Yiddish, Brexit, De-Extinction, Fallacies, Ultramarine, Genetics

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

My Mother’s Yiddish

Phyllis Rose | American Scholar | 8th June 2015

"My mother rarely approved of me. I had a tuchis and a half as a child. I was a vants and a pischer. I was always noodging her. I was a noodnik. I was a pain in the kishke. I noshed too much and was always hocking her chainik. Still, I was never a schtarker, never a chazer, never a gonif, never a schnorrer. I think she was fond of me, but kinehora, one shouldn’t speak of one’s pleasures, only kvetch about the tzuris" (2,900 words)

Europe Will Break

Gideon Rachman | Financial Times | 9th June 2015 | | Read with 1Pass

Greece and Britain want special deals with the European Union, but the EU can no longer make deals whatever their merits. It's too big and too gridlocked. If you show willingness to change the rules for any one country you start a 28-nation cacophony that goes on for ever. Germany has signalled that it is ready to see Greece leave the eurozone; now it is signalling more discreetly that it is ready to see Britain leave the EU (876 words)

Beth Shapiro On De-Extinction

Beatrice Wilford | Five Books | 1st June 2015

Evolutionary biologist discusses whether mammoths will return, and whether humans will disappear. "We are a catastrophic event for this planet - like asteroid impacts that caused the dinosaur extinction. The Earth recovers and the species that were dominant prior to that catastrophic event go extinct; other species rise. That is probably what we have to fear - that the dominant species goes extinct. But the planet will be fine, eventually" (4,500 words)


Hans Hansen | Stanford Encyclopedia Of Philosophy | 29th May 2015

New entry for the Stanford Encyclopedia Of Philosophy. The first section, on "Core Fallacies", is probably going to do the job for the general reader, but there is plenty more on the history and theory of fallacies. Useful reading in conjunction with anything on, for example, nudge theory and behavioural economics. Psychology tells us how mistakes are made; fallacy theory tells us what the mistakes are (16,700 words)

A Brief History Of Ultramarine

Ravi Mangla | Paris Review | 8th June 2015

Michelangelo couldn’t afford it. Raphael saved it for the top coat. Vermeer used it lavishly and sank into debt. Ultramarine pigment made from crushed lapis lazuli was more precious than gold. A synthetic version was invented in 1824, but the natural pigment is still prized for its imperfections — traces of calcite, pyrite, augite and mica which "cause the light to be refracted in subtly different ways. No two strokes of paint are the same" (950 words)

What Is Your DNA Worth?

David Dobbs | Buzzfeed | 21st May 2015

Seventy years of frenzied activity in human genetics delivers almost nothing of medical value. "The genomic age’s signature finding is not any great discovery. It is the yawning gap between the genetic contributions that geneticists assume exist and the genetic contributions they can spot. It is as if they cracked a safe they knew was packed with cash and found almost nothing. The money’s got to be somewhere. But where?" (2,200 words)

Video of the day: See The USA In One Minute

What to expect: Aerial documentary. If not the whole USA, then a decent selection of highlights (1'15')

Thought for the day

The tragedy of old age is not that one is old, but that one is young
Oscar Wilde

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