Newsletter 1028


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

Obituary: Iain Banks

Anonymous | Telegraph | 9th June 2013

Author dies at 59. "His principal childhood interest were television, reading science fiction, and producing homemade explosives". First book, The Wasp Factory, brought him immediate notoriety. "Even before its appearance, one publisher claimed that the book had made him vomit into his waste paper basket". After being diagnosed with terminal cancer, he proposed to his girlfriend, asking her “do me the honour of being my widow”

If The NSA Trusted Edward Snowden, Why Trust The NSA?

Farhad Manjoo | Slate | 9th June 2013

Good point. The PRISM whistleblower may be an idealist, even a hero. But what does his access to secrets say about the workings of the NSA? "The NSA trusted its most sensitive documents to this guy? He isn’t a seasoned FBI or CIA investigator. He isn’t a State Department analyst. He’s not an attorney with a specialty in national security or privacy law. Instead, he’s the IT guy, and not a very accomplished, experienced one at that"

Using Metadata To Find Paul Revere

Kieran Healy | 9th June 2013

How an 18C NSA operative might have used "the new-fangled methods of Social Networke Analysis" to arrest Paul Revere. "If a mere scribe such as I can use the very simplest of these methods to pick the name of a traitor from those of 254 other men, using nothing but a list of memberships and a portable calculating engine, then just think what might be possible in the defense of liberty one or two centuries from now"

Janet Malcolm: Cool, Yet Warm

Zoe Heller | New York Review Of Books | 8th June 2013

Review of Forty-One False Starts: "The tension between the messiness of truth and the false tidiness of art is Malcolm’s great subject. She imposes narrative order on all kinds of messes — the tribal politics of the contemporary art world, the squabbles of the psychoanalytical establishment, the bureaucracy of the New York State family justice system — but never lets us forget the process by which that order has been achieved"

In The Kitchen With Alain Passard

Christophe Blain | Medium | 6th June 2013

Excerpt from a graphic novel, following the master-chef through a day in the kitchen of his Paris restaurant, L'Arpège. With a recipe for the simplest dessert in the world

Loss Of Privacy And Collapse Of Creative Ambiguity

Tyler Cowen | Marginal Revolution | 8th June 2013

The political economy of surveillance. "The old equilibrium is perhaps no longer stable. People may even be fine with that level of spying, if they think it means fewer successful terror attacks. But if they acquiesce too openly, the level of spying on them will get worse. You should not think that recent events will simply cement a previous status quo in place, rather it moves us down a very particular path"

Video of the day: Paper City

Thought for the day:

"Of course I believe in luck. How else does one explain the successes of one's enemies?"— Jean Cocteau

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