Jun 17, 2010

Random Wikiness

When I am looking for intellectual inspiration - or during those times when I am utterly and completely bored beyond hope - I occasionally visit Wikipedia and use the Random Article function. This button is located on the left sidebar of the main Wikipedia page, and a click on the Random Article link is a journey into the millions of constantly changing Wiki articles that Wikipedians have created and edited.

My first click took me to a Wikipedia page on the Child Ballads, which are a collection of traditional folk ballads assembled by Francis James Child. The ballads range in age from the thirteenth century through the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and many were obtained from printed broadsides. Child's collection remains an important source for modern folk artists, and artists as diverse as Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span, Joan Baez, and Ween have mined the Child Ballads for inspiration.

My next randomized journey was to a page devoted to information on the flowering plants that fall under the genus Anubias. Native to tropical central and western Africa, Anubias plants typically grow in the running water of rivers and streams, but sometimes are located in stagnant marshes. Anubias are often used in aquariums, and they prefer lower levels of lighting. Some species of Anubias also produce underwater flowers, and the genus was named after the Egyptian god Anubis, the god of the afterlife.

Though I have taught Ohio history in the past, I knew very little about Rufus P. Spalding prior to a random click onto the Wikipedia page dedicated to the nineteenth century Ohio politician, lawyer and judge. Spalding left the Democratic Party for the Free Soil Party in 1850 due to the Democratic Party's support of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which he considered to be both illegal and immoral. Interestingly, Spalding unsuccessfully defended the last ex-slave to be returned to the South from Ohio under the Fugitive Slave laws.

My last randomized Wikipedia page examined the life of Nikola Tavelić, a fourteenth-century Franciscan missionary in Palestine who was the first Croatian saint and a man who undoubtedly never had a need for a product like phentermine. Tavelić and three other missionaries were martyred near the Jaffa Gate on November 14, 1391, and he was canonized by Pope Paul VI in in Rome on June 21, 1970.


Quimbob said...

I set up a home page for myself some years ago so I could have my "bookmarks" on any computer. I put on a link to the Random Article link at Wiki.
well, if you're a geek.....

Mad Jack said...

Well now, would you look at that. The Democrats were the ones supporting the Fugitive Slave Act, otherwise known as the Bloodhound Law. I suppose their descendants are the freedom hating Democrats that we have to contend with today. You know, the ones who pass Draconian gun control laws so that law abiding citizens can't defend themselves. I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, does it?