Russia, Algorithms & Gods, Churchill, After Charlie, Medical Poetry

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

Russians Sleepwalk Into Chaos

Ivan Sukhov | Moscow | 14th January 2015

View from Moscow. "2014 was a difficult year for government propagandists. They had to present the conflict in eastern Ukraine as a just war in defense of national interests; on the other hand, the Kremlin never officially acknowledged its involvement in the war. If this really is a war for national interests, why is the most obvious result of defending those interests a more than halving of our salary's buying power?" (1,200 words)

Cathedrals Of Computation

Ian Bogost | Atlantic | 15th January 2015

We talk of algorithms as earlier generations talked of gods — abstract things of infinite sophistication capable of controlling our world down to the tiniest detail. But since the early days of automation experts have exaggerated the capacities of technology and undervalued the human element. The claim that we live in an "algorithmic culture" is propaganda designed to devalue human work still further (2,400 words)

Winston Churchill In The New Statesman Archive

Kingsley Martin et al | New Statesman | 15th January 2015

Four pieces here; all of historical interest; Hugh Dalton's obituary is amusing; but the stand-out is a 1939 interview in which Churchill talks about freedom and democracy: "It may be that greater efficiency in secret military preparations can be achieved in a country with autocratic institutions. But this advantage is not necessarily great, and it is far outweighed by the strength of a democratic country in a long war" (4,580 words)

France: The Ground Shifts

Mark Lilla | New York Review Of Books | 14th January 2015

Until the Charlie Hebdo massacre, the French tended to view terrorist killings by French-born Islamists as the isolated actions of unbalanced individuals. That relatively reassuring assumption has been shattered. The Charlie Hebdo killers were trained professionals, probably equipped and directed by Al-Qaeda. There may well be more to come. "The shock is that things are far worse than anyone had feared" (1,430 words)

Ode To A Stethoscope

Alastair Gee | New Yorker | 14th January 2015 | Metered paywall

Page through a medical journal, and you are likely to find the occasional poem. "In Chest, for instance, the preference is for poetry that deals with pulmonary issues—lung cancer, asbestosis, sleep apnea." The Journal of the America Medical Association gets a thousand submissions a year, half by doctors, and publishes about 50. "A grim syndrome known by the acronym POEMS has, for obvious reasons, inspired special poetic interest" (1,800 words)

Video of the day: The Most Annoying People On The Plane

What to expect: Patrick Stewart portrays the people with whom you least want to share an arm-rest (4'28")

Thought for the day

If at first you don't succeed, well, so much for skydiving
Victor O'Reilly

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