Giraffe Edition 40

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

Edward Snowden: Most Wanted

James Bamford | Wired | 13th August 2014

The tone is a touch breathless; but the story of Snowden's work for CIA and NSA, and his disillusion there, are worth the price of admission. He snapped after hearing James Clapper, director of national intelligence, testify that NSA did “not wittingly” collect information on millions of Americans. “I was reading it in the paper the next day, talking to coworkers, saying, can you believe this shit?” (7,500 words)

The Origin Of Laughter, Smiles, And Tears

Michael Graziano | Aeon | 13th August 2014

Exciting amalgam of neuroscience and speculative anthropology. On crying: "My best guess, strange as it might sound, is that our ancestors were in the habit of punching each other on the nose." Crying would mimic the effects of that injury, inviting comfort. On laughter: "Tickling is only the beginning of the story of laughter. If the touché theory is correct, then laughter can function as a kind of social reward" (5,100 words)

Staying Power — How To Prevent Coups

Ivan Perkins | Foreign Affairs | 6th August 2014

Why do some countries have coups and revolutions while others don't? It may be a function of military training and military values. It may be a function of the complexity of the country: Centralised states are easier to capture. But the closest correlation is with effective rule of law, which raises the price of treason: "Merely mentioning such a plot is far too risky, so the notion effectively disappears from national political life" (2,337 words)

Obituary: Lauren Bacall

Veronica Horwell | Guardian | 13th August 2014

Born Bette Perske, "a nice Jewish girl", in New York. Spotted by Diana Vreeland, who put her on the cover of Harper's Bazaar; where her face caught the eye of Nancy "Slim" Hawks, wife of film director Howard Hawks; who shipped her out to Hollywood and matched her with Humphrey Bogart for her first film, at 19, To Have And Have Not. "It was a hell of a way for a girl to sashay into movies" (2,350 words)

The Economics Of Pricelessness

Venkatesh Rao | Ribbonfarm | 12th August 2014

How we put a price on our values and virtues, which we might claim as "priceless", in market transactions. An excursion deep into Michael Sandel territory. Be sure to bring your thinking cap. "If the people in the transaction share the same set of guardian values, every transaction strengthens those values, and the dollar amount is treated as casually as possible, even if it matters a lot" (6,400 words)

19 Things I Learned In Nigeria

Tim Urban | Wait But Why | 12th August 2014

Despatch from the world's happiest nation. "Half of all Nigerians are kids 17 and under, which means that if Nigeria’s kids decided they were over it one day and formed their own country, it would be the biggest country in Africa, and the most annoying". Electric power goes out ten times a day on average. The film industry puts out 200 films a week. Gay men get imprisoned, but all men hold hands in public (4,390 words)

Video of the day: Doug McKenzie, Magician

What to expect: Magic with an iPhone on the streets of New York

Thought for the day

"Societies in decline have no use for visionaries"
— Anaïs Nin

Follow on Twitter (*|TWITTER:PROFILEURL [$format=text]|*) ** Forward to Friend (*|FORWARD|*)

Join 150,000+ curious readers who grow with us every day

No spam. No nonsense. Unsubscribe anytime.

Great! Check your inbox and click the link to confirm your subscription
Please enter a valid email address!
You've successfully subscribed to The Browser
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in
Could not sign in! Login link expired. Click here to retry
Cookies must be enabled in your browser to sign in