From Marginal Revolution: "The NYC police union gives out what are called 'courtesy cards' to friends and family, who use them to get easy treatment if they are pulled over by a cop. The cards even come in gold, silver and bronze. An officer who is presented with one of these cards will normally tell the violator to be more careful, give the card back, and send them on their way. The officer can issue a ticket or make an arrest anyway, and there is a chance that the officer who issued the card will understand and nothing will come of it. But it is equally possible that the enforcement officer will come to work one day to find his locker has been moved to the parking lot and filled with dog excrement."
This Asian religion believes that French author Victor Hugo was a prophet
From Abby Walthausen for Literary Hub: "Ask a French reader about the legacy of Victor Hugo and you might hear about Les Contemplations, a well-respected, well-loved collection of poems he wrote for his favorite daughter, Léopoldine, mostly after her accidental death by drowning. Ask someone in Southern Vietnam, and you might hear about Les Châtiments, a poetry volume about the injustices of Louis-Napoleon and the plight of the poor. But if you ask an adherent of the Vietnamese religion Cao Dai, you may get a different answer still—that Hugo’s legacy lies in the text of the séances he used to contact Léopoldine, and the prophecies that came to him there about a great new pan-religious faith that was to emerge in Asia in the coming century."
Actress Emma Stone applies to be on the game show Jeopardy! every year
From William Hughes for AV Club: "In a recent interview with Emma Stone, the actress talked about her deep love of, and desire to be on, the TV game show Jeopardy! And not the lame celebrity version either, Stone is quick to clarify. “I do not want to be on Celebrity Jeopardy! I really want to earn my stripes,” Stone says, noting that she watches every episode of the series, marking down which questions she gets right and wrong. (She doesn’t mention her Coryat scores, but we’d be shocked if she didn’t have them on hand.) Stone also states that she takes the yearly online Jeopardy! test every June, dreaming each time of making the cut, and waiting in hope for a response."
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Camembert could cease to exist because the bacteria used to produce it is dying out
From CNRS News: "Camembert cheese is inoculated exclusively with a single strain of Penicillium camemberti, a white mutant that was selected for Brie cheeses in 1898 and Camemberts in 1902. The problem is that ever since then the strain has been replicated by vegetative propagation only. Until the 1950s, Camemberts still had grey, green or in some cases orange-tinged moulds on their surface. But the industry was not fond of these colours, considering them unappealing. Over the years, the albino strain of P. camemberti, which was already incapable of sexual reproduction, lost its ability to produce asexual spores."
Prohibition's underground economy gave women a freedom they had never had
From Ashawnta Jackson for JSTOR Daily: "Most people see Prohibition-era bootlegging as an overwhelmingly male activity dominated by gangsters, but the reality was bootlegging women were just as common. Most were divorced, separated, or widowed, many were immigrants, and most were mothers. As historian Tanya Marie Sanchez explains, for working-class mothers, bootlegging was both a convenient and lucrative method of supplementing meager family income. In short, women got involved in bootlegging for the same reason as men—money. Historian Mary Murphy found much of the same pattern, and unsurprisingly, bootlegging, no matter where it was located, “allowed ethnic groups and women to capitalize on the underground economy.”
English actor apologizes for pretending to be the CEO of a crypto company
From Sarah Martin for The Guardian: "The man who posed as the chief executive of the collapsed crypto scheme HyperVerse has confirmed he was paid to act the part, receiving 180,000 Thai baht (about A$7,500 or £4,000) over nine months and a free suit as payment. Stephen Harrison, an Englishman living in Thailand who posed as chief executive Steven Reece Lewis for the launch of HyperVerse in late 2021 and early 2022, has told Guardian Australia he was “shocked” to learn the company had presented him as having fake credentials to promote the scheme. He said he felt sorry for those who had lost money in relation to the scheme, an amount Chainalysis estimates at US$1.3bn in 2022 alone."
Sandboarding through the dunes
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, 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.