Ireland, Darien Gap, Probability, Uber Driving, Indian Cities

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

Richard Bourke On Irish History

David Hargreaves | Five Books | 25th July 2016

Discussion of books by James Joyce, Conor Cruise O’Brien and others. “Irish intellectual life is deeply indebted to its literary culture. There’s been a relative dearth of what you might call dedicated intellectuals, and, by comparison, a dominant role played by the image of the writer. This undoubtedly has something to do with the subtle hegemony exercised by priestcraft in Ireland, coupled, over the longer term, with the declining fortunes of philosophical ingenuity within Catholic thinking” (6,100 words)

The World’s Most Dangerous Jungle

Jason Motlagh | Outside | 19th July 2016

On foot through the Darien Gap, a 10,000-square-mile rectangle of swamp, mountains, and rainforest straddling the border between Colombia and Panama, which is now a route for desperate migrants hoping to reach the United States. “The expanse is dominated by narco traffickers and Cuba-backed guerrillas who’ve been waging war on the government of Colombia since 1964. Hundreds of migrants enter each year; many never emerge, killed or abandoned by smugglers on ghost trails” (9,800 words)

Abraham Wald And The Missing Bullet Holes

Jordan Ellenberg | Penguin Press | 14th July 2016

Classic tale of how the statistician Abraham Wald helped the US Army keep its planes flying during World War II. When planes came back from missions they were covered in bullet holes — but mostly in the fuselage, not in the engines. Should the fuselage therefore get more armour-plating? No, said Wald. Just the opposite. Give the engines more armour. “The reason planes were coming back with fewer hits to the engine is that planes that got hit in the engine weren’t coming back” (2,300 words)

Zen And The Art Of Uber Driving

John Koopman | Fast Company | 14th July 2016

A laid-off San Francisco Chronicle reporter adjusts to life as an Uber driver. “The majority of the drivers at the airport on a Sunday morning are young Middle Eastern men. Uber is these recent immigrants’ ticket to the American dream. The rest are older white men like me, along with a few white women, working a second job or in the second or third acts of their work lives. For many of them, the American dream isn’t working out so well. Thanks to Uber, I am not poor. I am just … nobody” (2,300 words)

The Human Cost Of Zoning In Indian Cities

Shanu Athiparambath | FEE | 10th July 2016

Absurd zoning regulations bring misery to Indian cities: “In 1964 urban planners decided to decongest Mumbai by restricting real estate development in the center. Migrants have responded by consuming less and less floor space. They settle in congested spaces. They build informal settlements in slums. They live in buildings where floors crack, walls crumble, rats eat infants, and clean water is rationed. It is a joke on planners that Mumbai is now the most crowded city in the world” (1,560 words)

Video of the day: How To Make A Tennis Ball

What to expect:

Documentary by Benedict Redgrove showing how the Wilson factory makes tennis balls for the US Open (3’30”)

Thought for the day

We seldom find people ungrateful, so long as we are in a condition to render them service
Francois de La Rochefoucauld

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