John Lennon once aroused controversy, by claiming that The Beatles were more popular than Jesus. Well, over 40 years later he has been proven right, thanks to the wonderful Wikipedia traffic statistics. In February the article on The Beatles was more popular than that on Jesus, almost 40% more popular in fact.
The Beatles are just one of 254 things bigger than Jesus though. Others include Muhammad (whose image problems have likely helped him reach 23rd place in the rankings), Che Guevara (123rd), Lasers (172nd), Batman (206th) and of course interweb favourite 2 Girls 1 Cup (34th).
The War of Jenkins’ Ear was a conflict between Great Britain and Spain that lasted from 1739 to 1748. After 1742 it merged into the larger War of the Austrian Succession.
Under the 1729 Treaty of Seville, the British had agreed not to trade with the Spanish colonies. To verify the treaty, the Spanish were permitted to board British vessels in Spanish waters. After one such incident in 1731, Robert Jenkins, captain of the ship Rebecca, claimed that the Spanish coast guard had severed his ear. The British government, which was determined to continue its drive toward commercial and military domination of the Atlantic basin, used this incident as an excuse to wage war against Spain in the Caribbean. In 1738 Jenkins exhibited his pickled ear to the House of Commons, whipping up war fever against Spain. To much cheering, the British Prime Minister, Robert Walpole, reluctantly declared war on 23 October 1739.
The Schmidt Sting Pain Index or The Justin O. Schmidt Pain Index is a pain scale rating the relative pain caused by different Hymenopteran stings. It is mainly the work of Justin O. Schmidt, an entomologist for whom the index is named. Schmidt has published a number of papers on the subject and claims to have been stung by the majority of stinging Hymenoptera.
Notably, Schmidt described some of the experiences in vivid and colorful detail:
- 1.0 Sweat bee: Light, ephemeral, almost fruity. A tiny spark has singed a single hair on your arm.
- 1.2 Fire ant: Sharp, sudden, mildly alarming. Like walking across a shag carpet & reaching for the light switch.
- 1.8 Bullhorn acacia ant: A rare, piercing, elevated sort of pain. Someone has fired a staple into your cheek.
- 2.0 Bald-faced hornet: Rich, hearty, slightly crunchy. Similar to getting your hand mashed in a revolving door.
- 2.0 Yellowjacket: Hot and smoky, almost irreverent. Imagine W. C. Fields extinguishing a cigar on your tongue.
- 2.x Honey bee and European hornet: Like a matchhead that flips off and burns on your skin.
- 3.0 Red harvester ant: Bold and unrelenting. Somebody is using a drill to excavate your ingrown toenail.
- 3.0 Paper wasp: Caustic & burning. Distinctly bitter aftertaste. Like spilling a beaker of Hydrochloric acid on a paper cut.
- 4.0 Pepsis wasp: Blinding, fierce, shockingly electric. A running hair drier has been dropped into your bubble bath (if you get stung by one you might as well lie down and scream).
- 4.0+ Bullet ant: Pure, intense, brilliant pain. Like walking over flaming charcoal with a 3-inch nail in your heel.
This is yet more proof (if any were needed) that Randall Munroe is a genius. I particularly love the reference to the omnipresent “In popular culture” sections.
The Beginning Was the End is a 1971 pseudo-scientific book written by Oscar Kiss Maerth. It claims that mankind evolved from cannibalistic apes.
One ape discovered that eating the fresh brain of one’s own kind increases the sexual impulses. He and his descendants became addicted to brains and hunted for them. It was not until later that they noticed that their intelligence increased as a result. The outcome of this process is HOMO SAPIENS.
– The Beginning was the End, p. 37
David Gerard once memorably described neutral point of view (NPOV) as “Wikipedia’s Secret Sauce”. Given the trouble some people have in imitating it, that metaphor seems pretty apt.
I have to admit along with many others I was recently amused by Conservapedia (subtitled “A conservative encyclopedia you can trust”). Visiting it again recently it does appear they’ve found a decent designer and spruced up the site. However they make absolutely no attempt to be neutral. The clue starts in the name, and continues with such tidbits as “Today’s liberal falsehood:” and “Bible Quote of the Day:”. And that’s just on the main page! Don’t even think about vandalising though, as apparently its punishable by up to 10 years in jail :-/ Makes you wonder why Wikipedia doesn’t do something like that about vandals… oh wait… because it’s total nonsense.
Anyway, clearly not anywhere near NPOV, but then they’re obviously neither claiming nor aiming to be. But recently I discovered another site – the MuslimWikipedia. Now this has some great articles on Dubai Megaprojects and Dubai skyscrapers which make me drool and want even more to visit Dubai some day. However what fascinated me most was this gem from their introduction:
Firstly there are guidelines, such as all work has to be sourced and referenced.
Secondly the MuslimWikipedia has a NPOV policy, i.e this isn’t the place for Peoples points of view.
Thirdly the MuslimWikipedia is to present Islam, its History, its people, its tenets, its faith, its ideas in a POSITIVE light, and hence negative views of Islam are against the Muslim Wikipedias policies.
Now am I the only one who sees a slight conflict between the second and third guidelines?