The sex strike that has shaken the ultra-Orthodox world

The sex strike that has shaken the ultra-Orthodox world

From The Cut: "Fifty miles northwest of New York City is a town built as a kind of experiment: an attempt to insulate a religious community from the vagaries of time and assimilation. There, the women serve Sabbath meals that would not be out of place in 19th-century Eastern Europe — gefilte fish, golden challah, buttery kokosh cake — and the men dress in black coats and long sidelocks. In that town, a girl grew up to be a woman, and she got married, and the marriage turned bad. For four years, 30-year-old Malky Gold Berkowitz has been fighting to be freed from her husband, Wolf Berkowitz, a man who she says has subjected her to extensive harassment and physical assault. Malky lives in Kiryas Joel, or the City of Joel, an ultra-Orthodox enclave whose strictures on women make it an outlier even among other ultra-Orthodox sects — a world within a world."

The rocket scientist who invented the Super Soaker water gun in his spare time

Super Soaker-edit.jpg

From The Smithsonian: "You might think it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to invent a squirt gun like the Super Soaker. But Lonnie Johnson, the inventor who devised this hugely popular toy that can drench half the neighborhood with a single pull of the trigger, actually worked on the Galileo and Cassini satellite programs and at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where he helped develop the B2 stealth bomber. Johnson is a prodigious creator, holding more than 120 patents on a variety of products and processes, including designs for lithium batteries and electrochemical conversion systems, heat pumps and a ceramic proton-conducting electrolyte. But Johnson has also patented such amusing concepts as a hair drying curler apparatus, wet diaper detector, and Nerf Blasters, the rapid-fire system with foam darts that tempts the child in all of us."

This British woman has never felt pain or anxiety thanks to a rare genetic mutation

What is Pain? - The Meaningful Life Center

From the BBC: "Doctors were first alerted to Jo Cameron's condition after she had a serious operation and she needed no pain relief during her recovery. Researchers at University College London (UCL) have discovered how the mutation works at molecular level. They said the study could lead to development of new treatments. Mrs. Cameron, 75, who lives near Loch Ness, has previously told of how she only realises her skin is burning when she smells singed flesh. She often burns her arms on the oven, but feels no pain to warn her. She never feels anxious or afraid. Mrs. Cameron is thought to be one of a few people in the world with mutations in what is called the FAAH-OUT gene. Doctors were first alerted to her condition when she told doctors following an operation that she did not need painkillers, and her history showed she had never been prescribed pain relief."

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Was Bampfylde Moore Carew the king of the beggars or history's greatest conman?

From Creative History: "Some called him a conman, a scoundrel and even a criminal. He named himself the “King of the Beggars” and published an international bestseller that detailed his exploits as a wandering vagabond who lived on the margins of accepted society. His detractors said that his work was nothing more than pure fiction.  But one thing is certain--Bampfylde Moore Carew’s literary talents made him one of the 18th century’s most famous (and infamous) celebrities. It was reported that at one time or another, he successfully impersonated an old widow, the homeless victim of a house-fire, a shipwrecked mariner from North America, and a farmer who had lost all of his livestock and crops during a great flood. His most famous act was wandering through various towns wrapped in an old blanket and begging from affrighted townspeople in the guise of a character he called “Mad Tom”.

Remnants of a legendary typeface have been rescued from the river Thames

From ArtNet: "A little over a century ago, the printer T.J. Cobden-Sanderson took it upon himself to surreptitiously dump every piece of the carefully honed metal letterpress type known as Doves type into the river. It was an act of retribution against his business partner, Emery Walker, whom he believed was attempting to swindle him. The pair had conceived this idiosyncratic Arts and Crafts typeface when they founded the Doves Press in the London’s Hammersmith neighborhood, in 1900. They worked with draftsman Percy Tiffin and master punch-cutter Edward Prince to faithfully recall the Renaissance clarity of 15th-century Venetian fonts, designed by the revolutionary master typographer Nicolas Jensen. With its extra-wide capital letters, diamond shaped punctuation and unique off-kilter dots on the letter “i,” Doves Type became the press’s hallmark, surpassing fussier typographic attempts by their friend William Morris."

Quebec's maple-syrup cartel keeps a sticky grip on the global market for the amber liquid

From the Wall Street Journal: "Quebec and Vermont are their nations’ respective champions of maple-syrup making. It isn’t a fair fight. Vermont, about 9,600 square miles, has maple as the “official state flavor” and boasts of more than six million sugar maple and red maple trees on tap. Quebec, meanwhile, is a 595,000-square-mile province in a country that features a maple leaf on its national flag and hosts a maple-syrup cartel that effectively controls the price. Its 50 million maple trees yield around 72% of the world’s supply. Quebec’s Global Maple Syrup Strategic Reserve—three high-security warehouses big enough to hold 221,000 barrels—allows the cartel to regulate global prices. Without much argument, Quebec is known as the Saudi Arabia of maple syrup."

The CIA had a "heart attack" gun that shot a dart made of ice with a deadly toxin

Acknowledgements: I find a lot of these links myself, but I also get some from other newsletters that I rely on as "serendipity 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 at mathew @ mathewingram dot com