Gmail, Sepp Blatter, Theaster Gates, David Simon, Osama Bin Laden, Marc Andreessen, Saul Bellow

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

Lucy Is A Gifted Communicator

Lucy Kellaway | Financial Times | 11th May 2015 | | Read with 1Pass

Lucy Kellaway road-tests Crystal, a Gmail plug-in which trawls the internet for information about the person to whom you are writing, and gives you tips on how to draft your message so that it will get read. Her verdict: A good idea, but it needs a lot more work. "Even though the app has more or less got my character right, its suggestions on how to approach me are worse than useless. 'Use emoticons', it begins. Is this a joke?" (860 words)

In A League Of His Own

Tariq Panja et al | Bloomberg Businessweek | 30th April 2015

Sepp Blatter runs for a fifth term as president of FIFA despite an almost comical array of scandals in his previous four. But who cares? FIFA is awash with money, which Blatter parcels out to member countries, which duly re-elect Blatter. His challengers are reduced to promising even bigger hand-outs. "If the best his opponents can do is promise to out-Sepp Sepp, perhaps he’s precisely the man soccer deserves" (5,500 words)

The Artist As Property Developer

Tim Adams | Guardian | 3rd May 2015

Theaster Gates buys derelict properties, strips and renovates them, makes artworks from the salvage, sells the art, and buys more derelict properties. He is "inexorably remodelling his entire neighbourhood" on the South Side of Chicago, repurposing houses and commercial buildings including a bank and a power station. His practice employs 60 “artists and makers” and is "expanding to other cities in the American rust belt" (4,100 words)

Zero Tolerance

David Simon | Audacity Of Despair | 8th May 2015

Looking beyond Baltimore. "The street is the opening act. The second act has to be political. The demand is not merely to punish some police. The substantive victory — for which there is now actually a window – is for our governance and law enforcement to take its hand from the throat of the other America, to finally and forever abandon the cruelty of an unrestrained drug war, of zero-tolerance policies, of mass incarceration" (5,020 words)

The Killing Of Osama Bin Laden

Seymour Hersh | London Review Of Books | 11th May 2015

Interesting if true. Hersh claims that published accounts of Bin Laden's death are mostly disinformation — though Hersh's own story is opaquely sourced. He says a Pakistani official leaked Bin Laden's location for a $25m reward; Pakistan was holding Bin Laden "hostage", for leverage in dealings with Al-Qaida; Saudi Arabia was paying his bills; Pakistan approved the raid on condition that Bin Laden was killed, not captured (10,000 words)

Tomorrow’s Advance Man

Tad Friend | New Yorker | 11th May 2015 | Metered paywall

Profile of "Andreessen the Magnificent" — Marc Andreessen, founder of Netscape, "charismatic introvert", partner in venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, "a16z" to its friends. "Each year, three thousand startups approach a16z with a 'warm intro' from someone the firm knows. A16z invests in fifteen. Of those, at least ten will fold, three or four will prosper, and one might soar to be worth more than a billion dollars" (13,000 words)

Saul Bellow After Death

Gary Shteyngart | New York Review Of Books | 10th May 2015

Reflections on Bellow's novel, Ravelstein, an affectionate portrait of the worldly academic, Allan Bloom. "The novel luxuriates in Ravelstein’s newly minted millions. There’s an exquisite description of the purchase of a BMW that lasts for two pages. There’s the appearance of the then-exotic Visa Gold card on which you could slap $4,500. It’s all about trembling fingers and hot beverages; it’s about anxiety, desire, and death" (1,700 words)

Video of the day: Matthew Crawford On The Crisis of Attention

What to expect: Philosopher discusses how advertising permeates every more of our lives (4'55")

Thought for the day

Pessimists desire the things they fear, to prove that they are right
Robert Mallet

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