The Weekender, October 20, 2017

1) HQ Trivia, an iPhone app. This is the coolest app I’ve seen in a long, long time. Why? Because it’s a live trivia contest. As of this writing, twice a day (3p and 9p ET), you log on are met with a live host asking a dozen trivia questions. Get them all right and you share the prize pool — $250 in, yes, real money. Get one wrong or don’t answer in time (or drop your phone while trying to answer like I did last night) and you’re out — unless you’ve referred someone else, in which case you get one extra life per game.

Oh yeah, speaking of which, if you sign up, use code DanDotLewis so I get those extra lives.

(Seriously: It’s a ton of fun and transformative. The Internet has made media an on-demand experience; this is the first time I can remember that the Internet has brought us appointment viewing that works. Sorry Android users; it doesn’t seem to be out for Android yet.)

2) Support Now I Know: As many of you already know, researching, writing, and (save for the daily typo or two) editing Now I Know is a pretty big endeavor on my part. Keeping the project financially sustainable is a battle, and to that end, I’ve tried many different avenues.

One of them — a major one at that — is my ongoing Patreon campaign. It’s an old-style patronage campaign, where readers such as yourself support Now I Know through a monthly pledge. A $5 a month pledge comes out to about 25 cents per article I send; a $1 a month pledge is roughly a nickel. Please consider supporting Now I Know through Patreon by clicking here. It’s entirely optional and you’re under no obligation to do so, so don’t feel bad if you can’t or don’t want to. But if you do, please know it all adds up, and I greatly appreciate your support. Thanks!

3) The Now I Know Week in Review:

MondayThe Special Sound a Mercedes-Benz Makes Before a Crash — It’s like an air bag, but for your hearing.

TuesdayWhy London Turned Sepia — Earlier this week, London’s skies turned a reddish-orange. Here’s why.

WednesdayThe Future of Mind-Reading — Will our throats give away our thoughts?

Thursday: Starving Garfield — The dark series of Garfield (the cat) comics from 1989, putting the protagonist in a dystopia of his own making. The bonus fact may not be right (see this article), so I may update that in the future. Thanks to reader Lev for letting me know. Also, for those who want more Garfield, a number of readers wrote it to remind me of Garfield Minus Garfield; click through to find out what it is. (It’s funny.)

4) “How One Small Town In Puerto Rico Found Food And Community After Maria” (Buzzfeed, 14 minutes, October 2017).

In the first days after Maria, people in Mariana cooked all the food in their refrigerators to prevent it from rotting — great feasts of pernil shared with the neighbors, garnished with fallen avocados and washed down with coconut water from the palm trees that Maria had downed. As this food ran out, people shared their canned goods and whatever they could find at the nearly bare grocery stores, checking on relatives to see that they were fed. Those with underground cisterns shared their water with their neighbors. Water also came from communal taps, or from a spring that gushed from the mountain — though with rotting animal corpses leaking into the water supply, these sources became increasingly dangerous. To bathe and flush the toilet, we collected rain. Those lucky enough to have generators waited for hours to buy diesel.

[ . . . ]

Against these difficulties, Luis and Christine began to carry out their plans for a comedor social. They didn’t just want to feed people, but to build a space that would kindle their senses of self-sufficiency, community, and pride. Several times each day, they climbed the hill to La Loma, ARECMA’s outdoor community center. Maria had smashed La Loma’s stage and playground, but spared the kitchen and water tank, as well as a massive mosaic with the words: “All Glory to the Hands that Work.” The ground was a chaos of felled trees. Small boys gathered and cleared the branches.

Because of ARECMA’s decades of work, Mariana has a strong tradition of self-organization, and with the help of Ruli, ARECMA’s board president Rosalina Abreu González, and others, resources began to appear. Someone had a truck and could get a tank of water. Someone else knew how to cook food for large groups. Others had paint and would make signs requesting donations and volunteer work, and explaining that the kitchen was made by and for the people of Mariana. Tech Lady Mafia, a feminist group for women in the US tech industry, sent Christine money, and other donations came in. Every few days, Christine and Luis drove down to Caguas, where there was cell service, and parked on the side of the road, sweltering in the sun, so that they could respond to potential helpers and Christine could post Facebook Live videos describing life in the village.


5) “How the Elderly Lose Their Rights” (New Yorker, 34 minutes, September 2017). This is a very sad, disturbing (but important) article about an abuse of the legal system. It’s shocking throughout, and the intro I’ve selected doesn’t do it justice.

[Judith Belshe] knocked on the front door several times and then tried to push the door open, but it was locked. She was surprised to see the kitchen window closed; her parents always left it slightly open. She drove to the Sun City Aliante clubhouse, where her parents sometimes drank coffee. When she couldn’t find them there, she thought that perhaps they had gone on an errand together—the farthest they usually drove was to Costco. But, when she returned to the house, it was still empty.

That weekend, she called her parents several times. She also called two hospitals to see if they had been in an accident. She called their landlord, too, and he agreed to visit the house. He reported that there were no signs of them. She told her husband, “I think someone kidnapped my parents.”

On the Tuesday after Labor Day, she drove to the house again and found a note taped to the door: “In case of emergency, contact guardian April Parks.” Belshe dialled the number. Parks, who had a brisk, girlish way of speaking, told Belshe that her parents had been taken to Lakeview Terrace, an assisted-living facility in Boulder City, nine miles from the Arizona border. She assured Belshe that the staff there would take care of all their needs.

“You can’t just walk into somebody’s home and take them!” Belshe told her.
Parks responded calmly, “It’s legal. It’s legal.”

6) “Fish Depression Is Not a Joke” (The New York Times, 6 minutes, October 2017). it’s serious stuff — not nearly as serious as the item above — but it sounds like satire.

Have a great weekend!