Browser Daily Newsletter 1308T


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

Could The Ukraine Crisis Spark A World War?

Graham Allison | National Interest | 7th May 2014

As the title suggests, this piece pushes towards sensationalism. It draws rather heavily on the 1914/2014 conceit. But it merits consideration as a worse-case scenario, and as a reminder that history has a way of escaping our control. Obama's caution is well-founded, and in line with historic American policy: Eisenhower stayed out of the Hungarian uprising in 1956; LBJ stayed out of the Prague Spring in 1968 (2,400 words)

Georges Simenon Returns

Julian Barnes | Times Literary Supplement | 7th May 2014

Shrewd, affectionate portrait of the prolific Belgian author and his creation, Inspector Maigret. "The Inspector is clearly a functioning alcoholic, forever at the beer, the wine, the fine and the Calvados. It’s possible Simenon didn’t notice how much Maigret was drinking because the novelist was himself a functioning alcoholic. A doctor suggested that on writing days he limit himself to two bottles of red" (2,740 words)

Phineas Gage, Neuroscience’s Most Famous Patient

Sam Kean | Slate | 6th May 2014

The medical detail here turned me a faint shade of green; proceed with care. Gage suffered a horrific brain injury in 1848, and survived. His case stands at the origin of modern neuroscience. But wait: "Recent historical work suggests that much of the canonical Gage story is hogwash, a mélange of scientific prejudice, artistic license, and outright fabrication. Each generation seems to remake Gage in its own image" (6,000 words)

The Spirit Music Of Gerard Dupuy

Lavinia Jones Wright | Oxford American | 9th May 2014

Musicologists' diary of a visit to record a Louisiana fiddle player. "His music tonight is a war chant, an exorcism, a question to the universe about what's just beyond the furthest reaches of our sense. It feels like a new religion he is inventing on the spot. There seems to be no bottom to it, no satisfying finish possible once things have gotten this far away from the ground, but the songs eventually conclude. They must. The record is full" (2,560 words)

Why Don’t We Eat Swans Anymore?

Monica Kim | Modern Farmer | 9th May 2014

In Britain all swans belong to the Queen. The Royal Family may legally eat them, as may certain Cambridge dons, but neither faction has done so for the past few centuries. In America, by contrast, swans are so common as to be considered pests. So why not hunt them as food? Mario Batali says the meat is "delicious — deep red, lean, lightly gamey, moist, and succulent". Is it their cuteness that makes them taboo? (840 words)

Video of the day:  The Bible Of Barbecue

What to expect: Advertisement for a truly remarkable cookbook

Thought for the day:

"Anyone who likes meetings should be banned from attending meetings" — Nicholas Nassim Taleb

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