After the Gold Rush

The state of blogdom hasn’t changed much since the Silurian Period, notes Robert Stacy McCain:

Brains, talent, hard work and persistence ultimately win out in any competition, and the losers go home. That’s what has happened in the blogosphere since the Gold Rush days of the Great Blogging Boom. (Aside: When was ’49 in that analogy? That is to say, was the boom year 2002 or 2005 or 2006?)

I’m on record as dating the Beginning of the Boom to September 12, 2001: once we’d grasped the enormity of the horrors the day before, a lot of us felt the need to speak up.

Were I to go strictly by the spinning of my own SiteMeter, I’d have to say 2005; I was pulling about 700 visitors a day back then. Today, I’m (mostly) below 500, but I have more than 200 folks pulling the feed, none of whom advance the meter one whit, so apparently my traffic has stabilized over the past half-decade. Then again, someone with no traffic enjoys, or perhaps resents, the same level of stability.

As I have often pointed out, the people who are most successful in the blogosphere don’t match the popular stereotype of dropouts in pajamas ranting from their mother’s basement. They are people of considerable professional accomplishment in their offline careers, often with advanced degrees and specialized knowledge that is their stock-in-trade online. (I’ve never met Eugene Volokh, but if I did, I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t be wearing pajamas.)

I don’t think of myself as being especially accomplished in Real Life, at least in terms of Bacon, Bringing Home Of, but I’ll cop to “specialized knowledge”; as I no longer have to remind upper management, my particular skill set is pretty close to unique. Perhaps in reaction, I play the generalist on line, offering a hint of this and a smattering of that. And I haven’t owned any actual pajamas since the late 1960s, but that’s another matter entirely.

Winners win and losers lose, and self-publishing software has not changed that fact, except to allow some people to succeed as writers who did not previously have the opportunity to write professionally.

And while I’m not anywhere close to having a book deal or anything like that, I figure I’ve carved out my own little niche here, and as I said in the waning days of 2010: “[I]n a decade and a half of slogging away at the keyboard — and the same keyboard at that, I’ll have you know — I personally have gone from having no influence whatsoever to having extremely little influence. To me, that’s a major upgrade.”

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Exodus II: Electric Boogaloo

This isn’t even close to the worst idea I ever heard:

The Next Iran. You can take it to the bank. Extremely optimistic alternative: Another Turkey (though I doubt it). My solution? We take over Mexico, buy it from them or something, and en masse, move Israel to the Yucatan peninsula. It lacks the Biblical back-story, but it gets one of the USA’s stoutest allies out of the middle of the Musselman basket of snakes, lets those hunyaps rip each other’s guts out.

On the other hand, “Next year in Quintana Roo” just doesn’t have the same resonance.

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Top side of the Moon

Thursday’s shoe post gave you a look at Moon Bloodgood from there down. It occurs to me that you might want to see what else she was wearing at the time, the time being the 2007 AZN Asian Excellence Awards, and so:

Moon Bloodgood at the 2007 AZN Asian Excellence Awards

Moon’s mom was (South) Korean; her dad was stationed over there, and, well, you know the rest.

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Solar flareout

The Suns looked like they had this game won after the third quarter: they were up seven points, and Vince Carter had scored forty bazillion from downtown. Not an auspicious moment for Oklahoma City, but the Thunder have been there before, and tonight they knew how to get out of it. Carter was shut down — he got only one bucket in the last twelve minutes — and the momentum gradually shifted. Down goes Phoenix, 111-107, and off go the Thunder to Salt Lake City.

Then again, even with that fourth-quarter drought, Carter finished with 33 points, leading all scorers. All five starting Suns, plus bench big Marcin Gortat, managed double figures, but it was Vince’s show tonight: 11 of 21, including 6 of 12 treys, and half a dozen rebounds besides. But Phoenix, after hitting seemingly everything early on, couldn’t sustain that pace, and wound up shooting just under 46 percent. Worse, they left seven points at the charity stripe, and in a late dustup, both Steve Nash and Grant Hill were T’d up. (Which turned out not to matter, since Kevin Durant, awarded four foul shots for the play and the ensuing technicals, hit only two.)

I am becoming persuaded that the deciding factor these days is whether Jeff Green is on his game. Tonight, Uncle Jeff was definitely on: 28 points, even more than Durant (24, 11 boards), more than Russell Westbrook (19, 11 dimes). The Thunder outrebounded the Suns, 45-38, and dished up more assists, 25-19. But the guys to see were Serge Ibaka, who hit 9 of 10 from the floor and hauled in six rebounds, and Nick Collison, whose seemingly meager three points might distract you from his position as Glue Guy. (On the plus-minus scale, Collison was +25, far and away the best on the floor.) Thabo Sefolosha was back, but he was apparently not entirely healed, and he played only eleven minutes.

The Thunder will be back home at the Eventual Thaw Coliseum on Tuesday, to take on the Grizzlies. In the meantime, though, there’s that trip to Utah. The Jazz won’t be any better rested — they’re at Denver tonight — but they’ll be at home.

