17 January 2024
[numbers] From 1 to 1,000,000 … Discussing numbers and visualising them. ‘If 1,000 is a little overrated, 10,000 is underrated. No one talks about 10,000, but unlike the square rootless 1,000, 10,000 a perfect square of 100 100s, and 1% of a million.’
28 September 2018
[time] Your calendrical fallacy is… Everything you know about Calendars, Dates and Times is Wrong. ‘Days are 24 hours long – False. Many places around the world observe Daylight Saving Time, which means that people living in these locations will sometimes experience 23 hour days (when they “leap forward”) and 25 hour days (when they “leap back”).’
19 May 2011
[horoscopes] Horoscoped … the most common words in star sign predictions from Information is Beautiful

Horoscoped by David McCandless

4 December 2009
[interesting] The 50 Most Interesting Articles On Wikipedia … including… ETAOIN SHRDLU: ‘The letters on Linotype keyboards were arranged by letter frequency, so ETAOIN SHRDLU were the first two vertical columns on the left side of the keyboard.’
26 August 2009
[timeline] Time Travel TimelineInformation is Beautiful provides a visual timeline of time travel movies showing where paradoxes might occur.
4 April 2008
[fun] How to Win at Monopoly® – a Surefire Strategy‘Always buy Railroads; never buy Utilities (at full price).’ [via Robot Wisdom]
29 February 2008
[calendar] Leap day – 29 leap facts for February 29th‘You have a 1 in 1461 chance of being born on February 29th. The odds are a lot higher if your parents have sex on May 29th the previous year.’
15 January 2008
[web] Oblique_Chirps — twitter feed of Oblique Strategies‘Remove a restriction’
18 November 2007
[askmefi] Ask Mefi: I need examples of things and secrets only a very in the know sort of person would know about‘He has a filepile membership.’
6 November 2007
[language] Darling, you look positively pulchritudinous. OW! No, that’s a GOOD thing! — Ask Metafilter looks at words that don’t sound like they mean … ‘I don’t think I’m the only one to have at first assumed that coruscating meant something like scathing or corrosive rather than sparkly.’
15 October 2007
[weird] Right Brain v Left Brain Optical Illusion … I see this rotating anti-clockwise until after concentrating on the feet it flipped on me and started rotating clockwise. Weird! :) [via Kottke]
15 August 2007
[change] Chaos Theory — The Guardian on the changeover to Digital TV and our attitudes to large cultural changes like Decimalisation …

The world’s first seven-sided coins started appearing in Britain’s purses and cash registers on October 14 1969 – strange, alien lumps of cupro-nickel alloy that were greeted with instant suspicion. Bus conductors and Tory MPs fretted that the new 50 pence piece would be mistaken for the old half-crown, causing chaos. Secret documents released years later showed that the Decimal Currency Board – the body charged with decimalising the country by February 1971 – was terrified that the Queen might die before the changeover was complete, forcing it to introduce a whole new set of coins. And according to the BBC, a retired army colonel named Essex Moorcroft founded an organisation called the Anti-Heptagonists, dedicated to eradicating the new 50p on the grounds that it was “ugly” and “an insult to our sovereign, whose image it bears.”

11 July 2007
[interesting] 33 Names of Things You Never Knew had Names‘Jarns, Nittles, Grawlix and Quimp – Various squiggles used to denote cussing in comic books.’ [via Torrez]
30 January 2006
[language] 112 Translations of: “Oh my God! There’s an axe in my head.” [via]
15 January 2006
[web] “No” in Many Languages … How to say ‘No’ in 520 or so languages.
31 May 2005
[puzzles] Sudoku Solver‘I have written this solver to show the extent of the possible logical solutions that derive from the numbers on the board.’
26 May 2005
[puzzle] Can you Digit? — more about Sudoku from the Guardian … ‘I now have the profound dissatisfaction of being obsessed with something I’m not very good at.’
19 May 2005
[puzzle] How To Solve Sudoku‘A colleague at work sent me the puzzle and I sat down and worked out this way of solving it. Being slightly computer literate I decided to make a spreadsheet do all the hard work. I circulated the solution and someone suggested I publish the algorithm – I hope it helps.’ [via The Guardian’s Newsblog]
10 February 2005
[bbc] From Flickr: Approved by Postmaster General

