Archive for Blogorrhea

The lid gets hammered down

Tumblr’s explicit-content rule, as revised last summer:

I marked my blog as explicit. What happens now?

Now you can be sure that only suitable audiences are seeing your content. Blogs that are marked explicit are kept out of search results for people in Safe Mode. Anyone viewing your blog on the web will have to be logged in (with safe mode off) to see it.

Not sure enough, apparently. Beginning too soon, Safe Mode will be the default:

Tumblr sent an email to all users over 18 years of age who hadn’t already turned safe mode on, reminding them that the feature exists. The message doesn’t explicitly state that the setting is turning on by default; only that Tumblr wants to “make sure everyone has the chance to try it out.”

This is, of course, disingenuous as hell.

The site’s been a “complete loss” for adult content creators, Bacchus said, ever since Tumblr made it so that blogs flagged as NSFW were no longer indexed by search engines or Tumblr search anymore. “All this [Safe Mode update] does is make adult content even less visible INSIDE the walled garden that adult Tumblr has already become … Tumblr is dead media as far as I’m concerned, from an adult-industry perspective.”

Robert Stacy McCain, chronicler of the Tumblrinas, must be notified at once.

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The replacements are never as good

Fillyjonk has toiled 16 years in the blog vineyard, apparently without regret:

[B]logging kind of died off (though some have suggested it’s coming back, as people weary of Facebook’s idiocracy and the all-visual-no-context of Pinterest), but I’m still here.

The Blogfather himself, Glenn “Instapundit” Reynolds, coming up on 17 years, appears to be in agreement:

I think that the old blogosphere was superior to “social media” like Twitter and Facebook for a number of reasons. First, as a loosely-coupled system, instead of the tightly-coupled systems built by retweets and shares, it was less prone to cascading failure in the form of waves of hysteria. Second, because there was no central point of control, there was no way to ban people. And you didn’t need one, since bloggers had only the audience that deliberately chose to visit their blogs.

And I’m still here. I have maybe a third of the traffic I had at peak; I don’t expect ever to see another month with 25,000 visitors, which used to be the average around here. Then again, I used to have about 150 feed subscribers; now it’s a thousand or so. (Curiously, I’ve averaged about 2.5 comments per post for well over a decade now.)

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Vamp and revamp

I suspect anyone who’s run a blog for more than a week and a half has received stuff like this:

I got a spam email from a dude the other day who told me how great my blog was. Then he offered to write it for me. I guess his message was “you are good, but I am better”. If this drivel was written by someone else, it wouldn’t be my blog anymore, would it?

I fully acknowledge that better writing would help the place. It might drive up readership. An editor would be a significant improvement. While we are at it, a template change and pruning of the blogroll would spruce the place up too. A pay raise for the writing and custodial staff would improve morale. Perhaps new iPads and laptops for the research department are in order. How about pretzels and cold beer TGIF parties?

But no, what they really want you to do is to download some highly-dubious utilities. Or worse.

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Worst titles of 2017

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I have no idea how it went

A little warning came down the pike last week, and they followed it up yesterday:

We recently alerted you to an impending operating system upgrade of your individual VPS instance on the host machine, “iad1-vshost221.”

The day of your upgrade has arrived! Within the next few hours we’ll be upgrading your VPS and its host machine from Ubuntu Linux version 12.04.5 LTS (also known as Precise Pangolin!) to 14.04.5 LTS (aka Trusty Tahr!).

If you have more than one VPS and aren’t sure which one is on this host machine, you can check the Support / Data Centers page in your DreamHost Panel.

The upgrade will be done in two phases. First, we’ll upgrade your host machine, which shouldn’t take longer than an hour. Once this is complete, we’ll begin sequentially upgrading the VPS guests, which may take up to 25 minutes. Keep in mind, this means there are two separate periods during which your VPS (and websites) will be unavailable.

In most cases, you won’t need to do anything to prepare for the upgrade. Just kick back and let us handle the tough stuff!

LTS, in Ubuntese, seems to denote a stable release that will be supported for long periods of time, which would make sense in view of the fact that they’re replacing a 2012 version with one from 2014.

And I didn’t even notice it happening.

