The Weekender, January 29, 2021


Many of you know this already, but I read every single reply I get to one of these emails. I don’t write back to all (or even most) of them — I gave up on that about a year or two ago — but I definitely read them all. Including if you unsubscribe and tell me why. Last week, I got one of those with a reason I hadn’t heard before. Here it is, in its entirety.

Why did I unsubscribe?    The constant re-runs, you have so many excuses, reminds me of my drinking days and calling, or having my wife call the boss with some bs as to why I wasn’t coming in that day.

I’m obviously not going to explain this to the unsubscriber — he’s gone — but I want to share some thoughts here. 

My Thursday email is, almost always, a re-run. First and foremost, it’s a time management tactic for me. Writing a new story takes a lot of time, more so than it did when I started, as I think my standards have risen. (At least I hope they have.)  And getting older has come with increases in my other responsibilities. The math doesn’t work out. Having a re-run on Thursday and this, off-the-cuff essay format on Friday is huge — it gives me a few extra hours to put together the new content. It’s been a boon; instead of being constantly behind, I now, finally, have a couple of drafts pretty close to ready in the bank.

Other than that, if I run a repeat, it’s for one of two reasons. Either it’s a holiday and I would have taken it off otherwise, or something glitches and I don’t have much of a choice. In that second case, I usually make up for it by not running a re-run on Thursday. But I guess I’ve never explained this before, so, instead, the re-runs seem like me making “too many excuses” or whatever.

I think I’ve taken the wrong approach here. The re-runs are, yes, a way for me to stay sane and produce good newsletters otherwise, but I truly think the ones I select to republish are also worth re-sharing. Here’s how I teed up yesterday’s email, for example:

On Thursdays, I typically run an old Now I Know from my archives. (More on that tomorrow.) Today’s story is from 2011, and it’s about one of my favorite movies, Trading Places. Kind of. You’ll see.

I chose the story below because of all the nonsense going on around GameStop’s stock (here’s more on that if you don’t know what I’m talking about). That situation, as I said on Twitter, is not dissimilar from the Trading Places situation. Which means it’s also not dissimilar to today’s story. — Dan

You’ll notice that I didn’t offer an excuse for running a repeat. Instead, I explained why I chose that story, and why I think it’s timely. 

Expect more of that. Going forward, Thursdays will still typically be re-runs. But they’ll be offered with no excuses.

The Now I Know Week in Review

MondayIn the President’s Dog House. Coincidentially, President Biden’s dogs moved into the White House on Monday. I had no idea that was happening when I wrote and published this.

TuesdayWhy Harriet and Duncan Weren’t Allowed in Iceland. It has to do with C. Well, half of it.

Wednesday: The Internet Scammer Who Won: It was a good win for all. 

Thursday: The Great Onion Futures Scam of 1955: See above.

And some other things you should check out:

Some long reads for the weekend.

1) “The Pandemic Has Erased Entire Categories of Friendship” (The Atlantic, January 2021). The subhead: “There’s a reason you miss the people you didn’t even know that well.”

2) “‘Our souls are dead’: how I survived a Chinese ‘re-education’ camp for Uighurs” (The Guardian, 19 minutes, January 2021). Not an easy or fun read, but an important and powerful one.

3) “The Curse of the Buried Treasure” (The New Yorker, 33 minutes, November 2020). The subhead is… well, not what you’d expect. “Two metal-detector enthusiasts discovered a Viking hoard. It was worth a fortune—but it became a nightmare.”

And a short one: “The Absurd Story Of How Some Genius Crashed Into The Same Home Three Times With Two Different Cars” (Jalopnik, 4 minutes, April 2020.) Enjoy!

Have a great weekend!