P. O. Approved
Originally uploaded by jovike.

27 January 2005
[codes] Famous Unsolved Codes and Ciphers‘Alexander d’Agapeyeff wrote an elementary book on cryptography in 1939, entitled “Codes and Ciphers.” In the first edition, he included a challenge cipher. Nobody’s solved it, and he embarrassedly admitted later that he no longer knew how he’d encrypted it. It was left out of the second and later editions. Some think it was botched, and many think it could still be solved despite that. It has lots of “phenomena” noted, but nothing close to a crack.’
19 January 2005
[words] Cliché Finder‘A chain is only as strong as it’s weakest LINK.’ [via]
31 December 2004
[new.year] Diamond Geezer: Why you’re going to celebrate New Year at the wrong time‘Before you go out this New Year’s Eve, set your watch accurately using analogue Ceefax.’
22 October 2004
[fact!] True Facts — a page of trivia … ‘In her later years, Florence Nightingale kept a pet owl in her pocket.’
30 July 2004
[reading] How Many Words-Per-Minute Do You Read?‘You read between 350 – 400 words per minute. Well above average reading level. (The average rate is between 200 – 250 words per minute.) It is assumed that you did not skim the words nor fail to understand the meaning of what was read’ [via]
6 May 2004
[humour] Ugandan Discussions — the covers of Private Eye … [via]

5 February 2004
[tv] The Severity Rating of Swearing and Offensive Language … The Top 10: ‘Cunt, Motherfucker, Fuck, Wanker, Nigger, Bastard, Prick, Bollocks, Arsehole, Paki’ [via I Love Everything]
26 August 2003
[192] Diamond Geezer’s consumer guide to 118 Numbers‘The one number to avoid: 118 118 (49p + 9p per minute), the one with the 70s hairstyled runners. Probably the most successful ad campaign, but worst value on all calls up to 1 minute 9 seconds.’
6 June 2003
[web] The Eighties Tarot — tarot cards as pop icons from the Eighties … ‘The serendipitous Ferris Bueller, loved by sportos, motorheads, geeks and sluts alike, is the perfect Fool.’
28 March 2003
[news] The West Pier on Fire — a slideshow from Kevan.
4 March 2003
[name] Your Not Me — find out how many people in the UK share your name My name is… ‘unique like a yeti or some form of Magic Chimp.’ [via Swish Cottage]
7 February 2003
[books] Brewer’s Unoriginal Miscellany‘This is not Schott’s Original Miscellany.’ [via Troubled Diva]
8 December 2002
[confidential] The 10 Best Smoking Gun Stories of 2002 — Shift Magazine filters the best out of the Smoking Gun‘On the 25th anniversary of Presley’s death, we were treated to the nitty-gritty details of the Memphis Medical Examiner’s report. Apparently The King was circumsized… in case you wanted to know.’
14 November 2002
[tech] How al Qaeda put Internet to use — article looking at al Qaeda’s use of computers and the internet … [via Guardian Weblog]

‘Al Qaeda operatives struggled with some of the same tech headaches as ordinary people: servers that crashed, outdated software and files that wouldn’t open. Their Web venture followed a classic dot-com trajectory. It began with excitement, faced a cash crunch, had trouble with accountants and ultimately fizzled.’

‘While fiercely hostile to any religious or social norms tinged by modernity, Islamists “have no problems with technology,” says Omar Bakri, a radical cleric from Syria who lives in Britain. “Other people use the Web for stupid reasons, to waste time. We use it for serious things.” (U.S. officials say Islamists weren’t always so earnest: Many computers the CIA recovered from suspected al Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan and elsewhere contained pornographic material.)’

