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Posted on 2018-10-19

My Wikipedia List

About a year ago I started collecting wikipedia pages and articles. This was partly spurred on by Wendover Productions who's series "That Wikipedia List" inspired me to start delving through wikipedia in search of its idiosyncrasies that I found interesting. This post isn't about that wikipedia list (or for that matter, this one or this one – all of which are very interesting and worth a read). What I've assembled over the past year is a collection of articles that exist somewhere between humorous and interesting, with either of those attributes relating to the page's content, existence, rabbit-hole-ness, or personal taste. I am not sharing this list in an attempt to blow any minds or knock any socks off. Instead, my goal is to cultivate a sense of wonder and exploration. This indeed is what I myself have found – not these articles, but a renewed interest in the worlds largest encyclopedia.


Eating live animals

Skip this one if you are squeamish. The best line from this one comes from the Cockroach section.

Live cockroaches were eaten in a competition in Florida in 2012. The winner collapsed and died from 'asphyxia due to choking and aspiration of gastric contents'.

This article is relatively short but filled with wonders, especially if you are unfamiliar with the subject.


The Bible and humor

Sarah, 90 years old, hears that she will have a child, and laughs at the idea. James Tissot, c. 1900

Don't expect a list of hilarious quotes from the bible; this article deals with the scholarly interpretation of (typically ironic) themes and stories in the bible. The conclusion to be drawn is that the bible is littered with wordplay, irony, sarcasm, and authors who were quite often funny. If you're interested in the bible at all, read this one start to finish; you might want to skip the Scholarly assessment section if that isn't the case.

Religion Professor and Presbyterian minister Conrad Hyers finds humor in Elijah's ridicule of "the priests of Baal who wailed and slashed themselves in the hope that Baal would send fire from Heaven. "Shout louder!...Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling; or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened!" (1 Kings 18)_


Category:Sequel songs

Probably the most interesting ones here are the George Harrison sequels to classic Beatles songs (Here Comes the Moon and This Guitar (Can't Keep from Crying)). This category might not be as interesting as Category:Answer songs‎, but I'm including it as this will be the home of "Despacito 2" when it finally drops.


Turbo button

Documents the Turbo button on PCs. Interestingly, its existence was inverse of what you would expect: adding the ability to slow down the clock speed for backwards compatibility in video games, not to speed it up.


Dark-sky preserve

It turns out there are organization across the globe dedicated to preserving the night sky from light pollution. What this article lacks in details it makes up for in its list of individual Dark sky preserves, reserves and parks.

Canada features extensively in this article, as the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada maintains a national dark-sky program.

Although dark-sky preserve designations are generally sought by astronomers, it is clear that preserving natural darkness has positive effects on the health of nocturnal wildlife within the parks. For example, the nocturnal black-footed ferret was reintroduced to the Grasslands National Park dark-sky preserve and the success of the reintroduction is enhanced by the pristine natural darkness maintained within the park by the DSP agreement.


Iron Man's armor

Variations of Iron Man's armors. Art by Bob Layton.

An absolutely massive article including every single armor worn by the Avenger. One of which, – the Extremis – involves storing the armour within the hollows of his bones, and is fused to Tony Stark himself via nano machines, giving him a whole slew of new powers.


Snap, Crackle and Pop

While the history of these characters is interesting, the real delight of this article is the section on Physics and Names in other markets. A very quick read.


Eigengrau

The colour you see in the absence of light, the origin of which is quite interesting.


List of chess variants

Hexagonal Chess

An extremely detailed list of chess variants ranging from different starting arrangements to the use of wild "fairy" pieces on unorthodox boards. Be prepared to spend hours exploring this article with dreams of playing each and every one. There are so many wacky inclusions that I cannot pick just one to highlight here. Most are detailed in a single sentence with a full article explaining their rules. Those that don't have articles have references. Of course, the See Also section on this one is great too.


Settlement hierarchy

Details the the heirachy of settlements and the importance of classifying settlements. If you are confused about the difference between a town and village, this is the article to read. There is also an amazing "example" heirachy.

Ecumenopolis - a theoretical construction in which the entire area of Earth that is taken up by human settlements, or at least, that those are linked so that to create urban areas so big that they can shape an urban continuum through thousands of kilometers which cannot be considered as a megalopolis. As of the year 2009, the United Nations estimated that for the first time more than 50% of the world's populations lived in cities, so if these were linked, the total population of this area would be about 3,400,000,000 people as of 2010.


Biohacking

This disambiguation page lists articles associated with the title Biohacking.

And they are all amazing. Especially the Grinder (biohacking) page.


