US-China, Heuristics, Neoliberalism, Woodpeckers, Johnny Apple


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

What If America And China Went To War?

David Gompert et al | Rand Corporation | 28th July 2016

What if a mishandled crisis in East Asia triggered an unpremeditated war between the United States and China? “Whereas a clear U.S. victory once seemed probable, it is increasingly likely that a conflict could involve inconclusive fighting with steep losses on both sides. The United States cannot expect to control a conflict it cannot dominate militarily.” The link above goes to a landing page with conclusions of the RAND study, from which the full study can be (770 words)

Mental Models I Find Repeatedly Useful

Gabriel Weinberg | Medium | 6th July 2016

Cut-out-and-keep list of concepts, models and heuristics drawn mostly from economics, statistics, and philosophy. Among them: Simpson’s Paradox,  “A paradox in probability and statistics, in which a trend appears in different groups of data but disappears or reverses when these groups are combined”; Opportunity Cost,  “The value of the best alternative forgone where, given limited resources, a choice needs to be made between several mutually exclusive alternatives” (8,400 words)

Neoliberalism And Inequality

George Monbiot | Evonomics | 31st July 2016

“Imagine if the people of the Soviet Union had never heard of communism. The ideology that dominates our lives has, for most of us, no name. So pervasive has neoliberalism become that we seldom even recognise it as an ideology. We appear to accept the proposition that this utopian, millenarian faith describes a neutral force; a kind of biological law, like Darwin’s theory of evolution. But the philosophy arose as a conscious attempt to reshape human life and shift the locus of power” (2,900 words)

How Woodpeckers Will Save Football

Moises Velasquez-Manoff | Nautilus | 4th August 2016

Woodpeckers slam their heads into trees all day without suffering brain damage. Is there a model here for protecting footballers from concussion? The woodpecker traps extra blood in its skull to cushion its brain. Which works for rats, too: “Rats that wore a collar-like apparatus around their necks that lightly compressed their jugular veins while they were knocked on the head saw an 83 percent reduction in brain damage”. Coming soon: A helmet that does the same for footballers (2,300 words)

Newshound: R.W. Apple Jr

Calvin Trillin | New Yorker | 29th September 2003

Classic profile of the high-living New York Times foreign correspondent and food critic Johnny Apple, said to have “the best mind and the worst body in American journalism”. “Apple sees to his early-morning tasks while encased in one of the brightly striped nightshirts made for him by Harvie & Hudson of Jermyn Street, so that a house guest at the Apple table can be startled by the impression that a particularly festive party tent has somehow found its way indoors” (Metered paywall) (9,700 words)

Video of the day: Ossa

What to expect:

“The dance of a puppet, destructured in time and space, shows the mechanism that pulls the strings” (3’55”)

Thought for the day

The existence of forgetting has never been proved; we know only that some things do not come to our mind when we want them to
Friedrich Nietzsche

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