Archive for the 'Trivia' Category

Grammar Nazis: xkcd

October 8, 2007

Webcomic xkcd just published a strip about the intricacies of English grammar. In a previous life I would very much identify with this kind of thing, and in fact there are people I know from my postgraduate days in linguistics who probably still do this on a daily basis:

xkcd - effect affect

Of course, I know plenty of grammar nazis too…


Star Of The Car

August 11, 2007

This week Mark Nichol, a very good friend of mine, was staying with us while he was on a week of work experience in nearby Peterborough. Mark’s a future superstar motoring journo, and potentially the next Jeremy Clarkson — only better looking and far less annoying. He’s been kept busy writing articles for the website of the UK’s finest motoring mag, Car Magazine. Want to read them? Then click below to:

Get the exclusive scoop on the yet to be released Audi A5 Sportback

Audi A5

Stay on an Audi tip with their new sleek A8

Audi A8

And learn all about Land Rover’s new green option

You can probably tell from the scant details above that I know very little about cars. I drive a Clio; it’s silver and slow. And that’s about the extent of my automotive wisdom. However, this week I’ve been schooled on the benefits of the diesel about town (plenty of low-end torque, apparently), the uncomfortable new Fiat, and the underpowered new Golf.

It’s been an educational and thoroughly enjoyable experience, though I was disappointed that Mark didn’t roll up outside our house on a test-drive in a pimped out, specced up Mercedes. Maybe next time.

Facebook Now Being Used To Solve Crimes

August 2, 2007

The Register is reporting that a Londoner who was a burglary victim has turned to social networking nirvana Facebook to help catch the perp:

Victim turns to Facebook in hunt for brazen burglar

Jackie McGeown is using a picture taken by an innocent bystanding builder on his mobile to publicise the alleged ne’er-do-well’s nefarious deed, and to help catch the crook:

“Users with tips on the possible identity of the burglar can pass on leads via Facebook. McGeown said: “Maybe he’s burgled you. Or maybe you’ve poked him on Facebook. If you know who he is, let me know!””

If you think you’ve got what it takes to be the first of what will surely become many Web 2.0 social networking detectives, simply join Jackie’s Facebook group — DO YOU RECOGNISE MY BURGLAR? — and get poking!

Hoping to pip everyone to the post and win the glory, even though I neither live in London nor care particularly about whether or not Jackie finds her burglar, I’ve scoured Facebook in an attempt to find said group, so far with zero success. If anyone does find it, or else finds out that this is all a (not so) elaborate hoax, leave a comment below.

The CIA Infiltrates Wikipedia – SHOCK!

July 29, 2007

I came across the following slice of preposterous hyperbole via a Digg story:

Wikipedia and the Intelligence Services

Perhaps secret agents have “infiltrated Wikipedia“, speculates the article, and are spreading disinformation about the Lockerbie bombing — amongst other vital and current topics — even as you read this blog post! Let’s ignore the inherent absurdity of “infiltrating” a free open source website, because we have pressing matters to attend to. Quick: sound the Internet alarm! Somebody has been editing entries on Wikipedia, and others have even been *gasp* locked! Next it’ll be stories of black helicopters being edited out of Google Earth.

More shocking revelations follow:

“According to clues accumulated by ordinary citizens around the world, it could be that the CIA and other intelligence agencies are riding the information wave and planting disinformation on Wikipedia. If so, tens of thousands of innocent and unwitting citizens around the world are translating and propagating their lies, providing these agencies with a universal news network.”

Now, I don’t mean to state the bleeding obvious here, but Wikipedia has been a target of disinformation since day one; and the men in black are categorically not the main perpetrators. Before we get on to government conspiracies, why not consider the infinitely more mundane explanation that a couple of anal wikipedians have got into an edit war — or perhaps it was just an idiot. There are plenty of them to go round on the Internet; they even visit Wikipedia once in a while and post all kinds of nonsense. Some of them even write articles for web newspapers…

Food Guilt In Pictures

January 6, 2007

Now that we’re a whole six days into 2007, all those well-meaning resolutions are probably starting to slip. Particularly the ones involving shedding excess Christmas baggage. So what better way to revitalize your new year resolution than taking a quick look at this post from wisegeek, which shows you the amount of different types of food you get for 200 calories:

What does 200 calories look like?
(via Lifehacker)

I’m feeling particularly guilty about the butter one, because proper butter on crackers and door-wedge thick slices of bread is one of my favourite treats. Oh well, back to the Bertolli.

Two And A Half Centuries Of Presidential Buzzwords

November 5, 2006

Here’s a useful little tool showing the hot topics of the day for every US President from John Adams to George W Bush in the form of a tag cloud:

US Presidential Speeches Tag Cloud
(via Boingboing)

Just drag the slider at the top to the left or right to zip through the years and get an impression of which issues were important.

What’s most interesting is watching how Public Enemy No. 1 changes from Indians to the Japanese to Germans to Vietnam to Saddam in less than a century. And what was the most used word in George W’s last State of the Union Address? Well, it starts with ‘T’…

A Slice of Music History Pt. 2: The Amen Break

September 22, 2006

Following my first foray into miscellaneous music history earlier this month, here’s a second satisfying slice. This one takes the form of a 20 minute video on the most sampled drum loop of all time, as narrated by Nate Harrison:

Harrison calls the Amen Break a “ubiquitous piece of the pop-culture sound-scape”, and when you hear it you’ll realise why. It’s an instantly recognisable part of countless popular hip-hop, dance and garage songs. In fact, Harrison suggests that the entire drum ‘n’ bass genre, and later IDM, is based on varying interpretations and cutups of this one beat.

A Slice of Music History: Radio the Night Lennon Died

September 2, 2006

I just found this interesting slice of musical history via

NYC Radio the night John Lennon died (mp3 from WFMU blog)

It’s a dial scan of the radio on the night of 8th December 1980 and it’s one of the more unusual pieces of interneticana I’ve come across recently. Sure, there are parts of a bunch of Beatles and Lennon songs on there, as you’d expect, but what’s even more fascinating are the occasional clips of news reports and phone-in shows which chronicle the reactions of the fans and media of the time.

Samuel L. Jackson Invites You To See Snakes

August 9, 2006

Now you can send a hilarious personalized message from Samuel L. Jackson to a friend, inviting them to go and see the film on release day (August 18th):

Send a Message from Samuel L Jackson!

Here’s the trailer, in case you’re still in the dark:

Star Wars On A Banjo

August 1, 2006

Y’all best stay on target now, y’hear?

Yes. It’s a video of a man playing the Star Wars theme tune on a banjo. No further comment necessary.