The Problem With Sharing What I Learned Just Recently


On Tuesday, I shared the story behind the first name “Gary” — where it comes from, why it was popular, and why it’s seemingly going away. A few of you wrote in to tell me that, the same day or day after, other places wrote about the same thing. For example, Morning Brew — which has been generous enough to sponsor Now I Know many times in the past — included it in their email newsletter on Wednesday and also tweeted about the case of the disappearing Garys. But they’re not ripping me off here. This is, simply, a coincidence. And it’s the problem with me sharing things I’ve learned recently.

This newsletter is titled “Now I Know” and not “Now You Know” for a reason — I’m sharing things that I learned. (Implicitly, by sharing it, I think you’ll find it interesting, but except for the fact that you’re still reading this newsletter, that’s just a guess.) In the early days of the newsletter, I was sharing things I had learned very recently, in large part because I hadn’t been doing this for very long and hadn’t been collecting links to potential things to share. Nowadays, though, I tend to share things I learned weeks or months ago as a result.

But on occasion, I’ll still share things that I’ve just learned over the past few days. And Tuesday’s email was one of them. As I said at the top of that email, I learned about the story from a tweet, here, that had just been posted a few days ago. That tweet went somewhat viral, which is why it reached me, and it reached a lot of other people, too. My guess is that someone at Morning Brew (and a handful of other publications) noticed the same tweet and was similarly amused. A few of you wondered if there was some chicanery going on; I’m all but certain there was not, and this was just a coincidence. Whenever I post about something I learned recently (especially though a somewhat-popular source), this happens. No worries.

The Now I Know Week in Review

Monday: D-Day’s Doomed Dry Run: The test landing that didn’t go well.

Tuesday: Here’s Something About Gary: This is one of my favorite facts AND it’s probably not my favorite story from this week. That’s the sign of a good week.

Wednesday: The Town That Keeps Tooting Its Own Horn: A mostly-unbroken municipal tradition that dates back more than a millennium. 

Thursday: A Fishy Train Line That Goes Nowhere: This one is my favorite story of the week. I love a good loophole.

And some other things you should check out:

Some long reads for the weekend.

1) “A single photo can change the world. I know, because I took one that did.” (Washington Post, 7 minutes, June 2022). Apologies for linking to a story behind a soft paywall, but if you can access this, it’s a great one. You may also want to read the New York Times story titled “It’s Been 50 Years. I Am Not ‘Napalm Girl’ Anymore,” by the woman who was the girl in that photo.

2) “This Optical Illusion Has a Revelation About Your Brain and Eyes” (New York Times, 5 minutes plus another eternity of staring into that black hole, June 2022). Optical illusions may be more fun than loopholes!

3) “Installing a payphone in my house” (Bert’s website but I’m not sure who he is, 8 minutes June 2022). As a teen (?), this guy used payphones to defraud ISPs. Now, he’s done with the fraud, but still loves payphones. So he adds one to his home.

Have a great weekend!