Yes, I Called Julius Caesar a Greek. Oops.


Wednesday was March 15th, also known as the ides of March, the day of Julius Caesar’s assassination. And I wrote about a Microsoft Excel competition, which, as far as I know, has nothing to do with Julius Caesar or assassinations. That’s often the case for Now I Know emails; I don’t necessarily link what I’m writing about to anything happening in the rest of the world, historically or otherwise. But since the very first Now I Know email went out, I’ve carved out a little space at the top (you’ll see it in italics above) as a preface of sorts, and, if I remember, that’s where I may reference the news of the day or “important” dates like the ides of March.

And on Wednesday, I screwed that up. Here’s a screenshot.

I have about a billion emails telling me that Julius Caesar was (a) not an emperor and (b) not Greek. 

I knew he wasn’t an emperor but I took some license there; I didn’t want to spell it out by saying “if you’re Julius Caesar,” so while your objections there are correct, For example, if I was writing about another notable date and there is a myth associated with the holiday, I may reference the myth without saying “but that never really happened.” So I don’t feel bad about that error.

But the Greek thing? Yeah, he was very obviously a Roman, not a Greek. I guess I’ve been having a long week.

I don’t republish these prefaces on the archives, so there’s no way for me to update (or even link to) them; that’s why I had to use a screenshot to show you my horrid error from Wednesday. 

Anyway, happy St. Patrick’s Day, unless you’re an Italian snake charmer, in which case, you may want to find a new occupation.

The Now I Know Week in Review

MondayThis Cupcake Recipe Isn’t The Bomb: A nice little trick that gave some bad guys their just desserts.

TuesdayThe Little Bit of P-Word in the Coke: This story was on my radar for years. I have no idea what sparked me to finally write about it.

WednesdayI Guess You Could Say They … Excel: Excel error messages give me anxiety. I could never do this.

ThursdayKaninhoppning — The World’s Cutest Sport?: Rabbits doing equestrian-like things.

And some other things you should check out:

Some long reads for the weekend:

1) “The Immortal Horizon” (The Believer, 28 minutes, May 2011). I’ve shared this before, in February 2016. I’m sharing it again because the not-really-a-marathon that it is about just finished yesterday, and as I said in 2016, “it’s one of the few must, must-reads I’ll ever put out there.” Here’s an excerpt.

The first race was a prison break. On June 10, 1977, James Earl Ray, the man who shot Martin Luther King Jr., escaped from Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary and fled across the briar-bearded hills of northern Tennessee. Fifty-four hours later he was found. He’d gone about eight miles. Some might hear this and wonder how he managed to squander his escape. One man heard this and thought: I need to see that terrain!

Over twenty years later, that man, the man in the trench coat—Gary Cantrell by birth, self-dubbed Lazarus Lake—has turned this terrain into the stage for a legendary ritual: the Barkley Marathons, held yearly (traditionally on Lazarus Friday or April Fool’s Day) outside Wartburg, Tennessee. Lake (known as Laz) calls it “The Race That Eats Its Young.” The runners’ bibs say something different each year: SUFFERING WITHOUT A POINT; NOT ALL PAIN IS GAIN. Only eight men have ever finished. The event is considered extreme even by those who specialize in extremity.

The story is in The Believer, which has one of the strangest histories of any magazine out there, too. Don’t take my word for it; the last paragraph of the “History” section of its Wikipedia entry takes a turn that isn’t really family-friendly enough for me to publish, but is, pardon the pun, unbelievable. 

2) “How Loneliness Reshapes the Brain” (Quanta Magazine, 10 minutes, February 2023). The subhead captured my attention: “Feelings of loneliness prompt changes in the brain that further isolate people from social contact.

3) “How a ticket from Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls debut became priceless” (ESPN, 23 minutes, March 2023). I’m a big baseball fan and almost bought a (collectible/used) ticket to the 1969 World Series to hang on the wall, but the price got out of hand and was beyond my budget. The shift to digital tickets is definitely convenient but I’ll miss having the tangible ones for nostalgic reasons, so this story really resonated with me.

Have a great weekend!

(And yes, the “Italian” thing was a joke.)