Sunday, February 22, 2015

The $64 Million Video

Ten years ago this month, on February 17 2005 to be precise, I started this blog.

In those ten years I have written a lot of insane ramblings about sailing and other stuff, and made a lot of friends most of whom I have never met.

It was not, and never has been, my intention to monetize the blog. I think I have made a few hundred dollars along the way for writing reviews of some products, but I'm not really in it for the money.

It's been a lot of fun.

You may recall that, in the year before I started the blog,  a "singer" called Janet Jackson created quite a lot of excitement at Super Bowl XXXVIII, especially among young men of an impressionable age, by having what was later described as a "wardrobe malfunction." I am told that for a fraction of a second you could actually see one of her breasts!!! Oh, the humanity!

I won't bore you by posting a video of Ms Jackson's breast here. It's really not all that attractive a sight. You can easily find it on the Internet, anyway, if that's your kind of thing.

However, back in the dark days of 2004 and early 2005, it was a lot harder to find a video clip of Ms. Jackson's breast on the Internet. In fact it was pretty nigh impossible. There was no easy way for young men interested in breasts to share video clips with like-minded enthusiasts. As a result of this intolerable situation three young fellows decided to do something about it. They registered a snappy domain name which they activated on 14 February 2005, they spent a few months developing a simple video-sharing website, and on April 23 2005 they uploaded the first video to the site. It was 19 seconds long and featured one of the three young fellows, Jawed Karim, at the San Diego Zoo. Its title was "Me at the zoo."

When Mr. Karim was making this video he was probably thinking about something other than exactly how to make money from it. But he did OK. The video sharing website that Mr. Karim and his friends created was called YouTube. You may have heard of it. When YouTube was sold to Google in November 2006, Mr. Karim's share of the loot was $64 million.

"And that's pretty much all there is to say."

Everything in this story is true. It must be. I read it on the Internet here and here.

Monday, February 09, 2015

Zero Miles

From time to time I have followed various cruising blogs.

Almost invariably the intrepid authors of these blogs initially declare an ambition to sail around the world. But it seems that life has a habit of making other plans and, after a year or so bouncing around the Carribean, the potential circumnavigators usually settle for going back to the mainland to make some money writing code or selling soap - just like the rest of us. Nothing wrong with that.

There are exceptions. Take for example the brothers Jason and Pierce, crew of the good sailing ship Tamarisk who even have a blog bravely titled Tamarisk 'Round the World. Nothing like including your goal in your blog title.

In May of 2012 they set sail from Rhodes in Greece.

And now, almost three years later they are in… Rhodes in Greece again.

For a net distance covered of… zero miles.

The difference between Jason and Pierce and most other cruising bloggers is… they really did sail all the way around the world and back to where they started from, in the process actually sailing 31,892 nautical miles.

Here is their chart of how to get from Rhodes to Rhodes.

When they started, by their own admission, they were novice sailors.  But they persevered and learned from other people who sailed with them - and from the odd mistake or two - and documented their journey in one of the most interesting and comprehensive round the world cruising blogs ever.

Check out the whole story at Tamarisk 'Round the World.

And raise a glass of your favorite adult beverage to toast Jason and Pierce. They really did it!

Friday, February 06, 2015

Don't Rock My Boat

Bob Marley would have been 70 today.

He died, way too young, in 1981, aged only 36.

The Jamaican Prime Minister's eulogy at his funeral included these words…

His voice was an omnipresent cry in our electronic world. His sharp features, majestic looks, and prancing style a vivid etching on the landscape of our minds. Bob Marley was never seen. He was an experience which left an indelible imprint with each encounter. Such a man cannot be erased from the mind. He is part of the collective consciousness of the nation.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Super Post MMMXII

America is a strange place. Even after living here for over 25 years there are still lots of things I don't understand.

In many ways, Americans at first seem perfectly normal and rational and reasonable. For example they use Arabic numerals for almost everything, like most normal countries do. 

As in...

 the US population is 319,916,609
or the national debt is $18,084,817,920,826
or the 45th President of the United States might be...

"seriously interested in running"

But on the first Sunday in February they go crazy and start using Roman numerals to refer to how many times the Cup Final of the sport they call football has been played. Today, I believe that a team from Foxboro in Massachusetts and a team from Seattle in Washington are playing a game in Glendale Arizona. And it is Cup Final number XLIX.

Quick. Did you read that as "49" as fast as you could read it if it actually said "49"? If you say yes, you are American.

Oh sorry. They don't call it the Cup Final either. They call it the Super Bowl. Apparently it is named after the Wham-O Super Ball.  (You can google it if you don't believe me.)

It put the Super in Super Bowl

But that doesn't explain why it's also a bowl.

A bowl

Anyway, today's game is Super Bowl XLIX.

You see, the first Super Bowl was played in MCMLXVII and this year is MMXV so all you need to do is work out MMXV - MCMLXVII + I to know that today is Super Bowl XLIX.

Can you believe that the Romans built all those coliseums and aqueducts and stuff like that which are still standing MM years later, when they had to do all the arithmetic with numbers like MCMLXVII?

An aqueduct built with Roman arithmetic
Still there

I don't even know how they could work out the wages of the average aqueduct stonemason if they had to do sums like XLVII hours times XXIV denarii. That's no way to run a wages department

Anyway, American football fans can do the math.  Good for them.

That's why this post is Super Post MMMXII. I have now published MMMXII posts in this blog since I started it in MMV.

Did you see that I achieved a grand total of LXXI days on the water last year? It's XXIX days short of C and not as many as the XCIV I achieved in MMVIII but, hey, I'm not getting any younger. I'm LXVI you know.

So why do Americans use Roman numerals to number their Super Bowls? They didn't always. The first four Super Bowls were just numbered 1, 2, 3 and 4.

But then some bright spark decided that the fifth one should be called Super Bowl V. Apparently it was supposed to make the event sound more "important."

I guess it worked.  XLIV years later, it seems like Super Bowl Sunday is the most important day of the year for many Americans, rivaled only by Flag Day and Columbus Day. And American businesses pay a gazillion dollars for XXX seconds of TV ad time during the (many and frequent) commercial breaks in the Super Bowl. (Apparently the Romans didn't have a letter for a gazillion.)

So I hope all of my American friends have a wonderful time on Super Bowl Sunday whichever team they support.

But guess what. Next year's Super Bowl is not going to be Super Bowl L. It's going to be Super Bowl 50.

Go figure.

America is a strange place. Even after living here for over XXV years there are still lots of things I don't understand.