Sunday, September 19, 2010

Weird While Wandering Wikipedia

The last few days I have been going to Wikipedia and pressing the 'random article' button.

Here is a collection of neat things I have discovered while doing so:

1) The underground fire in Centralia, Pennsylvania. It forced the evacuation of the well over 1,000 inhabitants in 1981, dwindling the town's population down to just 7 in 2010. It is not certain how the fire started, but it is expected to burn for as long as 1,000 more years. It is the coal mines that are burning. Apparently this was the inspiration for a Simpson's episode - the one where they up and move the whole town of Springfield, and also one of the worst movies I have ever seen - Silent Hill.

2) Kinesics:

is the interpretation of body language such as facial expressions and gestures — or, more formally, non-verbal behavior related to movement, either of any part of the body or the body as a whole. The term was first used (in 1952) by Ray Birdwhistell, an anthropologist who wished to study how people communicate through posture, gesture, stance, and movement... In one current application, kinesics are used as signs of deception by interviewers. Interviewers look for clusters of movements to determine the veracity of the statement being uttered. Some related words may be:

Emblems - Substitute for words and phrases
Illustrators - Accompany or reinforce verbal messages
Affect Displays - Show emotion
Regulators - Control the flow and pace of communication
Adaptors - Release physical or emotional tension
3) According to Wiki, the miracle drug commonly known as Ventolin (Salbutamol), came on the market in 1968. I started on it in 1986, I think, and am still on it, here and there, especially during allergy season. It has been used as a performance enhancer (though with no proof that it works), and is thus banned from professional sport. In 2005 the FDA banned inhalers with CFCs. As I look at mine, I see that it is CFC free - which sounds great, but what about people who are allergic to the other propellants, the article asks? There is a scene in the Song of Bernadette, where the Saint is coughing her lungs out when sleeping in that prison. An asthmatic like me just cringes to see that.
4) The silliest group of royal names ever:
Cináed mac Duib... anglicised as Kenneth III, and nicknamed An Donn, "the Chief" or "the Brown", (before 967–25 March 1005) was King of Scots from 997 to 1005. He was the son of Dub (Dub mac Maíl Coluim). Many of the Scots sources refer to him as Giric son of Kenneth son of Dub, which is taken to be an error.
So, Kenneth was the son of Dub, or possibly Giric, son of Kenneth, son of Dub. Either way, I'd love to meet a Dub some day.

5) This is certainly a shocker: Slavery in Mauritania
is an entrenched phenomenon the national government has repeatedly tried to abolish, banning the practice in 1905, 1981, and... 2007. The descendants of black Africans abducted into slavery now live in Mauritania as "black Moors" or haratin and partially still serve the "white Moors", or bidhan, as slaves.

The number of slaves in the country... is... estimated to be up to 600,000 men, women and children, or 20% of the population of 3,069,000 people. Even though slavery is illegal, sociologist Kevin Bales believes that Mauritania is the country with the largest proportion of its population in slavery.
6) Two completely unintelligible sentences (at least to me):

The Senegal Thick-knee, Burhinus senegalensis, is a Stone-curlew, a group of waders in the family Burhinidae. It is a resident breeder in Africa between the Sahara and the equator, and in the Nile valley.

and this is what those sentences refer to, a cute little birdie:

7) Seems odd:
Though it is landlocked Bolivia keeps a navy. The Bolivian Naval Force... is a naval force about 5,000 strong in 2008.
Sounds like a crazy country, but, then again, it is also 'free of illiteracy,' according to UNESCO.

8) Chinese populations in large U.S. cities runs as:
San Francisco, California - 19.6% (152,620)

Honolulu, Hawaii - 10.7% (39,600)
Oakland, California - 8.0% (31,834)
San Jose, California - 5.7% (51,109)
Sacramento, California - 4.8% (19,425)
New York, New York - 4.5% (361,531)
  In Canada, we find:

Richmond, British Columbia – 64,270 (39.1%) – Hong Kong Chinese, Taiwanese

Vancouver, British Columbia – 161,110 (29.5%) – Hong Kong Chinese, Taiwanese
Burnaby, British Columbia – 50,135 (25.8%) – Hong Kong Chinese; Cantonese
Markham, Ontario – 62,355 (23.8%) – Mainland Chinese and Cantonese
Richmond Hill, Ontario – 28,760 (21.8%) – Mainland Chinese; Hong Kong Chinese
Coquitlam, British Columbia – 19,940 (17.7%) – Hong Kong Chinese
Toronto, Ontario – 259,710 (10.4%) – Mainland Chinese, Taiwanese, Cantonese Chinese
Nearly one in three in Vancouver is Chinese or of Chinese descent. How interesting.

In Conclusion

I hope you have enjoyed this journey through Wikipedia. The above information was accumulated through at least 100 clicks of the 'Random Article" button. Through this journey a disproportionate number of Polish towns showed up. A huge number of pages devoted to soccer players came up (football), which is probably not disproportionate.

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