Newsletter 987

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

Best of the Moment

America’s Dirty Wars

Jeremy Scahill | Nation | 22nd April 2013

Gripping account of the killing of Al-Qaeda propagandist Anwar al-Awlaki. A first drone attack missed. A second one succeeded. And yet another killed Awlaki's teenage son. Tactical triumph, moral quandary. "When the president was briefed on Awlaki’s location in Jawf and also told that children were in the house, he was explicit that he did not want to rule any options out. Awlaki was not to escape again"

Did Margaret Thatcher Have A Sense Of Humour?

Andrew Gimson | Conservative Home | 23rd April 2013

Perceptive and amusing interview with Charles Moore, authorised biographer of Mrs Thatcher. She did not have that much of a sense of humour since you ask, but she did have many other qualities. “She was intensely artificial: the hair, the make-up, the clothes, the voice, everything very professionally worked out to achieve certain effects. But the reason they achieved those effects was they all reflected a reality about her. Artificial yes, bogus no"

Immigration: The British Dream

David Goodhart | Pandaemonium | 22nd April 2013

Why large-scale immigration is bad for Britain: "Decent societies with high levels of trust between citizens require a degree of stability and continuity. That does not mean everyone has to look the same or pray to the same God. It does mean care has to be taken with the speed of change". This is an author's reply to a critical review. But it is worth reading in its own right, and all the better for its conversational tone

The Eternal Mainframe

Rudolf Winestock | Throwww | 19th April 2013

Computer science essay. The revolution has come full circle: from time-sharing on mainframes in the university, to personal computers in the home, and back again to time-sharing on mainframes in the cloud. It's also a story about the gain and loss of freedom and privacy. In the era of personal computing we owned our data and our software. In the era of cloud computing we don't, and even our hardware is remote-controlled

Oswald’s Stone, Lost Palladium Of Middlesex

Frank Jacobs | Strange Maps | 22nd April 2013

On the transience of places and place names. Where is Ossulstone? And where, for that matter, is Middlesex? Ossulstone is now better known as Marble Arch. Before the arch was built, the crossroads of Oxford Street and Edgware Road was marked by a monolith called Oswald's Stone, stolen in 1869, and perhaps still lurking in somebody's cellar. As for Middlesex, it was absorbed by Greater London in 1965. Where it is now is anyone's guess

The Rise Of Big Data

Kenneth Cukier | Foreign Affairs | 23rd April 2013

Essay. How big data will change the way we think about the world. Scientists will "no longer have to settle for small amounts or samples, as statisticians have done for well over a century". We will have to "shed our preference for highly curated and pristine data and instead accept messiness". And, most profoundly, we will "need to give up our quest to discover the cause of things, in return for accepting correlations"

Video of the day: Tuna Melt

Thought for the day:

"That all men are equal is a proposition to which at ordinary times no sane individual has ever given his assent"— Aldous Huxley

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