From Daniel Rennie for Bold Entrance: "The biggest villain in Gotham isn’t the Joker, but Batman’s creator himself, Bob Kane. In the years following Batman’s first appearance in May 1939, Kane became almost as famous as the Caped Crusader himself. But Kane wasn’t responsible for what makes the crime-fighter so memorable: his costume, his arsenal of cool gadgets, or his secret identity. He didn’t even create Gotham City. All these creations belong to Bill Finger, whose identity remained as secret as Bruce Wayne. Finger made Batman what he is, and had a hand in the creation of Robin, and villains like The Joker, Penguin, and Two-Face. Nonetheless, Kane got all the credit – and the money."
The inventor of the Pringle's can was so proud of it he was buried in one
From Scott Horsely at NPR: "If it weren't for Frederic Baur, Pringle might still be just a street name in suburban Cincinnati. Back in the 1960s, Cincinnati-based Procter and Gamble, where Baur worked, developed a potato chip made from dehydrated flour and shaped like a saddle. They didn't look like any other potato chip, and Baur's can was just as novel. Baur won a patent on the tubular container in 1970, and packaging experts say the distinctive can was a big reason for the national and international success of the chips. Baur died in 2008 at 89, and at his request, some of his ashes were buried in a Pringle's can."
This zoo can't seem to stop its parrots from swearing at visitors
From Sabrina Imbler for Defector: "Lincolnshire Wildlife Park has a problem. One week in 2020, early in the COVID-19 pandemic, the zoo welcomed five African grey parrots. Billie, Elsie, Eric, Jade, and Tyson each came from different homes but quarantined together before joining the zoo's larger flock. The five parrots soon began swearing at each other, especially "fuck off," which appeared to be an easy expletive to learn and squawk. But their repertoire was certainly not limited to "fuck" and its many derivatives. "I get called a fat t**t every time I walk past," said Steve Nichols, the zoo's chief executive. Staff split the parrots up, hoping they would lose interest in cursing, but no such luck."
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This book excerpt in Esquire in 1975 helped torpedo Truman Capote's career
From Esquire: “I told you,” Ina said tartly, “she got away with it because Hilda Hopkins wanted her to. It was the children: tragic enough to have lost their father, what purpose could it serve to see the mother convicted of murder? Hilda Hopkins wanted Ann to go scot-free; and the Hopkinses, within their terrain, have the power to brainwash cops, reweave minds, move corpses from shower stalls to hallways; the power to control inquests—David’s death was declared an accident at an inquest that lasted less than a day.” She looked across at Ann Hopkins and her companion, his clerical brow scarlet with a two-cocktail flush."
Oxford university is older than the Aztecs
From Colin Schulz for the Smithsonian: "As early as 1096, teaching had already started in Oxford. By 1249, the University of Oxford had grown into a full-fledged university. And Oxford isn’t the oldest university, not by a long shot. India’s Nalanda University had already operated for hundreds of years and been burnt down by invaders before Oxford got its act together. But Oxford, doesn’t feel that old. The Aztec civilization of Mexico, on the other hand, feels like ancient history. Archaeologists dig up Aztec ruins, museums put on Aztec exhibits. But the origination of the Aztec civilization, marked by the founding of the city of Tenochtitlán by the Mexica at Lake Texcoco, didn’t come until 1325."
Do those beloved Monarch butterflies even need our help any more?
From Janet Marinelli for Yale360: "Convinced that the species is teetering on the brink of extinction, tens of thousands of monarch lovers have taken the butterfly’s fate into their own hands. Every year as summer wanes, monarchs east of the Rocky Mountains undertake a grueling, 3,000-mile migration from their breeding grounds in the U.S. and Canada to the mountains of central Mexico’s Transvolcanic Belt. Since the 1990s, when the overwintering colonies began a steep decline, people have been rearing eggs and caterpillars in mesh enclosures and releasing the adult butterflies. But a handful of recent studies suggest that everything we thought we knew about the monarch population is wrong and that the butterfly does not need our help."
Gene Hackman's last appearance on camera was on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives
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.