Wikipedia and knowledge

I recall listening to Richard Dawkins recounting a mildly amusing anecdote. The story is about his scepticism of the idea of an encyclopaedia in which anyone could write entries. Anyhow, being a scientist, rather than rush to judgement, he got on the...

Rum Doodle

I recently came across a rather neglected book, The Ascent of Rum Doodle. It was written by W E Bowman and published in 1956. It is a delightful parody of a type of non-fiction that was immensely popular at the time: the first ascent of a mountain. ...

Literacy

Literacy rates across the globe vary significantly. According to the United Nations, Georgia comes top of the list with 100% literacy. The United Kingdom is joint twenty-first with 99%, along with a number of other highly economically developed...

Fight Club

Fight Club. MrSelfDestruct asked if I knew it. I said, 'No.' He seemed to think I ought to read it or at least watch the film. So I said, 'I will get around to it,' even though it wasn't a book I would have chosen to read. In fact, I distinctly...

Travel Writing

Travel writing. Ever think about the genre? Sounds like an oxymoron to me. Weird. I mean, someone goes on their jolly holidays and notes down what they did and how things struck them. All well and good. One can follow and understand. Perfectly...

Cut and paste culture

It seems that cut and paste is all the rage. It can now be found in even in the most exalted ranks of society. Baron Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg, the German Defence Minister, has been found to have cut and pasted large sections of his doctoral thesis...

Firewater and the subject matter

Firewater wrote a wittily entitled post, claiming the subject matter is the subject matter. In it he discussed, big surprise, subject matter. Specifically, he addressed the issue of where one gets one's ideas from. Now, in saying, everywhere, he was...

Why is the US supporting Omar Suleman?

  It is hardly surprising that the US are highly supportive of Omar Suleman. He is effectively a product of the long standing partnership between the US and the despotic Egyptian regime. In the 1980s Suleman underwent training at the John F...

The Third Policeman

Flan O'Brien wrote The Third Policeman in 1939 - 1940. However, it was not published until 1967, after his death, as the publishers considered it too fantastic. And it is fantastic. The novel opens with the claim: 'Not everyone knows how I killed...

Faulks on Fiction

Sebastian Faulks was interviewed by Marriella Frostrup on BBC Radio Four's 'Open Book' programme about his series 'Faulks on Fiction'. According to Sebastian, his purpose in making the series is to provide a new and, in his opinion, better way of...

Through the Looking Glass

  Humpty Dumpty took the book and looked at it carefully. 'That seems to be done right —' he began. 'You're holding it upside down!' Alice interrupted. 'To be sure I was!' Humpty Dumpty said gaily as she turned it round for him. 'I thought it...

A representative sample

Imagine if you will an extraterrestrial living in Alpha Centauri, or some such place, who, having access to the Internet, joined thoughts.com. Imagine they read blogs and more blogs. And they used the Internet to check factual statements and left...

What have you learnt today?

I learnt a new word today. The word is 'noob'. According to Urban Dictionary, it refers to someone who knows little and is not prepared to learn more. I could not help but smile when I read this definition. All my life I have been coming into contact...