Giraffe Edition 41

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

How To Be Polite

Paul Ford | The Message | 13th August 2014

Politeness pays off over time. It's not difficult to master, there are plenty of books to teach you the basics, and it makes life more productive. You learn how to make conversation, usually by showing sympathy; and how to deal with difficult situations, usually by exercising restraint. "A whole class of problems goes away from my life because I see people as having around them a two or three foot invisible buffer" (2,260 words)

King Of The Islands Of Refreshment

Benjamin Breen | Appendix | 14th August 2014

Action-packed history of Tristan d’Acunha, where an American sailor declared himself king in 1811. With a digression on modern micro-nations, including the Dominion of Melchizedek, "created almost entirely to facilitate international crime", which occupies a handful of uninhabited islands in Antarctica, claims a "mysterious Filipino-American businesswoman" as its president, and is recognised only by the Central African Republic (2,400 words)

America Is Not For Black People

Greg Howard | Concourse | 12th August 2014

There's a lot being written, and rightly so, about the confrontation between heavily-armed police and protesting citizens in Ferguson, Missouri. This is a good discussion of the underlying issues: First, that if police forces are equipped with military arsenals, then policemen will tend to behave like soldiers; and, second, that fear of black Americans is widespread among white Americans (2,030 words)

Pussy Riot In Translation

Sophie Pinkham | Dissent | 13th August 2014

Review of Masha Gessen's book, Words Will Break Cement, discussing Pussy Riot's place in the traditions of Russian protest, "For all their popularity in the international media, Pussy Riot attracted relatively little sympathy in Russia; in fact, by making it seem that the political opposition is full of anarchist feminist blasphemers, Pussy Riot may have done Putin a favour, strengthening his support from his conservative core constituency" (3,460 words)

Shakespeare In The Bush

Laura Bohannan | Natural History | 1st August 1966

American anthropologist, doing fieldwork among the Tiv in West Africa, is cut off by rain in a small village with only a copy of Hamlet for entertainment. She discusses it with her hosts, and finds them well-equipped to understand it and critique it. “If your father’s brother has killed your father, you must appeal to your father’s age mates: they may avenge him. No man may use violence against his senior relatives” (4,630 words)

Jen Doll | Atlantic | 14th August 2014

Entertaining short review of The Language Of Food, in which Dan Jurafsky, a Stanford linguistics professor, dissects the language of restaurant menus. “Every increase of one letter in the average length of words describing a dish is associated with an increase of 69 cents in the price of that dish”. Expensive restaurants “mention the origins of the food more than 15 times as often as inexpensive restaurants” (570 words)

Video of the day: Irma — Save Me

What to expect: Easy-going music video, amazing lightshow

Thought for the day

"Of all the seven deadly sins, only Envy is no fun at all"
— Joseph Epstein

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