Browser Daily Newsletter 1301

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

Hell Is An Understatement

Graeme Wood | New Republic | 30th April 2014

Report from the "bloody, crumbling" Central African Republic, where Christians and Muslims are at war. The danger is "unequaled anywhere in present-day Africa". Street lynchings "are so common that they cease to be news". In the capital, Bangui, the Red Cross operates "an on-demand sanitation service that, within an hour of being called, will show up to collect human bodies, whether chopped up or left intact" (6,070 words)

How To Lose $100 Million

Luke O'Brien | Politico | 1st May 2014

The method employed here: Merge Newsweek with the Daily Beast under Tina Brown's editorship. Barry Diller, owner of the Beast, sealed the merger with Sidney Harman, owner of Newsweek, over drinks in the Carlyle Hotel in 2010. "Three years later, Brown will have tumbled completely out of journalism, Diller will have lost north of $100 million, and Harman will be dead" (8,250 words)

Bloomberg’s Folly

Howard French | Columbia Journalism Review | 1st May 2014

Back-story of the conflict which erupted within Bloomberg LP when Bloomberg News published an exposé of Chinese president Xi Jinping's family wealth. Rivals hailed it as "the most amazing reporting on the Chinese leadership we have seen, maybe ever". Bloomberg's bosses took a different view. They feared for their business in China. A follow-up piece was spiked. China broke Bloomberg (3,785 words)

Man In The Mirror; Self-Portraits

Andrew Marr | New Statesman | 30th April 2014

Review of The Self Portrait: a Cultural History, by James Hall, which argues that the history of the self-portrait is also a history of the social status of the artist. The genre was scarcely known in ancient art. It gained ground in the Renaissance, as artists became celebrities within their cities. It was exalted by Rembrandt, who "quite consciously turned himself into one of the first international artistic superstars" (1,490 words)

The Executioner’s Choir

Jack Shafer | Reuters | 30th April 2014

Executions make compelling newspaper copy, whatever their failings in humanitarian and public-policy terms. Michael Graczyk of Associated Press has covered 300 of them: "At one execution, the condemned sang Silent Night — even though it wasn’t Christmas time. He got to ‘Round yon virgin, mother and child’ before gasping and losing consciousness. Christmas, for me, never has been the same” (1,330 words)

What Does Buddhism Require?

Gary Gutting | New York Times | 27th April 2014

Interview with Jay Garfield, philosopher. Interesting throughout. Buddhism is an "atheistic religion" preoccupied with the nature of reality and the impermanence of the self. "The modern emphasis on individuality might not be such a good thing. We might all be better off if we each took ourselves less seriously as selves. That may be one of the most important Buddhist critiques of modernity" (Metered Paywall) (2,464 words)

Video of the day:  How To See Without Glasses

What to expect: Cartoon presentation of serious science; one very useful tip up front

Thought for the day:

"When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this: you haven’t" — Thomas Edison

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