6 September 2006

The state of Maine is resisting efforts to give it a second area code, preferring to stick with 207.

TamsPalm, the Palm OS Blog, presents Carnival of the Vanities #207, and since there's only so much real estate on a Palm screen, the carnival is nicely divided up into sections, in case you're reading it on the go.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:52 PM)
7 September 2006
We're so easily Gored

Rocket Jones actually has an apology for a post title, which happens to be "It's my party and I'll die if I want to":

Sorry for the mixed-up title. You see, my birthday is coming up, and this year my wife gifted me with several of those crappy horror movies that I love so much.

Which, of course, makes the title perfect, since, as anyone who's seen said crappy horror movies knows, you would die too, if it happened to you.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:28 PM)
10 September 2006
Things I learned today (8)

Because, you know, it's important to get back into the swing of things.

  • An upsized combo meal at Whataburger will take a month off your lifespan.

  • The advantage of having 19-year-olds learn poetry is arguable.

  • Google has more listings for "ex-liberals" than for "ex-conservatives".

  • The Red Hot Chili Peppers are an instrument of torture.

  • Jennifer Aniston's legs have been scientifically proven to be the best in Hollywood.

  • Speaking of legs, apparently those aren't really Emily's. (Addendum, 28 September: Got Detroit says they are, and, well, they've seen her and I haven't.)

  • All poop scoops are not created equal.

  • So far no one has confirmed that the doofus from Orange County who joined up with al-Qaeda is really working for the CIA.

  • On the other hand, Anderson Cooper would be a really great CIA operative.

  • Don't ever spam Karl Rove.

Ask yourself: "Is our bloggers learning?" Some of us is.

Permalink to this item (posted at 3:19 PM)
13 September 2006

Marcus Claudius Marcellus, a Roman general during the Punic Wars, was a three-time winner of the spolia opima; he was ambushed and killed on a reconnaissance mission in 208 BC.

But this, of course, was Before Carnival. The Carnival of the Vanities is four years old 208 weeks and this week Zeuswood and Stingflower, the contemporary keepers of the flame, offer a diverse collection of hot stuff and a tribute to some of the folks who've been along for the ride since the early days.

Historical note: This was the very first post to the very first Carnival.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:17 AM)
15 September 2006
Snap out of it

From WikiHow, How to Dissuade Yourself from Becoming a Blogger. It goes something like this:

Find five completely random blogs, and read them daily for a month. After thirty days, you will absolutely dread your self-imposed requirement to read all that dreck. Any blog you create will most likely be on par with what you've been reading.

Oh, it gets scarier:

Write on a regular basis in a text editor instead. If that doesn't satisfy your urge, and you feel that you must post your blog online, then you might just be craving attention and validation which you'll never truly find in a blog.

I wrote on a regular basis in a text editor for six farging years, and still do the non-MT pages in (gasp!) WordPad.

Instead of writing about pretty much nothing, or whining about all the things you wish you were doing instead, start doing something that'd actually be worth writing about. And if it's really worth writing about, you'll be having too much fun doing it to tear yourself away from it.

Oh, yeah, like I'd actually have a date.

(Scene: The spectacular Master Bedroom at the palatial Surlywood estate. No lights, except for a dim rectangle near one corner of the room.)

She: Oh, that's um, what are you doing?
Me: Approving a TrackBack.
She [disgusted]: As if.

(Found by Monty. Didn't discourage her either.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:39 PM)
17 September 2006
The last Carnival barking

There once was a time when it mattered:

Never underestimate the power of Silflay Hraka. My little outpost on the far fringes of the Blogosphere™ (and if you can explain how a sphere can have fringe, let alone far fringe, you're doing better than I am) scored about thirty percent more traffic than usual, courtesy of Bigwig's Carnival of the Vanities celebration.

In retrospect, given the explosive growth of blogdom and the proliferation of methods for getting noticed, it's perhaps remarkable that the "celebration" made it to its fourth birthday. Nothing in Bigwig's original manifesto suggested anything more than a temporary upheaval of the status quo:

If you'd like to have a link posted, just e-mail one to me, along with a category for it, like Family Life or Domestic Politics or alt.misc.fetishes and a teaser line, like the model BlogCritics uses on its front page. On the off chance you decide that all of your posts are deserving, try to winnow it down to one, ok? People who like your stuff are going to stay awhile, so you'll get more exposure for the rest of your blog, and you'll pick up permanent visitors at a faster pace.

Let me know what you think, and I'll adapt the whole thing as it goes along. I think it'll work well, and will shed some light on stuff that have been otherwise overlooked.I'm looking forward to linking to some of the best stuff in the blogosphere.

Of course, that's assuming someone reads this.

I did, and I sent this, and some discussion flared up, and Bigwig subsequently observed:

What I'm hoping for with the Carnival is kind of an hourglass effect, where one post pulls in a large number of visitors, and sends them right back out to through the links within it. I think it'll work, but it might not, and if it doesn't then it's at least sparked a couple of other ideas on how to find the quality in the blogosphere.

It worked for four whole years, in fact, and spawned so many sub-Carnivals that the original was eventually forgotten: who's gonna go to the Alamo when there's a party on the Riverwalk?

So #209 will be the last. Proposition 209, you may remember, was the controversial California Civil Rights Initiative, passed in 1996, which was controversial largely because its first section "The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting" didn't allow the Usual Suspects to stack the deck. One of the reasons the Carnival survived for so long was simply that it didn't stack the deck: if you sent something that you thought was your best work of the week, you got your link for it. (It is, of course, true that not every host was equally devoted to this egalitarian cause; the result was a series of "Avignon Editions".)

Zeuswood is philosophical about all this:

If a heavily promoted, major landmark in the life of a historic, hugely influential blogospheric institution can’t get links or traffic not to malign those who did come through for us, thanks! and not even from many people with a stake, then there is no hope for it week to week. It’s just another way to get links; ironically, without having to write stuff so good or provocative it would have a better chance of generating links on its own. CotV was supposed to help ensure visibility of your best, since most of us have written great stuff that sunk into the blogosphere without so much as a ripple. And links aren’t even the prestige thing they once were. Heck, it’s the readership that matters more, and CotV doesn’t bring that.

I am, to no one's surprise, not exactly happy with this development I was all ready to go figure out just what it was that led Emperor Severus to travel from Rome to Scotland in 210 but I understand why it's happening, and when the ride ends, you have to decide whether it was worth the trip.

Which, of course, it was.

Update, 19 September: Could it be that the reports of the Carnival's death were greatly exaggerated?

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:13 AM)
Watch this space

When I was a kid, I thought the coolest thing in the world would be the ability to become invisible, and inevitably some things I have written over the years reflect this interest.

On the other hand, I never intended to be invisible only to Technorati.

Been there, hated that, says Diane.

Permalink to this item (posted at 12:25 PM)
21 September 2006

If you remember RoboCop, you'll remember the high-tech yet low-reliability Enforcement Droid 209, which had trouble negotiating stairs and that was one of its good points.

Make it a point to see Carnival of the Vanities #209, hosted by Lucy's Dilemma, which might not be the swan song for the oldest of the blog carnivals.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:23 AM)
23 September 2006
We're off to see the bloggers

Those wonderful bloggers of ours.

Oklahoma's biggest blog event

If you don't blog, but you think you might like to, come anyway: at 1 pm there will be a 90-minute Blogging 101 workshop, led by the eminent Sean Gleeson, which is free to the general public, though space is limited.

The bash is at the Bricktown Central Plaza Hotel, Reno at Martin Luther King, east of downtown and no, not actually in Bricktown.

Update, 12:45 pm: The crowd is starting to filter in, and of course we prefer our crowds filtered.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:29 AM)
They gave me the bird

The 2006 Okie Blogger Bash continues, even as I type, and the Awards have been given. Very good turnout, and a lot of deserving winners.

Me? Um, I was the last one anybody mentioned.

Congratulations to all the nominees.

Update, 10:10 pm: Don Danz has all the details.

Oh, and Monty? Serious voluptuosity.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:10 PM)
24 September 2006
With mallards toward none

Trophy duckWell, I suppose he is kinda cute, and if nothing else, I learned never to use the top of the range as a backdrop for a photo. (Note: I have replaced the original photo in this piece with Folger's Crystals a better one found at Okiedoke, shot by the intrepid Don Danz.) A dozen of these were handed out last night; I got the twelfth. (For the record, either three or four of my picks won their respective categories.) As for the rumors that I was seen on the actual dance floor, well, I plan to claim that all 15 or 20 people who have photographic evidence of the incident are buying material from AP and Reuters stringers and therefore you can't believe a word of it. (And anyway, Kurt Hochenauer is a better dancer.) I wonder if Dwight and Sarah have yet discovered that they're each entitled to 0.5 duck. And somewhere in the midst of it all, I asserted that this was my Best. Post. Ever. Nobody agreed.

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:10 AM)
25 September 2006
The Resistance, such as it is

Note to Mike H.: Next time we have a Blogger Round-Up, let's make sure we don't invite Jared Leto:

I think that blogs should die a sudden death. It's just ridiculous. It's like a playground for four-year-olds. People say and do things in the world of blogs that they would never do in real life, and I think it's a false experience…The blog is yesterday's parachute pants. It's here now but it's gone tomorrow.

In the first place, anyone even admitting to the existence of parachute pants (with the exception, of course, of Dr. Pants, whose expertise is unquestioned) has zero credibility as an observer of the Zeitgeist.

In the second place... oh, why bother? Obviously somebody somewhere posted something which upset the poor boy and, well, Mommy isn't in a position to kiss it and make it better.

Now I'm wondering what Angela ever saw in Jordan in the first place.

(Via All Things Jennifer. And yes, I just admitted to having watched My So-Called Life.)

Addendum: I do, however, kinda like these shirts. (Spotted by Steph Mineart.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:46 PM)
26 September 2006
Blogging throughout history

The redoubtable Sean Gleeson explains it all, complete with live giggles and snorts from the Okie Blogger Roundup audience.

Caution: Do not transcribe this and paste the resulting text into Wikipedia. They will be somewhat less amused than we were.

(That first Vent, complete with updated [in 2003] template, is here.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 4:38 PM)
27 September 2006

The classic 1955-57 Chevrolet was offered in three trim lines: the fancy Bel Air, the plain One-Fifty, and in between, the Two-Ten.

The Carnival of the Vanities is in an in-between stage itself; its future is not yet completely nailed down, but its present is edition #210, available for reading at Silflay Hraka, where it all began four years ago.

While I'm at it, I'd like to quote Kehaar:

Whereas I value a good traffic spike as much as the next blogger, I realize that the value of those spikes is fleeting. Most of those readers will never visit your blog again. They aren't really fans of great writing as they are followers of fashion, following whatever link Instapundit might decide to throw up next. To me, those readers hold less value than the one that comes back every week or every day or even every hour. Those readers, the ones that are fans of your writing, will find you if you are patient and keep writing every day. If your vanity is well-founded and your writing actually does deserve the recognition you think it does, readers will come. It may not happen overnight and it may not be as rewarding as heavy volume, but the value is still there.

Yea, verily.

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:10 PM)
Patches, I'm depending on you

I'm not quite sure what this is all about (cross-site scripting vulnerabilities?), though looking at the actual files involved does offer a clue or two. Apparently Kevin Aylward was one of the folks who spotted a security hole early on, and I thank him for his attention to the matter; I just finished installing this thing, which wasn't particularly difficult.

Of course, what they (meaning Six Apart) presumably really want me to do is upgrade to 3.33, and geez, I only just got around to putting in 3.2.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:31 PM)
29 September 2006
The strong, silent types

Mister Snitch issues a warning (which was posted as a comment here):

If this blog ever becomes the sort that routinely gets 50 comments, I'll stop coming. That's all there is to it. As it is, me and McGehee get to stretch out in half the unreal estate 'round here. It's like a cafe no one's discovered. If it gets too popular, everyone will stop coming.

Never gonna happen. The old database (may it rest in peace) had sixteen thousand comments, yes, but they were distributed over seven thousand entries. In April 2004 I noted that I was getting just under two comments per post; the record for any single post is twenty-nine, which occurred here. I attribute the success of this particular post to the comparatively-unusual (for me, anyway) subject matter: the company of babes.

The average in the new database, which opened up on the sixth of this month, remains about two and a half comments per post. Some of my better material gets none at all; I'd like to think that people are simply left speechless by its brilliance, but I suspect it's more an unwillingness by the readership to demand "Exactly WTF are you talking about?" (I was really hoping for something on this.)

I suppose I could always borrow some sock puppets.

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:59 AM)
2 October 2006
See here

Vaspers the Grate takes a trip to the glorious city of Louisville, and comes up with an idea for your local Convention and Visitors Bureau:

I got to thinking about how a Visitors Bureau and Tourism Blog could work for a city and those new to the community, whether visitors or new settlers. The blog could helped visitors navigate the area, become familiar with the history and dominant industries, include a FAQ or a discussion forum. It could also be used to attract new businesses to the city.

Anecdotes could be used to add color to a city. For example, the night we left Louisville, there was going to be a concert by the Rolling Stones and Alice Cooper. The judge in the Judicial Building told us the large law firms provide an attorney and a judge "on call" for big acts, in case there's "trouble".

Once, during a John Cougar Mellencamp concert, he was the judge on call. In the middle of the concert, he was notified that he was needed. He wondered what happened. Turns out, he officiated at Mellencamp's wedding ceremony. The judge said he's probably the only judge around that officiated at a wedding in front of 49,000 people.

I dunno about the rest of you, but I travel a bit (25,000 miles this decade so far), and I'd like to know stuff like that.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:26 AM)
Things I learned today (9)

Inevitably, it being still fairly early in the day, this list will include some things I actually learned yesterday, and possibly the day before that. (As George Carlin says, the day after tomorrow is the third day of the rest of your life.)

  • Not one major-league pitcher won 20 games this season.

  • You can't trust just anyone to do a proper Brazilian.

  • I suppose I've never played TI Invaders.

  • Apparently I. F. Stone was not getting paid off by the Soviets after all.

  • Jesus Camp: not about Jesus, not about camp.

  • The Hornets have sold over 12,000 season tickets for their second season in Oklahoma City.

  • You've seen those Civil War reenactments? How about a reenactment of Brief Encounter?

  • The Prophet Mohammed: now available in bobblehead.

  • That drug that's supposed to be "undetectable"? Not.

  • And that fish mounted so proudly on the clubhouse wall? Probably fiberglass.

More when I feel like I need to post but don't actually have any material.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:04 AM)
4 October 2006

About half the country can dial 211 for information about social services in their area.

And if you can read this, you can easily reach Carnival of the Vanities #211, the first (and still the oldest) weekly blog compendium, anchored at Silflay Hraka, and inexplicably containing something of mine.

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:11 PM)
6 October 2006
Two parts sound, one part fury

Life is but a walking shadow, so what choices do we have? Steph Waller explains the options:

If all the world’s a stage, and all we are is just a bunch a poor players that fret and strut our hour upon it and then are heard no more, then the point of life would be to…
  1. fret less.
  2. strut faster.
  3. reject Shakespeare and all his footnotes.
  4. click “Next Blog.”
  5. start your own stupid blog and hope to God somebody, someday, has the good sense to start quoting you for once.
  6. find your bliss, market your bliss, die famous.

I seem to be combining both (a) and (e); other idiots tell different tales.

Permalink to this item (posted at 12:14 PM)
8 October 2006
Report from the front

The 5th Annual Blogger Boobie-Thon raised $9260, about twenty bucks more than last year in two fewer days.

For some inscrutable reason, there was some backlash this year, mostly from people who (1) manifestly didn't understand the concept and/or (2) thought it was unseemly to look at someone's rack. Robyn dealt with this sort of thing with dispatch:

We have now worked countless hours and raised over $30,000 in five years. What exactly have you done ... other than type out a few snarky English phrases on a keyboard?

Cue the crickets.

See you next year.

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:04 AM)
Up 'n Atom

Dynamo Dave explains how to use a feed reader, complete with Bloglines screenshots. If you've been wondering about this yourself, this is a good, nontechnical primer.

Permalink to this item (posted at 4:26 PM)
10 October 2006
Google arithmetic

Some things at Google just don't add up. For one thing, they're willing to pay $1.65 billion for YouTube. And this past weekend, CEO Eric Schmidt came up with this curious statistic:

We have 35 million blogs, doubling every six months. The average blog has exactly one reader: the blogger.

Based on this assertion, and given the inexplicable yet verifiable fact that I have more than one reader, I have to assume that there are some blogs out there that aren't even being read by the people who write them.

For example:

I don't read my own blog. I don't think many people who have a blog read their own. I mean you made the posts. The comments get emailed to you. Why do you need to read it? It's not logical.

A Google search for "i don't read my own blog" garners 39 hits. I think I might have about 39 regular readers.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:19 AM)
11 October 2006

Or, in Celsius, 100.

Why Gabriel Fahrenheit set the boiling point of water to 212 degrees is not known for certain. I've always believed that one summer day in the 1720s he went outside for a moment, then dashed back inside and sputtered: "Gott in Himmel! It must be a hundred degrees out there!" Six months later it was colder than Prussian beer; he decided that this was zero, and from those two points he constructed the entire scale.

The 212th Carnival of the Vanities is decidedly less bogus than this story, and packed full of bloggy goodness besides.

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:12 PM)
12 October 2006
God hates blogs

Especially blogs by teenagers. Here's why, from the Restored Church of God:

Here is the definition of a blog from a highly popular blog provider: "A blog is a personal diary. A daily pulpit. A collaborative space. A political soapbox. A breaking-news outlet. A collection of links. Your own private thoughts. Memos to the world. Your blog is whatever you want it to be. There are millions of them, in all shapes and sizes, and there are no real rules…blogs have…enabled millions of people to have a voice" (emphasis ours).

Ask yourself, "Do I have a tendency to want to have a voice?"

This has grown so out of control it is routine for a person to start a daily blog entry with a single word that details his or her mood. A blog entry will start: "Current mood: ____" The level of shallowness and emotional immaturity this represents is astonishing! In the grand scheme of things, why would the world at large care?

People naturally want to make a mark in this world; they want to make a difference, and many believe blogs will allow them to do this. However, most blogs, especially by teenagers, serve as nothing more than public diaries. (Of course, there is nothing inherently wrong with a personal diary, as long as it is kept private.) Although certain professional weblogs can make a positive difference within some elements of society, teen blogging does not.

Current mood: chortling.

And how dare those little...those little...non-adults have a "tendency to want to have a voice"! Who do they think they are? Us?

Oh, wait, we're not allowed either:

Should teenagers and others in the Church express themselves to the world through blogs? Because of the obvious dangers; the clear biblical principles that apply; the fact that it gives one a voice; that it is almost always idle words; that teens often do not think before they do; that it is acting out of boredom; and it is filled with appearances of evil blogging is simply not to be done in the Church. It should be clear that it is unnecessary and in fact dangerous on many levels.

Let me emphasize that NO ONE including adults should have a blog or personal website (unless it is for legitimate business purposes).

My luck, that asshole Moloch will be late with the frigging checks again.

(Link and title swiped from Cruel.com.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:51 PM)
16 October 2006
Bring out the trebuchets

OMG it's a font war

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:11 PM)
Honest intentions

And besides, when's the last time you saw an image map that looked like this?

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:14 PM)
18 October 2006

Downtown Los Angeles, of course.

When I ventured out there in the late 80s, 213 was everywhere in the basin; you had 818 up in the Valley, and all that stuff to the east was 714. Now there are more area codes than you can shake a stick at, depending of course on the stick.

Not changing so much is the Carnival of the Vanities, which is back at Silflay Hraka for edition #213, a couple dozen items of choice bloggage for your delectation.

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:13 PM)
Prepare to be moved

Jennifer calls these, in aggregate, A Story from a Life, and they may be the finest posts you'll see all month.

Possibly even all year.

And you should read them in order: Part One; Part Two; Part Three.

You've wasted enough time here today. Go and read.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:36 PM)
20 October 2006
And the wheel turns anew

McGehee's had it:

I’m in no mood for this. I’m getting no help from pMachine nor from Verve, and so far the only commenters who have even noticed anything is up are the ones named in the original content of this post. They’re not the ones I need to hear from if I’m going to prevent a recurrence of this issue. As little feedback as I’ve been getting these last few months, allowing comments seems to have become superfluous anyway, but that also suggests this blog is superfluous.

Actually, I think he pulled more comments than I did, but admittedly this isn't saying a great deal.

Meanwhile, Diane is experimenting with Movable Type:

Please bear with me while I get acclimated. Who knows I might be back to [WordPress] tomorrow if I can't get everything I want figured out....

My own near-blog-death experience comes to mind about now.

But only briefly, because I don't want to think about that any longer than I have to.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:19 AM)
26 October 2006

The number of the Department of Defense form officially titled "Report of Separation," the DD 214 is issued to every member of the Armed Services upon release from active duty. As a personnel-management type in the Army, I was expected to type my own, which was duly signed by the crusty warrant officer (it occurs to me that one is never considered for a warrant without at least one layer of crust) in charge of my work unit. (He also made me type my submission for an ARCOM, which was faintly embarrassing, especially in view of the fact that I actually got it.)

Not at all embarrassing is the 214th edition of Carnival of the Vanities, which somehow Kehaar managed to compile in the few hours between being on vacation and, well, now.

And I do wish trackbacks to Silflay Hraka were working: they always come back 403 Throttled, which usually means I'm running afoul of the MaxPings setting over there.

(Addendum: I stand corrected. This one took.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:36 AM)
1 November 2006

Construction on the Great Wall of China began around the year 215 B.C.

If you grew up in the South, you might recognize "B.C." as the brand name of a headache powder. Kehaar is having aches and pains of his own, but it hasn't stopped him from bringing you Carnival of the Vanities #215, the first (and still the oldest) of the blog compilations, awaiting your inspection as soon as you break away from this place.

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:15 PM)
9 November 2006

Back in the Pleistocene era, when I put up this goofy little Web site, rather a lot of people were insistent on using only "browser-safe" colors, of which there were 216.

And while we're on the subject, there have been 216 editions of the Carnival of the Vanities, each a week later than the last, and most of which have links from me whether I have anything to offer or not.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:29 PM)
14 November 2006
Be sure to bring your Voter ID

As it says here:

The Weblog Awards is the world's largest blog competition, with over 1 million votes cast in the last three years for nearly 1,000 blogs.

The master list of nomination posts can be found here, or you can use this entry to navigate to the nomination posts for the 46 categories.

The big change for 2006 is the addition of several new categories and the reduction in the number of finalists. Most categories will have only 10 finalists, as opposed to the 15 selected in 2005.

Incidentally, I support this reduction in finalists, since on those occasions when I am nominated (so far, only in odd-numbered years) I tend to finish between 11th and 15th.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:03 AM)
15 November 2006

The largest number of seats you can have in the US House of Representatives and still not have a majority is 217.

The largest number of Things To Do you've seen in a while got in Kehaar's way, but no matter: Carnival of the Vanities #217 is up at Silflay Hraka, and more than a majority of the submissions got in: in fact, apparently all of them did.

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:17 PM)
18 November 2006
No GST required

The Canadian Blog Awards are underway, and for a couple of moments the 49th parallel seemed to vanish: more than one of my votes went to sites that I didn't know, or had forgotten, were Canadian in origin. This says more about the Net as a whole than it does about Canada, I suspect, but inasmuch as my first-hand knowledge of the Great White North is decidedly limited, I'd just as soon not speculate further along those lines.

The awards themselves are interesting: they've got all the voting on a single page, and there are, in addition to all the usual categories, awards for Best Blog Post and Best Blog Post Series, which I think we ought to rip off for Lower 48 use.

Round 1 ends on the 21st, so you might want to get busy, eh?

Permalink to this item (posted at 4:51 AM)
TrackBack mountain

Since restarting the database in September, I've picked up 209 pings, though only 37 of them were legitimate; all the rest were spam of some sort. And while Movable Type's spam tools are good not one of those 172 bogus TrackBacks ever made it to the actual site pages they're also relatively inflexible, and occasional real pings got caught in the Junk filter for arcane reasons. (If it seems like an awful long time elapsed between your ping and its appearance on the pinged item, it's because I don't look in the Junk box all that often.)

On the other end of the spectrum is Diane, who can't get a ping even when she wants one. What used to be a relatively simple process is now become a pain in the neck, and, well, nobody this side of Vlad the Impaler likes neck pain.

Permalink to this item (posted at 12:58 PM)
21 November 2006
To heed the need for speed

The surfer dudes who rent me server space were in a good mood last night and stuffed some more RAM into the machine that feeds these very pages; they didn't say so directly, but I got the impression that its BIOS got flashed as well.

This won't affect database operations, which are on a separate machine, but if you're just reading, you may (or may not; I haven't so far) get things served to you just a hair faster.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:25 AM)
22 November 2006

In 2003, a nonprofit group called Turning Point began administration of a new Glasgow facility for women in the Scottish criminal-justice system. The facility was called "218", after its street address.

The current edition of Carnival of the Vanities is called "218" because, well, there have been 217 previous editions. Kehaar is your Carnival barker, and he would like you to know that HTML exports to Microsoft Word leave a great deal to be desired.

