The Weekender, May 12, 2017
1) “Exploring the Darkest Corridors of the Internet” (Mental Floss, 15 minutes, December 2012). Thanks to Jordan B. for the suggestion.
The cyberspace that most of us know and use daily is a place for connecting with friends, paying bills, and sharing funny cat pictures. But Kinkle, like others who delve into the Internet and the cultures that take shape there, knows that the Web is an iceberg: the part that shows being the smallest, least menacing piece. What lies beneath is vaster, darker, and harder to understand—a shadowy world where data and hackers and criminals hide. Some call it the “deep Web,” and Kinkle was about to tumble down a virtual rabbit hole straight into it.
Kinkle stared at the message, trying to suss out its meaning. When one commenter suggested opening the image in the simple-text editor WordPad, he couldn’t help himself. At the bottom of the text, he found the following message: TIBERIVS CLAVDIVS CAESAR says “lxxt>33m2mqkyv2gsq3q=w]O2ntk.”
And that was a code he thought he could crack.
2) Sponsored: Today’s Now I Know is sponsored by Make Your Point, a great free, daily vocabulary email. Did you know that the typical English-speaking adult knows between 20,000 and 35,000 words–and yet there are over 171,000 English words in current use? If you’d like to know more words and use them better, subscribe to Make Your Point. (It’s free.)
3) The Now I Know Week in Review:
- Monday: The Off-Color Golden Arches — the story of the teal McDonald’s in Arizona. (The bonus fact may need revision; a few people have written in about other single-arch McDonald’s.)
- Tuesday: When the Day After Friday is Friday — time zones and territorial transfers cause a weird and probably unique glitch in the calendar.
- Wednesday: Nightmare on Chatham Street — AKA the clown house.
- Thursday: The Self-Aware Conference Call Line — the hold music that knows you’re on hold.
And a bonus item: How to Juggle. It’s not a fun fact. Apparently — and I had forgotten about this — I wrote a brief guide in how I learned how to juggle. (Well, kind of juggle. I can juggle tennis balls but not clubs, and certainly not anything on fire.) Here’s how I learned.
4) “14 People In Massachusetts Suddenly Lost Their Memories. Could Heroin Be The Culprit?” (Buzzfeed, 18 minutes, April 2017). The short answer is “yes, it could be, but we don’t know why.”
5) “Will somebody please give Norm Macdonald another TV show?” (Washington Post, 18 minutes, August 2016). Norm Macdonald is a talented comedian, to say the least, and yet he’s almost always looking for work. (This is from a year ago; he has a Netflix special out right now, but it’s a one-off.) One reporter tries to find out why.
If it isn’t obvious yet, Macdonald’s publicist isn’t here. He doesn’t have one. And that makes sense. This article isn’t being done because he has an entertainment product to plug, though, in the months after the Oscars, Macdonald will finish his book. “Based on a True Story: A Memoir” comes out in September.
This profile is actually a journalistic intervention. It is about trying to understand why a brilliant, original voice remains virtually invisible at a time when, as his admirer Conan O’Brien puts it, “every United States citizen who is registered to vote has a talk show.”
6) “Inside the Insane Feud Between a Vegan Strip Club and the Steak House Next Door” (Vice, 11 minutes, April 2017). If the headline doesn’t earn your click, neither will anything else I can do.
Have a great weekend!