Browser Daily Newsletter 1214

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

Why Does A Good Kettle Cost $90?

Chewxy | Bigger On The Inside | 20th January 2014

Theory and practice of building and buying kettles. "Expensive basic kettles are the same as cheap basic kettles, except for price differentiation. The increase in marginal utility from purchasing a expensive kettle is not big enough compared to buying a baseline cheap kettle to warrant it. It’d be better to buy a temperature control kettle, as then the increase in marginal utility would be enough to warrant purchasing it"

Evolving Without Darwin

Rachel Mason Dentinger | Books & Ideas | 13th January 2014

What if Darwin had never existed? We would still have got a theory of evolution, which was very much "in the air in Darwin’s time". But natural selection might have waited another 30 years — and gained from the delay. If formulated in the 1890s, natural selection could have been "more firmly rooted in the newly emerging science of ecology, with its sense of complex interactions between organisms and their environments"

Gates And The Art Of The Political Memoir

Buce | Underbelly | 18th January 2014

Robert Gates's "much-hyped memoir" of his time as defense secretary is "a delight", a "remarkably unbuttoned affair", which reads "like an insurance policy by a guy who wants to guarantee that no one will ever invite him back into public office again". Most public-service memoirs are about self-justification and score-settling; this one actually teaches you something about how government works

The Tipping Point (E-Commerce Version)

Jeff Jordan | Andreessen Horowitz | 15th January 2014

While American stores were bemoaning weak holiday-season sales, UPS and FedEx were overwhelmed by shipments from online retailers. The "profound structural shift from physical to digital retail" is accelerating. "A Darwinian struggle is playing out in the malls of America" among surviving traditional retailers of consumer durables. Grocery stores and drug stores are holding up OK, but their turn will come

Narrative Persona In Nonfiction

Will Wilkinson | 19th January 2014

In works of nonfiction we identify the narrator with the author. But this is a "naive convention", a demand for sincerity rather than truth. "To give a nonfiction narrator a name distinct from the author – to announce that this true story will be narrated by Sasha Fierce or Slim Shady – would be to acknowledge the inherently performative aspect of authorship, to acknowledge the gap between authorial persona and author"

Video of the day:  Bangalore Rickshaw

Thought for the day:

"The surest way to avoid disappointment is to lower expectations" — Shane Parrish

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