Safety, Ant Intelligence, Suicide, Non-Fiction, Rikers Island, Qatar


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

The Age Of Restraint

Simon Kuper | Financial Times | 27th June 2015 | | Read with 1Pass

Never in history has the rich world been so law-abiding. Even today's teenagers are relatively well-behaved. "The decline in disorder is so broad and multinational that very specific ideas - such as zero-tolerance policing in New York - cannot explain it". The crime rate in Sao Paulo has fallen 80% in ten years. Something seems to have changed in human nature. We demand safety above everything else — including freedom (702 words)

Decoding The Algorithms Of Ants

Emily Singer | Quanta | 25th June 2015

Before the Internet there was the Anternet — the collective intelligence of ants. "The algorithm that harvester ants use to regulate foraging is similar to the Transmission Control Protocol which regulates data traffic on the Internet. Both use simple local feedback to regulate activity. We might be able to find other algorithms that ants use to solve engineering problems that we haven’t thought of yet" (1,720 words)

The Man Who Jumped Out Of The Window

Peter Birkenhead | Big Roundtable | 29th June 2015

Riveting memoir of a brilliant uncle who co-wrote the United Nations charter, was hounded by McCarthyites, and killed himself. "Alice screamed to the neighbors for help as Abe opened the narrow window in the room, but her grip weakened and loosened, until she was grasping only an ankle, and then suddenly only a shoe, a fully tied oxford, still warm from the foot of her husband, who had fallen twelve stories to his death" (9,800 words)

The Crisis In Non-Fiction

Sam Leith | Guardian | 27th June 2015

General publishers have lost their appetite for serious non-fiction, save for potential blockbusters. They want "talking-point books" which take a seductive idea and attach a string of anecdotes to it; Malcolm Gladwell is the genre's patron saint. Happily, this 'crisis' has already found a solution. Serious non-fiction has migrated to the university presses. Yale has the best non-fiction list in the world right now (1,280 words)

This Is Rikers

Noreen Malone et al | Marshall Project | 29th June 2015

Interviews at Rikers Island with inmates, officers, visitors, teachers sum to a damning portrait of New York's notorious jail. Not a single glimmer of light. "I’ve been jumped plenty of times and got into a lot of fights and got stabbed a lot, so they know who I am and they leave me alone. Sometimes you gotta go in the shower and go knife-to-knife. Whoever makes it out the shower gets the crib, gets to own the housing area" (12,500 words)

A Qatari Travelogue (And Conversion)

Jaybird | Ordinary Times | 28th June 2015

Advice from a colleague for a working trip to Qatar: "Drive like you are really pissed off". And it's good advice, because it you aren't pissed off when you start driving in Qatar then you soon will be: "They believe in tailgating. They believe that shoulders are just another lane that wasn’t painted correctly." But why? Is that simply human nature? What political factors determine whether people behave decently to one another? (1,780 words)

Video of the day: Future Travel

What to expect: NSFW. Cartoon. Suburban commuting in the near future when even our avatars have avatars (2'18")

Thought for the day

The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it
Henry David Thoreau

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