Newsletter 917

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

The Spy Novelist Who Knows Too Much

Robert Worth | New York Times | 30 January 2013

Profile of Gérard de Villiers, 83, French king of pulp fiction, author of 200 spy novels. They're cheesy and full of bad sex. But here's the thing: they are also full of real-life secrets from the cloak-and-dagger world. Over the years de Villiers has become a drop-box for spies, and not only French ones, who want to get a story out

Drone City

Sepoy | Chapati Mystery | 28 January 2013

Fantasy: How to design a city for maximum protection against drone strikes. Fixed outer wall, movable inner walls. Windows covered with computerised mashrabiyas that recombine into QR codes to jam cameras. High-wattage radio towers to interfere with wireless communication. Moving LED lights to frustrate facial recognition

How Amazon Trained Investors To Behave

Justin Fox | Harvard Business Review | 30 January 2013

Jeff Bezos delivers results, exudes authority, stays on message—and so persuades investors to accept his pursuit of long-term growth over short-term profits. "He's a hedge fund veteran who has always taken a skeptical view of Wall Street, treating it more as a loopy rich uncle than the efficient information processor of standard finance theory"

Reign Of Rahul

Sumit Ganguly | Foreign Affairs | 30 January 2013

Rahul Gandhi — son of Sonia, grandson of Indira — is being groomed to succeed Manmohan Singh as India's prime minister. But is he up to the job? He's not shown much acumen as a campaigner, or a legislator, or a public figure. If Congress insists on running him, it could hand an election victory to its right-wing populist rival, BJP

Al Qaeda In Africa: Paradiabolical

Adam Curtis | BBC | 30 January 2013

"The West is worried about the rise of Islamism in Africa. But behind these fears is an incredibly simplified — almost fictional — vision of the world. At its heart is a filter that wipes away anything complex about power and the struggles for power in African countries. It's blind and arrogant. And it's terribly dangerous"

Dark World Of Moscow's Bolshoi Theater

Susanne Beyer | Spiegel | 30 January 2013

Artistic director of Moscow opera and ballet theatre almost blinded in acid atack. His predecessor resigned, saying, "This theater has no morals". Ballet director was forced out in a sex scandal. What's going on? One theory blames professional or sexual jealousies among the performers; another points to a criminal racket in ticket scalping

Video of the day: True Facts About The Tarsier

Thought for the day:

"History doesn’t happen when a leader makes an argument, or even strikes a pose. It happens when he strikes a chord" — Mark Lilla

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