Browser Daily Newsletter 1201

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

Sticker Shock In Zimbabwe

Michael Hobbes | New Republic | 5th January 2014

Zimbabwe is one of the poorest countries on the planet. But the prices of goods and services are up there with New York City. A five-minute cab ride to the grocery store costs $7. Coke: $2. Peanut butter: $4. Yogurt: $5. Haircut: $20. Two-week gym membership: $60. Why? Partly because of hyperinflation followed by dollarisation. People have lost their sense of what goods, or money, should be worth

The Closing Of The Scientific Mind

David Gelernter | Commentary | 1st January 2014

Angry polemic from the pen of a computer scientist accusing Daniel Dennett, Ray Kurzweil and scientists in general of seeking to extinguish humanism by claiming the brain as form of computer and the mind as a form of software. By reducing thought to the status of computation, and denying the central fact of subjective experience, they attack the sanctity of life. Some straw men lurk here, but it's a good read

Interview: Henry Louis Gates on 12 Years A Slave

Andrew Anthony | Observer | 5th January 2014

Discussion of Steve McQueen's film. Central question: Why so long for a realistic film about slavery to emerge, when 200 slave narratives survive for source material? "Steve says it's the Obama effect. Many people have said there is a renaissance in black film. I think it's partly about the coming of age of the affirmative-action generation, the people who were able to get into white institutions and then start black studies programmes"

Mark Zuckerberg’s Vertical Learning Curve

Evelyn Rusli | Wall Street Journal | 5th January 2014

The jeans and T-shirt haven't changed; but Facebook's CEO has "learned to embrace — or at least accept — the reality that he now is in charge of what might be bluntly described as the most visible advertising business in the world." His "growing attention to the bottom line" is part of a "sea change". "Taking Facebook public and reshaping it around mobile phones forced him to grow up"

Warning Labels On Animal Products

Thomas Rodham Wells | Philosopher's Beard | 31st December 2013

As with cigarette packaging, meat and dairy products should carry factual warnings about the harm associated with the product — if not to the consumer, then to the ultimate supplier. Informed choice is, by most criteria, better choice. "I envisage labels like this: This chicken's beak was cut off, causing it intense pain until its death; and This cow's babies were taken away and killed to keep it producing milk"

Video of the day:  Hydrogen And Stupidity

Thought for the day:

"All other composers seem to be writing novels, but Bach writes non-fiction" — Jeremy Denk

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