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5

The First English Novel Was About Talking Cats

Literary scholars often trace the novel form back to 18th-century, although it depends on how you define "novel." A book called Beware the Cat, written by William Baldwin in 1553, appears to fill the bill.

Beware the Cat tells the tale of a talkative priest, Gregory Streamer, who determines to understand the language of cats after he is kept awake by a feline rabble on the rooftops. Turning for guidance to Albertus Magnus, a medieval alchemist and natural scientist roundly mocked in the Renaissance for his quackery, Streamer finds the spell he needs. Then, using various stomach-churning ingredients, including hedgehog’s fat and cat excrement, he cooks up the right potion.

And it turns out that cats don’t merely talk – they have a social hierarchy, a judicial system and carefully regulated laws governing sexual relations. With his witty beast fable, Baldwin is analysing an ancient question, and one in which the philosophical field of posthumanism still shows a keen interest: do birds and beasts have reason?

An intriguing read, no doubt, but the story behind the book is interesting, too. Baldwin, a printer's assistant who wrote other books, sat on Beware the Cat for ten years due to the politics of Tudor royalty. Now, 500 year later, the novel is being turned into a play. Read about Beware the Cat at The Conversation. -via Strange Company


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5

Blue Marble 2

Back in February, Kaplamino gave us a wonderful chain reaction called The Blue Marble. He's back with Blue Marble 2, in which physics and timing combine to make this chain reaction act like a pinball machine! What's really neat about this one is that Kaplamino gives us some insight on how the tricks are done. From the YouTube page:

The trick at 0:23 caused the majority of the fails. It had to be exactly in the right position and it was moving because of the vibrations of the trick above.

The air canon with the balloon was a big challenge to make. The rubber band squeezes the balloon around the straw to release the air in a specific direction. Then the hardest part was to find how to stop the air and deliver it when I want. It was too difficult to put something like tape at the end of the straw because it was either too clingy or not enough. The solution was to twist the balloon around the straw and block it in this position with a rope. In this position the air stays in the balloon until it untwists. I explain it because I think what exactly happened it's not easy to get when you see the video.

After this I built a timing catapult trick. I know I'm crazy because timing tricks are so unreliable, it was mostly based on luck but worked 80% of the time. It was so sensitive, just a little more dust or some hair on my table could make it fail so I had to clean it for almost every take.

Yep I used a fidget spinner again, I'm proud of this one, nice and almost never failed.

The big catapult was supposed to be a trick with fire (the plan was to build something with elements: fire, air and water). The marble was supposed to go up because of the explosion of a firecracker :p

But it was too risky, I know it can work (it worked 2 times) but with MASSIVE luck. It's impossible to predict how they'll explode. And it caused lots of others problems. The marble was burned and it wasn't rolling really well after that.

The shockwave can trigger other tricks and finally the debris from the explosions was falling all over the place and could block the marble at a later stage. It also burned the table and hurt my ears. So I gave up, but maybe you'll find this trick in a screenlink later ;)

About the water trick. Release the water was really easy, but it took me weeks to figure out what to do with it. You can't push something with it, not enough force ...

So I taped a folded paper and when the water touched it, it got wet and unfold because of the weight :D But the marble also touches the water and gets wet. After that you can see that it moves slowly.

Note that we get to see how slanted the table is when the camera pans near the window. There's not much slant at all... just enough. -via Laughing Squid


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5

Is This the Most Magical Meal on Earth?

Disneyland in California was originally built with a private luxury apartment inside for Walt Disney himself. After his death, it was made into an art gallery, then an exclusive lodging experience called the Disneyland Dream Suite. It's now called 21 Royal, the setting for a posh dinner offered for $15,000. Don't faint; that price covers 12 people and includes park tickets, so dinner itself is in the realm of a grand per person. As a theme park journalist, Carlye Wisel got to try it out, and she gives us a blow-by-blow description of the evening.

After a seemingly brief cocktail hour, we’re ushered into the dining room. It’s neoclassical by way of New Orleans, all jewel-toned wainscotting and aquamarine velvet chairs with idealized murals of the park’s Mark Twain Riverboat churning through open waters and the famed Haunted Mansion in all its antebellum glory. A floral eruption of sunset-hued ranunculus, roses, and sprigs of rosemary on the table would almost have you forgetting you’re a stone’s throw from mouse-shaped beignets until a candelabra on the mantle is magically lit by, what else, fairy dust.

