Browser Daily Newsletter 1216


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

Sigmund Freud’s Sicko Grandson

Vladislav Davidzon | Tablet | 23rd January 2014

Remarkable appreciation of Lucian Freud, his genius and pathologies. "He thought of himself as a biologist arranging taxonomic categories in the same way that he thought of his grandfather Sigmund as a distinguished zoologist. His painterly practice constituted a parallel disrobing to the one that Sigmund had carried out upon the structures of the repressed id a half century before"

The Least Bad Hegemon

Will Wilkinson | 22nd January 2014

The case for American power. "America is the least-bad hegemon because it’s liberalish, in the sense that it violates liberal rights relatively less than most other states, and in that queer liberalism-maximizing sense that it keeps the world more liberal than it would be under the alternative hegemons. We get to violate our ideals because we’re superior for having them. Hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue, and all that"

Marriage As Cargo Cult

Steve Randy Waldman | Interfluidity | 22nd January 2014

Advocating more marriage as a remedy for the social problems of poor people is "inexcusably obtuse and may be outright destructive". It is "quite literally a cargo cult" approach which reverses cause and effect. "Before you get to smiling families, you have to create the material circumstances that render marriage on average a good deal. For poor women in particular, it very often is no longer a good deal"

Interview: Choire Sicha

Full Stop | 21st January 2014

Full of good points about the Googlisation of writing, reading, publishing. "I thought early on that everything would be at your fingers. Now it turns out that there are lots of goodies still locked up, and because there is so much available online so easily no one ever bothers to go to the pay access journals or the library, and you basically end up looking like a magician if you actually bother to do the least bit of effort"

The Hype About Behavioural Economics

Allison Schrager | Quartz | 22nd January 2014

Behavioural economics is over-rated, as a set of techniques and as a tool for public policy. Even if it helps us to understand why individuals don’t always act rationally — so what? Should we stop people from making mistakes? The one clear case for intervention is one that hardly get mentioned: In banking, where perverse incentives almost brought down the whole financial system. If behavioural economics works, fix that

Video of the day:  What If Google Was A Guy?

Thought for the day:

"Scarier than resistance being futile is acquiescence being futile" — Venkatesh Rao

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