The Weekender, May 31, 2024


With the holiday this week, I don’t have a lot to share in this space this week. So let’s keep this brief and jump right into the three stories I shared.

The Now I Know Week In Review

Monday: Memorial Day. Took the day off. Didn’t grill anything, though.

Tuesday: The School With Solar Powered Salaries: This is an uplifting story except the math is, well, not great. The teachers got a huge (!) raise — 25%! — because of solar panels. But at 40 hours a week, 50 weeks a year (I know they technically get summers off, but come on, teachers work more than 40 hours a week during the school year), they’re still only making $20/hour. Yikes.

Wednesday: The House Made Out of Smartphones?: I love the scam. I also hope you all clicked on the link to the Pokemon Go guy.

Thursday: The Ice King Cometh: Meet the man who made a fortune harvesting ice.

And some other things you should check out:

Some long reads for the weekend:

1) “Sikh drivers are transforming U.S. trucking. Take a ride along the Punjabi American highway” (Los Angeles Times, 14 minutes, July 2019). This one requires a backstory.

A few years ago, I was on a train into the city on my normal commute, and the guy sitting near me was — well, I don’t remember, honestly, but whatever he did for a living, it had absolutely nothing to do with driving a truck. I know this because the train was delayed significantly due to police activity and we started talking. Whatever he did now was his new career — he had moved to the United States about ten years earlier and got his start as a truck driver. But he gave that up because it kept him away from his wife for weeks at a time. He told me a lot — a lot — about the trucking industry, though, and being a hyper-curious learner of things, I listened and learned a lot. And then he told me about the people from India and Bangladesh who came over four at a time, bought a truck, and never stopped driving.

The idea was simple: with four men (typically), they didn’t need a home — they just built a loft of sorts in the truck and took turns sleeping while the others drove or kept the driver company. They’d stop occasionally to use the facilities and shower, or to stop off to pick up some food (they typically ate on the road), but other than that, the truck was always moving. They could cover two or three times as many miles as a typical long hauler would because of the division of labor. This would happen for two years, after which they’d go back to India or Bangladesh, having made a lot more money than they could have back home. And they’d sell the truck to another crew of four to carry on the tradition. I have no idea how true this is, but the guy I spoke to knew trucking inside and out, and I have no reason to think he made it up.

This LA Times story isn’t that story but it’s interesting nonetheless. But I wanted to share why it caught my eye.

2) “Jerry and Marge Go Large” (HuffPost, 2017 I think, 40 minutes). I August 2011, I shared the story of a weird lottery in Michigan that was beatable because of how the prize payouts worked. This is a deep dive into the two people who discovered and exploited the problem. (And I mean “deep”: my story is a four-minute read; this is a forty-minute read.) As one of the minor characters in the story states, the caper was “perfectly legal. It’s the American way.”

3) “The Tiny Nation at the Vanguard of Mining the Ocean Floor” (New York Times, 7 minutes, May 2024). This is about deep sea mining, which I didn’t realize existed before, and may never become a major endeavor.

Have a great weekend!