The Weekender, September 4, 2020


Four things:

1) Today’s email, mostly, is my way of asking you to send me money. It’s weird, I know, but that’s where the internet is going. But before we get there, the other three things.

2) Please do not feel obliged, at all, to send me money. Whenever I send an email like this, a few people get very sensitive to the fact that they’re not in a position to support Now I Know financially and then they unsubscribe out of guilt. Please don’t do that; it makes me upset. Now I Know will always be free and there is no obligation whatsoever to support it financially.

3) Tomorrow is a big day. Not for me, but for music. If you’re a long-time reader, you may have read about a German organ playing a song called “As Slow As Possible,” a performance of which is expected to take more than 600 years. It began in 2013 and switches chords very rarely, as you’d imagine. In fact, the chord hasn’t switched yet — the first chord switch is tomorrow! Here’s the story I wrote about this back in 2016.

4) I’m taking Monday off. Labor Day.

OK, so, back to #2.

Now I Know isn’t my full-time job — I have one of those — and it’s primarily a passion project. But it takes a lot of time and it’s really hard to monetize. There are ads, yes, and occasional sponsors. But the single largest way Now I Know finds financial support is through my readers, which is to say, you. And that makes a lot of sense if you think about it. Now I Know is written for the insatiably curious, the lifelong learners, and the like. And that can be anybody. From an advertiser’s perspective, it means my audience is too diffuse for them to care about; for example, if you’re looking to sell something to 18-to-25-year-olds who like video games, sure, I have a few of them, but I have a lot of non-thems also. There are exceptions, of course, but you get the idea. Without your support, Now I Know would be virtually impossible to make financially sustainable. 

So, I’m asking for your help here. You can support Now I Know in a few ways.

Become a Monthly Supporter on Patreon
Patreon is a platform designed to help fund projects like this. You sign up once and every month, it automatically charges your credit card, takes a small cut, and sends me the rest. You can sign up here.

Patreon supporters get an ad-free version of Now I Know. It doesn’t matter if you support the project at $1 a month or a million dollars a month, although I’d prefer the latter. Every supporter, no matter at what amount, gets the email newsletter ad-free. 

Make a One-Time Gift via PayPal
A lot of people don’t like recurring charges, and I appreciate that. PayPal is the simplest way to send a one-time gift; just click here.

Make a One-Time Cryptocurrency Gift
There use to be an easier way to do this via Coinbase, like PayPal has above, but I can’t seem to find it. In any event, whenever I send a note like this, someone asks me how they can send me some Bitcoin or Etherieum or whatever. That’s very kind of you so, here’s how! 

Bitcoin: Send to address 3Q7gvt61SQL37AnRAzKK1PZcEtDaPZSt8t

Etherium: Send to address 0x505cDA4E2CF9Dc51B3668F8ebF4c692fd7c8d936

By the way, if you’re interested in cryptocurrency, Coinbase offers $10 free if you sign up here and make a deposit of $100 or so, I think. And as a bonus (for me, at least), they give me $10, too, if you do that.

Thank you for your support — and for muddling through this very awkward-to-write email. And again, and I can’t stress this enough: Now I Know will always be free and there is no obligation whatsoever to support it financially. So please, don’t feel otherwise.

The Now I Know Week in Review

MondayThe Accidental Case for Loose Morals. The silly mistake behind the University of Pennsylvania’s ever-changing motto.
TuesdayThe Two Creative Writers with the Same Story. It’s a small, small, world.
WednesdayWhy Reusable Bags Often Have Cookies Inside: We like to reward ourselves. With cookies.
ThursdayWhen Candy Land was the Game of Life. A brief history of an iconic board game.

And some other things you should check out:

Some long reads for the weekend.

1) “Meet this super-spotter of duplicated images in science papers” (Nature, 14 minutes, May 2020). Click the link and scroll down to the images and the slider thing. You’ll have an immediate appreciation for this person’s skill. Thanks to reader Peter H. for the tip. 

2) “Burning Out” (Longreads, 22 minutes, November 2019). The subhead: “Search and rescue teams train for the worst conditions. But the worst conditions are getting worse. Are they ready for the next big disaster?” The answer is “probably not,” or, as the article puts it: “Search teams are stretched. Rescuers are burning out. We are all less safe.” 

3) “Gravity, Gizmos, and a Grand Theory of Interstellar Travel” (Wired, 24 minutes, September 2020). The subhead: “For decades, Jim Woodward dreamed of a propellantless engine to take humans to the stars. Now he thinks he’s got it. But is it revolutionary—or illusory?” On the one hand, it’s… incredibly unlikely. On the other hand, Star Trek seems like a fun reality to live in.

Have a great (long!) weekend!