Friday, April 23, 2010

What's the world's biggest hedge?

Some say it's this Beech hedge in Perthshire, England. That would make sense, right? Jolly old England; tea, lorry, loo... hedge.

Turns out that a far grander hedge existed back in mid-to-late nineteenth century Colonial India: a 12-foot-thick barrier of acacia, prickly pear and bamboo that at it's longest stretched over 2,000 miles from the Himalayas to the sea and was patrolled by 12,000 people in order to extract customs taxes on salt and drugs. And pretty much no one knew this ever happened until this fellow named Rory Moxham found a small reference to it in a forgotten manuscript, went to India to try and find it, and published a book about it in 2002. Now at least a few thousand people have heard of it.

I first read about The Great Hedge, or The Customs Line, in the book Salt, by Mark Kurlansky (the guy who wrote the book Cod). So I went to the internet and there are literally no pictures of it and pretty much no information about it that isn't a review or summary of the book. Wikipedia has the most info you'll find.

So, two opressive regimes (The East India Company, and after the 1857 uprising, the British government) built a 2,000 foot long tree barrier in less than 50 years, and no one knows or cares. Imagine if the U.S. built a cholla, prickly pear, and mesquite fence across our entire Mexican border. Although it's not out of the question for Arizona to do that, I feel like it would get noted for its assholery and weirdness.

It seems like anyone who went to Calcutta during those 50-some-odd years would have at least heard about this monumental wall of shrubbery. I know I haven't read much that would possibly make mention of the Great Hedge (The Moonstone, Lord Jim?), but all signs point to no one writing about it. I guess my biggest question is: did contemporary authors know about this and choose not to use it for the sake of not making the British Empire look bad, or was it just not widely known?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Was the guy who invented pringles buried in a tube?

Why does Gary know this?
I also learned that Pringles are less than 50% potato. The other 50% is deliciousness and salt.

Friday, April 16, 2010

What's the best Gary Busey monologue?

I think about this story a lot for some reason. I swear I'm not a psychopath. I just imagine being attacked by dogs a lot.

How can I confuse and slightly bewilder precocious 4-year-olds with good imaginations?

I think the answer is to write Wikipedia articles in an in-universe style.
When I was a little kid, I really liked fantastical fiction, including cartoons of course. I think the cynical attitude that people take towards a lot of cartoon shows is that they exist only to sell toys or games. While this may be true to the people who run the companies, the existence of tie in merchandise gives the kids something to play with, a way to bring that fictional world into their own, which is a magical sort of thing.
Now say you're one of today's youth who wants to know more about something. What're you going to do? Go to Wikipedia of course, where you find an entry like this one about Krang. Maybe your reading comprehension is really high for a young kid, but you still might miss things that point out that this character is fictional. You may catch the things, like the heading Biography, that seem like evidence for this character actually existing. Even if you KNOW fiction is fiction, a Wikipedia article like this at least creates a sense of incongruity, which is interesting for a kid. Also, confusing kids is a classic path to hilarity.

Anyways, enjoy this footage of Krang talking!
"Because I enjoy seeing both people and animals suffer, and you my friends are both."

Thursday, April 15, 2010

What's the newest Google related time waster?

I'm a big fan of 6 degrees of Wikipedia (where someone challenges you to get to an entry from a randomly generated entry in 6 hyperlinks or less). Big surprise.

Here's a new game. Type in any animal name and then "vs", and you'll find out what people on the internet think about animals and their relative powers. This is all sort of inspired by the in-the-making animal-battle-card game, but may be even more "open source" and a better mindless time waste. I do want those cards though.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

How's that Mannheim Steamroller album about Saving Wildlife?

Here's a track by track review!

Rhinos and Elephants: Nice.
Dolphins and Whales: Sucks.
Wolfgang Amaedeus Penguin: Blows.
Florida Suite:
*Barbecue: Sucks!
*Everglades: A'ight.
*Sunset: The worst.
Wolves: Okay.
Tamarin Monkeys: Good enough.
Grizzly Bears: Terrible.
Tigers and Lions: Pretty good.
Eagles: Pretty good.
Amanda Panda = Soundtrack to Bloodsport: Not as bad as blinding powder in the eyes.
Harp Seals: Flute.

I was caught off guard by the first track. It (like all of the songs on this album that aren't the worst) sounds like getting stuff done. The ones I like really remind me of parts of Hawkwind or Tangerine Dream albums. The ones I hate sound like Disney specials, because it's Mannheim Steamroller (pan flutes, synth jug bands).

Anyway, here's the Mannheim Steamroller version of Monster Mash. I don't remember having or not having cash being a factor in any of the other versions, but at least they say you DON'T need any "cold hard cash" to do this Monster Mash. Maybe because they knew youtube was coming eventually.

Monday, April 5, 2010

What was that show with the kids playing video games and the prize race with a slide at the end?

This has been bothering me for a long time. The title question never elicited the correct response from anyone, but it wouldn't have helped if I said, "You know, tile floor with radiant heating? Cereal? Wishing you had a Nintendo?" Maybe if I had remembered that the host was a Vanilla Ice rip off. Anyway, I feel better.