(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘xkcd

“There is a limit to thinking about even a small piece of something monumental”*…

Still, we can try…

Via Jason Kottke, who is reminded…

of Ben Terrett’s calculation of how many helveticas from here to the Moon and my subsequent calculations about the point size of the Earth and the Moon (50.2 billion and 13.7 billion, respectively).

* Jeff VanderMeer, Annihilation

As we size up scale, we might recall that it was on this date (the feast day of St. Mary Magdalene) in 1342, that Central Europe’s worst flood ever occurred. Following the passage of a Genoa low, the rivers Rhine, Moselle, Main, Danube, Weser, Werra, Unstrut, Elbe, Vltava, and their tributaries inundated large areas. Many towns such as Cologne, Mainz, Frankfurt am Main, Würzburg, Regensburg, Passau, and Vienna were seriously damaged, with water levels exceeding those of the 2002 European floods. Even the river Eider north of Hamburg flooded the surrounding land; indeed, the affected area extended to Carinthia and northern Italy.

The high water mark at the “Packhof” in Hannoversch Münden indicates extent the St. Mary Magdalene’s flood. (source)

Written by (Roughly) Daily

July 22, 2023 at 1:00 am

“Oh, I am fortune’s fool!”*…


Something on your mind?  Ask the (interactive version of) xkcd’s oracle

* Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet


As we plan accordingly, we might recall, with gratitude, that it was on this date in 1935 that Alan Lane released the first ten titles in the Penguin paperback book series.  At the time a junior player at a publisher called Bodley Head, he was frustrated by the lack of affordable contemporary literature.  He wanted to offer cheap, quality books through outlets like railway stations and newsagents as well as traditional bookshops– to make good books accessible.  So his volumes were priced at 6 pence each, while the typical hardcover book sold for 7 and 8 shillings.  The experiment was a huge success: within a year, Penguin had sold 3 million paperbacks; skeptics– there were many (an earlier experiments in paperbacks in Germany had fizzled)– had been proved wrong; and Lane launched Penguin as a standalone publisher.

The original Penguins are an eclectic mix – a biography of Shelley, a Hemingway classic, a novel set in a pub, a novel about an old lady, two mysteries, an autobiography, and three more rather romantic novels– by authors both still widely read (Hemingway, Dorothy Sayers, Agatha Christie) and not so well remembered (e.g., Mary Webb, E.H. Young, Susan Ertz).

Today, 80 years later, more than 600 million paperbacks are sold annually worldwide.

The First Ten Penguins, 1985 reprint box set




Written by (Roughly) Daily

July 30, 2015 at 1:01 am

Patience, rewarded…


As (R)D readers know, Randall Munroe’s xkcd webcomic has done some weird and wonderful things before (e.g., here and here), but #1190, ‘Time,” is something special.  A time-lapse movie of two people building a sandcastle, it’s been updating just once an hour (twice an hour in the beginning) for well over a month (since March 25th)– and after over a thousand frames shows no sign of ending.  Any day now, the number of frames will surpass the total number of xkcd comics.  Some of its readers have called it the One True Comic; others, a MMONS (Massively Multiplayer Online Nerd Sniping).  It’s sparked its own wiki, its own jargon (Timewaiters, newpix, Blitzgirling), and a thread on the xkcd user forum that runs to over 20,000 posts from 1100 distinct posters.  So, is ‘Time” a mesmerizing work of art, a penetrating sociological experiment — or the longest-running shaggy-dog joke in history?  Randall Munroe’s not saying.

See it here— and leave it open in your browser… for a long time…

[TotH to Slashdot]


As we remember that at least some things come to those who wait, we might also recall that it was on this date in 1914 that President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Mother’s Day– the second Sunday in May– as a day for Americans to show the flag in honor of those mothers whose sons had died in war.

The drive to found the holiday came from Anna Jarvis (in honor of her mother, Ann, who had tried to start a “Mother’s Remembrance Day” in the mid-19th century).  In 1905, Jarvis enlisted the support of merchant extraordinaire John Wanamaker, who knew a merchandising opportunity when he saw one, and who hosted the first Mother’s Day ceremonies in his Philadelphia emporium’s auditorium.  In 1912, Jarvis trademarked the phrases “second Sunday in May” and “Mother’s Day”*, and created the Mother’s Day International Association.  By 1914, Jarvis and Wanamaker had built sufficient support in Congress to a get Congressional Resolution requesting the President’s action.  Wilson, who was by current accounts uninterested in the move (distracted as he was by the beginnings of his ultimately unsuccessful effort to keep the U.S. out of the troubles in Europe that became World War I), nonetheless knew better than to take a stand against moms.

So readers should remember that there are only three shopping days (counting today) before this year’s Mother’s Day.


* Though the ad above handles it differently, Jarvis specified that that “Mother’s” should “be a singular possessive, for each family to honor their mother, not a plural possessive commemorating all mothers in the world.”

Written by (Roughly) Daily

May 9, 2013 at 1:01 am

The Law of Parsimony, Applied…




As we celebrate simplicity, we might recall that it was on this date in 1929 that Popeye met Olive Oyl (in Elzie Segar’s daily comic strip “Thimble Theater”).  Olive had been a regular since the comic premiered a decade before; Popeye had been introduced 7 days before… but became so popular (both via “Thimble Theatre” and thanks to Max and Dave Fleischer’s Popeye cartoons, which began in 1933) that the strip was renamed in his honor.



Written by (Roughly) Daily

January 24, 2013 at 1:01 am

A thought for your penny…

From Randall Monroe’s exquisite What If?, The Cost of Pennies.


As we search for a larger change jar, we might recall that this was the date, in 1919, on which the world did not end.  American meteorologist Albert Porta had made a widely-publicized prediction that a conjunction of six planets on that date would cause a “magnetic current” to “pierce the sun”, causing an explosion of flaming gas which would engulf the Earth.  The hysteria that followed incited mob violence and some suicides… before, as the world did not end, it subsided.


Written by (Roughly) Daily

December 17, 2012 at 1:01 am

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