28 May 2018

NECCO wafers

How to explain NECCO wafers to a European? Back in the 1800s, Union soldiers fighting in the Civil War used to carry “hub wafers”, a cheap and durable candy substitute manufactured in Boston, a city which Oliver Wendell Holmes had nicknamed “The Hub of the Universe”. In 1901, the company making hub wafers became the New England Confectionery Company — NECCO® — and the wafers were rebranded accordingly. During the Great Depression, NECCO Wafers were one of the candies cheap enough that pretty much anyone could afford to buy them as a treat. ... Read more

27 May 2018


I’m reading a collection of Harlan Ellison stories from the mid 1970s. In one of the introductions he compares his literary style unfavorably to Cyril Connolly. Who? In the mid 70s, Connolly was a famous figure, apparently a dazzling writer but never able to write a great novel. He was mainstream enough to be part of a Monty Python joke, featuring in the “Eric The Half-A-Bee” song at the end of the Fish License sketch on one of their albums. ... Read more

24 May 2018

Video games: It's all about the story

I saw an article recently where someone wrote about the fact that he had realized he wasn’t going to finish any of the half dozen video games he had started playing – and that he was OK with that. This surprised me, so I looked for statistics on how many people finish video games. An item from 2011 suggests that 90% of the time people don’t finish a video game, but that’s based on an industry anecdote. ... Read more

21 May 2018

Facebook alternatives

A while back I posted about how online communication has changed, based on the experience of looking back at old e-mail and how we used to write. I proposed the idea of going back to mailing lists, as the easiest alternative to the social networking sites that are busy destroying society. Nobody seemed interested, but I’m not ready to submit to Facebook yet. I decided to go out and look for a viable alternative. ... Read more

14 May 2018


At the end of last month, Jeff Bezos gave an interview where he said: The only way that I can see to deploy this much financial resource is by converting my Amazon winnings into space travel. That is basically it. How much financial resource? $130.8 billion dollars. As one person worked out, that’s enough money to buy an entire house, at median US real estate prices, for every single homeless person in the USA — and still have $19. ... Read more

© mathew 2017