(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘facts

“The time has come,” the Walrus said, “To talk of many things”*…

 

Wikipedia

 

Even in so-called “normal” times, Wikipedia is a tremendous resource and a reminder that the internet doesn’t have to be terrible. Launched in January 2001, the now massive online encyclopedia, which can still be edited by anyone and remains an ad-free nonprofit, provides easy access to information to people who need answers to some of life’s most important, challenging, and difficult questions. It’s also still a great way to kill a few hours.

With so many people stuck indoors and looking for ways to pass the time during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, there’s never been a better time to brush up on some classic strange Wikipedia articles and perhaps discover a new bizarre favorite. You might not have the willpower required to write your own version of King Lear while in lockdown, but you definitely have the energy to skim this “List of titles of works taken from Shakespeare.” From pro wrestling drama and mythical creatures to disastrous roller-skate musicals and unsolved hijacking mysteries, these are some of our favorite Wiki wormholes…

Can one ever know too much about too little?  For your sheltered-at-home amusement: “10 Outrageous Wikipedia Articles That Will Send You Down a Rabbit Hole.”

* Lewis Carroll, “The Walrus and the Carpenter”

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As we dig digging, we might recall that it was on this date in 2010 that, thanks to a massive Facebook campaign by her fans, Saturday Night Live announced that Betty White would host the May 8 show that year– which she did, becoming, at 88, the oldest host in the show’s history.  Lorne Michaels and the production staff were sufficiently concerned about her age that they had Tina Fey, Molly Shannon, Maya Rudolph, Rachel Dratch and Amy Poehler on standby to replace her; White went on to appear in every sketch… and won an Emmy for her performance.

C.F. Wikipedia’s “List of Saturday Night hosts.”

200px-BettyWhiteJune09 source

 

Written by LW

May 8, 2020 at 1:01 am

“I’m still learning”*…

 

learned

 

1)  Each year humanity produces 1,000 times more transistors than grains of rice and wheat combined. [Mark P Mills]…

24)  “Mushrooms and truffles are fungi, more closely related to humans than they are to plants.” [Lynne Peskoe-Yang]…

51)  Fast fashion is hitting the wiping rags businesses, because some clothing is just too badly made to be sold as rags. [Adam Minter]…

From Tom Whitwell (@TomWhitwell) of Fluxx, the sixth of his annual lists: “52 things I learned in 2019.”

[image above: source]

* “Ancora imparo,” Michelangelo

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As we continue our educations, we might recall that it was on this date in 1839 that John William Draper took a daguerreotype of the moon, the first celestial photograph (or astrophotograph) made in the U.S.  (He exposed the plate for 20 minutes using a 5-inch telescope and produced an image one inch in diameter.)   Draper’s picture of his sister, taken the following year, is the oldest surviving photographic portrait.

An 1840 shot of the moon by Draper– the oldest surviving “astrophotograph,” as his first is lost

 source

 

Written by LW

December 18, 2019 at 1:01 am

“It is a very sad thing that nowadays there is so little useless information”*…

 

Instructions for carrying heavy equipment at the Columbia University Computer Music Center

  1. In Silicon Valley, startups that result in a successful exit have an average founding age of 47 years. [Joshua Gans]
  2. Traders in Shenzhen electronics markets now rely on smartphone translation apps to communicate — not just with foreigners, but with people speaking other Chinese dialects. [Mark Pesce]
  3. “Artificial intelligence systems pretending to be female are often subjected to the same sorts of online harassment as women.” [Jacqueline Feldman]
  4. Laser Snake is a writhing robotic arm with a 5kw laser mounted on one end. It’s first job: cutting up old nuclear power stations. [James Condliffe]…

The beginning of a fascinating list from Tom Whitwell at Fluxx— a collection of “varied” (if not random) gleanings from science and tech through commerce to society and culture.  They’re immediately fascinating… and ultimately– that’s to say, with some thought, and in the fullness of time– useful [the very effect for which (Roughly) Daily strives :]  Enjoy it in its entirety: “52 things I learned in 2017.”