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You know, this just might work

Patrick adds a new recurring feature — at least, I hope it recurs — to The Lost Ogle:

30% of The Lost Ogle’s site traffic still comes directly from search engines. The rest comes from either direct traffic or social media. Depending on what’s going on each month, the terms are all over the map. The top search engine results are usually “The Lost Ogle,” “Lost Ogle” and “Emily Sutton Married.” We also get some weird, odd and semi-strange ones. To steal an idea from the pages of Dustbury — the O.G. of the Oklahoma Blogosphere — we’re going to highlight some of those (that we feel comfortable publishing) at the end of each month.

Of course, I think this is a swell idea — if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have done it 617 times already — and TLO gets enough traffic to virtually guarantee some seriously wacky stuff in any given month. The first month’s collection was satisfyingly weird.

And this does explain why several people at 42nd and Treadmill were addressing me as “Mr. O.G.” on Friday.

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Speedblogging

Apparently someone keeps track of these things:

I’m at the low end of the scale, and have been since more or less Day One, but the full article throws this measurement at me: “The average blog post is 1142 words long.”

If I have 1100 words handy, I’ll get four, maybe five posts out of them.

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How is this even possible?

McG explains his most recent online change:

I’ve never heard of a hacker inserting malicious code on a purely static web page. Maybe it’s happened, but I’d have a hard time imagining it could do him any good.

It’s happened here, once, to one of the old Movable Type pages that were left in a static state after the fall of 2006. What happened: someone weaseled in through some unknown method (FTP?) and pasted a bunch of spam links at the bottom of the page. I didn’t notice it for some time; all I know is it happened between May 2015 and October 2016. Eventually I deleted the whole page and pasted the actual content into a WordPress post. (With the original comments, yes.)

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The eternal need for speed

A note received from the surfer dudes who host this Web site:

Over the next week, we’ll be rolling out “OPcache” for domains hosted on your managed Virtual Private Server.

OPcache is a PHP accelerator that makes your site faster by keeping code in memory instead of loading it on every page request. Since code doesn’t have to be loaded from disk repeatedly, you’ll also see reduced CPU and memory usage on your VPS. That means you’ll be able to do more with less power!

OPcache replaces the outdated “XCache” option which was previously available on virtual private servers. Unlike XCache, OPcache is supported on all versions of PHP that DreamHost offers, so there’s no special configuration required to make it work.

XCache will not work with PHP 7 or newer versions, so it is no longer recommended.

Combined with PHP 7, OPcache can often double the performance of WordPress sites. We’re pretty excited about it, and can’t wait for you to experience the magic and wonder of OPcache for yourself!

Precisely seven days later, they brought this plan to fruition. I haven’t run any speed tests yet, but I do have a little widget to measure RAM usage. For the last couple of years, it’s been hanging between 35 and 40 percent of my allotment. Reading last night: 8 percent.

Gosh. Maybe I should go ahead and implement PHP 7. (I’m still on 5.6.)

Addendum: PHP 7.0 is in place.

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The rules I write by

For about 70 or 80 consecutive Sundays, I’ve dropped in at #blogchat, a Twitter chat which serves as idea exchange and, occasionally, advice to newbies. Rather a lot of said newbies come in thinking there’s a specific set of standards that must be met before you can enjoy any level of success. I don’t think I’ve done a particularly good job of shooting down that notion; I mean, God knows I don’t follow anything resembling standards, with the exception of a Woody Allen bromide: “Eighty percent of life is just showing up.”

This, I think, is the proper attitude to hold:

The one common thing I saw was “find your niche” and only blog about that. They said nobody wants to read a blog that is all over the place full of random topics. The lie detector determine that was a lie. I do not mind random thoughts. That makes a person far more interesting.

Once it was suggested that, to remain focused, you should restrict yourself to two or three categories and maybe a dozen tags. Obviously this is not my issue: I have 57 categories and, um, 12,000 tags. None of those tags show up in the text because that’s not what they’re for; they’re for helping me keep this improbable mishmash organized. Sometimes they even work.

