Newsletter 951

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

The Lock Pickers

Tom Vanderbilt | Slate | 11 March 2013

Victorian England made the strongest locks in the world—until an American showed up and picked them. He was Alfred Hobbs, a travelling salesman for New York locksmiths Day and Newell, also the greatest lock-picker of the 19th century. When he beat the best that Britain had to offer, even the Bank of England switched to American locks

China’s Worldwide Underground Milk Powder Network

Tabitha Speelman | Tea Leaf Nation | 11 March 2013

Chinese demand for baby milk powder overwhelms Hong Kong, spreads to Netherlands, Germany. Chinese consumers distrust domestic powder after poisoning scandals; middle-class parents will spend 25-40% of monthly income to buy imported powder. Hong Kong criminalises export of powder to conserve domestic supplies. Dutch shops start to limit sales

Obituary: Harry Stamps

Anonymous | Bradford O'Keefe Funeral Home | 11 March 2013

"He had a life-long love affair with deviled eggs, Lane cakes, boiled peanuts, Vienna sausages on saltines, homemade canned fig preserves, pork chops, turnip greens, and buttermilk served in martini glasses garnished with cornbread. He excelled at growing camellias, rebuilding houses after hurricanes, rocking and composting pine needles"

The Iraq War, Ten Years On

Joseph Nye | Project Syndicate | 11 March 2013

The costs were high, the gains unclear. "Even if fortuitous events lead to a better Middle East in another ten years, future historians will criticise the way President George Bush made his decisions and distributed the risks and costs of his actions. It is one thing to guide people up a mountain; it is another to lead them to the edge of a cliff"

Papal Election: There Will Be Smoke

Christopher Howse | Telegraph | 11 March 2013

Brisk backgrounder on the rules and customs of the Conclave. "Even when the Sistine Chapel was used for elections, the cardinals did not sleep in it, but in cells drawn by lot in adjoining buildings. Today the cardinals stay in the Domus Sanctae Marthae, a kind of clerical hotel near the Vatican railway station. They can talk during meals"

Garry Wills: The American Mind

Sam Tanenhaus | Prospect | 11 March 2013

"He is America’s best living explainer, exposing the nation’s most cherished myths, which he approaches in the manner of a holy blasphemer ... An invaluable guide to the modern United States, connecting the present, in all its strangeness, to the imprisoning history, the patterns of behaviour unchanged since the earliest days of the Republic"

Video of the day: New York Day

Thought for the day:

"Anyone can do any amount of work, provided it isn’t the work he is supposed to be doing at that moment" — Robert Benchley

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