Browser Newsletter 1081

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

Best of the Moment


Joshuah Bearman | Epic | 12th August 2013

In which American diplomats are spirited out of revolutionary Iran disguised as a film crew. This is, indeed, the 2007 Wired story which led to the Oscar-winning Ben Affleck film of the same title. Republished here by Bearman, with extras, to launch his new website, which will commission and publish more big, nonfiction narratives that might also make good movies. Still a gripping read, however well you know the outcome

Interview: Vaclav Smil

Ritchie King | Quartz | 8th August 2013

Short, pithy conversation with Bill Gates's favourite intellectual, author of 34 books, expert in everything. "Harvesting the biosphere is still the most fundamental human activity. Without that, everybody’s dead, really. We could do quite well without microchips, or the business site of Atlantic Monthly, the gated communities, Guccis, and high growth GDP. But we cannot do without harvesting the crops and cutting down the wood"

The Powerball Jackpot Is $425m. Should You Play?

James Harvey | Medium | 7th August 2013

Everything you never need to know about lottery odds. "The total number of possible combinations [for the winning number] is 175,233,510. It costs two dollars to play. So if the Jackpot is more than $350,467,020, it makes sense to play, right?" Wrong. They math is more complicated than you might imagine, but the odds are always against you. It's never worth buying a ticket, except possibly for the entertainment value

“Hired By A Bitch To Find A Scum”

Josephine Livingstone | Prospect | 9th August 2013

Review of Brian Nicol’s The Private Eye: Detectives In The Movies. "Often responding to Philip or Sam, the private investigator may be identified by his coat and hat. His habitat: the wet street corner or, unauthorised, another person’s home. He is accused of committing the very crime under his investigation. You will find him lit starkly, from the side. He is good at getting women into bed, but they often turn out to be villainesses. He is American"

Corrections: Franzen vs Oprah

Boris Kachka | Slate | 5th August 2013

How The Corrections vaulted Jonathan Franzen into the top tier of American novelists; and why he snubbed Oprah Winfrey when she chose it for her book club: "She was surprised that I wasn’t moaning with shock and pleasure. She was an interloper, coming late, and with an expectation of slavish gratitude and devotion for the favor she was bestowing.” Extract from Hothouse, Boris Kachka's history of publishing house Farrar, Straus, Giroux

Video of the day: Why You Can't Use Phones on Planes

Thought for the day:

"Try to be free; you will die of hunger" — Emil Cioran

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