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Let us write for you

I suspect anyone who’s survived 180 days of blogging is now subject to this little inconvenience:

I received a guest post spam email a few months ago from someone who was very eager to write a post for this site. The person introduced herself as “a pioneer in online wholesale business.” In fact, she claimed to have “over 50 years experience in wholesale business.”

That was the first red flag.

She said she was “impressed by most of the posts/content” and added a little emoji, perhaps to soften the blow of such a statement. Fortunately, she didn’t elaborate which ones she was not impressed by.

If you have 50 years’ experience on any Topic A, it stands to reason that you probably don’t have a Topic B. This interloper certainly didn’t:

She then offered suggestions of five blogging topics she was ready to write for this site. Here was the writer’s actual list:

  1. Become a Successful Wholesale Supplier in 30 Days
  2. Want to be Amazing Wholesale Supplier? Here’s How
  3. How Much Can You Really Save by Shopping in Bulk?
  4. Opening a Restaurant? Read These Time (and Money) Saving Tips
  5. How to Coordinate Wholesale Shipping With International Partners

Or maybe she already had these five articles written and was looking for some poor sucker kind soul to help pass them along.

It gets worse. The last few of these I’ve received insisted on following up. Twice. Once, thrice. (“Just in case you missed it…”)

It’s at least somewhat obvious to me that these people are doing the least possible research: someone who’s written twenty thousand posts does not need to peel off fifty bucks for an article about wholesale shipping.

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It’s still just a number

Some thoughts by fashion blogger Wendy Nguyen on becoming one year older:

So … I have this fear of revealing my age. Someone once told me that the entertainment industry is ageism (which is true) so letting people know my age will lessen my chances of working with some brands, growing my business, etc. I can understand why he grouped me in the “entertainment industry” category, this was before there was a “content creator/blogger industry” category. Thank goodness I’m not in the entertainment industry!

Spoiler: She reveals.

You may have seen her, from about here down anyway, in this video from last summer.

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It’s more than just a keyboard

You know Lorna: fashion blogger from the UK, about half my age and possessed of a singular sense of style. Nothing at all like me. Yet there are some things we have in common beyond a dislike for summer heat.

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A lid on the sandbox

Tumblr’s current guidelines for so-called “sensitive content” conceal, though not very well, one minor detail:

If a significant portion of your posts are sensitive, and especially if they are sexually explicit in nature, then we’d appreciate you marking your blog as “Explicit,” which will keep it out of search results for people in Safe Mode, and prevent any logged-out users from seeing it on the web. You can do this in your blog settings.

That’s just the lead-in. Here’s where the boom is lowered:

I marked my blog as explicit. What happens now?

Now you can be sure that only suitable audiences are seeing your content. Blogs that are marked explicit are kept out of search results for people in Safe Mode. Anyone viewing your blog on the web will have to be logged in (with safe mode off) to see it.

Which means, of course, that individuals who are not already part of the Tumblr “community” will not be allowed on the premises at all.

This strikes me as awfully blue-nosed for a service which at one time had over a hundred thousand blogs with the words “Fuck Yeah!” in their titles.

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Buy for me the reign

There is no shortage of mountebanks who offer to make you a veritable king in the land of Google. This one hit the spam trap t’other day, and spilled rather a lot of beans:

LinkLifting isn’t your typical Web optimization software program. In actual fact, it isn’t software program in any respect. As a substitute, LinkLifting is a completely managed service carried out by our crew of skilled Website positioning professionals, all of whom have in depth expertise working with small companies and massive manufacturers alike.

Here’s how LinkLifting works. All you’ll want to do is enter your web site and goal Web optimization key phrases or phrases within the kind above. Our system will routinely recommend probably the most related pages of your web site for promotion, in addition to recommending a month-to-month funds to realize your outcomes.

On daily basis, our crew will scan out huge database of tens of hundreds of top of the range donor web sites to seek out efficient backlinking alternatives. As quickly as we discover a match on your webpage, we’ll add a robust, extremely related backlink pointing straight to your goal web page.

There’s no want so that you can ship e mail after e mail to webpage house owners and bloggers

There’s no have to pay an Search engine marketing company enormous charges for a fraction of the outcomes

There’s no want to fret about your web site by no means transferring up within the rankings

There’s no farking command of the English language. And these people want to run database searches for you? They couldn’t find a fart in the restroom of a Taco Bell.

