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Send My Conscience Home in a Taxi

Externalised Memory

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I got stuck in an epic Wikihole yesterday
Dancing Kitty
I got stuck in an epic wikihole yesterday. For those not familiar, a wikihole is when you go to look something up and five hours later you find yourself reading an article on something completely random.

As usual, XKCD illustrates it nicely:

Lets see if I can retrace my steps. It started on slashdot which linked to a story about galaxies colliding. That site has a story about other flights like HM370. This lead me to look up Varig airlines on the wikipedia, and this is were I really fell into the hole!

I was actually looking for info about a flight that went missing in 1979, with a cargo of paintings. This then lead to a long long list of aerial disappearances - which seemed to feature a lot of DC-3's going missing in the 1980's. Also made me realise I'd never heard the story that Charles Kingsford Smith when missing on a flight across the pacific.

This of course led me to a list of List of people who disappeared mysteriously. A lot of which were not mysterious, and from the early days of aviation when planes went missing all the time. Or inexperienced pilots who crashed into the ocean, like Frederick Valentich, who likely flew upside down into Bass Strait!

Then I came across a story from Australian politics I'd never heard. In 1926 the federal Labor politician Frederick McDonald vanished mysteriously while on his way to a meeting with Jack Lang. Much later, the chap whose seat he'd almost won in the 1925 election Thomas Ley, was arrested and convicted in the UK for a murder, and was implicated in a number of other deaths and disappearances - including McDonald's! Think of it - one federal politician murdering another! Ley himself died in an insane asylum in the UK.

This of course led me to reading about the long-defunct Nationalist Party of Australia, which it turned out was one of the predecessor parties of the Liberal party. I followed that link, but couldn't bring myself to read about the history of the Liberal party.

That list also led me to read about First Lieutenant Alejandro Bello who is now remembered in the Chilean phrase "Clumsier than Lieutenant Bello". He got lost on a training flight in 1914 and was never heard from again. So he's famous now, for the wrong reasons.

Speaking of military mishaps, then there was the case of the French ships Inkerman and Cerisoles both of which disappeared in a snow storm on Lake Superior in 1918 with all hands. Disappearing on a lake seems like a very weird way to vanish.

Indirectly, which lets face it is the essence of a wikihole, I ended up reading about the Lost Battalion of WWI (there have been more than one lost battalion it seems). They were of course rescued because of the heroic work of a pigeon(!) called Cher Ami who was propelled to fame by her actions, and it preserved, stuffed, in a museum in the US!

Here she is, minus a leg that she lost in the battle.

Said pigeon is apparently displayed next to Sergeant Stubby, the most decorated dog of WWI....

Then things started to get weird... Also on the list of mysteriously disappearance was a chap called Szilveszter Matuska, a serial killer known for derailing trains. Turns out I'd know about this guy for years, I just didn't realise it. He's the subject of the Lard song Sylvestre Matuschka. I've been listening to that song for at least twenty years, and never thought to wonder who or what it was about... Now I know.

And finally, just before I dragged myself to bed and 11.30PM, I stumbled across a page called List of unidentified murder victims in the United States. I don't recommend reading that just before bed. The page is full of pictures of murder victims who have need been identified, which means no one missed them, and their faces gaze at you out of the page... I was haunted as I tried to sleep by faces of these lost lost people...