Crime, Satchel Paige, Refugees, Vegetarianism, Execution, Arguments


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

Is Crime Genetic?

Brian Boutwell & J.C. Barnes | Boston Globe | 6th March 2016

Very probably the propensity to commit crime is in part transmitted genetically. Most propensities are. We don't know for sure because we don't want to know for sure. Criminologists — and social scientists in general — tend resist randomised controlled trials for ethical and practical reasons. At the level of science, that must be wrong. What kind of a scientist are you, if you don't want to get things right? (1,500 words)

Satchel Paige And The General

Jonathan Blitzer | Atavist | 4th March 2016

"In the pantheon of American baseball, Satchel Paige has always occupied a special place. He was one of the game’s all-time greats and also one of its most shameless and storied self-promoters. A few years ago I learned by chance that he had played for one of the most infamous Latin American dictators who ever lived. I decided to investigate what happened when these two outsize individuals collided" (13,500 words)

New Fences on The Old Continent

Giorgos Christides et al | Spiegel | 4th March 2016

Well-crafted, unemotional overview of Europe's refugee crisis, with reporting from Greece, Germany and Austria. The inflow has become self-sustaining: As arrivals from Syria diminish, arrivals from Afghanistan and Iraq increase. The only way to restore co-operation and open borders within the European Union may be to isolate and even jettison Greece. Then "there will be one single hotspot and it will be called Greece" (5,700 words)

How Should Vegetarians Live?

Thomas Sittler | Practical Ethics | 7th March 2016

If you care enough about the suffering of animals to follow a vegetarian diet, you should care much more about the suffering inflicted by animals upon one another in the wild than about the suffering inflicted by humans. Nature's cruelty is far greater in scale and degree. "Extreme forms of suffering like starvation, dehydration, or being eaten alive by a predator are much more common in wild animals than farm animals" (1,990 words)

The First Time Texas Killed My Client

Burke Butler | Marshall Project | 6th March 2016

Public defender seeks out the abusive parents of a young man facing execution for murder, hoping to find grounds for a last-minute appeal. Which may sound like a cliché; but this is a gripping piece of writing with scarcely a wasted word. The day of execution approaches: “They can come visit me the day before,” Marvin said. He smiled. “My whole family is going to come, everyone. We can say goodbye. It will be really nice. Nice for everyone” (4,900 words)

Against Interminable Arguments

Scott Alexander | Slate Star Codex | 6th March 2016

Someone is wrong on the internet! How best to respond? Avoiding interminable arguments is "an important social engineering problem we’re really bad at". The best short advice is probably to take the argument to email. "Email is private and removes the performative factor; I can’t say how many times a previously terrible discussion has become manageable and productive as soon as it gets outside the public eye" (1,740 words)

Video of the day: The Trouble With Transporters

What to expect: Does the Star Trek transporter send you to your destination, or does it just send instructions for making a local copy of you? C.P. Grey investigates. (5'39")

Thought for the day

In every country the universal faults of mankind are set down as local peculiarities
Leopardi

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