From Ilir Gashi at The Guardian: "Since she started taking passengers between Sarajevo and Belgrade 20 years ago, Rada has been performing an additional function, working as part of an informal postal network. She transports anything anyone wants to send, as long as it’s legal and can fit in a car. And if it wasn’t for Rada, for many people this would be much more difficult. All across the former Yugoslavia, the Bosnian war created borders that cut through families and friendships and all other sorts of relationships (perhaps with the honourable exception of organised crime “families”); this was followed by a steady dissolving of infrastructure – roads, transport routes, bus lines, postal services – that once kept Yugoslavia together. It was almost as if someone wanted to make sure that we were all kept away from each other, inside our walled ethnic communities."
Liberland, Europe’s would-be Bitcoin micronation
From Matt Broomfield for UnHerd: "Chugging down the Danube in a fisherman’s boat, past the unrecognised exclave known as Liberland, it’s hard to reconcile fantasy with reality. This patch of land — lushly forested, mosquito-ridden and boggy — remains unclaimed by neighbouring Croatia and Serbia, allowing a coterie of libertarian crypto enthusiasts to claim it as a nominally-sovereign micronation. But this sleepy cartographical quirk is a far cry from the visionary design generated by Zaha Hadid Architects to represent Liberland in the Metaverse, where silhouetted avatars stroll down deforested avenues lined with grand, neo-futurist architecture. The idea of setting up an “independent” nation has always been attractive to libertarians, even though a half-century of attempts to establish tax-free idylls have produced no tangible results."
Cleveland's name used to have an extra A
From Daniel Ganninger: "Cleveland, Ohio, was founded on July 22, 1796, and named after a surveyor of the Connecticut Land Company named Moses Cleaveland. But when did the city of Cleveland lose its extra A? One explanation was that the A got taken off by one of the city’s newspapers, the Cleveland Advertiser, which dropped the letter because the name with the A wouldn’t fit on the newspaper’s masthead for its first issue in 1831. The newspaper printed an explanation in a box, saying, “Our subscribers will notice we are spelling it without the second ‘a’ because we think it’s superfluous.” The Cleveland Herald and The Cleveland Gazette followed suit and changed the city’s spelling, and the name without the extra A was adopted in 1836 when the city was incorporated. But the extra A disappeared even before that: members of Cleaveland’s surveying team had kept the “a” off on maps they had drawn in the 1790s."
Auto mechanic saved a woman's life because of an episode of The Office
From Danyelle Khmara: "Nothing in Cross Scott’s life prepared him for finding a woman slumped over her steering wheel, her lips blue. He says he just reacted. He broke a back window, opened her door and crawled on top of her. With no training, he gave her CPR that may have saved her life. “I’ve never prepared myself for CPR in my life,” Scott said. “I had no idea what I was doing.” What popped into Scott’s head was an episode of the television show The Office in which character Michael Scott (actor Steve Carell) sings the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive” while doing chest compressions on a dummy. The episode, where the gang takes an in-office CPR course, could actually be a tutorial in what not to do. But the one thing it got right was using that song as a meter, because it happens to be the correct tempo for chest compressions."
A writer tries to find the Nigerian scammer who duped his mother
From Carlos Barragan for The Atavist: "The person sending messages to Brett, James, and dozens of other American men was named Richard, but he preferred to be called Biggy. He was 28 and from Nigeria. The photos he used in the Facebook account where he posed as Natasha—a 32-year-old single mother from Wisconsin, interested in economic development and cryptocurrency—were pilfered from the social media of a real woman named Jennifer. He’d used other accounts to pretend to be a gym instructor, and a lonely American soldier deployed abroad. I knew all this because Biggy was sitting on a green sofa in my hotel room in Lagos, playing the video game Pro Evolution Soccer 17 as I read the private messages he’d sent to unsuspecting foreigners. “Do you find it easy to make someone fall in love with you?" he asked. "The hustle is the same as real life, with just one difference: You have to pretend to be another person.”
In the 18th century, quacks vied with medical science for clients and attention
From Patricia Fara in History Today: "In principle, a distinction is now drawn between orthodox and alternative treatments. But in the 18th century, medical practitioners ranged across a spectrum of respectability. At the top end lay the university-trained physicians – referred to as ‘the Faculty’ – who enjoyed great prestige and high fees, although often all they could do was help a patient to die more comfortably. Next came the surgeons and then the apothecaries, who were cheaper but could be very effective; lower still were herbalists, midwives and other carers tailoring their prices to suit their customers’ budget. At the other end of the scale came a large, diverse group bracketed together as ‘quacks’, a name taken from the Dutch word quacksalver or hawker of salve."
A video clip shows a nuclear blast in 1946
From Massimo on Twitter