Newsletter 967

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

What A Handyman Knows About Male Insecurity

27th March 2013 | Andy Hinds | The Atlantic

Short essay. Home handyman discusses the moments of gendered awkwardness that come with the territory: "Although I've worked for plenty of men who seem to be perfectly comfortable with the arrangement of using the money they earn with their own skills to pay for someone else's expertise, there are three reactions I've grown familiar with that suggest there's often anxiety about letting another guy do your man jobs"

Cold Rush: Arctic Myths And Misconceptions

26th March 2013 | Clive Schofield | Current Intelligence

Briefing. Fact-packed. Cut out and keep. "The contemporary narrative tends to characterise the region as an arena for resource-driven jurisdictional and geopolitical rivalries. Recent coverage of the Arctic has focused on a perceived ‘scramble’ or ‘gold rush’ for jurisdictional rights linked to access to marine resources, especially potential seabed energy resources, as well as the possibility of opening long-sought navigational routes through the Arctic Ocean." There's some truth here, but also much exaggeration

Pynchon’s First Novel Turns 50

28th March 2013 | Alexander Nazaryan | New Yorker

Short essay. Re-reading Thomas Pynchon's V., half a century on. "I should confess that I have no idea what V. is about — and I have read it twice ... And that’s fine. Pynchon novels, like certain dishes, tend to only suffer from excessive explanation. I advocate surrender to Pynchon; letting your mind toss on the wild currents of his language is a lot more enjoyable than treating his novels like puzzles, wondering where the pieces fit: Who is Rachel Owlglass? Why are we in Egypt? Just enjoy the bumps — or try to"

India As A Great Power

28th March 2013 | Anonymous | The Economist

Briefing. "India exhibits a striking lack of what might be called a strategic culture. It has fought a number of limited wars — one with China, which it lost, and several with Pakistan, which it mostly won, if not always convincingly — and it faces a range of threats, including jihadist terrorism and a persistent Maoist insurgency. Yet its political class shows little sign of knowing or caring how the country’s military clout should be deployed." That has to change, if India wants to protect and advance its interests in the world, in the teeth of Chinese rivalry

Bitcoin: The Global Economy’s Safe Haven

27th March 2013 | Paul Ford | Business Week

Backgrounder on "the Internet’s favorite, media-friendly, anarchist crypto-currency". Invented four years by a pseudonymous hacker using a Japanese name. Has soared in value from three cents to almost $80. Bitcoins are strings of digits which anyone can generate with enough computing power and time — the virtual equivalent of mining for gold. Transfers are made peer-to-peer, as with PayPal, but with no regulation and no banks in the background. "It feels like a hoax". But the technology is impeccable and robust

Video of the day: Festo: BionicOpter

Thought for the day:

"The book is a technology so pervasive, so frequently iterated and innovated upon, so worn and polished by centuries of human contact, that it reaches the status of Nature" — Richard Nash

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