Browser Daily Newsletter 1309


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

Trick The Guilty And Gullible Into Revealing Themselves

Stephen Dubner & Steven Levitt | Wall Street Journal | 9th May 2014

Extract from Think Like a Freak, the third book from the Freakonomics team. Four case studies: How Van Halen used brown M&Ms to catch out incompetent promoters; why trial by ordeal might have sort of worked in the Middle Ages; how Zappos maximises the quality of its staff by paying new hires to quit; and how Nigerian internet scammers reach the most gullible targets by sending out deliberately ridiculous emails (2,570 words)

My TV

Douglas Coupland | FT Magazine | 9th May 2014

"Trying to put a big screen in a domestic space and have it look natural is almost impossible, like having a 2001: A Space Odyssey monolith inserted into your life. The only environment it looks passably OK in is a modern house built after 2008 that factors in the bizarre scale of big screens – and even then, when you see one passably installed, you feel like you’ve walked into Muammer Gaddafi’s bedroom" (840 words)

The Great Smartphone War

Kurt Eichenwald | Vanity Fair | 10th May 2014

Samsung has thrived by copying and undercutting rivals. Battening on to Apple's iPhone was probably Samsung's best decision ever. Apple has spent three years in court fighting for damages, while Samsung has grabbed almost one-third of the smartphone market. Grappling with Apple, and working around Apple's patents, has raised Samsung's game so far that it is now more competitor than copycat (6,400 words)

Ways Of Being Alien

Geoffrey O'Brien | New York Review Of Books | 9th May 2014

Bewildered but admiring review of Under The Skin: "At any given moment we might be watching a fantastic tale dressed up in documentary trappings or a mass of documentary footage held together by the wisp of a fantasy. The fantastic element resides essentially in the person of Scarlett Johansson, who while often naked is at the same time entirely concealed: a paradox that unravels itself in the most literal way" (1,700 words)

Haitian Vodou

Firedrops | Reddit | 10th May 2014

Online Q&A with anthropologist studying Vodou in Haiti and New Orleans. "There is no sin that keeps you from the afterlife or which leads to eternal punishment. There is no hell. In death you can repair relationships you damaged in life, through working as an ancestor. At death you go to the other side of the waters and still act within your familial unit as an ancestral spirit but eventually you are reincarnated" (19,000 words)

Obsessed With Myers-Briggs

Sulagna Misra | Medium | 9th May 2014

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is a test designed to describe personality in bare abstract terms: introvert, extrovert, judging, perceiving etc. Recruiters love it; so do most who take it. It is rigged in the same way that horoscopes are. The assessment is always vague, ambiguous, generally flattering. "There’s no type called JERK". It offers "a simple and ostensibly objective shortcut to the messy work of self-understanding" (2,180 words)

Video of the day:  Free And Frank Discussion

What to expect: A talk show gets out of hand. The action starts about 30 seconds in

Thought for the day:

"Common sense and a sense of humor are the same thing moving at different speeds" — Clive James

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