From the BBC: "A masked man drove a stolen van through the quiet streets of Aspra Spitia in central Greece. Parking outside a branch of the National Bank, he forced his way inside carrying an AK-47 rifle. He ordered staff to open the ATM, and snatched 150,000 euros. Then he took 100,000 euros from the cash boxes, and in moments he was gone. It was February 2010, and the Greek economy was in crisis caused, many believed, by greed and corruption in the banks. One man was making them pay. In October, he robbed two banks in the same day. In Eginio, near Thessaloniki, a robber smashed through the windows of the National Bank, then did the same at the Agricultural Bank just 100 yards down the street, escaping with 240,000 euros. In a crime spree spanning three decades, the man known to many as the Greek Robin Hood has taken millions from state-owned banks and kidnapped industrialists, while liberally distributing cash to the needy."
Etidorhpa: One of the earliest works of psychedelic fiction by a US pharmacologist
From Public Domain Review: "The book is Etidorhpa; or, the End of the Earth: the Strange History of a Mysterious Being and the Account of a Remarkable Journey. Imagine the progeny of Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth and an experiment in automatic writing by a member of Havelock Ellis’ peyote-munching cohort. Now steep that vision in Masonic paranoia, fringe geological theories, and a surprisingly earnest account of spiritual longing. Published by the Cincinnati-based pharmacologist John Uri Lloyd in 1895, the novel features psychonautical learning long before Albert Hofmann discovered LSD. Lloyd breezily describes evaluating “the alkaloidal salts of morphine, quinine, cocaine, etc.” The author dined with Mark Twain, fished with Grover Cleveland, was employed by the Smithsonian to survey the licorice yields of the Ottoman Empire, and left behind one of the most remarkable private libraries in the United States."
The strange and twisted story of a US soldier who defected to North Korea
From Graeme Wood for The Atlantic: "We all do stupid things when we’re drunk, but among bad decisions, this one deserves special distinction: on the night of January 4, 1965, U.S. Army Sergeant Charles Robert Jenkins pounded 10 beers, deserted his infantry company at the edge of the Korean Demilitarized Zone, walked alone across a minefield, and defected to North Korea. He was thrown into a chilly, spartan house (he tried, unsuccessfully, to leave) and forced to study the works of the North Korean dictator Kim Il Sung for 11 hours every day. By 1972, he could recite Kim’s core principles by heart in Korean. That year, he was forcibly naturalized as a North Korean citizen. He went on to work as an English teacher, a translator, and an actor, under 24-hour surveillance and conditions of near-starvation."
In the 1890s there was a fleet of electric taxis called Electrobats in Manhattan
From Tom Standage at Slate: "The Electrobat was created in Philadelphia in 1894 by Pedro Salom and Henry Morris, two scientist-inventors. The two men steadily refined their initial design, eventually producing a carriagelike vehicle that could be controlled by a driver on a high seat at the back, with a wider seat for passengers in the front. In 1897 Morris and Salom launched a taxi service in Manhattan with a dozen vehicles, serving a thousand passengers in their first month of operation. But the cabs had limited range and their batteries took hours to recharge. So Morris and Salom merged with another firm, the Electric Battery Company. Its engineers had devised a clever battery-swapping system, based at a depot at 1684 Broadway, that could replace an empty battery with a fully charged one in seconds, allowing the Electrobats to operate all day."
His mother invented Barbie, so he used his wealth to make a weird surfing hip-hop movie
From Jacqui Shine for Roadmap magazine: "Among the first to benefit from the massive success of Barbie dolls were Barbara and Ken Handler, the daughter and son of the woman who gave her groundbreaking dolls her own children’s names—and who gave those children stock in Mattel. Ken Handler never had a conventional job. He wanted very much to be an artist, particularly a filmmaker. It was an ambition he harbored from a young age: as a kid he wrote movie scripts and programmed imaginary film festivals. As an adult, he spent his Mattel millions in pursuit of his artistic goals—starting record labels, production companies, and art galleries. (He also used his power to pursue sex; more on that later.) And one of the most peculiar artifacts of his efforts is the 1985 movie Delivery Boys, a movie that deserves pride of place in the B-movie pantheon."
If you scratch a will into the fender of your tractor after it runs you over, is it legally binding?
From Dan Lewis at Now I Know: "When Cecil George Harris went out to his farm in rural Saskatchewan on June 8, 1948, he probably wasn’t thinking about much except the need to plow a quarter section of his farm. But his day, sadly, did not go as planned. Most likely, the tractor stopped working. Harris went to repair it — something he had done many times before — but tragedy struck. The tractor engaged and rolled backwards, and Harris was immediately rolled under, pinned by the tractor’s huge left rear wheel, sitting upright between the one-way and the tractor. He was pinned for hours. Rescuers eventually were able to pull him from the machine, but it was too late; he made it to the hospital but died a few hours later. He had left a brief will, scratched into the fender of his tractor. But was it legally binding? A court would have to decide."
This dolphin is clearly a showoff
From Buitengebeiden on Twitter