Mariel, Reddit, 42, Tokens, Dogs

Editor's note — I regret an error on my part in last Friday's Browser. An appreciation of Charles Sanders Peirce, by Daniel Everett, was wrongly attributed (in the newsletter only) to Daniel Dennett — Robert

Scarface And The Nobel

Adam Tooze | Chartbook | 13th October 2021 | U

Bold experiments at scale are rare in macroeconomics. Countries don't generally stage big systemic shocks just to see what happens next. But when Cuba directed waves of refugees to Florida in 1980, a natural experiment was indicated whether America liked it or not. How would employment and wages respond? David Card seized the opportunity, and did the study. Now he has a Nobel Prize (3,050 words)

The Company We Keep

Eugene Wei | Remains Of The Day | 10th October 2021 | U

Lessons from the evolution of social media. Manipulating users into blindly maximising friend and follower counts is a good way to grow a platform, but not so good for users themselves, who get more and more noise with less and less signal. A better model is Reddit, where users sort themselves according to their interests; or TikTok, where users scarcely need to interact at all (5,400 words)

A Hitchhiker's Guide To The Number 42

Jean-Paul Delahaye | Scientific American | 21st September 2020 | U

When Douglas Adams declared the meaning of life to be 42, he did so arbitrarily, intending no allusions to Egyptian mythology or to Tibetan mysticism. But, for the mathematician, 42 is still full of quirks. It is, inter alia, a Catalan number and a practical number. It is the sum of the first two nonzero integer powers of six. And it played a starring role in the "sum of three cubes" problem  (2,800 words)

I Collect Cashflows

Josh Brown | Reformed Broker | 5th October 2021 | U

A way to explain the stock market to crypto and meme investors. "I collect shares of businesses. I use a certain type of non-fungible token called a stock certificate for this. It’s in digital form, living somewhere in the multiverse. People say: You’re crazy, why would you want to buy a fraction of a company you will never touch and hold in your hands? And I’m like: You just don’t understand” (1,050 words)

The Naming Of Dogs

Debbie Cameron | Language: A Feminist Guide | 23rd September 2021 | U

Rare nowadays is the dog called Bonzo. Americans have come to use the same set of names for their dogs as they do for their children. But with a twist. Androgynous and innovative names are given more often to baby girls than to baby boys; but such names are given more often to male dogs than to female dogs. Could it be that dog-femininity is "imagined more narrowly" than dog-masculinity? (2,400 words)

Podcast: We Are Real People | 1st October 2021 | The Daily.  Strong language, emotive topic. Sabrina Tavernise and Clare Toeniskoetter of the New York Times visit an abortion clinic in Oklahoma, where they see and discuss the effects of the recent attempt to ban abortion in neighbouring Texas (39m 09s). Transcript here.

Video: Shots In The Dark | Lewie & Noah Kloster | Vimeo | 7m 15s

Manhattan photographer David Godlis remembers the music club CBGB on the Lower East Side, where he worked almost every night from 1976 to 1980. Animation with water-colours and original photographs. Voice-over by Godlis.

"Understanding a people's culture exposes their normalness without reducing their particularity"
— Clifford Geertz

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