance Armstrong

Once a hero, but now the game is up. Here's how the aggressively preserved reputation of Lance Armstrong finally crumbled Read on (

Reader Recommendations

@polit2k ( RT @edyong209 ( : Never Go Into the Sea, Part #38108 (!/search?q=#38108) - the Bobbit worm #browsings ( More like this (

Book of the Day

Book of the Day (

The Book of Memory  by Mary Carruthers

Joshua Foer says ( : “This is the best study of the role that memory plays in medieval culture. We reserve the term genius for people who are creative, who are innovators, who think in ways that are entirely new. In the middle ages, the term genius was reserved for people with the best memories.” FiveBooks Archive (

Video of the Day

Sean Carroll – From Particles To People


How do we know what we think we know about how the world works?
More videos (

Quote of the Day

Sigmund Freud, on play (

"The opposite of play is not what is serious, but what is real"

More quotes (

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