(Disclosure: There's something of mine in 218. The Carnival, I mean.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:35 AM)
24 November 2006
The bird is the word

I expected a slow traffic day yesterday, and I got one, except that for some reason I picked up more than 120 Googlers looking for "digitus impudicus," the Latin term for a common gesture involving one hand (upraised) and one finger (really upraised). The vast majority of them, curiously, came from Germany, where, I was amused to discover, this same gesture is often referred to as "Stinkefinger". [Photo at link possibly NSFW.]

As happens too often, I was unable to ascertain just what caused this, um, Birdalanche; I'm guessing that someone tossed off the Latin phrase and didn't proffer an explanation. (I am #8 on Google.de for this phrase, for this item.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:54 AM)
Meanwhile on those WP blogs

I have two other blogs which run WordPress (currently 2.0.4); after an influx of Evil Farging Spammers, I devoted some time this evening to installing Dr Dave's Spam Karma 2. Nothing has actually been sneaking onto the sites without my knowledge, but, well, I'd like to thwart the bastards at an earlier stage if at all possible.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:55 PM)
26 November 2006
No feed? Begone!

Is the feed an irreducible element of the blog? Wesley Fryer thinks so:

A website without an RSS or ATOM feed ... is not a blog! You can call it a blog by putting that title at the top, you can even update it every day, but if it doesn't have a feed it's not a blog!

Called on this by a commenter, he backpedaled a little:

My feeling in not finding an RSS feed is really more one of regret, since that means I can't "pull" their information into my RSS aggregator (bloglines) to access their content more easily.

I think we can stipulate that the presence of a feed makes life easier for a growing number of readers, and since most blog software now includes templates for RSS and/or Atom feeds, I presume that the majority of blogs have a feed of some sort even if the blogger has absolutely no idea about such things.

Then again, who doesn't have a feed? Mr Fryer mentions Media Literacy: Frank's Blog. Lileks doesn't have one; neither does Colby Cosh. Rocksnobs, which doesn't look like a blog, doesn't have one either. But that's all I can think of without going down through the entire blogroll.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:15 AM)
27 November 2006
I don't think this is catching on

And by "this" I mean this:

Job hunters may commit their share of online gaffes and blunders, but an equal number are using the Web to their advantage with tools such as "thlogs," branded bios, and icons.

The immediate question, of course, is "WTF is a thlog?"

As chief executive officer of Leader Brand Strategists, [Vicki] Kunkel helps professionals create their Web-based images. She says her clients generally get hired in higher-paying positions than the average job hunter and many end up realizing their dreams after attracting an employer who was a good fit.

For instance, one of Kunkel's clients has great communication skills and loves children. Her dream is to give a voice to children on certain advocacy issues.

This client started her search by creating what Kunkel calls a "thlog," which is simply a blog that advocates a position and sticks with it. A thlog is not about reacting to others' views. Instead, it offers original, visionary thoughts on a position.

Obviously I'm not running a thlog here.

And as of this morning, a Google search for "thlog" produces this:


I'd thay "thlog" ith a long way from being added to your lith of houthhold wordth.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:06 PM)
29 November 2006

The first of January will mark the fourth anniversary of the founding of New Orleans-based blues label 219 Records.

Of course, every edition of the Carnival of the Vanities sets a record for sheer longevity. The 219th weekly compendium of bloggy goodness is yours for the browsing at Silflay Hraka, where it all began (a little more than) four years ago.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:07 AM)
1 December 2006
Two roads diverged

Normally I use this space to deny responsibility for things, but I don't think I'm going to get away with it this time.

The starting point:

I envy people who journal. I've always thought it must be a splendid way of expressing and exploring one's feelings and thoughts. Blogging is related but it's not as personal. More accurately, it's personal but it's not interior or confessional. Confessional writing tends either to bore me or make me uncomfortable. I took a class once called something like 'turning the personal into stories' but the results were a lot of fairly appalling stories about rapes and cruelties that had been experienced by the participants. I have to admit that I prefer the slightly cooler atmosphere of blogging. Another important plus about blogging, for me, is that I know someone may actually read what I'm writing. (Having an audience apparently matters to me, Dr. Freud.) But there are things I'd like to write about more privately, and yet interestingly, puzzlingly I literally cannot write one word if I'm only writing for myself. Near-physical writer's block. A juicy conundrum, eh? Some writers, some of whom blog, don't seem to have any trouble writing very personally. I wonder if they are less fearful and I more so about something and, if so, what that something is. Or if the issue is something else altogether.

I make no claim to being less fearful, but I did weigh in on this matter:

There's some overlap, but over at my place, the sort-of-weekly Vent series ... is more journal-like, while the daily blog stuff is, well, bloggier.

Apparently this bifurcation of mine she deemed to be the solution; for now, from the same writer, there is The Dust-Up, which will indeed be more personal and less bloggy. And if that name sounds vaguely familiar, I suppose you can blame me.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:10 AM)
2 December 2006
People for the Merkin Way

Giving no thought to mere traffic considerations, McGehee stands firm against Britney Spears' uncovered sissywhoha.

And by "against," I mean "in opposition to," not "adjoining." Just to make that clear.

(If the above link doesn't work, try this one.)

Addendum, next morning: "Britney Spears' Crotch" would make a great name for a snarly, Violent-Femmes-ish garage band, suggests Andrea Harris.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:25 PM)
4 December 2006
There's always another route

In researching the weird search-engine stuff, I go back through 3000 to 4000 visitor records, and I'm not just looking at Google and Yahoo and Ask results; I'm also looking for unexpected linkage and browser trends.

For those who may be curious, about 28 percent of visitors here use some form of Firefox, and 11 percent have upregraded Microsoft's Internet Explorer to version 7. Most of the rest are on IE 6, but two of last week's callers were on game systems: one on a Sega Dreamcast running Planetweb, and one on a Nintendo Wii using Opera.

I suspect that this place doesn't look too swift on the Dreamcast, which presumably hasn't been updated in a while, but I'm guessing that Opera on the Wii looks pretty much like Opera on any other platform.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:46 AM)
6 December 2006

There are appropriate outlets for the electric range and for the dryer, but otherwise, my house is not wired for 220.

Kehaar hasn't been wired for much of anything lately, but still he manages to put out the Carnival of the Vanities, now in its 220th weekly edition.

What's that? You wanted more about the number? Okay, how's this? Four consecutive prime numbers 47, 53, 59 and 61 add up to 220.

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:20 PM)
12 December 2006
Presented by Save the Kittens

It is generally accepted that when you masturbate, God kills a kitten.

Now comes this:

Did you know that every time you "vote" for someone in the so-called Weblog Awards God kills a kitten???

Putting this all together:

  1. Jacking and/or jilling off = kitten dies.
  2. Voting in the Weblog Awards = kitten dies.
  3. Therefore voting in the Weblog Awards = jacking and/or jilling off.

Excuse me while I sponge off my mouse, so to speak.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:50 AM)
13 December 2006

Sherlock Holmes, of course, lived at 221-B Baker Street, which logically implies the existence of a 221-A. So far as I can tell, since Holmes was upstairs, 221-A was downstairs, and I suspect this was the residence of Mrs Hudson, who was Holmes' landlady.

Carnival of the Vanities #221 is up, and Kehaar says that this week he concentrated on the "A" material.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:20 AM)
16 December 2006
The cornerstone of holiday cuisine

Fortunately, I have a friend who has mastered this arcane art (and who reads my stuff), so I don't need another reference point, but just in case you find yourself having to do research, there's a fruitcake blog which contrasts and compares the major national brands.

While going back through the archives, I happened upon this discouraging disclosure:

The ingredients for these cakes are the poorest of any I’ve reviewed so far, with many surprising entries that lead me to believe these recipes have been touched by food technologists. The most bizarre ingredient by far: turnips. Both the butter rum and the original have turnips in them. And to think people are afraid of citron.

This is one of those times I'm inclined to turnip my nose and count my blessings.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:07 PM)
17 December 2006
Time to backtrack?

I was deleting yet another piece of trackback spam last night, and I wondered, briefly, if it was even worth it to keep the darn things running.

In a couple of minutes I found this commentary from Kasia:

[I]s trackback effectively dead? Gone the way of the dodo and frames? I suppose it's time to kill it completely (at least on this blog) say a few words of gratitude for its usefulness for as long as it has lasted and thank spammers for making yet another communication tool effectively useless.

A comment from one of her readers:

Trackbacks were dead the day a spammer first heard about them, which was the day after they were first announced. It was such a ludicrously stupid idea from the start and I'm surprised it took this long for people to realize it was going to be nothing but a spam magnet, much like unmoderated posting.

This was ten months ago; it is probably prudent to assume things have not improved since then.

At any rate, only 7.2 percent of my TBs (46 of 642) since the database flush in September have turned out to be valid; the rest were junk. I'd be interested in hearing if anyone is doing better or, God forbid, worse.

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:31 AM)
19 December 2006
Like you need to hear this from me

You need a blog of your own, says the current issue of US News and World Report:

In their short life span blogs have been parlayed into book deals, huge salaries, and delightful public scandals. You should expect more modest results an estimate that the average blog has one reader is "probably generous," says Derek Gordon, a vice president at Technorati but the 12 million Americans who blog don't seem to care. After all, says Henry Copeland of Blogads.com, "everybody's got a mother and an ex-girlfriend." And blogging has value even in a vacuum, says Steven Streight, who blogs about blogging. "I felt this new boldness," he says, something that happens "when [you] turn your computer off and go back to the offline world."

I guess I should be grateful that I have more than one reader and an occasional burst of the bold. Whether this is attributable to all this soapbox experience, I'm not entirely sure.

Blogs can give even non-writers a boost. "Say you're in the running for a job at a hedge fund, and there are three candidates, and you happen to have been writing a blog with some interesting thoughts," says Debbie Weil, author of The Corporate Blogging Book. "You're going to get more seriously considered."

And if your Internet presence is less than interesting? Blogs can help you there, too. "There is no way that in the next couple years people aren't going to Google you before they hire you or invite you to a party," says Weil.

Yeah, but neither the hedge-fund managers nor the party planners will be impressed if you come across like this.

And when, exactly, is a good time to mention that your PageRank exceeds that of your employer?

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:24 AM)
Whose space is it anyway?

Reasonable questions from Mary Stella:

So, what's the etiquette when a virtual stranger wants to be added to your Friends list? What if, like me, you don't want to spend time every day updating this list?

I have solved this problem by being Fairly Unpopular. Not an ideal solution, but it works.

And moreover:

Why doesn't MySpace have different lists for Acquaintances or People I Don't Really Know but Who are Surely Very Nice?

Maybe they're working on this for version 3. (One can only hope.)

Mary's page is here; it is much less drab than, say, mine.

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:19 PM)
21 December 2006

There exists a certain demographic for whom these digits mean, not one-third of the Beast, not the largest winning margin ever in a college football game, but a classroom in Walt Whitman High School in Los Angeles where, if you were lucky, you got to see someone like this.

And for the rest of humanity, there is Carnival of the Vanities #222, Silflay Hraka's gift to blogdom, possibly its regift as well, and open for your inspection anytime.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:42 AM)
23 December 2006
It's all in the game

Earlier this month I mentioned that someone had reached this site from a browser on Nintendo's Wii, which probably impressed me more than it did you.

Is it possible to blog from the Wii? Apparently so:

This is really fun. I'm blogging to you now from the new browser channel for the Nintendo Wii (powered by Opera). The typing interface isn't as bad as you might think, but it definitely isn't something I'm likely to do again. You point and click with the wiimote on a visual keyboard, and the software suggests words as cell phones do.

> Just noticed that it also offers another visual interface that mimics the layout of a phone keypad. (I used that in this paragraph, the keyboard in the last.)

I probably shouldn't try this; I have enough trouble with real keys.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:02 PM)
27 December 2006
Are you on the list?

What does de-linking mean to you? Veronica wants to know:

I suppose the real question is "what's represented by de-linking?"

If linking is a personal statement of endorsement, is de-linking condemnation? If links are like currency, does this work sort of like a boycott?

Are you de-linking because you don’t like "the product," or are you de-linking because you don't like the practices behind "the product?"

Obviously I can't speak for anyone else, but I'm not too comfortable with the idea that a link inevitably represents an endorsement. My own blogroll is headed "Blogs I read when I can," and that means pretty much what it says it does: I read these on a semi-regular basis, and therefore they get linkage. Mostly, it's a convenience for me, with all those links in one marginally-handy location. If I've dropped you off the roll, it's simply that I don't read you anymore. I make no announcements of same; I simply redo the list. There are a few people whom I read who have yet to be added, but their time will come.

As for people who de-link me, well, it's their list, right?

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:27 AM)
29 December 2006
Je m'amuse

I found this on a sidebar of a blog written in French. [I am linking to the About page; other pages may be either somewhat or extremely NSFW.]

For some reason, we receive more and more visits from people around the world. Seems the internet DOES work.

Although our pics are easy to understand, the alien-like langage used in our texts can be difficult to get.

Should you need help, just try: www.google.com/translate_t

Results are not always accurate, but are always funny. :)

C'est un petit monde après tous.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:25 AM)

A long, long time ago, part of my job description included schlepping around an M16A1 rifle, which was an upgraded derivative of the old Armalite AR-15, for which (you knew this was coming) the .223 Remington cartridge was developed.

I mention this because Carnival of the Vanities #223 shot right past me this week. Better late than never, I suppose.

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:04 PM)
We shall not be moved

Today I begin my sixth year at DreamHost, and while there have been some uneasy moments now and then, there were more of them then than now. I'm paid up for the next 12 months, so I rather expect I'm not going anywhere.

(This is, incidentally, the third time I've used this title, though you may not remember the first or the second. Normally I avoid that sort of thing, but since these are archives, and old archives at that, I figure no one really gives a flying fish.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:36 PM)
1 January 2007
Worst titles of 2006

Listed chronologically:

"Are we not men? We are Bevo" (4 January)
"Another one fights the rust" (7 January)
"Where the gripes of Roth are slurred" (29 January)
"Baby got loopback" (9 February)
"Freeze a jolly good fellow" (2 March)
"No Schick, Sherlock" (26 March)
"Cambridge face with the Oxford booty" (12 April)
"Everybody was feng shui fighting" (5 May)
"Oh, the manatee" (13 May)
"We got stubble! Right here in River City!" (28 May)
"Sidereal vicious" (27 June)
"Weasels we have heard on high" (5 July)
"Grout expectations" (26 July)
"Two Infinitis and beyond!" (30 August)
"It's all ova now" (1 September)
"When I think about you I retouch myself" (21 September)
"With mallards toward none" (24 September)
"I shot the serifs" (5 October)
"Mi casserole es su casserole" (28 October)
"Too much too Zune" (14 November)
"There's no base like chrome" (21 November)
"Wet ones of ass production" (25 November)
"People for the Merkin Way" (2 December)
"Keister bonnet" (7 December)
"Ellipsis sweet as candy" (7 December)

(Total number of 2006 posts: 2,126. Some marginally-acceptable turns of phrase are recounted here.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:06 AM)
3 January 2007

If you wish to apply to the Drug Enforcement Administration for "controlled-substance registration," and you operate a hospital, a retail pharmacy or an individual medical practice, you must fill out DEA Form 224 and submit it to DEA with the application fee (currently $551).

I have no idea what substances Kehaar has been hitting, but apparently they didn't keep him from running Carnival of the Vanities #224, the most recent incarnation of the oldest weekly blog compilation.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:11 AM)
7 January 2007
Random compression

Chronically behind the Zeitgeist as I am, I'm only just now catching up to this "blog crush" business, which apparently peaked on the 15th of December, a day on which you (or I, anyway) was supposed to own up to feelings of this sort, as Neil Kramer did, and right on time, too.

Upon reflection, I think that over the years I've managed one such crush of A-level intensity, and rather a lot that fall into the high-B category. (I was once asked if a certain someone on my blogroll was there because of a particular photo that appears on her template; I pointed out that she had been added to the roll before that template went into use, but I suspect I was not believed.)

Still, "crush" is a rather open-ended term, so using as expansive a definition as I dare, let me say that there are quite a few folks whose writing style leaves me sometimes literally gaping in slack-jawed awe, and that there are some exquisitely beautiful site designs out there. It is my fervent hope for the new year (well, one of them, anyway) that these two sets continue to avoid intersecting.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:23 PM)
9 January 2007
Licensed under Imitative Commons

Wouldn't it be cool if Bill Quick actually got a cut of the proceeds from this T-shirt?

I say "cool" because "absolutely frickin' unheard-of," while more precise, grates on the ear.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:25 PM)
10 January 2007

There are 225 squares on a Scrabble® board.

And so far there are 225 installments of the Carnival of the Vanities; the most recent of them can be found at Silflay Hraka, and therein you'll find many articles, some at angles to one another, but always fitting into the grid.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:21 AM)
17 January 2007

The late Dr. Robley Evans was the first person to come up with a defined safety limit for radiation in the human body: 0.1 microcuries (uCi) of radium-226.

Madame Curie herself, for whom the unit of measure was named, perished from excessive exposure to radiation. For those of us who labor in anonymity in blogdom, excessive exposure is hardly our problem, which is one reason why there's the Carnival of the Vanities, edition 226 of which is now available for inspection.

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:35 PM)
24 January 2007

A late-1980s NBC television series starring Marla Gibbs, set in an apartment building in Washington, DC; also, the number of episodes of Carnival of the Vanities, the first (and still the oldest) weekly blog compendium, brought to you by Silflay Hraka. (The number of episodes of 227, incidentally, is 116.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:04 PM)
30 January 2007
To preserve order

"Dear Internet," writes Colby Cosh:

It would be kind of useful if weblogs could get together on a single standard for the meaning of "previous" and "next" in links between pages, and better still if webloggers would just stop using those words. On any given weblog, the "next" entry or page might be the next oldest one or the next newest: as things stand right now, you're pretty much taking a 50/50 chance when you click, and if you're reading many pages within a single site, you can end up going around in frustrating circles. What would be wrong with just using "older"/"newer" or "earlier"/"later"? Tell me Jakob Nielsen has already toasted about ten thousand people to a crisp over this.

A fair criticism, though I'm pretty sure my own usage of the terms is beyond reproach: you see it here only on individual archive pages, and "Next" in this context always means "the item posted after this one." If I used continuous paging, it might be different.

Since you asked: yes, there are instances, though not on this site, where I use continuous paging. At this place, "Previous entries" does in fact mean "older entries," and "Next entries" describes the newer ones. On the other hand, over here, the descriptors are "OLDER POSTS" and "NEWER POSTS." Call it product differentiation. (Actually, call it "too lazy to rewrite the template.")

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:50 AM)
2 February 2007

In 1947, a Taipei street vendor and an agent of the government of the Republic of China got into an argument over black-market tobacco, which outraged observers; within a day, said outrage had grown to a full-fledged uprising in the streets, which the government did its best to suppress. Casualty counts vary, but are generally in five figures. The incident was dubbed the 228 Incident, since it began on the 28th of February, now a national holiday in Taiwan.

Not quite a national holiday, but a reasonable cause for celebration, is the Carnival of the Vanities #228, now playing.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:29 AM)
7 February 2007

As prime numbers go, 229 is one of the prime-est: it's a twin prime (with 227), a cousin prime (with 233), and even, yes, a sexy prime (with 223). I hesitate to make any feng shui judgments.

This week's prime bloggage, of course, can be found at Carnival of the Vanities #229.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:47 PM)
13 February 2007
A gentle reminder

Not that anyone is asking, but no, I haven't been wondering if maybe I could land one of those campaign slots, and this explains why as well as anything:

If bloggers ever intend to be a legitimate force in politics, they should not have to be afraid that their previous work is going to upend any campaign that they tie themselves to. We've been contacted by three campaigns, and have hesitated joining any of them for fear that the girl on the other end of this could be us. We haven't written anything that we'd ever consider derogatory, but judging by the ferocity with which Amanda [Marcotte] was attacked, we can't help but believe that we, too, would be maligned in the same way. We all take chances, pouring our lives and our personal views into these pages that are a Google search away, and we all have to stand by them, or they're worthless in their very existence.

Frankly, we're kind of sad that people we know and generally love had a heavy hand in this. Amanda has her faults, but she also has her little slice of the internet, and she deserves at least that. If you don't agree with her, then refute her. Don't silence her or destroy her ability to make good, legitimate work of her writing skills, because they will come for you, too. We now cannot think of a reason why they would not, and they should with full force, and with every available asset, as they too will believe.

And no, just because they did it first doesn't make it right.

Sauce for the gander, and all that.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:30 AM)
15 February 2007
Blogger to get paid

No, not them. Henry Abbott's TrueHoop, one of my occasional sports reads, has been bought by ESPN.

From Abbott's announcement:

The various executives and editors at ESPN have been nice enough to make clear, even in writing, that they aren't interested in monkeying in any profound way with the way things happen here. (The changes are along the lines of not swearing, and not linking to porn. Not big concessions for me.) It will continue to look more or less like what you are looking at right now. I'll be sitting at the same desk, doing the same work.

To be honest, I wasn't looking to sell TrueHoop, and I liked owning it. But TrueHoop needed a new model (besides the zero income one) if it was going to pay my mortgage.

"Not swearing?" Oh, ****.

This, I think, will work, and I wish Mr Abbott well.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:44 AM)
16 February 2007

Last time we had a Fourth of July, the United States of America celebrated its (their?) 230th birthday. And this very week, the Carnival of the Vanities is celebrating its 230th edition.

I hold this truth to be self-evident.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:27 PM)
21 February 2007

US Highway 231 is the longest of four offshoots of US 31; it runs from northwest Indiana near Chicago all the way to the Florida panhandle, passing through Kentucky's Golden Corridor (Owensboro to Bowling Green). For the first thirty years of its existence, 231's northern terminus was in Montgomery, Alabama, but in the middle 1950s, the road was extended northward, mostly by redesignating existing routes as part of the new 231.

The new Carnival of the Vanities #231 will extend your blogreading outward, should you be so inclined.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:35 AM)
1 March 2007
The InstaPunk Challenge

It went like this:

I propose an exercise to be perfomed by those who have the software and expertise to carry it out. The exercise is this: Search six months' worth of content, posts and comments, of the 20 most popular blogs on the right and the left. The search criteria are George Carlin's infamous "7 Dirty Words."

I am absolutely certain that the left will far exceed the right in the number of usages of all these words, which will go a long way toward proving that it's the right which is still concerned with ideas while it's the left that's obsessed with the lowest kind of hateful invective.

His challenge was answered in less than a heartbeat, using far more than six months' worth of data:

So how much more does the Left use Carlin's "seven words" versus the Right? According to my calculations, try somewhere in the range of 18-to-1.

The methodology, while elegant, isn't perfect it won't, for instance, separate some foulmouth from Camp A who trolls Camp B, and sheer verbosity isn't taken into account but there's no reason to be surprised at the outcome.

(For the record, if you run a similar search on my site, you get 63 hits. Then again, this is not a popular blog.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:45 AM)

Sing it:

The telephone brings the news so easy from afar
If only progress could do more
But it only brings a reason to destroy the proper season
For a chapter in our lives to take its shape

(From "Two Three Two," written by Mike Wedgwood, on the 1973 album Air Cut by Curved Air.)

Since then, progress has done more: it's the Carnival of the Vanities #232, live at Silflay Hraka, and it brings the best of the blogs so easy from afar.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:49 PM)
3 March 2007
It's that new Sucking Up module

Venomous Kate blitches about a blatant plea for linkage:

Sure, sending a trackback linking me as (and I quote here) "the perfect woman: smart, sexy and perfectly capable of kicking your ass." I saw your trackback. I visited your blog. I smiled. But, really, perhaps you shouldn't have then written that you assume I'm too stuck up to add you to EV's blogroll.

(Aside: This is not all that far from my own definition of the "perfect woman," assuming she actually exists, an assumption I am not prepared to make at this time.)

About 98 percent of the TrackBacks I get around here are the usual zombified offers of drugs or gambling or washing-machine parts. Of course, I am neither smart nor sexy.

Permalink to this item (posted at 12:02 PM)
4 March 2007
Things I learned today (10)

Life, said Joni Mitchell, is for learning, and who am I to argue with a Canadian farm girl with killer legs who rewrites Mingus?

  • I seem to have the 63rd best video card on earth.

  • The University of Tennessee pays Glenn Reynolds less than $160,000 a year.

  • If you want to visit Grand Forks and I think you should you might consider not going in winter.

  • "Whipping cream" ain't what it used to be.

  • Lest you become too comfortable in your home: reversible-density lofts.

  • Snails recycle mucus.

  • A girl group in burqas? But of course.

  • It's bound to be a hit: the combination vacuum cleaner/boom box.

  • Pajamas: not the healthy choice.

More whenever, or something like that.

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:27 PM)
7 March 2007

Apparently one (if one is young enough and dexterous enough, which lets me out) announces the existence of Best Friends Forever status by texting "233" to the BF in question; this is, of course, the set of numbered keys corresponding to the letters BFF.

I suppose I'm one of the oldest friends of the Carnival of the Vanities, having submitted a piece to the very first edition; now that the 233rd weekly compendium is up, I suppose I can admit that I sent something to this one too.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:06 PM)
11 March 2007
We make it up in volume

Bill Belew has compiled a list of the 100 most prolific bloggers, and it contains exactly seven blogs with which I'm familiar.

