Giraffe Edition 42

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

Lunch With Raghuram Rajan

James Crabtree | Financial Times | 15th August 2014

Governor of India's central bank talks about bureaucracy, business, banking. “Central bankers have had enormous responsibilities thrust on them to compensate, essentially, for the failings of the political system. And my worry is we don’t have sufficient tools to do that, but we’re not willing to say it. And, as a result, we push as hard as we can on the existing tools, and they may create more risk in the system.” (2,490 words)

How The Zebra Got Its Stripes

Kat Arney | Mosaic | 12th August 2014

After developing new models of computing, and running a code-breaking team that helped save Britain from Hitler, Alan Turing went to Manchester and invented a mathematical theory of embryology showing that complex structures could evolve from two interacting components. Now, 60 years later, geneticists are finding that Turing was right. His systems explain much about the development of organisms (4,930 words)

Hearing Music In Noise

Natalie Wolchover | Quanta | 12th August 2014

Profile of Martin Hairer, winner of the Fields Medal, the highest honour in mathematics. His sideline, writing music-editing software, familiarised him with the algorithms used to compress jpeg and mp3 files; these inspired his "fantastic" solution for stochastic partial differential equations, which are used to model highly complicated patterns of growth, such as a drop of water spreading through a paper napkin (3,260 words)

Suicide: A Crime Of Loneliness

Andrew Solomon | New Yorker | 14th August 2014

Suicide is the tenth most common cause of death in America. Half a million Americans are hospitalised each year after failed suicide attempts. People with depression are especially prone to kill themselves. The rate of suicide is going up. "Suicide is a crime of loneliness, and adulated people can be frighteningly alone. Intelligence does not help in these circumstances; brilliance is almost always profoundly isolating" (1,240 words)

James Woods On Hysterical Realism

James Woods | New Republic | 14th August 2014

New Republic republishes James Woods's classic literary essay from 2000, as part of a series recalling the 100 best TNR pieces of the past 100 years. Woods argues that modern novelists — Rushdie, De Lillo, Pynchon, Smith, Foster Wallace — are animating their books with gimmicky plot devices at the expense of character development. They are heirs to Dickens but without his gift for "strong feeling" (5,400 words)

Tea If By Sea

Dan Jurafsky | Language Of Food | 3rd August 2014

On the etymology of the names of tea. The tea plant camellia sinensis is native to the region where now China's Yunnan province meets northeastern Burma and Thailand. Early Mon-Khmer used a word like la to mean 'tea' or 'leaf'. By 500CE this had become the middle-Chines dra. Whence cha in Mandarin and Cantonese and te in the Southern Min dialect spoken in Fujian and Taiwan. The Mongols spread the word westward (1,840 words)

Video of the day: Humans Need Not Apply

What to expect: Animated history of automation in the workplace, by C.P. Gray

Thought for the day

"Freud: If it’s not one thing, it’s your mother"
— Robin Williams

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