The Pipwick Papers


It’s time for a weekly wander outside the confines of videogaming to take a look at what all of those OTHER people have been getting up to. Think of this as a Mother’s Day bouquet delivery, except the flowers are URLs, you’re not my mother and no-one’s charging you the best part of twenty quid for emergency last-minute delivery.

This is not the Sunday Papers.

  • The Wikimedia Foundation and other organisations have filed a lawsuit against the National Security Agency and the Department of Justice in the US:
  • Privacy is the bedrock of individual freedom. It is a universal right that sustains the freedoms of expression and association. These principles enable inquiry, dialogue, and creation and are central to Wikimedia’s vision of empowering everyone to share in the sum of all human knowledge. When they are endangered, our mission is threatened. If people look over their shoulders before searching, pause before contributing to controversial articles, or refrain from sharing verifiable but unpopular information, Wikimedia and the world are poorer for it.

  • Google’s Cultural Institute has created a Chrome extension which drip feeds art masterpieces into your new browser tabs
  • Daniel Duane profiles climber Alex Honnold for the New York Times. As someone who occasionally gets scared climbing tiny baby walls at the local climbing centre I cannot even begin to fathom dealing with 2,500 feet of rock face
  • Honnold has free-soloed the longest, most challenging climbs ever, including the 2,500-foot northwest face of Half Dome in Yosemite Valley, where some of the handholds are so small that no average climber could cling for an instant, roped or otherwise. Most peculiar of all, even to elite rock climbers, Honnold does this without apparent fear, as if falling were not possible.

  • I’ve been trying to find a piece about the death of author Terry Pratchett to include – there’s this heartfelt one from Kieron over on Vulture – but I think the most moving thing I’ve seen was the sequence of tweets his daughter Rhianna posted to mark his passing:
  • Rosie Cima on the history of Lorem Ipsum filler text over on Priceonomics:
  • And this, Latin professor Richard McClintock says, is a big factor in how Lorem Ipsum must have become filler text. McClintock is credited with tracking down the original excerpt from De Finibus and identifying it with Lorem Ipsum. This is how he thinks it was transformed: “At some point, likely in the middle ages, a typesetter had to make a type specimen book, to demo different fonts, and he got the idea that if the text should be insensible, so as not to distract from the page’s graphical features.”

  • President Obama reads mean tweets about himself:
  • Mashable has a collection of pictures of ladies and gentlemen using gyms aboard RMS Titanic and other ocean liners
  • And finally, someone managed to produce a poo so smelly that a plane had to turn back to Heathrow rather than continue to Dubai.

    1. Firkragg says:

      Thank you Pip for the Terry Pratchett mention.
      Two days ago I saw the comic on xkcd, immediately turned to google and found Pratchett had passed away. The twitter feed brought tears to my eyes but never have I seen a more appropriate use of that medium. May he rest in peace.

      • Cockie says:

        I saw the tweets appearing live and though ‘”Oh god surely that doesn’t mean…”
        But it did.
        I’m slightly surprised it hit me as heard as it did, given the fact I never even met him or anything like that. His books were just really something very special…
        The world lost a great person that day :'(

        • Firkragg says:

          Couldn’t agree more, I was surprised as well by my own reaction to his death. His books have always meant something special to me, Colour of Magic was one of the first books I ever read (and what got me into reading in the first place). Its hard to put into words how much he really meant to one, but so it always is (and rightfully should be). His books were (are) like trusty companions to me, opening worlds otherwise impossible to reach and sometimes even challenged my own prejudices and ways of looking at things.
          The world felt a little emptier when I saw he had passed away, but its reassuring to know his wisdom will live on in his work. Having recently started studying philosophy has only made me appreciate Pratchett even more, given that a lot of his thinking touches on a lot of things we work on and debate today.

          The man is gone but will continue to open eyes and inspire. And that truely is beautiful if you ask me.

          • Asurmen says:

            Before I knew what satire was, or that he was a rather angry man who wrote about things he didn’t like about our world, I always got the impression when I finished one of his books that I had learnt an important lesson about humans and our society and our very beings, but I was never sure it was. I would always sit there for a few minutes afterwards just purely thinking.

            It doesn’t help that I always got post book blues from him.

            • DrScuttles says:

              Along with countless others I’m sure, the Discworld books were the first ‘proper’ books I can remember reading. It was only with age and experience that I came to actually understand half the jokes when rereading them. Which I did to the point of broken spines, loose pages, torn and creased covers. My Discworld shelf looked shabby as hell, like well-loved books should.
              Can’t remember who, but someone on twitter shared the best picture of Sir Terry.

    2. aoanla says:

      I think, honestly, the best thing about the 1910s gyms on ships photographs is the preponderance of absolutely massive encouragement-engendering odometer dials attached to the exercise bicycles.

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        Hodge says:

        The only thing missing is a gigantic bell that rings when you’ve made the needle go all the way round.

        Also some of those exercise bikes are shaped like emus which makes me want to high-five the entire world.

    3. derbefrier says:

      PC Gamer put up a nice piece on Pratchett link to

      I only just discovered his books a couple months ago and have been enjoying them immensely. This was sad to hear.

      • bonuswavepilot says:

        We are poorer for having lost him. Very few people manage a creative output as remarkable as his has been. You are lucky to have them ahead of you! If you’re anything like me, you will end up re-reading them so often that they will become very familiar indeed…

    4. Canadave says:

      I actually use a similar Chrome extension, called Earth View from Google Chrome, which pulls satellite images from Google Maps. It even comes with a link to the map in the corner for when you get something particularly interesting.

    5. DrollRemark says:

      The NYT climbing article link appears to be missing – I presume it’s this one:

      link to

      My workmate is a former world cup-level climber, so he’s educated me a fair bit in it. He’s done some crazy climbs himself.

    6. GameCat says:

      Is there a similiar plugin to firefox?

    7. sonofsanta says:

      It is only with his passing, and the subsequent outpouring of communal stories and anecdotes and quotes from the books that I have come to realise just how strongly my moral worldview has been shaped by Sir Terry. All my atheist, humanist, cynical morals can be traced back to Discworld, I think. He is as strong a shaping force on my upbringing as my parents were – and he managed all that whilst never sacrificing story or character in service to the moralising.

      Genuinely one of a kind, and irreplaceable. I have never been this upset at the death of a stranger.