Screen Language, Open Borders, Cricket & Genetics, Plus-Size Fashion, Scottish Independence, 9/11, C

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

Screen Time

Ben Schmidt | Sapping Attention | 15th September 2014

Lessons learned from loading a search engine with onscreen language from 87,000 movies and TV shows. Think Google ngram, but for screenplays. Some striking results. References to "global warming" and "climate change" have plummeted since 2008. Swearing on television has declined recently, due in part perhaps to the ending of Wild West series Deadwood, where the word "f-king" was spoken more often than "of" (1,320 words)

The Case For Open Borders

Dylan Matthews | Vox | 13th September 2014

Interview with libertarian economist Bryan Caplan. "Open borders allow people to move from the parts of the world where their labor pretty much goes to waste, to places where their skills can shine. The difference between the productivity of labor in poor countries and rich countries is so vast, it’s hard to wrap your mind around it. This isn’t just trickle-down economics. It’s Niagara Falls economics" (6,690 words)

Runs In The Family

David Papineau | Aeon | 15th September 2014

Assessing the relative weight of nature versus nurture in sporting ability, especially in cricket, where family dynasties abound. "While there are a few notable football clans — the Charltons and the Ferdinands spring to mind — there is nothing like the rampant familiality found in cricket. Why is that? At first sight it might seem to argue that cricket is more genetic. But I think that’s exactly the wrong conclusion" (3,000 words)

The Plus Side

Lizzie Widdicombe | New Yorker | 15th September 2014

The puzzle of plus-sized clothing. Demand is huge: the average American woman wears size 14, up from size 8 twenty years ago. But the fashion industry keeps its distance. Popular brands including Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren make plus-size lines that are sold in stores but don't get advertised. Why no “Zara for plus size”, selling expensive-looking clothes at affordable prices with styles that turn over quickly? (6,890 words)

A Better Nation

Stephen Phelan | Boston Review | 14th September 2014

Generous, beguiling, even lyrical portrait of Scotland on the eve of the independence vote. "We have a different legal system, a different education system, a different church. Our buildings look different, and it even smells different here, when you get off the train or plane from London and start inhaling that colder air. And of course we have a different sense of humor, which is very dark, absurd, and whimsical" (6,460 words)

The Federal Reserve On 9/11

Arliss Bunny | Daily Kos | 10th September 2014

Reads like a thriller. Somebody should film this. How the Fed rose to the crisis at a business level — keeping the American banking system functioning when the biggest clearers were crippled; and at a local level — securing and sharing its infrastructure in downtown Manhattan. Emergency procedures rehearsed for a potential Y2K disaster two years earlier provided "a windfall of emergency planning" (6,300 words)

Bangs And Whimpers

Michael Pettis | 14th September 2014

Wide-ranging interview about the Chinese and global economies, in which Pettis emphasises the importance of knowing some history. "For all the many cases of growth miracles, economists seem incapable of placing whichever is the latest example within a proper historical context. We are always surprised when an economic miracle stalls. We are always shocked by how painful adjustment turns out to be" (9,330 words)

Scotland: Wrong Turn

David Folkerts-Landau | Spectator | 13th September 2014

Extracts from a Deutsche Bank analytical note warning that a vote for Scottish independence would be a major political and economic mistake. "Scotland has been able to punch above its weight via the platform of the UK and associated global trade and economic relationships. Finally, Scots have benefited from the sharing of fiscal and monetary risk. To end this relationship is simply a wrong turn" (1,640 words)

The Law Versus Religious Belief

Ian McEwan | Guardian | 5th September 2014

Writer discuses the real-life high-court cases which inspired his most recent novel, The Children Act, about Jehovah's Witnesses. "Judgments in the family division tend to genuflect politely before the religious devotion of the parties, before arriving at decisions on non-religious grounds. Inevitably, there are differences in moral perspectives. Is this life less important than the afterlife? The law doesn't think so" (3,350 words)

Video of the day: Eagles Forever

What to expect: If you can't make the ball game, your robot will cheer for you

Thought for the day

A sign is anything that can be used to tell a lie
Umberto Eco (

A Talk in London

Come and see Browser favourites Felix Salmon (ex-Reuters) and Izabella Kaminska (FT) discuss art, 3D printing and Bitcoin on September 24th. Admission is £5, and includes a glass of wine (or two). Tickets are available here ( .

Follow on Twitter (*|TWITTER:PROFILEURL [$format=text]|*) ** Forward to Friend (*|FORWARD|*)

Join 150,000+ curious readers who grow with us every day

No spam. No nonsense. Unsubscribe anytime.

Great! Check your inbox and click the link to confirm your subscription
Please enter a valid email address!
You've successfully subscribed to The Browser
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in
Could not sign in! Login link expired. Click here to retry
Cookies must be enabled in your browser to sign in