Newsletter 932

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

Unmanned Flight

John Horgan | National Geographic | 15 February 2013

Future of weaponised drones: they will masquerade as insects and birds. "They show me an animated video starring micro-UAVs that resemble winged, multi-legged bugs. The drones swarm through alleys, crawl across windowsills, and perch on power lines. One of them sneaks up on a scowling man holding a gun and shoots him in the head"

Generation Kill: A Conversation With Stanley McChrystal

Gideon Rose | Foreign Affairs | 18 February 2013

One for the history books. On counterinsurgency, Obama, Iraq, Afghanistan. "If somebody builds a bridge, you have the people ready to drive over it and take advantage of that. It's cooperating with civilian agencies, it's cooperating with conventional forces, it's tying the pieces together. That's the art of war, and that's the hard part"

The Papal Abdication

Joseph Bottum | Weekly Standard | 18 February 2013

Benedict is an introverted intellectual recognisably unfit for the rigours of a busy public office. John Paul II drew strength from the crowds; Benedict feels the public as a burden. His legacy is in his writings. But however uncomfortable he felt, he shouldn't have resigned. Being Pope is a spiritual responsibility, not a job or a performance

Depictions Of Violence In Theater

Charles McNulty | LA Times | 15 February 2013

How much is too much? "Make-believe violence is a tool that easily becomes an indiscriminate weapon. It is a form of knowledge—of the body's vulnerability, of the aggression that lurks in the hearts of men—but it can also be a pernicious seduction, luring artists and audiences toward a nihilistic celebration of the destruction of meaning itself"

Dissent Is The Health Of The Democratic State

Cosma Shalizi | Crooked Timber | 16 February 2013

One of the best short notes on the qualities of democracy that I can remember having read. Part of a series of CT posts discussing Jack Knight and Jim Johnson’s book, "The Priority of Democracy". Shalizi thinks the book is full of wisdom, but far too diffusely presented: "There is a good short, pointed book in here; someone should write it."

Warrior Petraeus

Thomas Powers | New York Review Of Books | 14 February 2013

Magnificent essay on David Petraeus's career from Vietnam to Iraq to Afghanistan. The ideas that shaped him, and how he shaped American strategy. "The central work of his life has been learning how to fight the sort of war we lost in Vietnam—small wars against determined, popular movements where getting the politics right is 80% of the challenge"

Video of the day: TV Ads From Soviet Estonia

Thought for the day:

"What is normal is a hugely complicated question in terms of psychiatry. The downside is if you pursue this thinking, there will be no extra help for autistic people" — Uta Frith

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