Browser Daily Newsletter 1192

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

Bashar Al Assad: Intimate Profile Of A Mass Murderer

Annia Ciezadlo | New Republic | 19th December 2013

Bashar Al Assad has grown into his role as despot. He used to be a relatively nice guy, he isn't any more. He is playing the civil war as a long game, and he thinks he knows how it ends. "Calmly and deliberately, he has painted a picture that in the beginning was not completely accurate: The demonstrators, he said, were jihadists who would bring Afghanistan-type chaos to the country. Then he sat back and waited for it to become true"

What I Did With My Lamborghini

Dwight Garner | New York Times | 20th December 2013

Literary critic accustomed to "rusted-out Jeeps and Volvos" enjoys test-driving a Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4 Roadster. Accelerating from 0 to 60mph in 2.9 seconds produces a sensation "akin to horizontal bungee jumping". At low speeds "the engine whines like a wedge of pit bulls kept on a choke collar." Bonus tip: You can grill sausages on the flames from the exhaust (Metered paywall)

Heroin: Art And Culture’s Last Taboo

Andrew Hussey | Guardian | 22nd December 2013

We're fairly at ease in discussing the role of psychedelic drugs in art. But heroin? Not so much, though it has a rich history, perhaps because heroin is such a deeply introspective drug. There's no shared joy in it. "It wipes away the sense of responsibility to the collective. This is why heroin users are usually characterised as self-destructive narcissists who don't really deserve to survive their habits"

White House NSA Report: A Mixed Bag

John Cassidy | New Yorker | 20th December 2013

Discussion and explainer of the report into NSA surveillance commissioned by President Obama after the Snowden leaks. The recommendations are good but limited. "The panel says outright that it is time to roll back some aspects of the surveillance state. But how, exactly, is this to be done? Rather than dismantling the current system, the report advocates chiselling away at it here and there, and beefing up oversight"

Video of the day:  Katachi

Thought for the day:

"The covers of this book are too far apart" — Ambrose Bierce

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