Newsletter 926

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

Pope Benedict's Resignation: A Stunning Shock

Andrew Brown | Guardian | 11 February 2013

There will be many more accounts and commentaries in the hours and days to come, but this brief note catches all the main points. "In Benedict's resignation statement can be seen an implied rebuke to his predecessor, who argued that clinging to life and power for as long as possible was itself a form of witness to Christ's suffering"

The French Love Horse Meat. Why Don't We?

Boris Johnson | Telegraph | 11 February 2013

Britain demonises the eating of horse meat —but it's a staple French food. What's up? "Taboos vary from country to country because in a way it doesn’t matter exactly what the prohibition is: what matters is the fact of the taboo, and the process of agreeing – and changing – the boundaries of acceptable behaviour is central to what makes a society

The Double Agent Who Infiltrated Al Qaeda

Orla Borg et al | Newsweek | 11 February 2013

Extraordinary story of Morten Storm, Danish criminal turned Islamic radical, who lost his faith, defected to the Danish secret service, then helped the CIA to locate and assassinate American-born al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki and other suspected members of al Qaeda. First published in Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten

Political Failure Modes And The Beige Dictatorship

Charlie Stross | Charlie's Diary | 8 February 2013

"The future isn't a boot stamping on a human face, forever. It's a person in a beige business outfit advocating beige policies that nobody wants (but nobody can quite articulate a coherent alternative to) with a false mandate obtained by performing rituals of representative democracy that offer as much actual choice as a Stalinist one-party state"

Of Businessmen And Ballerinas

Adrian Wooldridge | Economist | 9 February 2013

What business might learn from upsets at the Bolshoi Theatre, the ballet director of which was almost blinded in an acid attack. "The need to hire the best means firms have to put up with prima donnas. Talent-driven firms can be torn apart by feuds or rendered dysfunctional by egocentric behaviour. A creative environment can often be a toxic one"

Video of the day: When I Grow Up

Thought for the day:

"Benthamite utilitarianism is a philosophy that tells you what to do when you have the data that you cannot obtain" — Mario Rizzo

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