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I suspect Murphy approves

What comes after “shit happens”? This morning’s Oklahoman tells us in very large type:

Front page of the Oklahoman

Suggestions for Phase 3 are encouraged.

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Random useless weather statistic

For the first two days of February 2011, the official National Weather Service reporting station at Will Rogers World Airport — and why don’t they build a theme park called Will Rogers World while they’re at it? — recorded an average temperature of 11.2 degrees Fahrenheit.

I went looking for places with comparable February averages, and came up with:

  • Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada: -10.1°F.
  • Nome, Alaska: 5.7°F.
  • Nuuk, Greenland: 18°F.
  • Oslo, Norway: 25°F.

Now the normal Oklahoma City February average is 39°F. It would be nice to see that at least once before, oh, the first of March.

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Like I don’t lose enough of them already

Invisible paper clips! How do they work?

In the past, researchers have only been able to “cloak” microscopic objects using extremely complicated physics and so-called meta-materials made on a tiny scale.

But a new study at the University of Birmingham in the UK has taken a major step forward by making a paper clip invisible — an object thousands of times bigger than in previous experiments.

The research works by using a naturally forming crystal called calcite which has extraordinary light-bending abilities.

What’s not entirely clear to me, so to speak, is whether you have to have a crystal exactly the right size at exactly the right angle. The laws of physics will take some bending, but breaking them, I suspect, will require some serious quantum activity. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

(Technically not crossposted from here.)

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IP, less freely

It’s the end of the Internet, and I feel fine:

At a ceremony held on 3 February, 2011 the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) allocated the remaining last five /8s of IPv4 address space to the Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) in accordance with the Global Policy for the Allocation of the Remaining IPv4 Address Space. With this action, the free pool of available IPv4 addresses is now fully depleted.

Meanwhile, ICANN, which manages the address space, has no cheezburger:

“This is truly a major turning point in the on-going development of the Internet,” said Rod Beckstrom, ICANN’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “Nobody was caught off guard by this, the Internet technical community has been planning for IPv4 depletion for quite some time. But it means the adoption of IPv6 is now of paramount importance, since it will allow the Internet to continue its amazing growth and foster the global innovation we’ve all come to expect.”

I’m debating whether I want to add an IPv6 address for this humble site now, or wait until it becomes mandatory. (It won’t replace the existing IPv4 address, at least at first.)

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Banksy-er than thou

The one and only, or however many, Keyboard Cat in, um, Exit Through The Pet Shop:

I admit, I LOLed.

(Via Urlesque.)

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The snipe hunt takes a detour

Illiteracy, or just laziness? You make the call:

Donald Leu, a researcher from the University of Connecticut, conducted a U.S. Department of Education-funded study of Internet literacy among so-called “digital natives,” fabricating the tree octopus to test students’ ability to evaluate information they find on the internet.

Researchers asked students to find out information about the endangered Pacific Northwest tree octopus. Students had no problem locating a Web site dedicated to the cause, “but insisted on the existence of the made-up story, even after researchers explained the information on the website was completely fabricated,” according to a press release.

The proffered description of the critter is admittedly quite persuasive:

The Pacific Northwest tree octopus (Octopus paxarbolis) can be found in the temperate rainforests of the Olympic Peninsula on the west coast of North America. Their habitat lies on the Eastern side of the Olympic mountain range, adjacent to Hood Canal. These solitary cephalopods reach an average size (measured from arm-tip to mantle-tip) of 30-33 cm. Unlike most other cephalopods, tree octopuses are amphibious, spending only their early life and the period of their mating season in their ancestral aquatic environment. Because of the moistness of the rainforests and specialized skin adaptations, they are able to keep from becoming desiccated for prolonged periods of time, but given the chance they would prefer resting in pooled water.

We must mention here that contrary to the news report, while he did set up the experiment, Donald Leu did not actually create the story of the octopus out of water: Lyle Zapato concocted this tall tale over a decade ago, and it’s apparently been a reliable test of gullibility, or something, ever since. Which the students would know, had they bothered to look it up on Wikipedia.

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Semi-cruel shoes?

Moon Bloodgood in Tricida by Manolo BlahnikManolo Blahnik occasionally comes up with something that isn’t exactly gossamer, and you’re looking at an example: “Tricida,” a sandal with almost industrial-strength buckles, worn here by Moon Bloodgood. The legendary Shoebunny, who has spotted this shoe on several celebrities over the years, owns a pair of these herself, and if that alone isn’t reason enough to mention it here, this is: today, almost a decade after its introduction, “Tricida” is regularly selling on the secondary market (think eBay) for $300 and up, although lately you’re more likely to find it in white rather than black.

I figured this was simply because it was an elegant, uncluttered design, but maybe not. Said George Malkemus of Manolo’s US branch:

“This is our S&M sandal,” Malkemus explains, admiringly holding aloft the fearsome-looking black Tricida. “It’s all about the buckles and aggressiveness.”

