Bulgeium

Having just visited Brussels for the first time, I’m mystified as to how the Belgians aren’t the fattest people in the world. Their national cuisine apparently consists of:

  • Fries
  • Various exciting sauces for the fries, often based on mayonnaise
  • Chocolate
  • Waffles
  • Waffles covered in chocolate
  • Beer

All of which are delicious, but hardly healthy.

10 years

Wikipedia-logo-v2.svgHot on the heels of Saturday’s 10 year college reunion, today marks 10 years since I registered a Wikipedia account and made my first edit with it (there were a few anonymous edits before that, but they’ve been lost to the mists of time). Ironically given recent events, that first edit was defending Jeremy Clarkson!

It was impossible to imagine what that start would lead to. Since 2005, I’ve racked up around 75,000 more edits on the English Wikipedia (not counting the forays into other Wikimedia sites). Far more than that: I’ve learnt a huge amount, travelled to exciting places, and best of all met so many fascinating and fantastic people. Now I’m even fortunate enough to have a job supporting the project I love.

Here’s to another 10 years!

The third rule of Fight Club, as recommended by our lawyers

The third rule of Fight Club, as recommended by our lawyers.

3. In the preceding two rules, and any rules to be added at a future date, the word “talk” shall be taken to encompass any form of communication, verbal or non-verbal, including but not limited to: talking, whispering, shouting, screaming, writing, drawing, typing, singing, signing, mumbling, miming, interpretive dance, charades, semaphore, blogging, tweeting, subtweeting, Facebooking, vaguebooking, whatever it is that one does on Linkedin, skywriting, and any other form of communication currently extant or to be invented at a later date.

2014 Reading Challenge

Just like in 2013 I challenged myself to read a set number of books in 2014. This time the magic number was 45. And just like in 2013, I hit the target exactly, although it was much less close run than last year (when I frantically raced to finish my last book on New Year’s Eve). This time I actually finished with about a week to spare.

Here’s the list of what I read. Mostly the usual mix of classic sci-fi and fantasy, programming, random non-fiction.

Favourite fiction? To Kill a Mockingbird. Somehow our class managed to not read this in school, so I thought it was time to catch up on a classic that seemingly everyone else had read, and it didn’t disappoint. A real page-turner, but with true heart.

Favourite non-fiction? This was much tougher to choose, but probably Our Pet Queen: A New Perspective on Monarchy. Short, incisive, fascinating and often funny.

The two biggest chunks of reading were A Song of Ice and Fire books 3-5 and Orson Scott Card’s Ender Quartet books 2-4. Both series did start to flag a bit as they went on. Ender more so; it would always have been hard to keep up to the standard of the amazing Speaker for the Dead, but Children of the Mind‘s plot really did descend into the ridiculous. Not sure if I’ll return to Card’s series, I’ve heard the Shadow books are good but after the bad taste Children of the Mind left there’s plenty of other books I want to check out first.

As for ASoIaF, while A Feast for Crows was a bit of a slog, I’ll join the massed ranks of people waiting eagerly for George R R Martin to hurry up and resolve some of these unanswered questions and cliffhangers!

For 2015 I pondered dropping the challenge entirely. It’s been rewarding, but I want to focus a bit less on reading: it’s absolutely still something I want to make time for, but there are plenty of other things I want to do more of as well (writing, coding, photography, maybe picking up guitar again). There’s also some intimidatingly long books on my “to read” list (Pillars of the EarthI’m looking at you here!) which I found myself putting off at least partially because they would make it harder to hit my target. In the end I’ve decided to scale my goal back to 40 books again this year. Whether I make it is anyone’s guess, but at least it gives me something to blog about same time next year!

My Best of the Internet 2014

2014 seemed to go by in a flash. It was a strange year for me, but one constant remained: I spent a lot of time on the Internet. Here’s some of my favourite discoveries.

Funniest video: “Mr Needlemouse”

5 minutes of comedy sketch perfection. “Fuck limpets!” Up there with the very best, yet criminally underviewed.

Honourable mention: Faramir Can’t Read Maps. Technically it was published at the end of 2013, but it gets a mention here because I crack up every time I’ve watched it and it’s so expertly done. It also means there’s yet another scene in Lord of the Rings that I can no longer take seriously.

Best music video featuring Star Trek TNG and sausages: SAUSAGE SAMBA

not a hotly contested category to be honest

Funniest piece of writing: The Wikipedia Entry for Guam, Retold as a YA Novel

Pushing confusing thoughts of United Airlines’ broad back muscles and status as a subsidiary of Chicago-based Continental Holdings aside, Inarajan looked up and realized they had arrived at their destination: The forbidding edifice that was the Duty Free Shoppers Galleria. She suppressed a shiver. Her very first non-binding Presidential straw poll. Surely she would not survive.

Bizarre and accurate and amazing and hilarious.

Best subreddit: /r/AskHistorians

Still endlessly fascinating, and responsible for reigniting my interest in history. A close contender was /r/DeepIntoYouTube, which is also endlessly fascinating but in entirely different ways.

Best artist: Chris (Simpsons artist)

How could it be anyone else?

Best Twitter bot: how 2 sext

WikiHow’s odd articles have often been a source of amusement. Even more so when how 2 sext tweets random snippets from it formatted as sexts.

Most horrifying Twitter: @BadSonicFanArt

The Internet can be a horrifying place. @BadSonicFanArt is a constant reminder of that. As the name suggests, it just tweets and retweets examples of the worst Sonic fan art. There’s genuine works and parody all mixed up in there, and some sort of fan art Poe’s law makes it difficult to tell which is which.

Best blog: Diamond Geezer

Yes, he writes a few long posts about bus journeys. Sometimes even I skip those for lack of time.

But skipping the occasional post hardly matters since you can be certain there will be another one along like clockwork the next day, and it’s very likely to be informative, amusing, or both. That’s why it’s generally the first site I check every day. I’m pretty sure the blog has never skipped a day, and he’s been posting for 12 years! A remarkable record.

Since I’ve moved to London, this blog has taught me a huge amount about the city and my local area. And I’m sure it will continue to do so in 2015 and beyond.