11 Weird and Wonderful Lists on Wikipedia

While we're celebrating a day of lists, I thought I'd go a little meta with this list of lists. Wikipedia is home to a lot of odd things, including...lists! Their list of lists page notes that "Wikipedia has thousands of topic lists; some are even lists of other lists." Before I write the word "list" again, here are my favorites.

1. List of Humorous Units of Measurement

This wonderful list includes units of length like the "Beard-second" (the length an average beard grows in one second), "sheppey" (the closest distance at which sheep "remain picturesque," approximately 1.4km), and "smoot" (the height of Oliver J. Smoot at the time of the measure's invention, or 5'7"). Good old @wilw makes an appearance as well:

Twitter followers: Wheaton

The Wheaton is a measurement of Twitter followers relative to celebrity Wil Wheaton. The measurement was standardized when Wil Wheaton achieved half a million Twitter followers, with the effect that Wil Wheaton now has 3.4 Wheatons himself. As few Twitter users have millions of followers, the milliwheaton (500 followers) is more commonly used.

2. List of Hats and Headgear

Let's say you want a shockingly exhaustive list of things worn on people's heads over all of recorded history, you know, for your speculative fiction project. Yes, Wikipedia's got that. Here are a few entries under the "Bonnets" heading:

Bonnets for women

• Cabriolet
• Capote - soft crown, rigid brim, 19th century
• Chip bonnet
• Gypsy bonnet - shallow to flat crown, saucer shaped, and worn by tying it on with either a scarf or sash, under the chin, or at the nape of the neck - 19th Century
• Kiss-me-quick
• Leghorn bonnet
• Mourning bonnet
• Poke bonnet - Early 19th Century, "Christmas Carol" style, with a cylindrical crown and broad funnel brim
• Ugly - a kind of retractable visor that could be attached to bonnets for extra protection from the sun, 19th century

For the record, there is a "Bonnets for men" section as well.

3. List of Star Trek Races

Oh, my lovelies, you're in for a treat. Wikipedians have collected 416 unique races mentioned on Star Trek and categorized them according to which series mention each race. From Aaamazzarite to Zora Fel, it's all here, and there are even brief explanations of various races. For instance:

The Anticans are dog-like with snouts, dark fur and white hair. They applied for Federation membership but the ruling decision was put off because of their hostilities with their neighbors, the reptilian Selay. In a quest for meat, the Antican diplomatic team attempted to cook and consume a member of the Selay delegation.

See also: Species 8472.

4. List of Justice League Members

Did you know that Mister Miracle, Animal Man, G'nort, and Moon Maiden are all members of the comic book Justice League? Of course you did, because you're a huge nerd. But I bet you didn't know what happened to "non-full" member Sargon the Sorcerer (spoiler alert!):

Made honorary in Justice League of America #99; Killed in Swamp Thing vol. 2, #50.

Oh, who am I kidding, you probably knew that too.

5. List of Common Misspellings

When you have a global encyclopedia edited by zillions of people, misspellings happen. In this massive list of lists (it's broken up by letter), the incorrect spelling is listed first, followed by the correct spelling, and occasionally a note. To wit, a section of heinous typos from the 'H' list:

• housr (hours, house)
• houswife (housewife)
• howver (however)
• htat (that)
• hte (the)
• hten (then, hen, the)
• htere (there, here)
• htey (they)
• htikn (think)
• hting (thing)
• htink (think)
• htis (this)
• humer (humor, humour)

6. List of Causes of Death by Death Rate

This one is morbid but interesting. According to this list based on data from 2002, bladder cancer killed more people than least in 2002. (Appearing just below war: syphilis.) Here are the top ten -- note that most of these are categories rather than individual causes; farther down in the list you get into very specific causes:

• Cardiovascular diseases
• Infectious and parasitic diseases
• Ischemic heart disease
• Malignant neoplasms (cancers)
• Cerebrovascular disease (Stroke)
• Respiratory infections
• Lower respiratory tract infections
• Respiratory diseases
• Unintentional injuries

7. List of Minor Planets Named After People

Don't you wish you had an asteroid named after you? Well, here's a list of lucky people who have achieved interstellar fame. Here's a snippet from the "Film, TV, and Theater" section:

• 4535 Adamcarolla (Adam Carolla, comedian, television and radio host)
• 4536 Drewpinsky (Drew Pinsky, television and radio host, actor)
• 4659 Roddenberry (Gene Roddenberry, Star Trek creator)
• 5608 Olmos (Edward James Olmos, actor)
• 6318 Cronkite (Walter Cronkite, TV newsreader)
• 6377 Cagney (James Cagney, actor)
• 6546 Kaye (Danny Kaye, actor and comedian)
• 7032 Hitchcock (Alfred Hitchcock, film director)
• 7037 Davidlean (David Lean, film director)
• 7307 Takei (George Takei, actor)

8. List of Sexology Topics

Hey, it's everything you ever wanted to know about sex, but were afraid to Google. This one's a bit racy, but I think I'm safe quoting this portion starting with the letter "O" (minus the actual article links):

ob/gyn - object sexuality - objectum-sexuality - obscene phone call - Obscene Publications Act - obscenity - obstetrics - obstetrics and gynaecology - ochlophilia - oculolinctus - oculophilia - odalisque - odontophilia - odynorgasmia - Oedipal conflict - Oedipal fantasy - Oedipus complex - oestrogen - office affair - old maid's insanity - olfactophilia - oligospermia - olisbos - omiai - omnisexuality - omorashi - onanie - onanism - ondinisme - one child policy - one-night stand

It's a very long page.

9. List of TV Shows by Location

Ever wanted to know all the TV shows set in a particular city? Yeah. Sure you did. Here are a few shows apparently set (for a minimum of one episode) in Philadelphia:

• American Bandstand
• Hey, Hey, Hey: It's Fat Albert
• Double Dare
• thirtysomething
• The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
• Hack
• Cold Case
• Parking Wars

10. List of "Unusual Articles"

Wikipedia has a policy against including things just because they're considered unusual. Many of the pages on their list of unusual articles are potential candidates for removal, if their subjects don't otherwise fulfill the criteria for inclusion. Here's a snippet of some dryly hilarious articles and their summaries:

Florence Y'all Water Tower: A Northern Kentucky town's unique "welcome" sign.

Free Stamp: A really big stamp in Cleveland, Ohio.

Greater Green River Intergalactic Spaceport: Consists entirely of a deeply rutted unmanned strip of soil/gravel and a windsock.

Interstate 180 (Wyoming): An Interstate Highway with five traffic lights, that isn't really a highway at all.

Republic of Indian Stream: An area of land in northern New Hampshire, USA, that was an independent country from 1832 to 1835.

Island of California: The third largest U.S. State was formerly an island - on paper.

Jerimoth Hill: The highest natural point in Rhode Island. For years, one of the toughest highpoints in the U.S. to scale, not because of its (812-foot) height, but because of an angry old man who lived nearby.

I think they should rename this the "List of Totally Awesome Articles."

11. List of Common Misconceptions

A disclaimer at the top of this list notes that it is "not intended to be exhaustive." This list of misconceptions spans history, science, language, math, religion, you name it! Here are some zingers from the "Human body and health" section:

• Waking sleepwalkers does not harm them. While it is true that a person may be confused or disoriented for a short time after awakening, this does not cause them further harm. In contrast, sleepwalkers may injure themselves if they trip over objects or lose their balance while sleepwalking. Such injuries are common among sleepwalkers.

• In South Korea, it is commonly believed that sleeping in a closed room with an electric fan running can be fatal. According to the Korean government, "In some cases, a fan turned on too long can cause death from suffocation, hypothermia, or fire from overheating." The Korea Consumer Protection Board issued a consumer safety alert recommending that electric fans be set on timers, direction changed and doors left open. Belief in fan death is common even among knowledgeable medical professionals in Korea. According to Yeon Dong-su, dean of Kwandong University's medical school, "If it is completely sealed, then in the current of an electric fan, the temperature can drop low enough to cause a person to die of hypothermia." Although an air conditioner transfers heat from the air and cools it, a fan moves air to increase the evaporation of sweat. Due to energy losses and viscous dissipation, a fan will slowly heat a room.

• Although it is commonly believed that most body heat is lost through a person's head, heat loss through the head is not more significant than other parts of the body when naked. This may be a generalization of situations in which it is true, such as when the head is the only uncovered part of the body, or in infants, where the head is a significant fraction of body mass. Multiple studies have shown that for uncovered infants, lined hats significantly reduce heat loss and thermal stress.

