Orville Schell, Suicide Bombing, GMOs, Harper Lee, Auschwitz, Penelope Spheeris


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

China’s Stock Market: A Near-Death Experience

Orville Schell | Guardian | 16th July 2015

The politics of China's roller-coaster stock market explained. Government urged the market up to crazy levels because it hoped to sell off state assets at crazy prices. Now government is intervening to stop the market falling through the floor, for fear of public unrest. It was always difficult to see how free markets and dictatorship would co-exist. Perhaps they cannot, and Deng Xiaoping's experiment will be curtailed (5,000 words)

Islamic State’s Architect Of Death

Christoph Reuter | Der Spiegel | 15th July 2015

Prison interview with Abu Abdullah, Islamic State's point-man for suicide bombings in Baghdad. He chose the targets, made the belts and escorted the bombers — all men between 21 and 30. One was a German: "He was in Baghdad for the first time in his life, and 45 minutes later he was dead. I thought: Now even people from Germany are coming here in order to blow themselves up. It gave me a feeling of exhilaration" (2,400 words)

Are GMOs Safe?

William Saletan | Slate | 15th July 2015

Yes. "I’ve spent much of the past year digging into the evidence. Here’s what I’ve learned. The deeper you dig, the more fraud you find in the case against GMOs. The people who tell you that Monsanto is hiding the truth are themselves hiding evidence that their own allegations about GMOs are false. They’re counting on you to feel overwhelmed by the science and to accept, as a gut presumption, their message of distrust" (10,000 words)

Sweet Home Alabama

Adam Gopnik | New Yorker | 13th July 2015 | Metered paywall

Subject to the New Yorker's metered paywall, the best critique of Go Set A Watchman. "Though the new book is a string of clichés, some are clichés only because, in the half century since Lee’s generation introduced them they’ve become clichés ... The story is simple and suspiciously self-referential. It’s difficult to credit that a first novel would so blithely assume so much familiarity with a cast of characters never before encountered" (3,200 words)

The Life Of An Auschwitz Guard

Laurence Rees | Politico | 13th July 2015

Conversation with Oskar Groening, an SS officer at Auschwitz, who was convicted of war crimes this week at the age of 94. Groening says that he accepts moral guilt, but that he was an office worker at Auschwitz, he was shocked by the cruelty he saw there, and he applied unsuccessfully for a transfer to the eastern front. "He did not complain to his boss about the principle of murdering the Jews, merely its practical implementation" (6,120 words)

The Punk Director

Laura Snapes | Pitchfork | 15th July 2015

The modern sensibility owes more than it knows to film director Penelope Spheeris, who turned down Spinal Tap in order to make The Decline of Western Civilization, a trilogy about West Coast punk and metal. She did Wayne's World because she couldn't finance a documentary about mental illness. "I was either going to do a movie on the criminally insane or Wayne’s World. It was a critical turning point in my life" (2,800 words)

Video of the day: Embroidered Zoetrope

What to expect: Illusions of movement produced by rotating embroidered discs on a record turntable under stroboscopic light (2'10")

Thought for the day

A feminist is any woman who tells the truth about her life
Virginia Woolf

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