What do these topics have in common?

Comments (37)
  1. nathan_works says:

    Is this a joke, a logic puzzle, a lateral thinking problem, etc.

    I’m sure I could come up with some great on-liners about Marv Albert’s kinks and each of those topics, but don’t think it’s the point..

  2. Spike says:

    They’re all the subject of Wikipedia entries.

  3. Raj says:

    On the tenth day, of the eleventh month accrding to the Gregorian calendar, on the ninth (or eighth. This matter is under dispute.) year of the 21st century Anno Domini, all of them appeared in an article posted on a high-traffic "web log" belonging to a person reputed to possess the social skills of a thermonuclear device.

  4. Andrew says:

    The 1994 Northridge earthquake was predicted by Damocles in the movie Dr. Strangelove which is a double negative according to a Flight attendant out of Flint, Michigan named Marv Albert who’s favorite poem was The Rime of the Ancient Mariner?

    (Strangely enough, Flint’s Bishop International Airport is the last airport I’ve flown out of from home)

  5. Krenn says:

    The Simpsons?

    Marv Albert was a guest star; the earthquake stopped production on the show; Flint, Michigan is mentioned in one episode… There’s a reference to the Sword of Damocles in "Burns Verkaufen der Kraftwerk", Dr. Strangelove in "Homer the Vigilante", and the Rime of the Ancient Mariner in "Boy-Scoutz N the Hood".

  6. Adam V says:

    Is it the Simpsons? Several of the articles mentions Simspons connections.

  7. Adam V says:

    Argh, double fail – misspelling of "Simpsons" and second post.

  8. Yoni says:

    Actually – they all refer to the Simpsons, except for "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" with which you need to go to the linked article "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner in popular culture" to read about the Simpsons reference. :)

  9. Brian S says:

    Thay are all (really bad) code names of upcoming Microsoft products

  10. Don Reba says:

    Thay are all (really bad) code names of upcoming Microsoft products

    Featuring albatross.exe — a process one should never kill.

  11. Ben says:

    It’s a list of Wikipedia articles that Raymond has edited?

  12. no says:

    Ray was/is a big Simpsons buff, so Simpsons would fit.

  13. It appears to be The Simpsons – unfortunately, since Raymond compiled the list, somebody has split the "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner in popular culture" section off onto its own page, as Yoni points out.

    This implies that Raymond compiled the list sometime before 10:14 UTC on 7 August this year:


  14. James Schend says:

    The Simpsons has been running for (seemingly) 60 years at this point… it would be hard to compose a list completely unrelated to the content of the show.

    That said, it seems like that’s the most likely answer. I dunno.

  15. slapout says:

    Raymond misread the newspaper headlines about each one?

  16. NT says:

    What are 8 things that have never been in my kitchen, Alex?

  17. nathan_works says:

    Threeve. I’ll take "Answers That Start With ‘Feb,’" Trebek, for 500.

  18. Tom Smith says:

    It’s not that they’ve all been featured in/mentioned in/connected to The Simpsons. It’s that they have (or at least at the time of posting had) one of those ridiculous “In Popular Culture” sections, listing mentions in Simpsons episodes, that get Wikipedia a bad name.

    [We have a winner! -Raymond]
  19. Hamilton Lovecraft says:

    What exactly is the downside of wikipedia articles having an "In Popular Culture" section? What possible harm does it do?

  20. Dean Harding says:

    "What exactly is the downside of wikipedia articles having an "In Popular Culture" section?"

    It’s juvenile and ultimately pointless?

    The ones which annoy me are the ones where the topic is mentioned in passing in the lyrics of a song written by some band I’ve never heard of. Not exactly "popular" culture…

  21. Aaron G says:

    I believe that the "downside" is that popular culture references everything under the sun and does so on numerous occasions.  That information adds no value to the article and seems to be nothing more than a form of petty one-upmanship for Wikipedians.

    It falls under the umbrella of "trivia" – superficial information typically volunteered by people who really want to contribute to a discussion but don’t actually have anything to contribute by way of understanding the subject matter.  These are generally the people whom I want to punch in the face when cornered into a conversation with them (but I’ll note for the record that I’ve never actually done so, it’s just an urge).

  22. Gabe says:

    I frequently find those In Popular Culture sections useful (i.e. the answer to a question I had). If they were to be deleted, I’d still like to find the information elsewhere.

    [I’m fine with the information being recorded elsewhere. Nobody said that Wikipedia must include all information that somebody finds useful. -Raymond]
  23. Steve D says:

    Anyone game to update the ‘In Popular Culture’ sections of the above articles to show that all of them are referred to in an OldNewThing blog entry about pop culture references? ;-)

  24. Bob says:


    "Someday the ‘in popular culture’ section will have its own article with an ‘in popular culture’ section. It will reference this title-text reference it, and the blogosphere will implode."

