Browser Newsletter 1102

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

Best of the Moment

A Translation Guide To Foreign Policy Gibberish

Micah Zenko | Foreign Policy | 4th September 2013

If you struggle to understand American foreign-policy rhetoric as mediated through State Department and White House spokespersons, keep this cheat-sheet handy. Then you will know that when they say: “All options are on the table”, they mean: “Bombs”

Australia’s Choice

Hugh White | Foreign Affairs | 4th September 2013

Australia is caught between two great powers, on both of which it depends: America and China. So far it has managed to stay on relatively good terms with both, by telling each what it wants to hear. But how long can that parallel diplomacy survive, as competition between America and China becomes more explicit? Unless the fundamentals in Asia somehow change, Australia will have to make a historic choice


Charles Crawford | Aeon | 5th September 2013

How countries break apart. Scotland's bid for secession from the UK offers a road-map for a best-case scenario. History is full of worst-case scenarios, such as the separation of Bangladesh from Pakistan in 1971 at a cost of one million lives. Somewhere between the two lies Kosovo: "It’s one thing to amputate parts of your gangrenous leg yourself. It’s quite another for NATO to lunge in, wielding a rusty hacksaw"

In Praise Of Malcolm Gladwell

Ian Leslie | Medium | 3rd September 2013

"His finest pieces are put together like a Bach cantata: the themes are introduced, then played in counterpoint, building to a polyphonic climax. They are full of feints, false leads and playful misdirects that make the insights, when they arrive, all the more thrilling. Have you ever read a Malcolm Gladwell piece and failed to experience the almost sensual pleasure that comes from being told a good story while having your intellect tickled?"

Paul Kagame: Global Elite’s Favourite Strongman

Jeffrey Gettleman | New York Times | 4th September 2013

Kagame "may be the most complicated leader in Africa". Twenty years after a genocidal civil war, he has made Rwanda a model of development. But his scholarly manner belies a reputation for brutal repression at home, and for stirring conflict in neighbouring Congo. "Kagame is not the only African leader who is both impressive and repressive, though he may be the most impressive and among the most repressive" (Metered paywall)

The Social Life Of Genes

David Dobbs | Pacific Standard | 3rd September 2013

After the rise of genetics and evidence that our essence is inherited, the case for environmental factors makes a comeback. It is's not just the genes you've got that make you who you are; it's also how your individual genes behave and interact, which changes with environment. Move a European bee into an African colony and you see a cascade of changes in the bee's genetic activity. The bee becomes a different bee. People likewise

Video of the day: Ask A Slave: Abolitioning

Thought for the day:

"Of course you can have your cake and eat it, too - if you decide to to bake a second cake" — Robert Kuttner

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