Browser Newsletter 1108

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

Best of the Moment

The Probability Puzzle That Makes Your Head Melt

John Moriarty | BBC | 12th September 2013

On the Monty Hall problem. I recommend this piece, for all the many written on the subject, because it explains the problem in a way that I can understand. "If you stick with your first choice, you will end up with the Caddy if and only if you initially picked the door concealing the car. If you switch, you will win that beautiful automobile if and only if you initially picked one of the two doors with goats behind them"

It Captures Your Mind

Cass Sunstein | New York Review Of Books | 11th September 2013

Another fine review of Scarcity, by Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir, which argues that poverty puts people "in a kind of cognitive tunnel, limiting what they are able to see. It depletes their self-control. It makes them more impulsive and sometimes a bit dumb." What's the answer? For Sunstein, unsurprisingly, it is nudges. "One possibility is to make certain outcomes automatic, so that people do not have to think about them at all"

In Chișinău

James Meek | London Review Of Books | 11th September 2013

A lost passport brings a brief encounter with Moldovan bureaucracy. "A police report was necessary, he said. Usually they undertook to prepare one within fifteen days. I asked whether he might be able to do it sooner. He conceded that it might be possible, technically, but that it would be worthless without a stamp, and the stamp was kept in a different building, which wouldn’t be unlocked till the morning"

Honesty About Syria

Anne Applebaum | Spectator | 12th September 2013

By threatening to intervene in Syria we encourage the rebels to fight on instead of seeking peace. "If we don’t have the motivation or the money to enforce it, we should make it crystal clear that we will not intervene in any significant way at all. Instead, we could encourage the remaining secular rebels and the Free Syrian Army to pursue peace instead of justice: after all, if no further assistance is coming, then they aren’t likely to win more territory"

Delhi Rape: How India’s Other Half Lives

Jason Burke | Guardian | 10th September 2013

Compelling investigation into the rape and murder of a young woman in December. It shocked India's government and media out of their complacency about sexual violence, and made headlines around the world. But did it change anything? Not enough. "The rapes and sexual assaults that are now highlighted daily by the Indian media act simply as a reminder of how widespread violence to women is in the country"

Video of the day: Sorkinisms II

Thought for the day:

"Distance is time, whereas a surface is apprehended more in terms of the moment" — Paul Klee

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