Locavores, Offshore Banking, Gender, Oil Prices, Academic Publishing

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

They Are Feeding You Fiction

Laura Reiley | Tampa Bay Times | 13th April 2016

Restaurants that claim to sell strictly local produce are lying, mostly. They can charge more, the customers like it, and who is going to call them on it? In this rare case, a food critic. “How do you know the Dover sole on your plate is Dover sole? Only that the restaurateur said so. Your purchases are unverifiable unless you drive to that farm or track back through a restaurant’s distributors and ask for invoices. I did”. They were all lying (6,700 words)

I Work For A Swiss Bank

W. Bank | Reddit | 10th April 2016

Private banker explains how to organise offshore companies for rich Russians. “The wealth planner tells the client that a Panama company would be a good choice. The wealth planner calls up Mossack Fonseca and receives a list of company names. The client picks a name he likes. The incorporator (Mossack Fonseca) already has a nominee director and a nominee shareholder so the client’s name doesn’t show up in the founding documents” (2,200 words)

Caitlyn Jenner And Cognitive Dissonance

Robert Sapolsky | Nautilus | 14th April 2016

We are starting to understand human gender as a continuum. Genes, organs, hormones, external appearance and self-identification vary independently and combine infinitely. “Many people have categories of gender identification going on in their heads that bear no resemblance to yours”. But humans need categories; that’s how we think. It’s hard to see where the new equilibrium will be found between many genders and none (2,900 words)

Forecasting The Oil Price

Brad Plumer | Vox | 13th April 2016

Roughly speaking, nobody can forecast the price of oil. Why so? First, because demand for oil depends on global GDP growth, which is too complicated to forecast. Second, technological innovation delivers supply shocks, and innovation is by definition unpredictable. Third, political crises move oil markets, and nobody cares to forecast those. Which invites the question: Why do we bother to forecast the oil price at all? (1,700 words)

The Black Market In Academic Papers

Dana Ruggiero | The Conversation | 13th April 2016

The pirate trade in scholarly papers on Twitter uses the hashtag #ICanHazPDF. You tweet a request for a paywalled paper, a well-wisher sneaks you a PDF, you delete your tweet. SciHub, a server safe from prosecution in Kazakhstan, holds an open repository of 48m pirated papers to which scholars are adding more each day. Publishers seem to have over-estimated both the morality of academia and its willingness to pay (1,170 words)

Video of the day: Kant’s Axe

What to expect:

Is it ever right to lie? No, said Kant. Script by Nigel Warburton, voice by Harry Shearer (1’30”)

Thought for the day

Nobody is forgotten when it is convenient to remember him
Benjamin Disraeli

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