Browser Newsletter 1078

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

Best of the Moment

How To Convince Investors

Paul Graham | 8th August 2013

"The foundation of convincing investors is to seem formidable, and since this isn't a word most people use in conversation much, I should explain what it means. A formidable person is one who seems like they'll get what they want, regardless of whatever obstacles are in the way. Formidable is close to confident, except that someone could be confident and mistaken. Formidable is, roughly, justifiably confident"

Boycott The Sochi Olympics

Stephen Fry | 7th August 2013

"Putin is making scapegoats of gay people, just as Hitler did Jews. He cannot be allowed to get away with it. I have visited Russia, stood up to the political deputy who introduced the first of these laws. I looked into the face of the man and, on camera, tried to reason with him. All I saw reflected back at me was what Hannah Arendt called 'the banality of evil'. Putin may not be quite as oafish, but his instincts are the same"

Anatomy Of A Publisher

Robert Gottlieb | New Yorker | 5th August 2013

Gloriously catty and colourful review of Boris Kachka's Hothouse, which Gottlieb dismisses as "feature journalism masquerading as history", but still manages to hang a six-page feature of his own from it, in which he retells the tale of Farrar, Straus, Giroux, and makes you wonder whether Mad Men might have been better set in a publishing house. At its center, Roger Straus: “A magnificent character: vindictive, raucous, willful. A wonderful man”

How Athletes Get Great

David Epstein & Jeremy Repanich | Outside | 6th August 2013

There is a big genetic component. Practice isn't enough, not even the "10,000 hours" popularised by Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers, which mis-states underlying research — it's an average, not a benchmark. In chess: "It takes 11,053 hours on average to achieve international master status. But the range there is what’s important. One guy takes 3,000 hours to become a master and another takes 25,000 and he’s still not there"

The Changing Debate About China

Michael Pettis | China Financial Markets | 7th August 2013

Wonkish but accessible discussion of China's economy, and whether, as growth slows, it is heading for a crash or a managed deceleration. Pettis argues that (i) China is well into a phase in which capital is being systematically misallocated and wealth is being destroyed. This points to a crash when debt limits are reached. However, (ii) the government has the foresight and expertise to mitigate, perhaps avoid, this outcome

A Different Childhood

Sergey Khazov | Berfrois/Open Democracy | 1st August 2013

On growing up gay in the Soviet Union. (Sensibility alert: some strong and graphic language.) Violence from other boys, no sympathy from Mum: "I didn’t raise and feed you all these years for you to turn into a queer! I worked my fingers to the bone; I denied myself new boots so you didn’t go hungry and were properly dressed. And now what do I get in return? My son’s a queer? No, I won’t have it!”

Video of the day: How To Become The British Monarch

Thought for the day:

"I am composed of contradictions, which is why poetry is a better form for me than philosophy" — Czeslaw Milosz

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