[Day 43] Of course my professor reads Wikipedia for fun

Before we go on, allow me to introduce my new favorite professor Mykel Kochenderfer. He did his BS and MS at Stanford, then did his PhD at University of Edinburgh (he finished his PhD in 3 years), then worked at that fancy lab MIT Lincoln Laboratory, and wrote this fascinating book called Decision Making Under Uncertainty. Other than being extremely smart, Mykel is also my professor and the father of my new four best friends. FYI, today, our class went to museums with his family and he and his wife left their four kids, aged 2 to 10, with me for an hour. They trusted me with their kids. Can you believe that?

When I found out that Mykel read Wikipedia for fun, I was fascinated. It’s like when someone asks you what you do for fun and you say: “I work on my PhD” or “I solve equations.” How amazing does it sound? So I asked him for the list of his favorite Wikipedia pages–I was procrastinating and was looking for something interesting to read over the weekend. He was very kind to give me his list.

List of cognitive biases

Harry Houdini (Mykel: “I have found this guy fascinating ever since I was a little kid.”)

Oneida Community (Mykel: “[..] so much surprising stuff in one article!”)

Ball lightning

Mykel also gave me the link to a TED talk on procrastination. How are you supposed to feel when your professor sends you talk on procrastination just a day before your midterm for his class?
After talking with Mykel, I searched my browser history and scoured obscure corners of the Internet for some of the most interesting Wikipedia articles that make me go “wow”.
Nixon’s Enemies List (Then proceed to read Wikipedia page of everyone on that list)
List of animals with fraudulent diplomas (It’s true, guys. Our college degrees really aren’t worth anything)
List of sexually active popes (God forbid, these are basically popes who get more actions than I do.)
Chewbacca defense (Keep your Star Wars references, they might come handy in court)
Kentucky Meat Shower (We’ve found the inspiration for Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs)
South-up map orientation (The map of the world with the South pole up)
Persi Diaconis (He dropped out of school at 14 to travel and do magic tricks. He went back to school at 23 and got his PhD 6 years later. I took a class with him!)
List of Kim Jong-il’s titles (For your existential crisis. He’s the Guiding Star of the 21st Century and you’re just sitting here reading my blog)
Cosmic Latter (Did you know that the universe has an average color? It’s beige-ish white.)
Death during consensual sex  (Legitimate concern)
Sun Myung Moon (He was a business mogul, founded a religion, called both North Korean leaders and American presidents his friends, but spent time in prisons in both countries)
Drukpa Kunley (A monk who called his penis “Thunderbolt of Flaming Wisdom”)
Modern flat Earth societies (As of July 2014, over 500 people have become members. My kind of people.)
Sex in space (Huehuehue)
William McGonagall (He won notoriety as an extremely bad poet who exhibited no recognition of, or concern for, his peers’ opinions of his work. He would recite his poems while the audience threw vegetables at him until he finished reading. That’s the kind of person I want to one day become.)
Tarrare (If you ever feel like you hate your job, just remember Tarrare was employed as a courier by the French army, with the intention that he would swallow documents, pass through enemy lines, and recover them from his stool once safely at his destination)
Nix v. Hedden (The story about how the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a tomato is a vegetable, not a fruit.)
Spongiforma squarepantsii (They named a fungus after SpongeBob SquarePants)
List of people who have lived at airports (Why am I paying rents again?)
How about you? What are your favorite Wikipedia pages? Please share them with me so that I know what interest you and I can learn something new too.

 

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[Day 43] Of course my professor reads Wikipedia for fun

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