The Weekender, September 23, 2022


It’s been a quiet week in Now I Know land, and I really don’t have much insight to share. Also, I’m taking Monday and Tuesday off for Rosh Hashanah, so I’m kind of already in holiday mode. So…  let’s hop right into the Week in Review and the longreads!

The Now I Know Week in Review

MondayThe Olympic Champion Who Never Knew It: The early Olympics were very weird, at least by today’s standards. I’ve written about that a few times over the years, and yet, this story surprised me. An Olympic champion who didn’t even know she was playing in the Olympics? Seems impossible.

TuesdayThe Problem With Outsourcing Your Crimes: I was 100% sure I had written about this before — and it turns out, I hadn’t. Writing it was a lot of fun, so I’m really glad I shared it. 

WednesdayIs This Upscale Fast Food?: A hidden McDonald’s in a mid-19th century home. A few of you wrote in to tell me about a similar McDonald’s in Long Island, New York (Should that be “on” Long Island? I’m not sure). If you scroll down and read the “From the Archives” story, you’ll see I wrote about it already. 😊

Thursday: Abraham Lincoln, Swordsman?: When Abraham Lincoln was challenged to a duel, and how he won without striking a blow.

And some other things you should check out:

Some long reads for the weekend.

1) “The relief of missing out: Anticipated anxiety is a big reason why more people are avoiding the news” (Nieman Lab, 11 minutes, September 2022). The article’s subhead resonated with me: “‘Obviously, I could be a little bit more into what’s going on and look myself…Knowing more about it doesn’t do anything about it, does it?’” There’s some truth to the idea that ignorance is bliss, particularly when knowledge doesn’t come with power. But in general, I don’t suffer from the issues that the article articulates and I’m generally not one to avoid the news. I can’t; my intense curiosity and desire to better understand the world we live in makes ignorance a non-option. But I can see why others find relief here.

2) “Chess is Just Poker Now” (The Atlantic, 6 minutes, September 2022). The subhead: “A cheating controversy involving two grandmasters shows how computers have transformed the game.” If you’re not familiar with what’s going on in the chess world right now, this is a good start — and it gets crazier. As the article states, Magnus Carlsen, a world champion who had a 53-game unbeaten streak, was defeated by “an upstart American teenager named Hans Niemann” — and then Carlsen took to Twitter to imply that Niemann had cheated. Niemann had a history of cheating, having admitted to pulling schticks in online games when he was 12 and 16 years old. (He’s 19 now.) But this time, Carlsen offered no evidence.

Anyway, that’s where the chess world was when the Atlantic published that article on September 17th. Two days later, Niemann and Carlsen met again — virtually — in a chess tournament. You should watch the whole match for two reasons: first, it’s incredibly interesting even if you don’t know chess and second, it’s only about 45 seconds long. Carlsen resigns after one move, switching off his camera. Polygon has more on this if you’re still interested, but at this point, no one is really sure what’s going on because Carlsen hasn’t said much.

My biggest objection? The title the Atlantic article is garbage. “Just” poker? Poker is fun!

3) “Could ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’ really be done? We found out.” (Washington Post, 10 minutes, September 2022). If you’re a fan of the movie — and I am! — you know that Ferris, Cameron, and Sloane do a lot during this one day off. Is it possible to cram that much in one day? The Washington Post tried to find out, and I won’t spoil the answer. (By the way, I have a WaPo subscription, so I was able to generate a paywall-passing link for this one.)

Have a great weekend and a shana tova to those who celebrate!