Browser Newsletter 1086


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

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Best of the Moment

In Praise Of Laziness

Schumpeter | The Economist | 17th August 2013

Do less, think more. Don't confuse being busy with being productive. "Creative people’s most important resource is their time — particularly big chunks of uninterrupted time — and their biggest enemies are those who try to nibble away at it with e-mails or meetings. Indeed, creative people may be at their most productive when, to the manager’s untutored eye, they appear to be doing nothing"

The Notorious MSG’s Unlikely Formula For Success

John Mahoney | Buzzfeed | 16th August 2013

The case for monosodium glutamate. It makes food taste great. So why is it demonised? Partly because of the "Chinese restaurant syndrome" scare 40 years ago; partly because MSG is heavily used in cheap industrial foods. But the "syndrome" is probably bogus; and the umami taste of MSG is the height of food fashion. Top chefs are using it again — even if "Everyone’s so afraid of being outed that nobody wants to talk about it.”

Obituary: Jacques Verges

Telegraph | 16th August 2013

Lawyer. Defender of Klaus Barbie and Carlos the Jackal. A terrorist himself, according to his Stasi file. Friend of Khieu Samphan. Gaullist, then communist. Algerian separatist. Spent the 1970s in Damascus advising Palestinian terrorist leader Walid Haddad — or, possibly, in Cambodia with Pol Pot. Rich, vain. Lived and died in what was once Voltaire's house. "His method of defence consisted of insulting the prosecution" (Metered paywall)

On Our Best Behaviour

Hector Levesque | University Of Toronto | 9th August 2013

Accessible academic paper discussing relative lack of progress in artificial intelligence. Argues that the Turing test is the wrong benchmark: "The Turing Test has a serious problem: it relies too much on deception. A computer program passes the test if it can fool an interrogator into thinking she is dealing with a person not a computer. The ability to fool people is interesting, no doubt, but not really what is at issue here". (PDF)

Video of the day: What's in Play-Doh?

Thought for the day:

"It isn't what people think that's important, but the reason they think what they think" — Eugene Ionesco

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