Newsletter 962

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

Trip To Nowhere

John Podhoretz | Weekly Standard | 23 March 2013

"I won’t say Spring Breakers is the worst movie ever made, because it should bear no distinction, even one designed to indicate the depths of its wretchedness. This dreadful waste of time scrapes the bottom of the pop culture barrel so severely that, by the end of its 80-minute running time, even the dregs have found a way to escape"

Chemistry Of Kibble

Mary Roach | Popular Science | 7 March 2013

How do you get dogs and cats to eat dry petfood? Much as you get humans to eat Cheerios. Coat cheap pellets with chemical flavours. Cats love pyrophosphates: "Most of the difference between Tuna Treat and Poultry Platter is in the name and the picture on the label". Dogs are trickier. What smells good to them doesn't usually smell good to humans

Google Was Worth 1,838,389 Workers In 1998, Maybe

Ethan Herdrick | Ethan Herdrick | 18 March 2013

Valuing Google in terms of human labour needed to do the same job otherwise. By this calculation, you would need 262,627 workers to do one internet search and return a result within three minutes. "It gives you an upper limit on the value of the innovation, since, if it paid to do it the labor intensive way, that would have been happening"

Seder Night's Platonic Form

Judith Shulevitz | Tablet | 24 March 2013

"There’s a reason the haggadah feels goyish: Formally speaking, it’s Greek. It’s a Judaicized version of a Greek genre called 'symposium literature'. Plato loved the form. So did Xenophon. The symposium enshrined the most appealing traits of the Hellenic personality: conviviality, Epicureanism, a love of good conversation"

Brains Of The Animal Kingdom

Frans De Waal | Wall Street Journal | 22 March 2013

"We have grossly underestimated both the scope and the scale of animal intelligence. Can an octopus use tools? Do chimpanzees have a sense of fairness? Can birds guess what others know? Do rats feel empathy for their friends? Just a few decades ago we would have answered 'No' to all such questions. Now we're not so sure"

Dwarves Of Auschwitz

Yehuda Koren and Eilat Negev | Guardian | 23 March 2013

How a family of Jewish dwarves from Transylvania survived Auschwitz. Joseph Mengele wanted them for his studies, and they (probably) helped to entertain Nazi guards. Mind-boggling throughout. "Former inmates told us that they thought they were hallucinating when they saw a colonnade of seven dwarves dressed as if for a Shabbat stroll"

Video of the day: Story Behind The Boston Tea Party

Thought for the day:

"If you can figure out a way to turn a billion dollar industry into a fifty million dollar industry, so much the better, if all fifty million go to you" — Paul Graham

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