Newsletter 1001


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

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Best of the Moment

Why Are We Still Waiting For Natural Language Processing?

Geoffrey Pullum | Lingua Franca | 9th May 2013

"Try typing this, or any question with roughly the same meaning, into the Google search box: Which UK papers are not part of the Murdoch empire? Your results (and you could get identical ones by typing the same words in the reverse order) will contain an estimated two million or more pages about Rupert Murdoch and the newspapers owned by his News Corporation. Exactly what you did not ask for"

Egypt Notebooks

n+1 | 3rd May 2013

Writer's diary from travels in Egypt researching a novel. "Overwhelming impression of Cairo is not its antiquity, its Easternness, or the heat. It’s the traffic. To cross the street I position myself on the other side of an Egyptian, preferably a woman who looks like somebody’s mother, and I cross when she does, hoping she’ll block for me. In my walks I find a single pedestrian crossing signal; when it turns green, the little man-figure runs for his life"

Sex, Economics And Austerity

Jeet Heer | American Prospect | 7th May 2013

Was Keynes less of an economist because he was gay and childless? Niall Ferguson's claim has a long history. Schumpeter said much the same in 1946. Ferguson and Schumpeter reach the wrong conclusions, but have the right instincts: there is a lot of sex in economics. "Economics is not a morally neutral science but rather is intimately connected with questions about what we want from life, including the type of sex we want to have"

Pleasures Of Dr Johnson

Kate Chisholm | Times Literary Supplement | 7th May 2013

Book review, of writings on Samuel Johnson, returning the focus to Johnson's own work, and to what contemporaries said about him, before Boswell's Life fixed him for posterity. "A strange, perplexing, yet always provoking alternation of insight and prejudice, precision and prolixity, timidity and courageous originality". Hazlitt thought him a tedious writer, much more amusing in conversation

Of Owls And Richard III

Theodore Dalrymple | New English Review | 6th May 2013

Miscellany of observations on owls. No particular rhyme or reason that I can discern, but every sentence (after the first couple of paragraphs) is memorable, quotable or both. "One method by which ornithologists of the past estimated fluctuations in the numbers of owls was by the numbers brought to taxidermists for stuffing. The fashion for stuffed birds in glass cases seems to have passed and so this method is no longer used"

Video of the day: Raf's Perfect Girlfriend

Thought for the day:

"Philosophy makes progress not by becoming more rigorous but by becoming more imaginative"— Richard Rorty

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