Browser Daily Newsletter 1343

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

Surviving The Black Sea

Kaya Genç | LA Review Of Books | 19th June 2014

Eight hundred Jewish refugees flee Nazi-occupied Romania by ship across the Black Sea towards Palestine. The engines fail off Istanbul. The Turks refuse permission to land. The British refuse permission to proceed. The passengers almost starve. After a month the ship is towed out and cut loose. A Soviet submarine mistakes it for a German boat and sinks it. One man survives. He died last month in Oregon. This is his story (2,560 words)

More Punk, Less Hell

Constantin Seibt | Tagesanzeiger | 18th June 2014

Most uplifting political story of the year so far. How Icelandic anarchists won control of Reykjavik city hall after the 2008 crash, ran the capital for four years — and made a great success of it. Their political strategy was wu wei — do nothing, let your opponents make the mistakes. Their campaign promise: "We can promise more than any other party because we will break every campaign promise" (h/t Longreads ( ) (4,000 words)

The Wells Of Memory

Paul Salopek | National Geographic | 19th June 2014

A walk through the Hejaz desert of Saudi Arabia – part of the author's project to walk around the world. The writing is somewhat self-conscious, but the achievement is fantastic. Hejaz, and particularly the port city of Jeddah, are revealed as "a cosmopolitan and liberal corner of Saudi Arabia, a melting pot, an entrepôt", with a culture and history quite distinct from that of the Bedouin strongholds of the centre (3,500 words)

An Angry Flash Of Gordon

Alexander Nazaryan | Newsweek | 19th June 2014

Thrilling interview with Gordon Lish at 80, confined by psoriasis to his dark apartment in New York where he wanders the rooms "looking like some cross between an old fisherman and King Lear". Age has not mellowed him. On Raymond Carver: “A fraud. I don’t think he was a writer of any consequence.” On Philip Roth: "Full of shit”. On his golden days as literary editor of Esquire: "I was drunk all the time" (1,980 words)

I’m Just Now Realizing How Stupid We Are

Morgan Housel | Motley Fool | 11th June 2014

Finance writer distils the lessons learned in the course of producing 3,000 columns. "I've learned that there's no such thing as a normal market or a normal economy. Some people spend their lives 'waiting for things to get back to normal' without realising that stocks and the economy are always in some state of craziness ... I've learned that 'do nothing' is the best advice for almost everyone almost all the time" (880 words)

Slumdog Millionaire Architect

Daniel Brook | NYT Magazine | 19th June 2014

Profile of Hafeez Contractor, Mumbai-based superstar Indian architect, who specialises in huge luxury projects — campuses, new towns, shopping malls — where richer Indians can live and work insulated from the "chaos of their homeland". Inside his high-rises, "several million dollars buys not only granite countertops and Arabian Sea views but also electricity that never goes out and water that always runs" (Metered paywall) (5,440 words)

Video of the day:  The Too Philosophical Pop Song

What to expect: Poppy music video, existential lyrics

Thought for the day:

"All the wrong people have self-esteem" — Douglas Coupland

London readers: Robert and Duncan invite you to our first Browser event, an evening of conversation with the science writer Philip Ball and the Gulbenkian Foundation's Sian Ede, hosted jointly with Aeon magazine ( , on Monday July 7th.  Please click here for details and ticketing (

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