The Weekender, June 2, 2017
1) “The Secret Life of a Full-Time Cyborg” (Narratively, 10 minutes, June 2017). The sub-head: “Steve Mann invented a precursor to Google Glass in the 1990s—which he now uses almost 24/7. But ‘the father of wearable computing’ has an ominous warning about where technology is taking us next.”
2) My other website AwesomeClaus, a curated collection of gift ideas for $20 or less. It’s supposed to be a Secret Santa site — hence the name — but it also works for dads and grads. For example: who doesn’t like the Oregon Trail? And now it’s a card game!
3) The Now I Know Week in Review:
- Monday: Memorial Day! I took a day off. Hope you didn’t miss me too much.
- Tuesday: The Return of the President — Zachary Taylor and his trip back from the dead, kind of.
- Wednesday: The Counterfeit Money Which is Intentionally Worthless — How an Indian NGO is countering bribery with counterfeiting.
- Thursday: There’s No Place Like 0,0 — the island which only exists because our smartphones can be kind of dumb.
And a bonus item: Name That Shape — is it a “bouba” or a “kiki”?
4) “We Bought a Crack House” (Toronto Life, 15 minutes, May 2017). The pictures are incredible. The way it happened was … well, maybe it’s a lesson for others?
Our budget was $560,000, but nothing came on the market at that price, so our enterprising young agent, eager to kick-start her business, began knocking on doors in the neighbourhood. Eventually, she met an elderly couple who explained that they owned several properties, including the grande dame, which they’d consider selling. They suggested $480,000, based on their most recent Municipal Property Assessment Corporation report, seemingly unaware of Toronto’s scorching market and the fact that MPAC generally assesses below market value. We needed to move fast, Julian said, before they put it on the market.
That night, six hours after Julian had called me at work, we submitted a bid of $480,000 without conditions. To our surprise, the owners refused it outright, evidently realizing they’d under-quoted us. We pushed our offer to our limit of $560,000, and they accepted. I was thrilled. Then the adrenalin wore off, and the gravity of what we’d done sank in. We had just spent more than a half a million dollars on a house I had never seen.
5) “The Curious Case of the Disappearing Nuts” (Outside, 15 minutes, May 2017). High crimes in a strange place.
AAt 11:22 a.m. on Thursday, June 20, 2013, an orange Freightliner tractor-trailer arrived at Crain Walnut Shelling in Los Molinos, California. The truck’s driver, a man in his mid-thirties wearing a gray T-shirt, introduced himself as Alex Hernandez. He said he was from K and G Transport Services, a company contracted to take a load of Crain’s walnuts to Bulk Barn Foods Limited, a Canadian food retailer located 2,600 miles away in Ontario. Hernandez had arrived before the pickup had been scheduled, which initially made Crain’s logistics director suspicious. But after double-checking the paperwork that he provided, she directed employees to load 630 cartons of walnuts, worth $85,000, into Hernandez’s trailer.
[. . . ]
Crain’s chief financial officer showed Parker a photograph from June 20 and provided him with the Freightliner’s plate number and a photocopy of Hernandez’s commercial driver’s license. What Parker found made little sense: the plate came back registered to a different model of truck, and the license number belonged to a 30-year-old woman. Later, when Parker pulled records for the phone number Hernandez had listed on the paperwork, he found that it was a prepaid cell phone with a Miami area code. It had been activated for the first time only two days before the pickup and then disconnected on June 29. Tractor-trailers do not disappear easily, and Parker considered issuing a be-on-the-lookout for the Freightliner. But more than a month after the theft, he decided it was likely long gone.
6) “The Original Monopoly Was Deeply Anti-Landlord” (Vice, 20 minutes, May 2017). A history of the world’s most over-rated board game.
Have a great weekend!