Browser Newsletter 1096


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

Chelsea Manning And The Arab Spring

Sami Ben Gharbia | Medium | 27th August 2013

In case you forgot: Cablegate brought down the Tunisian government. "What we call the Arab Spring was the result of many seemingly small things, butterfly effects. One of them was a courageous woman named Chelsea Manning. If the U.S. will take 35 years from Chelsea Manning’s life, may it console her that she has given us, Arabs, the secret gift that helped expose and topple 50 years of dictatorships"

Interview: Michael Mauboussin

Shane Parish | Farnham Street | 28th August 2013

Full of good points about the relative importance of luck and skill. "Intuition can be developed in activities that are stable and linear. This applies to chess, for example. The problem is we generally don’t distinguish the activity before considering how good intuition is likely to be". "Typically, the lower you are in an organization, the easier it is to measure your skill. As you move up in an organization, luck plays a bigger role"

Twelve Minutes Of Freedom

Amanda Lindhout & Sara Corbett | New York Times | 28th August 2013

Canadian woman tells of 18 months' captivity in Mogadishu, held for a $3 million ransom. Gripping throughout. "The shoes belonging to our Somali colleagues — Abdi, Mahad and Marwali — had disappeared, all three pairs. A while later, I was able to ask Abdullah where they went. He didn’t hesitate. Seeming pleased with himself, he lifted a finger and made an emphatic throat-slitting gesture" (Metered paywall)

On Thinking Caps

Venkatesh Rao | Tempo | 26th August 2013

"I’d like a literal thinking cap. A regular baseball hat, but with the look of an orange or yellow construction hard hat. It would say 'Construction in Progress, Do Not Disturb' on it. Having to actively keep up an ostentatious facade of activity just to signal that you are occupied can be very distracting. If I had a thinking cap, and such things were culturally normal, I’d probably be wearing it for more than half of my waking hours"

Cancer’s Primeval Power

George Johnson | Bloomberg View | 29th August 2013

Cancer is older than humanity, and smarter too, in many ways. Earliest known instance killed a dinosaur 150 million years ago. When cancer strikes someone near to you, it's an evil monster. But when you contemplate its resilience and ingenuity, it's a marvel. "The tumor not only learns to evade the immune system, but it also turns it into an ally. The complexity of this all — the biological brilliance — is enthralling"

Launching My First Product

Chris Norström | 25th August 2013

Man has idea. Man starts business. The idea is for a better calendar (a physical product, not an app). As for the business — let Chris walk you through the story, with honourable frankness, lots of pictures and some splendid infographics. The brief table called "How I though it worked vs How it actually works", which explains the order of priorities for a maker start-up, is an instant classic. You sell the product first, not last

Video of the day: London To Brighton By Train

Thought for the day:

"Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy" — Howard Zinn

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