You'll certainly enjoy the Words and Phrases section, which begins with the doozy: "'Irregardless' is a word. The Merriam-Webster online dictionary states that, 'The most frequently repeated remark about it is that 'there is no such word.'' According to Mignon Fogarty, this is an English myth. 'You shouldn't use it if you want to be taken seriously, but it has gained wide enough use to qualify as a word.'" If you say so, Fogarty.

Cory Doctorow, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0
Pop Culture
When MAD Magazine Got in Trouble for Printing Counterfeit Money
Cory Doctorow, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0
Cory Doctorow, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

MAD magazine has always prided itself on being a subversive, counter-culture presence. Since its founding in 1952, many celebrated comedians have credited the publication with forming their irreverent sense of humor, and scholars have noted that it has regularly served as a primer for young readers on how to question authority. That attitude frequently brought the magazine to the attention of the FBI, who kept a file on its numerous perceived infractions—like offering readers a "draft dodger" card or providing tips on writing an effective extortion letter.

The magazine's "Usual Gang of Idiots" outdid themselves in late 1967, though, when issue #115 featured what was clearly a phony depiction of U.S. currency. In addition to being valued at $3—a denomination unrecognized by the government—it featured the dim-witted face of MAD mascot Alfred E. Neuman.

The infamous $3 bill published in a 1967 issue of 'Mad' magazine
MAD Magazine

When taken at its moronic face value, there was absolutely no way anyone with any sense could have confused the bill for actual money. But what MAD hadn't accounted for was that a machine might do exactly that. Around the time of the issue's release, automated coin change machines were beginning to pop up around the country. Used in laundromats, casinos, and other places where someone needed coins rather than bills, people would feed their dollars into the unit and receive an equal amount of change in return.

At that time, these machines were not terribly sophisticated. And as a few enterprising types discovered, they didn't have the technology to really tell Alfred E. Neuman's face from George Washington's. In Las Vegas and Texas, coin unit operators were dismayed to discover that people had been feeding the phony MAD bill into the slots and getting actual money in return.

How frequently this happened isn't detailed in any source we could locate. But in 1995, MAD editor Al Feldstein, who guided the publication from its origins as a slim comic book to netting 2.7 million readers per issue, told The Comics Journal that it was enough to warrant a visit from the U.S. Treasury Department.

"We had published a three-dollar bill as some part of an article in the early days of MAD, and it was working in these new change machines which weren't as sensitive as they are now, and they only read the face," Feldstein said. "They didn't read the back. [The Treasury Department] demanded the artwork and said it was counterfeit money. So Bill [Gaines, the publisher] thought this whole thing was ridiculous, but here, take it, here's a printing of a three-dollar bill."

Feldstein later elaborated on the incident in a 2002 email interview with author Al Norris. "It lacked etched details, machined scrolls, and all of the accouterments of a genuine bill," Feldstein wrote. "But it was, however, freakishly being recognized as a one-dollar bill by the newly-introduced, relatively primitive, technically unsophisticated change machines … and giving back quarters or whatever to anyone who inserted it into one. It was probably the owner of those machines in Las Vegas that complained to the U. S. Treasury Department."

Feldstein went on to say that the government employees demanded the "printing plates" for the bill, but the magazine had already disposed of them. The entire experience, Feldstein said, was "unbelievable."

The visit didn't entirely discourage the magazine from trafficking in fake currency. In 1979, a MAD board game featured a $1,329,063 bill. A few decades later, a "twe" (three) dollar bill was circulated as a promotional item. The bills were slightly smaller than the dimensions of actual money—just in case anyone thought a depiction of Alfred E. Neuman's gap-toothed portrait was evidence of valid U.S. currency.

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Watch 18 Minutes of Julia Louis-Dreyfus Seinfeld Bloopers
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Getty Images

Sometimes you just need to settle in and watch professional actors cracking up, over and over. That's what we have for you today.

In the two videos below, we get a total of 18 minutes of Seinfeld bloopers, specifically focused on Julia Louis-Dreyfus. When Louis-Dreyfus cracks up, Seinfeld can't help but make it worse, goading her. It's delightful.

Sample quote (during an extended break):

Seinfeld: "We won an Emmy, you know."

Louis-Dreyfus: "Yeah, but I didn't."

Her individual Seinfeld Emmy arrived in 1996; the show started winning in 1992. But in September 2017, Louis-Dreyfus—who turns 57 years old today—set a couple of Emmy records when she won her sixth award for playing Selina Meyer on Veep.


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