Pre-Code Hollywood

A long but fascinating read on the world of Hollywood in the 1920s and 30s, when Hollywood was a lawless, but much more entertaining place. The article covers everything you could want to know about the Pre-Code era and the implementation of the code itself. It follows the desire of Hollywood to appease censors, the culture around films at the time, the culture of America during the great depression (and how that applies to film censorship), and the type of films that were censored. While the longest article on this list, it is certainly a worthy inclusion, if not just for the completeness of it.

Additionally, the Great Depression of the 1930s motivated studios to produce films with racy and violent content, which boosted ticket sales. Soon, the flouting of the code became an open secret. In 1931, The Hollywood Reporter mocked the code, and Variety followed suit in 1933. In the same year as the Variety article, a noted screenwriter stated that "the Hays moral code is not even a joke any more; it's just a memory."


Dungeons & Dragons in popular culture

Features lists of D&D's inclusion in pop culture, but most notably is the List of notable D&D players, who's content I do not wish to spoil for you here.

Role-playing game theory

While you are here, this is a good jumping off point for RPG theory, which is an interesting field in and of itself.


List of Internet phenomena

Two screenshots from before and after the drop in a Harlem Shake video

Another great comprehensive list, this time including what feels like all the memes. The list is long enough that you will most likely encounter something you don't recognize, but otherwise there is still entertainment to be gained from reading that bland wikipedia tone used for wacky memes.

John Madden – The Text-to-Speech software used in the Steam-released game Moonbase Alpha was noted for its humorous use by Let's Players, starting with the YouTube video “Moonbase Alpha Provides a Realistic Simulation of Life on a Natural Satellite” by YouTuber motdef.

Dab (dance)

Included on the list above but I'm adding it here to dab on those who tell me that dabbing isn't a thing anymore when I do a dab. Additionally, you will finally know the origin of the dab!


Free Speech Flag

Free Speech Flag

Vexillology is cool and so are computers. See how they come together to form a flag for free speech.


Dating

If you read this you are a confirmed nerd. While this article covers the past and present of dating, you are most likely going to be drawn in to the social implications, the cultural differences, or the role computers play in matchmaking. It is littered with anecdotes and is blatant about the game-like nature of dating, with its different rules for different players and heavy reliance on luck.

My real interest in articles like this is the documentation of the (seemingly) mundane. The framing of a wikipedia article accentuates the intricacies of the everyday through a shift to an outsiders perspective. The human feels alien.

While the entire article is worth a read, I think my favourite paragraph is this one at the end of the history section.

In the twentieth century, dating was sometimes seen as a precursor to marriage but it could also be considered as an end-in-itself, that is, an informal social activity akin to friendship. It generally happened in that portion of a person's life before the age of marriage, but as marriage became less permanent with the advent of divorce, dating could happen at other times in peoples lives as well. People became more mobile. Rapidly developing technology played a huge role: new communication technology such as the telephone, Internet and text messaging enabled dates to be arranged without face-to-face contact. Cars extended the range of dating as well as enabled back-seat sexual exploration. In the mid-twentieth century, the advent of birth control as well as safer procedures for abortion changed the equation considerably, and there was less pressure to marry as a means for satisfying sexual urges. New types of relationships formed; it was possible for people to live together without marrying and without children. Information about human sexuality grew, and with it an acceptance of all types of sexual orientations is becoming more common. Today, the institution of dating continues to evolve at a rapid rate with new possibilities and choices opening up particularly through online dating.


Diner Lingo

Best of the bunch. If you're serving guests and want to make them feel uncomfortable, try referring to the crackers and cheese as Dogs and maggots, or use any other piece of diner slang in this bizarre list.


Limits of Computation

Details the physical and theoretical limits of computation. This might sound boring to some, but with how short this article is, and how much "science fiction" it contains, it's anything but.


Conclusion

Wikipedia is fun. A lot of fun. At least twice as fun as reading the dictionary; The dryness that wikipedia provides has its upsides and I wouldn't have it any other way. By design the language is easy to parse and as a result there is always something interesting happening right in view. Not every article is interesting or laugh-out-loud funny but the neutral stance it takes on the absurd and the desire of its contributors for completeness give us readers an endless supply of fascinating articles.

The things you should take away from this (if you will allow me to be so preachy) are radically different and are as follows:

  1. Encyclopedias (and therefore Wikipedia), provide us not only with information, but with a mirror in which we can examine ourselves. As self-aware beings, that is something that we should do and do often.
  2. Collect wikipedia articles. Share the ones you find interesting. Get others excited about the random trivia you dig up. Be curious and fascinated and share that feeling and know that Wikipedia is a vehicle for doing so.

If you have any favourite articles, please share them with me. You can find me on twitter as @king_llama183 and I would love to read what you've found.

Also, consider donating to Wikipedia. They do a lot for the open internet and it's crazy how much knowledge they provide for free. Here's the link to do so.


See Also