Which is fair: hardly anyone reads me, and I'd fit into the number-four slot right now. Obviously there are people who have written far more than I have who should be on this list above me, but they'll have to send in their credentials themselves.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:21 PM)
14 March 2007

The German submarine U-234 sailed from Kiel in March 1945, bound for Japan. Part of its cargo, interestingly enough, was U-235 fissionable uranium, with which the Japanese hoped to build some nuclear weapons using German technology. The delivery was never made: U-234 surrendered on 9 May 1945, and two Japanese passengers aboard committed suicide rather than turn themselves over to the Allies. For them, it was personal.

What's more, Carnival of the Vanities #234, says Kehaar, is personal, in that he's tied his own commentary to some of the posts received. I recommend it to any persons reading.

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:11 PM)
15 March 2007
Oh, come on, just a peak

Bruce Sterling, speaking at SXSW, says the days of blogs are numbered:

I don't think there will be that many of them around in 10 years. I think they are a passing thing.

Ten years? Cool. Can I quit now?

(Eleventh anniversary coming up 9 April. Be there or be totally L7. Or B9. Or something.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:01 AM)
16 March 2007
Sino the times

For some inscrutable reason, this site is not banned in China.

Should I complain? And if so, to whom?

(Via Overtaken by Events.)

Addendum: I tried three other domains I own: two of them were blocked.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:46 AM)
Tails of mystery and imagination

Adam Gurri is working up an essay on the Internet as Attention Economy, and somewhere in mid-research he found Mister Snitch's late-2005 overview of blogging styles, in which yours truly loomed large (and, I contend, undeservingly so). Mr Gurri's examination of the Long Tail, a fairly flexible term for those of us who are household words in only a few discriminating households, merits some comment here.

On the one hand, there are people who value blogging more than they value the other activities they could spend that time on. On the other hand, the longer that they post, on any subject, the more likely that their blog will be found through search engines.

So even if a blog is relatively unnoticed or attracts no substantial amount of regular readers, it will in all likelihood experience a steady increase in traffic over the extreme long term.

Only 24 hours are available in any given day (with two exceptions, one in the spring, one in the fall, which nonetheless average out to 24), obviously something has to be given up to make room for all this bloggage, and in my case, that something was television: my viewing is down from a not-especially-high ten hours a week in 2000, when I started doing daily updates to this site, to well, I have yet to accumulate ten hours this year, and we're halfway through March already.

Traffic has dropped off slightly here since Snitch declared I was "approaching 1000 unique visits a day"; it's currently closer to 700. Still, this is a fairly substantial number, especially since 700 was a good monthly figure here as late as 2001.

Then again, I am persistent, a characteristic which doesn't describe everyone in blogdom:

Not all of the returns one gets from investing one's time in blogging can be summarized by a desire for readers. Yet it is highly likely that there exists people for whom blogging is only valuable enough to spend time on if their readership is above a certain minimum. The fact that the proportion of blogs to the proportion of time people are willing to spend reading is huge means that most blogs will only get a tiny fraction of the overall readership. Considering these two ideas the fact that most blogs will have a small readership, and that many people may have a minimum level of readership to give enough value to their blogging and we may have isolated an important cause for the large number of abandoned [blogs].

In April of 2006, for instance, Technorati stated that 55% of all blogs were still active 3 months after they were created. Flipping that around, it means that 45% of blogs at that point in time were not even making it past their third month.

We may fancy ourselves voices crying in the wilderness; but if no one hears us, do we make a sound? The dynamic of blogdom pretty much assures that most of us will never get anywhere near the audience of a Kos, an Atrios, an Instapundit; but it also assures that a few of us will though probably not within three months.

Of course, subject matter does matter:

What you blog about is usually a function of what your interests are, which is just another way of saying what it is that you value. How much people value readers varies from person to person for some people, getting too many readers can be undesirable, if it results either in having to pay for more bandwidth or a constant stream of reader e-mails.

The wonderful thing about the long tail of blogging is that it means that people like me, for whom large readership is only of marginal importance, I can write about as many obscure topics as I wish, as infrequently as I feel like, and if I make sure to do it continually over time, I can still look forward to an increase in readership. Yet even during those months where readership is particularly low, I come back to this blog because it I enjoy a number of things about writing through this medium.

I've said before that I'd keep up this soapbox even if no one were reading. As the saying goes, it is unwise to argue with someone who buys ink by the gallon, and while I don't go through a whole lot of ink myself, I have boatloads of pixels in reserve.

But I do have readers, with motivations of their own. Some people come here to see me turn a phrase, or fail to turn one. Some people just wonder what the heck is going through my head. A few wait for an opportunity to deliver a Gotcha! (In the terminology of Eric Berne's Games People Play, these individuals are playing a version of NIGYSOB.)

And a lot of this is Rick Blaine Syndrome: of all the sites on all the servers in all the world, somehow someone walks into mine. I still marvel at this, eleven years into my Web presence.

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:06 PM)
21 March 2007

Interstate 235 runs along the east side of downtown Oklahoma City. (There being only so many three-digit numbers, you'll see it again in Wichita and Des Moines.) It stretches from the I-35/I-40 junction north to I-44; the freeway continues north from I-44 but is not considered part of 235.

Officially, this section of 235 runs a bit less than 5.5 miles, making it one of the shorter Interstates around. Similarly, Carnival of the Vanities #235 is one of the shorter Carnivals around; still, like an Interstate spur, it's a handy thing to have.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:01 PM)
23 March 2007
Otherwise I'd have to write something myself

And besides, how many opportunities will I have to link to something that mentions oxidative phosphorylation?

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:48 AM)
24 March 2007
A complete and utter history of blogging

And I was there, remember?

History of blogging

(Via Vincent Ferrari, who claims to have stolen it from Veronica. Blatantly, yet.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:25 PM)
27 March 2007
The lines will not be blurred

Amazon.com is pushing "context links," yet another attempt to "monetize" blogging, and McGehee isn't buying:

When I see a link in the substantive, non-advertising content of a site, especially a blog, I think I have a right to expect that the link is related to the content, and isn't just a twisted form of product-placement advertising.

I could say the same here, except that it might require me to claim that I have, you know, content.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:30 AM)
29 March 2007

In the summer of 2001, Air Transat Flight 236, out of Toronto, bound for Lisbon, ran out of fuel somewhere over the Atlantic a fuel leak in the #2 engine, caused by a bit of clumsy maintenance on the ground and managed to come down in the Azores with no loss of life and only minor injuries to eighteen of the three hundred on board.

If you were thinking that after 236 editions, the Carnival of the Vanities might be out of gas, you might want to think again.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:28 AM)
30 March 2007
Just because of the title

"No Blood for Mohel."

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:41 AM)
31 March 2007
And it wasn't even April first yet

So I read this little bit of Bad News:

It has been determined that you have violated the EULA and posting privileges for this site, and any further participation here is not welcome. Consider this message as a formal notice that we will no longer grant you the privilege or license to participate here. Any attempts to access this site using masked or additional resources will be logged and reported to your Internet Service Provider via a formal complaint. Depending on the jurisdiction, we may report your activities to the proper authorities. If you are using your employer's computers, we will contact your employer.

The simplest way to prevent further problems for you is for you to simply cease and desist from using this site.

Of course, it was a hack job, in several senses of the word, and the host was already working on finding the culprit and whacking his pee-pee. Still, that's pretty decent boilerplate, and I suspect I'll see it again, if only as an indication of plagiarism: few of these weasels have much to say on their own.

Update, 5 pm, 1 April: Oh, it gets better.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:52 PM)
5 April 2007

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 237, which represents employees of the City of New York and some Long Island municipalities, is the single largest local in the Teamsters union.

By comparison, Carnival of the Vanities #237 is a tad on the small side, but sometimes it's not the size that matters.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:11 AM)
7 April 2007
The news (re)cycle

While the Oklahoman works on rolling out NewsOK Beta, a smaller paper in the British Isles has gone for a simpler approach. The Buckinghamshire Advertiser, owned by group operator Trinity Mirror plc and selling 20,000 copies daily, has converted its Web site to a Movable Type blog, complete with RSS feeds and links for Digg, del.icio.us, and Reddit. Of course, all the traditional sections News, Columns, Sport, and such are rendered as MT Categories.

Peoria Pundit Billy Dennis says this is "more evidence that print is doomed":

I'm sure it's easier to use than any newspaper Web site software I've ever tried to use. And I'm sure it's less complicated than whatever it is the [Peoria] Journal Star uses. Any small newspaper in America can put something like this together including paying someone to design their template for several hundred dollars, not to mention the cost of Web hosting, which might cost $100 a month for a dedicated server. It does as good a job as presenting the distributing news in words and pictures as any printing press, which costs much, much more to use. And it doesn't require any trees be cut down, pulped and transported across the country in trucks or on trains.

And consider that if it costs that little for a newspaper to run, what's stopping folks perhaps disgruntled newsies with some start-up capital perhaps from coming along and doing the same thing and not bothering with a print edition.

I'm not entirely convinced that print is doomed: you can't line a birdcage with a Web site. Yet. And there are still people who have no particular interest in these here Intratubes. What's more well, here's how Eyebrows McGee tells it (previous link, scroll to comments):

This might come as a shock, but we actually DON'T NEED 24 hour news. There are few things short of tornadoes I need to know about RIGHT THIS INSTANT, and they have sirens for that. (And shock of shocks they actually still break into broadcast network television for things that are REALLY important.) And there are a lot of people my age who are opting out of cable TV and 24-hour connectedness in favor of choosing our times and places to get data. The wired generation knows better than the Boomers how empty and repetitive 24-hour data streams can be, because we've never lived in a world without them. I was TWO when CNN joined the world. I do not remember a time before 24-hour news and I have never attended a school without a computer lab.

Small wonder, then, that I prefer my news in a single discreet chomp, well-written by competent journalists and analyzed by people who follow a story for years and know its ins and outs. I've been surrounded by the vapidity of instant-streaming news since I was an infant. I prefer something a little more substantial and a little less torrential.

By coincidence, the Oklahoman sent me a renewal form today for my print subscription.

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:00 PM)
An audience of two

A few weeks back 42nd and Treadmill hired a man, tall, lanky and youngish, to work one of the Customer Service stations, which might have been a wise decision, given the tendency of some of our more obnoxious customers to try to drive the female staff to tears or worse; I have to figure that anyone who can face down a clutch of murdering insurgents has nothing to fear from that bunch. (Surely whatever they're paying him, it isn't enough; I've answered phones there before, and it is a dispiriting experience at best.) In an effort to get an answer for one of the callers, he wandered into my den of inequity earlier this week for some reason, they always call during break time spotted the open MT interface, put two and 3.21 together, and asked, "You write that?" Apparently he'd discovered the site during his none-too-copious free time in the Land of Sand. I am, of course, always surprised to find that anyone reads this stuff.

Cut to this afternoon, while I'm filling up my grocery basket. I have a weekly Anti-Shyness Exercise, if you will, which calls for me to strike up a conversation with at least one woman I don't know. This has generally not been difficult, but the ginormous pre-Easter crowd presented obstacles of its own. And then one thing happened which hadn't previously: the woman I don't know struck up the conversation with me. Turned out to be a reader of this very site, who recognized me from a photo I'd left over at MySpace. (Whether this is a defense of MySpace, or a major security issue, is left as an exercise for the student.) We stretched this into a discussion long enough to inculcate despair in shoppers who just wanted a loaf of bread, dammit, because I am, of course, always surprised to find that anyone reads this stuff.

Permalink to this item (posted at 3:26 PM)
8 April 2007
And the rocks trembled

And out from under one particularly scuzzy rock crawled the perpetrators of a Denial of Service attack on the host's nameservers, making this site (and a few thousand others) inaccessible for about three hours this morning. (Exactly one person got through during this period, a testimonial to superior network knowledge, and yes, I know who it is, which is why I said that.)

As it happens, I didn't notice this until later, a byproduct of not being near the computer at that hour of the morning.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:20 AM)
Things I learned today (11)

Some of these you may already know.

  • There are advantages to having a girlfriend with a short name.

  • Bicycle reflectors in New York State: one color only.

  • The $100,000 hybrid is coming.

  • Had Dr Seuss just now finished The Cat in the Hat, it would never get published.

  • If you must drive drunk in New Jersey, drive a Zamboni.

  • There is at least one Web site more exciting than mine.

  • Here's a roller coaster with an inappropriate name.

  • There's a difference between "24 hours" and 24 business hours.

  • Not every Cingular staffer is a complete and utter tool.

  • How many ninjas are hiding in this room? As many as want to be.

Part Twelve will appear eventually.

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:11 PM)
9 April 2007
Follow the thread

There are, theoretically anyway, nineteen different phases of a blog discussion before it finally peters out, and Paula Scher has illustrated the path in a New York Times "Op-Art". Even reduced, this is fairly huge (100k), so it's going beneath the jump for the time being. (The individual archive, of course, doesn't have a jump.) Thanks to kottke.

Diagram of a Blog by Paula Scher

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:35 AM)
12 April 2007

Road buffs revile Interstate 238, a two-mile stretch of freeway in the East Bay area near San Francisco, because of its nonstandard numbering: by rights, it ought to connect somewhere to Interstate 38, and there is no Interstate 38, not in California, not anywhere.

On the other hand, there's a good reason for this week's Carnival of the Vanities to be numbered 238: there have been, well, two hundred thirty-eight of them so far.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:44 PM)
20 April 2007

If you're building a nuclear reactor or a bomb sooner or later you're probably going to want some plutonium, the most fissile isotope of which has an atomic weight of 239 (and a half-life of about 24,000 years).

Nobody seriously expects the Carnival of the Vanities to last that many years, but it has gotten to number 239. I think. As of this morning at 7 Central, it hadn't been posted yet.

Update: It's up.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:59 AM)
Beware the I

Former Congressman Ernest Istook now has a blog, and I suppose the only real surprise (if surprise it be) is that it's on Blogspot.

Oh, well. The more, the merrier. And I have to give him some sort of props for this sidebar snark:

New Jersey Governor Corzine's vehicle was traveling 91 miles an hour before the accident that severely injured him. Maybe he was going after the NASCAR vote?

I always did appreciate a good non sequitur, but then I never was any good at jai alai.

(Via Mike McCarville.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:49 AM)
26 April 2007
It's a beautiful blog in the neighborhood

Outside.in has sifted through Technorati and come up with a list of the Ten Bloggiest Neighborhoods, at the top of which is Brooklyn's Clinton Hill, home of Brownstoner.com.

If there's a competition for the other end of the spectrum, I'm in.

(Via Erica, who improves a neighborhood just by being there.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:58 AM)

The Interstate loop around Oklahoma City's south side, running about sixteen miles between I-44 and I-40. Actually, 240 isn't much of a loop: for most of its distance it's pretty straight.

We can trace back the history of the Carnival of the Vanities for 240 weeks, and for the most part it's a pretty straight path.

Permalink to this item (posted at 3:48 PM)
30 April 2007
On the bleating edge

In a comment to this piece, Mister Snitch suggests that I'm something of a trend-sniffer, perhaps even ahead of the curve.

More or less simultaneously, the InstantMan gets a letter from a reader:

The prospect of making fuel from waste biomass inspires reader Brian Cubbison to utter a single magic word: "Kudzu."

Watch out, Saudis!

Now set the Wayback Machine to the first week of October 2006:

Kudzu is a vine prevalent in southern states. It's considered a pest. Why isn't more research being done to use kudzu for making ethanol? It would be a source of alternative fuel as well as help rid the woods and fields of this pest.

I was in fact quoting from a letter to the editor of the Oklahoman, but still, you heard it here first, or at least less late.

Let it be said that I have stood on the shoulders of, if not giants, certainly some rather tallish types.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:50 AM)
2 May 2007

In three Canadian provinces, you can find franchises of 241 Pizza, which opened its first location in Toronto in 1986. The name was intended to suggest, well, two for one.

The Carnival of the Vanities isn't offering a two-for-one deal. Yet. It is, however, still dishing up select bloggage from the last week, as it has for 241 weeks now.

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:00 PM)
3 May 2007
Can you Digg it?

I've pretty much stayed out of the flap over at Digg.com, where DMCA takedown notices have been thicker than London fog, mostly because I couldn't figure out a way to work "09 F9 11 20 9D 74 E3 5B D8 41 56 C5 63 56 88 C0" into casual conversation.

It would be different, of course, if I could sing it. Besides, Lileks has already explained the matter:

[D]igital content is the future. I make that bold prediction well aware that it's also the present. But the days of the video store are numbered ones and zeroes, to be exact and someday all the entertainment you buy will be digital. But you'll own nothing but a lah-sance, and those can be revoked. Imagine every book on your shelf was locked because your license to read them had expired, or the Master Controller in your Internet provider determined that you'd violated section B subsection (302) clause 09f91102, and revoked your right to access the content. Imagine all the players are coded to check whether you license is up to date, and lock out your licensed media for reasons you can't decipher. Puts a hell of a crimp in family movie night.

Who will be to blame? A sclerotic industry that couldn't figure out a way to maintain its profit levels in the new paradigm, and every dork who can't be arsed to pay for cable but downloads the shows he wants to see anyway. And for every noble dedicated anti-statist idealist who wants to protect us from the concentration of media power and content control, I swear there are ten who'd post the security door codes for a nuclear power plant if they could, shout down their critics as censors, then hold a contest to embed the codes in a LOLcats picture. Because nothing really means anything, in the end. It's just keystrokes, joysticks, pizza and wanking.

Pizza, I suspect, actually comes second.

Incidentally, one of the hex bytes in the string above is, um, wrong. No points for so noticing.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:13 AM)
7 May 2007
Respect my Technoratah

Or maybe not so much. This is the pitch:

On Fri. May 4th, we updated Technorati.com to include the Technorati Authority for blogs listed on the Blog page and in search results. This update changed the earlier references of "N blogs link here" and "X links from Y blogs" with the single Technorati Authority number. On the blog page, we also show the Technorati Rank.

Technorati Authority is the number of blogs linking to a website in the last six months. The higher the number, the more Technorati Authority the blog has.

This is simple enough, I suppose. And so is this:

Since at the lower end of the scale many blogs will have the same Technorati Authority, they will share the same Technorati Rank.

And that Rank approaches infinity (not really, but you know what I mean) because they have garnered no links. My two side blogs have earned Authority of 1 and 3, which puts them well, nowhere special.

(Via Sophistpundit [65].)

Note: Slightly reedited to remove non sequiturs and signs of having ditched Statistics 203.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:09 AM)
9 May 2007

Electronic Body Music, a hybrid of industrial music and electronic punk, is a term concocted by one of its leading practitioners: the Belgian group Front 242.

Exactly what genetic factors contributed to the Carnival of the Vanities, I can't say, though I can say that edition #242 is up.

Disclosure: This edition contains something of mine.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:04 AM)
14 May 2007
Superior Kraftsmanship

Triticale, a whole grain if ever there was one, presents the Carnival of Macaroni and Cheese.

I just love the sound of that.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:33 AM)
The oncoming title waive

Terry Hull asks: "Do Your Headlines Draw Readers In Or Drive Them Away?"

No, really:

Many bloggers labor to write an intelligent, well-crafted article, only to top it off with an awful headline. If you wrote a book, would you spend only a few seconds developing the title? Likewise, if you have spent several minutes or more writing a good blog post, take a little extra time to give it a decent headline. A headline that says something. A headline that draws the reader in. A headline that tells your prospective visitor what your article is about and why he should take the time to read it.

Sometimes I have a title, and sometimes I have an article, and once in a very blue moon I have both at the very same time. And I don't deny that there have been times that I wrote an article only because I had a title. (I blame this on the Beatles, who, after their first album was completed, recorded LPs and singles as wholly separate units, though you'd never know it by looking at their US releases.)

Anyway, here's a list of memorable titles from last year. Decide for yourself if I'm in the wrong business.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:48 AM)
17 May 2007
Remember when they just ate homework?

Cam Edwards explains a relatively low volume of bloggage as follows:

The damn dog ate my laptop power cord.

Is there no solution? I mean, they have software to get your damn cat off the computer now.

Which may or may not work:

obligatory lolcat

(For those of you who simply cannot believe that I would resort to a lolcat, well, it's time to start believing.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:08 AM)
I'm hoping McGehee can read it

Liesweiter is a German blog which seems to be written in Morse code.

Except for the embedded YouTubes, of course.

(Via Lynn.)

Addendum: On the other hand, who needs him?

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:56 AM)
18 May 2007

Three to the fifth power. And speaking of power, it would have taken a Higher Power to rejuvenate The CW's series 7th Heaven, which, after being canceled and then resurrected, expired after its 243rd episode.

Not expired yet is the Carnival of the Vanities, which also has had 243 episodes and one brush with death.

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:28 AM)
23 May 2007
Serious cat: "Do not want"

The bloggage I've been reading lately seems to be about 60 percent political yammering and 40 percent lolcats. Inevitably, of course, someone would come up with a premise that is Two! Two! Two memes in one!

Exhibit A:

I has a budget

(Via Swirlspice.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:43 AM)
24 May 2007
The cross-country smile

We acknowledge gratefully the addition of this little site to Citizen of the Month's Blog Crush of the Day list. Actually, I thought this place was more like Orange Crush or was that Agent Orange? And how come they never had any other flavors, like, say, Agent Grape? Or Diet Agent Root Beer? Now that's a defoliant I can get into.

What? Oh, sorry. Anyway, thanks to Neilochka for the nod, and we now return you to your regular, or at least evenly spaced (out), commentary.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:27 AM)

In 244, Marcus Julius Philippus, familiarly known as Philip the Arab, became Emperor of Rome after the suspicious death of Gordian III.

Maybe it's just me, but I think Philip is a great name for an Arab, though we'll probably not see another one. We will, however, see another Carnival of the Vanities, having gotten through the 244th edition without any suspicious deaths.

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:44 PM)
25 May 2007
Haus of the rising spam

A few days ago, Wizbang's Kevin Aylward reported that one of the sites used by Movable Type's SpamLookup toolset was no longer accepting queries due to high server loads. I duly popped open my own installation and removed the site from my configuration.

At the time, Six Apart, developers of Movable Type, had made no formal announcement. Shortly after the Wizbang report, Six Apart issued this advice:

Recently, an IP blacklist service known as Blitzed ceased its operations. Movable Type’s SpamLookup plugin uses this service to process incoming comments and TrackBacks to determine if they are spam or not. With Blitzed shut down, a lot of you might be experiencing delays when publishing your readers’ comments.

Though we’re sorry to see Blitzed go (and thank the team for their efforts), the good news is that a free replacement is available. The Spamhaus Project has been in operation for over 9 years and has a long track record of providing excellent protection against known spammers. In addition to their technology that they allow people to use for free, Spamhaus works with Law Enforcement and cyber-crimes teams worldwide, helping them not only to block these miscreants, but also to bring them to justice.

I have no doubt that they do Good Things at Spamhaus; nevertheless, today they reported that two of my commenters were on their blacklist. Presuming that those IPs once belonged to some miscreants, I have to wonder just how up-to-date their database is. I don't, however, have to use it, and as of two minutes from now I'm not.

Marginally-amusing addendum: I sent a TrackBack to Six Apart for this item: it came back 403 Throttled.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:24 PM)
27 May 2007
Shticks of one

And half a dozen of the other. Julian Sanchez explains the dynamic:

[I]n addition to the phrases at large in the written culture of the society, there are individual prose-crutches particular writers tend to fall back on again and again. One has to be careful here, because you don't want to lump ordinary elements of someone's personal style and authorial voice into this category those are good things to have but rather focus on those little tics that breed laziness by substituting for words or constructions that might be fresher or more apt for the particular piece.

I am nothing if not back-falling, so I went back through about 300 posts and turned up the following rhetorical devices that might be past their sell-by date:

  • Stale phrases like "past their sell-by date."
  • "Presumably." I must be majorly presumptuous.
  • Starting an article with "So I was..." It's at least as artificial as "Two hunters and Helen Keller walk into a bar," and probably not as amusing.
  • "For those keeping score." I used to keep baseball scores while watching the Game of the Week; I suspect this pastime is as dead as poodle skirts.
  • "You might infer from this," followed closely by either "But you would be wrong" or "And you would be correct."
  • "File under..." in lieu of an actual topic sentence.
  • "Maybe it's just me," although "Maybe it's just I" would sound even worse.
  • "As regular readers may recall," usually as a device to avoid having to look up a link in the archives.
  • The blatant Farkism "[fill in name of noted person] was not available for comment."
  • [fill in something here] in general.

Fortunately, no one is likely to accuse me of either "personal style" or "authorial voice."

(Via Jane Galt, who has a list of her own.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:00 AM)
1 June 2007

Don't you know, if you dance, you dance 'til a quarter to three, you'll knock it off about 2:45.

Daddy G isn't in attendance, but Kehaar is around somewhere, and where he is, there will be the Carnival of the Vanities #245. (He is around somewhere, right?)

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:51 PM)
5 June 2007
Is it just me?

I haven't had a TrackBack go through to a TypePad-based site in over a month. Is somebody trying to tell me something? (In this same period, some Movable Type blogs, and almost all WordPress blogs, are still accepting my pingage.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:06 AM)
8 June 2007
Have you seen this person?

