Russian Television, Gender, Jeff Sharlet, Oliver Sacks, Espionage

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

On 24th February, at 6pm, The Browser is hosting a free event in London about information overload. See details at the bottom of this email.

Unplugging Putin TV

Peter Pomerantsev | Foreign Affairs | 18th February 2015

On the triumph of Russian propaganda. "Invading Ukraine with near impunity isn’t the most impressive feat Russian President Vladimir Putin has pulled off lately. That distinction goes to his skill at keeping Russians in thrall to a virtual reality — one in which NATO is about to invade their homeland, Ukraine has been taken over by neo-Nazis, and Barack Obama spends his waking hours scheming to subvert Moscow" (2,140 words)

Sex Redefined

Claire Ainsworth | Nature | 18th February 2015

The more we learn about genetics and cellular development, the more complex the question of human gender appears. The binary division into male or female breaks down. Gender is a product of anatomy, hormones, cells, chromosomes and psychology — and these do not always align; gender is a spectrum of possibilities. Where gender is a legal category, people should probably be free to decide it for themselves (3,500 words)

A Resourceful Woman

Jeff Sharlet | Longreads | 17th February 2015

Powerful portrait of a disturbed American woman living alone and in poverty. The style is fragmented and impressionistic; as the detail accumulates, so does the sense of tragedy. "That’s what she did after her children were gone. Watched, ate, slept, drank her sugar, lived on water, water alone. Then they took her away, too. Just like the children. It’s been the same ever since. Watch, eat, sleep, starve" (5,900 words)

My Own Life

Oliver Sacks | New York Times | 19th February 2015 | Metered paywall

The writer and neurologist learns that he has terminal cancer, and considers how best to spend the months remaining to him. "I feel a sudden clear focus and perspective. There is no time for anything inessential. I must focus on myself, my work and my friends. I shall no longer pay any attention to politics or arguments about global warming. These are no longer my business; they belong to the future" (890 words)

The Other Manhattan Project

Kevin Poulsen | Wired | 18th February 2015

Useful perspective on recent revelations about American cyber-espionage. In effect, the NSA has been running a second Manhattan Project. "Like the original, it has been highly classified, spawned huge technological advances in secret, and drawn some of the best minds in the country. We didn’t recognize it before because the project is not aimed at defense. America’s cyber Manhattan Project is purely offensive" (1,040 words)

Video of the day: The Katering Show — Thermomix

What to expect: Comedy. Parody of TV cooking show. How to use a Thermomix. Some adult language (8'40")

Thought for the day

Reality is a cliché from which we escape by metaphor
Wallace Stevens (

Information Overload

The Browser & Cronycle invite you to a discussion about information overload in London at 6.30pm on February 24th.

Discussants will include:
* Bill Emmott — editor and film-maker
* Anatole Kaletsky — columnist and economist
* Dayo Forster — international editor of The Browser

Moderated by Robert Cottrell, editor of The Browser.

Venue: Forge & Co, 154 Shoreditch HIgh Street, London E1 6HD.

Drinks from 6pm. Discussion starts at 6.30pm.

Admission free, but please reply to this email to register in advance.

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