    Amusingly, the "wood" page (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wood for those who care) on wikipedia had its ‘in popular culture’ section added after that cartoon was posted, and shortly afterwards it was deleted again because openly mocking wikipedia is, apparantly, against the rules.

  25. Kaenneth says:

    Raymond Chen: In popular culture:

    Raymond is characterized in the video game ‘Fallout 3’ (Bethesda Softwarks, 2008), in which he can be found in the center of the town of ‘Megaton’.

    Personally, I’d rather Wikipedia didn’t have so much material from fictional worlds; instead leaving that up to fan-run wikis.

    But then some people would start trying to exclude religious subjects as ‘fiction’, and articles about evolution, global warming, and on and on.

  26. Michael Morton says:

    Definition of Encyclopedia:

    a book or set of books containing articles on various topics, usually in alphabetical arrangement, covering all branches of knowledge or, less commonly, all aspects of one subject

    Definition of Knowledge:

    something that is or may be known; information

    “In Popular Culture” sections are information and as such they are knowledge.  Since Wikipedia is a general encyclopedia covering all branches of knowledge (instead of a particular subject matter), I can think of no better place for “In Popular Culture” sections than there.

    [Please contact the editors of the World Book Encyclopedia, telling them that they’re not an encyclopedia because they don’t have an “In Popular Culture” section for Mao Zedong. -Raymond]
  27. Duke of New York says:

    I was banned from Wikipedia (after editing occasionally over about 3 years) because I refused to "discuss" a particularly silly popular culture section with an administrator who wanted to keep it.

  28. Drak says:

    All these topics have the letter ‘a’ in their name somewhere :D

  29. Karellen says:

    I find it amusing that the "In Popular Culture" section of the fake "Wood" article in the aforementioned xkcd strip also has a Simpson’s reference.

  30. ac says:

    I entirely disagree. While it’s annoying to see them, it’s a step closer enabling better searches because it links the context better. Suppose the scenario is that there’s important keyword in the article that describes it in a way that’s not described in the article of the "popular culture" item. Now in order to find this reference when searching, the pop item name needs to be on the same page or the search engine must be able to do depth travels and afaik no search engine does this.

    So while I agree, they’re entirely useless and very annoying to see on the article, for the purposes of finding the "original" when you’ve seen something in the newer "pop item" it can help because the newer item can’t have all that text describing the original.

    So until a search engine comes along that does also look all the text in the links on the page (semantic web?) these "in popular culture" sections actually help the current searches.

    Now it’s another matter if you believe that no one should be able to find the original but I disagree. For example when listening to some newer music, I often hear something that I think has been lifted of from very old music. And in order to find that, there needs to be a place that mentions both the old and new in the same place!

  31. Wound says:

    Well, the other correct answer to Raymond’s question is "They are all linked to from The Old New Thing blog".

    As regards the "In Popular Culture" thing, they’re obviously NOT entirely useless, as several posters here have said they find them useful. I myself have found them very useful on several occasions.

  32. Simon Buchan says:

    The problem is that there is no obvious place for this information to go. TvTropes is the closest, but should really only have pages on /tropes/ (duh!), a category in which Dr. Strangelove is (sadly) not included. An explicitly popular culture wiki could be very… uh… popular. Probably not *useful*, but then neither is TvTropes, really.

  33. Pierre B. says:

    Raymond, that an encyclopedia can have a "In Popular Culture" does not entail that all encyclopedias (encyclopedium?) need to have one.

    While some references in "In Popular Culture" are indeed not really popular, the probability that something will be referenced there is directly proportional to its entrenchment in the popular culture of the moments. So the Simpson, being very popular, quite long-lived and, I might add, very wide in its pop-culture references and propensity to put various winks in each episode, has a lot of references.

    Plus, I find it interesting that the section pretty much accounts for a kind of historical trend in pop-culture. It might be trivial now, but if Wikipedia endures for, say, 100 years, that section will be interesting for social historians.

  34. Duke of New York says:

    It was about 2.5 years ago, I think that the newspeak edict came down from God knows where. Overnight "popular culture" became the new term for what had until then been labeled "trivia," magically making it exempt from any criticism that it was trivia and should be removed.

    This is how the Wikipedia hivemind thinks.

  35. Lazbro says:

    The article ‘Popular Culture’ has a section named ‘Popular Culture in Popular Culture’. Someone please kill me.

    Interestingly, the ‘Wikipedia’ article does not have a popular culture section. Instead, it has ‘Cultural Significance’. And a whole article dedicated to ‘Wikipedia in Culture’.

  36. Igor Levicki says:

    If it is popular then it isn’t culture and vice versa.

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