From Matthew Wills at JSTOR Daily: "When Ernest Hemingway’s novel The Garden of Eden was published in 1986, it changed our reading of the author’s life and work. Uncompleted at his death in 1961, the Garden manuscript revealed the “depth of his interest in homosexuality and the mutability of gender," writes literary scholar Valerie Rohy. Combined with his widow Mary Welsh Hemingway’s diary and memoir, the book suggested a different way of looking at an author who wore his hypermasculinity on his safari jacket sleeve. In the novel, David and Catherine, a honeymooning American couple in Europe, explore switching gender roles. Catherine bobs her hair to a boyish cut, explaining, “I’m a girl, but now I’m a boy, too.”
The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and the rebirth of Western Occultism
From Mitch Horowitz at Medium: "The history of the Golden Dawn began in fall of 1887, when London coroner and Freemason William Wynn Wescott came into possession of a folio of alchemical symbols and encrypted ritualist writings in English, French, Latin, and Hebrew. The 60-leaf folio was accompanied by a sheet with the name and address of a mysterious (and possibly invented) German countess whom the bearer could contact for guidance. Wescott said that he received these “Cypher Manuscripts” from the Rev. A.F.A. Woodford, a fellow Freemason who died that year. For his part, Woodford is sometimes said to have purchased the manuscripts from an antiquarian bookdealer in 1880; other accounts have him receiving them from Masonic scholar Kenneth R. H. Mackenzie, who died in 1886. Wescott claimed to have received from the countess news of hidden masters called “Secret Chiefs,” from a Hermetic-Rosicrucian order."
An H.G. Wells novel inspired one of the inventors of the atomic bomb
From Emile Torres at Big Think: "H.G. Wells’ 1914 novel The World Set Free, which was dedicated to Frederick Soddy’s work on radium, describes a catastrophic world war (initiated by Germany in the 1950s, as it happens) that ultimately leads to the creation of a harmonious world state. The war involves what Wells called “atomic bombs” that pilots fling from their cockpits on urban centers below, destroying entire cities and creating “puffs of luminous, radio-active vapour drifting sometimes scores of miles from the bomb centre and killing and scorching all they overtook.” Although this was science fiction, the idea greatly influenced one of the pioneers of nuclear weapons: a young Hungarian physicist named Leó Szilárd, who read The World Set Free in 1932 and included Wells within his circle of acquaintances."
Why helicopter blades create rings of light during sand storms
From Daniel Ganninger: "When military helicopters land in dusty desert conditions, the blades produce an incredible halo of light. Photographer and war correspondent Michael Yon also saw this phenomenon while documenting the war in Afghanistan and named it the Kopp-Etchells effect, in honor of an American and a British soldier who died in Afghanistan in July 2009. One theory was that it was because of static electricity created by friction, and another was that the blades moved the dust so fast that the particles burned up like a meteor would in the atmosphere. But the real reason was because of what was on the helicopter’s blades. The rotor blades on military helicopters are protected by a strip of nickel and one of titanium, and the hardness of titanium and nickel is significantly lower than that of sand, which is mainly quartz. As the sand hits the metal, the surface erodes, which causes the titanium to ignite, making a halo of sparks."
Year-long insomnia: Why black bears have stopped hibernating
From Gloria Dickie for LitHub: "The American black bear is the world’s most bountiful bear and arguably the species that people are most familiar with. Aided by national rewilding efforts over the past century, the black bear has been restored to roughly half of its historical range in the United States. It can be found in the hickory forests of Appalachia; the swamps of Louisiana; the pinyon juniper woodlands of the Southwest; and the palm-fronded Florida Keys. But black bears can also be found rifling through dumpsters in places like Yonkers, New York; Raleigh, North Carolina; and Boston, Massachusetts. This sharp increase in black bear numbers combined with rampant human encroachment has given rise to a new breed: the urban bear."
The Underground Railroad was the ultimate conspiracy theory for Southern slave-owners
From Colin Dickey at Atlas Obscura: "Through a loose network of formerly enslaved and free Black Americans, along with their white allies, thousands of enslaved Americans made their way north in the decades before the Civil War, moving sometimes surreptitiously, sometimes out in the open, on railways and ships, in wagons and freight, toward freedom. It is impossible now to know for certain how many people made their way out of slavery on the Underground Railroad; both supporters and detractors had an investment in embellishing its impact. In the North, abolitionists dramatized the plight of those seeking refuge and to play up their own heroic efforts. In the South, enslavers argued that the Underground Railroad was nothing short of a grand conspiracy of subversive lawbreakers—the higher the numbers, the greater the threat to the country."
Woman jumps from plane to plane to change landing gear in 1926
From the Twitter account @fasc1nate