Sya has:

Sometimes I stumble upon a blogger waxing on and on about how long he/she has been blogging and knows all the tricks in the book and is now a hardened veteran of the blogosphere. Then I check the archives and it only goes back for a couple of months.

Says this eleven-year veteran: "There's a book? With tricks?"

Funny thing about that learning curve: the more you know, the longer it gets. That light at the end of the tunnel? A tear in the fabric of space/time, caused by a MySQL error.

Permalink to this item (posted at 3:33 PM)
13 June 2007
245 revisited

From the first of June:

Don't you know, if you dance, you dance 'til a quarter to three, you'll knock it off about 2:45.

Daddy G isn't in attendance, but Kehaar is around somewhere, and where he is, there will be the Carnival of the Vanities #245. (He is around somewhere, right?)

Yes, he is.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:03 AM)
14 June 2007
On the taking of exceptions

Sarah pans a film, and then feels some sort of Critic's Remorse:

I realize that my opinions are my own, and I stand by them, but I still can never quite dispel that twinge of guilt when I say something not-so-nice. At the same time, however, I strongly believe in being honest. It just kind of blows when honesty and niceness come into conflict.

A good blogger wouldn't care. A good blogger would think that his or her opinion was the right one, and everyone who disagreed could go to hell.

I, of course, disagree, so I'll go pack my Kevlar undies for the trip to the hot nether regions.

More seriously: I am never absolutely certain about whether my opinion (as distinguished from my occasional recitation of facts, another matter entirely) is "the right one"; all I can do is make the pitch and attempt to defend it. Sometimes I have been successful; sometimes I haven't made my case at all.

I am, however, quite unapologetic about whatever opinions I have, and over the years I've built up a substantial (if not entirely ironclad yet) resistance to guilt-trippers, finger-pointers, and all the other tedious hyphenates whose self-ascribed moral authority demands that I be chastised for whatever putative heresy I've espoused. And whether they go to hell or not is, frankly, a matter of no concern: so long as they're out of earshot, I see no compelling reason to inflict them on the long-suffering staff at One Brimstone Place.

Or, as I say around the office: "I may not always be right, but I am never wrong."

Permalink to this item (posted at 4:30 PM)
19 June 2007
Follow you, follow me

Venomous Kate reports:

When the no_follow tag was first introduced to blogging platforms, I could not possibly have been happier. Then again, I was getting slammed with over 6,000 spam comments per day. Times and spam-filtering software have changed.

I’m now trying an experiment on EV that I’ve been using at my other, more personal blog for a bit now. I’m disabling the no_follow tag.

If your immediate reaction is "What are you, nuts?" you might want to think again. "Nofollow" is just one tool, and not a very effective one: it assumes, prima facie, that spammers are rational and will not deposit their, um, calling cards on places where their Google PageRank will not be improved. I would hate to have to defend that proposition. The current spam approach is to throw everything possible against the wall, and if something sticks, so much the better.

As an experiment, last week I stripped the nofollow tags from the current database (posts since the first week of September '06) and upgraded Autoban to the current release. Spam trackbacks, which make up 95 percent of the spam received here, have dropped off markedly. I made no announcement at the time, partially because most of the behind-the-scene tweaks I make simply aren't that interesting, but mostly because if it blew up in my face I didn't want to have to come up with a mea culpa.

This isn't the first time I've abandoned an anti-spam tool, either. By default Movable Type throws in some encoding on commenter email addresses to keep them from being harvested in bulk; I figured it might be even more effective simply to keep them off the page.

As always, this should be considered a work in progress, and things are subject to change.

Update, 20 June, 8:20 pm: Is this a movement? Charity is dropping the nofollow tag from her blog.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:46 AM)
Site issues

Unrelated to the previous item: some of the archive pages around here are not working correctly, Apache serving up 403 Forbidden instead of the actual pages. (Current pages seem to be okay.) I attribute this to this particular bit of malfeasance in the data center; a trouble ticket has been turned in, and I expect things will be fixed before too long.

Update, 10:55: Things seem to be working properly again.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:22 AM)
20 June 2007

In 1968, Ferrari decided to produce some cars less pricey than their twelve-cylinder wonders. The new line was dubbed Dino, after Enzo's son, the designer of the V6 engine most of them would use. The second batch of Dinos, with a 2.4-liter six, was duly designated "246"; despite its lack of the prancing-horse insignia, the 246 was the first Ferrari to sell in really high numbers that is, if you consider a production figure less than four thousand to be "really high."

Two weeks ago, I'd have accused you of being really high if you told me that the Carnival of the Vanities would be back. And I'd have to eat those words, because edition #246 is now open for your inspection.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:38 PM)
21 June 2007
While you're at it, get off my lawn

All right, kiddies, you're outta here:

What's My Blog Rated? From Mingle2 - Online Dating

Mingle2 - Online Dating

They go on to say that this rating is based on finding five mentions of "hell," four of "crap," and two F-bombs.

I may try this again later in the week after one of said F-bombs has aged off the front page.

(Via Terry, who is PG. Her blog, I mean.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:47 AM)
Third time's the warm

Matt has issued the decree:

Well. It's hot out. Not really sweltering mind you, but hot in a it's over 80 and kinda sticky and not really comfortable with all those clothes on kind of way. So, in light of that (and a nice lady in Delaware keeps sending me emails saying "Matt! It's time to get nekkid again!"), I hereby declare Friday to be the Third International Blog Nekkid Day!

One of these years they're going to hold this on my day off. I hope. In the meantime, here are my previous participation posts, neither of which was written at work, if you know what I mean.

(Disclosure: I did actually buy a webcam this year. I am not hooking it up. I have some standards.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:47 PM)
22 June 2007
First thou loadest the blog software

Then thou must count to three. Three shall be the number of the sentences and the number of the sentences shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither shalt thou count two, excepting that thou then proceedeth to three.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:30 AM)
25 June 2007
Reader demographics

I figure this guy's analysis is as good as any:

As for why anyone reads my blog, it is probably due to the fabulous baking recipes I post, or my deeply held opinions on the Letterman vs Leno debate. I am phenomenally insightful, and my brilliance has gotten people worldwide to say "This guy gets it. Now I can rearrange my stock portfolio, separate my laundry properly, get the jokes on Seinfeld, and understand why trying to teach a pig to sing wastes my time and annoys the pig."

My brilliance has gotten people worldwide to say "Um, who?"

Still, there's always an Ulterior Motive:

I would rather be sleeping next to two republican Jewish brunettes right now, one on each side. That has nothing to do with this topic, but my entire blog is a ploy to find a woman who can tolerate my inanity on a long term basis.

Hmmm. Maybe I should link to this guy.

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:35 AM)
28 June 2007
And more thoughts on fame

Steph Waller notes:

I don't keep a blog to harvest hit counts. I keep a blog to communicate. And is a large readership really all that important? I'd rather have a small readership of people who actually like to read my stuff than a huge one of people who are just trying to drive up their blog traffic. That just seems like so much mutual stroking off. All of this has made me wonder lately if blogging isn't simply a way of nabbing a little attention. Back when I was young and chasing down the fame demon (or he was chasing me), I wasn't really after the money, attention, or groupies. I just didn't want to be obscure. I wanted to make a mark, let people know that I existed. Now that I can blog, post pictures and promote my projects, that hunger has subsided considerably.

I have to admit, one of the most reliable means of getting me to look at someone's site not that getting me to look at someone's site is exactly a big deal is for that someone to show up in comments. They don't have to be comments here, necessarily: they just have to be at a place where they'll cross my path.

I still leave a few calling cards here and there, and I always leave my URL, but I don't expect traffic from so doing: I'm just taking part in the conversation, to the extent that I can. (I mean, I have 150 blogs on the roll, and a day job. The two do not coexist particularly well.)

As for "grabbing a little attention," I was always able to do that: it was getting more than a little that proved difficult. Eventually I figured out that the top of a small mound of dirt was a more hospitable place than the third sub-basement of the Parthenon.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:27 AM)

In 1933, Boeing began production of a twin-engine passenger aircraft which, in an emergency, could fly on a single engine. Only seventy-five Boeing 247s were built.

There's no emergency at the Carnival of the Vanities: Issue #247 is up and available for your pre-flight inspection.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:34 AM)
Still more thoughts on fame

I've mentioned this before, but I've always considered it an object lesson in humility: when David Letterman departed NBC's Late Night for CBS, Conan O'Brien, then a writer/producer for The Simpsons, was tapped to take his place. The general response was "Conan who?" and at a press conference to introduce the new kid, someone asked what NBC was thinking, hiring a relative unknown for a cash cow like Late Night.

O'Brien bristled: "Sir, I am not a relative unknown. I am a complete unknown."

Those of us huddled around the edge of obscurity can appreciate this sort of thing.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:33 PM)
2 July 2007
I grill a pretty mean ribeye

And Venomous Kate grills a pretty mean blogger.

(Okay, I'm not that mean. Come to think of it, I'm not the least bit pretty, either.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:31 PM)
4 July 2007
I forget how many times I've quit

I suppose I might as well face it:

74%How Addicted to Blogging Are You?

Mingle2 - Online Dating

(From Steph Waller, who evidently has more of a life.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:34 PM)
9 July 2007
ASCII kudzu

Last week Venomous Kate asked me for "three things that make a blog suck," and this was the first:

Neglect: failure to update on something resembling a regular basis. (A subset of this would be "inadequate spam controls": nobody wants to read your archive pages if they’re filled with offers to sell Tramadol.)

To test this theory, take a peek at this page from a WordPress blog operated by the National Endowment for the Arts. I suspect a peek is probably all you'll need.

(Swiped from Don Surber.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:44 PM)
12 July 2007
To the person sitting in wonderment

No, I'm not feverishly looking for new topics each and every evening; when I left on Tuesday I had four or five posts still in the can, and rather than face the possibility that the less I post the greater my traffic, I'm gradually releasing them into the wild.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:49 AM)
13 July 2007
Pending downtime

At 1 am Saturday (Central), and for several hours thereafter, this site will be offline while the hardware is physically (as opposed to virtually) relocated.

Things should be back to normal by daybreak.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:05 PM)
20 July 2007
We have a winner

Congratulations to old friend Michael Bates, named by the readers of Urban Tulsa Weekly as "Tulsa's Absolute Best Blogger".

Meanwhile, if the Gazette ever gets around to putting a "Least Relevant" category in the annual Best of OKC competition, I should be a shoo-in.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:27 AM)
24 July 2007
Wretched accessible

Now why didn't I think of this?

I demand more traffic. And more traffic I will have.

Under The Americans With Disabilities Act, it's demonstrable that I suffer from "Dull Blog Syndrome." For which I deserve compensation.

Therefore, I claim one tenth of Glenn Reynolds' traffic, one tenth of Deadspin's, and all of Daily Kos'.

It's only fair.

Per Site Meter, the Professor is averaging 193,280 visits per day over the last seven days; Deadspin, 219,582; Kos, 524,123. The actual calculation is left as an exercise for the student.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:03 PM)
29 July 2007
Blocking the blockquotes

There is now a very faint border surrounding the actual blockquoted material here. It's faint because I didn't want to add a layer of clutter to what by all accounts is a tolerably-clean design, but I still thought it was worth adding a smidgen of distinction besides the perhaps-obvious font change. If you like this, hate this, or didn't even notice this, I'd like to know.

Here's one line of text with the border, in case you missed it elsewhere.

(It's one line of the stylesheet, so it's easy to tweak.)

Update, 31 July: I've replaced the border with Folger's Crystals a single bar to the left and some additional padding. (Basically, I stole this idea from Scott Wallick's "Barthelme" WordPress theme, which I use elsewhere.) I think I may like this a little better.

Permalink to this item (posted at 4:21 PM)
31 July 2007
I wouldn't have dared predict this

The Oklahoman embraces WordPress, sort of.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:07 AM)
1 August 2007
Does a picture mean a thousand hits?

A complaint from Dennis the Peasant:

Beginning last Sunday, my site traffic has dropped to almost exactly by half from where it normally is. On weekdays, I averaged until this week roughly 1,000 unique visitors a day. This week I've pulled an average of under 600. Is this because I am now running pictures of my face on the bodies of David Beckham and some anonymous barbell boy? It would be entirely logical to assume so, but in reality what has happened is that Google Images has gone through some sort of update. And in the course of said update, many of the images from this site have either been relegated to the back pages of any given image search or have disappeared from the image search altogether.

I suppose I should take the fact that I'm now revealed as being even more insignificant than previously thought as a bit of a blow, but I can't really muster the ego to work up even a minor sulk. I just don't care.

Which is, of course, the only way to view a downturn in traffic: studied disdain.

Rather a lot of Google Images searches that landed here made no sense whatever to me: they'd serve up a monthly or category archive, a couple hundred meg, maybe more, and an unrelated photograph, mostly because somewhere in those couple hundred meg are two words which the searcher put together but which I never did. If Google is restringing an algorithm to make this less likely, it's fine with me. Not that I have any desire to see Dennis' traffic diminish, mind you. (And mine hasn't dropped at all, for some inscrutable reason.)

I might also point out that if I really wanted to kill off my readership, I'd post shots of my head Photoshopped onto my own body.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:27 AM)
5 August 2007
This is too good not to reprint

Mythusmage sets a goal:

At the age of 53 I now given my family history have less than 40 years to live. With medical advances I might actually reach 2045. Still and all, it means I really don't have much time to get donations added to my sparse and pitiful record of $5.00 (From Lair of This Blog is Full of Crap if you were wondering).

That is the reason behind this post; I would like to see more donations come my way before my demise around the middle of this century. Five dollars, ten dollars, a thousand dollars, I don't ask for much. (Though a five thousand dollar donation would probably get the attention of Homeland Security, and I don't think anybody wants to deal with that kind of paperwork. So think kindly of Homeland Security employees and help reduce their paperwork load.)

Unlike certain parties who shall [Andrew Sullivan] remain unnamed, I will not hit you with some phony baloney immediate crisis. Instead I will use a phony baloney distant crisis. I will blog for as long as [I] can on whatever equipment I must use. Even if I'm limited to 15 minutes a day on it. All to keep posting strange, confused, confusing posts on strange, confused, confusing topics. With the occasional strange, confused, confusing post on something that actually fakes importance, pertinence, and even topicality better than my usual crap.

Donate not because it would help me upgrade my computing equipment. Donate not because it's the right thing to do. Donate not because you've got some extra cash and don't know what to do with it. Donate instead because it means you won't have that money to donate to he who shall not be [Andrew Sullivan] named. Remember, if you give it to me you won't have it to give to [Andrew Sullivan] him.

There are few things in life I appreciate more than clear-cut motivation.

Like the Mage, I am 53; unlike him, I have no expectation of lasting until 2045. (Tomorrow I expect to be read the medical equivalent of the Riot Act and put on a diet of gruel and igneous rocks. None of that sedimentary junk.) And I've never actually requested any donations. On the other hand, if you'd like to reimburse me for the five bucks I sent him, I won't even complain.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:42 AM)
7 August 2007
It's a whole new Lynn

Well, not entirely new: she's still at the same URL and she's still running b2, but the new, improved, arguably less dissonant title is: Violins and Starships.

Tagline: "a little bit 18th century, a little bit 24th century..."

Which, you'll note, averages out to 21st.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:48 AM)
Nobody nose the trouble I've seen

Nobody nose but Gail, it seems.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:26 PM)
8 August 2007
Perennially Instant

To commemorate the sixth anniversary of Instapundit, Glenn Reynolds has pointed us to some of his first week's work.

Interestingly, the shortest post in that group is three lines long, about the length of his longer posts these days. What can we learn from this? (I blame the news cycle.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:47 AM)
10 August 2007
Things I learned today (12)

Keep in mind that this definition of "today" is a bit more flexible than, say, "the period since 12 midnight."

  • The quality of bagels diminishes as you get farther from New York City.

  • Why do people take out such unfavorable mortgages? They're wired for it.

  • Improve your carbon footprint: drive faster.

  • Behold the dream-enhancing power of cheese.

  • If you blow 0.15 on a breathalyzer, you should demand the device's source code.

  • Matthew McConaughey is happy to see you.

  • Trident gum: approved by dentists specialists in abdominal surgery.

  • The opposition to sending text messages while driving includes rather a lot of people who send text messages while driving.

  • Who knew? Canned piano.

  • You do not want to relocate car seats to a different car.

  • There are evidently fewer Segway fans than I thought.

  • Forget the implants. Have a cookie.

The future: lies ahead.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:53 AM)
Perhaps not approved by Sam Brownback

What's funny about this is not so much the satire, which is warmed-over Landover Baptist, but the fact that they're using the "Contempt" WordPress theme.

Permalink to this item (posted at 3:52 PM)
11 August 2007
More direct an approach

McGehee says Technorati is ignoring him, and offers a collection of random tags to get their attention, starting with "ron paul" and ending in "you tube."

Drawing on my vast (or half-vast, anyway) experience in dealing with Technorati, I suggest he add a "david sifry" tag. They'll be along in less than 24 hours.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:47 PM)
15 August 2007
Does a blog promote personal growth?

Wearing your heart on your sleeve is difficult enough; letting the whole world look at it takes serious guts.

Once in a while, I cruise through the archives, and it's not too uncommon an occurrence for me to find a piece that makes me want to dope-slap myself and say "What were you thinking?" (There are well over ten thousand pages here: they can't all be gems.) Still, one doesn't develop a stride without a fair number of missteps along the way, and if I have any regrets, they're overridden by the desire to keep an accurate, give or take a whole lot of subjectivity, record of Life As I Know It.

Which brings up the question in the title: does a blog promote personal growth? Heather B., who's just wrapped up two years, would probably say Yes:

I'm proud of what I've done in this space. It's not perfection and I've never wanted it to be some spotless recollection of my first years out of college. I wanted it to be honest, thoughtful and most of all truthful. I have no regrets and no parts over the past two years that I wish I could erase. I've been myself and now can look back and see growth and appreciate the bullshit and the nights out and the days of depression in the dark. I can see it, look back on it and move forward. The fact that I have other people to share it with who can appreciate this "stupid little project" is the strawberry icing on my chocolate cake.

Enjoy your dessert. You've earned it.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:23 AM)
16 August 2007
Battle of the Blogger Body Parts

John Hawkins of Right Wing News has put out his regular list of Favorite 40 Bloggers, and it's about what you'd expect, given Hawkins' conservative bent and eye for the ladies/drooling fanboy tendencies [choose one]. The American Princess finished five spots above Atlas Shrugs, about which the Princess herself comments:

We think that this is clear and convincing proof that all those bikini shots people keep asking us for will not increase traffic one iota, because it means you can still get beat by a pair of legs and a cynical bent.

I await with (barely) bated breath a comment from Dennis the Peasant.

Addendum, Saturday: The Princess on television!

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:54 AM)
17 August 2007
Where we were

Actually, we weren't anywhere; Ye Olde Webbe Hoste went troppo this morning about four.

Things might be working now.

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:47 AM)
18 August 2007
It's an honor just to be nominated

That's the mantra, anyway, and I'll be poking around the local galaxy o'blogs in the next couple of weeks looking for some fresh faces for the 2007 Okie Blog Awards, on the reasonable basis that everyone's seen enough of me already.

The best thing that could happen, I think, is if every Okie blogger, as defined by the rules, goes into a posting frenzy, thereby giving the voters (the same Okie bloggers, after all) more material to work with in the process of determining the most deserving.

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:31 PM)
21 August 2007
A model of consistency

From last September:

The old database (may it rest in peace) had sixteen thousand comments, yes, but they were distributed over seven thousand entries. In April 2004 I noted that I was getting just under two comments per post; the record for any single post is twenty-nine, which occurred here. I attribute the success of this particular post to the comparatively-unusual (for me, anyway) subject matter: the company of babes.

The average in the new database, which opened up on the sixth of this month, remains about two and a half comments per post.

Today, we're still on that new database, and the 2000th entry thereupon is imminent. There have been, as of this writing, 5,001 comments. The average remains about two and a half comments per post.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:33 PM)
24 August 2007
Another meaningless milestone

How meaningless is it? It came to me at the very end of the day while I was scratching around for a topic.

Anyway, yesterday marked the completion of five years of Movable Type deployment at this site and the beginning of the sixth, following a very long period (six years, four and a half months) during which I coded almost everything by hand.

This was the first actual post, though there were some entries from the old system which I imported by hand, mostly to fill up the front page; they were duly given earlier timestamps.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:56 AM)
A balance of wonks

The proprietors of Wonkosphere have indexed about a thousand blogs so far, and three-fifths of them, including this one, are listed as "conservative." This seems a trifle high to me, and here they try to explain:

  1. It’s true. There ARE more conservative than liberal bloggers.

  2. The conservative Wonkosphere is more tightly connected than the liberal Wonkosphere, so it showed up more prominently in our spidering.

  3. Conservative bloggers are talking about the presidential candidates more than liberal bloggers. The directory generally only includes conservative or liberal blogs that actually discuss the 2008 race; there are many liberal blogs that are issue-focused rather than candidate-focused.

Of these, the third is probably closest to the mark: it took me all of three seconds to find a local blog on the left that deals with issues more than with candidates.

And if you're just estimating buzz, as Wonkosphere seeks to do, a nasty comment about Hillary Clinton on a right-wing blog counts exactly the same as a favorable comment on a left-wing blog which perhaps explains why Senator Clinton is way ahead in their buzz standings. (And this post should only add to her lead.)

Still: Patrick Ruffini among the liberals? I think they're paying too much attention to his tag cloud.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:32 PM)
25 August 2007
The evil that blogs do

This Gadfly column in The McCarville Report lays bare the wickedness:

While it is true that few standards apply to what's posted on blogs, one can only hope that a basic rule of fairness applies. Unfortunately, some bloggers don't agree and we find some outrageous (offered without a single fact) allegations bandied about, with reckless disregard for reputations, and many of the allegations come from posters who hide behind screen names. Other blogs so obviously pursue vendettas against individuals that their entire credibility is open to question.

Which, I guess, makes it like Real Life, writ or typed small.

The Gadfly hasn't named any such blogs, though he notes that "there are a couple we now have listed [in the blogroll] that are so reckless in the posts they allow that we're inclined to unlink them." I am not inclined to speculate as to which ones he means.

Permalink to this item (posted at 12:10 PM)
27 August 2007
I have to admit, it's getting meta

Getting so much meta all the time, in fact. A couple of days ago I linked to a column at The McCarville Report which complained about an occasional tendency toward things like character assassination among bloggers.

That column is now drawing a thread, so I figure I'd bring it up again. Mike Donovan weighs in:

The anonymous blogging and the (sometimes) callous disregard for truth, hiding behind phony names, etc. is a terrible introduction into our political and cultural life in the 21st century. I highly recommend Andrew Keen's new book, The Cult of the Amateur, which focuses on this problem. Some see no problem, they see "citizen journalism," and such. However, Keen's analysis is that TRUTH is the loser and the whole thing has the potential to be disastrous for our democracy.

Novelist and occasional dustbury.com reader Bill Peschel scoffs:

Stuff and nonsense. Anonymous blogging has played a role in the republic since the Federalist Papers (which, as you should know, was anonymously sourced).

Can anyone show any damage by an unsourced, false allegation on the Internet in the past five years? Meanwhile, we have regular "sources say" stories in the Washington Post and the New York Times that have crippled our ability to fight, such as our various intelligence programs and our attempts to halt the funding to terrorist groups.

To which Mr Donovan replied:

You don't get it, Bill. The Internet has changed everything when it comes to journalism. The decline of the newspaper, at the expense of the Wild Wild Web, is a real danger.

Which would be true, except for the minor detail that the decline of the newspaper started long before the Web. Circulation figures haven't kept up with population growth for at least a quarter of a century. Moreover, most markets don't have competing full-service dailies anymore, which means that many surviving papers have basically been handed their market on a silver platter and still aren't growing their base.

Perhaps the Great Metropolitan Newspaper would be less hobbled if, oh, it quit shooting itself in the foot on a regular basis. The "citizen journalist" (note the scare quotes) is only a threat to the ostensible professional who isn't doing his job, or who sees that job as something Much More Important than merely reporting the news.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:02 AM)
31 August 2007
Just a gut feeling

McGehee shut down comments last night to avert the "risk [of] having this site hijacked overnight by trolls," the result of his having deleted a comment from someone wishing to promote the campaign of a Presidential candidate.

McGehee doesn't name the candidate in question, but I suspect his name rhymes with "Don Gall."

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:32 AM)
3 September 2007
Bucks turned

Venomous Kate is actually making some money at blogging:

August total: $2305.10
That's an increase of $256.00 over last month, and almost double my first month's earnings. Needless to say, I'm quite pleased.

As she should be. While this won't pay all the bills, it's got to help. A lot.

Disclaimer follows:

Keep in mind the total above represents earnings from four blogs, so your mileage may vary. Also, as you can see, earnings from "passive revenue" sources (e.g., AdSense and AdBrite) wouldn't even pay for a matinée movie ticket. It's earnings from work (albeit something as fun as blogging).

With four blogs to maintain you can bet it means at least 5 hours of effort per day, six and sometimes seven days per week: a modest income if you look at it in dollars-per-hour, and yet I’d be spending those hours for free at the computer in all likelihood. I just no longer feel bad about it.

Even spread over 40-hour weeks, this is still a pretty decent sum.

