I don’t have much to talk about this week — just one quick thing and then we’ll jump into the Week in Review and then the Long Reads.
The quick thing: Last week, I mentioned that I use a Chrome browser plug-in to see if the page I’m on has been shared on reddit. A lot of you — dozens! — asked me what extension it was. It’s called “Reddit Check” and you can get it here.
That’s it! Let’s look back at the week.
The Now I Know Week in Review
Tuesday: The Center of the Universe, Oklahoma Edition. Apparently, there’s a similar acoustic anomolies all around. There’s one in Washington, D.C., at the Canadian embassy; more here, via reader Peter C., and another one at a cemetary in Minneapolis, Minnesota (here, via reader Scott W.). And from personal experience, there’s the very cool Whispering Gallery in the lower level of Manhattan’s Grand Central Station.
Wednesday: A Profitable Way to Stop Telemarketers: This probably won’t work anymore because smart phones are good at screening out spam, and actual spam calls are more likely stumbling upon your number randomly than looking you up in a database. But it was still a great idea, once.
Thursday: The Herd Mentality That’s Actually Rather Democratic: How animals vote, kind of.
And some other things you should check out:
Some long reads for the weekend.
1) “How Istanbul Became the Global Capital of the Hair Transplant” (GQ, 16 minutes, July 2022). Here’s how it opens:
I’m lying on a table in Istanbul and a doctor I’ve never met is about to cut 4,250 holes in my head. He might be a doctor. I think he’s a doctor? The procedure will take six hours. I have no friends or family within 5,000 miles.
But in other ways I’m not alone. Thousands have joined me. We’re from the U.S. and the U.K. and the rest of Europe and we’ve flown to Turkey, which is now the hair transplant capital of the world. Surgeries that cost $20,000 in New York can be found for $2,000 on the shores of the Bosporus. We come here with sad hairlines and skimpy crowns. We leave with our heads shaved and raw, red and scabby—and with hope of newfound youth. At the Istanbul airport, a woman who works at the ticket counter tells me that every day she sees men who are clearly hair transplant patients, sometimes still in bandages, and sometimes with blood leaking from their scalps. She says that this is so ubiquitous, “We call it Turkish Hairlines.”
2) “Ruffled Feathers: How Feral Peacocks Divided a Small Town” (The Walrus, 9 minutes, July/August 2022). I loved this paragraph:
Other than from an aesthetic perspective, peafowl are essentially useless. Though, if English poet John Ruskin is to be believed, the “most beautiful things in the world are the most useless; peacocks and lilies, for instance.” Mostly, they just walk around and put on a show. For such a big bird, they have a negligible impact on the balance of an urban ecosystem—apart from a nibble here or a peck there. Likewise, not much pushes back: in North American cities, predators of peafowl are most likely to be dogs or raccoons. Beauty is the peafowl’s saving grace. Their feathers are long, colorful beacons splayed confidently, and the plumage is a protector of the species: peahens are attracted to peacocks with long tail feathers and piercing ocelli, the round, eye-shaped tips of the feather. It so happens that the same aesthetic trait attracts gawking humans too.
3) “‘Trash Walker’ Anna Sacks Finds Treasure in New York City’s Garbage” (Reader’s Digest, 8 minutes, July 2022). A former banker leaves the industry for a new profession — collecting perfectly good stuff from NYC’s garbage and posting about it on TikTok and Instagram, all in an effort to combat waste. Thanks to reader Peter W. for the tip!
Have a great weekend!