Monday, May 20th, 2013


The inventor of the lawnmower was named Edwin Beard Budding.

I like aptronyms; this seems like an anti-aptronym.

The Budding Wikipedia article also seems to have been vandalized -- I don't think the first section is supposed to be called "Johnny Depp" although maybe Edward Scissorhands is relevant here, speaking of aptronyms.

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Monday, March 18th, 2013

This week I learned

Random things I learned this week:

(Actually, it's things I learned from the week of October 18th, 2010. I've been going through my drafts folder, and found that I hadn't published this yet.)

  • How to do cryptic crosswords — A while back I bought 101 Cryptic Crosswords, edited by Fraser Simpson. It's a collection of puzzles from the New Yorker but also has a helpful section at the beginning explaining conventions used in cryptic crosswords, and some tips for solving them. I finally started actually working them. Each cryptic clue is a word game in itself: "Dagger lit from behind in fight" is "stiletto", because "til" is "lit" spelled "from behind", and it's in "set to" which means "fight" — and of course a stiletto is a dagger. Head hurt yet?
  • The EU has a ban on lightbulbs of greater than 60 watts.
  • The Polish Beer-Lovers' Party (which won 16 seats in the Sejm in 1991) was founded on the notion of fighting alcoholism by a cultural abandonment of vodka for beer. (See discussion of the Vodka Belt.)
  • George Price was a very interesting person. He made multiple breakthroughs in scientific disciplines (especially evolutionary biology) where he had no training, mixed with a couple conversions to Christianity and some time being deliberately homeless in order to help others. Plus he proposed innovative foreign policy ideas to Hubert Humphrey like have the US government buy every citizen of the USSR two pairs of nice shoes in exchange for the liberation of Hungary. Then committed suicide.
  • It costs $7.50 per week (after the 12-week 50% off promotional period expires) to have the Sunday New York Times delivered in Seattle. What the... I'm still doing it, but I don't see going past the 12 weeks. I've also been catching up on issues of The Nation. I've learned this week that I really do need to get news and inspiration from somewhere other than the computer, because I'm exceeding the amount of time I'm physically willing to look at a screen.
  • Wikipedia is ridiculous:
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Saturday, March 6th, 2010

World Intellectual Property Day

The themes here seem very...uncreative.

World Intellectual Property Day - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Apparently, being on April 26th, it shares the esteemed company of Confederate Memorial Day.

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Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008

MimicCreme and Wikipedia

Today I wrote my first Wikipedia article, about MimicCreme, the nut-based vegan cream substitute. I haven't actually tried the stuff, but Mako pointed it out to me, and it seemed only natural (pun intended) that I write the article since I also sometimes edit the Cool Whip article. Note, however, that you cannot whip MimicCream (yet).

My favorite edit to the Cool Whip article so far has been this one, to remove:

In some countries Cool Whip will be know as '' Rat Whites'' because it is fluffy like the inside of the rat.In oldtimes in these fourign countries they really made Cool Whip with fresh rat whites, that is where they got the original name '' Rat Whites''.But no worry Rat Whites are no longer used in the making of Cool Whip. Or is it? We will never find out what is really in the recipe.

I should probably follow that with a [sic], or a [sick].

Six minutes after first saving the MimicCreme article, it was tagged for speedy deletion — despite the fact that it had an "under construction" tag at the top. This was especially amusing given that I had spent my commute this morning reading from Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky, and was somewhat inspired by this quote about the beginnings of Wikipedia:

The original asphalt article read, in full, "Asphalt is a material used for road coverings." The article was created in March 2001, at the dawn of Wikipedia, by a user named Cdani, as little more than a placeholder saying, "We should have an article on asphalt here." (118)

Things change, I guess. MimicCreme's no asphalt and my name isn't Cdani, but MimicCreme certainly is something weird that someone might want to look up, and it fits in several existing categories. However, I should also remember this quote from a few pages later:

The people most enamored of describing Wikipedia as the product of a free-form hive mind don't understand how Wikipedia actually works. It is the product not of collectivism but of unending argumentation. (139)

So I guess this is the start of the argument, about the significance or insignificance of MimicCreme in the universe, and whether Kosher should be capitalized in this context.

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Friday, September 1st, 2006

Wikipedia and Tor

It's not easy being a Tor user on the Internet.

Google shows up in the wrong language and PayPal puts security limits on your account because they believe that it's been compromised since it's been accessed from multiple IP addresses.

But I kind of expect these things. I'm bothered more by restrictions by sites like Wikipedia.

As you can see from the screenshot, if you try to edit the Tor page (or any other page) — even while logged in — when connecting via Tor, you will be denied.

Some place there is probably a discussion of this Wikipedia policy, and I should read it. Maybe my mind will be changed. But right now, it makes me sad.

There's this explanation, but it's very shallow. "Because there can be abuse." Well, yes.

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