Browser Daily Newsletter 1278T

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

Mug Shots: Small Town Noir

Diarmid Mogg | Appendix | 2nd April 2014

A journey through the underside of mid-20C life in a Pennsylvania town, with old mug-shots bought on eBay as a guide. "Each batch brought to light wonderful characters: a quarry worker who was arrested after losing his false teeth at a crime scene; a prohibition agent whose house was dynamited by bootleggers; an upstanding poultry fancier who turned bank robber; immigrant families; civil war veterans; and a lot of drunks" (3,000 words)

Never Say Never Again

Aidan Hartley | Spectator | 3rd April 2014

Gruesome recollections of covering the Rwanda genocide of 1994; massacres and remains throughout. But Rwanda recovered quickly and well. "Visitors to Kigali wondered at its tidiness, as if the Africans were so busy picking up toffee wrappers they didn’t have a moment to chop each other up with machetes again". Could more determined Western intervention have prevented the genocide? Probably not (Metered Paywall) (1,230 words)

What I Learned About Stop-And-Frisk

Christopher Smith | Atlantic | 1st April 2014

White father chews over the injustice of stop-and-frisk policing, a relatively common experience for African-Americans in New York, a population including the writer's son. His suggested corrective: A wider cross-section of New Yorkers should share the experience. Police officers should be required to stop and frisk whites and other ethnic groups in strict proportion to blacks. Then we can have an informed discussion (1,860 words)

It Is Not Possible To Regulate Robots

Cory Doctorow | The Guardian | 2nd April 2014

Robots are tools driven by computers. The problems of regulating robots are a sub-set of the problems of regulating computers. Computers run whatever code they are given to run. They are intrinsically general-purpose machines. Attempts to restrict the programmes that computers can run — as Apple does with its iPhones, for example — will inconvenience obedient users without constraining disobedient ones (2,300 words)

Why The Trix Rabbit Looks Down On You

Allison McCann & Mona Chalabi | FiveThirtyEight | 2nd April 2014

How marketing works. The comic characters depicted on the boxes of children's breakfast cereals are almost always looking downwards. Why? Because in supermarkets the boxes are typically displayed on shelves above a child's eye-level; the characters, by looking downwards, appear to be looking at the children — in effect, making eye-contact, as a device for gaining attention and increasing trust (390 words)

The Fifth Protocol

Startup Boy | 1st April 2014

Speculative fugue starting with Bitcoin and moving far beyond. A protocol for exchanging value is the missing part of the internet. Humans don't need it but machines do — for example, imagine self-driving cars clearing congestion by bidding for right of way. "Eventually, there will be no functioning Internet or Internet of Things at the protocol layer without deep crypto currency integration" (730 words)

Video of the day:  The Wolf Of Buzzfeed

What to expect: Well-executed parody of Wolf Of Wall Street trailer

Thought for the day:

"Nothing is more dangerous than an idea, when it is the only one we have" — Emile Chartier

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