Sommelier Matt Ellingson does most of the talking throughout the night, with lengthy backstories for every pour, including our first — a Dom Ruinart champagne named for, as we’re told in detail, the 18th-century inventor of “wine with bubbles.” The first course lands, Osetra caviar offset by an acidic yellow tomato sauce and Alaskan king crab with a delicate potato mousseline crepe. The wine and food pairing isn’t just nice, it’s nearly unprecedented: Save for Club 33, nowhere at the original Disneyland Park sells alcohol, for now.

You might never have an evening at 21 Royal, but you can read about it for free at Eater.

(Image credit: Frank Wonho Lee)

We dish up more neat food posts at the Neatolicious blog

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5

Lives of The Downtrodden in Early America

We learn a lot about the Founding Fathers and the movers and shakers of colonial America, but what about the regular folk, and especially the poor people who left no records for us? Jon Townsend (previously at Neatorama) knows a lot about colonial America. Here he gives us details from the travel journals of Sarah Kemble Knight and surveyor William Bird, who wrote down the things they saw and the people they met. -via Digg 


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7

Fake Town for Alzheimer's Patients

Reminiscence Therapy is often used in nursing homes and adult-care facilities to help patients with Alzheimer's and dementia. In this type of therapy, the patients are encouraged to talk about their past - and that act of remembering seemed to help improve their mood and cognition.

The George G. Glenner Alzheimer's Family Center took RT one step further: they created a fake town taken straight from the 1950s. Called the Glenner Town Square, it's built inside a 11,000-square-foot former warehouse and comes complete with a local diner, city hall, gas station, beauty salon and even a library.

Why the 1950s? From the website's FAQ:

Why is Town Square® designed from the era 1953-1961?
Studies have shown that our strongest memories are constructed from the ages of 10-30. The reason being is that this is when the most significant life events occur – graduation from high school, college, first job, weddings, birth of children. That said, a majority of our participants are now in their early eighties. Our participants, who are currently 82 (in 2017), were born in in 1935 and would have been 18 in 1953.

via San Diego Tribune


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7

Japan Has Landed Two Rovers on Asteroid Ryugu

It's like a scene straight out of a sci-fi movie: Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Hayabusa2 asteroid mission has successfully landed two rovers on an asteroid called Ryugu.

The photo above was taken by Minerva-II 1A rover during a hop after it landed on the asteroid. The rovers are designed to hop along the asteroid's surface, and take photos and data, as well as collect samples.

This photo was taken by the second rover, shortly after separating from the spacecraft, on its way down to the asteroid.

Photo: Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency


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7

"Africa" '50s Style

It's an '80s song set to a '50s beat, and Generation Z doesn't understand at all. But the rest of us can enjoy Postmodern Jukebox with guest musicians Casey Abrams and Snuffy Walden performing Toto's "Africa." -via Laughing Squid


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7

This Raccoon Scaled a Building and ... JUMPED from the Ninth Story!

South Carolina resident Micha Rea was walking on the boardwalk of Ocean City, New Jersey, when he spotted a raccoon scaling a building.  When the animal reached the ninth story ... it JUMPED down!

Click on the embedded video to see what happened next.


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7

Schrödinger's Cat Thought Experiment with Multiple Cats Stumps Physicists

Even if you're not a physicist, chances are that you're familiar with Erwin Schrödinger's cat.

In his famous Schrödinger's cat thought experiment, a cat inside a box is both dead and alive until the box is opened, and illustrates (just one of the) paradoxical things about quantum mechanics.

But what if instead of one cat, there are two cats?

Find out what happens in this article by Davide Castelvecchi over at Nature.


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9

Praying Mantis Catches, Eats Fish

Praying mantises normally eat other insects, but they aren't picky. They've been seen eating spiders, birds, frogs, and mice, but now a science paper details the first-ever observance of a praying mantis catching and eating fish. Lots of fish.

Observations of this 2.2-inch-long male mantis (Hierodula tenuidentata) were made in a private roof garden in Karnataka, India. The garden may be artificial, but the researchers say it’s a very close approximation of mantises’ natural habitat, featuring wasps, butterflies, spiders, and several planters. The team observed the mantis as it hunted and devoured the guppies, also known as rainbow fish, in a pond, which it did for five days in a row. In total, the mantis ate nine fish, at a minimum rate of two per day.

This is just one mantis, but it shows how adaptable and intelligent they can be. Read all about the pescetarian mantis at Gizmodo.

(Image credit: Rajesh Puttaswamaiah)  


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7

Great Dane Does Lunges

"I don't know what you're doing, Dad, but I wanna do it, too!"

