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.

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 canít 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. Itís 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 arenít even the prestige thing they once were. Heck, itís the readership that matters more, and CotV doesnít 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.

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 experienceÖThe 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.)

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 worldís 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 toÖ
  1. fret less.
  2. strut faster.
  3. reject Shakespeare and all his footnotes.
  4. click ďNext Blog.Ē
  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 rulesÖblogs haveÖenabled 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:

Iím in no mood for this. Iím 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. Theyíre not the ones I need to hear from if Iím going to prevent a recurrence of this issue. As little feedback as Iíve 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 Iíve 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 donít 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?

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.)