Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Rest for the Wiki

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They came to call 18 Jan 2012 the "Great Darkness". The day that some Wikipedia software engineers, concerned that the US government was going to make them use SOAP, pulled the great online encyclopedia offline. And while the engineers wondered how, without Wikipedia, they were going to be able to find the instructions on how to turn it back on again, the world fell into darkness.

It's terrible news for me, I can tell you. Whenever I inform the Beaker people that we're celebrating a new form of Inca liturgy (not the one with the still-beating heart - that's gross and must sting a bit) it's to Wikipedia I turn for the salient points. It also conveniently has lists of births, deaths and notable events for each day. Now we might have to use real saints, if Hnaef can find his old Book of Common Prayer - that must surely give all the saints for any day?

And pity the poor student, having to write a scientific or historical essay today. Though if essays are submitted explaining that Karl Marx left Harpo, Chico and co after "Duck Soup", because he didn't think it covered the area of class struggle with sufficient seriousness - how will the teachers be able to check?

Down at the tabloid newspapers, there must be utter panic.  How are they going to write their "20 things you never knew about Peter Sarstedt" articles now? There could be pages of blank newsheet coming off the presses as I write. And the QI Elves have been given a day's unpaid leave as well.  Stephen Fry has been reduced to the status of mere mortal.

So we are celebrating the Lament of Knowlessness today. It's basically a straight moan that, although we thought we were so much cleverer than our ancestors - thinking we knew all about Bob Holness playing the sax on Baker Street, the Hundred Years War and the chemical structure of amides - in fact we know little. A small amount of contextless data rattles around our empty brains but, without Wiki, we don't know how to give it a Sitz in Leben. Like frogs in a pond in March, there's no logic to how the ends join up. Did Lord Nelson kiss the author Thomas Hardy? Did the composer Engelbert Humperdinck have a second career as a pop singer? Did. Freddie Mercury prophecy the day when Lady Gaga would take over the world and pump her music into our radios like a latter-day Big Brother? Is Endemol a kind of sleeping tablet? Did St Helen come from St Helens or Saint Helena? I realise that, as it says in the Book of Samuel, everything is vanity - all human knowledge is but polarised dust on an unused disk array - and I repent in that dust and weep.

On a brighter note, we're going to be painting the Moot House door blue today. If we can find out how paint works.


  1. Always shiny side out (unless you've got the stripy stuff). So my labouring men report, anyway!

  2. 1. Peter Sarstedt had a minor hit in 1978 with a song about Beireut.
    2. Peter Sarstedt's brother Robin had a hit in one year or another with a song called 'My Resistance is Low'.
    3. The song, Where do You Go to My Lovely had the most contrived rhymes in any English pop song until the release of "Up The Junction" by Squeeze.


    1. Didn't Peter Sarstedt found a company that produces malt vinegar (sorry, brewed condiment)?

    2. He also moved the big stones for Stonehenge, which were subsequently named after him.

  3. Thank goodness I managed to look up Husborne Crawley before the "Day of Darkness", now I know you are for real and not just a figment of your imagination.


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