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Sunday, October 8, 2017

The Strange Political Afterlife Of Arnold Schwarzenegger, by Edward Isaac Dovere, Politico

The Governator is off to conduct the band at his favorite beer tent at Oktoberfest. Why? Well, he finished his salty half-chicken, gave the photographers the pose he knew they wanted—the one holding the giant beer stein and mime-biting the oversize pretzel—and he’s not quite ready for dessert.

Oh, but w­­­­­hy? Because he wants to. The crowd chants his name. He crouches forward, making a show of drawing out the tubas with his fingers. He does a muscleman pose. He pretends to blow a trumpet. In the beer tent, he makes his pecs dance.

Welcome to the strange and wondrous political afterlife of Arnold Schwarzenegger, a rural Austrian kid who parlayed his success as perhaps the greatest bodybuilder of all time into a lucrative career as Hollywood’s top action hero, then parlayed that into becoming the improbable Republican governor of California for two terms.

Who Invented ‘Zero’?, by Manil Suri, New York Times

Carbon dating of an ancient Indian document, the Bakhshali manuscript, has recently placed the first written occurrence of the number zero in the third or fourth century A.D., about 500 years earlier than previously believed. While the news has no practical bearing on the infrastructure of zeros (and ones) underlying our high-tech civilization, it does remind us how indebted we are for this invention. But to whom is this debt owed? And how should it be repaid?

Ever Wonder How They Get The Skeletons Out Of The Humans?, by Sarah Laskow, Atlas Obscura

“Now most of the skeletons used in medical schools are plastic, but the ones that were used a couple hundred years ago—they were all people,” says Guerrini. For centuries human skeletons have been bought and sold, though it’s rare for a commodity to have once been part of a person. But despite the long practice of hanging human bones in museums and academic institutions, “we really don’t have a good history of skeletons,” says Guerrini. After noticing how overlooked they had been, she began investigating the history and iconography of skeletons—how they were they used, how they were made, and how that knowledge was passed down through generations of scientists. Vesalius’s technique was one among many proposed strategies for creating a pristine set of human bones.