Browser Newsletter 1067


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

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Best of the Moment

Cyberwar Fears Pose Dangers of Unnecessary Escalation

Martin C. Libicki | Rand Corporation | 25th July 2013

Very sensible policy note. Cyberwar isn't real war. Don't overreact if attacked, and don't assume you know what's going on. "The odds that an attack in cyberspace arises from miscalculation, inadvertence, unintended consequences, or rogue actors are nontrivial." "Even if cyberwar can be used to disrupt life on a mass scale, it cannot be used to occupy another nation's capital. It cannot force regime change. No one has yet died from it"

A Confederacy Of Lunches

Christopher Buckley | New York Times | 25th July 2013

Entertaining review of This Town, Mark Leibovich's book on people and politics in Washington, DC. The analysis sounds conventional: Congress has been captured by big money from corporations, lobbyists and tycoons. But the story is well told. Some chapters are "mini-masterpieces of politico-anthropological sociology"; others "read like the endgame of Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" (Metered paywall)

They Know Much More Than You Think

James Bamford | New York Review Of Books | 25th July 2013

How the NSA hacks the internet. All of it. "Fiber-optic cables containing millions of communications go into what’s known as a beam-splitter. This is a prism-type device that produces a duplicate, mirror image of the original communications. The original beams continue on to wherever they were originally destined. The duplicate beam goes into the NSA’s secret room one floor below"

The Best Film Woody Allen’s Ever Made

David Thomson | The New Republic | 24th July 2013

On Blue Jasmine. "Even in comedy you often feel that Allen is reaching for something more lasting and wounding. That may be why the comedy sometimes seems self-conscious and joyless, despite his wit with dialogue. And so his films seldom get at our hearts. But now there is Blue Jasmine, which seems to me the best film he has ever made. Here, in a whole film, he has respected the emotional life of his characters, and gone as far as tragedy"

Roadmap To Alpha Centauri

George Musser | Nautilus | 25th July 2013

Could we send a spaceship to the nearest star, using available science? An ion drive would take tens of thousands of years; a light-powered solar sail perhaps a thousand years; a solar sail with a microwave booster might do it within a human lifetime. The best option would be nuclear pulse propulsion. "Load the starship with 300,000 nuclear bombs, detonate one every three seconds, and ride the blast waves"

Video of the day: Kite Patch

Thought for the day:

"The impossible often has a kind of integrity to it which the merely improbable lacks" — Douglas Adams

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