Oscar Pistorius, Wicked Grandmothers, World War !, Artificial Intelligence, Georgian Jihadis, Switze


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

Pistorius, Celebrity, And South Africa

Rian Malan | Newsweek | 29th October 2014

Rian Malan continues the work he began in My Traitor's Heart, of exploring race relations through prominent murder cases. "So Pistorius didn’t intend to kill his lovely blonde girlfriend? He did intend to kill the black man he thought was hiding behind that toilet door. This is the key to understanding negative reaction to Judge Masipa’s verdict. For centuries, South Africa was a place where white males did as they pleased" (3,090 words)

My Grandma The Poisoner

John Reed | Vice | 27th October 2014

"People were always dying around Grandma — her children, her husbands, her boyfriend — so her lifelong state of grief was understandable. To see her sunken in her high and soft bed was to know that mothers don’t get what they deserve. Today, when I think back on it, I don’t wonder whether Grandma got what she deserved as a mother; I wonder whether she got what she deserved as a murderer" (4,025 words)

The War That Didn’t End All Wars

Lawrence Freedman | Foreign Affairs | 27th October 2014

Discussion of recent books about World War I, including Christopher Clark's Sleepwalkers and Max Hastings's Catastrophe. "All the authors insist that not only was war far from inevitable but it also came about as the result of some spectacularly bad decision-making. The impression is that, had the players been a bit less vain, incompetent, delusional, and stupid, the world could have been spared years of misery" (3,070 words)

Three Breakthroughs In Artificial Intelligence

Kevin Kelly | Wired | 27th October 2014

Artificial intelligence will change our lives and most of us won't even notice. It will live in the cloud, as internet infrastructure, offering "cheap, reliable, industrial-grade digital smartness, running behind everything, and almost invisible except when it blinks off". Like Amazon Web Services, say. "The business plans of the next 10,000 startups are easy to forecast: Take X and add AI. This is a big deal, and now it's here" (3,500 words)

Secret Life Of An ISIS Warlord

Nino Burchuladze & Vazha Tavberidze & Will Cathcart | Daily Beast | 27th October 2014

Report from the Pankisi Gorge in northern Georgia, where "disillusioned jihadis" toughened by years of battle in neighbouring Chechnya are leaving to join ISIS in Syria. The local hero is red-bearded ISIS military commander Abu Omar al-Shishani, born Tarkhan Batirashvili in Pankisi, "one of the most wanted terrorists on the planet". But Tarkhan's elder brother Tamaz is the really dangerous one, neighbours insist proudly (3,750 words)

Switzerland’s Shame

Kavita Puri | BBC | 29th October 2014

Switzerland encouraged the use of children as forced labour on farms well into the 1970s. The practice began in the mid-19th century when Switzerland was relatively poor and farming was labour-intensive; it continued into the 20th century as a convenient way for communities to deal with orphaned and very poor children, who could be "herded into a village square and sold at public auction" to local farmers (4,500 words)

Video of the day: Cave-O-Nomics

What to expect: Morgan Spurlock explains how commerce began in the Stone Age

Thought for the day

Instead of this absurd division into sexes they ought to class people as static and dynamic
Evelyn Waugh (https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/11315.Evelyn_Waugh?page=2)

The Death of Old Europe 3rd November, St Mary Moorfields Church, 7pm
The brilliant and charming David Hargreaves, editor of The Browser Looks Back, will be our guide to the extraordinary parallel world of 1914. Admission is free. Click here to register. (https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/august-december-1914-the-death-of-old-europe-tickets-13574558871)

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