23 August 2002
[gambling] Hacking Las Vegas‘In Las Vegas, the casino has the right to bar anyone it wants. (Atlantic City has more “civilized” rules: The casinos can’t bar card counters, however they can annoy and harass them with constant shuffles, dealer changes, and other countermeasures.) Individual card counters who follow Thorp’s system and succeed quickly find themselves first unwelcome and then extinct: In gaming parlance, they’re dinosaurs. By the early ’70s, the casinos had overcome their initial panic. They had learned to identify and contain the enemy. So the enemy did what every good enemy does: It got smarter.’ [via Kottke]
15 May 2002
[comics] Theory.Org.UK Trading CardsUnofficial Card #21: Dave Sim‘Particularly toxic in the parlor setting, these slash and burn ideological stylings are not suited to those needing affirmation, or friends. Or sex.’ [via Cerebus Yahoo Group]
9 May 2002
[destroy] Delete, Baby, Delete — on the difficulty of destroying evidence … ‘On the eve of the takeover of the U.S. embassy in Iran, in 1979, American officials desperately fed secret documents into the embassy’s paper shredders. Over the next several years, while waiting for satellite dishes and Baywatch to arrive, the Iranians painstakingly stitched the documents back together. They ultimately published the reconstituted intelligence files in some sixty volumes, under the overarching title Documents From the U.S. Espionage Den.’ [via Sore Eyes]
29 April 2002
[post-it] Postmodernism, Writ Small — a look at the Post-It Note‘Unlike its predecessor, the memo, which functions as a self-contained message, the Post-it Note is an analog forebear to hypertext; it acknowledges in its very construction that what’s most important is context — and that context is where you make it, achievable with glue as much as any organic cohesion of ideas. Whereas a memo generally includes such information as who it’s from, to whom it’s directed, what its purpose is, and what sort of response it expects to generate, a Post-it Note is usually spontaneous, associative, and fragmentary. Its message often has meaning only in relation to the object or document to which it?s been attached; detach it and it becomes a mystery.’ [via]
16 August 2001
[lorem ipsum] What does the filler text “lorem ipsum” mean? ‘Lorem ipsum was part of a passage from Cicero, specifically De finibus bonorum et malorum, a treatise on the theory of ethics written in 45 BC. The original reads, Neque porro quisquam est qui dolorem ipsum quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci velit . . . (“There is no one who loves pain itself, who seeks after it and wants to have it, simply because it is pain . . .”). McClintock recalled having seen lorem ipsum in a book of early metal type samples, which commonly used extracts from the classics. “What I find remarkable,” he told B&A, “is that this text has been the industry’s standard dummy text ever since some printer in the 1500s took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book; it has survived not only four centuries of letter-by-letter resetting but even the leap into electronic typesetting, essentially unchanged.” So much for the transitory nature of content in the information age.’ [Related:, thanks to Marcia]
20 June 2001
[images] There are some stunning photos on the Life Magazine website….
18 June 2001
[distraction] Amazing photo of an iceberg above and below the waterline… [via Betty Woo]
29 May 2001
[utility] The Guardian profiles P-38 GI can opener. ‘Camping equipment shops exert a powerful influence on men, even those of us who don’t camp. They are full of things that look for all the world as if you might need them someday: million candlepower flashlights, extra tent pegs, waterproof matches, freeze-dried chicken do-piaza. Extreme preparedness is the abiding theme of these items, with attendant virtues including lightness, compactness, and a workmanlike construction which transcends mere fashion. What object embodies all of the survivalist’s core beliefs better than the P-38 GI can opener?’
8 January 2001
[distractions] “Do you speak English?” in over 190 different languages… ‘Parla inglese?’
14 August 2000
[counter] File this under pointless but intriguing: The Counter Man. My number was 741 by the way…
4 July 2000
[america] newsUnlimited reports on how the US sees the British. “With other recent films from U-571 through to Saving Private Ryan, history is being polished or even rewritten about the various conflicts involving the US. In this respect, it is all a bit like Britain in the 50s when Kenneth More or John Mills were always sorting out the Nazis and departing fighter pilots told little boys to look after the womenfolk.”
6 April 2000
BBC News reports that Post-It notes are twenty years old today…