Newsletter 969

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

Cruel And Unusual Punishment: The Shame Of Three Strikes Laws

27th March 2013 | Matt Taibbi | Rolling Stone

In California, the first state to pass a "three-strike" law mandating long prison sentences for third-time offenders, thousands of people are serving life sentences for non-violent and often trivial crimes. "Have you heard the one about the guy who got life for stealing a slice of pizza? Or the guy who went away forever for lifting a pair of baby shoes? Or the one who got 50 to life for helping himself to five children's videotapes from Kmart? This Frankenstein's monster of a mandatory-sentencing system isn't just some localized bureaucratic accident, but the legacy of a series of complex political choices we all made as voters decades ago"

Not Doing Better Than Our Parents, And Loving It (Or, Why Keynes Was Right)

1st April 2013 | Jerry Brito | Umlaut

Reflection. "Today we are in a position to derive much of our happiness from pursuits internal to our minds. We do this by blogging, watching House of Cards on Netflix, listening to a symphony from iTunes, tweeting with friends and acquaintances, seeing their pictures on Facebook or Path, and learning and collaborating on Wikipedia. As a result, once one secures a certain income to cover basic needs, greater happiness and well-being today can be had for virtually nothing. What is the point, then, of doing materially better than one’s parents?"

Nancy Hatch Dupree Is Quietly Saving Afghanistan’s History

1st April 2013 | William Dalrymple | Daily Beast

Portrait of "tiny, birdlike 86-year-old woman", whose life is a "series of tales that would rival a Hollywood movie", including "a passionate affair in 1960s Kabul with a handsome, Harvard-educated, ex-paratrooper and archeologist who made Indiana Jones seem positively suburban'. She became an authority on Afghan culture; was thrown out under the Soviets; and is back now, "commuting between her homes in Kabul and Peshawar, sometimes driving herself down the Khyber Pass in her little Renault 5"

Sim Paulo

1st April 2013 | Mike Rose | Foreign Policy

Sao Paulo in Brazil boasts some of the world's worst traffic james. On a bad day the tailbacks can stretch for nearly 200 miles. A blogger is moved to act: "I decided to take a crack at fixing the problem. But as I'm a video-game blogger living 6,000 miles away in Manchester, England, it seemed unlikely that Sao Paulo's authorities would hand me the key to the city planner's office anytime soon. So I decided to try out some ideas first on SimCity"

Karl Marx: A Man Of His Time

28th March 2013 | Jonathan Freedland | New York Times

Book review, of Karl Marx by Jonathan Sperber. "Here is a man never more passionate than when attacking his own side, saddled with perennial money problems and still reliant on his parents for cash, constantly plotting new, world-changing ventures yet having trouble with both deadlines and personal hygiene. If the Marx described by Sperber were around in 2013, he would be a compulsive blogger, and picking Twitter fights with Andrew Sullivan and Naomi Klein" (Metered paywall)

Climate Science: A Sensitive Matter

30th March 2013 | Anonymous | The Economist

Analysis. Why has global warming paused? Average global temperature has been flat for the past decade, despite soaring greenhouse-gas emissions. "The mismatch might mean there has been a temporary lag between more carbon dioxide and higher temperatures. Or it might be that the 1990s, when temperatures were rising fast, was the anomalous period. Or it may be that the climate is responding to higher concentrations of carbon dioxide in ways that had not been properly understood before" (Metered paywall)

Video of the day: Michael

Thought for the day:

"The moral responsibility of a writer is to make something real happen on the page. Its relation to fact is irrelevant" — Harry Mathews

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