An atheist chaplain and a death row inmate

An atheist chaplain and a death row inmate

From Emmie Goldberg for the NYT: "There is an adage that says there are no atheists in foxholes — even skeptics will pray when facing death. But Hancock, in the time leading up to his execution, only became more insistent about his nonbelief. He and his chaplain were both confident that there was no God who might grant last-minute salvation, if only they produced a desperate prayer. They had only one another. The two spoke at least once a week, and sometimes multiple times a day. Mostly, they talked over the phone, and provided recordings of these conversations to The Times. Sometimes it was in person, in the prison’s fluorescently lit visitor room, over bags of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos."

She set a new record by spending five hundred days alone in a cave

From D.T. Max for The New Yorker: "In 2021, just after lockdowns in Spain ended, Flamini thought about coming down from the mountains. But her real desire was to go somewhere more remote: the Gobi Desert, in Mongolia. Only one European had ever crossed it alone on foot, she’d learned. She moved to northern Spain and began training for the Gobi expedition by hiking steep mountain trails while carrying a backpack weighed down by bottles filled with water. She soon decided that she was prepared physically but not mentally. Flamini thought about test runs that might prepare her for the solitude of the Mongolian desert. Spending time in a cave, she decided, could provide useful lessons." 

They hacked McDonald’s ice cream machines and started a cold war

melting ice cream cone

From Andy Greenberg for Wired: "Of all the mysteries and injustices of the McDonald’s ice cream machine, the one that Jeremy O’Sullivan insists you understand first is its secret passcode. Press the cone icon on the screen of the Taylor C602 digital ice cream machine, he explains, then tap the buttons that show a snowflake and a milkshake to set the digits on the screen to 5, then 2, then 3, then 1. After that precise series of no fewer than 16 button presses, a menu magically unlocks. Only with this cheat code can you access the machine’s vital signs: everything from the viscosity setting for its milk and sugar ingredients to the temperature of the glycol flowing through its heating element."

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Miriam Rodríguez found her daughter’s killers and then was murdered herself

Miriam Rodriguez

From All Things Interesting: "One thing consumed Miriam Rodríguez: justice. Her 20-year-old daughter, Karen, had been killed by Mexican cartel members in 2014, and Rodríguez became determined to hunt down the kidnappers. Her quest led her to change her appearance, stake out cartel members’ homes, and spend hours scrolling through social media. Carrying a pistol, Rodríguez hunted down her daughter’s kidnappers herself, sometimes pursuing them on foot until the police arrived. Rodríguez’s dogged pursuit of justice made her something of a hero. On Mother’s Day in 2017, the 57-year-old was shot and killed."

Women played key roles in the California gold rush

Women and men in the California Gold Rush, 1850

From Erin Blakemore for JSTOR Daily: "The “forty-niners,” who rushed to California once gold was discovered, were dominated by men. But ten percent of all the new arrivals were women—and Glenda Riley restores part of their history by telling the stories of the journalists, saloon keepers, wives, prostitutes, and others whose Gold Rush accounts have been largely ignored. “Conventional wisdom tells us that the gold rush was a male undertaking,” writes Riley. But women were there, too—and they didn’t always tag along as wives, cooks, or prostitutes. Sometimes they became incredibly wealthy entrepreneurs; others were left behind as their husbands and male family members went west to explore."

Carrie Fisher and James Earl Jones met for the first time on Big Bang Theory

10 of Our Favorite Princess Leia Moments in Star Wars – Financial Pupil

From Charles Switzer for Looper: "Despite sharing a few scenes with Darth Vader in 1977's "Star Wars," Fisher was acting alongside the late English actor David Prowse, the actual man behind Vader's mask, who also voiced the character during filming, only to have his voice dubbed over by James Earl Jones during post-production. In essence, this means that Fisher and Jones never physically shared the screen, and despite many Star Wars press events over the years, they never met. That was until "The Big Bang Theory" finally united screen dad and daughter 37 years after their characters were first introduced."

The fall of the rebel angels

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.