Elephant crushing, pyroflatulence, lawn mower racing, some unusual place names, and the Impact of the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami on the video game industry

With an eye to the recent disaster in Japan, we look at the effects it has had on that nation's massive video game industry, execution by elephant, lawnmower racing, and the lighting of farts. We also have a couple of follow-ups to examine.

Recall the 10 March post where we looked at the Monty Hall problem. It turns out that I posted it while it was in the midst of Arbitration Committee case regarding an ongoing editing dispute. The ArbCom, as it's name implies, is a group that tries to mediate disputes, and as the last possible venue for dispute resolution, is often compared to the US Supreme Court (though they discourage that analogy). Since ArbCom is restricted from making editorial or content decisions, they've largely been focused on the conduct of the parties involved; but the locus of the dispute mirrors the split of views in the mathematical community. Essentially, the most common (can also be read "popular") and simple explanation given is sometimes seen as "wrong" and oversimplification of this cornerstone probability exercise. It seems likely that the result of the case will be to sanction the most disruptive editors and introduce a balance on the two theories.

On the 11th, we examined röck döts. It seems that John Udell, a noted technology expert and journalist, examined the article and its evolution closely in 2005. He's got some pretty good insights, and if you read the article as it stands now, you have the chance to get an even better look at the last six years of article edits and evolution.

Let's start serious: the recent Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami has devastated Japan. In addition to the direct effects, a couple of damaged nuclear power stations have been hindering humanitarian aid, but the global community has responded in force. Japan is infamous for it's high-technology industry, especially the production of video games and hardware. In fact, I'd say that Japan makes up the majority of the global gaming industry and market. Thusly, the earthquake's impact on the video game industry is rather significant. At the moment, it's up for deletion as being undue weight (I suppose in comparison to the quake itself and other effects)... which I have to admit is ridiculous. Sure, it seems a bit trivial to talk about delayed game releases and stock prices dropping when people are dead and homeless, but that's one of the great things about Wikipedia: all of the articles are going to improve, regardless. The earthquake will prove to be a significant event in the history of gaming; and even if it seems in bad taste to some people at the moment to consider it, they need to look and see that the gaming community, mostly fellow geeks, have responded very generously to help.

Most people know that there are African Elephants and Asian Elephants, both of which are distinct. In concerning the latter, execution by elephant was an ancient form of capital punishment used from the Middle East to Indochina. A rather cruel form of death, it was employed by royalty or other rulers to humiliate and torture the victim. Though the simplest and quickest method was to simply crush the condemned, the animals could be trained to drag, dismember, and otherwise torture a man. The pachyderms have been often used in battle because they are willing to trample the enemy (unlike horses), and this trial by ordeal is probably the genesis of this method. Occasionally, western nations like Rome, Carthage, or Macedonians would use this method as a particularly exotic execution to make a bold statement; the most notable user would be Hannibal.
This Robert Knox drawing comes from An Historical Relation Of the Island Ceylon.

Stationed in North Carolina, I've seen lawnmower racing on occasion (and a good video of a DWI resulting from). I'd always associated it with the NASCAR/redneck stereotype (having seen it on Home Improvement and Kind of the Hill), but I was surprised to learn that the genesis was actually in England in 1973 (and also has a popular following in Australia). Blades are removed for safety, and generally, the vehicle has to have a stock engine and chassis. This generally means you won't see blazing speeds or amazing wrecks, but I suppose that means the skill of the driver and strategy are much more important.
This 2007 photo of the 250cc class at the 2007 Swifts Creek, Victoria races is a Featured Picture.

Most of the entries on the non-article list Unusual place names revolves around a profanity. One of the best-known examples is Fucking, Austria (in German, it's pronounced fooking), whose city limits sign is frequently stolen. Batman, Turkey threatened to sue Warner Bros. over the name of the Batman films, Dolphin's Barn is a Dublin suburb whose name derives from the Dolphyn family, Halfway, Oregon was renamed "Half.com" from 1999 to 2001 after the company offered money for the town's schools, Hospital, County Limerick is an Irish town without any medical institutions, Medicine Hat, Alberta refers to the old Blackfoot name for a medicine man (saamis), Nameless, Tennessee is supposedly so named due to an erroneous post office application, Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha! is a Quebecois town whose name is actually a French motto, Truth or Consequences, New Mexico changed its name from Hot Springs in order to host the game show, and the name of Zzyzx, California was chosen to be the last alphabetical word.
Yes, they know why English-speakers think it's funny, and no, they don't like how we steal the sign.

Well, now we are into the silliness: fart lighting. Don't get me wrong, I like Family Guy as much as the next man, but I generally don't much approve of flatulence or bathroom humor. That's why I like this article, however; it's incredibly sterile and professional. The chemical formulas and analysis of the pyroflatulence reaction, as well as some safety points, make this article almost as tasteful as episode 48 of the MythBusters' 2006 season.

That's it for today. I apologize for the lack of updates this week, hopefully I can make up for it a little bit tommorrow. Happy reading!

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