Browser Daily Newsletter 1198

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

Evgeny Morozov Against The Internet

Michael Meyer | Columbia Journalism Review | 2nd January 2014

Full-length portrait of grumpy tech guru as he makes the transition from enfant terrible to world-class intellectual. “Part of my job is to raise the cost of producing bullshit, and to make sure people pay for that with shame". Two big books under his belt, and he's not yet 30. “If a musician were to apply a time signature to Morozov, it wouldn’t be 4/4, it would be some crazy 11/5 time signature, sort of Steely Dan meets Stockhausen"

Edward Snowden, Whistle-Blower

Editorial Board | New York Times | 1st January 2014

Times recants scepticism, calls for clemency. Snowden was "clearly justified in believing that the only way to blow the whistle on this kind of intelligence-gathering was to expose it to the public". He "deserves better than a life of permanent exile". Indeed, "he has done his country a great service" by virtue of "the enormous value of the information he has revealed, and the abuses he has exposed" (Metered paywall)

The Daggers Of Jorge Luis Borges

Michael Greenberg | New York Review Of Books | 30th December 2013

Review of Professor Borges: A Course on English Literature, edited by Martín Arias and Martín Hadis. Literal transcription of a course in English literature that Borges taught at the University of Buenos Aires in 1966. The 25 lessons begin with Beowulf and end with Oscar Wilde — but skip straight from the Norman Conquest to Dr Johnson, avoiding Shakespeare, whom Borges didn't much like

The Prophet

Luke Dittrich | Esquire | 24th December 2013

A brain infection plunged neurosurgeon Eben Alexander into a week-long coma; after recovering, he claimed to have spent the time in heaven. His book, Proof Of Heaven, has sold two million copies. If that sounds to you like horse feathers, then read on. This elegant, meticulous investigation, based on conversations with Alexander, finds that, in so far as his facts are verifiable, they are wrong or incomplete

The Aid Debate is Over

William Easterly | Reason | 26th January 2014

Jeffrey Sachs argued that technological fixes could end poverty, and sought to prove it by means of UN-funded Millenium Villages in Africa where bed nets would end malaria; wells would pump clean water; hospitals would cure disease; fertiliser would raise yields. He failed. Technology doesn't work on its own, at least not for long, and it doesn't change society. Society has to change, to keep the technology working

At Home With Meth Users

Alice Robb & Jason Pine | The New Republic | 23rd December 2013

Fascinating. Non-sensational. Life in the trailer parks of Jefferson County, Missouri. "There are cases when three generations of a single family have cooked and used together. They engage in a DIY practice that I equate with alchemy. They’re transmuting everyday commodities you can find at Walmart into a panacea, a cure-all. Meth cures all ills by tweaking the user’s neurological relation to the world"

Video of the day:  We Need To Talk About TED

Thought for the day:

"An essential part of power is the freedom not to think too deeply" — Zadie Smith

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