The Weekender, May 22, 2020


As long-time Now I Know readers know, for the last year or so, I’ve used the Friday newsletter as a chance to say hi, give a “behind the scenes” look into how the newsletter works, and otherwise give a glimpse into my process and goals. Over the last few months, I set forth a few goals for the newsletter, almost all of which I’ve missed. (Hah.) For example, in November, I bemoaned the fact that I had 737 unread emails in my inbox, most of which are notes from readers. (I’ve read them but keep them “unread” until I can reply.) The good news: that number has changed dramatically, by about 500. The bad news is that it’s 500 more unread emails.  

So if you haven’t gotten a reply from me in a few months, I think it’d be dishonest of me to say one is coming — I’m just not going to get around to it. I’ll try, to a degree, but I think I’m declaring inbox bankruptcy otherwise. (There’s an upcoming email service that may change this in the future — and one I’m hoping to try — called Hey. We’ll see.)

In any event, this seems like as good of a day as any to address that. With Memorial Day approaching on Monday, summer has unofficially arrived. Might as well take a fresh look at things, right?

Speaking of which, I’ll be taking Monday off. Enjoy the holiday, and thank you to those who served.

The Now I Know Week in Review

Monday: The Silvonze Medalists: Sharing is the real victory. 

Tuesday: The Poison Squad: There’s no such thing as a free lunch, unless you’re willing perhaps to die for it.

Wednesday: P.T. Barnum’s Final Attraction: This way to the egress. 

Thursday: The Big Brick Loophole: A tax dodge that’s as reliable as a brick wall.

And some other things you should check out:

Some long reads (or videos or whatnot) for the weekend.

1) “The Miracle Sudoku” (YouTube, 26 minutes, May 2020). Okay, so let’s start by saying that this sounds super-boring, I know. It’s literally a 26-minute of some guy solving a Sudoku puzzle. If you don’t know what Sudoku is, you may want to read about that for a moment before you start. Otherwise, you’re probably thinking “why would I possibly want to watch this video.” And I admit, the two minutes aren’t promising, as the host just talks to his fans and gives some background. You can probably skip that part but really, it’s two minutes of your life, I’d just humor the guy.

At about the two-minute mark, he begins explaining the special rules. That takes another 90 seconds or so and you shouldn’t skip it, or the rest won’t make sense. After that, it begins, and before you know it — it’s magic. There’s no other word for it. If you don’t want to take my word for it, it found this via Jason Kottke’s excellent, long-running blog, and he correctly describes it as “ludicrously entertaining.”

2) “The Hunt for General Tso” (TED, 16 minutes, July 2008). I’ve shared this before but, I’m 99% sure, not in a Weekender. It’s a talk by a friend of mine as it turns out, but I’m sharing because it’s one of my favorite TED talks ever. She traveled the world to discover the history of what Americans call Chinese food, and this is an entertaining, informative recap of her learnings.

While I’m on the topic of favorite TED talks (or similar), here are a couple of others that I’ve recommended a few times:

3) “Apocalypse Meow: How a Cult That Believes Cats Are Divine Beings Ended Up in Tennessee” (Nashville Scene, 12 minutes, September 2016). What.

Have a great holiday weekend, and see you on Tuesday.