I could believe that for Moon Bloodgood, perhaps, but not necessarily for Mandy Moore.

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Empathy Diminution Syndrome

As expected, science is now working overtime on justifications for sending senior citizens to Shady Acres:

Scientists claim to have finally figured out why grandparents can be embarrassing. They did it by studying a group of over 60s watching The Office, the sitcom featuring Ricky Gervais as David Brent, a socially inept middle manager.

Psychologists found that older people were less adept at spotting Brent’s gaffes, which include him abandoning a wheelchair-bound woman in a stairwell during a fire alarm and failing to realise he cannot dance.

Compared to younger participants, the older volunteers were also less able to identifying the varying emotions of the other characters.

“Gaffes”? Those aren’t gaffes. Those are conscious — well, maybe not so conscious, in the case of his dancing ability or lack thereof — manifestations of Brent’s actual personality as written, which, to borrow a line from an American sitcom, was evidently acquired at the Jerk Store. It’s not like he’s suddenly casting a light on himself; he’s always like that.

I suppose, though, you have to have vast experience with other people to recognize such things, and the most efficacious method of acquiring that experience is to live long enough to have seen them already, as those of us who have been throwing away AARP membership offers for decades can tell you. It’s not that we can’t identify people’s emotions; it’s that we just don’t give that much of a damn. Now all of you, get off my lawn.

(Via Fark.)

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Nobody rides for free

Oregon, home of some of our most enthusiastic environmentalists, collects a stiff 30 cents on every gallon of gasoline sold in the state. (The Feds are already taking 18.4.) What’s more, several cities and a couple of counties add a tax of their own.

So far, so good: as they said in Econ 102, you want to discourage something, you slap a tax on it. It’s apparently just dawned on them, though, that pure-electric vehicles, which burn no gasoline at all, will contribute nothing to the kitty, and that simply won’t do:

A bill before the Oregon Legislature aims to deal with the government’s potential beefs with a growing fleet of cars and trucks that never stop for fuel at a gas station: that they don’t ever pay the gas tax that helps cover the cost of state and local road construction and maintenance.

Under House Bill 2328, those drivers would pay a “vehicle road usage charge,” starting with model year 2014 electric vehicles and plug-in gas-electric hybrids.

And how will this charge be determined? There was a pilot program conducted in Oregon several years ago, which was intended to determine whether it might be more useful, or more remunerative, or anyway more something, to drop the gas tax entirely and replace it with a per-mile fee. Not everyone was enthusiastic about having their every trip logged and reported via GPS, it turned out.

So no GPS in the new bill. Instead, someone will have to develop a gizmo that can read your odometer and report the details back to Salem — since they’re sure as hell not going to take your word for it.

(Via The Truth About Cars.)

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Graphic criticism

Old friend Joe Goodwin weighs in on a literary phenomenon:

Times for reading Twilight

“Kryptonite doesn’t bother me, either,” said Edward Cullen.

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Is this a playoff preview?

The Thunder won the season series over the Hornets tonight, three games out of four, in a fairly convincing fashion: New Orleans led 55-49 at the half, but they lacked buzz thereafter and fell to Oklahoma City, 104-93.

Both sides were missing a starter: Emeka Okafor for the Bees, Thabo Sefolosha for the Thunder. Chris Paul apparently sprained his ankle early on, but came back; Trevor Ariza sprained his ankle later in the game, and didn’t. And Nenad Krstić managed only 14 minutes before departing with a then-unspecified ailment. So the body count was higher than usual, but bench players for both sides stepped up.

As usual, though, the big problem for OKC was David West, who rolled up 20 points and reeled in 15 boards. Chris Paul missed about six minutes, but still scored 15; Quincy Pondexter and David Andersen came up with double figures from off the bench. More impressive: eight steals, versus three for the Thunder.

But this was one of those nights when Kid Delicious was in the zone. Kevin Durant picked up 43 points (on 19 shots!) and 10 rebounds. Serge Ibaka, recipient of a few extra minutes, took advantage of the time to grab 12 boards, block six shots, and score 8. And speaking of extra minutes, Eric Maynor got some, mainly because Russell Westbrook was in foul trouble; Maynor led the bench with 9 points. Westbrook still managed 10 points and eight assists, and Jeff Green contributed 12 points and seven boards to the cause. The Thunder owned the boards, 44-32, and shot a creditable 52.9 percent. Weirder yet, they put up two dozen treys, and actually connected on ten of them. (KD had five.)

It’s supposed to be about 0 degrees tonight, so it’s a good time to be going on a road trip. The Thunder head to Phoenix Friday night, and jump up to Utah on Saturday before returning to the Gee, I Hope It’s Warm Arena on Tuesday to host the Grizzlies.

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A classic Astleyan argument

Who knew? (Some of you probably did, since this has been around a while, but I hadn’t seen it.) Apparently it’s possible to Rickroll a term paper.

(Via Miss Cellania, who somehow knows where all this stuff is.)

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