I've never been one of those people who believes that Money Always Corrupts, and certainly I don't think it's affected VK's credibility, which remains pretty darn high. (She's got sponsored posts, and they're always occasionally marked as such.) On t'other hand, if she runs for office, I'm going to be worried.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:08 PM)
4 September 2007
Damned lies and statistics

All over blogdom, Tam's seen 'em:

I can't tell you how many times I've seen a blog that is a Large Mammal! in the Ecosystem, with a Technorati score of One Hojillion! and then I open its SiteMeter and it's getting 100 hits a day, all from random Google searches. It turns out that they're on every reciprocal blogroll known to mankind. Feh. That doesn't get you the eyeballs; good writing gets you the eyeballs.

Wait a minute. There are reciprocal blogrolls?

I dunno if I'm getting eyeballs, but some body parts seem to be showing up here and on the meter.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:21 AM)
5 September 2007
The deed is done

I usually dawdle, and this year was no exception, but I did finally complete my list of nominations for the 2007 Okie Blog Awards. While my vote counts exactly the same as anyone else's, I have, I believe, one distinct advantage over everyone else: there's no way I can possibly vote for me.

You've got a few days left. Use them wisely.

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:51 AM)
6 September 2007
Half again as caustic

The 3.0 version of Victory Soap is up and running, at least until such time as Andrea decides what to do with the 2.0 incarnation.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:49 AM)
9 September 2007
Things I learned today (13)

As always, the definition of "today" is as flexible as I need it to be.

  • There are Eurotards in north Georgia.

  • You can download graph paper.

  • Suppressed prankster? Buy this and set it near the door to the school cafeteria.

  • Some people can justify excessive exclamation points!!!1!

  • Apparently there is now such a thing as financial gerontology.

  • Remember when I griped about a Firefox-unfriendly political site? It's been fixed.

  • Fred Thompson: the next Wesley Clark.

  • London Mayor Ken Livingston is well, not a coat.

  • The CDC says nearly 100,000 of us die every year from infections originating in hospitals.

  • This is not necessarily because health-care providers might be wearing Crocs.

  • Feel fresh with George Strait.

  • Why you never hear good news from Iraq: reporters suffer from Reuters block.

  • Sometimes being a superhero just sucks.

(The preceding has been an irregularly-scheduled attempt at link-whoring feature of this site.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:37 PM)
11 September 2007
And lo, there were nominees

The list has been pruned to the best of the best (well, not completely, since I'm still in there somewhere), and here they are: the nominees for the 2007 Okie Blog Awards.

It's a good group, and it's not just the usual suspects: I spotted several new blogs in contention. Do give them a look. Voting ends on the 26th of September.

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:35 AM)
News from Logan County

The Logan County Report is a newsblog based, I presume, in Guthrie; their first posts went up on Sunday and they're looking for readers. And if it weren't for them, I'd have had no idea that on their ballot today was a measure to reduce the county sales tax from 1 percent to 0.75 percent, which means I probably should start paying attention to them myself.

Update: It passed by about 8 to 1.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:24 PM)
13 September 2007

The Internet Movie Database counts the votes from its users to determine the Top 250 movies (and the Bottom 100, but that's another matter entirely.)

Yes, you've seen this sort of shtick before, and yes, it's exactly what you think it is: the announcement for the oft-delayed Carnival of the Vanities #250, the last Carnival to be hosted at Silflay Hraka and the first in a couple of months. Next week Andrew Ian Dodge takes over, and I should have something for 251 by then.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:53 AM)
20 September 2007

The smallest number that can be written as the sum of three cubes in two ways is 251. (For the curious, it's either 1^3 + 5^3 + 5^3 or 2^3 + 3^3 + 6^3.) What's more, it's prime.

Speaking of prime, the 251st edition of Carnival of the Vanities, now with the miracle ingredient Dodgeblogium, is available for your inspection, and we tip the ol' fedora to Andrew Ian Dodge for taking over the first (and still the oldest!) blog carnival.

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:51 PM)
22 September 2007
Please delete me, let me go

One of the Blogger sites I occasionally read (but had not blogrolled) presented me with an odd phenomenon yesterday: the page loads normally, then everything after the first post title is replaced with spam. Poking around for an explanation, I first stumbled across this:

Check out how a widget has spammed a blog

On this page about Factor Programming http://psalm35.blogspot.com/

It has a script in its footer: <script src=http://www.oedemera.com/blogger_navbar/navbar_012.php>

When you visit the page with Javascript turned on, all the contents are replaced dynamically with ads.

This is beyond sick.

And it's beyond most of the widgets I've seen, admittedly a small sample. Another explanation from another blog:

I suspect that what happened was this:

1 - 962 [a Hong Kong blogger] decided to stop blogging.

2 - He deleted his blog, freeing up the URL.

3 - Some spider or robot discovered this and claimed the URL, associating it with a different Google account.

So 962 would not be able to access the settings for that blog.

His only recourse is to report this to Blogger, that his blog has now become a splog (spam blog) and hope that an actual human being reads his message and takes some action.

Finally, a use for that FLAG BLOG button.

Oedemera, incidentally, is a genus of beetle. All spammers, I think, should name themselves for crawling insects.

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:17 PM)
27 September 2007

In 1972 the British came up with a prototype High-Speed Train, which was formally classified as a Diesel Electric Multiple Unit and assigned Rail Class 252.

On schedule: Carnival of the Vanities #252, just arrived at Dodgeblogium. I note that Mr Dodge, in his capacity as Carnival keeper, does not number the individual episodes; however, unless he requests otherwise, I plan to continue to keep the count going.

Permalink to this item (posted at 4:14 PM)
28 September 2007
Big meter, keep on turnin'

Attila Girl gets a twentyfold traffic spike and tries to explain why:

I considered the possibility that the quality of my blogging had improved 20 times over the past week or so. Then I thought perhaps it was my reward for living such an exemplary life.

And after weighing other possibilities, she reaches a conclusion:

Then it occurred to me that this was simply the sort of thing that happened naturally to beautiful, brainy, successful babes whom all men and most women, let's face it desire/worship, and I went with that.

Any of these might well explain my failure to improve on last year's numbers.

Permalink to this item (posted at 12:16 PM)
1 October 2007
The mark of sloganeering excellence

Daily Blog Tips has a list of forty-odd taglines you'll find at some of the bigger blogs, and some of them are quite good indeed. But you probably already know them, so here's a list of some of the ones I like you might have missed:

  • Baldilocks: "Blowing Fuses and Going Off On Bizarre Tears For Your Reading Pleasure"
  • belhoste: "Composed of contradictions and subject to change without notice"
  • Blog O'Ram: "Like News but Tasty"
  • Cold Fury: "Harshing your mellow since 9/01"
  • GreenCanary: "uncaged. unhinged. ununsual [sic]."
  • The Happy Homemaker: "A bubble short of plumb."
  • I Think Therefore I Blog: "Sparing Lives By Blogging"
  • My So-Called Blog: "Excelling At Mediocrity, One Post At A Time"
  • Princess Sparkle Pony's Photo Blog: "I keep track of Condoleezza's hairdo so you don't have to."
  • Psssst! Over Here: "I attempt to write … you attempt to read … who will win?"
  • Violins and Starships: "a little bit 18th century, a little bit 24th century..."

Unlike most of these, my own slogan does not appear on the front page, but does appear in the archives.

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:01 PM)
2 October 2007
Once more, with feeling

I can't say it any better than this:

Six years of tradition has the blogger community sharing, and baring, their chests for the best reason they can think of fighting cancer.

That's right, the racks are back Oct. 1-8 and they're committed to raising more than $10,000 in one week by unveiling Mother Nature's greatest gifts. That's right, we're saying it, BOOBIES.

"I love the idea," says Melissa Connolly, 2007 coordinator. "If someone's going to ogle* my goods, they can at least make a donation to save boobies and lives!"

No one ever said that bloggers were afraid of expressing their opinions or sharing their ideas. Those are the very catalysts that make blogs the influential medium they are today. So when a joke between friends turned into an empowering fundraiser and awareness-raiser bloggers nationwide signed on. And they're saddling up again for another wild ride in 2007.

* Not to be confused with The Lost Ogle.

Yours truly is a Platinum Sponsor of the Boobie-Thon, and I'm happy to step up once more. (For one thing, or two, the view is better.) If this sounds like something that deserves your support, start here.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:04 PM)
3 October 2007
A reminder

I realize that some of you may have more important matters to deal with, but the 2007 Okie Blogger Roundup is this Saturday in Tulsa, and this is your one chance this year to see me lose at the Okie Blog Awards. (I realize that there is a statistically-significant possibility that I actually might not lose, but let's think negative, okay?)

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:12 PM)
4 October 2007

The hyperexpensive (one million euros and then some) Bugatti Veyron 16.4, once you set it for top-speed mode (which you do before setting out on a speed run), can do, and has done, 253 miles per hour.

The Carnival of the Vanities is slower one per week these days but there have been 253 of them so far. Next year should mark #300 which is also the total planned production run for the Veyron.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:22 AM)
5 October 2007
This meter runs funny

Patrick Ruffini has figured out that a limitation of SiteMeter has "inflated" the daily counts at DailyKos, which obviously isn't Kos' fault and doesn't affect his King of the Hill status though, as Ruffini says, the hill isn't quite as large as it seems. (Meryl Yourish, who took issue with Ruffini's methodology early on, has since come around to partial agreement.)

What tipped Ruffini off:

First of all, I looked at the Detail view showing the last 100 visitors. Overwhelmingly it showed visitors hitting the site only once, with a visit time of zero (you need to hit a second page for it to register any time spent). Contrasted with my traffic, with an average visit length of three minutes, this seemed highly improbable.

Then it hit me: SiteMeter only accounts for the last 100 visitors individually. On a site like Daily Kos, the 100th most recent visitor could have been 15 seconds ago. If you are the 101st most recent visitor and you click on a new page, you are counted as a new unique visitor in SiteMeter's all important count. On a normal site, this wouldn't matter, since it's highly unlikely you'll stick around long enough to have 100 others show up after you. On a site with hundreds of thousands of page views a day, it's extremely likely you will.

Yourish pointed out that SiteMeter doesn't actually count uniques, only page views. Ruffini looked at the page view per visitor ratio, and noted:

We now know that the only thing we can trust about the SiteMeter numbers are the page views. And from that we can arrive at a more realistic number of daily unique visitors for Daily Kos and other leading blogs.

How so? The best guide we probably have are other netroots blogs like MyDD and OpenLeft built on open community platforms. They have low enough traffic that SiteMeter's inflationary effect is minimal at best. Using Scoop (what Kos uses) and SoapBlox respectively, both have a ratio of about 1.9 page views for every visit (itself a less stringent measure than "unique visitor"). On Red State, where there is likely a little bit of this effect, it's about 1.8 to 1. On a Wordpress-style blog without diaries, the ratio averages 1.5 page views per visit.

I average a very consistent 1.4 page views per visit; this number has not varied up or down more than 0.2 in this century. (I first installed SiteMeter in 1999.) Whether this means I should take my numbers more seriously than I should some others, I don't know for sure; there's one additional variable in the mix, and that's that I'm a paid SiteMeter customer, which may or may not get me slightly greater accuracy.

A more serious deficiency, and one which I don't think can be easily addressed, is the difficulty of determining overall readership when so much of it comes from syndication feeds. During the first three days of this month, SiteMeter reported 2,040 visitors and 2,684 page views; however, according to the server log, there were 2,474 requests for the RSS and/or Atom feed. (These periods do not exactly coincide, due to time-zone differences, but are both 72 hours long.) This does not include the 1,137 requests for index.rdf, which covers RSS 0.91/1.0; in other words, while I'm getting six hundred-odd people every day to load enough of a page to trip the meter, I'm getting twice that many who don't.

I'd better stop here before it looks like I'm actually concerned about counting heads.

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:39 PM)
6 October 2007
Unofficial "awards" thread

I'll be heading up to Tulsa shortly for the Okie Blogger Round-up, at which awards will be presented. I hope to have a report from the scene shortly after [fill in name of blog operated by someone other than myself] is named Best Overall Blog. You can discuss these if you like; for that matter, you can discuss Kevin Aylward's 2007 Weblog Awards, with a spiffy, one might even say Gleesonesque, new design.

(It should be noted that there are those who question the whole idea of blog awards; I usually bring this up only in odd-numbered years, since for some inscrutable reason my name gets mentioned during those years.)

At any rate, going to Tulsa is always something of a blast, and I'll be back home tonight sometime.

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:48 PM)
With a capital T

And that stands for Tulsa, and you can decide for yourself what it rhymes with. My congratulations to the winners of the Okie Blog Awards, who this year, as I told you earlier, did not include me. (It's kind of like the Emmys: eventually you're tired of seeing the same old names.) I figure the old peer group did us proud this year. (Oh, yes, they did mention the second-place finishers in each category, which leaves me with a distinction so far unique: two seconds out of a possible two. "Twice the Number Two for the coming year," I quipped.)

Anyway, if you haven't seen the Cherry Street district in Tulsa, and I hadn't in a while, it's worth the trip: just funky enough to be interesting, not so much as to make you wonder if you left your hipster credentials in your other jeans. Hideaway Pizza, of course, is legendary. (Their wireless connection, alas, is not so wonderful if you're sitting under the big-screen TV.)

And a personal thanks to Don Danz, who took the official attendance, and who was kind enough to spring for a three-topping small for yours truly.

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:00 PM)
7 October 2007
Things I learned today (14)

Not including the fact that a really strong wind can blow a leaf right in front of the safety gizmo that keeps your garage door from closing if it thinks there's potential for crushing.

  • You really need a DVD player that does Region 2.

  • The average woman has maybe forty pairs of shoes.

  • Plastic dental fillings? Not so permanent.

  • Springsteen: Rimbaud with a '57 Chevy.

  • "Politicians say more taxes will solve everything." The Temptations, "Ball of Confusion," 1970

  • Oklahoma: home of the salt-of-the-earth eccentrics.

  • The Feds still wet themselves at the thought of someone having a day job and a firearm in proximity to one another.

  • Auschwitz: Carbon neutral?

  • If you're making out with some guy in the shrubbery, the last thing you want is illumination.

  • Chili causes evacuation in Soho.

  • And the hell with Columbus, while we're at it.

  • "Free Burma." Limit one Burma per household while supplies last. Void where prohibited.

Welcome to Sunday.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:33 AM)
12 October 2007

The number 254 looms large in the memory of anyone who hacked (in the canonical sense) the Commodore 64: it represents the number of bytes in a 1541-formatted floppy-disk sector. Why 254? Well, the sectors did contain two additional bytes, but they pointed to the location of the next sector used by that particular file, the sort of semi-elegance you might be able to appreciate if you've ever hosed up a FAT16 system, which I have. Steve Punter's file-transfer protocol, designed specifically for the 64 and its kin, sent blocks of 254 bytes.

This week, Andrew Ian Dodge describes the Carnival of the Vanities, the 254th edition, as "tardy", and blames it on Maine, where things just sort of saunter by. Kind of like a C-64 download at 300 baud, in fact.

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:31 PM)
13 October 2007
I've heard worse approaches

Email from Shelley Batts:

Shelley here, blogger at Retrospectacle. I'm emailing you as a fellow blogger who has linked me recently, or I am in contact with. Frankly, I need your help. I've been nominated (1 of 20 nominees) for a $10,000 Student Blogging Scholarship and would REALLY appreciate any help you might give in sending voters my way. The highest # votes wins the scholarship, which is kind of silly, but I could really use the money towards my PhD (my thesis is related to a cure for deafness) and paying off my undergrad debt. The link to vote is here. Thank you so much!

Apparently I linked to Ms Batts last month with this item.

I have to agree, it is kind of silly the award criterion, not the scholarship itself but I voted for her anyway. Last I looked she was in second place.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:06 AM)
Budging myself

Dave Budge, a week or so ago, sought to evaluate bloggers from the leftosphere, Montana division, and devised this scale:

The points on which I will score a given blogger will be based in the following criteria each on a scale of 1 to 10 with a combined possible total of 70 (reserved for people like James Lileks):
  • Sense of humor
  • "Eruditeness"
  • Imagination
  • Originality
  • Level of vitriol (inverse relationship the lower the number the higher the vitriol)
  • Overall quality (do they give "good blog") and, last but not least
  • relative rank on the N-SHWP scale. (inverse relationship)

N-SHWP, you should know, standeth for "Neo-Socialist Hand-Wringing Pussy," a subspecies for which Mr Budge presumably has no use.

Were I to rate myself on this scale, I'd see fives and sixes all around, maybe a seven for the last item. (I'm not much of a "neo-socialist," but I've been known to engage in hand-wringing.) This puts me around 40.

I don't, of course, take this sort of thing too seriously, but it does reflect the idea, one which I've held for some time, that there are criteria for blog evaluation other than "Do they agree with me?" And this probably explains the haphazard appearance (okay, it's alphabetized, sort of, but that's it) of my current blogroll, though it in no way should be taken to assume that I've scored each and every entry therein except in the most perfunctory manner.

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:11 PM)
17 October 2007
Better Vented than most

The first of my five hundred fifty-three (as of this week) columns under the title "The Vent" appeared on the 9th of April, 1996, one of my seven original pages. (And it's still up.)

I mention this because somebody clearly wants to use this title for commercial purposes. Yesterday, a search came through here, duly recorded by the log, looking for "THE VENT" TELEVISION OR TV OR SITCOMS OR SITCOM OR AUDIO OR VIDEO OR PAPER OR CLOTHING OR TOYS OR TOY OR GAMES OR GAME OR PLAYTHINGS OR BOOKS OR PAPER OR RADIO OR WIRELESS.

I must, of course, congratulate them on their thoroughness, even if they did mention "paper" twice. And by "they" I mean Thomson CompuMark, "the global leader in trademark research and brand protection," whence this search came. I note that they came in through Google and stayed for a good fifteen minutes, ending up on the Vent index page, where all 553 of those columns are linked.

Now I don't for a minute believe that any "somebody" willing to shell out for what must be fairly pricey research is going to give up on a premise because some D-list Web site might have been there first, and anyway I don't do television or TV or sitcoms or well, you get the idea. Still, if anyone is wondering if I can be bought, there's only one possible response: "Make me an offer."

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:23 AM)
18 October 2007

The maximum value that can be represented by eight bits 11111111 is 255.

Meanwhile, Andrew Ian Dodge gives you maximum value in the Carnival of the Vanities edition #255, subtitled "Colon."

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:20 AM)
20 October 2007
What? More awards?

Well, I managed to get through the nomination process for the 2007 Weblog Awards without having my name mentioned, which is unusual for an odd-numbered year, but I'll take it.

And closer to home, we now have the Red Stater Worst Blog in Oklahoma award, for which the prize is a symbolic bronzed moonbat. I'm not up for that either, apparently.

On the larger subject of awards in general, a few people have wondered if my official diffidence indicates that at some point I got turned off by the process. And actually, I haven't: someone disgruntled would not have driven the 200 miles to Tulsa and back for the presentation of this year's Okie Blog Awards. But I have generally mixed emotions about public opinion: it's a lot easier for me to shrug it off when it's unfavorable or stupid or simply wrong if I don't embrace it too enthusiastically on those occasions when it tilts my way. And I figure that anybody who's looked at this site more than a few times has already decided that yes, this is worth the time, or no, how did this crap ever get into my RSS feeds in the first place, so it's not like I'm having to reinvent myself, Madonna-like, every few years in a desperate attempt to retain some portion of the audience's attention.

Which is, I suppose, another way of saying that there's a spot for me that doesn't reek of "avatar of a new age" grandiosity but isn't quite on the level of "another dork with an attitude problem." I'm still obviously looking for it.

Permalink to this item (posted at 12:17 PM)
24 October 2007

You're probably expecting something computer-related here, and I suppose I could do something obvious with two to the eighth, but instead I'll bring up something I've never actually seen in real life: the 256th, or "split," screen in Pac-Man.

After which, you should split for Dodgeblogium, where the 256th edition of Carnival of the Vanities, dubbed "Cancer," is already chowing down.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:57 PM)
25 October 2007
My rank pages

Venomous Kate has had it up to here with Google:

What do I have in common with JohnChow.com, ProBlogger, Forbes and the Washington Post? Google spanked all of us. Hard.

Page Rank is plummeting all over the web today, it seems, thanks to an unfathomable shift in Google's PR policies. Plenty of folks claimed at first that the dive in PR was limited to those folks who sell ads outside of the Google Adsense network but plenty of non-selling sites took a dive, too.

As a non-selling site, I figured I'd check out my own Page Rank. I used to have a little gizmo on the sidebar that actually read it off, but it was down more days than it was up and I eventually just removed the code. But the site that does the lookup is accessible without the widget, so I duly punched in the URL, and this is what I find:

  • Page Rank before the Big Plummet: 5
  • Page Rank after the Big Plummet: 5

I note that NewsOK.com rates a 7, which suggests to me that Google is rewarding sites with inscrutable interfaces in which case I probably should dig out one of my older templates and try for a 6.

Disclosure: At the time I first installed the aforementioned widget, I was a 6.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:38 AM)
An audience of some

New York-based Scarborough Research reports that eight percent of adult Americans either write or contribute to blogs [link to PDF file], and that in some particularly-wired cities the percentage nearly doubles.

Scarborough doesn't define "contribute," though I suspect it's a notch above "read": posting a comment, for instance, would likely be considered a contribution. The heaviest blog usage is in Austin, where 15 percent of the grownups are involved in blogdom. (Oklahoma City comes in at a slightly-above-average 9 percent; Tulsa is spot on at 8.) Buffalo and Pittsburgh are the least bloggy of metropolitan areas, with only two percent usage.

Demographics of this particular cohort:

[B]loggers are young and hail from middle class families. They are 66 percent more likely than the national average to be between the ages of 18 and 34. Fifty percent of bloggers are part of a household that has children under 17, as opposed to 41 percent of the total population. Bloggers are 20 percent more likely than the national average to have an annual household income between $50k and $100k per year.

Apparently I missed on all these.

(Via BatesLine.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:44 PM)
28 October 2007
Things I learned today (15)

Which doesn't necessarily translate into "things I'll remember tomorrow," but it's a start.

  • Buy an extra pair of "Impeach Bush" socks for when Jeb runs in 2012.

  • Firearms have mass.

  • For some reason, poor people don't like being told what to do by the government.

  • Don't have a credit card? You can still rent a car. Bring crack.

  • "Health tourism": leaving the country to find a place that will address your medical needs more quickly.

  • Maxim: read by assholes.

  • Not everyone trusts Wikipedia.

  • You need these Web sites for your cell phone.

  • Games? Not so much.

  • There's a reason they call it "the curse."

  • President Bill Richardson will investigate UFOs.

  • It takes more than half a mile of yarn to make a shawl.

The end of this series is not yet in sight.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:53 AM)
Grrl Genius gets the boot

I've had more than one occasion to quote Cathryn Michon, author of The Grrl Genius Guide to Life, who for many months has been posting regularly to the iVillage blog community.

No more. As she explains elsewhere:

A few months ago, iVillage.com brought on a new editor in chief, Jennie Baird. I haven't met Jennie, but she has been highly regarded in the world of the Internet. Previously she was at AOL and was a great success there.

Probably because she has observed the trend of free content on the web (most evident in the overwhelming popularity of YouTube) Jennie has made the difficult business decision that iVillage.com will no longer pay for blog content.

Which means I can no longer afford to write this blog, and as of next Friday, there will be no more Grrl Genius blog on iVillage.com. I don't know how long the archives will remain on the site, but I won't be creating any new content. No one will be taking over the blog because Grrl Genius remains my intellectual property and franchise.

Later she found out how long the archives would remain on the site:

I compared the situation to what is going on here in Hollywood, and iVillage.com, well ... as near as I can figure kind of "freaked out." Within 12 hours they removed all of the blog content off the site, and have blocked all comments from readers asking what had happened.

What is going on in Hollywood, not incidentally, is the possibility of a writers' strike, and:

Like most of my fellow actors and writers I am just a middle class person in show biz (not a superstar with oodles of money to live off when I'm not working) so I have to spend as much time as I can creating projects I can live off of when there is no paying work to be had as a writer or actress here.

The Guild's Minimum Basic Agreement expires on the 31st. Writers can earn big bucks, though the average annual income is about $44,000, which doesn't go far in Hollywood. (Heck, it doesn't go all that far in Oklahoma City.)

I have no doubt, however, that this will end well: one of the distinguishing characteristics of the Grrl Genius is that she always lands on her feet. She might not get to wear heels for a while, but that's a small price to pay.

Disclosure: If I seem unduly concerned with the well-being of Hollywood types, well, once upon a time there was a (very) slight chance that I could have been one of them.

Permalink to this item (posted at 3:09 PM)
1 November 2007

In 1890, John Philip Sousa composed a march for the Corcoran Cadets, based in Washington, DC. The actual Cadets unit, founded in 1883, survives today as the 257th Army Band, District of Columbia Army National Guard.

This week's Carnival of the Vanities, the 257th in the series, has been designated by keeper Andrew Ian Dodge (may he live a long and happy life) as "Impending," although it's actually already up.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:36 PM)
5 November 2007
An inadvertent truth

"We urge you to invest some more time researching unfit sites."

