From Patricia Lockwood at the LRB: “The invitation said ‘black dress for Ladies’. ‘You’re not allowed to be whiter than him,’ my husband, Jason, instructs. ‘He has to be the whitest. And you cannot wear a hat because that is his thing.’ We are discussing the pope, who has woken one morning, at the age of 86, with a sudden craving to meet artists. An event has been proposed: a celebration in the Sistine Chapel on 23 June with the pope and two hundred honoured guests, to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the contemporary and modern art collection at the Vatican Museums. I am somehow one of these two hundred; either that, or it is a trap. Uneasily, I pack a suitcase. My black dress for Ladies might be a swimsuit cover-up; it looks like what a nun who is also a widow would wear to the Y.”
Former Playboy model turned Italian princess is evicted from her 16th century mansion
From Christopher Parker for the Smithsonian: “A Roman villa bearing a priceless, one-of-a-kind Caravaggio ceiling painting. A bitter dispute between a Texas-born princess and the Italian son of her deceased husband. And now, a public eviction on the streets of Rome, complete with reporters and a quartet of bichon frise dogs. HRita Boncompagni Ludovisi, born Rita Carpenter and formerly Rita Jenrette, was escorted out of her home of 20 years last Thursday by police. The move followed a January eviction order by an Italian judge, who cited her failure to maintain the 600-year-old house. The house, situated just off Rome’s Via Veneto, has been in the family since its construction. The Boncompagni Ludovisi clan includes Pope Gregory XIII, who established the Gregorian calendar during his papacy. Rita Jenrette married Prince Nicolò Boncompagni Ludovisi in 2009.”
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Scientists detected an extremely high-energy particle coming from an empty region of space
From Hannah Devlin for The Guardian: “Astronomers have detected a rare and extremely high-energy particle falling to Earth that is causing bafflement because it is coming from an apparently empty region of space. The particle, named Amaterasu after the sun goddess in Japanese mythology, is one of the highest-energy cosmic rays ever detected. Only the most powerful cosmic events, on scales far exceeding the explosion of a star, are thought to be capable of producing such energetic particles. But Amaterasu appears to have emerged from the Local Void, an empty area of space bordering the Milky Way galaxy. The Amaterasu particle has an energy exceeding 240 exa-electron volts (EeV), millions of times more than particles produced in the Large Hadron Collider, the most powerful accelerator ever built. It comes only second to the Oh-My-God particle, another ultra-high-energy cosmic ray that came in at 320 EeV, detected in 1991.”
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Confessions of a professional Pop-Tarts taste tester
From Laura Holson for the New York Times: “Almost every family has a secret they never discuss. Ours is this: We were taste testers for Pop-Tarts. It was not long after Kellogg’s introduced the toaster pastry in 1964. But for several months one year (none of us can pinpoint the exact date), brown cardboard boxes arrived on our doorstep with an assortment of Pop-Tarts tucked inside. Strawberry. Raspberry. Brown-Sugar Cinnamon. We ate them all. After dinner. Sometimes hot, usually cold. With frosting and without. Neither I nor any of my seven siblings can recall how we came to be Pop-Tart critics, and my parents aren’t alive to tell us. But I have a theory: My mother was resourceful and, with eight children to feed, she probably thought: “Oh, boy. Free dessert.”
When a German hotel run by Jewish owners had to decide whether to kick Adolf Hitler out
From Adam Bisno for Cambridge University Press: “In February 1931, two years before he became chancellor, Adolf Hitler checked in to Berlin’s Hotel Kaiserhof and made it his headquarters in the capital. The building soon swarmed with Nazis, who transformed the clientele overnight. Jewish custom evaporated. Business suffered. A year and a half later, with revenues in freefall, the hotel’s parent company needed to act. Its board, majority Jewish, took up the issue at a meeting on September 15, 1932. The question facing them: What are we going to do about Hitler? Should they kick him out and face the consequences? Should they let him stay and face the consequences? The chairman, William Meinhardt, a leading industrialist, weighed in first: “As a hotel company, we must remain neutral on matters of religion and politics. We must remain open to all.”
Melting glacier ice reveals dozens of 7,000-year-old artifacts in Canada
From Aspen Pflughoeft for the Miami Herald: “After two winters with extremely low snowpack, researchers set out to survey several melting ice patches in Mount Edziza Provincial Park in the summer of 2019. The park is a volcanic landscape that is “extremely significant” to the Tahltan, one of Canada’s indigenous First Nations, the study said. The Tahltan have used the mountains for seasonal hunts for centuries and continue to do so today. Previous scientists had located many “vast obsidian quarries” and obsidian artifacts in the park, but the nearby ice patches had not been studied as extensively. Researchers said they were intrigued by the possibility of finding perishable ancient artifacts preserved in the ice. So as the ice melted under the summer sun, researchers visited nine ice patches — and found 56 perishable artifacts, the study said.”
How about a creepy robot lamp with legs that follows you around?
Acknowledgements: I find a lot of these links myself, through RSS feeds etc. But I also get some from other newsletters and blogs that I rely on as “serendipty engines.” They include Today In Tabs, Clive Thompson’s Linkfest, Maria Popova’s website The Marginalian, The Morning News from Rosecrans Baldwin and Andrew Womack, Why Is This Interesting, Dan Lewis’s Now I Know, Robert Cottrell and Caroline Crampton’s The Browser, Sheehan Quirke AKA The Cultural Tutor, the Smithsonian magazine, and JSTOR Daily. If you come across something you think should be included here, feel free to email me.