Kidneys, Ulysses Grant, Google Books, Bodybuilding, Legionnaires, Number

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

Why I Gave My Kidney To A Stranger

Dylan Matthews | Vox | 11th April 2017

“It turned out I had to slightly change my antidepressant mixture (too much Wellbutrin is tough on the kidneys), and everyone who donates a kidney has to switch to acetaminophen rather than aspirin or ibuprofen for over-the-counter pain relief for the rest of their lives. Neither of those seemed like a particularly big deal; my brand loyalty shouldn’t keep someone from getting a kidney. After the day of meetings, the transplant team officially approved me as a donor” (3,500 words)

The Reconstruction Of Ulysses S Grant

Michael Durbin | Damn Interesting | 24th March 2017

Ulysses S. Grant drank too much, peddled firewood, worked his way up through the Union Army, won the Civil War, and served two terms as president. Foreseeing a well-earned retirement he invested his life savings in a Wall Street brokerage — but the firm went bust and left him penniless. A month later Grant was diagnosed with cancer. To leave something for his family he wrote his memoirs in six months, and died a week later. Thanks to Mark Twain’s intervention, the book made a fortune (4,100 words)

How Google Book Search Got Lost

Scott Rosenberg | Backchannel | 11th April 2017

A brief history of Google Books. “At the birth of the project, in 2002, as Larry Page and Marissa Mayer set out to gauge how long it might take to Scan All The Books, they set up a digital camera on a stand and timed themselves with a metronome”. Fifteen years and 25 million books later, after titanic legal battles, the outcome is an astonishing achievement, a new Library of Alexandria, a game-changer for academia; in Google parlance, a true moonshot. So why does Google hide it away? (3,100 words)

Making America Swole Again

Suzannah Showler | Buzzfeed | 5th April 2017

Highly entertaining report from The Arnold body-building festival in Columbus, Ohio. PG-13 for language. “The most striking part of a bodybuilder’s body is that it somehow looks like they’ve been turned inside-out. Their muscles are large, but they also appear to be in uncomfortable high-def, showing every ridge, knot, and grain. It looks like something that was supposed to stay hidden has been inflated, risen to the surface. It looks like a medical event. It looks like an emergency” (5,500 words)

The Legend Of The Legion

Robert Twigger | Aeon | 10th April 2017

There are no educational requirements for joining the French Foreign Legion, the pay is pretty good, you leave your past behind, and you get to fight — a lot. The modern Legion’s 8,000 soldiers function more like a special forces brigade than a regular army division. Half come from central and eastern Europe. They get French citizenship after three years’ service, or when wounded in action, whichever comes first. “This organisation cleverly manipulates the death wish of many” (4,300 words)

Who Can Name The Bigger Number?

Scott Aaronson | 12th April 1999

The largest named number used to be the vigintillion, 10 to the power 63, which Archimedes said was the number of grains of sand needed to fill the universe. It has since been overtaken by the googol and the googolplex, beyond which lie the realms of stacked exponentials, Ackermann sequences and Busy Beavers too big to imagine, let alone name. The shortest possible description of the largest possible number would look something like this: “BB(11111)—Busy Beaver shift #—1, 6, 21, etc” (7,000 words)

Video of the day: Ghost In The Shell

What to expect:

Compilation of work created by Ash Thorp for “Ghost In The Shell”, from animation tests to final assets (2’58”)

Thought for the day

Never pray for justice, because you might get some
Margaret Atwood

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