Miracles, Diplomacy, Gender, Cuneiform, Bob Woodward, Crime

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

A Saint Is Sighted

Kumar Anshuman | Open | 1st April 2016

Imagine a contemporary report on the loaves and fishes, and you would have something like this: “Around 50,000 people came in the first four days, from 19 to 22 February. They were treated to rice, dal, three types of vegetables, curd and rasgulla. Jha assumed the grand ceremony would end with the fourth day, as is customary. But the next morning, he found the baba at his doorstep, asking him to extend the invitation” (2,000 words)

That Time When The Foreign Minister Came

Lucinda Holdforth | Lowy Interpreter | 28th March 2016

An evening in the life of an Australian third secretary in Belgrade. “We dutifully took the Minister out on the town. This meant a dusty old restaurant which served large slabs of meat and no vegetables. He was visibly annoyed by the noise of the gypsy band. ‘Make it stop,’ he said. I went over to the band and offered money. They stopped alright but 15 minutes later they started up again. I went back and paid again. And again”

Thoughts Prompted By The Death Of Zaha Hadid

Debuk | Language: A Feminist Guide | 3rd April 2016

Is it sexist to call Zaha Hadid “one of the world’s most prominent female architects”’? Yes. Is it useful to highlight her success as a woman in architecture? Maybe. She herself said: “People ask, ‘What’s it like to be a woman architect?’, I say, ‘I don’t know, I’ve not been a man’.” But ‘woman’, not ‘female’, is generally the right word: “It’s hard to think of any context in which the noun ‘female’ is used to praise its referent” (2,000 words)

Cuneiform, Language Of Sheep

Smithsonian | 20th October 2015

Brief history of cuneiform, the Sumerian system of writing which evolved from marks used to record sales of sheep around 6000 BC, to become more abstracted and more conceptually adventurous over time, yielding a fluid symbolic language that survived the death of spoken Sumerian around 1600 BC. Hiding in plain sight, cuneiform was lost to modern times until a mid-19C British soldier decoded marks in a Persian cliff-side (1,180 words)

Donald Trump Interview Transcript

Bob Woodward & Robert Costa | Washington Post | 2nd April 2016

By no means a ‘gotcha’ interview, quite the opposite, and for that reason, perhaps the best insight so far into how Trump is analysing his own campaign. “I bring rage out. I always have. I also bring great unity out, ultimately. I’ve had many occasions like this, where people have hated me more than any human being they’ve ever met. And after it’s all over, they end up being my friends. And I see that happening here” (18,200 words)

The Panama Papers

Frederik Obermaier et al | ICIJ | 3rd April 2016

Exposé of Panama-based money-laundering conglomerate Mossack Fonseca, whose customers over 40 years have included armed robbers, heads of state and “Mafia groups”. A huge dump of leaked documents shows the law firm to be knee-deep in bribery scandals, corruption and fraud. More than 500 banks have worked prolifically with Mossack Fonseca, including UBS and HSBC. Friends of the Kremlin have been particularly loyal clients (1,250 words)

Video of the day: Steve Almond And Toto

What to expect:

If you ever had a soft spot for Toto’s Africa, prepare to shed tears of laughter now (9’30”)

Thought for the day

In baiting a mouse trap with cheese, always leave room for the mouse

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