Dogs, Time, War, Food, Debt

Patron Saint Of Pit-Bulls

Candice Dyer | Atlanta | 13th December 2018

Profile of Jason Flatt, “punk-rock St. Francis of Assisi”, who used to be a commodity broker on Wall Street before settling in Georgia to start a dog shelter for abused pit-bulls. Americans used to admire pit-bulls as dependable household dogs. They were known as Yankee Terriers, back when Teddy Roosevelt had one in the White House. The pit-bull panic started in the 1970s when media exposés of illegal dog-fighting portrayed pit-bulls as inherently vicious, “hard-wired for violence”. But fighting pit-bulls are starved, beaten and drugged. Treated humanely, pit-bulls are calmer than labradors (3,300 words)


Time Lords

Elena Goukassian | Lapham’s Quarterly | 19th December 2018

What time is it? It is whatever time the government decrees. The more arbitrary the government, the more arbitrary the time. When Japan invaded Malaysia in 1942, Malaysian clocks were reset to Tokyo time. In 1880 Britain created a time zone for Ireland 25 minutes behind GMT — then abolished it in 1916, after the Easter rising. Mao Zedong put all China on Beijing time. Hugo Chavez set back Venezuela’s clocks by 30 minutes in 2007; Kim Jong-Un did the same for North Korea in 2015, then reversed himself in 2018. Russia has eleven time zones — but only one for the railway system (2,540 words)


Still Quiet On The Western Front

William Vollmann | Smithsonian | 1st October 2018

A (relatively) brief military history of World War One, efficiently and effectively written, capturing both the strategic essentials and the political repercussions. The war killed 8.5 million solders and 12 million civilians. Tanks were the eventual decider on the Western front: Germany had 45, its enemies had 5,000. The Germans took note. When Hitler invaded France again in 1939, following essentially the same plan used in 1914, he sent armoured tank divisions ahead of his infantry and artillery (10,600 words)


The Most Interesting Chef In The World

Jeff Gordinier | Esquire | 22nd January 2018

Profile of Argentinian chef Francis Mallman, “shaman of smoke”, who runs nine restaurants, mostly in South America, but prefers to live off the grid on a Patagonian island where he casts a “Prospero-like spell” on all who come near. He cooks in an open-air shed made of logs. There is steak at least once a day. Lunch might include a whole lamb, with kidneys served separately, a loose mountain of roast tomatoes and blackened bread, and pancakes with dulche de leche. “Meals on this island of misfit Renaissance men seem to be served with the assumption that you’ve just come back from a hike across the Chilean border” (4,200 words)


Time To Worry

James Grant | Weekly Standard | 30th October 2018

Should Americans panic about their national debt? It grows and grows, but without the often-predicted catastrophe (yet) occurring. Jim Grant, a lifelong alarmist on the subject, fears for the future, but also fears to cry wolf yet again. The result is a reflection more nuanced than the headline might suggest. “Over the past 30 years, the debt jumped by 727 percent, the cost of servicing it by just 144 percent. To the casual question, ‘What’s the harm in the Treasury’s availing itself of the market’s over-generous hospitality?’, there is no casual, tweetable answer” (3,570 words)


Video: Teen Spirit. How a graffito left by a girlfriend gave Kurt Cobain the hook for Nirvana’s most famous song. Animation, narrated by T Bone Burnett (2m 56s)

Audio: Bittersweet | Ear Hustle. Released from prison, a podcast host has some regrets (46m 41s)

Afterthought:
“Everything interesting takes place in the dark”
— Louis-Ferdinand Céline


Editorial note: On 29th December The Browser will announce the 2018 Golden Giraffe awards for the best articles recommended on The Browser in the past 12 months. The “cash-and-cuddle” prizes are, frankly, insane: $1000 for the winner, $250 for the runner-up, $100 for third place, plus unbelievably cute plush giraffes all round. Marvel at the short list of candidates. The winners will be chosen by a panel comprising Robert Cottrell (Editor), Caroline Crampton (Audio Editor), Dhashen Moodley (Radio Browser Host). The final voting was reported by those involved to be “almost Byzantine in its complexity”, though never less than courteous, with polite yet pointed exchanges of opinion among the judges rising in volume and frequency as the deadline of Thursday midnight approached — Uri Bram, publisher