Reindeer Games

December 3, 2007

Santa’s reindeer travel at a speed of 3,604 miles per second in order to deliver presents to the world’s 2.5 billion homes, according to Anders Larsson of the Swedish engineering consultancy, Sweco. Larsson estimated there are 120 people per square mile on Earth, with 66 feet between each home. Assuming Santa is all-faith-inclusive, leaves from Kyrgyzstan, and travels against the Earth’s rotation, he has 48 hours to deliver all the presents, while spending 34 microseconds at each stop. Some scientists speculate that Santa’s sleigh, weighed down with metric tons of presents while traveling at supersonic speed, would encounter such massive air resistance it would be vaporised in a firey inferno within 4.26 thousandths of a second. Thus, the mystery of Santa’s technology lives on.

Happy Holidays!


Wikipedia:One Featured Article per Quarter

May 22, 2007

One Featured Article Per Quarter (WP:1FAPQ) is a group of Wikipedians dedicated to producing a new featured article every quarter. Only 1,393 of Wikipedia’s 1,794,328 articles have achieved Featured article status. This translates to 00.07%. According to the essay Wikipedia is Failing, 99.8% of Wikipedia articles remain unassessed.

Now that Wikipedia has created nearly 1.8 million articles and the rate of new article production is slowing down, there are calls for Wikipedians to focus on quality over quantity. A high number of Wikipedia articles are relatively decent and just need a little extra push to guide them through the featured article process.

My Personal Featured Article Project

A few weeks ago I started the Wikipedia article on the LAPD Rampart Scandal from scratch. My goal is to bring it to Featured Article review within the next three months. This may be recklessly ambitious, but hopefully a worthwhile learning experience.

Notability of The Rampart Scandal

The Rampart Scandal may be the most widespread and well-documented case of police corruption and brutality in U.S. History. More than 70 LAPD Rampart officers were implicated in misconduct. Convicted offenses include illegal shootings, illegal beatings, planting of evidence, framing of suspects, stealing millions of dollars of cocaine, drug dealing, gang membership, bank robbery, falsifying police reports, and the ensuing coverups. Discovering that Wikipedia did not yet cover this topic was like striking wiki-Gold.

Bloods, Hip Hop, and Intrigue

Several Rampart cops were on the payroll of Death Row Records, and had strong ties to the violent Bloods gang. Intriguingly, Rampart police are accused of the drive-by shooting of platinum-selling rap artist Notorious B.I.G. on Wilshire Boulevard in 1997. The wrongful death lawsuit against three Rampart officers is currently ongoing in Los Angeles.

The city of Los Angeles has paid out an estimated $125 million in the settlements of 140 seperate civil suits resulting from overturned convictions by Rampart police. Three independent investigations have concluded that Rampart’s corruption was systemic to the LAPD, and not endemic to rogue police. In fact, former Police Chief Bernard Parks was either actively engaged in covering up the Rampart scandal, or else guilty of extreme negligence. He has so far avoided indictment and currently serves on the Los Angeles City Council representing South Los Angeles.

My Work Cut out for Me

The scope of the Rampart Scandal is enormous. So far, in my attempts to start a reasonable article, I have also had to write Wikipedia articles on Rampart police officers Rafael Perez (stole $800,000 of cocaine), Kevin Gaines (killed by an LAPD undercover cop), David Mack (robbed $722,000 from a bank in South Central), as well as Javier Ovando, an 18th Street Gang member who was handcuffed, shot in the head, and then framed by two Rampart cops.

On a Personal Note

I want to note that I love the police. In fact, I attended the 32nd Annual LAPD Celebrity Golf Tournament this weekend and had the opportunity to meet a lot of outstanding LAPD officers. My interest in the Rampart Scandal has more to do with the fact that this incident seems to be underrepresented in the media and in public awareness, for reasons that elude me.

To illustrate this point, note that the Rampart shootings and beatings greatly excede the perceived brutality of the Rodney King beating. Yet the Rodney King verdict prompted 6 days of rioting in Los Angeles, resulting in more than 50 deaths, 2,000 injuries, 3,600 fires, over $1 Billion in property damage, and Police Chief Daryl Gates resigning in disgrace. Meanwhile, many of the Rampart police murders remain unsolved, Chief Bernard Parks continues to hold political office, and Parks continues to command the widespread support of the South Central community. Rampart cops engaged in every form of police brutality. But in many ways, the scandal seems to have been brushed under the carpet.

