Aug 16, 2009

Random Wikiness


When I am particularly bored with my regular Net-surfing and cable-scanning, I sometimes visit Wikipedia and use the Random Article function. The Random Article button is located on the left sidebar of the main Wikipedia page, and clicking this link sends the visitor into unknown and often fascinating journeys into accumulated knowledge.

My first stop this evening was on a page dedicated to Peachland, British Columbia, a small town of some 5000 souls on the western shore of Okanagan Lake. The region is perhaps best known as the home of Ogopogo, a lake monster that some residents claim lives in Okanagan Lake.

The Random link next sent me to a page on kissel, which is a pudding-like dessert that is popular in Eastern and Northern Europe. Kissel is prepared with sweetened juice or milk and solidified with a thickener such as arrowroot, cornstarch, or potato starch. Occasionally some kissel has red wine or dried fruits added to it for a little variety. The article, however, does not offer clues as to whether kissel works well as an acne treatment.

After kissel I learned about Kavadi Attam, which is a ceremonial dance performed by devotees of Murugan, the Tamil god of war. Incidentally, another name for Murugan is "Subramanian," which happens to be a rather common surname in the Indian subcontinent.

Finally, my trip into Random Wikiness took me to a page describing Carneades, radical skeptic who was born in Cyrene in the third century BCE. Supposedly Carneades was the first of the philosophers to denounce as failures the metaphysicians who attempted to discern rational truth in religious beliefs. I suspect that Carneades might be useful these days in separating fact from fiction in the debate over the reform of the American health care system.

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