This was the entire text of a spam TrackBack received here this weekend; the proffered link points to a vendor of antiperspirants. (No, they get no link here.)

And while it's certainly fun to look at unfit sites once in a while, there are more than enough fit ones to occupy my time, thank you.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:16 AM)
8 November 2007
Days off? Says who?

Lileks retreats from the fray, for the briefest of intervals:

I know, I know: it seems like I just took a quasi-semi-demi vacation. But they build up behind the scenes, and they must be used, lest they be lost forever. But there's absolutely no reason I can't post just because I'm on vacation. The ethos of blogging demands it. The only good excuse for not updating your blog is a coma, and even then you should be able to communicate a post in Morse Code somehow, perhaps by altering your heart rate. Look at the monitor, doctor he's trying to tell us something!

The guy (if guy it be, which it need not) who comes up with a front end for Movable Type that runs on an EKG gets my eternal gratitude.

Incidentally, this is the 2,695th consecutive day with some sort of post here.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:12 AM)
13 November 2007
This is a test

Let's see here:

Excellent Source of Whole Grain & Fiber

Not bad. What's this in the fine print?

Diets rich in whole grain foods and low in saturated fat and cholesterol may help reduce the risk of heart disease.

Now here's an "Enlarged to Show Texture" and the infamous "Serving Suggestion." On the side in really narrow print, the actual ingredients: whole grain wheat flour, wheat flour (presumably only partial-grain), malted barley flour, salt, dried yeast ...

Oh, the hell with it. It's true. I'd rather read The McGehee Zone.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:36 PM)
17 November 2007

You gotta "love" this: The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks.

Although I must admit that for me, anyway, the crux of the biscuit is the apostrophe.

(First link via The Trouble with Angels.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:59 AM)
How to increase blog traffic

Attila Girl queries some of the A-listers:

I did ask the Big Dawgs for advice on improving my traffic. Rusty suggested that "sometimes the shallowest posts bring in the most hits," and you could never go wrong by posting pics of girls in lingerie. Ace told me that the fastest if not quite the classiest way to get traffic was to blog about how hard it was to find a bra that was the right size for one's ample breasts. When I told him I was okay now that my local Nordstrom had a new buyer, he looked at me funny. After that, he spoke more slowly, and a bit more loudly. And he used shorter words.

I'm not buying either of those explanations, but I did reprint them here to see if they get me back over 600 a day.

In a related story, I've gone back and culled some of the MP3s I've posted in the last year or so, mostly because my bandwidth usage has gone up tenfold not because of actual readers, as it happens, but as a result of people hotlinking the files for use on their own sites. (What is so common as the Tragedy of the Commons?) If you have no idea what I'm talking about, here's a bunny with a pancake on its head.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:04 AM)

The sum of four consecutive prime numbers: 59 + 61 + 67 + 71. Also, the number of episodes of Carnival of the Vanities thus far; the current edition is subtitled "Still Here," while Mr Dodge posts from hospital. As always, we wish him well.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:23 PM)
21 November 2007
A milestone, though not so grim

The database that runs this place crashed in September 2006; no posts were lost, but I thought it better (and a better use of my time) to start over with a new directory structure than to try to wedge everything back into a structure which had already crapped out on me once.

The item linked above is the first post in the new database; this is the 2500th.

(For completists, there were 7,196 posts in the old database; there exist about 800 posts in the old manual system, used here before August 2002, so we're comfortably, if that's the word, over ten thousand.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:00 AM)
23 November 2007

Give a listen to the singing group Two Five Nine, and then betake yourself to Dodgeblogium, for the 259th edition of Carnival of the Vanities, subtitled "Turkey."

McGehee once predicted there would someday be a post here titled "260", which may well happen next week.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:13 PM)
25 November 2007
Even cheaper

I signed up with this particular Web host on the last day of 2001. They offered four plans, from dirt-cheap to downright pricey; I took one in between, and that's been the deal ever since.

Until someone came up with "Why are we offering four different plans, anyway?"

And so it came to pass that there would be one plan, with a la carte options as desired, and the price of that plan is a tad more than their previous bottom-feeder offering but about half the price of the mid-line package I used to get. And now there are discounts for prepaying by the year, which I've always done anyway.

Bottom line: the price of operating this place has dropped by about $100 a year, despite the fact that owing to some dubious hotlinkage I've chewed up about 60 GB of bandwidth this month. (Usually it's around 3 or 4.) My disk quota seems to have dropped a bit, but I'm nowhere near the 600 GB I'm allowed, so I'm not sweating it.

Now if I can just remember when I have to renew all these domains, I'll actually have matters under control. Sort of.

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:01 AM)
29 November 2007

The Carnival of the Vanities is sore this week, though not as sore as I'd be if I had to make the payments on this house on 260th Street in Covington, Washington. (And actually, I'm kind of shocked that they'd slap a house this size on a lot of less than 5000 square feet; the whole parcel would fit in my back yard.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:57 AM)
8 December 2007
To friends of Megan Wallent

If you've come looking for the "Not even the buffet" post, it's here. It's scheduled to scroll off the front page today, and this is easier than just bumping it back up.

(Ms Wallent mentions the item in a Rant.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:52 AM)
13 December 2007
The wheat/rye guy

A regular commenter around here for quite some time, and a blogger in his own right and, sad to say, he may be leaving us:

During Drinking Right last night we got a call from Triticale's wife.

She told us he is not doing very well. His Doctors only give him a few more days.

We offer our respect, best wishes and prayers.

No more can I add, except to do the same.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:12 PM)
18 December 2007
Seat of tranquility

There's no way I can not link to something titled "My ass can be seen from space".

Especially when it's true.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:35 PM)

The 261st edition of Carnival of the Vanities has been dubbed "ISP-less" by Andrew Ian Dodge, which explains much about why it was a week later than anticipated. I'd hate to try to come up with anything under those circumstances; I'd sooner try to unfold a tesseract, and we all know how complicated the fourth dimension (or a fourth dimension, anyway) can be.

(Incidentally, a tesseract unfolds into eight cubes, and there are 261 different possibilities.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:17 PM)
19 December 2007
Partridge, schmartridge

On the first day of Christmas
My true love sent to me
A widget in a sidebar.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:15 AM)
22 December 2007

Right before Christmas, logically enough, we have a Pre-Noel Edition of Carnival of the Vanities, and I'd best get up a link for it before Christmas actually gets here. Contrary to what certain animated rodents might claim, Christmas comes up rather quickly, in the manner of the old Messerschmidt Schwalbe, aka Me 262.

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:13 PM)
24 December 2007
Paparazzi in the crazzi

Actually, I don't care one way or another about what happened here, but I do love this title: Britney Spears and Photographer Suspected of Making Quick F-Stop At Beverly Hills Hotel.


Permalink to this item (posted at 4:03 PM)
25 December 2007
Exposition sous forme de blog

New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art evidently knows me better than I thought:

More than any other art form, fashion is an immediate expression of our Zeitgeist. While painting and sculpture can seem removed from our understanding, fashion is so familiar, so ubiquitous to our experience, that it is tangible, accessible, and open to a wide range of interpretations. Individuals who might avoid publicly commenting on a canvas by Picasso or a bronze by Brancusi readily disclose their thoughts about a gown by Galliano or a mule by Blahnik. Unlike its haughty siblings, fashion even in its most extreme and avant-garde expression does not estrange us from the belief in the essential aptness of our judgment.

This is the opening of the first entry to blog.mode: addressing fashion, an online exhibition by the Museum of fashions contemporary and otherwise, actively soliciting reader comments. (The site is set up as a WordPress blog.) One piece will be featured each day. My favorite so far (there are thumbnails of the items to come, but no text as yet) is this silk crepe dress, resplendently red, by Yohji Yamamoto, with a pair of curious curlicues above the bodice, a structure which, says the blog author, "recalls sea anemones in retraction or coral formations." As abstractions go, they're almost, I dare say, Brancusi-like.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:02 PM)
26 December 2007
Splogs illustrated

In recent weeks, as much as half of the linkage accorded to me on Technorati has come from scraper sites, a subset of spam blogs ("splogs") which are explained thusly:

The purpose of a splog can be to increase the PageRank or backlink portfolio of affiliate websites, to artificially inflate paid ad impressions from visitors, and/or use the blog as a link outlet to get new sites indexed. Spam blogs are usually a type of scraper site, where content is often either Inauthentic Text or merely stolen (see blog scraping) from other websites. These blogs usually contain a high number of links to sites associated with the splog creator which are often disreputable or otherwise useless websites.

One which perplexed me greatly was Treadmill Reviews and Information, a subdomain under, of all things, a John from Cincinnati message board. The operator basically scrapes everything that mentions the word "treadmill" including this recent post of mine, which uses the usual "42nd and Treadmill" shorthand to describe my workplace. Obviously it has nothing whatever to do with treadmills, but the splog is just jam-packed with the Google AdSense links you might expect.

Of course, I'm putting this up to see if it gets scraped which is why I put all the derogatory definitional stuff in the first couple of paragraphs.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:25 AM)
27 December 2007

Right after Christmas, logically enough, we have a Post-Noel Edition of Carnival of the Vanities, and since most of the 263-related material I could find on short notice is in languages of the Pacific Rim I couldn't speak if my life depended on it, I'll simply point you to something I did comprehend, sort of: 263 common English mistakes by people whose primary language is German. (Then again, you should see the common English mistakes by people whose primary language is English. And if you read these pages regularly, you'll see a lot of them.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:53 AM)
29 December 2007
Or maybe "Big Bang Bilderberger Bar"

Actually, I think "International Jew Banker" is a splendid name for a blog.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:36 PM)
30 December 2007
Hire standards

I tend to pay attention when Venomous Kate speaks on the question of blogging for bucks, since (1) she makes decent bucks at it and (2) she understands the dynamics of blogdom as well as anyone I read regularly.

So when VK says that your paid reviews suck, she's got a reason for it:

Stop writing reviews that sound like Marketing 101 blurbs. Stop trying to act as salesmen and -women trying to pawn off various products to your readers. Stop it, stop it, STOP IT.

Your first duty is to your readers. Entertain them. Inform them, yes, but entertain them in the process.

Luckily, if you let go of your delusions that your job is to actually review stuff, you can do both in the process.

Remember: advertisers want their stuff to come up in relevant search queries. You can make that happen and entertain your readers at the same time.

I must admit here that I do actually review stuff from time to time, though I have the grim satisfaction of knowing that I'm not going to get paid for it.

But her point seems clear enough: yes, you can write "A is great" and get a check from A, but everyone, A included, is better served if you explain that A is great because it exceeds the standards previously set by B and because it enables you to escape the consequences when C comes along. Or something like that.

In other words: you don't get to slack off on your writing just because there's a price tag involved. Entrance to paid-blogging nirvana comes when the following dialogue is relevant to your post:

"But she got paid for that!"

"Yeah, so?"

(Disclosure: I just turned down an ad buy on the front page. Obviously I'm still seriously diffident about the whole concept.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 12:55 PM)
1 January 2008
Worst titles of 2007

Listed chronologically:

"Hoosier daddy?" (6 January)
"Dead man hawking" (16 January)
"May I have this Dansk?" (17 January)
"Just a Falcon minute" (6 February)
"Dugong show" (25 February)
"When the levy brakes" (17 March)
"Downholstery" (1 April)
"Nothing could be finer than the feeling of angina" (21 April)
"Philately will get you nowhere" (1 May)
"Bjørn under a bad sign" (6 May)
"The pained, it's plain, look vainly at the mains" (2 June)
"Hot funds in the summertime" (19 June)
"La belle dame sans culottes" (19 July)
"Jeep thrills" (29 July)
"Something Wiki this way comes" (17 August)
"Icahn has cheezburger?" (16 September)
"Tanks for the maladies" (22 October)
"N2 the mystic" (31 October)
"Got the Mercedes bends" (4 November)
"Living in debasement" (6 November)
"And just ice for all" (9 December)

(Total number of 2007 posts: 2,021. Some marginally-acceptable turns of phrase are recounted here.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 12:00 AM)
2 January 2008
Making cents of all this

Gawker Media's Valleywag blog has gone public with a memo from Gawker management specifically, from Noah Robischon, who presumably sitteth at the right hand of Nick announcing a new pay plan for the blog staff. Some of its points, I think, are worth noting by those of us who don't get paid by the pageview:

It's only on the internet that a writer's contributions can be measured. At newspapers, a reporter's reputation depends on the opinion of their editors, which can be fickle. Some people get on because they play the office politics well. Or simply because they're more aggressive in lobbying for more prominent jobs, or pay increases.

Advertising people say that the internet is special, because the audience's engagement is so much more measurable than that of newspaper readers, or television viewers. Which makes it so bizarre that most writers, on the internet as in print, are paid for the sheer brute quantity of their output.

"Don't knock sheer brute quantity," said some character who put up over two thousand posts in each of two consecutive years.

In short, we have repeated the bad habits of traditional media organizations: leaving remuneration to the arbitrary will of upper management; and, by treating words as if they were Soviet steel output targets, encouraging quantity over quality.... [W]e now really are reaching the limits of sheer volume. Readers can't take any more. And the proliferation of blogs, and social news services such as Digg, has changed the rules.

Where there was a shortage of attitude and commentary, there's now a surfeit. And what's in heavy demand, and short supply, is linkworthy material, by which I mean a secret memo, a spy photo, a chart, a well-argued rant, a list, an exclusive piece of news, a well-packaged find.

I daresay, three, maybe even four percent of my stuff thus qualifies.

To be fair, I can see Robischon's point, and it's been all too visible throughout the Denton Empire, which at times has come off as a, perhaps the, leading vendor of snark qua snark. (Major exceptions: Lifehacker, because it's firmly anchored in reality, and Fleshbot, because it's firmly anchored, um, somewhere else.) So paying these folks a flat monthly rate plus bonuses for pageviews, as the new plan ordains, actually makes a certain amount of sense.

Although there's this, from a commenter:

Gee, that's a great idea. I'm sure no one would ever once consider using zombie PCs to increase their monthly bonus.

But it was always thus: there exists no system that cannot in some way be gamed.

I just hope they're not relying solely on Sitemeter numbers to pay these folks.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:11 AM)
4 January 2008

This week Andrew Ian Dodge has thoughtfully prepared a Caucus Edition of Carnival of the Vanities. As before, it's text, no video, so no MPEG-4 compression using the H.264 standard.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:49 AM)
6 January 2008
Maybe a caucus would be better

Or at least more entertaining. I spent a good forty-five minutes assembling a ballot for the 2008 Bloggies, and I think I did a reasonable job of it, all things considered.

How it works:

From now until 10:00 PM Eastern Standard Time (GMT-5) on Friday, January 11, 2008, anyone can nominate their favorite weblogs.

That Sunday, January 13, three panels of 50 voters will receive an e-mail. It will list the weblogs that have received the most nominations in ten categories. They will have until 10:00 PM EST on Friday, January 18 to privately submit their five favorites (six for Weblog of the Year) for each category. The five (or six for Weblog of the Year) receiving the most votes will become finalists.

Finalists will be announced on the 22nd; the winners will be announced in March.

And no, I did not vote for myself: there was no category for Least Improved.

Update: An otherwise-rational man has nominated me for the Lifetime Achievement Award. Doesn't this require me to, like, achieve something?

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:26 AM)
7 January 2008
Because you can't get enough links

This place has been littered lately by nondescript TrackBacks from Thorny Path and Blog Bookmarker, which bill themselves as "social bookmarking" services: think Facebook plus StumbleUpon.

Blog Bookmarker seems to exist only to draw people into something called Hey! Nielsen, as in "Nielsen ratings," an extension of the company's research into Web 2.0, or at least 1.5. I've picked up a smidgen of traffic here and there from them, but only a smidgen; then again, most of the stuff I write is of scant interest to the sort of people Nielsen would like to research, and come to think of it, it's not impossible that this sentence could have ended quite a bit earlier. Thorny Path at least will let you look at some of the tagged items.

I had high hopes for sk*rt, a sort of Digg for dames, if you will, which hasn't taken off quite the way I'd expected despite its palpable No Boys Allowed vibe, a major selling point in some circles. Still, I've been known to hunt down stories through sk*rt, knowing that (1) I have a fair number of female readers and (2) there's a lot of stuff down that way to which I'm otherwise quite oblivious. If only one of these services should survive, this is the one I consider the keeper. Besides, they don't clutter up my database with TrackBacks.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:10 PM)
10 January 2008

This week's Carnival of the Vanities is dubbed "Picc" by Andrew Ian Dodge; he doesn't explain the title, but I hope he's not referring to one of these, which looks sort of painful.

Oh, about the number 265? It's what they call a Smith number: the sum of its digits is equal to the sum of the digits in its prime factorization. (It's 5 x 53; 5 + 5 + 3 = 2 + 6 +5.) I threw this in just so I could mention its origin:

Smith numbers were named by Albert Wilansky of Lehigh University for his brother-in-law Harold Smith whose phone number (4937775) was the first noticed Smith number.

On a landline, anyway, Mr Smith is probably a long-distance call away, and your long-distance carrier (and inevitably, you) will be paying a PICC.

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:07 AM)
12 January 2008
An exceedingly-minor version increment

You may not have noticed this, but the sidebar is now two pixels wider.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:17 PM)
14 January 2008
I think they should call it "Sonny"

A passel of Tufts University students have put up a blog to well, the subtitle says it all:

A select group of America's most brilliant students who are actually getting academic credit (if not a stellar grade) for goofing off on this blog.

One post so far, from "The Minions," who advise:

Remember that one of the goals of this project will be to generate traffic from other blogs and from web surfers. Therefore, a name that attracts interest or curiosity is more advantageous than something generic.

As an example, you might find it amusing that one blog that enjoys significant traffic is called "This Blog Is Full of Crap."

I need hardly point out that Laurence Simon objects to his traffic being called "significant." Still, the name for this new enterprise is indeed critical, and to show that I have a heart, I offer an even number of half-hearted suggestions:

  • The Huffington Pissed
  • 19-Year-Old Women With Large Breasts
  • Like Glenn Reynolds, But Without Saying "Heh"
  • We Thought They Were Saying "Woo-burn"
  • Carbohydrate Wisdom
  • My36DD
  • Bin Laden, Done That
  • Duncan Hunter Read This Once
  • Panic! At The Bursar's
  • 20-Year-Old Women With Large Breasts

You're very welcome.

Update: They've tweaked a few things, including the tag line, which now contains the phrase "wait till Dad finds out", and The Minions have given way to The Perfessor.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:43 AM)
17 January 2008
An audience with but a single thought

And that thought, apparently, was "Can we see Amy McRee?"

SiteMeter trace

I have no idea whence this sudden demand arose: normally this is good for 10, maybe 15 hits a week, tops.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:26 PM)
18 January 2008

This week's Carnival of the Vanities, sensibly designated "mid-Jan," is the 266th in the series.

This week I think I'll give a shout-out to Pope Benedict XVI, the 266th in that series.

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:59 AM)
20 January 2008
Things I learned today (16)

Which, of course, is a euphemism for "link dump."

  • Hydrox is still dead.

  • God forbid you should be late on your taxes.

  • Richard Warman, Scourge of Canadian Bigots? Major bigot himself.

  • How to survive a North Dakota winter.

  • One of your favorite Web designers has a nursing license.

  • Amazon.fr will continue to offer free shipping, French objections notwithstanding.

  • Assuming we get this "fiscal stimulus" check: will interest rates be dropped more slowly?

  • Rail: shiny, appealing, expensive. Bus: grubby, functional, cheap.

  • "What, we have to change our passwords again?"

  • A politically-incorrect pizza.

  • If Lifetime is to be believed, women prefer psycho killers or sex addicts.

  • For when an amplifier that goes to 11 isn't enough. [Possibly NSFW]


Permalink to this item (posted at 11:34 AM)
24 January 2008

This week's Carnival of the Vanities is dubbed "Primary," presumably in reference to the ongoing American political shindig. As usual, it's infused with all manner of bloggy delights.

Speaking of infusion, the line of 267 Infusions that's the brand, not the number of varieties combines fruit flavors with premium spirits, and believe me, a premium spirit or three would be most welcomed in this day and age.

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:17 PM)
26 January 2008
Off the front page

Those of you with incredibly long memories will recall that there's been non-blog stuff going on at this site since its first few pages went up in the spring of '96; most of it is covered in the front-page sidebar under the title "Vital features." I spent much of today sprucing up one of those features.

"Single File" is identified as a "not-quite-random assortment of not-quite-forgotten songs," stuff I picked out of the archives for no discernible reason other than the fact that I could come up with a paragraph about it. It occurred to me last night that no matter how well I describe a record, it's no substitute for actually hearing it, and not wishing to have rabid record-industry lawyers beating down the door, I decided I would add to each of the entries there are somewhere around forty a thirty-second sound sample. (They're in MP3 format with a 128 bit rate: nothing special.) If I learned anything from the experience, it's that not every record suggests an obvious half-minute excerpt, which you'd think would have been perfectly clear to me after a certain amount of ringtone experience.

Anyway, I got all those in place, and even wrote up a new item for the list: "Are You a Boy or Are You a Girl" by the Barbarians.

Permalink to this item (posted at 4:49 PM)
31 January 2008

This week's Carnival of the Vanities is dubbed "into Feb.", which makes sense for a compilation created at the very end of January.

Inasmuch as the Carnival is always presented in text form, this seems like a good time to honor Giambattista Bodoni, creator of the typeface that bears his name, who was born in February 1740 268 years ago.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:49 AM)
4 February 2008
Sent forth from the Black Tower

Information isn't top-down anymore: we don't have to settle for artificial dissemination.

So I'm pleased to see that the Oklahoman is paying out Steve Lackmeyer's leash a bit, giving him his very own WordPress blog. (And if you're coming here from OKC Central, this is the story on that Minnesota Sonic Drive-In.)

Now to see if his TrackBacks work.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:20 PM)
6 February 2008
Some time today

Visitor number 1,500,000 should drop by.

It took 99½ months to get the first half a million; 20½ to get the second; just under 23 to get the third. (I've never quite gotten back up to the heady traffic levels of 2005.) Still, the numbers I used to get in a month in 2001 (and in a year before that) are numbers I get in a week today.

Now if only I had some content for all these folks to read....

Update, 6:28 pm: Someone local, yet, off a Cox IP and running Mac OS X and who apparently has me bookmarked. Imagine that.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:01 AM)
7 February 2008

This week we have an After-Tsunami Tuesday edition of the Carnival of the Vanities, and I suspect we're all a bit waterlogged, or something.

"It must be raindrops," said Dee Clark, noting that "a man ain't supposed to cry," even though we're coming up on Valentine's Day and once again I have nothing to report, except to note that the saint in question was martyred, according to some sources, in 269.

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:30 PM)
10 February 2008
Rolling up the numbers

It's taken ten months, apparently, but a thousand folks have dropped by Middledawn so far.

Inasmuch as we're not dealing with the sort of person who will run up her own meter I think she's toggled off her own IP from the count I propose that we run it up for her. It might even prod her into writing some more.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:04 AM)
14 February 2008

Andrew Ian Dodge is clearly not suffering from Obamaitis, but he's decided to hang the name on this week's Carnival of the Vanities, the 270th edition, just the same.

Speaking of Obama, should he win his party's nomination, he'll need 270 electoral votes to become President.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:19 AM)
22 February 2008

This week's Carnival of the Vanities was dubbed "in the end," not because it's coming to an end, but because it finally showed up after all. (We hope Mr Dodge is feeling better.) It also had nothing to do with the departure of Fidel Castro, although 271, as it happens, is a Cuban prime.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:20 PM)
27 February 2008
Initiative noted

A scary quote, to be sure:

"My older daughter is getting married," he told me. "So she's making sure to have her wedding before we go to trial, so I can walk her down the aisle."

That's Paul Jacob, whom you may remember from such classics as "No, Really, We Expect Everyone Who Circulates a Petition to Actually Live Here." He's speaking to Attila Girl, and you really should, as the phrase goes, Read The Whole Thing.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:54 AM)
29 February 2008

This being the 29th of February, a date you don't see that often, Andrew Ian Dodge has chosen to designate this week's Carnival of the Vanities as "COTV Leap Year," which seems only fair, although I must point out that he actually posted it on the 28th.

My first Leap Year was 1956, and I don't remember if we celebrated it at all. In my current frame of mind, which doesn't have much kindly to say about February, the hardest I'm likely to party is to treat myself to some fast food, utterly ridden with calories. In the expectation thereof, here's a list of the 272 worst.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:49 AM)
6 March 2008

The March of the Carnival of the Vanities goes ever on, at least for the next few weeks or so, when presumably the April of the Carnival will begin. I'm looking forward to it, if only because of the random statistic thrown out by the National Weather Service's VHF radio service this morning: of the five months with the greatest recorded snowfall since Oklahoma City meteorological records began, three of them were March. (Thanks, guys. We're under a winter weather advisory even now.) And frankly, I'm tired of getting up every morning to freezing temperatures around 273 degrees Kelvin.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:50 AM)
10 March 2008
General Kern fusion

Inasmuch as a quarter of my traffic these days is Sally Kern-related, here's a compilation of links to everything I've written about her.

