He wants to be the first man in Olympic synchro swimming

He wants to be the first man in Olympic synchro swimming

From the New York Times: "As you watch the U.S. Artistic Swimming team practice for the Olympics — their bodies upside down, their legs scissoring in the air in perfect time, like frenzied offshore wind turbines — you will notice two things. First, the sport is much harder, and possibly even more insane, than you thought. Second, in a discipline whose enthusiasm for homogeneity is reflected in its pre-2017 name, synchronized swimming, one of the athletes in the pool is very much not like the others. His name is Bill May, and he is the only man on the team. A rule change in 2022 cleared the way for men to compete in the sport at this summer’s Paris Games. That means that this is May’s first and, realistically, last chance ever to fulfill his lifelong dream. He is 45 years old."

Dick Van Dyke is almost a hundred years old but planning a cross-country tour

Dick Van Dyke interview

From Deadline: "As the star of cultural touchstones from The Dick Van Dyke Show to Mary Poppins to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang to Diagnosis Murder, Van Dyke has been on screen for as long as almost everybody can remember. His received his first lifetime achievement award 30 years ago. The legend label is not new. Perhaps he struggles to accept it because it implies a finality, that your work is complete and you’re now a part of the past, not the present. Van Dyke does not consider himself done. “I’d still like to do a one man-show,” he says. He certainly wouldn’t be short of material. Van Dyke has been working for more than 70 years now, across film, theater and TV. The biggest screen moments of his career were celebrated in the recent CBS special Dick Van Dyke 98 Years of Magic, a very sweet variety show involving heartfelt tributes and a parade of performers giving their takes on Van Dyke’s most famous musical numbers."

He was sentenced to prison for his role in a flood in Missouri, but was he wrongfully convicted?

From Now I Know: "In the spring of 1993, it rained in the Midwestern United States. That’s not unusual, but that year, it rained a lot, and didn’t seem to ever stop. The Mississippi and Missouri Rivers and many of their tributaries flooded. In total, the Great Flood of 1993, as it is now called, did nearly $30 billion in damages and claimed dozens of lives. One man — James Scott — is in prison for his role in the disaster. Scott was born in 1969, in the suburbs of Quincy, Illinois, a city of about 40,000 people that sits on the banks of the Missouri River, bordering the state of Missouri. His early life made him known to area authorities; he committed a number of crimes, including burning down his former elementary school. By the time the floods started, he had spent time in six different prisons. That summer, he was out on parole, once again living outside of Quincy."

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Scientists have traced the origin of the modern horse back over 4,000 years

From Phys.org: "The horse transformed human history—and now scientists have a clearer idea of when humans began to transform the horse. Around 4,200 years ago, one particular lineage of horse quickly became dominant across Eurasia, suggesting that's when humans started to spread domesticated horses around the world, according to research published in the journal Nature. There was something special about this horse: It had a genetic mutation that changed the shape of its back, likely making it easier to ride. Pablo Librado, an evolutionary biologist at the Spanish National Research Council in Barcelona and co-author of the new study said that genetic diversity was evident in ancient DNA samples the researchers analyzed from archaeological sites across Eurasia dating back to 50,000 years ago. But their analysis of 475 ancient horse genomes showed a notable change around 4,200 years ago."

He spent almost a decade living on an abandoned cargo ship

From Associated Press: "Abdul Nasser Saleh says he rarely got a good night’s sleep during the near-decade he spent working without pay on a cargo ship abandoned by its owner at ports along the Red Sea. By night, he tossed and turned in his bunk on the aging Al-Maha, he said, thinking of the unpaid wages he feared he’d never get if he left the ship. By day he paced the deck, stuck for the last two years in the seaport of Jeddah, unable to set foot on land because of Saudi Arabia’s strict immigration laws. Saleh’s plight is part of a global problem that shows no signs of abating. The United Nations has logged an increasing number of crew members abandoned by shipowners, leaving sailors aboard months and sometimes years without pay. More than 2,000 seafarers on some 150 ships were abandoned last year. The number of cases is at its highest since the U.N.’s labor and maritime organizations began tracking abandonments 20 years ago."

How a 250-year-old German shoe maker became a multibillion-dollar empire

From Bloomberg: "For centuries, Burg Ockenfels was home to medieval knights angling to control traffic along the Rhine River. Today the stone castle flaunts two round towers, a row of Renaissance-style statues and a courtyard that looks out over hills and farms. To visit, you take a train from Bonn to the sleepy village of Linz, then climb a long, steep hill until you reach the compound’s elaborate gate. From there, the place looks something like Xanadu, the mountaintop palace in Citizen Kane. Since the 1990s, the property has belonged to Christian Birkenstock, the seventh-generation scion of the German footwear dynasty. Out front, the mailbox has a camera and buzzers for 19 corporate entities with “Birkenstock” in their name. When Birkenstock capped off a decade of explosive growth with an initial public offering, Christian and Alex became billionaires."

Frying an egg in Dubai doesn't require a stove

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