Browser Daily Newsletter 1268


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

To Russia With Love

Keith Gessen | Medium | 21st March 2014

Beguiling, rose-tinted reminiscence of the twenty-plus years spanning late Gorbachev to early Putin during which Russia was a relatively open and Western-friendly country — a period now seemingly at an end. This was a wonderful interlude especially for returning emigrés who could find in Russia, briefly, the best of their East and their West. My highest praise: I could have wished this piece were twice as long (3,670 words)

What Pakistan Knew About Bin Laden

Carlotta Gall | NYT Magazine | 19th March 2014

Sensational story. Pakistan's duplicity is much suspected but rarely so well explained. Its intelligence service hid and protected Osama bin Laden. Its top generals and Al Qaeda jointly murdered Benazir Bhutto. Pakistan nurtures the Taliban as a "proxy force" to "eventually dominate Afghanistan". America knows the truth but keeps it under wraps "for fear of setting off a greater confrontation" (Metered paywall) (5,000 words)

The Overprotected Kid

Hanna Rosin | Atlantic | 19th March 2014

Sensible, much-needed discussion of over-anxious parenting, part of our wider fetishising of safety over freedom. "It’s hard to absorb how much childhood norms have shifted in just one generation. Actions that would have been considered paranoid in the 1970s — walking third-graders to school, forbidding your kid to play ball in the street — are now routine. In fact, they are the markers of good, responsible parenting" (8,860 words)

The Unwisdom Of Crowds

Anne Applebaum | New Republic | 20th March 2014

People-powered revolutions are overrated. Protesting crowds provide good newspaper copy and great photographs. But they may not represent the majority, and they are the antithesis of the highly structured institutions — courts, legal systems, bills of rights — which functioning democracy demands. The crowd may have its moment, but the key to building durable democracy is long negotiation, as in Chile and Poland (1,570 words)

I Was Modern Once

Charlie Brooker | The Guardian | 16th March 2014

On the transition from old to new media. Rude, shrewd and very funny. "Reading the internet feels increasingly like sitting on the bog in the 1980s reading a novelty book of showbiz facts that never ends. In five years' time all news articles will consist of a single coloured icon you click repeatedly to make info-nuggets fly out, accompanied by musical notes, like a cross between Flappy Bird and Newsnight" (900 words)

There Are Two Kinds Of Novelists …

Matt Seidel | The Millions | 18th March 2014

... But many metaphors for dividing them. For example: "There are robust novelists (D.H. Lawrence), who announce their presence by busting down the front door of your literary consciousness to steal your electronics, and insinuating novelists (Willa Cather), who sneak in through a window after you’ve dozed off and raid your refrigerator" (1,230 words)

Video of the day:  Bump To Buzz

What to expect: A father serenades the mother of his child, as her belly swells. Sounds odd, but it's charming

Thought for the day:

"As a general rule, anything that is embarrassing to one person will be funny to others" — Robert Mankoff

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