Was he wrongfully convicted for killing his daughter?

From Esquire: “At around 7:00 a.m. on June 16, 1998, Barton McNeil, a thirty-nine-year-old divorced father, woke up on the couch after a muggy, stormy night. It was the beginning of one of those long summers in Bloomington, Illinois, the air so heavy you could chew it. McNeil traipsed to the bathroom and called out to wake Christina in the bedroom next door. It was time to get up and get dressed. She didn’t stir. So he took a shower, then checked his email again, and finally crept into the bedroom. There she lay, wrapped in the swirl of her flower-patterned sheets, a copy of Go, Dog. Go! beside her. Her eyes were open, her skin clammy and the color of slate.McNeil froze. His stomach churned. Panic took the wind out of his lungs.He scrambled for the phone and dialed 911.”

The Vatican classified the capybara as a fish so believers could eat it during Lent

A majestic capybara, posing on the grass in a very un-fishlike manner.

From IFLScience: “During the middle ages, eating the meat of certain animals was not allowed during Lent, the period commemorating when Jesus spent 40 days in the desert, according to the Bible. After the colonization of the Americas by European settlers, clergymen in Venezuela wrote to the Vatican to ask if this new creature – which spends a lot of time in the water, has webbed feet and reportedly has a fishy taste – could be classified as a fish, so that they could continue to eat it during the period of Lent. Those are 40 days of eating adorable rodents that you just can’t get back. The Vatican granted their request in 1784, and the rodent was given the status of fish. “

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Geneticists say it’s probably okay to marry your cousin if you really want to

From The Economist: “A Kentucky state legislator, created a frenzy on social media in 2018 when he sponsored a bill that removed first cousin from the list of incestuous family relations. The bill was withdrawn, but since since much of Kentucky is covered by the Appalachian mountains, a region stereotyped for encouraging incestuous sexual behaviour, jokes quickly spread online. The reactions on X (formerly known as Twitter) ranged from humour to disgust to fear for the resulting offspring. Only a few pointed out that in many states it is legal to have sexual relations and marry one’s first cousin. Is it really ok to kiss your cousin?Geneticists mostly say that it is, with a few caveats.”

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A mysterious writing system from Easter Island may be completely unique

From Atlas Obscura: “Europeans landed on Rapa Nui in the 1720s, and they brought diseases that devastated the population. Then in 1863, the island was raided by enslavers from Peru, and some estimates say only 200 indigenous people survived. A missionary named Eugene Eyraud found evidence of Rapa Nui’s written language, Rongorongo, which was intricately inscribed on wooden tablets. Eyraud noted these tablets were seen in every family home and claimed they numbered in the hundreds. Until now, it was presumed that the Rongorongo script was composed of elements introduced by foreigners. But a team of scientists believe the elaborate language predates any European colonization, and it comes with extraordinary anthropological implications.”

While looking for jazz recordings he found a lost song from Disney’s Cinderella

From Cabel Sasser: “My goal was to preserve some never-before-heard recordings of an incredible Dixieland jazz band made up of mostly Disney employees, the Firehouse Five Plus Two. But along the way, I accidentally discovered an incredible lost song that was cut from Walt Disney’s Cinderella. In the early 1940’s, a bunch of talented folks in the powerful orbit of legendary Disney animator Ward Kimball discovered that they shared a common love of jazz. During World War II, they started a studio band called the Huggajeedy Eight, and mostly played as part of Disney “camp shows” — vaudeville-style programs that were put on by studio personnel for soldiers at local military bases.”

If someone claims they know the origin of “the whole nine yards” they are lying

Can One Trace the Phrase ‘Whole Nine Yards’ to WWII? Kind of...

From The Phrase Finder: “Many people are convinced they know the origin of this expression, but aren’t able to provide any evidence to support their belief of choice. The earliest known citation of a form of the phrase in print is from 1907, which clearly disproves the commonly circulated World War I and World War II origins. All of the numerous supposed explanations as to the origin of the phrase are incorrect. The origin of this expression is considered the holy grail of etymology. In fact, there’s little point in looking for what the ‘yards’ refer to, or the significance of there being nine of them, as the expression is fanciful. The ‘yards’ doesn’t refer to anything in particular.”

Author Ray Bradbury’s mind-blowing answer to a question about space travel

Acknowledgements: I find a lot of these links myself, but I also get some from other newsletters that I rely on as “serendipty engines,” such as The Morning News from Rosecrans Baldwin and Andrew Womack, Jodi Ettenberg’s Curious About Everything, Dan Lewis’s Now I Know, Robert Cottrell and Caroline Crampton’s The Browser, Clive Thompson’s Linkfest, Noah Brier and Colin Nagy’s Why Is This Interesting, Maria Popova’s The Marginalian, Sheehan Quirke AKA The Cultural Tutor, the Smithsonian magazine, and JSTOR Daily. If you come across something interesting that you think should be included here, please feel free to email me.

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