Browser Newsletter 1140

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

Best of the Moment

Bad Government Software

James Kwak | Baseline Scenario | 18th October 2013

Why do so many government software projects go off the rails? "Big, custom projects are unique by definition, so they are sold as promises, not as finished products. Every vendor promises the same thing, so the one who promises to do it at the lowest cost often wins; when the project turns out late, bad, and over budget, too many executives have too much invested in its success to admit defeat"

Shutdown As Brilliant Republican Strategy

Tyler Cowen | Marginal Revolution | 19th October 2013

"The Republican tactics understand the importance of skewed pay-offs. In an age of political gridlock, the goal is not to maximise the expected value of your image, any more than you would do the same on a date. Rather the goal is to maximise the chances of moving your agenda forward ... In politics, as in management more generally, if you always look good you are doing something badly wrong"

2001: The Aliens That Almost Were

Simone Odino | 2001 Italia | 17th October 2013

Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C Clarke spent years agonising over how best to depict the aliens whom astronaut David Bowman would encounter at the end of 2001 when he goes through the Star Gate. Would they be human-like or not? If not humans, then what special effects could be devised to make them adequately mind-boggling? It was Carl Sagan who came up with the answer: don't represent them at all

Has David Birnbaum Solved The Mystery Of Existence?

Oliver Burkeman | The Guardian | 19th October 2013

New York jeweller David Birnbaum sells diamonds to celebrities; he also craves recognition as a philosopher, believes he has solved the mystery of the universe, and pours his considerable wealth into conferences, publications and websites promoting his work. Is he the new Wittgenstein? Sadly, no. He is a well-heeled, thick-skinned crank whose work reads like a cross between Scientology and Dan Brown. But entertaining, all the same

Video of the day: Carpark

Thought for the day:

"Life is one discrepancy after another"— Henry Green

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