Browser Daily Newsletter 1242

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

Ghosting For Julian Assange

Andrew O'Hagan | London Review Of Books | 21st February 2014

Epic profile, by the ghost-writer of Assange's abortive autobiography. "He had a strange, on-the-spectrum inability to see when he was becoming boring ... I’d never been with a person who had such a good cause and such a poor ear, nor such a capacity to yawn in one’s face ... He appeared to like the notion that he was being pursued, the tendency was only complicated by the fact that there were real pursuers"

What Really Happened To Michael Rockefeller

Carl Hoffman | Smithsonian | 21st February 2014

His catamaran overturned on a river in New Guinea in 1961. He made it to shore, where he met travellers from a nearby village. Descendants of the villagers tell what happened next, and they have the bones to prove it: "Pep speared him in the ribs. They rowed him to a hidden creek where they killed him and made a big fire". The Dutch colonial government heard the story from missionaries, but hushed it up

Invasion Of The Taxi Snatchers

Brad Stone | Business Week | 20th February 2014

How car hire service Uber became "one of the most loved and hated startups of the smartphone age". Customers "rave about the reliability and speed of service" even as they "bitterly complain about so-called surge pricing" at peak times. But surge pricing stays, says CEO Travis Kalnick: “People would love to have 100 percent reliability at a fixed price all the time. I get it. That is not possible”

The Cactus And The Weasel

Venkatesh Rao | Ribbonfarm | 20th February 2014

Isaiah Berlin's division of thinkers into foxes and hedgehogs can be extended usefully by the addition of weasels and cacti — ignoble versions of foxes and hedgehogs respectively. "While foxes and hedgehogs are both capable of changing their minds in meaningful ways, weasels and cacti are not. They represent different forms of degeneracy, where a rich way of thinking collapses into an impoverished way of thinking"

Japanese Bishops Take On The Vatican

Joshua McElwee | National Catholic Reporter | 19th February 2014

Japan's bishops tell the Vatican that Catholic teachings on sex and marriage are wrong, at least for Japan. "It is perhaps important to recall that the only time in the gospels that Jesus clearly encounters someone in a situation of cohabitation outside of marriage (the Samaritan woman at the well) he does not focus on it. Instead, he respectfully deals with the woman and turns her into a missionary"

Video of the day:  Restoring "Foreign Correspondent"

Thought for the day:

"If the professor needs to prepare to give a class, don't attend" — Nassim Nicolas Taleb

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