Russia, Industrial Revolution, Rasputin, Islam

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

Measure Twice, Invade Once

Michael Kofman | War On The Rocks | 16th February 2017

How Russia fights. “Russia fields the bare minimum of troops in the battle space. To deter peer adversaries Russia introduces high-end conventional capabilities, such as long-range air defence. These are not meant for the actual fight. They are intended to make an impression on the United States. The first goal of the Russian leadership is to make the combat zone its own sandbox. America does this by attaining air superiority. Russia’s method is cheaper: area denial from the ground” (3,700 words)

Industrial Revolution Comparisons Aren’t Comforting

Tyler Cowen | Bloomberg View | 16th February 2017

The shift from farms to factory jobs during the industrial revolution brought much greater wealth and much faster growth to Western countries. Which may seem an encouraging precedent for the coming shift from human jobs to robot jobs — but only on a very-long-term view. When it was happening, the industrial revolution sparked decades of disruption, deep pockets of poverty, and political instability. “This time probably won’t be different, and that’s exactly why we should be concerned” (820 words)

Rasputin: Full Of Ecstasy And Fire

Stephen Lovell | Times Literary Supplement | 15th February 2017

Douglas Smith’s revisionist biography helps to explain why Rasputin wielded such influence over the Russian royal family. He had a “compelling aura of sympathy, insight, vitality and inner strength”. He was a “Russian Rousseau” who practised what he preached. “He was indifferent to money, generous with his time and energy, interested in all kinds of people, committed to a vision of social justice, and, for his milieu, unusually tolerant of ethnic, religious and even sexual difference” (1,800 words)

A Conversation With Brian Eno

Philip Sherburne | Pitchfork | 16th February 2017

Mostly about ambient and algorithmically generated music, a little about politics. “The problem with being a composer is you don’t get to listen to very much music. You can’t really have the radio on while you’re doing it. The people I know who are writers or painters or designers know so much more about music than me because they’re listening all the time.” A nice detail: “Eno jots down quick notes on his laptop — in pencil, right on the aluminum exterior of the MacBook Pro” (4,100 words)

The Muslim Enlightenment

Christopher de Bellaigue | Guardian | 19th February 2015

Sweeping essay on tensions between Islamic culture and Western modernity. Calls for a “Muslim Enlightenment” ignore the fact that one has already taken place. Napoleon’s invasions of Egypt heralded political and industrial change across the Middle East throughout the nineteenth century. These reforms did not take, because they were felt as impositions. The West and Islam need to meet as equals. “Talk of teaching them Voltaire is a joke as long as they cannot teach us back” (5,016 words)

Video of the day: Faucons Tour Eiffel

What to expect:

Paris through the eyes of peregrine falcons atop the Eiffel Tower. In French. By Nicolas Deveaux (6’20”)

Thought for the day

Pay attention to your enemies, for they are the first to discover your mistakes

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