No way am I going to claim that this is the longest-running regular feature on the Web — if you know of one that's been around longer, by all means let me know and I'll give it a plug — but still: four hundred of the damned things? The phrase "glutton for punishment" comes to mind, and stays there.

The number 400, needless to say (yet I'm saying it), has context of its own. IBM actually registered it as a trademark in support of its AS/400 midrange computer system, which of course isn't called that anymore. Minneapolis has a bar called 400 (400 Cedar Avenue South). Forbes, the ever-popular Capitalist Tool, annually lists the 400 wealthiest folks, while Mother Jones, the ever-popular capitalist foil, has listed the 400 biggest campaign donors. A lot of people got their first taste of home computing on the Atari 400. Melvil Dewey's library classification system puts books about language in the 400s; ASA 400 film is the fastest (and most expensive) I've ever bothered to use. Packard's Four Hundred, always spelled out (in fact, the script in back of the front wheels reads "The Four Hundred"), was one of the last "true" Packards before the company merged with Studebaker and began issuing rebadged Studes to save money. And US Highway 400, a number which makes no sense whatsoever in the context of existing US routes — triple-digit numbers denote offshoots of existing one-digit or two-digit highways, and there's no US 0 or 00 anywhere — runs from just outside Joplin, Missouri to Granada, Colorado.

Old Vent logo Just for your amusement, here is the previous Vent logo, used on the first few before the inevitable redesign fever kicked in.

And with that, we acknowledge that we don't have a darn thing to say this week, and invite you to come back in eight or nine days for #401.

The Vent

  9 August 2004

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 Copyright © 2004 by Charles G. Hill