As a substitute of spending your money and time on Search engine optimization methods that don’t ship outcomes, you earn nice hyperlinks from extremely related web sites at a fraction of the associated fee you’d pay an Search engine optimization company for decrease high quality, much less related hyperlinks.

High quality backlinks are the singular most essential component for profitable Search engine marketing. Regardless of how nice your on-web page content material is perhaps, with out nice backlinks, it’s by no means going to rank for extremely aggressive, beneficial search key phrases that may generate leads and gross sales for your small business.

Our hyperlink constructing service takes the effort and time out of constructing hyperlinks to your webpage, letting you spend your time working your small business as a substitute of constructing hyperlinks manually. Simply create a LinkLifting process, set your price range and watch as we report each day in your website’s Search engine optimisation progress.

This drivel was linked to someone’s Fiverr page, which can mean only one of one thing: some shlub is getting paid a pittance to spam it all over the universe. If you see it, be sure to delete it if you can, and laugh at it if you can’t.

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You want to write for me?

It’s always been amazing to me how people seem to be queueing up to write guest posts for this place in exchange for an unspecified quantity of coin of the realm. I used to turn them down politely; after the first hundred or so, I started kicking them into the spam trap.

Patrick says he’s faced similar issues:

[L]ately, I’ve received some solicitations from people wanting to write guest posts for this blog.

One in particular recently involved posts on the subject of wholesale warehouse selling tips.

I’ve been writing this blog for 13 years now, and after more than 5,000 posts, I don’t remember the specifics of each individual post for obvious reasons. But still, I’d wager that if you were to go post by post through this blog, you’d find that not one time in 13 years have I ever written about wholesale warehouse sales.

Based on my experience over here, if he’d written even once about wholesale warehouse sales, he’d have gotten not only a guest-post offer, but a request for a link from someone who routinely writes on the subject and thinks “this would be a useful resource for your users.”

And if all these requests seem to look the same, well, there’s a reason for that:

[W]hen multiple emails start arriving, all with the similar form, and all proposing unrelated topics or no topics at all, it’s difficult to ignore the pattern.

Maybe this is some form of blogger spam.

Bingo.

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A stack of Forms W-0

“No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.” — Dr. Samuel Johnson

Roger Green replies, sort of:

Some people dismiss those who write without pay as fools. But there are very many well-known folk who blog either for nothing or for PayPal tips. Initially, I blogged to write about the Daughter and Jeopardy! But it was also a sense of addressing my feeling of powerlessness in the midst of a Republican administration engaging in a war of choice that I thought was unjustifiable. I wasn’t sure I would actually write about it, but I COULD.

Now I blog because I pretty much have to. It’s therapy. All the crap going on and I can vent a little. At the same time, I have found it a useful reference tool for my own existence that I’M likely to forget. AND it is my vehicle to have dialogue, in a way Facebook simply cannot be for me. Something I wrote about my grandfather or Spaulding Krullers I can find again.

So can we: on Bing as of Wednesday night, Roger’s got the top search result for Spaulding Krullers. And years and years of poring over search strings have persuaded me that no matter what it is, someone out there is looking for it. As a librarian, Roger knows this:

Moreover, OTHER people find it and comment on them, occasionally years after I wrote the pieces. This gives the exercise a sense of being less ephemeral.

I am astounded by how often my 1997 stuff is unearthed, twenty years after the fact. Sometimes it makes me want to go back and add tags to it, though they won’t at all fit within the current tag structure. (Sometimes I wonder how the current tag structure even survives, given its sheer volume.)

Around the turn of the century, this place cost me about $275 a year to run. It’s since risen to $369, though more than half of that goes for ancillary services. (A quarter of it, for instance, pays for a security team, which will check a couple of times a day for rude malware intrusions, of which I’ve had two so far, and repair any damage within a few hours.) Still, we’re looking at barely a dollar a day for something to keep my otherwise-idle hands busy. Darn well worth it.

