Browser Newsletter 1156

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

Best of the Moment

Turkified: Why I Can Never Be a Proper German

Özlem Gezer | Spiegel | 7th November 2013

Marvellous first-person essay on growing up Turkish in Germany. However hard you try, you will never fit in; you are, at best, an object of curiosity. "Pleasing Germans is important. Immigrant parents teach their children this lesson at an early age ... In Germany there are two types of immigrants: model immigrants and problem immigrants. You have to decide early, because switching later is difficult"

How The Romans Invented Facebook

Justin Peters | Washington Monthly | 7th November 2013

Review of Writing on the Wall: Social Media—The First 2,000 Years, by Tom Standage. The thesis: "Informal networks flourished for centuries as society’s main sources of information and commentary, before mass media emerged to turn news into a one-way conversation. The rise of the Internet has made everyone a potential publisher, and, thus, media has reverted to its natural, social state. Everything old is new again."

Going, Going, Goncourt

Adrian Tahourdin | Times Literary Supplement | 7th November 2013

Enjoyable short history of France's top literary award, the Prix Goncourt, which is worth only €10 in cash, but ensures hundreds of thousands of sales. Women have won only eight times in 110 years; history has not always been kind to the judges' taste. In 1913 they snubbed Alain-Fournier’s Le Grand Meaulnes; and might well have done the same to Marcel Proust, had he troubled to submit Du Côté de chez Swann for consideration

All Bets Are Off

Graeme Wood | Pacific Standard | 4th November 2013

Sad story of Intrade, bookmaker which diversified from sports betting into prediction markets, trading futures contracts based on world events: "If the event occurred (Argo to win Best Picture), the contract was worth $10. If it didn’t (Mitt Romney to win the presidency), the contract was worth nothing". But Intrade didn't have much luck predicting its own future: the CEO died on Everest in 2011 and the company collapsed a year later

Better Brewing Through Tech

Matt Buchanan | New Yorker | 5th November 2013

Which makes the best coffee: a skilled barista, or a fully automated machine? The machines are winning. "Growing concerns about inconsistency and badly brewed coffee, engendered by manual brewing techniques — particularly in busy shops, where harried baristas often can’t take the necessary care to properly brew each cup — are the reason even some of the most elite shops have begun to reconsider fully analog brewing"

Video of the day: Marking The Distance

Thought for the day:

"We might describe our world as having retail sanity, but wholesale madness"— Peter Thiel

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