Newsletter 954


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

Paul Krugman Is Brilliant, But Is He Meta-Rational?

Eli Dourado | Umlaut | 13 March 2013

Given that Paul Krugman has a Nobel prize in economics, should those of us who know far less about economics simply agree with whatever he says? Probably not. But it's a fair question. How can we evaluate the claims of people who are much smarter than we are? One way is to look at their conversational style. Pragmatists are wiser than dogmatists

Afghanistan Withdrawal: What The Soviets Did Right

Sherard Cowper-Coles | Spectator | 15 March 2013

Before they left in 1989, the Russians installed a credible Pashtun strongman as leader, and told him to abandon socialism and embrace Islam. They asked neighbouring countries for help. The result was a regime that not only survived, but fought off the US-backed insurgency, until the Soviet Union itself collapsed. Can the West do as well?

Greed Is Groupon

Ben Popper | Verge | 13 March 2013

What went wrong at Groupon. It over-expanded abroad, especially in Europe, and lost its culture along the way. It wasn't Andy Mason that messed up, but chairman Eric Lefkofsky. “The truth is, Eric is a brilliant guy. But his greed overwhelms his intelligence. It drives him to make short term decisions, always in the pursuit of bigger, more, now"

The Lost Tribes Of The Amazon

Joshua Hammer | Smithsonian | 14 March 2013

In search of tribes that are not exactly lost, but are still resisting integration with the modern world. Big travel piece, lots of atmospherics: "The longhouse is deserted except for two napping children and a pair of scrawny dogs. We head back to the main road, trying to beat the advancing night, as vampire bats circle above our heads"

Thoughts On The Death of Mass Murderer Ieng Sary

Nate Thayer | Nate Thayer | 14 March 2013

Rough but powerful blogpost. "I knew Ieng Sary quite well, and met and dined with and interviewed him numerous times over the years. I even slept in his house a couple times. He was guilty as sin of being a mass murderer. But he seemed, in all honesty, probably on the more reasonable spectrum of the batch of current leaders in Cambodia today"

Looking For Something Useful to Do With Your Time? Don't Try This

Abigail Pesta | Wall Street Journal | 13 March 2013

On the history, and resurgence, of useless machines — for example, the small box with an on/off switch and a hinged lid; you turn on the switch, and a hand pops out that turns off the switch. Invented by Marvin Minsky at MIT. Refined by Claude Shannon. Admired by Arthur C. Clarke. Now being built again by an engineer in Saskatchewan

Video of the day: Wide Web World

Thought for the day:

"He’s a quantum philosopher. I can’t understand him and his position at the same time" — Sidney Morgenbesser, on Hilary Putnam

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