Browser Daily Newsletter 1262

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

Shane MacGowan: God’s Lucky Man

Matthew Hennessey | City Journal | 14th March 2014

Famed for his songwriting and debauchery, the Pogues leader is a Christian "squarely within the rich and sensual faith tradition practiced by his Irish ancestors". His "tribal Catholicism" is "at home with the sacred and the profane". God must be taking care of him, because he has "not been doing the job himself". His rheumy eyes, throat-clearing cackle and toothless grin suggest "not genius, but late-stage dipsomania" (2,370 words)

Lunch With Prince Turki al-Faisal

Edward Luce | Financial Times | 14th March 2014

Conversation with Saudi Arabia's former intelligence chief, ex-ambassador to UK and US, youngest son of King Faisal. His take on spying prowess: "In terms of raw data the Americans have it over everybody ... The British have the most expert human capabilities on specific subjects ... In terms of operational capability the Israelis are the most professional, although they’ve committed lots of mistakes" (2,370 words)

How The Elevator Transformed America

Leon Neyfakh | Boston Globe | 2nd March 2014

The elevator is "responsible for shaping modern life in ways that most people simply don’t appreciate". Without the elevator we would have no high-rise buildings, no penthouse apartments, no high-density cities. The elevator has a sociology all its own: It is "a staple of romantic comedies, office dramas, and crime stories in which the plot requires two people to be suddenly and unexpectedly thrust together" (2,000 words)

Einstein And Pi

Sean Carroll | Preposterous Universe | 13th March 2014

Elegant blogpost answering a relatively abstruse mathematical question — why does Einstein use π in his basic equation of general relativity? — in an enjoyable and accessible way. Einstein, improving on Newton, saw that "gravity is best described by a field theory"; which involves "integrating over the surface of a sphere"; and "the area of a sphere is proportional to π". But read the whole thing (1,313 words)

Malaysian Airlines MH370 Contact Lost

Professional Pilots' Rumour Network | 15th March 2014

If you are following the Malaysian Airlines missing-plane mystery, you may want to dip into this message board. I've linked to the most recent page of discussion as of Saturday morning, but naturally, the thread is growing hour by hour; and no real news as yet. From a recent post: "Is it plausible that, after seven days we still do not know what ocean (or land mass) this aircraft is in, and we may never know? Unfortunately, Yes"

Tony Benn: Wicked Or Merely Stupid? (1981)

Christopher Hitchens | Mother Jones | 14th March 2014

From the archives. Profile of Tony Benn (who died this week) from 1981 when Benn was the champion of socialism, Britain was in turmoil, and Mrs Thatcher was beginning her revolution. "There is war in Ireland; the cities are on fire; the pound sterling has become a joke: productivity is at prewar levels. In a country like this it is not surprising, and may even be necessary, that the leader of the Left is a member of the aristocracy" (5,200 words)

Video of the day:  I Like It When You're Gone

What to expect: Gentle song, child-like animation

Thought for the day:

"The mass of mankind is ruled not by its intermittent moral sensations, still less by self-interest, but by the needs of the moment" — John Gray

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