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: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toilet_paper_orientation.