Browser Newsletter 1149

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

Best of the Moment

The Snowden Leaks And The Public

Alan Rusbridger | New York Review Of Books | 30th October 2013

Guardian editor discusses his publication of documents revealing US government spying methods. "What’s gradually being revealed is that the US and UK have been seeking to put entire populations under surveillance ... Little wonder that the state sends its officials around to newspaper offices to try to keep the lid on all this stuff. The arguments are the ones you would expect them to use: you’ll have blood on your hands"

Genetics: The Rite Of Passage

David Dobbs | Slate | 27th October 2013

Rapid advances in genetics have been slow to produce practical applications. "Many thought sequencing the human genome would unlock the door and show us the genome’s machinery, with all the parts and controls conveniently marked. Instead, it showed us a genome that was mostly unmarked and ludicrously complicated—so complicated that even 13 years later, its workings remain mysterious"

Slavery And Myth

David Simon | Audacity Of Despair | 29th October 2013

Thoughts provoked by the film 12 Years A Slave. "For anyone to stand in sight of this film and pretend to the infallibility or perfect intellectual or moral grandeur of a Washington, a Jefferson, or a Madison is to invite ignominy. Slavery was abomination, and we, in our birth of liberty, codified it and nurtured it. It took Lincoln, and a great war, to hijack the American experiment from its original, cold intentions"

Rodolfo Walsh And The Struggle For Argentina

Stephen Phelan | Boston Review | 28th October 2013

Amazing life of writer, journalist, activist, who fought with far-left Montoneros militia in 1970s Argentina; was machine-gunned after the military coup; his daughter died in the dirty war. In 1960s Cuba he co-founded Prensa Latina news agency with Gabriel García Márquez; used his "gift for puzzles and word games" to decode an intercepted CIA telex giving Castro advance notice of the Bay of Pigs invasion. "The typewriter is a weapon", he said

The Argument Machine

Derek Powazek | 27th October 2013

Suppose you are an evil genius constructing a device for plunging rational, well-meaning people into furious arguments. What would your Argument Machine look like? Probably it would encourage people to pepper one another with assertions in public. It would allow bystanders to repeat comments out of context: "Nothing creates a fight faster than in-group language overheard by the out-group" In fact: it would be Twitter

Video of the day: Christopher Hitchens, Never-Ending Party

Thought for the day:

"Society attacks early, when the individual is helpless"— B.F. Skinner

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