Eli Clark was exercising by doing lunges across the living room, and his great Dane Luca did his best to join in. He didn't quite understand what moves were involved, but gosh darn it, he did his best! That's a good dog. Luca now has his own Instagram account. -via Tastefully Offensive 

Love cute animals? View more at Lifestyles of the Cute and Cuddly blog

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10

"Cat Grandpa" Naps with Shelter Cats

Terry Laurmen of Green Bay, Wisconsin, is 75 years old. He volunteers at Safe Haven Pet Sanctuary, where he enjoys brushing the cats. They love it too! The shelter, which specializes in caring for disabled, ill, and elderly cats, is a comfy place, so Laurmen often falls asleep with the cats.

"They all know him, when he walks through the door they run over to him because they know he has the special brush and the special treats. They all pile on top of him and rub all over him and just love him," sanctuary owner Elizabeth told the BBC.

But grooming 20-30 cats can get exhausting, and the other volunteers began snapping shots of Terry taking his daily siestas with his furry friends.

The pictures, posted at Facebook, went viral. When the shelter attached a fundraising link, they raised more than $40,000 in donations! They also have more volunteers because of the publicity. So what's next?

"People have been requesting we make a calendar with Terry and the cats on it!" Elizabeth says.

"I asked him if he would be comfortable with something like that - and he said he'd do anything to raise money for them."

Read more about Cat Grandpa at BBC. -via Fark

Love cute animals? View more at Lifestyles of the Cute and Cuddly blog

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10

Henry the VIII and Ann Boleyn Halloween Costumes

When redditor Monkeygruven posted this picture of some family friends ready for trick-or-treat, others bemoaned that the kids didn't pick their own costumes, nor did they know who they were portraying. Maybe it was more like this.

Mom: Do you want to wear a scary costume or a princess costume?
Girl: I don't know!
Mom: You can be both! You can be a queen who got her head cut off!
Girl: Yeah, let's do that!
Boy: I want to have my head cut off!
Mom: How about you be the king that murdered her?
Boy: Well, okay. But how will people know I did it?
Mom: Let me tell you a scary story, a true story...

That said, the costumes are awesome. -via reddit

Love Halloween and cosplay? Check out our Halloween Blog!

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8

This Military Parade in Chile has Puppies

Military parades are usually a stuffy kind of affair featuring tanks and things like that, but not in Chile! In their annual military parade in Santiago, the Chilean military featured uniformed officers carrying a bunch of puppies that will be trained to be police dogs.


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8

What’s the Maximum Gravity We Could Survive?

Ever since we managed to put men on the moon, we've been looking for other places for people to go. Then bigger and better telescopes led us to exoplanets, those outside our solar system. Somewhere along the way, we switched from thinking of pure exploration to colonizing other planets. But our bodies were built for Earth. Even if we find an exoplanet with an oxygen-rich atmosphere, liquid water, and tolerable temperatures, would we be able to live with a different level of gravity?

If its gravity is too strong our blood will be pulled down into our legs, our bones might break, and we could even be pinned helplessly to the ground.

Finding the gravitational limit of the human body is something that’s better done before we land on a massive new planet. Now, in a paper published on the pre-print server arXiv, three physicists, claim that the maximum gravitational field humans could survive long-term is four-and-a-half times the gravity on Earth.  

Read how they figured that out at Discover magazine. -via Digg

(Image credit: NASA/Ames/JPL-Caltech)


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10

Philadelphia Threw a WWI Parade That Gave Thousands of Onlookers the Flu

A hundred years ago, in the autumn of 1918, the Great War was dragging on, so Philadelphia threw a parade to raise morale and sell war bonds called "Liberty Loans." The parade highlighted any available soldiers and sailors, plus the many homefront organizations supporting them. The spectacle would end with a concert conducted by John Philip Souza himself.  

When the Fourth Liberty Loan Drive parade stepped off on September 28, some 200,000 people jammed Broad Street, cheering wildly as the line of marchers stretched for two miles. Floats showcased the latest addition to America’s arsenal – floating biplanes built in Philadelphia’s Navy Yard. Brassy tunes filled the air along a route where spectators were crushed together like sardines in a can. Each time the music stopped, bond salesmen singled out war widows in the crowd, a move designed to evoke sympathy and ensure that Philadelphia met its Liberty Loan quota.

But aggressive Liberty Loan hawkers were far from the greatest threat that day. Lurking among the multitudes was an invisible peril known as influenza—and it loves crowds. Philadelphians were exposed en masse to a lethal contagion widely called “Spanish Flu,” a misnomer created earlier in 1918 when the first published reports of a mysterious epidemic emerged from a wire service in Madrid.

Within a couple of days, the hospitals started filling up and people were dying. The entire city was shut down. Read how Philadelphia (and other American cities) reacted to the Spanish flu at Smithsonian.


