Two-Hour Marathon, Hacking Wi-Fi, Hasidim, Thornton Wilder, Common Sense, Richard Coles

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

The Two-Hour Marathon

Alex Hutchinson | Runner's World | 13th October 2014

The world marathon record stands at 2:02:57, and we can model with some confidence how the two-hour barrier will eventually be broken by the right runner in the right circumstances. It will probably happen on a cold day in Berlin. The record-breaker will be a short man with long legs, paced by at least six team-mates. (Excellent article, but very distracting format, full of pop-ups; may not save well to Kindle) (4,300 words)

Don’t Read This On Public Wi-Fi

Maurits Martijn | Matter | 15th October 2014

Dutch hacker shows how to eavesdrop on other computers using public wi-fi. "You need 70 Euros, an average IQ, and a little patience". Go into a café, connect to the wi-fi, create your own wi-fi hotspot, attach the name of the café to your bogus network, and wait for others to connect to you. "Already, 20 smartphones and laptops are ours. If he wanted to, Slotboom is now able to ruin the lives of the people connected" (2,273 words)

When Hasidic Jews Join The Secular World

Alice Robb | New Republic | 14th October 2014

Author Lynn Davidman talks about ultra-Orthodox life, and why some rebel. "There’s a special blessing to say after you go to the bathroom — you thank God that all your organs are functioning. If you go to breakfast, you’re supposed to say a blessing over each food. If you have a fruit salad, but you have granola too, which do you bless first? One idea is that if the fruit’s grown in Israel, you bless that one first" (1,360 words)

Thornton Wilder, The Art of Fiction

Richard Goldstone | Paris Review | 15th December 1956

Classic interview, charming and illuminating, full of good points about life and literature. "On the stage it is always now: the personages are standing on that razor-edge, between the past and the future, which is the essential character of conscious being. A novel is what took place; no self-effacement on the part of the narrator can hide the fact that we hear his voice recounting, recalling events that are past and over" (6,000 words)

Common Sense

Left Outside | 14th October 2014

The easy option for politicians is to go along with the supposed common sense of the electorate. But common sense is very often based on wrong assumptions. On average, Britons think that teenage pregnancy is 25 times higher than official estimates. We think that 24% of the population is Muslim; the correct figure is 5%. We think that 31% of the population are immigrants; the correct figure is 13% (780 words)

From Pop Star To Celibate Vicar

Patrick Strudwick | Independent | 13th October 2014

Interview with Richard Coles, pop star with Jimmy Somerville's Communards, sub-editor on the Times Literary Supplement, now an Anglican vicar. At ease with his wild youth: "I was very much healed by the experience of anonymous sex with strangers in lay-bys". Less at ease with some church teaching: "The Church should repent of its hostility to homosexual people and beg forgiveness for its treatment of the gay community" (2,200 words)

Video of the day: Le Retour

What to expect: Ridiculously sentimental, completely irresistible one-minute animation about coming home

Thought for the day

The best argument against democracy is a five-minute talk with the average voter
Winston Churchill (

The Death of Old Europe 3rd November, St Mary Moorfields Church, 7pm
The brilliant and charming David Hargreaves, editor of The Browser Looks Back, will be our guide to the extraordinary parallel world of 1914. Admission is free. Click here to register. (

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