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When there’s no other way

Gerard Van der Leun is about to attack a problem I myself took on nine years ago. It’s going to be a little harder for him, though:

With the duct tape and chewing gum wads of the Movable Type software that holds this site together slowly falling apart, I’ve no choice but to move the type here to another platform: WordPress. This means that I have to do what nobody my age ever wants to do: learn a new program. Result? Posting here shall be light through the weekend as I try to set up a new home in space.

All I have to do is move over 30,000 items from one planet to another. Confidence is high. Repeat: Confidence is high.

I got this task done over the equivalent of a weekend in 2008, but I had only 4061 items to move. And it took me several passes to import all those posts. Still, it did work, sort of, the first time out, and I’m content enough to spit in the eye of anyone who suggests another migration.

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What happened yesterday

Some time around noon Central, this site — indeed all my sites — went south, and I mean at the level of Tierra del Fuego. Did this have something to do with the upgrade to a Virtual Private Server last week? Well, kinda sorta: the sites did get moved, but the DNS change, which frankly I did not anticipate, went through yesterday. So basically we had to wait for the DNS change to propagate to your DNS provider: until it did, you got either a 404 or a generic Down page. OpenDNS, my own DNS provider, wasn’t apparently in any hurry; some of you were able to get in before I was.

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Old enough to drink

This little soapbox of mine has now been open for twenty-one years. By the standards of blogdom, this is, if not an eternity, certainly an eon or two. And there are worse things I can do besides celebrate.

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The hardest of hard copy

According to a plugin I keep handy for just such an occasion, I have spun out 4.6 million words on the last twenty thousand-odd posts, not counting static pages (the Vents) or comments (1.6 million more). This would make a hell of a large book, not that anyone is asking for one.

This week I got a pitch from something called BlookUp, which, um, yeah, you guessed it:

In a few clicks import your blog, choose your content, your cover and preview your book FOR FREE. Compatible with WordPress, Tumblr, Blogger, Blogspirit, Skyrock, Canalblog, Haut et Fort, Instagram and Facebook.

I don’t think I can import all this “in a few clicks.” More to the point, it isn’t really expensive unless you can say something like “I don’t think I can import all this ‘in a few clicks’.” They seem to max out at 500 pages, and 500 pages in magazine-size format runs $9.60 for the first 24 pages plus 38 cents for each additional page = $190.48. That’s per copy. Not that I could expect to sell more than one or two. Still, I love the idea that this actually exists.

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Perhaps I talk too much

The WordPress admin, as modified locally, is set to display the number of comments by a commenter beside the comment listing itself. I happened to notice this yesterday:

10,000th comment

This is for the period beginning September 2006. If that sounds like a lot, well, there are 44,000 comments I didn’t make.

(The gizmo that does this counts up the iterations of an email address. If you’ve had several, you have several different totals.)

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The Cone of Silence descends

About four o’clock Central, this place will be going (temporarily) dark(ish):

We will be working to improve service on your MySQL server this Wednesday, March 22nd, starting at 2PM PDT. This maintenance is estimated to take up to 2-3 hours to complete with a total of roughly 2 hours of downtime. Databases will not be available during this 2 hour period.

As part of this improvement, we will be upgrading your MySQL server to improve stability as well as patching it for potential vulnerabilities. There should be no data loss, but connectivity will be affected by this maintenance, and changes to your databases should not be made until the maintenance is complete.

I’m interpreting this to mean that a cached copy of the front page will still appear, and all the old static pages will remain available, but the latest and greatest will be even later, if not necessarily greater.

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Bound to the blog

As this site comes up on its 21st birthday, I’ve happened upon an Elena Peters piece called “The Ugly Side of Blogging No One Talks About”, with, yes, 21 individual examples of the Ugly Side. And, well, we should talk about them, in the hopes of discouraging competitors.

No, wait. That’s wrong.

Anyway, several of the examples touch on the blog’s nearly unequaled capacity as a time suck. For instance:

18. Bloggers don’t bathe, get dressed or see sunlight … for days.

Straight up. I am pasty white from lack of sunshine, I smell cause I haven’t bathed and I am not sure how many days I have spent in my pajamas. Ah, the life of the self-employed.

Not quite Instagram worthy am I? Rest assured. I am not alone.

