She talked like a millionaire but slept in a parking garage

From the WSJ: "University of Florida officials went back and forth with documentary filmmaker Jo Franklin, an alumnus, over details for a planned gala in her honor at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington. She had pledged $2 million to her alma mater, and her guest list included the entire staff of the PBS NewsHour. A day before the gala, officials learned her seven-figure check had bounced. They boarded a flight to Washington, hoping to straighten everything out. The next day, they found out Franklin hadn’t arrived at the Four Seasons, and the credit card number that she gave the hotel wasn’t working. They soon found out that the school’s esteemed graduate, once a well-known journalist and documentary filmmaker, was a troubled but gifted fabulist. The $2 million gift was an illusion, one in a yearslong string of fantasies concocted by Franklin, who tumbled from a life of apparent success to homelessness."

Nick Offerman paddles a badass canoe he built down the Los Angeles river

From Outside: "In the 25 years I’ve called the city my home, I’ve done a great many things that I would categorize as fun. I have, of course, worked as an actor. But I’ve also been paid to build various decks and cabins as a carpenter, plus one exquisite post-and-beam yoga studio. I worked as a production assistant on a few music videos, trained by a tall, handsome, surfing porn actor who taught me to get up and stay up. I constructed an octagon-style wrestling cage for an episode of Friends. I’ve hiked hundreds of miles of trails in Los Angeles County, some while hallucinating, but mostly sober and high on the views from Griffith Park, the San Gabriels, and the Santa Monica Mountains. The point is, the one thing I never dreamed I would do is launch my beloved handmade cedar-strip canoe, Huckleberry, into the concrete-clad L.A. River, just a few miles north of the location of the drag-race scene in Grease."

Newly discovered cosmic megastructure challenges theories of the universe

Discovery of 'Big Ring on the Sky' structure calls into question  understanding of universe | Euronews

From The Guardian: "Astronomers have discovered a ring-shaped cosmic megastructure, the proportions of which challenge existing theories of the universe. The so-called Big Ring has a diameter of about 1.3bn light years, making it among the largest structures ever observed. At more than 9bn light years from Earth, it is too faint to see directly, but its diameter on the night sky would be equivalent to 15 full moons. The observations, presented at the 243rd meeting of the American Astronomical Society in New Orleans, are significant because the size of the Big Ring appears to defy a fundamental assumption called the cosmological principle. This states that above a certain spatial scale, the universe is homogeneous and looks identical in every direction. Zooming out on the universe should reveal a vast, featureless expanse. Yet the Big Ring is one of a growing list of unexpectedly large structures. Others include the Giant Arc, which appears just next to the Big Ring and was also discovered by Lopez in 2021."

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The science of life and death in Mary Shelley’s epic story of Frankenstein

From Public Domain Review: "Far from the fantastic tale that Mary Shelley's Frankenstein now seems to us, the novel was declared by one reviewer upon publication to have “an air of reality attached to it, by being connected with the favourite projects and passions of the times." Among these were the scientific investigations into the states of life and death and the considerable uncertainty surrounding these categories. Worried by the potential inability to distinguish between the states of life and death, two doctors, William Hawes and Thomas Cogan, set up the Royal Humane Society in London in 1774. It was initially called the “Society for the Recovery of Persons Apparently Drowned”; its aims were to publish information to help people resuscitate others, and it paid for attempts to save lives. The spectacular tales of apparent resurrections from the dead by the Society fed the public’s concern that it was impossible to be sure whether a person was truly dead and, consequently, fears of being buried alive grew."

The judge who wanted to try cocaine so that he could judge a case effectively

Ontario's 'poetic' judge is back with another ruling -

From Weird Universe: "In 1976, Roxbury District Court Judge Elwood McKenney, presiding over a cocaine possession case, announced that he would need to try cocaine himself before he made his ruling, in order to be able to make an informed decision. He recessed the trial until he had done so. "It was a mind-boggling, precedent-setting action," said one lawyer. McKenney said his request was similar to a judge viewing a movie to determine whether it was obscene. About a month later, McKenney abandoned his decision to try cocaine, saying that all the publicity about it had distorted his intent. But he then proceeded to rule that the Massachusetts statutes forbidding the possession of cocaine were unconstitutional. Obviously his ruling must have been dismissed or overturned at some point, otherwise cocaine would now be legal in Massachusetts."

The sign of a life well lived is a great obituary

From 5 Feet of Fury: "Her tombstone reads: GET OFF MY LAWN! She is relieved she won’t have to update her LinkedIn profile, shave her legs, or hear “Creep” by Radiohead ever again. Some may even be jealous that she’s getting out of enduring a Biden presidency. Kathy was a writer, author, columnist and blogging pioneer. A target for “cancel” culture before the term was coined, she was denounced by all the best people, sometimes for contradictory reasons. Her favourite corporeal pleasure was saying, “I told you so,” which she was able to utter with justification multiple times a day. Contrary to cliche, Kathy did not conduct herself with particular “grace,” “dignity” or “courage” in her final months." All she did was (barely) cope, and then only with assistance from energetic and selfless friends. Of course, the greatest of these was her stalwart beloved of over 20 years, Arnie, with whom she is now in the ultimate long distance relationship."

This is the freshest fried egg you've ever had

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.