Could she be a Greg Kihn fan? (19 June 2004)

On the King and King dustup (2 July 2005)

Restricting children's library access (16 March 2006)

About that "biggest threat" business (8 March 2008)

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:44 AM)
11 March 2008
Great heaping googobs of fail

John Hawkins of Right Wing News dished up a list of the Top 10 reasons bloggers don't succeed. It might have carried more weight if he'd come up with a concrete, or at least non-aerosol, definition of "success," but right now, let's see how we're doing:

  1. They're just not very good.
  2. They don't cover interesting material.
  3. They're not unique enough.
  4. They don't network.
  5. They don't promote their work.
  6. They're not consistent enough. They take days off.
  7. Doing their initial promos too early.
  8. They don't link out enough.
  9. They don't post enough each day.
  10. They don't hang around long enough.

Certainly I've hung around long enough, and I suspect I probably post enough. My last day off was some time in the summer of 2000, so that's not an issue. On the other hand, I really don't promote this stuff, mostly because I can't think of any reason why I should: if it's any good, and once in a blue moon it is, word will get around, and if it's not any good, word will get around just as fast. Maybe faster.

Then again, unlike Mr Hawkins, I'm not trying to make a living off Web writing. I think it's marvelous that some people can; but I have no illusions that I can be one of them. Perhaps I'm just not "unique enough," whatever that's supposed to mean.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:59 AM)
13 March 2008

The soothsayer warned Caesar, "Beware the Ides of March," but Andrew Ian Dodge has no fear: he's posted a Carnival of the Vanities to the Ides, and hang the consequences, a spirit worthy of the revered Scotsman Robert Roy MacGregor, usually known simply as "Rob Roy." who passed from the scene 274 years ago.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:50 AM)
This should end early

The Lost Ogle's ongoing whatever-it-is continues, and today it's the Midwest Region, Lower Bracket, in which yours truly (#11 seed) is being thoroughly trounced by a Broadcast Face (#5). I am, of course, appalled that I got any votes at all, but apparently my equilibrium is more easily upset these days. Perhaps I need to get out more.

Voting in this bracket continues through midnight CDT, after which I won't have to worry about it again. (Bless you, O God of Single Elimination.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:12 AM)
14 March 2008
MT promises

And, in my experience, MT delivers. Mostly. But Jesum Crow, it's a pain in the neck sometimes, and the reason WordPress is eating its lunch might be as simple as this:

Probably the single biggest reason for WP's success is the one-click install and one-click upgrade offered by Dreamhost and other web host companies. I can literally setup a WP blog for anyone in less than 3 minutes. Most of that time is post-install customization, as well. The plugin ecosystem is far more vibrant on the WP side than MT, and the proliferation of styles and themes means that the end user need only choose from a bounty of available options if they don't want to tinker on their own but tinkering is also very, very easy since the various files can be edited directly from within the online administration pages.

And re-tinkering is very, very common; I've set up three WP blogs, two for myself, one for somebody else, using exactly that DH one-click install, and about every other version, something they've done breaks all the customization I've done and I have to redo, or at least recopy, a fistful of templates. Meanwhile, what you see here is basically a slightly-souped-up Movable Type 2.21 template that has worked through all of my 3.x installs, though the powers that be Six Apart are careful to note that comment popups are "deprecated," the current euphemism for "We don't support that anymore." I can't prove it, but I suspect this was motivated by the ongoing penchant for popup blockers.

Still, I have a certain fondness for WordPress, and indeed I once recommended to management down at the shop that (1) they should start up a corporate blog and (2) they should run it on WP. After the "ZOMG PHP!" grousing subsided, the proposal was tabled, and the table was then folded up into a FedEx box and shipped to Lower Elbonia.

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:44 PM)
16 March 2008
Things I learned today (17)

Yes, it's a fresh link dump with a stale old name. What of it?

  • This guy might be able to help your fledgling import business.

  • Oklahoma: Not the gay hell you might think.

  • A gunship with a frickin' laser on its frickin' flank.

  • Best sports headline ever?

  • All Spitzer, all the time.

  • Biodiesel production halted at one Minnesota plant because of high soybean prices.

  • Yeah, yeah, we know, American kids don't know squat. Neither do British kids.

  • Zelda Fitzgerald: head case?

  • The Oscar Meyer Wienermobile is downsized.

  • Will Farscape be revived on the Web?

  • Cap'n Crunch's first name: Horatio.

  • Name this trucklet. ("El Camino" seems too obvious.)

  • ICQ: once an IM system, now a toothpaste.

(As always, the definition of "today" is somewhat less than strict.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 4:35 PM)
20 March 2008

This week's Carnival of the Vanities has been dubbed the "tardy edition" by Andrew Ian Dodge, though it didn't seem all that late to me. Dodge blames a "heavy chemo day," the sort of thing that can slow down the best of us. Before it happens to me, I'm hoping we get some sort of Restorer of the World, a title bestowed by the Roman Senate on Emperor Aurelian after he reunited breakaway empires under Roman control, shortly before his death in 275.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:18 PM)
26 March 2008
Not that you'd notice

The text size for non-blockquoted material in the content column not in the sidebar has been boosted ever so slightly. (Stuff in blockquotes was left alone, for the sake of greater differentiation.)

Also, the dark red background is no darker, and no redder, but a bit wider: it's now 1680 pixels. Those of you who have screens 2000 pixels wide well, you're lucky.

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:00 PM)
27 March 2008

This week's Carnival of the Vanities is titled "BTCC is back." What is BTCC? Andrew Ian Dodge explains:

[It's] the British Touring Car Championship. Proper saloon car door to door racing without F1s ponces.

The tradition of the British gentleman, obviously something to be preserved. We haven't seen anything else like that in automobiles since the Japanese domestic market abandoned the "gentlemen's agreement" that limited advertised horsepower to 276.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:03 AM)
28 March 2008
Oh, fudge

The Blog-O-Cuss Meter - Do you cuss a lot in your blog or website?
Created by OnePlusYou - Free Online Dating

"Sometimes they say shoot. But they can't kid me, man." George Carlin

(Via the angelic Tamara K.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:40 AM)
29 March 2008
If not killing time, at least wounding it

Since we haven't had one in a while, I'm declaring a More-Or-Less Open Thread. Try not to go too berserk, okay?

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:00 AM)
3 April 2008

This week's Carnival of the Vanities is dubbed "Fools," no doubt after the first day of April, arguably the highlight of this week. I doubt seriously Mr Dodge was making reference to the fools who go zipping down US 277 (which is, at least in my neck of the woods, also US 62) in the dead of night at ridiculous speeds.

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:43 AM)

I have no idea what that might mean, although I suspect there are those who are fulvier than I.

But for one brief, shining moment, the term did sort of actually exist:


Coming soon: The Fast and the Fulvy-est.

Addendum: Just to prove I take pedantry very, very seriously, we present the LOL Fulvous Whistling Duck.

Fulvous Whistling Duck

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:20 PM)
4 April 2008
Building a female audience

Advice from Neil Kramer:

Every day, I receive an email from a different male blogger, always with the same complaint, "No women ever read my blog. How do you get so many hot chicks to read Citizen of the Month?"

Men, take note. This is the most important post that you will ever read. My female readership is no accident. It took years of experimentation and market research. Most men make one major mistake when wooing a woman online: they act as if they are wooing themselves.

Actually, a reader emailed me once to suggest that I woo myself, though not exactly in those words.

I don't think my female readership is accidental either, though I'm darned if I know what the trick is. (Surely it can't be the occasional shoeblogging; there are plenty of people who do it better and/or more often.) My current best guess is that I appear to be able to distinguish between real life and beer commercials.

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:32 PM)
5 April 2008
Meet the new look, same as the old look

Being considered for the Occasionally Asked Questions file: "How come this site looks exactly the same, year after year?"

The answer would be something like this:

[M]y favorite layout and color scheme ever and he's had the good sense to keep it for something like six or seven years.

Close enough. This particular template, slightly modified over the years, was implemented in August 2002. One reason I haven't jumped on the Movable Type 4 bandwagon is its lack of support for the pop-up comment box, which I prefer to the new-and-unimproved method of dropping you directly onto the individual archive page. The color scheme was originally sort of a lark: I resisted traditional black-on-white, which in some variations causes me eyestrain, and after twiddling with literally dozens of color schemes from various suggested palettes, I decided to select from the blandest possible colors that had names assigned by Netscape. (You remember Netscape, don't you?) The background color is something called "floralwhite." The 2000-2002 pre-MT pages were done in a shade called "antiquewhite." (Before 2000, there was neither rhyme nor reason nor any consistent design around here.)

I did, for a brief period, swap the left and right columns, but that didn't last.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:10 AM)
Things I learned today (18)

Keeping in mind, of course, that "today" is at least as open to interpretation as "and the evening and the morning were the first day."

  • Oh, that Iggy Pop, always the student-council type.

  • The semicolon is doomed; or is it?

  • They say we're young and we don't know, won't find out 'til we grow.

  • In all probability, no parrots were involved in your most recent root-canal work.

  • "Yes, I know I was speeding, Officer, but you must understand: I have two wives."

  • The Gaylords must be spinning in their graves.

  • Learning everything you can about a tree kills the tree.

  • But what if you want a discontinued model of car stereo?

  • Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, rice, furikake, nori, spam, spam, spam, and spam.

  • North Dakota hunters must receive 14 hours in instruction before licensing.

  • James Bond: Boy, do we need him now.

  • A homeschooler wiki is born.

  • Today is the anniversary of the invention of warp drive, 55 years from now.

More eventually.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:43 PM)
6 April 2008
Blogging ourselves to death

Twelve years into this little technological exercise, and maybe I'm not getting enough exercise:

Two weeks ago in North Lauderdale, Fla., funeral services were held for Russell Shaw, a prolific blogger on technology subjects who died at 60 of a heart attack. In December, another tech blogger, Marc Orchant, died at 50 of a massive coronary. A third, Om Malik, 41, survived a heart attack in December.

Other bloggers complain of weight loss or gain, sleep disorders, exhaustion and other maladies born of the nonstop strain of producing for a news and information cycle that is as always-on as the Internet.

To be sure, there is no official diagnosis of death by blogging, and the premature demise of two people obviously does not qualify as an epidemic. There is also no certainty that the stress of the work contributed to their deaths. But friends and family of the deceased, and fellow information workers, say those deaths have them thinking about the dangers of their work style.

If I get to the point where this seems too much like work, I am out of here faster than [fill in name of distasteful waste product] through a [conduit for same].


I'm pretty sure you could take a random sample of most white-, blue-, and no-collar occupations and find three middle-aged men who had heart attacks since December, not to mention members who have gained weight. I say most because there's not a lot of 50-y-o men teaching preschool.

And if not, so what? If you work in the mines, you know you're going to get black lung. If you flip burgers, you know you're going to get acne. If you build skyscrapers, you know you could plummet 30 stories to your death. If you blog, you might not get enough exercise. Whoop.

Hey, I had acne before I ever flipped burgers.

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:45 PM)
7 April 2008
Thank you, John

Conservative Grapevine has named dustbury.com "website of the day" for some reason or other. If you need me, I'll be in the other room looking for a hat to tip to John Hawkins.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:42 AM)
9 April 2008
Twelfth anniversary

I'm still trying to figure out how this Web site lasted longer than my marriage, longer than all but one of my jobs, longer than most of the cars I've owned.

Some largely-recycled thoughts on the matter here.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:56 AM)
10 April 2008

"Spring is here?" Andrew Ian Dodge asks as he presents this week's Carnival of the Vanities. I'm pretty sure it is here: not only is my office flooded to a depth of 2 cm (again), but we're starting to see more dogs, in and out of costumes, around town. (If this latter concept does not disturb you, here are 278 of them.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:00 AM)
15 April 2008
I thought it sounded familiar

I'm not quite sure exactly what axe this site intends to grind, but it's definitely short on original content: this particular post is a rewrite well, a retype, anyway of Vent #477. Uncredited, of course.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:08 PM)
17 April 2008

With a nod to the American tax system, Andrew Ian Dodge has released the Taxing edition of Carnival of the Vanities. Unlike your actual tax forms, you can go through the entire Carnival in about half an hour, the length of an episode of the BBC's Thirty-Minute Theatre, of which 279 were made.

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:55 AM)
22 April 2008
Now this is what you call a title

"State shaped like penis bans Truck Nutz".

Just what you'd expect from America's Wang.

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:25 PM)
24 April 2008
Something in the water?

Erica reports that MNspeak.com vanished briefly:

Due to non-updated credit card information, MNspeak's domain name expired yesterday and the site was down for the better part of the morning.

Speaking of Twin Cities sites, for much of yesterday Lileks.com was replaced by one of those annoying registrar placeholder pages.

Coincidence? Maybe. Then again, blogdom runs on conspiracy theories, so I'll entertain any good explanations (and some bad ones, if they're sufficiently entertaining).

Update: A lot of this going on today, including another outage at Lileks' place.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:00 AM)

In graph theory, there are 280 plane trees with ten nodes. Consequently, 18 people around a round table can shake hands with each other in non-crossing ways, in 280 different ways, including rotations. And if 18 people (280 is just out of the question) had signed up for this week's Carnival of the Vanities, Andrew Ian Dodge might not have described it as "curt."

Permalink to this item (posted at 12:59 PM)
30 April 2008
Getting the occasional rebound

Seth Godin declares:

This is a truth of the Internet: When traffic comes to your site without focused intent, it bounces.

75% of all unfocused visitors leave within three seconds.

Any site, anywhere, anytime. 75% bounce rate within three seconds.

While I have no reason to doubt Mr Godin's numbers, I also don't have much reason to worry, since (1) this site doesn't pay my bills anyway and (2) this means that a quarter of you are hanging around for four seconds or longer.

I wouldn't be surprised to hear that some of you read this entire post in four seconds.

(Via Mister Snitch!)

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:44 PM)
1 May 2008

The May Day edition of Carnival of the Vanities is, as you'd expect, hosted by Dodgeblogium, a well-established WordPress blog which is not using Paul Stamatiou's 281 theme.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:00 AM)
Tulsa starts here

It's the fifth anniversary of BatesLine, and, courtesy of the Wayback Machine, here's a look at the first month's worth of posts.

And there's no arguing with this:

[F]ive years of fairly consistent and continuous blogging is pretty impressive in a world where blogs start and end at an alarming rate, if I do say so myself.

And he does say so himself, which is why I've read Michael Bates for about 4.95 of those five years: you know where he stands, and he has a pretty good idea where the bodies are buried.

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:52 PM)
5 May 2008
There's a lot of stuff here

I can't imagine any way I could ever fill up all the Web space I'm paying for, and no doubt this is one reason why I clutter up the archives with an additional 150 pages or so every single month. (Another is sheer packratitude, a tendency I exhibit in Real Life, despite the urgent need for occasional decrapification.)

Not everyone is quite so indifferent to the load. For example:

Up to now, it's all been contained in a single MS Access database file. That file peaks out at 100+MB and takes fifty minutes for City Desk to publish. Eventually, I will have to devise or buy a better method of handling the thing. But for now, I'm taking the view that no archive file past two years old is so worthwhile as to need to be preserved online. I have, accordingly, cut off the archive at the beginning of June, 2006. Anything older than that will not be accessible for a while. And, if I find it's no loss, that "while" may become permanent.

My own database is only about 16 MB right now, but it got up close to 75 before it crashed in September '06, and I shudder every time I go through a mass rebuild. Still, all the old pages remain in stasis, which is helping to choke the life out of everything:

Now there's 8 million people building their Google-fu, with their tags and their five-way archive systems and their carefully-coddled text.

Everything archives now! The internet is a vast disaster. Is there any conceivable reason that Twitter needs to keep all our stupid-precious text messages forever?

What the internet needs is a great big server wipe. The ephemeral is way more important. If you want to keep it forever, get a Moleskine and a fireproof safe and put that in a concrete bunker. What good is it doing you anyway?

Which brings us back to packratitude (packrattery?). A vicious circle, this.

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:38 AM)
Not "p@nts" either

Sk*rt, a sort of Digg for Dames, is changing its name for some reason. Of the finalists, I'm partial to "Lemonade," if only because they've suggested that they'd go to the trouble of snarfing up a German domain for it: it would perforce be lemona.de. I think "Kirtsy" will win, though.

Update: Geez, I was right.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:05 PM)
6 May 2008
Sorry, no vacancy

Think you can change the world with your blog? You're deluded, says Professor Bainbridge:

[W]ith the exception of a few professionals like [Kevin] Drum or Andrew Sullivan, most of whom are sponsored by traditional journalism outlets, blogging tends to be the hobby of people with full-time jobs who do it because it's more fun than stamp collecting.

I do in fact have a day job: 45-50 hours a week, most weeks. And while at one time I had a box full of nice (if not exactly mint) uncanceled stamps, I learned early on that philately would get me nowhere.

(Oh, come on. You knew this was coming.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:05 PM)
8 May 2008
Minor adjustments

I've decided to give the Carnival of the Vanities its own section on the sidebar, rather than a single entry each week which (1) draws heinous amounts of spammers for some reason and (2) requires me to come up with some cutesy verbiage which exploits the individual Carnival number, which (3) Andrew Ian Dodge isn't using anyway.

In view of this change, and the fact that not everything I do around here is exactly intuitive, consider this an open thread to post your questions about site mechanics, motivations and policies. (Besides, there's a Woot-Off today, so I'm probably not going to write a whole lot of new stuff.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:45 AM)
9 May 2008
Local boys make good

Me, I rather enjoyed the Gazette's take on The Lost Ogle, partly because author Rod Lott apparently talked to actual Ogles at some point, but mostly for Tony's final point:

"I don't think people realize how hard it is to put up good content every day. And I'm not saying we do that."

Seldom are truer words spoken in blogdom.

Still, the piece gave short shrift scarcely any shrift at all, in fact to where Tony, Clark Matthews (how come he rates a surname?) and Patrick might be going with this little enterprise of theirs. With that in mind, I'd like to offer a few suggestions:

  • Find a picture of Jenni Carlson in a bikini.
  • And then don't post it.
  • Drive Jim Traber to tears.
  • Drive Jim Traber to Saskatchewan.
  • Put together a petition to nominate Gary England for a Nobel Peace Prize.

This should secure their future for the next ten years or ten million page views, whichever comes first.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:11 AM)
11 May 2008
April follow-ups

Herewith, updates to two April items.

On the 9th, I put up a list of the QAM channels then available on Cox non-Digital Cable. Most of the items on the list still worked, but curiously, the HD channels had dropped out of my channel scan. A fresh scan revealed that they'd all been moved.

Two days later, I posted something about Crocs' new Cyprus line, which is genuinely plasticky but otherwise unCroclike. In a comment to that post, the estimable Dr. Jan announced that she was ordering some, and I came back with "Send me a picture, if you dare." Well, she dare. I'm not going to post it here, but I will say this: they don't look half bad in black. And apparently they run large for the size, so go small if you're buying.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:48 AM)
12 May 2008
Never lacking for material

Not for a long time, I suspect: ThingsYoungerThanMcCain.com includes, among other things, Helvetica, FM radio, and Keith Richards.

(Via Pop Culture Junk Mail.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:47 PM)
18 May 2008
Things I learned today (19)

Also known as "link dump in lieu of actual content."

  • His scarf, it was apricot.

  • Britain's National Vegetarian Week begins Monday.

  • Sodium, schmodium. Pass the salt.

  • The advantages of being a polygamist's wife.

  • Sony will happily sell you a Vaio notebook with Windows XP instead of Vista.

  • GOP: too stupid to survive?

  • We're about to lose another women's college to coeducation.

  • You don't buy beer, and if you did, you'd eventually have to liquidate your holdings.

  • If you subscribe to the St Louis Post-Dispatch, you can save money by not having it delivered.

  • Do Smurfs reproduce asexually?

  • Them musk tuckers.

  • Do not wear sandals in the laboratory.

  • Next big thing: Segways for shopping-mall security guards.

More whenever.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:27 AM)
Titles wanted

James Joyner has begun a Best Post Title Ever contest, and there's at least a measurable chance that something of mine might be worthy of consideration, though I tend to be the worst judge of my own work and have no idea what to send in.

My current list of possibilities:

"We had joy, we had fun, we had 92.1" (26 March 2004)

"Where the gripes of Roth are slurred" (29 January 2006)

"Nothing could be finer than the feeling of angina" (21 April 2007)

"The pained, it's plain, look vainly at the mains" (2 June 2007)

"Backstage at the Grendel Opry" (24 February 2008)

"We come to Barry Obama, not to praise him" (2 March 2008)

"Longoria in excelsis" (10 April 2008)

"They also surf who only stand on waves" (16 April 2008)

"Endorse is endorse, of course, of course" (24 April 2008)

I don't expect it to go anywhere, but one that gave me considerable pleasure in the concoction was a bit recounting Elisha Cuthbert's wanting to do an all-female version of Glengarry Glen Ross, which I put out as "Second prize is a set of dress shields" (26 April 2008).

From the looks of things, contest entries are to be submitted as comments (and maybe as TrackBacks) to the original Outside the Beltway post. If there's some post title it doesn't have to be one of mine that's particularly inspired you over the years, send it in.

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:06 AM)
27 May 2008
Let them know someone cares

Technically speaking, this plugin is not actually available for WordPress, but I figure with a little bit of elbow grease I could tweak it enough so it wouldn't work on Movable Type either.

Still, the premise is appealing, although I might have to change some of the target words in my spam filtering.

Permalink to this item (posted at 4:07 PM)
14 June 2008
Mobile link dump

A few random things kicking around in the cache:

  • "Does this dog make my butt look big?"

  • A combination glucose meter and 5-passenger sedan.

  • The Wind Erosion Laboratory at Kansas State was destroyed by a tornado.

  • I can has appliqué?

  • Optimus Prime, your ride is here.

  • Clark Griswold, your ride is here.

Permalink to this item (posted at 5:07 PM)
19 June 2008
Icahn has blog?

Or so he says, anyway:

The New York Post can finally drop its Carl Icahn blog-watch timer. The long-delayed Icahn Report blog is going live on Thursday, the financier and corporate agitator said on Wednesday.

The billionaire investor first disclosed that he will join the blogosphere in February, offering up anecdotes and a running commentary on what he describes as the desultory state of corporate governance in America.

But since then, the blog, http://icahnreport.com, hasn't contained any content, prompting the New York Post website to publish a daily "Carl 'I Can't' Blog Counter," with a live timer showing how many days, hours, minutes and seconds the blog has been quiet.

Update, 4:40 pm: Well, he's now got posts up. (He's running TypePad.) And he's not going easy on anyone:

When you rid a company of a fruitless board, the rewards are often enormous because the underlying company and its employees can be excellent. It is the top level management that hangs like an albatross around the company's neck. Years from now historians will marvel why we the shareholders the legitimate owners of companies did not do something effective about removing terrible managements.

This, I note, also works in the public sector.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:20 AM)
22 June 2008
Virtual pioneers

That's the title of a short piece by Kimberly Mauck in Oklahoma Today (July/August) which offers a brief glance at the Oklahoma blogosphere and an actual photo of Mike "Okiedoke" Hermes in a flannel shirt.

Which reminds me: the 2008 Okie Blog Awards should be coming up before too long.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:11 PM)
29 June 2008
Things I learned today (20)

The first one, "how to do a link dump," is pretty much a gimme.

  • Odysseus returned from the Trojan War around noon on the 16th of April, 1178 BC.

  • Always wash your quinoa.

  • Rock and roll: occasion of sin?

  • It's true: everything's going to BOk.

  • Does it stiffen your competitive edge?

  • Mad hybrid-driver skillz.

  • Five reasons to hold on to that gas guzzler.

  • Make that six.

  • How to tell a red-stater from a blue-stater.

  • Free speech in Canada: not actually dead.

  • Had we but world enough, and lube....

  • The record industry is having to pay legal fees for people it wrongfully sued.

  • Only you can prevent camel toe.

  • Barbie as Tippi Hedren. (Birds included.)

Next edition, whenever.

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:04 AM)
Clinton faces up

Back in November, Don Danz put together a collage from Zombietime's Really Truly Hillary Gallery, using thirty-two photos of the Big She. It was very well done, as these things go, and in May it showed up in B&W form on the Drudge Report.

But now the collage has gone on to bigger and better things: as the backdrop for Dennis Miller's Bathrobe Sessions, a Webcast shot in Miller's home with Miller literally in his bathrobe. I don't know if I'd want to have 32 images of Hillary looking at me in my bathrobe to me, it suggests a besotted Henry VIII beset by visions of his wives but then that's just me. And congratulations to Don for making his mark in Mediatown.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:33 PM)
2 July 2008
The trouble with pervs

They're so, well, pervasive, and they tend to scare off bloggers of the feminine persuasion, even hardy souls like Jacqueline Passey:

[A]nyone including stalkers and creepy strangers can read what I post here, so I have to censor myself much more than I would if I was writing only to people I know. My husband doesn't want me posting pictures of him because he doesn't want weirdos stalking him in the poker room and/or outing him as a professional gambler to the fish. My more privacy-oriented friends and family members don't want me to blog about them at all. I often start to write about my plans then delete it when I realize that I'm giving out too many details about where I'm going to be when (I've had some bad experiences with creepy men showing up places to pester me after finding out where I was going to be from my blog).

She's contemplating moving to Facebook, where at least the creeps will be creeps she already knows.

