BBC, Airbnb, Ashley Madison, Genetics, Freeways, Aristotle's Masterpiece


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

What Next For The BBC?

Henry Mance | Financial Times | 21st August 2015 | | Read with 1Pass

The BBC is suffering its toughest financial squeeze in sixty years at the hands of an unsympathetic Conservative government, and will have to cut the quality or the quantity of its output. Everybody loves something about the BBC, but almost everything it offers — from costume drama to music radio — can be done at least as well by a commercial rival. If there is an argument for keeping the BBC as it is, the BBC has yet to make it (2,430 words)

The Secret of Airbnb’s Pricing Algorithm

Dan Hill | IEEE Spectrum | 20th August 2015

How do you steer owners and tenants towards market-clearing prices when every property is unique? Dan Hill, product lead at Airbnb, explains the website’s pricing algorithm. The two main determinants are exact location, and reviews — quantity as well as quality. "Having even a single review rather than no reviews makes a huge difference to a listing". A listing in Seattle without Wi-Fi "is extremely unlikely to get booked at any price" (3,240 words)

My Wife Found My Email In The Ashley Madison Database

Evan Ratliff | Atavist | 21st August 2015

And if I said I didn't put it there would you believe me? But who else would register as eratliff@gmail.com? "The closest I’ve come to a working theory is that a lot of E. Ratliffs have addresses like eratliff75@gmail.com. They believe they can leave off the numbers and receive the messages anyway, or they simply forget. That, or the E. Ratliffs of the world just view eratliff@gmail.com as some kind of shared resource" (2,000 words)

Genome Editing: The Age Of CRISPR

Briefing | The Economist | 20th August 2015 | | Read with 1Pass

The gene-editing technology known as CRISPR provides a powerful new tool for improving human health and well-being. It should be welcomed, not feared. "Worries about germ-line editing are fascinating, and the discussion they produce may prove important, divisive or both. But they are far from the realities of today, where genetic disorders are destroying lives and parents are fighting to save their children" (3,300 words)

The Freeways of Los Angeles

Christopher Hawthorne | LA Times | 7th August 2015

Freeways used to embody everything that was right about Los Angeles. Times have changed. "The freeway is an outlier, a hulking support system for an aging, if not outdated, set of beliefs. The freeways were built to allow the region to stretch outward; the movement that counts now is in the opposite direction, as the city doubles back on itself, looking to develop more densely areas where it built lightly before" (1,850 words)

Aristotle’s Masterpiece

Mary Fissell | Public Domain Review | 20th August 2015

Aristotle's Masterpiece was neither a masterpiece nor by Aristotle, but it was wildly popular from the date of its publication in 1684 and remained in print until the 1930s. It was a guide to sex and reproduction, largely plagiarised from earlier books on midwifery, interspersed with anatomical diagrams, suggestive lithographs and household remedies — "a distant ancestor of What To Expect When You’re Expecting" (2,300 words)

Video of the day: Bad Lip Reading: The Republican Debate

What to expect: Five minutes of completely silly fun, though thirty seconds will probably be enough (5')

Thought for the day

Depression is melancholy minus its charms
Susan Sontag

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