On May 1, 2007, the LAPD used excessive force in firing rubber bullets and beating several notable journalists who were covering an immigration rally in the Rampart district of Los Angeles. This event has already resulted in an internal investigation, a lawsuit, and a fairly decent Wikipedia article. But the larger issue is that the alleged “warrior culture” of the LAPD reported by the Christopher Commission in 1991, and the Rampart Scandal Task Force in 1999, may continue to exist in the present day. Presenting neutral point of view information on the Wikipedia Rampart Scandal article and bringing it up to Feature Article status may present a useful resource to the Los Angeles community.

Call to Action

I know the Rampart article is still in its infancy, and can use a lot of work. Anyone who would like to take a look and make some edits is welcome to do so. I can use the help!


List of the Heaviest People

May 18, 2007

Thank You Wikipedia!

The world’s largest person is believed to be Carol Yager who was 5 feet 7 inches tall and 5 feet wide. At her peak, she was estimated to be over 1,600 pounds. I decided it was too exploitative to publish her photo, but the morbidly curious can click here.

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I found this list via The Wikipedia Knowledge Dump. The full Wikipedia article is here.


Chopin Prelude

May 17, 2007

Martha Argerich playing the Chopin Prelude Op. 28, No. 16. This is worth 53 seconds of your time.


Week in Review

May 11, 2007

Here are some highlights of the week, in case you missed them.

*My Dinner With Rupert – Jeff Jarvis blogs about his dinner with Fox Interactive’s Rupert Murdoch and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Gawker Media’s Nick Denton.

*Conan at Intel – Conan visits Intel in Silicon Valley and makes fun of all the cubicle sheep. Good times.

*David Bullard pisses off the Blogosphere – This MSM columnist pretty much won the nobel prize for link bait when he wrote that Bloggers are the air guitarists of journalism. I was tickled when he said that bloggers are “scrofulous nerd[s] pumping meaningless drivel into cyberspace at all hours of the day and night simply because [they] can’t find a girl to sleep with [them].” But he lost me when he wrote, “[Bloggers] are the sort of wackos who gun down their fellow students at university.” SAY WHAT???

*Final Proof that Bloggers are Egocentric – Hat tip, Guy Kawasaki

*Twiistup was a fun gathering of 300 Southern California entrepreneurs. Albeit, a wee bit crowded.

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*Beat up a White Kid Day – For those of you who live overseas, May 1st is Beat up a White Kid day in America.

*My Neighborhood Caught Fire – but I’m okay.

*ValleyWag spotted Natalie Portman at Draper Fisher Jurvetson – There is speculation she may do a Justin T.V. – style internet-streaming show following her life and times. I think Justin TV is a little boring, but I’ve always thought it would be immensely popular if they could sign on a celebrity to follow.


Proof of God’s Existence

May 7, 2007

Doing some research today, I discovered this gem on Wikipedia…

“On July 25, 2005, Russian spammer Vardan Kushnir, who is believed to have spammed every single Russian internet user, was found dead in his Moscow apartment, having suffered numerous blunt-force blows to the head.”


24 is Jumping the Shark

May 2, 2007

I was pretty much done when Jack Bauer’s father and brother both turned out to be terrorist masterminds trying to kill him. But I was completely done when this ridiculous subplot was abandoned and never explained.

As President Wayne Palmer sinks into his 98th coma, it appears the loyal 24 audience has had enough. Ratings are down 30% from January and the mainstream media is catching on. Last week’s episode was just a bit too much for the LA Times and Salon (you have to click through an ad to read the Salon article, but it’s worth hearing them trash the writing!).

24 was a great show. But the vote on Jump the Shark is almost tied. Maybe the writers can turn it around for next season, or for the upcoming movie. Personally, I think Jack needs to torture the writers to get better stories out of them.

Or better dialogue than this:

“It’s not the weapons themselves we’re interested in. What we want is the component from the triggering mechanism. It contains a prototype algorithm old enough to be free of any modern encryption safeguards. With it, we’ll have access to virtually all Russian defense technology!”

–From Cheng, the world’s most boring villain