From Manuel Roig-Franzia for the Washington Post: "They strain on tiptoes, squinting through gaps in the metal sheets and iron fencing that buttress the wall. They hope to catch even the most fleeting glimpse of the last remaining inhabitant of this creaky relic of a bygone era’s upper classes, a figure who sometimes appears, almost like an illusion, behind stained-glass windows that depict idyllic seascapes and pastoral vistas. They call her “a bruxa”— the witch. For more than two decades she has been an object of curiosity in this enclave called Higienópolis. She has ambled for years along its tree-cradled streets, walking her dogs (Ebony and Ivory), with her face obscured by viscous white cream."
These psychedelic cryptography videos have hidden messages
Becky Ferreira writes for Vice: "A new competition focused on Psychedelic Cryptography has awarded cash prizes to artists who made videos encoded with hidden messages that can be most easily deciphered by a person who is tripping on psychedelic substances, such as LSD, ayahuasca, or psilocybin mushrooms. Qualia Research Institute (QRI), a California-based nonprofit group that researches consciousness, announced the winners of its Psychedelic Cryptography contest last week. The goal of the exercise was “to create encodings of sensory information that are only meaningful when experienced on psychedelics in order to show the specific information-processing advantages of those states,” according to the original contest page."
The interrupted rest of Greece’s Muslim dead
Anna Pantelia writes for New Lines magazine: "The fate of Muslims who pass away in Greece is fraught with complexities and uncertainties that are now presenting Nassim and her family with unwelcome challenges. As soon as Nassim’s father died she had a tough choice to make: bury him in Athens, knowing that his body would be exhumed after three years, as per Greek law, or send his body nearly 500 miles away to Thrace, in the northeast near the Greek-Turkish border, where the country’s only Muslim cemetery is located. Exhumation is a distasteful prospect for any relative of the deceased, but overcrowding in Greece’s two largest cities — Athens and Thessaloniki — which together house more than half the country’s population, has made it a necessary measure."
The baddest lawyer in New Jersey
Mark Jacobson writes for New York magazine: "Clay D., a moon-faced man in his early thirties who, by his own matter-of-fact admission, has spent a good deal of his life 'shooting at people' in and around Newark, New Jersey, was talking about his first attorney-client meeting with lawyer Paul Bergrin. 'Someone got killed, and they were trying to put it on me,' remembers Clay, as he asked to be called. 'First-degree murder, can’t fuck with that, so I got Paul. He was the biggest name out there. He drove his Bentley down Clinton Avenue, and it was like, ‘Don’t you punks even think about jacking that.’ He says he’s looked at my case, and only one witness can hurt me. Then he says, ‘She’s a user, right? Why don’t we give her a hot shot? Just stick her.’ ”
The world's oldest musical instrument is a 60,000-year-old bone flute
The oldest musical instrument in the world, a 60,000-year-old Neanderthal flute, was discovered in a cave in what is now Slovenia. It is made from the left thighbone of a young cave bear and originally had four pierced holes. Musical experiments confirmed findings of archaeological research that the size and the position of the holes cannot be accidental – they were made with the intention of musical expression. Experts say the flute is the only one that was definitely made by Neanderthals, and is about 20,000 years older than other known flutes, made by more modern humans. This discovery confirms that the Neanderthals were spiritual beings capable of sophisticated artistic expression.
The adoption of electricity was one of the fastest technological changes in history
From Brian Potter: "At the turn of the 20th century electrical power was a rare, expensive luxury: in 1900 electricity provided less than 5% of industrial power in the US, and as late as 1907 was in only 8% of US homes. Today, however, 89.6% of the world’s population has access to electricity (97.3% if you just consider urban areas). To put this in perspective, the average yearly outage time in the US is around 475 minutes per year, which represents ~99.9% uptime. Electricity’s transition from a luxury good to the foundation of modern life happened quickly. By 1930, electricity was available in nearly 70% of US homes and by 1950, the US was tied together by high-voltage transmission lines."
This tree grew up and through a stop sign
via Massimo on Twitter