First they vanished into the bush and then it got weird

From Slate: “The waves were already crashing over the Toyota’s hood when they found it. It was a blustery September Sunday in 2021, and the Hilux pickup sat far down the gray sand in a remote cove on the wild west coast of New Zealand’s North Island. The truck was parked below the high-tide line, facing the sea, and was nearly swamped by the waves. The men couldn’t help but notice empty child seats strapped into the back. The disappearances were just the beginning of an ordeal that has not yet ended—a case that has only grown stranger and more ominous in the two and a half years since, prompting pleas from family, increasing public astonishment, online speculation, a shocking crime, and a community’s closing ranks around one of its own.”

Her Highness Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi is forced to couch-surf

From Town & Country: “As they say in Italian, “Finita la commedia”: The farce has come to an end; the party is over. Or so it seemed in April 2023, when a squadron of carabinieri arrived at the Villa Aurora, a crumbling mansion in the center of the Eternal City with the world’s only known Caravaggio ceiling painting. Their mission that day: escort off the premises its 74-year-old chatelaine, none other than the San Antonio–born Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi, née Carpenter, the former model, actress, and real estate agent who had refused to leave the property amid a bitter inheritance dispute with her three stepsons.”

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A mysterious figure preyed on gay men in Atlanta but police knew who it was

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From The Atavist: “Adamson didn’t know the driver’s name, only that people called him the Handcuff Man. He was a serial predator who approached gay men, offered to pay them to drink liquor, then beat or burned them and left them for dead. Sometimes he handcuffed his victims to poles—hence his sinister nickname. There were men who said they’d narrowly escaped the Handcuff Man, and rumors that some of his victims hadn’t survived. But there were also people who thought that he was nothing more than an urban legend. Jordan’s assault would bring the truth to light: Not only did he exist, but there were people in Atlanta who knew his name, including members of the police force.”

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The Night Witches, daring female pilots who bombed the Nazis by night

From “They flew under the cover of darkness in bare-bones plywood biplanes. They braved bullets and frostbite in the air, while battling skepticism and sexual harassment on the ground. They were feared and hated so much by the Nazis that any German airman who downed one was automatically awarded the prestigious Iron Cross medal. The pioneering all-female 588th Night Bomber Regiment dropped more than 23,000 tons of bombs on Nazi targets. And they became a crucial Soviet asset in winning World War II. The Germans nicknamed them the Nachthexen, or “night witches,” because the whooshing noise their wooden planes made resembled that of a sweeping broom.”

He created an incredibly detailed piece of religious folk art in his garage

From The Smithsonian: “For some 14 years he labored in solitude. Lovingly. Obsessively. Every night after work, in a rented garage on 7th Street NW in Washington, D.C., James Hampton, a World War II veteran and janitor for the General Services Administration with no artistic training, methodically built what he came to call The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations’ Millennium General Assembly. Born in 1909 to a South Carolina preacher, Hampton, who may have had schizophrenia, had his first religious vision at the age of 22—a visitation from the patriarch Moses. He later said Adam and the Virgin Mary had come to him as well. Why he began the Throne in 1950, no one can say. But it came to comprise a handmade masterpiece of 180 or so separate components, each crafted from found and scavenged parts.”

A hieroglyphic from the Mayan civilization appears to depict a solar eclipse

From Maya Decipherment: “Only one record of a solar eclipse is known from Maya inscriptions of the Classic period. This appears on Stela 3 from Santa Elena Poco Uinic, a remote site in highland Chiapas, as part of a lengthy text relating several historical events of the late eighth century. This large monument was first recorded in 1926 by a team led by Enrique Juan Palacios, and it was shortly afterward that the great Mayanist John Teeple saw the published photographs and drawings (Palacios 1928), taking special note of a glyph showing a K’IN (sun) sign covered by two flanking elements (Figure 1b). Its strong resemblance to some “covered suns” represented within the eclipse tables of the Dresden Codex probably also caught Teeple’s eye.”

A tour inside an incredibly detailed miniature house

 Acknowledgements: I find a lot of these links myself, but I also get some from other newsletters that I rely on as “serendipity 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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