After her son was beheaded she met one of his killers

After her son was beheaded she met one of his killers

From The Guardian: "The last time Diane Foley spoke to her son Jim was in November 2012, when he called her at work in New Hampshire. Foley, a nurse practitioner at the clinic where her husband, John, was a doctor, was relieved to hear her son’s voice. A few months earlier, Jim had left the US for Syria to work as a freelance videographer. That decision, coming less than a year after he’d been kidnapped and detained for six weeks while reporting in Libya, horrified his family. A few weeks later, he was kidnapped by Islamic State. Eighteen months after that, Jim was beheaded by a masked terrorist, the video uploaded to social media and seen with horror all around the world. She never heard his voice again.”

A family dinner with my wife and girlfriend

From the New York Times: "Last Thanksgiving I was seated at the head of the dining room table with my family gathered around, enjoying our traditional feast. My sons, 18 and 20, piled their plates high. My mother worked her way through smaller portions and a glass of wine. And I held the hand of my love, who was seated next to me with tears in her eyes as she looked across the table at a woman, her contemporary, who was eating with the help of a caregiver. That woman is my wife, Bridget, aged 59. Before Alzheimer’s devoured Bridget’s neurons along with her essence, Thanksgiving was her favorite holiday. That evening was the first time she and my new partner ate at the same table."

The bartender who discovered a lost literary masterpiece

From The New Yorker: "In 2021, Jack Chadwick, a twenty-seven-year-old barman and part-time go-go dancer, was browsing the shelves of a library outside Manchester, when he spied an arresting book cover. The hand-drawn illustration showed a skeleton kneeling in supplication, its arms outstretched. Chadwick knew of neither the book, “Caliban Shrieks,” nor its writer, Jack Hilton. At closing time, hr asked the librarian what she could tell him about the author. Very little, she said—only that, after a brief literary career, Hilton had disappeared. Published in March, 1935, George Orwell called Caliban Shrieks “witty and unusual.” The poet W. H. Auden, a notoriously curmudgeonly critic, praised Hilton’s “magnificent ‘Moby-Dick’ rhetoric.” But it soon went out of print."

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She won the lottery but then one bad decision caused her to lose it all

From the LA Times: "During his 25 years of marriage, Thomas Rossi never saw a marriage counselor, never strayed and never doubted a relationship so close that he shared an electric toothbrush with his wife, he said. Then Denise Rossi shocked him by demanding a divorce. And she wanted it in a hurry. Eventually he found out why: Just 11 days before she filed for divorce, Denise Rossi won $1.3 million in the California Lottery. She told no one in her divorce case about it, nor her husband. But eventually her secret caught up with her: A Los Angeles family court judge ruled that she had violated state asset disclosure laws and awarded her lottery winnings to her ex-husband. Every penny."

Sweden finally admits that their famous meatballs are actually Turkish

From The Guardian: "Turks reacted with undisguised glee to what many have described as a long overdue confession from Stockholm that Sweden’s signature national dish is, in fact, Turkish. King Charles, who acceded to the Swedish throne in 1697 at the age of 15, spent years in exile in and around present-day Turkey. Ge returned to Sweden in 1714 with the recipe for köfte, the spiced lamb and beef meatballs that in time became the Swedish staple köttbullar. Charles, who died in 1718 when he was shot in the head while attacking Danish-occupied Norway, is also considered responsible for importing and popularising the Turkish habit of drinking coffee, which became so widespread in Sweden in the later 18th century that King Gustav III briefly banned it."

Klerksdorp spheres have strange markings and look alien but they aren't

From IFLScience: "Klerksdorp spheres are found inside pyrophyllite deposits mined in South Africa. They look like tiny ancient cricket balls, with seam-like lines around their middle, so it's easy to see why they became the subject of conspiracy theories involving aliens and ancient, forgotten civilizations. In the 1980s, some speculated they were made by "a higher civilisation," and pseudo-scientists claimed the spheres must have been manufactured, despite being found in 3-billion-year-old rock. Geologist Bruce Cairncross, however, explains that the spheres are known as concretions: spherical, elliptical, or oblate objects made of different minerals to the host rock, and are fairly common, with thousands having been found around the world. They are often found in fine-grained rocks, like pyrophyllite, as it allows for the movement of water."

When simple kindness produces an unexpected bonus

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.