A Newsletter Not About the News


The email I sent you yesterday was written before Russia invaded Ukraine, as I briefly mentioned in the note at the top of yesterday’s email. It arrived in your inboxes after Russia invaded Ukraine. I don’t think anything I wrote has anything to do with that, but that lag time could have caused a problem. Before I get to this week’s Now I Know Week in Review, I wanted to share some thoughts about that.

Now I Know isn’t a “newsletter” in the sense that nothing I share here can really be considered “news” and certainly not “new.” But most things I share are “new to me.” My process is basically to learn something new, write about it, maybe edit it a bit (it’s hit or miss!), and then send. I have a backlog of probably hundreds of story ideas but I find those harder to write about than things that I just recently discovered or re-discovered — the novelty actor allows me to bring the joy of that discovery into full view for all of you.

As a result, I don’t really have much of an editorial calendar. (I made a joke about that on Tuesday, in fact, noting that “it’s almost March, and yes, I’m sharing a Christmas story. If you ever wondered if I had a well-planned editorial calendar, now you know: I do not.”) So when major news happens — e.g. Russia invades Ukraine — I basically have to run with the story I have written. And as this isn’t a newsletter for breaking news anyway, it’s not like I have any specifically relevant knowledge or insight to impart about the goings-on in our world anyway. (And I’ll keep my opinions to myself, mostly.)

So do me a favor: don’t read between the lines. If I share a story that may have to do with recent news, it’s probably a coincidence. If it’s intentionally, I’ll likely make that clear when I send it, typically in that message I add at the top of each email.  

The Now I Know Week in Review

Monday: Behind the Presidents: A story about Mt. Rushmore for Presidents Day. (It’s a re-run, which is why it was timed so nicely, editorially-speaking.)

Tuesday: The Checks That Saved 75 Christmases: An anonymous hero during the Great Depression — and the neat story about how his identity was ultimately discovered.

Wednesday: When Your Brain Nose Something is Missing: A weird problem with VR headsets.

Thursday: The Party That Was Its Own Invitation: I really don’t like the title of this one but I couldn’t come up with another one, at least not without accidentally summarizing the wstory itself. 

And some other things you should check out:

Some long reads for the weekend.

1) “North Korea Hacked Him. So He Took Down Its Internet” (Wired, 8 minutes, February 2022). The subhead summarizes the story nicely: “Disappointed with the lack of US response to the Hermit Kingdom’s attacks against US security researchers, one hacker took matters into his own hands.”

2) “*ABA – The Goodest Language Universal” (Danny Bate, 7 minutes, February 2022). A linguist explains why “goodest” isn’t a word.

3) “America’s Next Food Craze Is Buried in Appalachia” (Outside Magazine, 11 minutes, January 2022). Welcome to the search for the Appalachian truffle. 

Have a great weekend!