Newsletter 1032

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

Best of the Moment

Please Don’t Call This Food Australian

Besha Rodell | LA Weekly | 13th June 2013

An Australian food critic goes to Outback Steakhouse. With foreseeable results. "Maybe it's just me, but sometimes I feel as though I can taste the barely perceptible flavor of misery in a piece of meat. The cow's misery? The cook's misery? I've declared more than once that you can taste love in food, so why not misery? Still, it's hard to argue with a $20 filet that's as big as your head and comes with a wedge salad covered in glop"

Travelling The United States Cross Country By Train

Cardhouse | 12th June 2013

"The real terror is the Three Sheltered Old Men because they don’t sleep and they don’t have normal conversations. They’re completely sporadic: an observation is made, perhaps it is agreed on, then anywhere from two to forty-five minutes pass before the next one. That’s the random non-rhythm your brain will feed on like an indeterminate box of small, enjoyable foreign chocolates, and you’re never going to relax or get any sleep"

Data Minding

Emanuel Derman | 14th June 2013

Notes on privacy, curiosity, government. "The older I get the more I want what Isaiah Berlin called negative liberty, freedom from interference. I don’t want to be controlled. I don’t want to be watched. I understand the value of the vote, but I might be willing to give it up in exchange for the right to not be interfered with. There's something increasingly attractive about anarchy, in the precise sense of no government"

The Supreme Court’s Bad Science On Gene Patents

Noah Feldman | Bloomberg View | 13th June 2013

Bad science, but perhaps good law. The Court preserved some scope for patents in genetics, by making a false distinction between naturally-occurring DNA, which cannot be patented, and "complementary" (in effect, manipulated) DNA, which can. The result: "An ethically appealing judgment [that] left room for private enterprise to play its role. The baby has been split — or maybe spliced — in half. Let’s hope she survives, and that we do"

The Secret War

James Bamford | Wired | 12th June 2013

Profile of NSA boss General Keith Alexander. "Never before has anyone in America’s intelligence sphere come close to his degree of power. He is director of the world’s largest intelligence service, the National Security Agency; chief of the Central Security Service; and commander of the US Cyber Command. He has his own secret military, presiding over the Navy’s 10th Fleet, the 24th Air Force, and the Second Army"

Don’t Cast Recycling As A Moral Issue

Steven E. Landsburg | Cato | 11th June 2013

Clearer price signals would lead to more efficient recycling decisions, But even then, we need to dial down the moralising component of recycling, to ensure that the price signals, when given, are respected. "Every time a misguided locavore makes the world a poorer place by choosing expensive local food, it’s because she’s absorbed the false lesson that prices are generally a poor measure of social cost"

Video of the day: John Gray: Silence Of The Animals

Thought for the day:

"If you can control your emotions, chances are you don’t have too many"— Douglas Coupland

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