Weekly newsletter 93

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

NRA vs America

Tim Dickinson | Rolling Stone | 31 January 2013

"The NRA still claims to represent the interests of marksmen, hunters and responsible gun owners. But over the past decade and a half, the NRA has morphed into a front group for the firearms industry, whose profits are increasingly dependent on the sale of military-bred weapons like the assault rifles used in the massacres at Newtown and Aurora"

When A Man Is Tired Of Paris

Simon Kuper | Financial Times | 25 January 2013

"It’s the eternal paradox of Paris: why is the world’s most charming metropolis also the most unfriendly? When I moved here in 2002, I was determined to learn Parisian codes, break through the Parisian rudeness. More than a decade later, I can say: beneath the snooty unfriendly façade, Paris is a snooty, unfriendly city. I can even explain why"

Russian Family Cut Off From Human Contact for 40 Years

Mike Dash | Smithsonian | 29 January 2013

Family flees Siberian village during Stalin's terror in 1936, hikes into tundra, stays there more than 40 years. Found by geological survey in 1978 living in a burrow near the Mongolian border lined with potato peelings and pine cones. Parents had raised two more children in the wild, making four in all, and never seen another human being

Secret Lives Of North Korea

John Everard | Independent | 27 January 2013

British ex-ambassador describes life in Pyongyang among middle-class bureaucrats. Enough to eat, but mostly rice. One decent set of clothes for public occasions. Showers, but no hot water. Hunger for foreign culture: "I lent one friend a set of DVDs of Desperate Housewives, and met the same person the next day with big rings under their eyes"

I Killed People In Afghanistan. Was I Right Or Wrong?

Timothy Kudo | Washington Post | 25 January 2013

Marine captain on the moral dilemma of war. "As I got closer to deploying to war in 2009, my lethal abilities were refined, but my ethical understanding of killing was not. I held two seemingly contradictory beliefs: Killing is always wrong, but in war, it is necessary. How could something be both immoral and necessary?"

Everything Was Fake But Her Wealth

Karen Abbott | Past Imperfect | 23 January 2013

Strange tale of Ida Wood, who checked into the New York Herald Square Hotel with her sister in 1907 — and never opened the door of her suite again until 1931, when the sister died. By then Ida was 93 and deaf, but far from destitute, thanks to $750,000 in cash hidden around the room and 54 trunks of gowns and jewels in the hotel basement

Why Apple Is Losing Its Aura

Bruce Nussbaum | Fast Company | 28 January 2013

Excellent essay on the huge part played by charisma and mystique in Apple's economic value. "Jobs had a business strategy that deliberately limited scale in favor of Aura — great engagement, beautiful things, access to tools and content that let you create your own identity." Tim Cook's Apple is all about scale. The thrill is gone

Ai Weiwei: Wonderful Dissident, Terrible Artist

Jed Perl | New Republic | 1 February 2013

Verdict all there in the title. But a pleasure to hear Jed Perl prosecuting his case. "It is tempting to say that I admire the politics and am left cold by the art. But that lets the art off too easily. It is bone-chillingly cold, the thoughts or attitudes of a great political dissident who remains untouched by even a spark of the imaginative fire"

Video of the week: A Day In The Near Future

Thought for the week:

"In a planet occupied now by seven billion inhabitants, I am amazed by the difference that one human being can make" — Howard Gardner

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