Kissinger, Endurance, Music, CCTV, Electronics


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

The Secret To Henry Kissinger’s Success

Niall Ferguson | Politico | 20th January 2018

Biographer argues that Kissinger’s greatest talent was for networking. As an academic “he had learned that informal networks could provide diplomatic channels superior to foreign ministries and embassies”. He cared less about hierarchy than about who could be of use to him — and who could not. “His most remarkable feat was to isolate himself from the Nixon network that plotted the Watergate break-in. It took a networker of genius to know exactly which nodes to avoid connecting to” (3,100 words)

How To Survive 75 Hours Alone In The Ocean

Alex Hutchinson | Outside | 17th January 2018

In February 2006 an experienced Navy diving instructor called Robert Hewitt was scuba diving off the coast of New Zealand’s North Island. A current pulled him offshore. He spent three days and nights in the water before he was spotted and rescued. How did he survive, when he should have died? It was mostly down to psychology. “In defiance of all the physiological models, Rob Hewitt survived for an astounding 75 hours alone in the cold water. If you find yourself out there, don’t give up” (1,068 words)

Too Much Music

James Jackson Toth | NPR | 16th January 2018

Spotify and other online music services allow us to extend and diversify the music to which we listen almost without limit or cost or effort. But then, with very little emotional investment demanded, the emotional rewards we derive from new music seem less than they used to be in the days of carefully-chosen LPs and CDs. “I know far more today about albums I hated in 1990 than I do about my favorite albums released last year”. Even so, is this a better or a worse equilibrium? (4,090 words)

They Are Watching You

Robert Draper | National Geographic | 21st January 2018

A hundred million surveillance cameras are sold every year. America’s skies are filled with 2.5 million drones. Above them at least 1,700 satellites view the Earth. CCTV cameras cover every inch of central London. We are all watched almost all the time. And is it really so bad? There are measurable social, economic and environmental gains from surveillance; What do we set against them, except a loss of privacy on which we do not, in practice, seem to place very much value? (8,400 words)

CES 2018: Real Advances, Real Questions

Steven Sinofsky | Learning By Shipping | 16th January 2018

The state of consumer electronics, as seen at the 2018 CES trade show in Las Vegas. The new frontier is voice — voice-interaction with assistants, and voice-controlled appliances. Amazon leads, with Google some way behind, then Siri and Cortana, and others. A shake-out must come. Nobody wants five or six sets of mikes in their home. Also, by the way, wires are history. “There are no wires at CES. The only wire is from your high-speed internet to a router. After that everything is wireless” (10,500 words)

Video of the day Marbles, Magnets, And Music

What to expect:

A Rube-Goldberg-type obstacle course for marbles, synchronised with Tschaikovsky’s “Waltz of the Flowers” (3’44”)

Thought for the day

One of the most time-consuming things is to have an enemy
E.B. White

Podcast of the day The Future Of Shopping | Atlantic Radio

Jeff Goldberg, Alex Wagner and Gillian White on the sociology of shopping. Is it about community or convenience?
(39'42")

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