The 4,643-Day Old Typo


Now I Know got its start in June 2010, but perhaps my favorite “early” newsletter didn’t come until November 23rd of that year. I rarely sync up newsletters with the events going on in the rest of this world (yesterday’s newsletter is a rare exception). It’s simply too difficult to plan that all out. But when I learned the history of how turkey — the bird — got its name, I figured that was worth waiting until Thanksgiving to share. So, that’s what I did, and if you’re interested in how turkey got its name, you can read it here. You probably have read it already, though; it’s been on the front page of forever, it’s in one of my books, and I’ve re-rerun it a few times, too. 

And until today, it had a typo.

A received an email early this morning telling me about the error. It was a very kind note, telling me that the story was very interesting, and flagging the typo. There are a lot of typos in my newsletters — the peril of publishing daily means time is a luxury I don’t have, and editing gets, well, ignored, at least until after I hit the dreaded “send” button. But to have one sitting on the front page of the site for over a decade? That’s ridiculous, even for me.

(A quick aside: Many, many readers have offered to edit the newsletters before it goes out over the years, and I just don’t have time to have anyone turn it around. A fantastic volunteer, Steven, did for a few years, but ultimately it was too much work for me. So to anyone else, while I appreciate the offer, I have to decline in advance!)

The typo? Its — I mean, it’s now gone. And, thankfully, it was caught once before: the editor of my book fixed it in the print edition, so there’s no errant apostrophe there. 

The Now I Know Week In Review

MondayThe Man Who Lives on Cruise Ships: To be honest, this isn’t the life I’d want, but then again, I’ve never been on a cruise ship.

TuesdayThe Fans Who Saved The Day (For the Bad Guys): I tried really, really hard to make a good Star Wars joke in this one, but the best I could come up with was a subtle comment about the accuracy of Stormtroopers. For those out there who like both Star Trek and Star Wars, here’s a fun (rhetorical) question that I didn’t make up: what happens if a Stormtrooper shoots at a red-shirted ensign?

Wednesday: Panda Diplomacy: Pandas are… rentals? On loan? I’m not sure which is more accurate.

ThursdayThe River Race that Doesn’t Like Water: The river was too wet in 1993. You’ll see why that’s a problem when you read about this weird rivier race.

And some other things you should check out:

Some long reads for the weekend:

1) “The National Park That Was Stolen to Death” (Atlas Obscura, 9 minutes, July 2017). The subhead: “Fossil Cycad National Monument held America’s richest deposit of petrified cycadeoid plants, until it didn’t.” Thanks to reader Tom S. for sharing!

2) “In Search of Van Halen’s Brown M&Ms” (Snack Snack, 12 minutes, July 2023). I wrote about the Van Halen M&Ms in 2013; the prevailing wisdom is that the whole ordeal was about safety, and it quite likely was. This piece makes a compelling argument that it was (also?) about marketing. Read both and judge for yourself. (And if you have no idea what I’m talking about, read mine first.)

3) “I Wanted to Capture the Fleeting Magic of a Summer at Camp in Photographs” (New York Times, 8 minutes plus the time it takes to look at the photos, August 2023). I was fortunate enough to go to sleepaway camp for a few years as a kid. This is a photo essay featuring pictures from 1999, a few years after I would have been a camper (and at a different camp), but the images still resonated with me. 

Have a great weekend!