But I have to go get groceries occasionally and having to skype with clients or do a Facebook live once in awhile assures that I do put on fresh clothes and makeup once in a blue moon.

P.S. Obviously I could never be a fashion or beauty blogger. I don’t know how you guys do it!

For those of us who still have day jobs, this is not fully applicable: we may have eye-blinding albedo, but we do have to hit the showers on a regular basis, and, well, some of us own no pajamas. Still, if you’re trying to make a living on a screen full of ASCII, there are going to be points where dedication and drudgery meet and then refuse to go their separate ways.

That said, I dunno how the fashion/beauty bloggers do it, though I am at least reasonably conversant in the jargon.

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You want a piece of this?

So this came in over the transom back in January:

I’m currently working with a brilliant business who operates in the education industry. I noticed your site has published a very interesting article, dustbury.com: Almost Yogurt Archives, which is why I think a collaboration between us could work well.

We would like to feature a bespoke piece of content on your site, which we think would be of great interest to you and your audience. For the privilege of being featured on your site, we would be happy to offer you a fee of $50.

We hope to hear back from you soon.

Obviously she picked a link at random to throw in there. When I ignored her, she repeated her request, a little louder.

At the other end of the spectrum:

I’m a freelancer who works for … an online media agency. Would you be interested in writing and posting an article for a fixed fee? The article should be relevant to the category and to the readers of your site.

If you are interested, please let me know and I’ll provide you with more details. Also, if you own other sites please send me their URLs, so I can review them.

It’s not like she thinks I’m swell or anything, either:

Depending on your local law, you may need to make it clear that the links you use are in fact adverts.

But of course they are.

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The elder statesman

Mike McCarville moves on to covering the Next Life:

It is my unfortunate duty to inform you that our friend Mike McCarville is no longer with us on Earth. After struggling with an illness, he has gone to his deserved rest. That familiar laugh and smile are now part of Heaven’s domain. It is the image of that twinkle in Mike’s eyes and his quick offer of a cup of coffee that haunt me as I write this piece to stay goodbye to the man who was my boss, my mentor and best of all, my friend.

McCarville is truly the dean of OKC bloggers, having started the McCarville Report literally before there were any such things as blogs: think “typewriter.” His radio appearances are legendary.

I expect Jason Doyle Oden will continue the McCarville Report for the foreseeable future. It’s an invaluable part of the local dialogue.

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I’m thinking I need a topic

Nothing To Do With Arbroath, billed as “a daily mish-mash of stuff, fluff and nonsense,” will neither mish nor mash in the future: Kevin Gray, its proprietor, has passed away. (Last post: 17 January.)

The Presurfer, billed as “Your Daily Dose of Diversion since 2000,” has run out of diversions: Gerard Vlemmings, its proprietor, has passed away. (Last post: 17 February.)

I damned well better make it past St. Patrick’s Day.

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I’m really sort of surprised this hasn’t happened for real yet:

I thought of an idea for a Criminal Minds episode. Disturbed blogger who never gets any comments hunts down lurkers and tortures and murders them after forcing them to comment on every single post on his (or her) blog. No, no! Not me! I would never do that. I wouldn’t know how to find you anyway. But it would make a good creepy story, wouldn’t it?

There are times I think all of us in blogdom are at least slightly disturbed.

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Missing in action

For years and years, Christopher Johnson ran something called Midwest Conservative Journal, based in St. Louis County, Missouri, which did lots of political/cultural material, with special emphasis on what he saw as the Church of England’s degradation into just another leftist outfit.

The last time Johnson posted anything was right before Christmas. I’m starting to worry.

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Let there be torque

Erin Palette, celebrating her tenth anniversary here in blogdom, is still plenty fast with a quip:

On a related note, I’d like be the first to announce that the transgender version of Uncle Tom is an Aunt Dorothy, and the transgender version of “House Negro” is “Performance Tranny.” I figure that if I’m going to be called names for going off-narrative, I might as well pick those names myself.

Oh, and before you ask, I’m a 4:11 final drive, with a 6-speed double-overdrive and a competition clutch.

May her throwout bearing never need to be thrown out.

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