Braudel, Magnus Carlsen, Young Russians, Rasputin

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

Events, Events, Events

Neville Morley | Sphinx | 23rd November 2016

The French historian Ferdinand Braudel argued for a long-term view of history; there was a great and gradual evolution of things on which particular individuals and particular events, even the most terrible of them, could have relatively little impact. It was a sort of optimism. What would Braudel make of the present day? He would find his model, and his optimism, overturned. Individuals alive today have the power to halt, or not halt, global warming. The long term is in their hands (740 words)

Magnus Carlsen Makes Chess Cool

David Cox | Vice Sports | 22nd November 2016

Profile of Magnus Carlsen, defending his world chess title in New York this week. His edge is stamina. He wears rivals down. “His practical strengths are at a completely new level. He has vast patience. Some people want to win immediately but he has no problem winning after six hours. There will be positions where most players will agree to a draw, but he’ll see some small things and keep playing for another three hours, applying moderate pressure with simple but exact moves. People crack” (2,560 words)

A Hero In Putin

Julia Ioffe | National Geographic | 23rd November 2016

Conversations with young Russians. “Sasha, Alexander, Stepan, and their cohort do live on a planet different from the one their parents and grandparents live on, yet they are in some ways becoming even more Soviet. It’s a strange thing: These young men and women know little of the privations, habits, and cruelty of Soviet life. Their desire for staid normalcy — intact families, reliable, if unsatisfying, jobs — is their response to what they lacked in the Nineties and found in the Putin era” (5,600 words)

The Making Of A Mad Monk

23rd November 2016

Was Rasputin really so bad? His lurid reputation comes from the memoirs of his enemies, recycled into Hollywood films. Douglas Smith’s “magisterial new biography” hacks away at the myths around Rasputin and finds a sympathetic, even kindly, figure within. “There are no breathless accounts of wild orgies, magnetic seductions, or miraculous healings. Secondhand reports of Rasputin’s nefarious exploits abound, but each is scrupulously fact-checked, and, more often than not, dismissed” (1,700 words)

Interview: Slavoj Zizek

Alexander Sammon | Mother Jones | 22nd October 2016

Interesting throughout. Topics include Islam, racism, populism, American politics. On rising anti-immigrant feeling in Europe: “The state wants to impose basic anti-racist measures, and then local communities controlled by right-wing fundamentalists block that. I am here on the side of the state, which I am ready to endorse up to the crazy end. We have to accept that the people are quite often not right. I believe in democracy but in a very conditional way” (2,100 words)

Video of the day: Supernova

What to expect:

The death of a star, spectacularly imagined using only an aquarium, water, ink and light (3’09”)

Thought for the day

We still think of a powerful man as a born leader and a powerful woman as an anomaly
Margaret Atwood

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