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7

The Weird and Mystical World of Sleepwalking

According to the neighbors, one woman would get on her motorcycle and go riding late at night, although she had no idea because she was sleepwalking. Others cook meals, preach sermons, and commit murder while sleeping. It's estimated that 30 percent of us sleepwalk at one time or another, but we really don't know because we sleep through it.

Although it’s thought to be triggered by stress, anxiety, and alcohol, it is totally unknown why we do it. Are we simply on auto-pilot? Trying to fulfill our fantasies? Or perhaps something stranger…

Science hasn’t always provided satisfactory answers to the many questions raised around sleepwalking. Throughout history, the mysteries of somnambulance have lead many to come up with their own theories—drawing on spirituality, pseudo-science, and folklore—with sleepwalkers seeming to exist somewhere between this world and another.

Read a short history of sleepwalking that covers famous cases, scientific research, and pop culture, at Vice.


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8

Thermostat 6 - Animation

Diane can't ignore anymore the leak coming from the ceiling above the family diner…

A beautiful and strong animation about climate change and human behaviours.

Director : AV-RON Maya, COMINOTTI Mylène, COUDERT Marion, DANO Sixtine

Production year : 2018


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9

What Would Happen if You Give the Mood Drug Ecstasy to an Octopus?

Let's find out, neuroscientists Gul Dolen of Johns Hopkins University and Eric Edsinger of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, said.

And find out they did:

The researchers knew from previous tests that an octopus would normally stay far, far away from a second octopus that was confined to a small cage inside the first one's tank. But an octopus on MDMA would get up-close and personal with the new neighbor.
"They spent significantly more time in the side of the tank, the chamber, that had the other octopus in it," says Dolen.
What's more, without the drug, any octopus that approached the stranger at all would remain very reserved, perhaps only reaching out one arm to tentatively touch the other animal's cage.
"After MDMA, they were essentially hugging," says Dolen, who explains that the octopuses were "really just much more relaxed in posture, and using a lot more of their body to interact with the other octopus."

Nell Greenfieldboyce of NPR has the story.

Photo: Tom Kleindinst/Marine Biological Laboratory


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8

Experience The Joy of Toasting with this Bob Ross Toaster

Now you can enjoy your breakfast with happy little toasts every morning! Better yet, this Bob Ross Toaster will burn a portrait of the famous painter onto the bread.


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10

The Aftermath of a Viral Prank



Remember Jehv Maravilla and Christian Toledo, the guys who erected a poster of themselves at a local McDonald's outlet? The prank got them a viral story, a guest slot on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and now a job.

The prank was fun, but it also highlighted McDonald’s lack of inclusive representation in their promotional materials. Asian and Asian-American people are heavily underrepresented in all forms of U.S. media. Maravilla said he was heavily inspired by Crazy Rich Asians and seeing so many Asian faces on screen. Toledo joked that they were aspiring to be “crazy middle-class Asians.”

McDonald’s apparently agreed with them (or at least wanted to cash in on that positive-PR viral goodwill, a thing they could use right now, to be honest) and is going to use the two of them in an upcoming marketing campaign.

In case you're wondering, yes, they will be paid, $25,000 each. See the video from The Ellen DeGeneres Show in which the offer was announced at The Mary Sue. 


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7

Star Wars Anime

For a minute there, I could believe that the first Star Wars movie was going to be serialized as an anime show in Japan. It's that good. But this is a fan-made trailer from Dmitry Grozov (Ahriman). -via Digg


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12

Discovery Shows Galileo Edited His Ideas to Fool the Inquisition

Galileo Galilei knew that the earth revolved around the sun. But this was Rome at the dawn of 17th century, and the Church didn't see it that way. Galileo argued that scientific study and scripture should be independent of each other, because the Bible was written to be understood by the intended reader of the time. The struggle between Galileo and the Church went on for 20 years. He was ultimately convicted of heresy in 1633, and sentenced to house arrest for the rest of his life. The early correspondence between Galileo and Vatican authorities of the time was hand-copied and redistributed, and is suspected to have been edited- how and by who is a matter of controversy. But the earliest evidence has been found. Galileo's original argument is in a 1613 letter to mathematician Benedetto Castelli. It was returned to Galileo for further refinement, and then was lost.   

The letter has been in the Royal Society’s possession for at least 250 years, but escaped the notice of historians. It was rediscovered in the library there by Salvatore Ricciardo, a postdoctoral science historian at the University of Bergamo in Italy, who visited on 2 August for a different purpose, and then browsed the online catalogue.

“I thought, ‘I can’t believe that I have discovered the letter that virtually all Galileo scholars thought to be hopelessly lost,’” says Ricciardo. “It seemed even more incredible because the letter was not in an obscure library, but in the Royal Society library.”

