From Mark O’Connell for The Guardian: “Among Irish people old enough to remember the summer of 1982, Malcolm Macarthur is as close to a household name as it is possible for a murderer to be. He grew up in County Meath in the east of Ireland, on a grand estate with a housekeeper, a gardener and a governess. In his 20s, he received a large inheritance, and lived well on its bounty. But on the brink of middle age, he found he was going broke. At the time, the IRA was conducting a campaign of bank heists to fund their struggle. Macarthur was a clever and capable man, he reasoned, and so why should he not be able to pull off something along those lines? But he did not bring off the heist; in the effort to attain a gun and a getaway car, he murdered two complete strangers.”
Why those who are dying often experience a sudden burst of lucidity
Jordan Kinard writes for Scientific American: “For decades, researchers, hospice caregivers and stunned family members have watched as people with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia suddenly regain their memories and personalities just before death. To their family members it might seem like a second lease on life, but for experienced medical workers, it can be a sign the end is near. Christopher Kerr, chief executive officer and chief medical officer at the Center for Hospice and Palliative Care in Buffalo, N.Y., has studied the lucid visions of several hundred terminally ill people. He says these events “usually occur in the last few days of life.” Such ‘terminal lucidity’ is defined as the unexpected return of cognitive faculties such as speech and ‘connectedness’ with other people.”
Note: This is a version of my personal newsletter, which I send out via Ghost, the open-source publishing platform. You can see other issues and sign up here.
Linguists have identified a new English dialect that’s emerging in South Florida
From Phillip Carter at The Conversation: “In the years following the revolution, hundreds of thousands of Cubans left the island nation for South Florida, setting the stage for what would become one of the most important linguistic convergences in all of the Americas. Today, the vast majority of the population is bilingual. We found people use expressions such as ‘get down from the car’ instead of ‘get out of the car.’ This is based on the Spanish phrase ‘bajar del carro,’ which translates, for speakers outside of Miami, as ‘get out of the car.’ But ‘bajar’ means ‘to get down,’ so it makes sense that many Miamians think of exiting a car in terms of ‘getting down’ and not ‘getting out.’”
Robert Louis Stevenson’s family wanted him to design lighthouses for a living
Lorna Wallace writes for Mental Floss: “Stevenson came from a family of engineers who had designed the majority of Scotland’s lighthouses, and he was expected to join the family business. In 1867, he began studying engineering at the University of Edinburgh—but he had no enthusiasm for the subject, later writing that “I had already my own private determination to be an author.” He told his parents in 1871, but together they agreed that he would return to university to study law in case he couldn’t support himself financially as an author. Although Stevenson chose literature over lighthouses, his travels around Scotland with his father Thomas to inspect the structures may have provided inspiration for his writing. It has been suggested that Treasure Island’s Skeleton Island was either based off of Fidra in the Firth of Forth or Unst in the Shetland Islands.”
Why some black men choose to wear glasses even though they don’t need them
From Richard Reeves at the Brookings Institution: “A few years back, I was delighted to see my godson wearing glasses. “Don’t feel too bad, Dwight,” I said with faux sympathy. “It happens to all of us in the end.” Dwight laughed. “Oh no,” he said, “these are clear lenses. I just do more business when I’m wearing them.” Dwight sells cars for a living. I was confused. How does wearing unnecessary glasses help him sell more cars? “White people especially are just more relaxed around me when I wear them,” he explained. Dwight is six foot five. He is also Black. It turns out that this is a common tactic for defusing white fear of Black masculinity. When I mentioned Dwight’s story in a focus group of Black men, two of them took off their glasses, explaining, “Yeah, me too.”
Did JFK really win the Kennedy-Nixon debts because he looked better on TV?
From David Greenberg for Slate: “On Sept. 26, 1960, John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon squared off in the first-ever televised general-election presidential debate. Within days, if not hours, the event gave rise to a mythology so well-known by now that it scarcely needs repeating. Handsome, dapper, poised, and articulate, Kennedy dispelled with his appearance any nagging worries that he might be too callow for the presidency. Nixon was clammy-faced, awkward, and plagued by his gloomy five-o’clock shadow. As the story goes, the winner that night was not just Kennedy but the television image itself, which had demonstrated its newfound kingmaking power. A widely told tale. But it’s not quite correct.”
Intricate Japanese carvings
From the Journal of Art in Society on Twitter: “Traditionally, Japanese men stored items in small containers, fixed to their waist-sash by cord secured by a ‘netsuke’ (toggle). Though tiny, these were often intricately carved & decorative”