Big Data, Pornography, Lying, Interrogation, Tesla, Book Reviews

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

What Should We Do About Big Data Leaks?

Paul Ford | New Republic | 6th April 2016

Technical note written presciently before the Panama Papers and updated with references. The media fetishises big-data leaks as a new way for journalists to perform conspicuous acts of journalism, hacking through vast .csv files as once through jungles. But our tools for working with data are pretty primitive. Only the media has time to do it, and would probably get better stories by reporting them the old-fashioned way (1,780 words)

Non-Existent Thrills

Kate Manne | Times Literary Supplement | 6th April 2016

“How To Do Things With Pornography”, Nancy Bauer’s “eye-opening” new book, demands an “honest reckoning” with the power and pleasure of porn — a “new politics of pornography”. Bauer abandons earlier feminist arguments for outright suppression, which have been rendered moot by the Internet; and perhaps as well, since we have much to learn. What will this “new politics” say about BDSM porn in the wake of Fifty Shades? (960 words)

The Bodyguard of Lies

Gerald Dworkin | New Rambler | 6th April 2016

Ever wonder how the tank got its name? To conceal the development of “landships” during WWI, the British government said the army was building motorised water tanks for battlefield use. John Mearsheimer’s “short, very readable” new book, Why Leaders Lie, is filled with such stories, illustrating the author’s contention that national leaders “rarely” lie to foreign counterparts, but they lie all the time to domestic audiences (2,200 words)

An Interrogator’s Memories Of Abu Ghraib

Eric Fair | Salon | 3rd April 2016

Notes on the interrogation of an Iraqi officer in January 2004: “The general gets excited when I mention that I served with the 101st Airborne Division. He says his unit was like mine — he mentions the Hammurabi Division. It’s a slip that changes his status at Abu Ghraib: he’s now a high-value prisoner. His interrogations will be more frequent. They won’t be conducted in the booth with comfortable chairs anymore” (2,200 words)

It’s A Tesla

Ben Thompson | Stratechery | 5th April 2016

Elon Musk is the new Steve Jobs. The superfast Tesla Model S projected a reality-distortion field that changed the way we saw electric cars. Cool customers no longer want a car, they want a Tesla. The new mid-market Tesla 3 has 300,000 instant orders, though it won’t ship for years. Again as with Jobs, Musk’s fans trust him to surprise them on the upside — to know what they want better than they know themselves (1,900 words)

The Self-Hating Book Critic

Jessa Crispin | Copper Nickel | 5th April 2016

Newspapers are shuttering their book pages — and who really cares, apart from the reviewers who are less in demand? The main threat to writers and critics today is not the internet, to which they adjust pretty well; it is complacency and commercialism. “For a critical culture to be vital, it has to be aware of its placement in the system. It has to see that system as broken. It has to respond to its brokenness” (2,150 words)

Video of the day: The Next Rembrandt

What to expect:

Computers analyse existing works by Rembrandt — and then produce a new one (4’20”)

Thought for the day

The people are that part of the state which does not know what it wants
Georg Hegel

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