The Weekender, October 18, 2019

Before I start, a quick announcement: On Monday, I’m probably going to do a Reddit AMA, which is basically a community-driven interview. (AMA stands for “Ask Me Anything.”) 

It’s pretty simple: I’ll send a link to it in the morning’s newsletter and you just need to click it, register for a free account if you don’t have one, and ask me a question. Because the AMA is going to start around 10 AM ET, I’m going to probably send out the newsletter at about 10 AM as well so I can include the link. So don’t freak out if you get the newsletter later than usual. 

Also, last week, I asked you to take a survey about the future of Now I Know. Thank you to all of you who responded. Here’s a brief update:

I have no idea what I’m going to do yet.

What I do know is that the basic idea I proposed in the survey isn’t going to work. I don’t think a shift to a “freemium” model makes sense given the responses (and I had some apprehension anyway), I don’t have much else to say here other than stay tuned.

You’re all smarter than a 9th grader.” 

The other thing I brought up last week was the following:

I went to high school with 300 or so others — maybe even more, I really don’t remember. I’m sure I shared a birthday with a few of them. One, coincidentally, was also named Dan. I was born at about 8 AM; he was born on the same day in the same year at about noon. But he was older. How?

A lot of you wrote in with the correct answer — so many, in fact, I couldn’t reply to all of you. I just ran out of time. The solution: we were born in different time zones. I was born outside New York City; he was born near Madrid (or Barcelona, I can’t remember).

The good news, for me at least, is that I’ve been sharing this “fun fact” for years. (Not as a question, though; as a statement, like “I went to high school with a kid, also named Dan, who shared my birthday; I was born at 8 AM and he was born at noon. But he was older because he was born in a time zone five hours ahead of me.”) And maybe it’s not as interesting as I thought! I can adjust accordingly. 

The Now I Know Week in Review

MondayHow About Them Apples? — The night before I published this, I was talking with a friend; she had taken her kids apple picking the morning prior and came back with a lot of apples, and wondered how long they’d last in the fridge. I vaguely remembered that store-bought apples were a older than you’d think, and that sparked the investigation which resulted in this post. 

TuesdayWhen Playing a Doctor on TV is Good Enough — This is, I think, the first time I’ve written about the TV drama ER, which is strange because I’ve probably seen every episode.

Wednesday: Witzelsucht — When punning goes too far.

ThursdayThe Hero Who Saved His Hero — I tried to save the reveal until the end but I don’t know how successful I was; once you learn the title of the movie, it’s a giveaway, right? 

Another newsletter to give a try? Here you go.

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Here are three long reads for the weekend.

1) “When Medical Debt Collectors Decide Who Gets Arrested” (ProPublica, 25 minutes, October 2019). The subhead is a doozy: “Welcome to Coffeyville, Kansas, where the judge has no law degree, debt collectors get a cut of the bail, and Americans are watching their lives — and liberty — disappear in the pursuit of medical debt collection.”

2) “A Brutal Murder, a Wearable Witness, and an Unlikely Suspect” (Wired, 31 minutes, September 2018). The subhead: “Karen Navarra was a quiet woman in her sixties who lived alone. She was found beaten to death. The neighbors didn’t see anything. But her Fitbit did.”

A quick story: I had a Fitbit a few years ago but the clasp on the watchband wasn’t great, and it kept popping loose. One day, I’m in the bathroom at work and the clasp opens at an inopportune time; the Fitbit fell off my wrist and flew right into the toilet (which, in case you were wondering, I hadn’t used yet, so it isn’t that gross). I went to fish the watch out of the bowl but in doing so, triggered the electric eye which controlled the flusher. Bawoosh went the watch, gone forever.

3) “This Couple Dropped Everything to Open a Pizza Boat in the Caribbean” (Bloomberg, 8 minutes, September 2015). As the article opens: “Sometimes, you just need pizza.”

Have a great weekend!