Newsletter 881

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

Best of the Moment

An All-American Nightmare

Peter Van Buren | Huffington Post/TomDispatch | 18 December 2012

Powerful account of what it means to torture and be tortured. Grim truth is that torture does work, because it's less about eliciting information than it is about shame and vengeance, humiliation, power, and control Comments (

With The Why Elusive, Two Boys, Two Burials

Dan Barry | NYT | 17 December 2012

Model of local reporting. Plain, powerful writing. First of the Newtown school massacre funerals. Noah Pozner wanted to manage a taco factory. Instead he gets a "tombstone with a birth year that seems like yesterday: 2006" Comments (

When You Swallow A Grenade

Carl Zimmer | Loom | 18 December 2012

We've come a long way in medical terms from the time when a scratch from a thorn could lead to death. Penicillin saw to that. But antibiotics also had unintended consequences, which scientists are now having to come to grips with Comments (

You Are All Soft. Embrace Chaos!

Michiko Kakutani | NYT | 16 December 2012

Review of "Antifragile", by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. "Maddening, repetitious, judgmental, intemperate, erudite, reductive, shrewd, self-indulgent, self-congratulatory, provocative, pompous, penetrating, perspicacious, pretentious" Comments (

The Freedom Of An Armed Society

Firmin DeBrabander | NYT | 16 December 2012

Gun rights advocates argue that guns provide the ultimate insurance of our freedom. This is a fallacy. If more people are armed in public, freedom is inhibited not protected. Individuals become atomised, impotent (h/t D Lippman) Comments (

On Failed New Year's Resolutions

Oliver Burkeman | Newsweek | 17 December 2012

Let's save ourselves the trouble this year: New Year's resolutions don't work and may be counterproductive. Don't believe that bunk about how you just weren't trying hard enough. Successful change rarely happens that way Comments (

FiveBooks Interview


David Edmonds on Ethical Problems

Given the choice between allowing five people to die, and killing one person, what would you do? What is the utilitarian argument for vegetarianism? Should we be able to sell our kidneys? The philosopher suggests some answers Read on (


Guns in America

How does one make sense of the killings in Newtown and Aurora? And will Americans, will President Obama do anything to stop it happening again? Read on (

Reader Recommendations

@Mark_George_QC ( RT @polit2k ( : RT @paulmasonnews ( : My report on Espana2000 and the problems of forgetting fascism in Spain #browsings ( @juan_diaz_diaz ( More like this (

Book of the Day

Book of the Day (

Billy Budd, Sailor  by Herman Melville

Scott Turow says ( : “This book is about the extraordinary divide that sometimes arises between law and justice.” FiveBooks Archive (

Video of the Day

So Real It's Scary


If somebody did this to me, I don't think I'd laugh More videos (

Quote of the Day

Michael Mauboussin, on skill (

"There's a quick and easy way to test whether an activity involves skill; ask whether you can lose on purpose"

More quotes (

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