The Now I Know Weekender, May 20, 2022


I often use these Friday emails to share something different than my usual fare, but it’s been a mostly quiet week (at least, trivia-wise) for me, so today is just a week in review. Let’s take look at the trivia you may have missed.

Monday: The Mystery of the 175-Year-Old Battery-Powered Bell: I learned a lot about how old batteries worked in writing this, and I still don’t really get the science. I also really want to know why someone created a continuously-ringing bell in the first place; it’s not very practical and would quickly get very annoying. But, unfortunately, I was unable to unearth that explanation.

Tuesday: And He Couldn’t Use the Discount Anyway: The title for this one is technically wrong — he will be able to use the discount, most likely unless REI decided to cancel his membership due to the circumstances of the story. Also, as a few readers pointed out, the REI membership isn’t $30/year — it’s a one-time fee. I think I’ve only been in an REI store once or twice, so don’t take that as an endorsement, just as a correction.

Wednesday: The Power of Being Bored: I think this story is one of those that is obviously true in hindsight. We’re too busy to be creative when we’re, well, busy. 

Thursday: The Women Who Ensure No Servicemember is Buried Alone: Thanks to everyone who wrote in to tell me they really appreciated this story; as I said in the little blurb at the top of yesterday’s email (which isn’t on the archived version), it’s a sad but nice story.  Also, I don’t know if it’s “servicemember” or “service member” — Grammarly says the latter but I think the former looks right. If you have an opinion, feel free to share.

And some other things you should check out:

Some long reads for the weekend.

1) “The many lives of a fake pro cyclist – Exposed by a Strava ‘King of the Mountain’ #1 ranking” (Cycling Tips, 84 minutes, April 2022). Yes, it’s long. But that’s because it is incredibly researched and still well-told. Sometimes, great stories need more than an hour to share! Thanks to reader Dan P. for flagging this one for me.

2) “He Donated His Kidney and Received a $13,064 Bill in Return” (ProPublica, 7 minutes, February 2022). For no good reason, I’ve read a lot about the policies and loopholes around kidney donation. I’ll not go too far into that, but if you want to go down that rabbit hole, google “altruistic kidney donor” and read about that and why it’s helpful in getting organs to people who need them.) This is a nightmare story; a person tries to help and becomes a victim of an unnavigable billing system. And it’s one that will unfortunately give others a reason to think twice before being similarly helpful.

3) “The young Yankees fan who lost his autographs” (ESPN,18 minutes, May 2022). I’m a Mets fan, not a Yankees fan, but still — this is the story of the power of the Internet to make a young baseball fan happy again, and that’s something I’ll always be in favor of.

Have a great weekend!