The newly-found letter contains quite a bit of editing by Galileo himself, and shines a light on the struggle between the scientist and the Church that shook the world. Read about the letter at Nature.  -via Metafilter


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11

Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Middle-Earth

There's fandom and then there's FANDOM. Some may devote a Facebook page to a personal interest of theirs, or maybe even create a dedicated website, but you've probably never seen the like of what Tolkien scholar Mark Fisher has created concerning the works of J.R.R. Tolkien - The Encyclopedia of Arda.

This site is comprehensive in its coverage of Tolkien's fantasy world of Middle-Earth; no topic is too obscure and no detail is too small. It is an immense reference and repository of knowledge that should interest any devotee of Tolkien's works and I find myself referring to it on a regular basis. Go on, name anything concerning Middle-Earth and see if it cannot be found therein - I dare you.

Check out The Encyclopedia of Arda.


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14

Gulper Eel in Action

The team from EVNautilus are back, watching the bottom of the ocean for interesting creatures. And here they've found one with their remotely-operated vehicle (ROV) in the deep sea at Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. At first, they don't recognize a gulper eel (Eurypharynx pelecanoides) because they are rarely seen alive and gulping. -via reddit

See more weird sea creatures EVNautilus has shown us previously.


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12

This Half-Billion-Year-Old Sea Blob Was The First Animal on Earth

Meet the 558-million-year-old fossil of Dickinsonia, a type of Ediacaran organism, that may just be the first animal species on Earth:

The first large complex organisms – known as the Ediacarans – appear in the fossil record about 570 million years ago, just before the Cambrian explosion of modern animal life. Their alien body shapes have created confusion over whether they were primitive animals, other complex lifeforms like lichen or giant amoebas, or failed experiments of evolution.
Now, Jochen Brocks at Australian National University and his colleagues have found fat molecules in 558 million-year-old fossils of Dickinsonia – a type of Ediacaran – that confirms it was an early animal.
The researchers collected the fossils from sandstone cliffs in a remote area of the White Sea region of Russia. The cholesterol-like molecules preserved in them are found in almost all of today’s animals, but have low abundance in other lifeforms like bacteria, lichen and amoebas. “It tells us this creature in fact was our earliest ancestor,” says Brocks.

Read the rest over at NewScientist.

(Photo: Ilya Bobrovskiy / Australian National University)


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6

Wonderful Artwork of British Columbia Mountains by Laura Bifano

I'm loving these wonderful geometric art by Vancouver-based artist Laura Bifano. In her series "Altars," Bifano drew local vistas and mountains of British Columbia, Canada.

via Booom

(Artwork: Laura Bifano)


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8

Have Teacup - Will Travel

This is "open carry" in the UK. Etsy seller LeatherHeds created a teacup and saucer belt holster for the tea-loving gentleman who's always ready for high noon ... and high tea.

via Boing Boing


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8

Edgar Allan Poe: as Creepy as Ever

Readers have been enjoying the short stories and poetry of Edgar Allan Poe for almost 200 years. What makes his literature so relatable over time? Scott Peeples dives into that question in this TED-Ed animation. -via Boing Boing


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8

How Golf Freed an Innocent Man from Prison

Valentino Dixon loves golf, although he's never played a game in his life. As a young man, he was convicted of murder and sent to prison in 1991, on a 39-year-to-life sentence. He developed a habit of drawing and over the years became a notable sketch artist. A prison employee commissioned him to draw a golf course landscape, and brought a picture to work from. Dixon became fascinated with the scene, and began to focus his art on golf courses from around the country. His reputation for drawing bucolic golf courses spread, and eventually got the attention of the sport's premiere magazine.

It took about a hundred drawings before Golf Digest noticed, but when we did, we also noticed his conviction seemed flimsy. So we investigated the case and raised the question of his innocence.

The case is complicated, but on the surface it involves shoddy police work, zero physical evidence linking Dixon, conflicting testimony of unreliable witnesses, the videotaped confession to the crime by another man, a public defender who didn’t call a witness at trial, and perjury charges against those who said Dixon didn’t do it. All together, a fairly clear instance of local officials hastily railroading a young black man with a prior criminal record into jail. Dixon’s past wasn’t spotless, he had sold some cocaine, but that didn’t make him a murderer.

Golf Digest published an article about Dixon in 2012, and the publicity led to the dominos of Dixon's murder case falling, one by one, over the next six years. Wednesday, the conviction was vacated, and Valentino Dixon walked out of prison, an innocent man, ready to resume his life at age 48. Read how it all happened at Golf Digest.  -via Metafilter


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