The Weekender, June 28, 2019

1) “The man who stayed late: The Watergate story you’ve never heard” (Los Angeles Daily News, 8 minutes, June 2019). The subhead: “50 years ago, an intern from UCLA messed up the break-in.” Thanks to John G. for the suggestion! 

The burglars waited for the signal before breaking into the Watergate Hotel.

The signal would come from the lookout, who was poised across the street, at the Howard Johnson’s Motor Lodge. The lookout was in room 723, watching the sixth floor of the Watergate, waiting for the last person in the office to turn out the lights and go home.

Once that office was empty, the plan would be afoot. Five men would sneak into the offices of the Democratic National Committee to steal secrets that their bosses hoped would sway the 1972 presidential election in favor of Richard Nixon.

It was a Friday night in Georgetown. June 16, 1972.

The burglary was set for 9 p.m.

Then 10. Then 11. Then…

The Watergate break-in was postponed until after midnight. And after that, from the burglars’ point of view, everything went wrong. Everybody got caught. Good triumphed over evil. “Gate” became code for “scandal.”

All because a guy sitting in the Democratic Committee office refused to turn out the light and go home.

2) “Tip Your Hotel Maid” (The Atlantic, 7 minutes, June 2019). Good advice and the reason why.


3) “A Crossword Puzzle Walks Into a Bar.” This is a crossword puzzle. It’s great. Took me about 20 minutes. 

4) The Now I Know Week in Review:

Monday: The Everyday Hockey Superhero For Hire — Canada’s rent-a-goalies.

Tuesday: Why It May Make Sense to Draw Eyes on Cows’ Butts — If this title doesn’t earn a click, nothing will. 

Wednesday: The Reverse Beer Delivery — This takes guts. And a cart.

Thursday: Almost the Whole Town Won. Almost. — Almost!

5) “They welcomed a robot into their family, now they’re mourning its death” (The Verge, 12 minutes, June 2019). Digital, we often forget, isn’t necessarily forever.

The robot showed up at Kenneth Williams’ doorstep when he needed it most. Williams had just been laid off from his job when he plugged in Jibo, a social home robot, on November 1st, 2017.

“For that year [that I didn’t have a job], it was a presence in my life every single day that I talked to,” he says.

[ . . . ]

Every aspect of Jibo was designed to make the robot as lovable to humans as possible, which is why it startled owners when Jibo presented them with an unexpected notice earlier this year: someday soon, Jibo would be shutting down. The company behind Jibo had been acquired, and Jibo’s servers would be going dark, taking much of the device’s functionality with it.

“I didn’t cry or anything, but I did feel like, ‘Wow,’” Williams says. “I think when we buy products we look for them to last forever.”

Now, Jibo owners are scrambling to save their friend, explain its death to their children, and come to grips with the mortality of a robot designed to bond with them, not to die.

6) “The First Kitchen” (New Yorker, 15 minutes, November 2010). How Eleanor Roosevelt re-invented what the White House was to cook.

Have a great weekend!