Thursday, June 5, 2014

We've Moved!

Dobson's Link Rot has moved to Pinterest! For the odd, the unusual, and the occasionally enlightening, visit us at All the Links That Fit (

My blog More Fun With Maps can now be found on Pinterest, which is a lot easier for me to update. Please visit us at

While we're on the subject, you might also enjoy Dobson's Improbable History, a (more or less) daily blog on what happened on this day, at

For Dobson's Improbable Quote of the Day, also see us on Pinterest at

General essays appear on my Sidewise Thinking blog at

See you there!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Potholes as Inspiration

Mypotholes - Potholes

You can complain about potholes, or you can do something constructive with them. Many more examples at the link.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Nine True Facts That Sound Fake

Nine true facts that sound made up but are actually completely true

One of these (that John Tyler has two living grandsons) we've already talked about. My father knew one of them.

And while we're on the subject, Gardner Dozois shared this link: 8 Surprising Historical Facts That Will Change Your Concept Of Time Forever. Did you know that Betty White is older than sliced bread? (Warning: Tyler's grandkids show up in this one as well.)

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Sum of All Natural Numbers = (wait for it) -1/12!

If you add all the integers from one to infinity (1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + ...), what do you suppose you'd get?  Infinity? A very, very big number?

Would you believe ...  -1/12?

Amazingly, that's the right answer. For proof, watch this video:

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Awful Ejaculation (and Other Words That Don't Mean What They Used To)

15 Words That Don't Mean What They Used To | Mental Floss

Amanda Green with a list of words whose meanings have changed over time. I think it was Gardner Dozois who first put me on to this.


Used to mean: To utter suddenly and passionately, to exclaim

The unintended double entendres in this sentence of Jane Eyre could make anyone snicker: "The sleepers were all aroused: ejaculations, terrified murmurs sounded in every room; door after door unclosed; one looked out and another looked out; the gallery filled." Still, the old-school and modern definitions are pretty synonymous.


Used to mean: 10,000

Before people were debating whether "myriad" is a noun or adjective (it's both), Greek mathematicians gave it the numeral M and were extremely specific about what it meant. Think a myriad is a lot to count? Try the myriad myriad (MM) or 100 million, the largest number in ancient Greece.


Used to mean: Meek, obedient

Hmmm... Not how we'd describe Beyoncé.


Used to mean: Heavy-set

Not how we'd describe George Clooney, either.


Used to mean: Jealousy or hatred

"Heartburn" hasn't ever actually involved the heart. It once referred to feelings that come from the mind. Now it describes an issue with your stomach or esophagus.


Used to mean: A low-life

In Middle English, "brothel" described the kind of person who'd cheat, steal, and ... possibly frequent a bordello.


Used to mean: A tenant or housemate

Try posting an "Inmate Wanted" ad on Craigslist today and see what happens.


Used to mean: A frothy liquid

We swear this isn't a board game bluff.


Used to mean: A divinely conferred gift or power

In the past, people with charisma could really work a room, restoring sight to the blind and other such miracles. Today, believers in Charismatic Christianity still believe in signs, prophecy, and divine healing. The root of it all: the Greek word kharis, for "god-given favor."


Used to mean: Superb, wonderful

When Theodore Roosevelt referred to the presidency as a bully pulpit, he wasn't talking about name-calling, harassment, or beating anyone with a big stick. He was praising the social change he might shape in office. Bully for him!


Used to mean: The womb

Morpheus was right. We've all lived in the Matrix.


Used to mean: To purify something

From the Latin defæcatus, which translates to "cleanse from dregs," this definition still makes sense. Still, you'd probably decline if someone offered you a glass of defecated water.


Used to mean: A white fabric with small diamond-shaped figures

There was nothing embarrassing about adult diapers back in the day. The Greek root diaspros meant "pure white."


Used to mean: Full of artistic and technical skill

Think about it: It takes a lot of skill to reproduce a flower in silk or realistic-feeling latex.


Used to mean: Commanding awe

Here's an awfully good example from Moby Dick: "There is, one knows not what sweet mystery about this sea, whose gently awful stirrings seems to speak of some hidden soul beneath..."

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Please, Allow Yahoo! Autocomplete to Insult Your City!

Please, Allow Yahoo! Autocomplete to Insult Your City - John Metcalfe - The Atlantic Cities

Type the name of a city into the search bar, and the autocomplete function will invariably spit out an insult: "Philadelphia is ugly," "Detroit is crap," "Memphis is a hellhole," "Washington is Hollywood for ugly people." Much more (including an interactive autocomplete map) at the link.