Giraffe Edition 47

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

The Making Of Vladimir Putin

Strobe Talbott | Politico | 19th August 2014

Putin rose in the 1990s as Boris Yeltsin's protegé, which gave him a certain acceptance in the West. But his true power-base was always the Soviet military and intelligence establishment that attempted the putsch against Mikhail Gorbachev in 1991 and reasserted itself during the Kosovo war of 1999. As president, Putin has been smart but not wise. His Russia is "a paranoid state that makes its own enemies" (5,560 words)

On Cans

Harold McGee | Lucky Peach | 20th August 2014

Ageing canned food often improves the flavour, as with wine. Twenty-year-old canned sardines are "fragile to the point of falling apart, soft and rich in the mouth, and fishier in a good way". Three-year-old Cougar Gold cheese has "a touch of caramel and crunchy crystals". If you don't have that much time to spare, put the can in a warm place. At 120 degrees you can induce a year's worth of ageing in six weeks (1,830 words)

The Tale Of The North Pond Hermit

Michael Finkel | GQ | 20th August 2014

Christopher Thomas Knight disappeared into the woods of New England in 1986 and never came out, until police caught him stealing food from a holiday home last year and took him to jail. "He was an uncontacted tribe of one". For 27 years he never made a telephone call, held a conversation, drove a car or spent money. "When I mentioned Thoreau, who spent two years at Walden, Chris dismissed him with a single word: dilettante" (7,500 words)

The Pope’s War

Damian Thompson | Spectator | 21st August 2014

Counter-intuitive sketch of Pope Francis's style. He may be easy-going in public, and uncombative on some doctrinal matters, but in private he is waging a "culture war" on the Vatican bureaucracy. "It looks as if the sort of Italian cardinals who brought down Benedict have been chased out." But it's not at all clear that Francis's preferred alternative, a decentralisation of authority, will work much better (1,790 words)

Martin Amis’s Holocaust

Bryan Appleyard | 17th August 2014

Conversation with Amis about the disenchantments of living in America — “It’s the penal system, the guns, the capital punishment” — and his new novel, The Zone Of Interest, which Appleyard calls "a technical and aesthetic tour de force that takes us inside the minds of the Germans who managed Auschwitz." Next up for Amis, "an explicitly autobiographical novel"; and then, perhaps, "his big American novel" (1,970 words)

Video of the day: Understanding Social Mobility (With Lego)

What to expect: Richard Reeves, of the Brookings Institution, talks about inequality and social mobility in America

Thought for the day

"Just because nobody complains doesn't mean all parachutes are perfect"
— Benny Hill

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