Photo: Flickr user lifeontheedge

Friday, January 18, 2008

Eigengrau (German: "intrinsic gray"), also called eigenlicht ("intrinsic light"), dark light, or brain gray, is the color seen by the eye in perfect darkness. Even in the absence of light, some action potentials are still sent along the optic nerve, causing the sensation of a uniform dark gray color.

(If you can't see the poll above -- or even if you can, and you just want to look at spiffy results map -- then follow this link.)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Websites personified (Wikipedia is at 2:55, though the best one is Facebook, at 1:50)

Really funny. The actual title is "The Internet Party: What Happens When Google's Parents Leave Town for the Weekend?" see also

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


For many Wikipedians -- if not most -- contributing to it is probably the most important influence they will have on the greater world.

In my own case, while I am not some 15-year-old fanboy living in my parents' basement writing articles about videogames or anime characters, this is true. I could stop contributing today & devote my energy to something (so to speak) more socially acceptible -- catch up on my yardwork, tutor children in a local school, volunteer for a political campaign -- yet nothing else will have the same persuasive effect on so many people as contributing to Wikipedia.

Much the same thing happened after World War II in the United States: a lot of books were published about the war because there were a lot of veterans (& parents, sisters, & brothers of veterans) who wanted to read about what they had been part of.

Fortunately I defined my life long before Wikipedia came around, so while I know its importance, I can tear myself away from it & devote myself to other things, most of which are more important than whether an article on Charles Darwin should include the fact tha the was born on the same day as Abraham Lincoln. (Or whoever those 2 people were that led to a silly edit war a few years back.) However, there are many people who have not done this, & their numbers can only increase. ("Wow, anyone can edit this? My words will be read by millions? This is way cooler than the drudgery of my daytime job.")

One could describe them as having encountered sunlight after dwelling underground for a long time; they are blinded by Wikipedia's importance, & have no way to put things into a healthy proportion. (And maybe the rest of the Platonic allegory applies in this case.) These members fight over every dispute viciously for an immediate solution because they cannot envision why allowing Wikipedia content to develop & mature could be a good thing.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Simo Häyhä (December 17, 1905 – April 1, 2002), nicknamed "White Death" by the Soviet army, was a Finnish soldier, and is widely considered to be the most successful sniper in history.