Browser Daily Newsletter 1272


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

Diary: “Sh-t, I’ve Had A Stroke”

Geoff Dyer | London Review Of Books | 27th March 2014

On having a stroke. "I bent down to push some rubbish into the already stuffed bin. When I stood up half the world had disappeared. It had disappeared but it was still there, sort of. The kitchen wall was visible but it didn’t seem quite right. The mirror had become a window, but all that could be seen in this window was the wall on the other side of the room, behind me or behind where I used to be. Where had I gone?" (4,196 words)

Why Henry Kissinger Never Goes Away

Benjamin Wallace-Wells | New York | 26th March 2014

Whatever the international crisis, you can rely on Henry Kissinger to "caution against the rashness of humanitarian intervention and admonish the White House to avoid disrupting the international order". Accruing evidence of his own past "complicity in mass slaughter", so far from disgracing him, strengthens his credentials as the avatar of a "relentlessly cynical American perspective on the rest of the world" (710 words)

Human Evolution: The Neanderthal In The Family

Ewen Callaway | Nature | 26th March 2014

New techniques for recovering DNA from ancient samples make it only a matter of time before the first million-year-old genome is sequenced. "Researchers may have luck using new extraction techniques on previously vexing remains such as Egyptian mummies." Genetic discoveries are confirming the existence of long-extinct human populations — "ghost populations" — which were previously mere conjecture (2,400 words)

The Electronic Holy War

Patrick House | New Yorker | 25th March 2014

Why it's so much more difficult to programme a computer to win at Go, than to win at chess. Chess is highly directional: "At the grandmaster level, to tell who is winning, you add up the pieces on the board. To win, you just stay ahead the whole time". With Go, "It is often hard to determine at any given time whether a group of pieces is being surrounded or doing the surrounding, and thus who is ahead" (1,350 words)

The Long Journey Of Patrick Leigh Fermor

Jenny Hendrix | Slate | 3rd March 2014

Review of The Broken Road, the posthumous final volume of Leigh Fermor's account of his pre-war walk across Europe. "He meets a girl, stomps grapes, smokes hash, witnesses a celebratory riot in a Bulgarian café when it’s announced that someone’s murdered the Yugoslavian king, investigates the Hasidim, theorizes on the breeding of mermaids, and sings German songs backwards to entertain a Bulgarian maid" (2,670 words)

Why Hawks Win

Daniel Kahneman & Jonathan Renshon | Foreign Policy | 27th December 2006

From the archives, wisdom for the ages. Foreign-policy hawks prevail more often than they should in world affairs because "a bias in favor of hawkish preferences is built into the fabric of the human mind". People tend to be overly optimistic about their strengths; deeply averse to cutting their losses; and bad at understanding others, especially rivals, even while assuming that their own motivations are clear (Metered paywall) (2,100 words)

Video of the day:  Crazy Furniture

What to expect: 90 seconds of school furtniture flying around an empty classroroom

Thought for the day:

"It is the impression of spontaneity that makes a performance convincing" — John Stokes

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