* Oscar Wilde

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As we read it and reap, we might recall that on this date in 1732 Benjamin Franklin published the first edition of “Poor Richard’s Almanack,”  a similarly not-so-randomly-fact-filled pamphlet series that he continued, to great success, annually through 1757.  (Indeed, with print runs typically numbering 10,000, the series made Franklin’s fortune, allowing him to spend the bulk of his time on scientific experiments, diplomacy…  and in his own consciousness-altering experiments in The Hellfire Club.)

The first edition (published in 1732 for 1733)

 

Written by LW

December 19, 2017 at 1:01 am

“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact”*…

 

Your correspondent is heading into his annual Holiday hiatus (regular service will resume on January 2), so by way of being sure that readers have something to occupy them in the meantime…

We’ve spent time before with Hans Rosling (“By the Numbers…” and “Poverty is an anomaly to rich people. It is very difficult to make out why people who want dinner do not ring the bell“*…), the man who reasons that experts cannot solve major challenges if they do not operate on facts. “But first you need to erase preconceived ideas,” he says, “and that is the difficult thing.”  Nature has done us all the service of collecting a wide variety of his amazing, mind-changing presentations…

Hans Rosling knew never to flee from men wielding machetes. “The risk is higher if you run than if you face them,” he says. So, in 1989, when an angry mob confronted him at the field laboratory he had set up in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rosling tried to appear calm. “I thought, ‘I need to use the resources I have, and I am good at talking’.”

Rosling, a physician and epidemiologist, pulled from his knapsack a handful of photographs of people from different parts of Africa who had been crippled by konzo, an incurable disease that was affecting many in this community, too. Through an interpreter, he explained that he believed he knew the cause, and he wanted to test local people’s blood to be sure. A few minutes into his demonstration, an old woman stepped forward and addressed the crowd in support of the research. After the more aggressive members of the mob stopped waving their machetes, she rolled up her sleeve. Most followed her lead. “You can do anything as long as you talk with people and listen to people and talk with the intelligentsia of the community,” says Rosling.

He is still trying to arm influential people with facts. He has become a trusted counsellor and speaker of plain truth to United Nations leaders, billionaire executives such as Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and politicians including Al Gore. Even Fidel Castro called on the slim, bespectacled Swede for advice. Rosling’s video lectures on global health and economics have elevated him to viral celebrity status, and he has been listed among the 100 most influential people in the world by the magazines Time and Foreign Policy. Melinda Gates of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation says, “To have Hans Rosling as a teacher is one of the biggest honors in the world.”…

More of Rosling’s story– and lots of his short-but-world-view-changing presentations– at “Three minutes with Hans Rosling will change your mind about the world.”

* Arthur Conan Doyle, “The Boscombe Valley Mystery”

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As we celebrate facts, we might send amazing birthday greetings to John Nevil Maskelyne; he was born on this date in 1839.  An accomplished stage magician, he was also an inventor, perhaps most notably, of the first pay toilet (the “penny toilet,” origin of the phrase “spend a penny”).

His son, Nevil Maskelyne, was also a magician and inventor– and the perpetrator of the first instance of electronic hacking.

John Nevil Maskelyne

source

Happy Holidays!  See you in the New Year…

Written by LW

December 22, 2016 at 1:01 am

“There are no facts, only interpretations”*…

 

Danish duo Mikael Wulff and Anders Morgenthaler create visuals depicting the everyday struggles, irritations, and insights of their fellow Westerners. Their official-looking graphs illuminate the unofficial statistics of our daily lives, offering insights that are at once unexpected and glaringly obvious.

They publish their work every day on Wumo, their webcomic and newspaper cartoon strip (formerly known as Wulffmorgenthaler); they’re archived at Kind of Normal.

 See a selection at demilked; see even more at Kind of Normal.

* Friedrich Nietzsche

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As we exult in explication, we might send consoling birthday greetings to Rufus Porter; he was born on this date in 1792.  A visionary and prolific inventor, Porter had painfully little business sense.  He held over 100 patents, including a fire alarm, a signal telegraph, a fog whistle, a washing machine, and a revolving firearm… He sold his patent for the lattermost to Samuel Colt for $100 in 1844.  With those proceeds, Porter published the first issue of Scientific American (on August 28, 1845)– but sold that business 10 months later.

 source

 

Written by LW

May 1, 2014 at 1:01 am

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