Update 8

Today’s post was #900. So, as is my tradition, it’s time for some updates.

Photo by Jonathan Singer on Unsplash


The last month has been especially challenging for me and the family. Auckland, New Zealand, has been in a “Level 4” lockdown, which means that everything except for supermarkets and other essential services are closed, and we’re all supposed to stay home as much as possible. I have only left the house to buy groceries (less than once a week) or take a walk in a nearby park. I’m also working full time (online) and caring for a very bored preschooler and a baby at the same time. It has been neither fun nor easy.

If any of this month’s posts have seemed a little sparser (or more typo-laden) than normal, it’s because I’m juggling all this as best I can. As of eight hours ago, Auckland moved into a “Level 3” lockdown, which is basically the same as a Level 4 one except you can get fast food. I don’t think fast food will improve the quality of the posts, but at least it’s a step in the right direction.

The cause of all this is, of course, the delta variant of Covid-19. I’ve had both doses of the vaccine, and I really hope that you have (or are planning to) get them too.


Fastest things – as predicted, the Parker Solar Probe is now the fastest human-made object in history.

Political plagiarism – reader Lian points out that another German politician has been felled by historical plagiarism. Franziska Giffey resigned as a minister four months ago but then immediately became a candidate for the mayoralty of Berlin.

Launched and sunk in one day; obsolete feet – In the comments section reader Allenknutson connected these two topics: different teams constructing the warship Vasa used two different measures of feet!

Death chemist – lead in petrol, the fuel additive that may have indirectly led to Robocop, has finally been eradicated from the world. The last existing supplies, in Algeria, ran out in July.

Power of Women – the New Yorker published an excellent article on Artemisia Gentileschi, making the same argument I did back in 2019.

Eight years on the Suez Canal – in Update 7 I mentioned that, despite being freed from its unfortunate wedging, the Ever Given remained trapped because of legal disputes. Well, the different parties have sorted out their differences and the Ever Given finally got out of that damn canal.


In the four months since the last update, I’ve had the good fortune of receiving some traffic from a few very respectable sources. Thank you all for visiting, especially the following:

Stumbled.cc is the heir apparent to the lost lamented StumbleUpon. Click on a link, get a random site that’s actually worth reading. And one of the four thousand sites that you might stumble upon is this one.

Two mentions on Lux Recommends: #280 and #291. Sam has been a supporter of this site for a long time, and I am always excited by what his team digs up in these posts. Definitely worth your time to check it out.

Two of Clive Thompson’s excellent “linkfest” posts on Medium linked to this site. Thanks Clive!

Sean Bonner’s delightfully eclectic newsletter Just Another Crowd linked to my recent post on the paternoster elevator.

Yet another post on Metafilter, this one by MollyRealized. I’ve been a Metafilter reader for more than twenty years now, and it’s always a thrill and a delight to see my work up on the blue.

Links have also appeared on the blogs Cafe Bedouin and Wet Casements. Thank you both!

Mimi Smartypants tweeted a link to this site. Blogging royalty!!

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