austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

Just a word or two is all I need

I was walking over to the 7-Eleven to get something to drink, and along the way went under a covered parking lot -- this is just a regular parking lot with a not-too-high aluminum arch over it, so that even light rains can be turned into incredible rackets. As I walked toward it, a fellow walking back grinned at me and said, ``Look out for your head!'' Believe it or not, it's been ages since I last had a stranger spontaneously comment on my size.

Ang Chuang Yang, a 16-year-old student at Raffles Institution, has taken the world record for sending the fastest SMS back to Singapore. In July, Ben COok of the United States set the old world record of 42.22 seconds. But Ang -- as part of a competition with over 300 participants -- managed to hit 41.52 seconds, in a contest held without the use of predictive text or spelling aids. He won S$12,000 cash and S$13,000 in prizes. What bugs me is obviously this has to be a test of sending some, fairly substantial, block of text. I mean, I've never sent an SMS except by a web interface to baffle chefmongoose, but I'm fairly sure that going cold I could send something like ``HI, CALL ME.'' in at most 35 seconds. But none of the articles or reports I've seen have mentioned what the standard text is. Ang's the second Singaporean to set a world record for SMS; Kimberly Yeo managed a record of 43.24 seconds in 2004.

Trivia: In 1998, about three-quarters of containers sent on cargo ships from the Caribbean islands to the United States were shipped empty. Source: The Box, Marc Levinson.

Currently Reading: A History of Money, Glyn Davies. The hazard with reading a book about the history of money is when friends notice what you're reading, and then want to talk about what you think of the US real estate bubble and whether mass psychology was manipulated to drive prices up, the way nothing rational accounts for the popularity of bottled water. (Bottled water seems to me explainable as the latest example of the search for a slightly chic but not too pricey way to show status, the way that in the past coffee and tea and cocoa and so on intruded into the culture.) Another friend wanted to talk about how They've been pulling all sorts of accounting tricks to hold down the price of gold, and They're just about at their limits and any moment now the facade will crack and gold will go to US$2000 an ounce, or something like that. ``Does it mention how paper currency invariably becomes worthless?'' that friend asked ... well, no, it hasn't gotten to that point. Or maybe that's just the hazard with of friends who are at all interested in your life.


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