Monday, December 17, 2007

How to Be Knowledgeable

People often say to me, "Gosh, michael5000, you are so knowledgeable! What is your secret?"

Well, I'll tell you: It's the "random article" button on Wikipedia. That's my secret.

You see, the problem with most educational systems like "books" and "schools" is that they want you to concentrate on one specific subject for an extended period of time. Why, that's practically a recipe for narrow-mindedness! By using the random article button, on the other hand, you glean a completely unbiased sample of information from the whole of human knowledge. The lush fields of learning are yours to graze, free from fences or walls or so-called "teachers."

No wonkish overspecialization for you. Not with the random article button. Nope, with the button you are guaranteed the most wide-ranging of liberal educations.

Here, I'll show you! Come with me on my daily tour of ten random gems of knowledge! Who knows what we'll learn!! It's an intellectual treasure hunt, but we need no map. The random button will guide us. We'll list our discoveries below.

Here goes!!!

1. There is some local politician in India.
2. There's a town in Germany.
3. The Dutch are really organized about their recycling. They have different color collection boxes for different materials.
4. There's a little town in Norway.
5. There's a little town in Pennsylvania.
6. There's a big cruise ship.
7. When it was a British colony, Kuwait used British stamps overprinted with the word "Kuwait" and local postage rates. Since independence, it has printed its own stamps, except for the year when it was occupied by Iraq.
8. "The telecom sector in bangladesh is emerging fast."
9. There's some British sit-com that has holiday specials.
10. There's this incredibly minor actor guy.

OK, that really sucked. It's usually more interesting than that. Let's try again!

1. The German Euro coins don't look different enough from each other for my taste. But I didn't even know that the European countries all mint their own Euros. I guess I just thought they would all gush forth from some featureless building in Brussels or something. So look, I learned something interesting!
2. There's a language called "Baraposi" on the Indonesian part of New Guinea. It has about 1000 speakers.
3. Uruguay stopped fielding a national cricket team after World War II, but they are thinking about getting back into it now.
4. There's this Phillipino soap opera.
5. There are various people named "George Buckley"
6. The unfortunately acronymed "SSS," or State Security Service, is Nigeria's federal police. They are perhaps not as much of a spooky instrument of repression as their predecessor organization was, but you wouldn't necessarily want to run into them in a dark alley. Particularly if you had been writing material critical of the Nigerian government. (Just kidding, guys! Love ya!)
7. "Gee-Bee," a 1978 videogame, was designed by the same guy who would later produce "Pac-Man." It's incredible how crude those old games look now, when you remember how ultra-sleek they looked back in the day.
8. There's this Canadian actress.
9. There was a minor British movie.
10. "The Scunthorpe Problem" is a droll term for the tendency of computer filters to disallow legitimate documents containing sequences of letters that spell out, or are similar to, naughty words. The term comes from the British town of Scunthorpe, which is frequently nailed by Email and internet filters due to the unfortunate word lurking within its first syllable. There are many other amusing examples as well.

See, now wasn't that better? So, by just following that link ten times a day, you can harness this deep well of learning for yourself! Me, I do it during boring phone calls at work! Or you could play Random Wikipedia Poker -- each player "draws" ten articles, and the one with the more interesting hand wins. The possibilities are limitless. And in no time you'll be as knowledgeable as michael5000.


Chance said...

One time I saw a newspaper article about the anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb by the plane 'The Enola Homosexual.' That's a Scunthorpe right there.

d said...

i learned about the 7cm japanese gun. it was made out of bronze.

blythe said...

you just rocked my world harder than a day old cookie at starbucks. i will now have to quit my job to read all of everything. however, that might mean i can actually play the quiz!

McGuff said...

Today's Featured Picture on Wiki is:

"A stitched panorama of the skyline of downtown Portland, Oregon on the Willamette River, taken from the east waterfront."

The many Portlanders here should be proud.

McGuff said...

We had a little problem at my company last year. The lawyers kept complaining that they were missing emails to / from external contacts.

Turned out the email administrators created a spam rule that deleted all emails that contained the letter "v" in the subject line. More relevant to lawyers than others: Smith v Smith, John Doe v EnormousCO,.....

Michael5000 said...

@Chance: Nice!! I've read about papers saying that a company is "in the African-American," but I've never caught one at it first hand.

@d: See!?! That's what I'm talkin' about!

@blythe: Eh, that job wasn't satisfying you anyway.

@phineas: Hmm, that's the second stitched panorama of Portland to be image of the day in less than a month. (Check out the link from item #4 of this post.

I wonder why the letter "v" was considered a red flag in the first place?

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater said...

Your knowledge base appears to be more useful than mine. Coupled with my useless crap, you and I could rule the world!!!

Anonymous said...

Okay, it ate my first comment.

So a recap in shorter terms. I love that feature! I never knew it was there and will be using it very soon.

Thanks for the idea and for the reminder of the Thursday quiz. I will beback later for that!

Bridget said...

This is a brilliant educational concept! Why can't school reformers hatch something like this instead of "let's give kids more standardized tests." Not that I have anything against tests. Or pop quizzes. No sirree. Not me.