Geopolitics, America, Russia, Amazon Echo, Containers, Indian Restaurants

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

Twilight Of The Liberal World Order

Robert Kagan | Brookings | 24th January 2017

Big geopolitics think-piece. Deeply pessimistic. “With the election of Donald Trump, a majority of Americans have signaled their unwillingness to continue upholding the world order. This new approach in American foreign policy is likely to hasten a return to the instability and clashes of previous eras. History suggests that this is a downward spiral from which it will be difficult to recover absent a major conflict. The collapse of the world order, with all that entails, may not be far off” (3,450 words)

How America Lost Its Identity

Holger Stark | Spiegel | 26th January 2017

Spiegel‘s returning Washington correspondent reflects on four years in America. “Over the last 30 years, conservatives and neoliberals have worked tirelessly to destroy the state, which they see as a form of imposed socialist administration. They have made America weak. In a complicated world where everything is connected to everything else, the protective identity of a state must experience a renaissance. Trump is one of the few conservatives to have recognized that fact” (3,300 words)

Russia: Life After Trust

Michael Idov | New York | 22nd January 2017

“One imagines life in an autocratic regime as dominated by fear and oppression: armed men in the street, total surveillance, chanted slogans, whispered secrets. But residents of a hybrid regime such as Russia — an autocracy with the façade of a democracy — know the Orwellian notion is needlessly romantic. Russian life is marked less by fear than by cynicism: the all-pervasive idea that no institution is to be trusted, because no institution is bigger than the avarice of the person in charge” (2,700 words)

Short Cuts: From iPhone To Echo

John Lanchester | London Review Of Books | 25th January 2017

The Amazon Echo ushers in the era of voice-operated home computing, probably the most consequential tech innovation since the iPhone’s launch ten years ago. But, as with the iPhone, you still have to know how to install it, and command it, and fix it. An Echo with “totally intuitive usability and complete reliability” would be a “miraculous thing”. But what we get is “devices which work really well for people who already know how to use them, and function 99 per cent of the time” (1,800 words)

Secrets Of The Shipping Industry

Rose George | Longreads | 6th September 2013

A glimpse into the prodigious scale of the container-shipping industry. The Maersk Line’s ships use more oil than the whole of Denmark, Maersk’s home country. Maersk is “the Coca-Cola of freight with none of the fame”. If you laid all Maersk’s containers end to end they would stretch more than halfway round the planet. If they were stacked instead, they would be 1,500 miles high or 7,530 Eiffel Towers. The biggest container ships carry 15,000 boxes, enough to hold 746 million bananas (4,200 words)

Rising Popularity Of Indian Restaurants In Britain

Our Own Reporter | Manchester Guardian | 24th January 2017

From the Guardian archives, a 1957 report on the post-war spread of Indian restaurants across Britain. “When the cafes and steak houses are shut, Bhuna Gosht, Kofta, Jelabi, and Poppadum are astonishing the mouths of those who miss buses all over Britain. Provision, naturally, is made for the few who dislike being astonished at table: they can order fried eggs or cups of unsuccessful white coffee tinged with charcoal, but the cooks, temperamentally, cannot put their hearts into a chip” (950 words)

Video of the day: The Evil God Problem

What to expect:

Philosopher Stephen Law asks why religions usually assume that God is good. By Steph Hope (3’43”)

Thought for the day

Though familiarity may not breed contempt, it takes the edge off admiration
William Hazlitt

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