Taxonomy, Electoral College, Daniel Hannan, Clausnitz, Goldman Sachs

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

On Being A Fish

Bret Weinstein | Inference | 27th September 2016

How we classify animals. “Consider birds. Inevitably, one thinks of flight. Most birds can fly. Were someone to suggest that, since penguins do not fly, they are not birds, you would know something was wrong. Everyone knows penguins are flightless birds. What, then, is the logical basis of what everybody apparently knows? Modern birds all have feathers. Would that imply that if a species of penguins were to lose their feathers, they would cease to be birds? Would they remain penguins?” (2,590 words)

How Does The Electoral College Work?

Jonn Elledge | New Statesman | 28th September 2016

American voters do not elect the president directly. In the presidential election each state chooses “electors” pledged to a particular candidate. These electors make up the Electoral College that elects the president. Electors sometimes change sides in the Electoral College, and there is no federal law preventing them from doing go. Less populous states are over-represented in the College as they are in Congress: A vote in California is worth less than a third of a vote in Wyoming (1,300 words)

The Man Who Brought You Brexit

Sam Leith | Guardian | 29th September 2016

Profile of Daniel Hannan, the Conservative Euro-MP who laid the political foundations of Brexit. “The script is written by Hannan, and this is largely a Hannan production.” His opponents compare him to Trotsky, his admirers to Tom Paine: “You have got to have hard arses who are morally courageous, who consistently make the arguments, who don’t mind being unfashionable”. Hannan plans to retire from politics, his work done. “Mission accomplie, as we like to say in Brussels” (7,400 words)

Ground Zero Of Refugee Anxiety

Takis Würger | Der Spiegel | 28th September 2016

Diary of a month in Clausnitz, a secluded farming village in eastern Germany which gained unwanted fame when residents blockaded a bus bringing refugees. “Clausnitz is not a typically German place. Clausnitz is typical of what Germany used to be, quite a long time ago, and the people who live here realize that. The refugees divided the town in two: half wants to help the refugees and half wants to be rid of them. In that regard, Clausnitz is extremely representative of Germany today” (6,100 words)

How Goldman Sachs Lost $1.2 Billion Of Libya’s Money

Kit Chellel & Matthew Campbell | Bloomberg | 29th September 2016

What is the duty of a bank towards an ignorant client? The Libyan state investment authority, backed by $60 billion of oil wealth, invested $1.2 billion with Goldman Sachs, lubricated by some fancy dinners. According to the Libyans, they thought they were buying blue-chip shares. But Goldman sold them derivatives which lost all their value within a year. Now the Libyans want their money back. According to their lawyers, “they barely understood anything at all” about finance (5,600 words)

Video of the day: Lanterns On The Lake

What to expect:

Gentle indie-rock music with charming fairy-tale animation (5’34”)

Thought for the day

If wise men didn’t make mistakes, fools would have to despair
J.W. von Goethe

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