File this under "Let's call this song exactly what it is":

I've noticed that a hugely disproportionate number of my blog "friends" are single heterosexual males (SHMs). Perhaps this is just an innocent correlation due to a combination of my primarily "male" interests and the additional free time that singles have available to spend socializing online. But I suspect that in many cases it's because their interest is more than friendly. This was flattering when I was single, but now that I'm married I'd prefer that my friends not fantasize about having sex with me.

I realize that sexual attraction is not every SHM's motivation for befriending me (so no need to leave ego-deflating comments about how much you don't want to have sex with me, thanks :) ) but it's the motivation of enough SHMs that it makes me suspicious of all of them. Especially since I am apparently not very good at reading people in this area I've been surprised by how many of my SHM "friends" suddenly stopped speaking to me after I got married. (Many of these former "friends" also used to pretend that their interest was only "friendly" when I was single, so I've stopped believing SHMs about their true motivations for friendships with women.)

Self-preservation in action, I'd say. I hate to bash my half of the species, but I suspect the rep we have is pretty much the rep we earned. I just went back through some of my outgoing email, and I noticed that more than once, when writing to a female blogger, I've included a line to the effect that "I promise not to hit on you." Unless, of course, I was actually hitting on her.

And I hasten to add that I'm not generalizing from a single example, either. We call Moxie to the stand:

Just wanted to thank Dan Collins at Protein Wisdom ... for noticing since I mentioned that "boyfriend" word my male readers have moved on out!

I'm trying to think of any instances where I quit reading someone upon discovering she was off the market.

Update: Ace-alanche!

Further update: Facebook it is, and the old blog (not to be confused with the older blog) is now closed.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:02 AM)
Vapor barrier

I'm sure this is happening to someone, though not to me:

You know, of late, I've noticed a disturbing sexist pattern of behavior in some readers of blogs I visit. Swooning, crying and apparently, in some cases, fainting. Pass the smelling salts, will you? Said swooning and likewise super girlie behavior can usually be found on the blogs of men. Hence the sexist aspect of this widespread epidemic. And frankly, this has me a little flooped out.

I mean, what am I, chopped liver? Yes, it's true, I'm jealous and feel more than a little left out. There is nothing more disheartening than visiting one of my buddies' blogs only to see an inordinate amount of female commenters, swooning, moaning and fanning themselves. It’s just not fair.

Maybe that's my selling point for the future. "Visit dustbury.com, now with 70 percent less vapor."

Actually, I don't have an issue here. There isn't a whole lot of swoonage in the comment box here, but then again, the sort of person who is actually going to read the sort of stuff I write on anything resembling a regular basis is, I suspect, not given to fainting spells. Besides which, I have a fair number of female blog friends, and I have no reason to assume that their interests are largely prurient.

This question, though, I'll have to pass on:

Can men only safely express their emotions during the Super Bowl and gut-wrenching sex?

To those of you who have managed to have gut-wrenching sex during the Super Bowl, my congratulations.

Permalink to this item (posted at 3:43 PM)
6 July 2008
Trust me, I blog

Not such a great idea, notes Mister Snitch:

We should also put a stake in the heart of bloggers being 'more honest' than commercial writers. That was a nice warm fuzzy comforting blanket for the first wave of bloggers, but it just ain't so. There's actually nothing inherent in blogging that dictates it will attract more honest citizens than other forms of written expression. There are honest bloggers, and dishonest bloggers. No one is without agenda, and as with most human endeavors, it's the crusaders and reforms you really have to watch out for. They'll get you whether they're leading a church, 'saving' you from dishonest politicos, or writing a blog. Ultimately, you'll have to make up your own damn mind about where the truth lies

Reminder: "Reform" and "deform" are even closer to each other than they look.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:42 AM)
8 July 2008
The indifference of "linky love"

Getting linkage from other blogs, says Louis Gray, doesn't contribute as much to your traffic as you might think:

At one time, I thought being linked to by the most prominent bloggers could have a significant impact on my traffic. And for a short time, it did. But now, I've seen traffic from other blogs to be driving an ever-declining percentage of visits to my site, swamped by social media tools, aggregation sites, and of course, Google search.

Is the Instalanche, for instance, dead? Maybe so.

I know links power Google juice, and they enhance Technorati rankings, and if done well, people can find new sources of data, but the ability for even a so-called A-List blogger to deliver a windfall of visits is much less than I had ever expected. It is now more important to be part of the social media sites that drive strong traffic the Twitters and Techmemes and FriendFeeds and Stumbleupons and Reddits, if traffic is your goal. Those sites, combined with RSS activity in Google Reader and other programs are what will drive traffic.

I've long since figured out that I have more readers through the feed than I do through the actual front page. Occasionally I'll draw a Stumbleupon; I've never seen any readers from Reddit. Googlers, however, contribute at least a third of the SiteMeter total. (Which doesn't bother me, since they also contribute blogfodder.)

But consider: apart from RSS, for this month the single biggest source of traffic has been Ace of Spades HQ, which picked up on this post and sent roughly 1300 visitors my way. Which suggests a modification to Mr Gray's premise: if you're as far down in the hierarchy as I am my Technorati ranking hovers around 35,000 the occasional link from the A-list is still very much a factor.

(Also discussed Outside the Beltway.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:11 AM)
Widget research continues

This little BlogList (I think that's the name of it) gizmo I saw at But I digress... is pretty spiffy. It's got her blogroll, yes, and it's even sorted by freshness, but it gives not only the site link but also the link to the most recent post, and it's festooned with favicons where appropriate. As semi-automated lists go, this rolls all over BlogRolling.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:06 PM)
11 July 2008
Mouse of the beholder, or something

For some inscrutable reason, Playboy is taking votes for "the Web's hottest blogger." While I have no particular quarrel with the nominees, and indeed I predicted something similar two and a half years ago, this strikes me as unnecessarily one-dimensional.

I'm not taking any kind of moral position here. I like to look as much as the next guy, unless the next guy happens to be Benedict XVI; I just prefer to keep gawking and reading in two separate sections of the brain. Makes life so much easier. And besides, I have no grasp of the Hefnerian Zeitgeist, despite having paid actual money for the magazine for twenty-five years.

(Found in the comments section of The Breda Fallacy; Breda wants you to know that if you ever nominate her for such a thing, she will hurt you. Bad.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:44 AM)
13 July 2008
Things I learned today (21)

On the heels of one thing I've learned over and over: there's always room for a link dump.

  • "The majority of us are walking about with pig corpuscles and oxen fragments in our brain."

  • Kitteh haz baby teef.

  • How to rig the Magic 8-Ball.

  • Someday San Francisco will tell your cell phone where you can park.

  • "When your entire world view politics, religion and gender relations can be summed up in bumper stickers, you're clearly a drooling homunculus of epic proportion."

  • Suggestions for dealing with Brett Favre.

  • The fine art of the floorcloth.

  • Half the chickens in Korea come from Indiana stock.

  • Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild says Barack Obama is "elitist."

  • Russian blogger gets one year suspended for "extremism."

  • Colombia: not the gem of the ocean.

  • Ford sues IRS, claiming the government owes them $445 million in interest on overpaid taxes.

Look for this again some other time.

Permalink to this item (posted at 10:30 AM)
14 July 2008
Want List update

Last week I mentioned that we were going to need some local NBA bloggage, unaffiliated with the team, the media, or for that matter with me.

Let's see how Oklahoma City BBall works out. I have to give Joe T. credit for this team-name observation:

TORNADOES, or something like that
Ehhh, they are scary as heck. But I just never got naming your team after something that kills your fans.

This also eliminates PLAGUE, in case anyone was so minded.

Permalink to this item (posted at 3:24 PM)
20 July 2008
Plagiarism 2.0

As uncovered by Jeff Jarvis:

In my ego searches, I just saw a splog that copied text of mine but ran it through ridiculous almost-synonym replacements. I'm assuming this is done to fool Google into thinking it is original content and perhaps to fool the text cops folks like the AP hire. I won't link to them on principle but a sample:

This: "Yesterday, I was on a panel with Terry Heaton at the Public Radio News Directors' annual confab in Washington. Topic: blogging. Terry and I were almost through with opening tap dances when a hotheaded curmudgeon in the third row interrupted which is fine; we like conversation to go on the …"

Became this: "Yesterday, I was on a commission with Terry Heaton at the Public Radio News Directors' period schmooze in Washington. Topic: blogging. Terry and I were nearly finished with inaugural touch dances when a madcap curmudgeon in the ordinal bed broken which is fine; we same conversation to go on the …"

I don't know about you or Jarvis, but I'd much rather be thought of as "madcap" than as "hotheaded" though neither of these really goes with "curmudgeon," which strikes me as being closer to the phlegmatic end of the continuum.

Still, this is an object lesson in how difficult it is to produce acceptable automated translations. "Schmooze" for "confab" is good; "period" for "annual," not so good. And "third" is indeed an ordinal but you get the idea.

If there's a lesson here, it's simply that desperation levels are seriously out of whack: for only a trifle more work than went into setting up this scrape-and-reword system, these weasels could actually be producing their own original content. As Jarvis says, "It'd be funny if it weren't evil."

Permalink to this item (posted at 8:28 PM)
25 July 2008
More than just girl talk

The Writer Chick has put up a three-part series titled Women + Blogosphere = Impact, which consists of a small (sample size=14) survey of women bloggers plus WC's own answers to the questions posed. Since my own audience intersects with hers hardly at all, I figured I'd bring up some of the same points here and see what happens.

From a survey respondent:

[I]n general, women are more outspoken in their empathy. While men may relate to someone's story, they don't necessarily say too much about it. When I am reading other people's blogs, I comment when what they write about triggers an empathetic story in me. I rarely write one-liners when I comment. I want to share my knowledge and learn from theirs. I think men tend more towards networking, which is sharing information. Women lean more towards building communities, which is sharing wisdom.

This might seem obvious to some of you; it wasn't quite so obvious to me, but then I write one-liners all the time. That said, I'm quite interested in finding where the line is drawn between mere "information" and actual "wisdom."

Also from the survey:

I wonder if men are a little more fearless when it comes to blogging. However, I believe blogging gives women a chance to say things, especially anonymously, that they would never dream of saying out loud in their day to day life.

I'm not so sure that we're "fearless." "Heedless," I might believe; there's a lot to be said for a damn-the-consequences attitude, though it does occasionally result in, well, consequences. There is, however, some vestigial tendency among some of us to take the words of women less seriously than we do the words of men, and while I'd argue that this attitude is on the wane, it's far from being altogether gone. No wonder the women don't always speak up. WC herself touches on this phenomenon:

I do think that male bloggers are taken more seriously. Regardless of topic. Even the ones who write poetry or prose or the touchy feely stuff perhaps especially, because you know it's like a big deal when a man reveals his deepest feelings, right? But not so much when women do? WTF? I mean, seriously why is this?

I try to avoid appearing to have deep feelings, although once in a while, despite my best efforts, something creeps into the text. (If you were wondering why it is that some items appear here in the blog and others wind up in The Vent, this is a contributing factor.) Fortunately, my poetry is bad, so no one is likely to accuse me of being feely. Touchy, maybe.

A personal note: Were I to reorder my blogroll chronologically, starting with the first person I'd ever read on a regular basis, the top of the order would be Steph Mineart's Commonplacebook.com, which has been around in one form or another for fourteen years; I was reading her before I ever posted anything of my own. Was she influential in my early blog development? I don't doubt it. Then again, there are people who claim to be influenced by me, so take this with several units of sodium chloride.

Permalink to this item (posted at 3:35 PM)
8 August 2008
Worst. Blog. Ever.

Tyler Cowen has one in mind, but he's not saying which one:

I read many blogs but there is only one of the two or three hundred I have sampled which I find truly obnoxious. I find the content obnoxious and I find the style obnoxious and I find the blogger obnoxious. By the way, I don't think it is a blog which has ever said anything negative about me, at least not that I'm aware of. And it's not a blog on the blogroll or a blog I have, as far as I can remember, linked to.

I never read it regularly in the first place, but I don't think I can stand to read this blog any more ever again. Even so, I try to spin theories of how one blog and one blog only can have achieved such a special place in my mind. It's not a blog that covers special or unique topics, relative to the other blogs I read and link to. Is the world not a continuum?

I don't think I've ever said anything critical about Mr Cowen, and he has certainly never linked to me.


(Via Megan McArdle, who thinks she knows who it is.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:09 AM)
10 August 2008
Snark beyond boojum range

I'm still reeling from this line:

Can I even tell you how much I love Lanvin? I love Lanvin like a debutante loves Valtrex.

Estimated pH: 0.75.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:23 PM)
16 August 2008
Let there be inertia

Steph Mineart asks her Web host to upgrade her Movable Type installation to 4.2, and gets this back:

Movable Type 4.2 is more strict than Movable Type 4.1 when it comes to custom designed blog templates. We've seen some cases when upgrading from version 4.1 to version 4.2 stopped the blog from rebuilding, or when some plugins had to be disabled or upgraded.

If you have a custom blog design, or use custom plugins, I would proceed with caution simply because upgrading might cause your blog to stop working.

If you have a business/company blog, the recommended course of action is to setup a development environment on your hosting account with a duplicate copy of your Movable Type 4.1 blog. Then upgrade that development environment to Movable Type 4.2 and rebuild your blog. Then make a couple of test posts. If it works Great! You can now safely upgrade your live environment. On the other hand if your blog doesn't rebuild it's time to re-check your templates to make them Movable Type 4.2 friendly.

Because everyone has a spare development environment lying around, right?

I can assure you that nothing here can be expected to work in MT 4.2; my current templates date back to no later than 2.64 (some as early as 2.11), and they were massively tweaked (to the extent that a tweak can be considered "massive") to work with the present-day 3.21 installation.

And the surfer dudes who host this place, who will happily install WordPress for me at the drop of a hat, shudder at the very thought of Movable Type.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:39 AM)
Now this is what you call a title (2)

A guy who phished data out of AOL users for several years is getting several years in prison.

Ars Technica reports: "You've got jail!"

[Michael] Dolan and a group of co-conspirators ran a scheme from 2002-2006 in which they first trolled AOL chatrooms for user names, then bombarded these users with phishing attempts.

Victims typically received a link to a false greeting card which, when opened, installed a malware package. The next time the target attempted to log on to AOL, the program would request credit card numbers, bank account data, or other personal information. Users who refused to enter the data were prevented from logging into AOL. As schemes go, this was a fairly novel idea at the time, and I actually remember running into several systems infected this way. Dolan also sent spam purporting to be from AOL's billing department, asking customers to please reenter their billing details due to a server meltdown.

Good riddance to bad rubbish.

(Via Megan McArdle.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:10 PM)
20 August 2008

Back in November I mentioned something called Browsershots, which shows you reasonable facsimiles of what your blog will look like in various combinations of browser/OS. I got thirteen different samples back.

But that was last fall. Their sampling is more extensive these days:

Anyway, I entered the URL of this blog and clicked the "submit" button. After a couple of minutes of processing, the site returned thumbnails of how this blog looks in all of those different browsers. Great.

A few minutes later, I happened to stop by to check my Sitemeter report. TerryHull.net is a new blog, and I am still a little obsessive about seeing if I've attracted any new readers. I was surprised to see that my traffic had jumped by about 40 hits in less than an hour! The hits were coming in from all around the world: Brazil, France, Germany, Netherlands, Finland, Poland, the UK.

And where did all those hits come from? Right:

At first I had no idea what was going on. Had some big-time blogger mentioned one of my articles? My heart began beating a little faster. Then it occurred to me. This is just the result of that website test.

As the guy who runs the place explains:

When you submit your web address, it will be added to the job queue. A number of distributed computers will open your website in their browser. Then they will make screenshots and upload them to the central server here.

I suppose if you absolutely, positively have to have a couple dozen hits in the next half-hour, you could try this yourself.

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:26 PM)
22 August 2008
Things I learned today (22)

Wherein we pass on the linky love, and if you noticed that there are two ways to read that phrase, well, welcome to the clubbed.

  • She kissed a girl, and she liked it. Her mom, maybe not so much.

  • (Not to be confused with this.)

  • The new Camaro: it's Fergalicious!

  • You know Bach's Air on a G String? Not an underwear reference.

  • A nudist busted for freehiking gets no orange jumpsuit in jail.

  • Does Céline Dion have a doppelgänger?

  • Dear Bob Barr: Lose the 'stache.

  • You'd think the people would have had enough of silly pop songs. [More on this later.]

  • Oh. Wesley. I thought you said "weaselly."

  • If you must put a windmill in New York City, let it be atop City Hall.

  • The Fishing Bureau of Investigation?

  • Specially priced: $50 more!

  • Someone is actually taking my shoe advice? (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)

  • Innovations in bicycle control.

More whenever my links-to-commentary ratio is this far out of whack.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:04 AM)
23 August 2008
There's random, and there's random

Once in a while Blogger's CAPTCHA routine serves up something that seems like it ought to be a word: for instance, "pician," which I spotted a couple of years ago, or "neuon," which I saw today over at Fillyjonk's. ("I understand the Large Hadron Collider gives off several of these," I said.)

This one, on the other hand, probably requires no comment:


It seems to me that if we can pronounce "pwned," which is surely OED-bound, we can come up with a way to pronounce "fucnkq."

Permalink to this item (posted at 2:21 PM)
25 August 2008
Leak taken, ramifications considered

OU starting forward Blake Griffin was apparently busted for watering shrubs near a University parking lot last week, using an implement not on the school's approved list.

This is as close to a nonstory as exists in today's 24-hour news cycle, and I mention it here because it gathered a lot of comments when it was posted to NewsOK.com, which the paper subsequently decided to excise. Given the general level of discourse that prevailed in that particular thread, I can't say as I blame them.

Which should at least slightly rattle this guy:

We'll start each weekday with a post that will summarize the discussion that takes place at our daily Editorial Board meeting and invite readers to comment on the issues we plan to write about. Those online discussions will inform and sometimes influence our opinions. Because opinion page readers tend to be some of the best informed online users, we're betting the discussions will be both thoughtful and provocative. If they veer out of bounds, we'll moderate.

I think he's going to find that the "best informed online users" already have their own soapboxes, and they don't have quite so much faith in J. Random User.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:09 PM)
27 August 2008
Another minor milestone

Regular readers will recall that the database for this site crashed bigtime in the first week of September 2006, and while no posts were lost, I chose to restart the database at square one rather than reimport everything into what appeared to be a fairly rickety structure.

We're coming up on two years on the new DB, and this post from last night marks the 4000th post therein.

I will, you may be certain, start to get antsy around the 7200th post, the point where the old DB failed. (I did add one post to the old archives, to point to the new address for the feed; inasmuch as I changed all the archive addresses to avoid overwriting anything, the feed had to move.)

One number that always turns up is 2.5; for the longest time, I've averaged 2.5 comments per post. And sure enough, some time today or tomorrow you'll see the 10,000th approved comment since the database restart. (Spams and such have run the total received up to 13,700 or so, but they've been ruthlessly excised.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:55 AM)
"Heh" for rent

Mister Snitch! wonders if Glenn Reynolds has been bought off:

The only reason we can imagine is that Reynolds is being paid to sprinkle a certain number of Amazon links into his mix, the same way he is now quite obviously obliged to send PJ Media (and its affiliated sites) a certain amount of traffic. If you haven't noticed already, take a look at Prof. Reynolds' URL. Instapundit.com is history. The site is now http://www.pajamasmedia.com/instapundit, which as search engine optimization mavens know, is a gimmick designed to prop up the Google Page Rank of Instapundit's new parent PJ Media.

We now have to wonder what Reynolds was paid to change his URL, what he's paid to favor PJ Media links over others, and what he's paid to send traffic to Amazon. And mostly, we wonder why he never bothered to tell his readers. Could it be that he thought this less-merit-based criteria for choosing posts would not be applauded?

I dunno. I thought it was perfectly obvious by the mere fact that he did change his URL that he was going to be more closely associated with PJ in one fashion or another, and they made an announcement of sorts. As for Amazon, anyone and his sock-puppet-in-law can earn affiliate points; this is no big deal. (Frankly, though, I'd rather buy through Kathy Shaidle these days; she's got some staggering legal bills.)

Still, there's some reason for concern:

We also wonder just when Reynolds decided his integrity was a salable commodity. We don't MIND that he makes money doing what he does. In fact, he'd more or less have to be reimbursed for his time, after all these years. But, a guy who spends his days pondering the credibility of others (especially the media) should be strictly above-board. And taking money under the table like this, in any business, is just sleazy.

If it's under the table, how come it's so easy to see?

While the possibility of increased commerce may have affected his volume of linkage, I'm not persuaded that his editorial judgment has been affected in the same fashion. Of course, I don't use Instapundit as my major news filter, and in the absence of specific wording I don't assume that an Instapundit link to something necessarily implies an endorsement or recommendation beyond the simple "Hey, take a look at this."

Then again, you should not presume that I'm on the side of the angels just because I'm making no money from my site.

Permalink to this item (posted at 6:57 PM)
28 August 2008
Paying it sideways

Excellent BlogI am always dumbfounded when someone confers one of those blog awards on me, which happens once in a while; it seems easier to pretend I didn't see it than to acknowledge the thing and pass it on to however many deserving recipients I'm expected to name. Besides, as I thought everyone knew by now, I am surprised by any reaction to this stuff much more kindly than "I will eat dirt rather than bookmark this."

And so it was that Jennifer bestowed something upon me, which I more or less blew off, although I excerpted a line for the Testimonials section in the sidebar. This was not kind, and I do apologize for so doing. Inasmuch as this has been stewing for several months, I haven't really been in any position to make amends. Then a similar, yet different, award from Venomous Kate quite unintentionally solved the problem for me: I can pass along Arte y Pico to Jennifer, who's certainly earned it, and kick along an E for Excellent to VK for precisely the same reason.

Arte y PicoThen again, A y P requires that five be nominated for that award, so in addition to Jennifer, whose blog at Open Book is always insightful, even courageous, I'm passing it on to the following:

  • Writer Chick Talks: her way with words I can only envy;

  • Lynne ydw i: the ideal blend of mommyblog and curmudgeon;

  • Green Canary: life out loud, in living color;

  • Brian J. Noggle: he's deserving, and the inevitable belittling remark that will follow should be choice.

Now to graft a few inches onto the sidebar.

Permalink to this item (posted at 7:03 PM)
31 August 2008
6 girls 6 cups

I saw a need, and I responded.

(After the example of TJIC.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 12:41 PM)
2 September 2008
Possible system issues

Database updates are running at about 15 percent of normal speed for some inscrutable reason; if your comments seem to be taking an awfully long time to post, presumably this is why. I have turned in a trouble ticket to the host.

Then again, we had database issues almost exactly two years ago, which resulted in having to scrap the entire structure. I hope I don't have to go through that again.

Addendum: Working in the database alone is fairly speedy; it's just the writes to the actual Web pages that take up major minutes. (No, they're not on the same machine.) Pingwise, they're equidistant from here, but perhaps they're a long way from each other in the host network.

Permalink to this item (posted at 9:31 PM)
3 September 2008
Where did my table go?

I've never done Blogger, but I've seen some of its weirder excrescences, and apparently there's a fix for one of them: the ginormous blank space before a table. Apparently a little applied CSS is all it takes.

And a lot of applied CSS might actually clean up this site, though I'm not holding my breath. Besides, the existing stylesheet is already 7274 bytes, and it applies only to blogstuff; all the other subsections have their own declarations and decorations and whatnot.

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:59 PM)
4 September 2008
The charge of the light upgrade

Steph Mineart will go half a league onward:

A while back I put off upgrading my blog to Movable Type 4.2 because the upgrade would break the site, according to my webhost.

[I mentioned that here.]

Well, now I'm on a blogging vacation, and I'm ready to blow this puppy to smithereens. Because my custom templates are centuries old now, I'm going to install default templates and edit the design back into something resembling my site from there.

This is approximately where I say "Why didn't I think of this?"

And you have to admire the preparations:

I'm backing everything up, putting on my flak jacket and diving bell, and arming myself with my lion tamer's whip and a spare banana. I'm ready, steady, go.

I have faith that she will prevail. (Besides, she's got seniority, even over the likes of me.)

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:06 AM)
7 September 2008
September is just hell around here

It was 6 September 2006 when the database crashed.

For some incredibly-stupid reason, I decided to try to update Movable Type from 3.21 all the way up to 4.21 on 6 September 2008. It took four hours, and not everything is in place just yet: the comments popup doesn't work, for one thing. (It may never work again; they said they were dropping support for it, and while I'm looking for a workaround, there's a limit to how much I'm willing to put up with just to retain a feature.)

Also, until further notice, any comments that do come in will have to sit in the moderation queue until I have that rearranged to my liking.

But it's late and I need some sleep and I'm not going to work on this mess any further until I get some. Sleep, I mean.

Permalink to this item (posted at 1:32 AM)
And yet more frustration

Apparently it's impossible to retain all the functionality I built into this thing originally and still run the New! Improved! Movable Type; I've put six hours into it already, and the promised speed gains have yet to materialize.

We'll limp along for a bit longer, but WordPress is looking better and better.

Permalink to this item (posted at 11:46 AM)
The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

These archives begin 6 September 2006. For items beginning in August 2002, click here and select the desired category.

Click the Permalink on an individual entry to read comments and TrackBacks if any.