Today is Friday the 13th, which is to say, it’s just a regular Friday. But there are plenty of people out there who suffer from paraskevidekatriaphobia, better known as “fear of Friday the 13th.” So a few times now — I think this will be the fourth, hence the punny title, I want to share a specific story from my archives: How Mister Rogers Made Friday the 13th Less Scary. I’ll not spoil it for you, but I will say this: we need more people like Fred Rogers in this world.
One of the hardest parts of the Internet and cable news-centric culture we have today is that outrage is rewarded with attention. And attention is finite. We all only have so many waking hours in the day, and too many of us spend that time searching for opinions that (a) we agree with and (b) inspire us to be angry. I’ve openly wondered if our brains become addicted to feeling angry, leading us to seek out more content that makes us angry, etc. It’s speculation on my part, rank speculation at that. I don’t have a better explanation, though, as to why divisive content gets our attention while it’s rare for someone like Fred Rogers to break through.
So when I get the chance, I take the time to celebrate the impact of Fred Rogers and people like him. Friday the 13th is a great opportunity to do so, and I hope you’ll click through to that archived story to read why.
The Now I Know Week In Review
Monday: When Christopher Columbus Made the Moon Disappear: Misrepresenting yourself as someone with god-like powers a very nice thing to do.
Tuesday: The Least Likely Hockey All-Star: I love stories like this — wholesome pranks that yield a fok hero.
Wednesday: The Movie That Made Its Own Popcorn?: Well, corn, at least.
Thursday: When Science Gets Unexpectedly Expensive: A strange way to run up a four-figure cell phone bill.
And some other things you should check out:
Some long reads for the weekend:
1) “Friday the 13th isn’t unlucky. It’s a meme disguised as superstition.” (Vox, 7 minutes, March 2020). This is a brief history of Friday the 13th.
2) “The Obsessive Search for the Tasmanian Tiger” (The New Yorker, 25 minutes, July 2018). The story of an extinct animal that may not actually be extinct. I may have shared this previously — if so, it’s so interesting that it warrants the re-share. The New Yorker has a metered paywall, that, I believe, resets every month. If you’re unable to access it, try back in November?
3) “Who Killed the Fudge King?” (The Atavist, 57 minutes). The subhead is “How I (possibly) solved a cold case on my summer vacation” and that was enough to get me to start reading this. It’s long, but it moves quickly!
Have a great weekend!