October 4th, 2007
The Longest Train takes more than two minutes to pass by.
Imagine the length of the platform you need to adequately service the damned thing.
This Flash-based World Map game is fascinating. I scored 52 on my first attempt and 59 on my second and final go: I need to brush up on West Africa and Central America before I try again.
This video of a landslide in Japan is very bizarre. At first you think nothing much is happening beyond the odd rustle of trees moving, perhaps in a strong breeze. Then, suddenly, everything starts moving.
I'm going to have nightmares tonight after reading this:
A woman who ripped off her ex-boyfriend's testicle with her bare hands has been sent to prison.
Amanda Monti, 24, flew into a rage when Geoffrey Jones, 37, rejected her advances at the end of a house party, Liverpool Crown Court heard.
She pulled off his left testicle and tried to swallow it, before spitting it out. A friend handed it back to Mr Jones saying: "That's yours."
Monti admitted wounding and was jailed for two-and-a-half years.
Yes, I am sitting here with my legs firmly crossed. Why do you ask?
(I think I can safely say I'm not the only one…)
It wasn't that Dortmunder didn't like computers. You could fence them at the same discount as fur coats or DVD recorders, and a considerably better rate than large pieces of jewelry with names. What he found troubling was the unreality of computer money. Once upon a time, you robbed a store, or if you were large-minded, a bank, and you had a bag with paper in it. Everybody liked the paper, and took it happily. (One of Dortmunder's girlfriends called it "fungibility." The relationship didn't last long after that.) But the important thing was, you knew when you had the paper, you could put it in a box and open up the box to make sure it was still there. Somebody might steal the box — it happened all the time — but there were things to do about that, not all of them involving blunt instruments. The computer was a box, but you not only couldn't look inside it to see if the money was there, if the money wasn't there, nobody could tell Dortmunder exactly where it might have gone, or if it even still existed. The U.S. Government had a pretty good set of rules for replacing money that had unfortunately gotten a little burned or had to have unpleasant substances scrubbed off it. They were pretty nice about doing that, for the government. That didn't seem to be true with computer money. It was kind of like knocking over a jewelry store to steal the pretty reflections.
This series of pictures of Tiger Woods practicing his swing gets progressively more impressive as you scroll down the page.
[Via Bifurcated Rivets]
Stefan Collini reviews the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography for the London Review of Books:
Leslie Stephen, founding editor in the 1880s of the original DNB, hoped that it would turn out to be one of the 'most amusing' of books. This remark may have to be interpreted in the light of the fact that Stephen's own preferred form of 'amusement' involved hanging by his fingertips from a ledge on the Matterhorn in the middle of a blizzard, but it is true that an abundance of pleasure, of a certain kind, is to be had from the 60 volumes assembled by his successors. As ways of simultaneously wasting one's time while increasing one's knowledge, they leave skinny tomes such as Wisden or Whitaker's Almanack standing.
After discussing the differences in content and scope between the original Dictionary of National Biography and the current edition, Collini has a little fun with the online edition's search engine:
Since this is still predominantly a compendium of men written by men, the right searches ought to yield some illumination about favoured male self-descriptions. Perhaps surprisingly, only 17 of our national heroes were 'all-round sportsmen', and only two had 'dashing good looks', but 'attractive to women' throws up a fascinating medley of attitudes among its 27 results. Some concentrate on the physical, such as the entry for Edwin Booth (1833-93, 'actor') – 'with dark eyes, long dark hair, romantic good looks, and a warm musical voice, Booth was attractive to women' – and some not, such as that on Marcus Cunliffe (1922-90, 'Americanist'), who is described as 'generous, relaxed, charming, urbane, vivacious, witty, playful and attractive to women'. Others excite more sympathy, such as Thomas Jones (1870-1955, 'civil servant and benefactor') whose agreeable qualities 'made him particularly attractive to women, especially after his wife's death'; one immediately senses a whole squadron of those female 'forceful personalities' steaming over the horizon. A bracing female perspective peeps through in the entry on Fanny Kemble (1809-93, 'actress and author') which refers to her unhappy marriage to Pierce Butler: 'He was clever and handsome – or at least very attractive to women,' which suggests burnt fingers veering towards cynicism on someone's part.
Naturally, with all these alpha males around, things soon get competitive, so within the space of a couple of letters we find not only that Edwin Landseer was 'especially' attractive to women, but that Lloyd George was 'immensely', Krishna Menon 'devastatingly', and a character in a G.A. Lawrence novel 'irresistibly' so. At first I had hoped that a scientific analysis of these posthumous personal ads would enable me to crack one of the mysteries of the universe, but all I learn is that it may help to be either quite short or quite tall or somewhere in between, to have either blue eyes or dark eyes, to be a good talker though also a good listener, to be witty but sensitive, courteous yet forceful, and, possibly, to be 'luxuriantly whiskered'.
A snip at just Â£7,500.00 for 60 print volumes, or a mere Â£4,550.00 at Amazon UK. (I wonder if that's the biggest cash discount Amazon UK offers on any print publication?)
No doubt within twelve months Endemol will be putting on a UK version of their latest bright idea.
Celebrity Sperm Race anyone?
[Via Mark Wants a Porsche]
Size of Wales provides a handy online calculator to help us cope with those all-important Television Units of Science. For when you absolutely, positively, need to know how many football fields that iceberg covers.
[Via not you, the other one]