Super-Recognisers, Numbers, Software, Bosch, Yahoo, James Barry

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

The Super-Recognisers Of Scotland Yard

Xan Rice | New Statesman | 2nd August 2016

The Super-Recogniser Unit of the London Metropolitan Police recruits officers with a gift for remembering and recognising faces; they mingle in crowds and pore over CCTV footage spotting and matching suspects. Super-recognition seems to be an inherited skill, not a learnable one. “Whereas most people concentrate on a person’s eye region when looking at them, super-recognisers focus on the centre of the face, around the nose”. Computerised facial-recognition software is ten years behind (3,200 words)

Every Number Tells A Story

Shane Parrish | Farnham Street | 3rd August 2016

Grab-bag of insights about the way we use and think about numbers, drawn from Alex Bellos’s Grapes Of Math. “Seven is unique among the first ten numbers because it is the only number that cannot be multiplied or divided within the group. When 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 are doubled the answer is less than or equal to ten. The numbers 6, 8 and 10 can be halved and 9 is divisible by three. Of the numbers we can count on our fingers, only 7 stands alone: it neither produces nor is produced” (1,800 words)

The Mismanaged Heart

William Davies | Real Life | 3rd August 2016

Technology pretends to befriend us, the better to exploit us. “If the function of informality is to erode the distinction between work and leisure, then informal rhetoric is a necessary feature of platforms that want to mediate all aspects of our lives. The great promise — and threat — is that we will have a single identity recognised in every institution we enter. When a platform addresses me as ‘William’, it is offering to support the identity that I carry into work, leisure, family life, anywhere” (2,700 words)

The Mystery Of Hieronymus Bosch

Ingrid D. Rowland | New York Review of Books | 3rd August 2016

“There has never been a painter quite like Jheronimus van Aken, the Flemish master who signed his works as Jheronimus Bosch. His imagination ranged from a place beyond the spheres of Heaven to the uttermost depths of Hell. An implacable logic governs the phantasmagoria. Bosch’s visions of Hell, with their minutely observed flames and slimy, mephitic pools, are more chaotic than Dante’s, but a similarly stern moral sense ensures that every crime receives its own excruciating punishment” (4,200 words)

Yahoo Lessons

Bob Lefsetz | Big Picture | 3rd August 2016

The charge sheet against Marissa Mayer: “Common decency counts. Showing up on time and giving respect is key when you’re the CEO. The stories of Marissa Mayer’s faux pas superseded her efforts to turn the company around. Kick the tires first, spend later. Mayer spent so much on new hires so early, many of whom washed out, that she looked amateurish and tainted the company. No one likes a downer. Our nation runs on optimism. Sometimes a mercy killing is the best way to go” (1,100 words)

Physician, Conceal Thyself

Lucy Lethbridge | Literary Review | 2nd August 2016

“The life of Dr James Barry was and is by every measure so remarkable that at each turn I found myself gasping in disbelief. A distinguished, celebrated military surgeon of both skill and modernising zeal, who fought for reforms to military hospitals in South Africa, the West Indies, St Helena and Canada, Barry died in 1865. Preparing his body for burial, the layer-out pulled back the sheet and found that the doctor was in fact a woman – who, moreover, had borne a child years before” (1,100 words)

Video of the day: Inside Rio’s Favelas

What to expect:

Vox explains the topography and demography of Rio de Janeiro with help from Google Maps (9’59”)

Thought for the day

Solitude is dangerous to reason, without being favourable to virtue
Samuel Johnson

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