The Now I Know Holiday Gift Guide


Over the last few weeks, my friends at Media Mobilize and I have been working on putting together a holiday gift guide, and I’m thrilled to be able to share it with you today! It took a good deal of effort and time — the latter should be evident by the fact that even though I’m Jewish, I’m sharing this just as Hanukkah comes to a close (what can you do!). I hope you find something good for yourself or a loved one.

All of these suggestions are sponsored and thank you in advance for supporting Now I Know through your gift purchases. For those of you who support Now I Know via Patreon, I (almost) always give you an ad-free experience as a thank you. I can’t quite do that today — you’d basically be getting a blank email if I did! I promise not to make exceptions like this often, but I do feel a little bad about it.

Want to access the guide? Click here!

The Now I Know Week in Review

Monday: The Silent, Stickless Award Show Protest: This one starts with a brief anecdote about my high school career.

Tuesday: There Weren’t Skeletons In His Closet: Or mice, for that matter, but someone was eating his food.

Wednesday: How Liquid Hand Soap Pumped Itself Up: Liquid soap isn’t patentable any more, so how did the first pump soap company corner the market? By buying the right parts.

Thursday: The Nazis of New York: The title is literal.

And some other things you should check out:

Some long reads (and a short podcast) for the weekend.

1) “Why this widespread form of homelessness is often overlooked and unsupported” (PBS Newshour, 11 minutes, November 2023). Tuesday’s newsletter was about a homeless person who found a home in, let’s say, a unique way. Coincidentally, I came across this story after sharing that one; it’s about “doubled-up homelessness” — when people “live in temporary situations in the homes of friends or family when they would otherwise choose not to.” It’s often ignored but it probably shouldn’t be: According to the article, per one study, ” at least 3.7 million people experienced doubled-up homelessness on any night in 2019 — more than 1 percent of the entire U.S. population. That’s substantially more than the estimated 580,000 people living on the street or in shelters reported by the latest point-in-time count.”

2) “Podcast: Darién Gap” (Atlas Obscura, 12-minute podcast episode, July 2023). I wrote about the Darién Gap way back in 2010. It’s best known for what’s not there: there’s no road. Here’s what I wrote way back then: “As you leave Panama and try to enter Colombia, you’ll hit the Darien Gap, a 100-mile-long swath of undeveloped swampland and forest.  It’s the only break in the Pan-American Highway that otherwise connects Alaska’s outer reaches to the tip of South America.” This is a deeper look into this odd part of the world.

2) “Why do ‘gate lice’ line up early for a flight? Psychologists explain.” (Washington Post, 7 minutes, December 2023). If you’re flying this holiday season, you’ll almost certainly see a bunch of people line up at the gate to board their flight before they are called to do so, even though every passenger is well through security at that point and the plane isn’t likely to leave without them. This article tries to explain why this happens.

Have a great weekend!