Browser Daily Newsletter 1310


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

The Ex-Terrorist Head of State

Krishna Andavolu | Vice | 9th May 2014

Profile of Jose Mujica, president of Uruguay — "a former revolutionary who was shot six times, imprisoned for 14 years and tortured". He renounced violence and went into politics. As head of state in a Catholic country he has legalised gay marriage, abortion and marijuana. He donates 90 percent of his income to charity, lives at his farmstead, drives a Volkswagen Beetle, almost never wears a suit. The country is doing fine (3,560 words)

Transform Any Text Into A Patent Application

Sam Lavigne | 11th May 2014

"The program operates in four parts. First it generates a title for the invention, then an abstract, then a list of illustrations, and finally a more detailed description of the embodiments of the invention. In general, my methodology is to find common grammatical structures in patent applications, and then extract sentences containing similar grammatical structures from my input texts" (1,500 words)

Fascism Returns To Ukraine

Timothy Snyder | The New Republic | 11th May 2014

Putin's Russia is adopting the values of fascism, and the strategy of Stalin in 1939: "Stalin thought that an alliance with Hitler, in other words cooperation with the European far right, was the key to destroying Europe. A German-Soviet alliance would turn Germany against its western neighbours and lead to the weakening or even the destruction of European capitalism. This is not so different from Putin today" (4,370 words)

The World As We Know It

James Wood | New Yorker | 12th May 2014

Zia Haider Rahman’s "dazzling" novel, In the Light of What We Know, is "astonishingly achieved for a first book". Two friends meet after forty years; this is their conversation. "It is wide-armed, hospitable, disputatious, worldly, cerebral. Ideas and provocations abound on every page, and if they sometimes seem a little carelessly abandoned, there is nonetheless an atmosphere of intellectual pluripotency" (4,000 words)

The 3% Solution

Economist | 10th May 2014

Scientists investigating cognitive decline in old age have found a genetic variant that appears to raise intelligence by the equivalent of six IQ points. The variant, GL-KS, is based on a protein called klotho, which doubles the brain's memory- and learning-circuits. Many claims about smart genes are flaky; this one seems robust. The finding was reproduced in three studies and tested on mice (Metered paywall) (777 words)

Video of the day:  Mark Ronson Explains Sampling

What to expect: A TED talk; consisting of other TED talks, sampled. Irresistible

Thought for the day:

"The inevitable effect of a biographer's hindsight is to belittle the subject's foresight"" — Clive James

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