Browser Daily Newsletter 1320T

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

I Would Only Rob Banks For My Family

Skip Hollandsworth | Texas Monthly | 21st May 2014

Quirky local story perfectly reported and written. Every detail moves the action forward. Dad robs banks, almost as a hobby. He wants to raise his game. He needs a team. But he doesn't know any other crooks. Who better to recruit than his wife and kids? The kids hesitate, but not for long. And it seems to work, just as dad says. Big bags of money. Until an inspired piece of police work brings them down (5,490 words)

China-Russia: A Match Made In Heaven

Anatole Kaletsky | Reuters | 22nd May 2014

Vladimir Putin’s trip to Shanghai could "mark the start of a strategic realignment between nuclear superpowers comparable to the tectonic shifts that began with President Richard M. Nixon’s visit to China in 1972". The decline of American dominance opens the way for Russia and China to sink their historic differences, and to build on their common economic and political interests, with America as their shared enemy (1,000 words)

A Brief History Of Mathematical Symbols

Joseph Mazur | Guardian | 21st May 2014

"Few people knew that almost all maths was written rhetorically before the 16th century, often in metered poetry. Most people think symbols for addition, subtraction or equality had been around long before Euclid wrote his Elements in the first century BCE. No! There are no symbols in any early Arab algebra books. Nor do we find any in early European printed algebra books". They first appeared in English in 1575 (840 words)

The Empire Of Alain de Botton

Sam Knight | Financial Times | 16th May 2014

Largely sympathetic portrait of de Botton, philosopher-king of highbrow self-help, whose moralising essays on everyday subjects — art, sex, travel, status — have sold 6m copies, but also made him an easy target for critics. "He comes up with snappy ideas. He is unbelievably productive (he rarely sleeps past 6am). He gives YouTube lectures. But all this still doesn’t quite explain how intensely he gets under people’s skin" (2,560 words)

The Gigolo

Sandra Tsing-Loh | The Atlantic | 21st May 2014

Notes from an evening at home in which the writer and her friends, "the All-Too-Real Ex-Housewives of Pasadena, decked out in slinky partywear", entertain a celebrity gigolo. "At precisely 6pm — $400-an-hour escorts are punctual — the doorbell chimes. Standing before us is Vin, a 195-pound, 6-foot-2-inch-tall glass of water, wearing tight jeans and a collared shirt. He enters the kitchen as if on oiled ball bearings" (1,948 words)

Coldplay: “Ghost Stories”

Nico Muhly | 22nd May 2014

Review. "I have always liked Coldplay. There is something inherently honest-seeming about their faces, and I liked how once they got paid, they could afford to steal (in the most loving way) from other bands who also got paid. When I smell a texture taken pretty explicitly from Sigur Rós or Arcade Fire, it feels like a lateral homage" (1,335 words)

Video of the day:  The Science Of Persuasion

What to expect: Short animated talk. Six rules for getting people to agree with you

Thought for the day:

"In politics obedience and support are the same" — Hannah Arendt

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