Browser Daily Newsletter 1300


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

A Eulogy For Twitter

Adrienne LaFrance & Robinson Meyer | Atlantic | 30th April 2014

"Something is wrong on Twitter. And people are noticing. Or, at least, the kind of people we hang around with on Twitter are noticing. Users are less active than they once were. Twitter says these changes reflect a more streamlined experience, but we have a different theory: Twitter is entering its twilight. People are still using Twitter, but they’re not hanging out there. The Ezra Kleins of the world have already left" (1,900 words)

Vegas, March 2014

Kid Dynamite's World | 29th April 2014

Notes from a three-day gambling trip. Nice rhythm to the writing, and the language of poker has a music all its own: "The turn was the 8 of clubs, completing the flush. I was hoping that the Spaniard was on a flush draw. I checked again, the Bulgarian bet $65, and the Spaniard tanked before mucking. Now I smooth-called again. The river was an offsuit 6, and I decided to jam for my remaining $160 or so" (1,770 words)

The Quest For Randomness

Scott Aaronson | American Scientist | 23rd April 2014

Wonkish read. Can you ever be reasonably sure that something is random, in the same sense you can be reasonably sure something is not random? Probably not; and at a metaphysical level you might say that even random numbers are determined by the universe or by God. But at a real-world level here's a rule of thumb: If you can specify the number using any formula shorter than the number itself, then it isn't random (3,050 words)

Apartheid, Just Less Black And White

Simon Kuper | FT Magazine | 25th April 2014

Apartheid South Africa was full of liberals who criticised apartheid because doing so made them feel superior, not because they wanted apartheid to end. We are similarly hypocritical over other issues now — inequality, climate change. "Apartheid liberals resemble liberals today who bemoan climate change while flying everywhere and not voting for parties that would tackle the problem (I know: I’m guilty too)" (845 words)

Another Sarcasm Mark

Keith Houston | Shady Characters | 29th April 2014

It's notoriously hard to convey happiness, humour, excitement and sarcasm in writing. New punctuation marks could help: An asterisk for sarcasm; a question mark followed by a tilde for confusion; double closing parentheses for happiness. The asterisk as footnote marker "has always suggested a second or hidden meaning"; the tilde denotes approximation in mathematics; the double parenthesis echoes the smiley (700 words)

Kennan’s Revenge

Robert Skidelsky | Project Syndicate | 22nd April 2014

Interesting dissent from the prevailing Western narrative on Ukraine. The West overplayed its hand when the Soviet Union collapsed. Now Russia is pushing back. "The Russians propose a neutral Ukraine on the model of Finland and a federal state on the model of Switzerland. The West should be urgently testing and seeking to refine such proposals instead of recoiling in moralistic horror at Russia’s actions" (900 words)

Video of the day:  What Is A Photo-Copier?

What to expect: Cinema almost-verité. Dialogue from a lawsuit, spoken by actors

Thought for the day:

"Nothing saves anyone’s life. It just postpones their death" — Alan Bennett

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