From Truly Adventurous: "Tim Todd spent a quiet and, by all appearances, happy weekend with his wife, Patti. First thing Monday he went to meet his boss, private security kingpin Bill Pagano, to solidify his plans to have her killed. Bill, the former police chief of the small town of Festus, Missouri, said he had gone to St. Louis to rendezvous with a pair of hitmen who Tim was convinced would solve all his problems. Bill was Tim’s mentor. And Tim was Bill’s right-hand man. But the chummy brotherhood was a veneer. Bill was recording the conversation with his protégé to bring to his friends in law enforcement. The events already in motion would soon draw the attention of the entire Midwest."
A whale named Hvaldimir escaped captivity and became a global celebrity
From Ferris Jabr at the NYT: "On April 26, 2019, a beluga whale appeared near Tufjord, a village in northern Norway, immediately alarming fishermen in the area. Belugas in that part of the world typically inhabit the remote Arctic and are rarely spotted as far south as the Norwegian mainland. Although they occasionally travel solo, they tend to live and move in groups. This particular whale was entirely alone and unusually comfortable around humans, trailing boats and opening his mouth as though expecting to be fed. And he seemed to be tangled in rope. When a fisherman named Joar Hesten got a closer look, he realized that the whale was in fact wearing a harness: one strap girdling his neck and another gripping his torso just behind his flippers."
Was Alexander the Great declared dead prematurely due to Guillain-Barré?
From The Smithsonian: "Alexander spent a night drinking with the naval officer Nearchus, then hit the booze the following day with his buddy Medius of Larissa. Soon after, a fever struck and he complained of acute pain in his back as if being stabbed by a spear. The fever worsened and he slowly became unable to move and then unable to speak. When he drank wine, he only became thirstier. The paralysis grew, and eventually he could not raise his head. After he died, his body did not decompose for six days, according to Plutarch, who wrote a biography of Alexander hundreds of years after his death. To Katherine Hall of the Dunedin School of Medicine, Alexander’s symptoms resembled a case of a neurological disorder called Guillain-Barré Syndrome."
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How the hot air balloon craze in the 1700s led to the first aerial maps of Earth
From Frank Jacobs at Big Think: "On September 8, 1785, Thomas Baldwin saw something nobody had ever seen before: the English city of Chester and its surroundings from above. And then he did something nobody had ever done before: He produced maps of what he saw—the very first aerial maps in history. The history of human flight goes back another 120 years before the Wright Brothers’ first airplane ride at Kitty Hawk. On November 21, 1783, a balloon manufactured by the Montgolfier brothers took off near Paris, transporting two passengers 5.5 miles through the air, setting off a balloon craze throughout Europe that attracted large crowds to these flying circuses.”
1960s starlet Anita Ekberg once used a bow and arrow to shoot at the paparazzi
From Vintage News: "The blonde Swedish actress was squired on a tour of night spots by Guido Giambartolomeo, Italian producer of a film in which Ekberg used a bow and arrow. They were followed from cub to club by four of the photographers who snap pictures of celebrities on Rome’s Via Veneto. The photographers followed the couple to Ekberg’s villa. “We were getting on our motorbikes to leave when Anita came running out with a bow and arrow in her hand,” said photographer Felice Quinto. It was a chilly night. The actress wore a black dress and had kicked off her shoes, and then she let fly with the arrows. One hit the photographer on the left forearm and two struck another in the back."
A Ford dealership in Florida opens a restaurant run by a Michelin-starred chef
From Selene San Felice for Axios: "Going to a car dealership can feel a lot like going to a dentist, Mirza Velic admits. To help people "forget time," as he calls it, Velic brought in hydraulic massage chairs, a large fish tank, a movie theater and the dealership's biggest undertaking yet — a fine dining restaurant headed by Michelin star chef José Martinez. It's a painful and time-consuming experience that people try to avoid at all costs. His job as Sarasota Ford's chief experience officer is to change that. Le Mans Kitchen, named after the 1966 race where Ford beat Ferrari, opened last month in a more than 3,000-square-foot space inside the dealership. The restaurant is open only to the dealership's buyers and customers getting their cars serviced."
Engineer Robert Maddox likes to put jet engines on everything
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.