Someone tried to get Wikipedia’s article about cocaine deleted today

Wikipedia’s Articles for Deletion process is used to weed out articles that aren’t considered worthy of inclusion, for various reasons, but usually on grounds of notability. It’s often (mis-)used for humorous reasons, like nominating the United States article on April Fool’s Day.

That didn’t happen today though; someone nominated the article on cocaine in all serious:

“Severe copyright violation…”

“…If all of the sources were quoting Wikipedia (they’re not, we’re quoting them), then we’d have an unsourced article which implies a lack of notability and as such is eligible for deletion.”

The discussion ran for four hours instead of the usual seven days and, needless to say, Wikipedia still has an article about cocaine.


Well This is a Beautifully Executed Mindfuck

Rushed and in transit, Tom Murphy had no choice but to think outside the box for the 31st Ludum Dare, a 48hr gaming challenge. He then put that box with some other boxes, whacked in some infinite zoom, and created an unwinnable and elegant recursive mindfuck:


© Tom Murphy

Tom says this about it:

It can’t be won, at least formally, and exists only to destroy your mind, but people seem to be getting it.

Go play it.


Mild preferences make for systemic collective bias

I first read about how small preferences lead to extreme racial segregation in Tim Harford’s book The Logic of Life; it was itself based on some pretty weighty research by Thomas Schelling. The idea is that each person’s preference is to not be outnumbered too much in their neighbourhood, so if, say, 75% of their neighbours are a different race (or class, or whatever), they’ll move. It doesn’t take long before these apparently mild preferences result in more or less total segregation.

Anyway, there’s now a totally lovely visual and interactive presentation of this interesting idea, done by Vi Hart and Nicky Case, who specialise in totally lovely visual and interactive presentations of interesting ideas.


Psy Broke YouTube

Gangnam Style has forced YouTube to reconfigure the way it deals with its view counts, and the Washington Post has a pretty great breakdown of why it happened.

This is sort of complicated, so we won’t get into it too deep. But basically, YouTube codes its view count as a signed 32-bit integer, which means (a) it stores numbers as a string of 32 0s and 1s, with one of those slots reserved for determining if it’s a positive or negative number, (b) it can only count up to 2^(32-1), or 2,147,483,648, and (c) if it reaches that point, instead of counting to the next positive number, it will switch into negative integers. In terms of YouTube’s display, that would probably mean showing a view count of -2,147,483,647, which of course makes no sense.

There’s also a bit about the ‘Year 2038 Problem’, which it says is analogous to Y2K; so literally nothing to worry about then?

A Few Thoughts About Hospital Car Park Charges

I had a conversation last night about hospital car parking charges, and a few different aspects of it struck me afterwards, so this is just me getting my head around those. I did some searching around, and here are some quick points that my brain latched onto.

  • The NHS budget for 2014/15 is £108.3 billion
  • The NHS has a funding gap of around £2 billion
  • It would only cost £200 million to get rid of hospital car park fees, which seems small in the scheme of things
  • Car parking is free at most hospitals in Scotland (apart from at ones where the car park was funded by the godawful PFI initiatives that were roaringly popular under Tony Blair’s reign government),
  • It’s also free at most hospitals in Wales(apart from ones with private company contracts still left to run).
  • Trident costs about £2 billion to maintain a year, despite a worldwide non-proliferation treaty. Just saying.
  • The coalition promised to crack down on the charges, but its solution was a largely unenforceable sop
  • Labour say they want to phase out the charges (but were very vague about it).
  • I genuinely couldn’t find what the Lib Dems think about it.
  • The Green Party want to get rid of the charges (as, to be fair, did the Tory backbencher who started the Early Day Motion that Caroline Lucas signed).
  • Ukip want to get rid of the charges, but as usual have a vaguely racist way of funding it.

My opinion? Hospital car parks should be free, the NHS should be funded properly, and PFI should never have existed…


One Week of Why: An Experiment All Men Should Follow

A somewhat eye-opening experiment going on over at One Week of Why?, in which @HeardinLondon challenges street harrassment by asking ‘why’? A sample:

“Veeery niiiice.” He says staring at my arse as I cycle past.
I stop my bike. He takes this as an invitation and starts to walk towards me.
“Why would you say that?” I ask
“I like giving girls compliments.”
“But what if I don’t think it is a compliment?”
“Why wouldn’t that be a compliment?”
“Because I don’t believe it is kind to judge someone according to how they look. It’s not kind.”
“Wow. Really?”
“Yeah really. To me it doesn’t sound like a compliment at all. It just sounds disrespectful.”
“Interesting.” He nods and begins to walk off.
“Have a nice day.” I call after him.
“Why wouldn’t she think that was a compliment?” I hear him ask his friend as I cycle off.

I think a different approach is a decent idea, though it has to be said, it’s still pretty fucking depressing that these sort of experiments have to exist at all.

There Sure Are Some Weird-Lookin’ Pudsey Bears Out There

I wanted to know who was inside the Pudsey Bear suit (I had a sneaking suspicion it might be a mellowed-with-age Mr Blobby actor), but what I got when I clicked Google Images was, well, disturbing…

Slightly Too Angular Lego Pudsey….

Probably Rabid Pudsey…

Actually a Bit Adorable Cake-Head Pudsey(s)

The ‘Ello Daave’ Pudsey…

And this little fella; the real deal. Give generously, and eventually we’ll get him a new beady eye!