Browser Daily Newsletter 1325

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

Scalpers, Inc

John Lanchester | London Review Of Books | 29th May 2014

Review of Michael Lewis's "Flash Boys", about high-frequency trading, which has made stock markets "secret and mysterious" to outsiders. "The principle on which much market legislation rests is that it’s illegal to trade on the basis of information that is not publicly available. The fact that the apparent price is not the actual price: does that fit the legal definition of non-public information? I’d have thought it does" (4,000 words)

Machines Versus Lawyers

John McGinnis | City Journal | 28th May 2014

Machine intelligence will disrupt law firms as fundamentally as the internet did newspapers. For discovery, machines can sift through any amount of documents finding patterns without fatigue; they can rank precedents using network analysis; they can manage automated forms and simple briefs; and they don't rely on hunches, they can crunch the data before advising a client whether to bring a case (3,870 words)

Poundland Conquers The British High Street

Sophie McBain | New Statesman | 29th May 2014

Hard discounters crack Britain's class code. Aldi and Lidl are "deliberately catering to middle-class tastes". Poundland "boasts that a quarter of its shoppers are from the AB social group. Its most profitable stores are located in wealthier towns, such as Cambridge, Stratford-upon-Avon, Guildford and Bath". Brand-name manufacturers supply products in £1 sizes. Irony may play a part. "It's cool to be cheap" (2,520 words)

You’re Right, I Didn’t Eat That

Autumn Whitefield-Madrano | New Inquiry | 29th May 2014

On the costs and benefits of staying thin. "There are a number of euphemisms for female thinness that do not require a man to make the impolite admission of his exclusive attraction to women with very little body fat. Though 'active' and 'full of energy' make respectable showings, they are a distance second and third from 'a woman who takes care of herself'. When he says 'herself', he means, 'her body'" (2,175 words)

Chess Tournament Games And Elo Ratings

Randal S. Olson | 24th May 2014

Exercises in data visualisation using results from 675,000 chess tournament games dating back to the 15th century. Elo ratings reliably predict which player will win: "I’d imagine the only reason this trend levels out at ~90% is because this data set contains games where a talented new player hasn’t quite reached their proper Elo rating yet". Playing white confers a strong advantage to an expert, less so to a rookie (1,110 words)

Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book

John Gray | New Statesman | 23rd May 2014

A new collection of academic essays on "Quotations From Chairman Mao" is full of interesting detail, but sadly lacking in broader perspective. "Reading the essays brought together here, you would hardly realise that Mao was responsible for one of the biggest human catastrophes in recorded history. Launched by him in 1958, the Great Leap Forward cost upwards of 45 million human lives" (2,140 words)

Video of the day:  How To Do Visual Comedy

What to expect: Comparison of British and American cinematography; some swearing

Thought for the day:

"The trouble with words is that you never know whose mouths they've been in" — Dennis Potter

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