He claimed Antarctica and set up his own nation

He claimed Antarctica and set up his own nation

From Big Think: "Seven countries each have staked a claim to a slice of Antarctica, but all those claims have been frozen by the Antarctic Treaty of 1959. Together, those claims cover most of the continent at the bottom of the world — except Marie Byrd Land, which is the largest unclaimed territory in the world. At least, it was until 2001, when naval intelligence specialist Travis McHenry said he found a loophole in the Antarctic Treaty: While it prohibits countries from laying claim to parts of Antarctica, it says nothing about individuals. So, McHenry proclaimed himself consul-general of this freezing no man’s land. In 2004, McHenry upgraded the territory to a grand duchy and renamed it Westarctica, and crowned himself Grand Duke Travis I."

Inside the biggest art fraud in history

From the Smithsonian: "Norval Morrisseau was certain. “I did not paint the attached 23 acrylics on canvas,” he wrote to his Toronto gallery representative, who had sent him color photocopies of works that had recently sold at auction. Morrisseau, then in his late 60s and suffering from Parkinson’s disease, was the most important artist in the modern history of Canada’s Indigenous peoples—the “Picasso of the North.” By 2001, Morrisseau paintings routinely fetched thousands of dollars on the market. The works he now denied having painted were no exception. The auctioneer had advertised them as being from Morrisseau’s hand and claimed that he had no reason to doubt their authenticity—he had already sold 800 of them without a single buyer’s complaint."

Fauja Singh ran his first marathon at 83 and was still competing at 100

Fauja Singh_GettyImages-123214222

From Olympics.com: "It’s never too late to start doing what you love and Fauja Singh, a British Sikh marathon runner of Indian origin, embodies the sentiment. Having taken up running to overcome grief at the age of 89, Fauja Singh, now retired, has numerous records to his name in multiple age brackets. Originally a farmer from Punjab, the long distance runner is also believed to be the oldest man to have completed a full marathon, at the age of 100. Singh took to running after the death of his fifth son Kuldip in August 1994. He started jogging to overcome the grief and in 2000, at the age 89, decided to take up running seriously. He shot to fame when he completed the London Marathon that year, his maiden full marathon run, in 6 hours and 54 minutes."

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People of European descent have genes that protect them against the plague

From NPR: "When the Black Death spread through Europe and the United Kingdom back in the 1300s, the disease changed more than society: It also likely altered people's genomes. A study found that people who survived the plague in London and Denmark had mutations in their genomes that helped protect them against the plague pathogen, Yersinia pestis. Altogether, the researchers found four helpful mutations in people's genomes. The advantage was quite substantial. One mutation boosted people's chance of surviving the plague by 40%, the study estimated. That's the biggest evolutionary advantage ever recorded in humans for a single mutation, researchers told NPR.

Michigan restaurant worker who got a $10,000 tip ends up getting fired

From The Guardian: "A Michigan restaurant server who recently received a $10,000 tip on a $32 tab says the establishment has since fired her amid a dispute over how many of her co-workers deserved a share of the remarkably large gratuity. The story of the tip that Linsey Huff earned while waiting on a table at the Mason Jar Cafe in the western Michigan community of Benton Harbor on 5 February initially went viral. But as an increasing number of Huff’s co-workers sought a cut of the gratuity, the tale devolved into her dismissal, as well as threats from ownership to sue her because she discussed her firing on social media."

Paul McCartney's lost bass guitar was returned to him 50 years later

From the NYT: "No one seemed to know what had happened to one of the most important bass guitars in music history, though in the decades since it went missing there had been some dramatic rumors. Was the Höfner violin bass, which had accompanied Paul McCartney and the Beatles to worldwide fame, tucked away in a private collection? Had it been secretly shipped to a wealthy fan in Japan? It turned out the bass was passing time in a more unassuming locale: the loft of a family home in East Sussex, England. The family reported the guitar in late September, after a couple of journalists and a guitar expert started a new campaign looking for it in 2023, more than 50 years after it was last seen."

Long exposure of a traffic light is surprisingly beautiful

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.