Straws, Barbarossa, Compound Interest, Martin Amis, Athletics

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

Disposable America

Alexis Madrigal | Atlantic | 21st June 2018

History seen through the drinking straw. “The defining characteristic of the straw is the emptiness inside it. This is the stuff of tragedy, and of America. American industrialism, the creation of urban life, changing gender relations, public-health reform, suburbia and its hamburger-loving teens, better living through plastics, and the financialization of the economy: The straw was there for all these things — rolled out of extrusion machines, dispensed, bent, dropped into the abyss” (3,440 words)

If Hitler Had Defeated Russia

Dmitry Oleinikov & Sergei Kudryashov | History Today | 5th May 1995

“The Germans are on the outskirts of Moscow. Stalin decides to abandon the city. The train carrying the Leader and the members of the Politburo is attacked by German planes and, in a single stroke, the country loses almost all its top leadership. Deprived of any central direction, the Red Army ceases to offer effective opposition. Hitler is the victor. His forces occupy the main cities of the Soviet Union. Surviving documents enable us to predict realistically what might have happened next” (3,060 words)

To Solve Problems, Wait A Century

Tim Harford | Undercover Economist | 22nd June 2018

In 1928, an anonymous donor put £500,000 — almost £30m at today’s prices — into a trust to repay the UK’s national debt, leaving compound interest to do the rest. The trust now contains £400m. The British government is suing to have it liquidated; it would do much better to wait. “As long as the debt stays roughly in proportion to national income — not an outrageous assumption — then the trust fund would be sufficient to pay off the debt a mere four centuries after the original bequest” (900 words)

The Age Of Acceleration

Scott Timberg | LARB | 21st June 2018

Martin Amis talks about Larkin, Auden, Nabokov, Hitchens and himself. “Novelists write the kind of books they’d like to read. I just imagine that I’m reading what I’m writing. When you enter a novel, you don’t want to be frozen out by having 15 characters introduced at once. And you should give the reader a bit of air: after a couple of pages there should be a bit of clear white space on the page, not clogged for the reader with your impulsive vividness and fertility and all that” (3,850 words)

Athletes Push The Limits

Christine Brennan | National Geographic | 21st June 2018

Track and field records have leveled off in international competition since randomised drug testing began in 1987, suggesting that athletes have largely optimised the undrugged human body. New and better kit — running shoes, swimsuits — can still improve performance. Sensors hooked up to computers can make training routines more purposeful and efficient. But the “next frontier” is the mind. Can athletes “train the brain like the body”, and so drive their bodies harder? (5,100 words)

Video of the day Paul McCartney On Carpool Karaoke

What to expect:

James Corden takes Paul McCartney on a car ride around Liverpool, singing as they go (23’41”)

Thought for the day

How often misused words generate misleading thoughts
Herbert Spencer

Podcast Hug Heard Around The World | Revisionist History

Malcolm Gladwell on Sammy Davis Jr, Richard Nixon, and American racial politics in the 1970s
(38m 24s)

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