Browser Daily Newsletter 1229

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

Scotland Wakes While England Sleeps

Alex Massie | Spectator | 6th February 2014

Scottish Nationalist leader Alex Salmond "might just win his independence referendum in September". More than 40% of decided voters are in favour of independence, and their side is gaining momentum in recent opinion polls. The nationalists argue that decisions affecting Scotland should be taken, as far as possible, in Scotland — exactly the argument that Britain's ruling Tories make with respect to the European Union

How Useful Is GDP?

Diane Coyle | Aeon | 6th February 2014

GDP is "simple in principle". It is "the sum in a given time period of everything produced in the economy with a monetary value"; which should in theory equal the incomes earned by every person and company in the economy; and the total spent by those same people. It has conquered the world as measure of economic performance since its launch in Britain in 1941. But the world has changed. Do we need new benchmarks?

Why So Much Anarchy?

Robert Kaplan | Stratfor | 5th February 2014

The world as a whole may be prospering, but "significant portions" of it are mired in chaos. Why? Six main reasons: The end of imperialism has left a vacuum; post-colonial dictators, who inherited state systems from the imperialists, have been overturned; institutions are lacking, especially in the Arab world; national identities are feeble; religious divisions go deep; information technologies empower mobs

A God-Shaped Hole

Rob Weinert-Kendt | America Magazine | 16th January 2014

Why Christians can recognise Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot as a classic, despite its message of abandonment and despair. It is "the lament of a one-time believer who once took the promise of faith seriously. Beckett’s is a voice that anyone conversant in the stark desert landscape of the Bible — anyone who has, so to speak, sat picking scabs with Job or eaten locusts with John the Baptist — will recognise in a heartbeat"

A Long Account Of Calamities

Mark O'Connell | Slate | 5th February 2014

Review of A Place in the Country, essays by W.G. Sebald. "In Sebald’s writing, everything is connected by the unseen threads of history, or chance, or fate, or death. The scholarly craft of gathering scattered sources and weaving them into a coherent whole is transformed here into something beautiful and unsettling, elevated into an art of the uncanny — an art that was Sebald’s strange and inscrutable gift"

How The Guardian Hopes To Make Money

Ken Doctor | Newsonomics | 6th February 2014

You'll need a prior interest in The Guardian, or at least in newspaper business models, to get much pleasure out of this; but if you are so inclined, then this is the best take by far on how this British media group plans to transform free content plus global readership into a sustainable business model. It has 40m regular readers online; it needs to get a small percentage of them registering for some sort of paid membership

Video of the day:  New Zealand Landscapes

Thought for the day:

"Machines are for answers; humans are for questions" — Kevin Kelly

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