What Does TK Mean?


On Monday, I announced a giveaway for a Peloton bike. In a moment, I’m going to briefly explain how that works, why I’m doing it, etc. But first, I wanted to explain a mistake I made on Wednesday. When it hit your inbox, it was titled “Now I Know: TK.”

That wasn’t supposed to be the title. :) But “TK” has a fun and short history, so I’ll share it here (even though I think have previously).

When writing, especially as a journalist (which, by the way, I’m not and will never be), you don’t always know what you’re going to say next. You do, however, know that you’re going to write more about it later. And you may have an editor who is reviewing and revising your work along the way. You’ll want to leave a note for him or her to let them know that you have more information to come — the passage is incomplete, yes, but intentionally so. 

But writing “more to come!” or the equivalent isn’t going to work, because it’s not clear whether that’s a message to the editor or to the reader. There are lots of ways to make that more clear, but the one that emerged was to use “tokum.” That’s an intentional misspelling of the words “to come,” and if you think about it, it’s a very sensible solution. The editor, seeing “tokum,” knew that this — a made-up word — wasn’t supposed to be in the final version, but also knew that was okay, as there was more to come. 

Over time, “tokum” became abbreviated simply as “TK.” 

Me, I use “TK” as a placeholder for the title and tagline in my newsletters, and I forgot to replace two of them. Oops.

* * *

As for the Peloton: As I said on Monday, the giveaway is free, the “catch” is that you’ll end up added to more newsletters, and you can sign up here

If that seems like a strange way to promote an email newsletter, let me be the first to say that you’re right. It doesn’t feel like it’d make sense — won’t people who sign up this way just unsubscribe? Or never read? For years, I declined the opportunity to participate in these types of things for just that reason. But here’s the thing: they actually work. I can’t tell you how often I get notes from people saying that they signed up for some sort of sweepstakes and ended up a long-term Now I Know reader as a result.

That said, I try to keep the sweepstakes promos few and far between; I look for ones that are at least passingly relevant to you all; and I try to focus on those that will give you exposure to newsletters that I think you’ll appreciate. It’s never going to be a perfect fit, but that’s how those work. So, give this one a try

The Now I Know Week in Review

Monday: The Genoa Exception: Why pesto gets a pass when it comes to flying (in one case, at least).

Tuesday: The Other Harvard Makes a Bad Sale: Go to jail. Do not pass go. But do collect a lot of money in rent, potentially. 

Wednesday: Follow the Diamond Brick Road: The urban prospector.

Thursday: Saving Sonic: Hedgehogs vs. McDonalds.

And some other things you should check out:

Some long reads for the weekend.

1) “The Wildest Insurance Fraud Scheme Texas Has Ever Seen” (Texas Monthly, 24 minutes, September 2020). The subhead: “Over a decade, Theodore Robert Wright III destroyed cars, yachts, and planes. That was only the half of it.”

2) “The bizarre tale of the world’s last lost tourist, who thought Maine was San Francisco” (SF Gate, 7 minutes, February 11). Bangor, Maine is about 3,200 miles from San Francisco. It s literally on the other side of the country. And yet, this happened.

3) “LEGO bricks in the making” (YouTube/The LEGO Company, 8 minutes and 32 seconds, September 2017). A short video showing how LEGO bricks are made. Thanks to my friends at Laughing Squid for suggesting this one.

Have a great weekend!