Browser Daily Newsletter 1344

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

The War That Changed Everything

Margaret MacMillan | Wall Street Journal | 20th June 2014

Historian looks back at the outbreak of World War One a century ago. "The conflict changed all the countries that took part in it. Governments assumed greater control over society and have never entirely relinquished it." It brutalised societies and leaders. Germany's course was fatally inflected; so, too was that of Russia, which without the war and associated revolution might have joined an evolution towards liberal democracy (2,800 words)

Game Theory Of Life

Emily Singer | Quanta | 18th June 2014

Computer scientists say an algorithm used for 50 years in game theory and machine learning mirrors perfectly equations used to describe the distribution of genes within a population of organisms. Evolution can be seen as a repeated game in which the winning strategy for creating the most robust population is to favour not only immediate fitness, but also diversity as a hedge against future uncertainty (1,766 words)

The Tragedy Of Mass Incarceration

Paul Romer | NYU Stern | 13th June 2014

To deter crime efficiently, punishment needs to be swift, certain, and fair. America has reduced crime from recent peaks by using excessive punishment, in the form of very high rates of incarceration. But this brings heavy social and economic costs. The experience of New York suggests that "the increased certainty that can come from better policing can indeed reduce both the crime rate and the incarceration rate" (800 words)

Guide To Saigon Street Food

Jodi Ettenberg | Legal Nomads | 19th June 2014

"Not the absolute best of everything, but rather a cross-section of delicious, cheap and authentic foods that are also conveniently located". Highly rated by Tyler Cowen. Also contains tips on taxis, visas, books, foot massages. Really, this is the best kind of travel writing. Not only do you imagine yourself in Saigon while you are reading; you also imagine yourself eating lots of wonderful food as you go (10,100 words)

Dear Marc Andreessen

Alex Payne | Al3x | 18th June 2014

When workers oppose new technology, they are protesting not against the technology as such but against its effect on their lives — which is, almost invariably, to increase the efficiency with which they are exploited, driving down their wages and depersonalising their jobs. It isn't technology which frightens most of us, but the capitalists — and, yes, Dear Marc Andreessen, the venture capitalists — behind it (1,250 words)

Video of the day:  The Mathematical Way To Cut A Cake

What to expect: An explainer; it isn't wedge by wedge

Thought for the day:

"The behaviour of any bureaucratic organisation can best be understood by assuming that it is controlled by a cabal of its enemies" — Robert Conquest

London friends: The Browser invites you to an evening with one of our favourite science writers, Philip Ball ( , in conversation with the Gulbenkian Foundation's Sian Ede, hosted jointly with Aeon magazine ( , on Monday July 7th.  Please click here for details and ticketing (

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