Newsletter 1035


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

The Whitey Bulger Trial

Seth Stevenson | Slate | 17th June 2013

Day Five of Slate's trial coverage. A recommendation for the series so far, not only this post. Every dose comes full of flavour. "John Martorano is a porpoise of a man inside a massive suit jacket. His face disappears into the fat of his neck. When he takes the stand today—tinted eyeglasses, polka-dot tie, pocket square—he tells us he is 72 years old, divorced, and unemployed. Also, he has murdered 20 people"

The Other Mile-High Club

Anonymous | The Economist | 15th June 2013

Finnish liftmaker Kona has announced a super-strong, super-light cable made of carbon-fiber, 90% lighter than steel, which can raise an elevator a kilometre or more — twice the existing limit. Since the effectiveness of lifts is one of the main constraints on the height of buildings, this breakthrough could allow for a new generation of skyscrapers twice the height of existing ones. The mile-high tower-block is coming. And maybe space elevators too

Five Rules for Arming Rebels

Edward Luttwak | Foreign Policy | 18th June 2013

It's better not to get involved at all in a conflict that you cannot win. But since the Obama administration has decided to get involved in Syria, here are some rules of thumb. America doesn't have any reliable friends in this one. Not Qatar, not Saudi, not Turkey. Don't give the rebels anything that we'd want to get back afterwards, such as portable anti-aircraft weapons. And — this ought to be obvious — have clear rules for the endgame

Last Song For Migrating Birds

Jonathan Franzen | National Geographic | 18th June 2013

"To a visitor from North America, where bird hunting is well regulated and only naughty farm boys shoot songbirds, the situation in the Mediterranean is appalling: Every year, from one end of it to the other, hundreds of millions of songbirds and larger migrants are killed for food, profit, sport, and general amusement. All across Europe bird populations are in steep decline, and the slaughter in the Mediterranean is one of the causes"

An Imagined Conversation Between The Construction Workers Upstairs

Ben Jurney | McSweeney's | 17th June 2013

"Worker: It’s 6:37 AM, let’s begin hammering. Second Worker: Are we nailing anything in today? Worker: No, we’re just striking the bare, wooden floor with our hammers. Second Worker: How hard are we hammering today? Worker: Boss wants us to alternate between hammering with great force and exceptionally great force. We take breaks when the man living downstairs leaves the building"

Video of the day: 60-Second Adventures In Thought

Thought for the day:

"If the automobile had followed the same development cycle as the computer, a Rolls-Royce would today cost $100, get a million miles per gallon, and explode once a year, killing everyone inside"— Robert X. Cringely

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