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Archive for the ‘Things that will kill you’ Category

Asymmetric warfare

Thursday, April 10th, 2008

This is a public service announcement directed at the world’s five-year-old children. I am aware that if you decide to attack me, I can be overwhelmed by a sufficient number of you. However, I will not go down without a fight. And according to this test, I am capable of taking almost two dozen of you with me:

23

Bear this in mind as you make your plans.

Dial S for Skynet

Saturday, March 22nd, 2008

When I wrote a few days ago about how Arthur C. Clarke predicted the World Wide Web, I was not aware that he had actually inspired its creation. But since then, I have learned from multiple sources that Tim Berners-Lee cites Clarke’s 1964 short story “Dial F for Frankenstein” as a major inspiration for his invention of the Web.
I have read that story before (in fact, I just reread it; it’s only five pages long), and it has never occurred to me that it might have anything to do with the Web. It describes how the activation of new satellites unites the world’s telephone networks into a single global system that is as complex as a human brain. This global network becomes conscious, with dire consequences for humanity.
“Dial F for Frankenstein” does strike me as a prediction (or, possibly, an inspiration) of something that came decades later. But, with all due respect to Sir Tim, I don’t think it’s the Web. Anyone who has seen Terminator 2: Judgement Day will know exactly what I mean.

Be very afraid

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007

Scientists are continually finding new evidence that everything is trying to kill you, and I do my best to point out new findings of this sort. In the past, I’ve warned you to be afraid of church air and flip-flops. Today I’m also warning you that laser printers and microwave popcorn are deadly. As a precaution, you should wear a hazmat suit at all times while in your office — and at home, too, if you have any laser printers or microwave popcorn there. No need to thank me; I’m just posting this information as a public service.
UPDATE: In order to better highlight this sort of news, I have created a new category of blog posts called “Things that will kill you.”

Go fish

Thursday, July 5th, 2007

Yikes! A man fishing in the Catawba River near Mount Holly, NC caught a piranha last week. And not a little one, either — this piranha weighed 1 pound 4 ounces, and bit the man’s pocketknife hard enough to leave marks on the blade.
I say “Yikes!” because I have gone swimming in the Catawba River.
Well, technically, I swam in Lake Wylie, but it amounts to the same thing. Lake Wylie is a South Carolina reservoir that was created by damming the Catawba. And Lake Wylie is downstream from where the piranha was caught.
If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to have a panic attack now.
UPDATE: In her comment, my mother relays the news that the fish wasn’t a piranha after all.

Birdinators

Friday, April 27th, 2007

Rob Beschizza, one of the contributors to Wired‘s Gadget Lab blog, agrees with what I wrote about the Robops. He thinks they should be “equipped with sidewinders and lasers.”

The church menace

Monday, November 22nd, 2004

In case you don’t have enough things to lie awake at night worrying about, here’s one you probably weren’t aware of: you’re not even safe in church. In fact, your church is going to kill you. According to a study published in the European Respiratory Journal, church air is full of incense and candle smoke and will give you lung cancer, especially at Christmastime. Antoine Clarke points out the obvious corrective measures: “Immediately ban church-going for all children, impose a tax on adult church-goers, put health warning signs on the outside of all churches and copies of the Bible. Oh, and ban Christmas.”