Browser Daily Newsletter 1208

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

Kayapo Courage

Chip Brown | National Geographic | 13th January 2014

An uplifting visit to the Kayapo, "the most powerful of around 240 indigenous tribes remaining in Brazil". They have driven invading ranchers and miners off their land. They have learned to lobby effectively for legal protections. "Their ceremonies, their kinship systems, their Gê language, and their knowledge of the forest and conception of the continuum between humans and the natural world are intact"

Schools And Citizens

Robin West | Boston Review | 13th January 2014

Discussion of Diane Ravitch's Reign Of Error, about American school reforms over the past 25 years. The advertised goals have been admirable: Higher test scores for all students; closing of gaps between black and white, rich and poor. But reformers are "refashioning education as a private commodity rather than a public good". Their focus on measurable outcomes prepares pupils "not so much for citizenship, but for labor markets"

Two Shades Of Immunity

Kishore Mahbubani | Indian Express | 12th January 2014

America says it acted legally by arresting and humiliating an Indian consular officer in New York. Yet America demands sweeping immunity for its own officials overseas; if prosecution threatens the offender is "quietly whisked away". By kicking up a fuss in the Khobragade case, India is telling America "to accept a level playing field in dealing with other countries". America should stand for egalitarianism, not exceptionalism

How To Lie With Bad Data

Charles Wheelan | Medium | 13th January 2014

A few easy ways to mess up data collection, even before you get to the analysis. Selection bias: A skewed sample is mistaken for a representative one. Publication bias: Positive results get published; negative results get ignored. Survivorship bias: Winners stick around to be measured; losers have already fallen out. Healthy user bias and Recall bias: Different ways of confusing causation and correlation

Two Hours Talking With The NSA

Steven Levy | Wired | 13th January 2014

Notes from a meeting at the NSA with general counsel Rajesh De and others. "Looking at the world through their eyes, there is no privacy threat in collecting massive amounts of information — if access to that information is rigidly controlled and minimalized. The NSA feels that if people knew about these controls, they’d be OK with the collection". Bonus fact: "They really hate Snowden"

Walter Benjamin: Jerk Reaction

Morgan Meis | Smart Set | 13th January 2014

The elusive writer had plenty to be elusive about, as a new biography makes clear. "Goodbye Walter Benjamin, wounded angel of history. Hello Walter Benjamin, sex-addled abuser of wives and children. Benjamin’s ambiguity as a writer cannot be disentangled from his selfishness and dishonesty as a person. The more he lied to himself, the more he lied to others, the more he created layers of duplicity in his own writing"

Video of the day:  Miyazaki Simpsons

Thought for the day:

"The opposite of play is not what is serious, but what is real" — Sigmund Freud

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