Hollywood, Phishing, Indonesia, Oscars, CIA

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

I Want My Wings

Andrew O'Hagan | London Review Of Books | 22nd February 2016

Beyond the puzzling first sentence, an action-packed review of West of Eden, Jean Stein's Hollywood memoir. "Raymond Chandler is there in Stein’s evocation of twisted men and violet evenings. Kenneth Anger is deep in conversation with Nathanael West at the counter of Schwab’s drugstore. Ben Hecht is taking notes. The history Stein captures was spoken about and overheard, but not written down, until now" (3,060 words)

Free Markets And Fraud

George A. Akerlof & Robert Shiller | Evonomics | 6th January 2016

Book extract. Free markets reward enterprises that "manipulate or distort our judgment". In the absence of government regulation, the easiest way to make money is to find and pander to human weaknesses and addictions. You can see this happening in finance, in food, in health, in politics. "Nobody wants to be ripped off. Yet we are, even in the most carefully considered purchases of our lives. They phish us for phools" (3,800 words)

A Portrait Of Mass Murderers As Toothless Old Men

Maria Bustillos | Gawker | 28th February 2016

Joshua Oppenheimer's terrifying films, The Act Of Killing and The Look of Silence, tell how Indonesian state-backed thugs murdered a million alleged communists in 1965. The killers themselves were "keen to reenact their version of events" for The Act Of Killing, "drawing viewers into a dizzying morass of self-deceptions, fears, and fantasies". The Look "takes the next step, into a direct confrontation between victor and victim" (2,500 words)

Chris Rock’s Opening Oscar Monologue

Chris Rock | LA Times | 28th February 2016

Transcript. Amazing throughout. "Hey, if you want black nominees every year, you need to just have black categories. You already do it with men and women. Think about it. There's no real reason for there to be a man and a woman category in acting. There's no reason. It's not track and field. You don't have to separate them. Robert De Niro has never said, I better slow this acting down so Meryl Streep can catch up" (1,570 words)


Jennifer duBois | Lapham's Quarterly | 23rd February 2016

A novelist applies to join the CIA, and finds it a strangely sympathetic process. "The most interesting evaluations were the ones whose metrics seemed to shift—you’d think they were looking at one thing, and it wound up being another. I had decent instincts in such situations. Later, this shifting of terms would turn out to be one of my favorite tricks of fiction: the epic poem’s hijacking by a deposed king in Pale Fire" (3,900 words)

Video of the day: Loving Vincent

What to expect: Trailer for a film about Vincent Van Gogh in the visual style of Vincent Van Gogh (1'00")

Thought for the day

Pessimists desire the things they fear, to prove that they are right
Robert Mallet

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