The Weekender, March 13, 2020


For those new to the newsletter, on Fridays, I share a week in review and some long reads for the weekend — as well as a brief note about something email list-related that’s on my mind. Today’s a Friday and this is that note. :-)

I’ve been working on two Weekenders but neither is complete. And at the bottom, you’ll see three long read suggestions. But I wanted to single out something else: a long listen.

The podcast episode in question is “The Case of the Missing Hit,” the 158th episode of Gimlet Media’s “Reply All” podcast. It’s a good podcast in general — over the years, I’ve listened to at least a dozen — but this one is particularly good. It’s about a song that some random guy in Arizona gets stuck in his head, and when he goes to Google to find out the name of the song, he can’t find anything about it. Nothing at all. 

One of the Reply All hosts decides to solve the mystery — is the song real? why aren’t the lyrics online? Etc. And the quest is a true adventure. The Guardian called it “a bona fide masterpiece” and I think that’s probably fair. Give it a listen here — for me, the magic really clicked in at a bit more than 11 minutes in.

The Now I Know Week in Review

Monday: The Snack You Had to Commit a Crime to Try. At least two readers decided to find a (legal) way to get these chips.

Tuesday: The Somewhat-Silent Explosions Made for Dogs. Fireworks have a downside.

Wednesday: Why Stop Signs Have Eight Sides. As opposed to, say, four.

Thursday: The Chimera: A story about muddled-up DNA.

And some other things you should check out:

Some long reads for the weekend.

1) “How Over 25 People Got Scammed Into Working At A Nonexistent Game Company” (Kotaku, 15 minutes, July 2019). I’m 99% sure I haven’t shared this before but apologies if I did. 

2) “Why hard work and specializing early is not a recipe for success” (The Correspondent, 15 minutes, March 2020). This is a review of the book “Range” which, coincidentally, I checked out of the library (online) and didn’t read, then put on hold recently again. I’ll get it in six to eight weeks. Having come across this article, I’m even more interested in reading it now (and actually will this time). 

3) “The Mysterious Origins of Mastermind, the Codebreaking Board Game” (Vice, 13 minutes, March 2020). Mastermind is an underrated game in some regards, overrated in others. It’s better than Monopoly, but that’s not saying much. (I have very strong feelings about Monopoly. Maybe I’ll share that next week.) 

Have a great weekend!