Newsletter 1005

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

Best of the Moment

Has The Future of College Moved Online?

Nathan Heller | New Yorker | 12th May 2013

America's top universities — Harvard, Stanford, MIT among them — unroll "massive open online courses" for any number of students. Potentially a great answer to the rising costs of higher education, and the overwhelming demand for top college places. But can distance learning replace classroom contact? If it does, what follows for low-prestige universities? Can they compete against ubiquitous online Ivy League teaching?

The Boundaries Of Photo Editing

Matthias Krug & Stefan Niggemeier | Spiegel | 8th May 2013

Computerised post-production editing is almost universal. This piece probes a little deeper by following a master Italian picture editor, Claudio Palmisano, as he works with news images. "Impermissible manipulation includes moving around pixels within a photo. But the choice of development techniques, as well as modifying contrast, saturation and density, are all allowed in principle"

Terrence Malick And The Twenty-Year Hiatus

Michael Nordine | LA Review Of Books | 12th May 2013

He didn't drop out, he just kept a low profile. In the 20 years between Days of Wonder and Thin Red Line, he was busy with lots of projects that never went to term: a script for Louis Malle; a Jerry Lee Lewis biopic; adaptations of The Moviegoer, The White Hotel, Brighton Rock; a character drama set in prehistory. And besides, he had other interests. Before turning to film he taught philosophy at MIT and wrote for the New Yorker

Eurovision 2013: First Predictions

Martin O’Leary | Cold Hard Facts | 12th May 2013

Modeling the Eurovision Song Contest. "I’ve taken voting results from the finals going back to 1998 and the semi-finals going back to 2004. I’ve used a Markov Chain Monte Carlo sampler to calculate the song qualities and friendship scores. Once I’ve got the parameters, it’s relatively straightforward to run a simulation of this year’s contest". Which comes down to a tussle for first place between Azerbaijan and Russia

Indian Historical Linguistics: Setting The Record Straight

SAP | Economist | 13th May 2013

Expert short essay ranging over the evolution and interaction of languages within India, the role and influence of Sanskrit inside and outside India, Indo-European language ties, and language politics. "For thousands of years, Sanskrit persisted as a language of religion and elite education even as local vernaculars increasingly diverged from it. The language's name for itself, saṃskṛta vāk, means 'perfected speech'"

What Is Keplerian Finance?

Robert Frey | Keplerian Finance | 12th May 2013

Quantitative finance today is roughly where astronomy was in Kepler's day: "We are committed to the scientific method. We have developed some crude theories that appear reasonable and that have been somewhat validated by actual observation or experimentation. Unfortunately, we have difficulty knowing exactly what and how to abstract from the complexity of reality to build models which offer us viable predictions"

Video of the day: Wolfsong

Thought for the day:

"How we feel about 'the nature of existence' is largely determined by what we have to do in the next few hours"— Alain de Botton

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