Newsletter 908

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

Monti Is Not The Right Man To Lead Italy

Wolfgang Munchau | Financial Times | 20 January 2013

To which one might reply: Who is? That answer is not vouchsafed. But this is still a fine appreciation of Monti's shortcomings. He should have stood up to Angela Merkel in demanding a banking union, a eurozone bond, more expansionary German economic policy. Now it's too late. All he really did was to raise taxes. History will forget him

Re-Evaluating The Value Of Tiles In Scrabble

DTC | Virtuosi | 20 January 2013

English lexicon has changed a lot in the 70 years since Scrabble was invented. Should the point-value of Scrabble letters be changed to reflect modern usage, and to correct earlier errors? Amid a recent flurry of pieces on the subject, this one is by far the best, grounding its conclusions on a computer simulation of 10m racks of letters

Google And The Knowledge Graph

Tim Adams | Observer | 19 January 2013

Interview with Amit Singhal, head of Google Search, on philosophy and technology of search, and on this year's big new product — Knowledge Graph, database of 500m most searched-for things in the Google world. "We are a search people. The thing that motivates me is to build a search engine that will outdo all my previous creations"

"Far From The Tree": On Parenthood, Difference, And Identity

Rachel Adams | LA Review Of Books | 20 January 2013

Review of Andrew Solomon's "sprawling" book about "horizontal identity", focused on children who differ radically from their parents. Lumps together minorities usually considered individually: "At first browse, the table of contents is off-putting: Deaf, Dwarfs, Down Syndrome, Autism, Schizophrenia, Disability, Prodigies, Rape, Crime, Transgender"

"Going Clear"

Michael Kinsley | New York Times | 18 January 2013

"Wright's book makes clear that Scientology is like no church on Earth. The closest institutional parallel would be the Communist Party in its heyday: the ruthless struggles for power, the show trials and forced confessions, the paranoia, the determination to control members’ lives completely, the maintenance of something close to prison camps"

Can Neanderthals Be Brought Back From The Dead?

Philip Bethge and Johann Grolle | Spiegel | 18 January 2013

Jaw-dropping interview with George Church, professor of genetics at Harvard. His answer: "That depends on a hell of a lot of things, but I think so ... You would certainly have to create a cohort, so they would have some sense of identity. They could maybe even create a new neo-Neanderthal culture and become a political force"

Video of the day: The Flaw In The Enigma Code

Thought for the day:

"There is no other way of guarding oneself from flatterers except letting men understand that to tell you the truth does not offend you; but when every one may tell you the truth, respect for you abates" — Machiavelli

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