Wednesday, November 30, 2005
How much international audience does your blog get?
is trying a little experiment, seeing how much international audience is attracted by US blogs of the Left and Right. So far, on the Right, Powerline with 6%. On the Left, Tild has 32%. PZ Myers of Pharyngula
has 43%. Here, my blog has 41%. Do the same thing on your sitemeter and report to Tild and PZ.
Here are some others from the Left:Legal Fiction
= 19%Shakespeare's Sister
- 5%Bitch, PhD
I guess it depends how much a blog is narrowly focused on US politics. Blogs that touch on other topics (e.g., science, feminism, religion, etc.) may have a more international audience.Update
OK, from the thread on Pharyngula, comes information that Sitemeter tracks only a pretty small number of recent visits (perhaps last 100 hits, thanks Norwegianity
Some hits are from spam-bots, some are just random - blogexplosion, "recently updated blogs" on Blogger and other places, clicking on "Next blog" in Blogger, or even Google searches, etc. Having a large regular audience dilutes these as a percentage of overall visitors. Stats from a smaller blog would be more strongly affected by such random hits.
Thus, one should expect to see a U-shaped curve, the proportion of international visits being high when checked at midnight (in the USA), dropping to a low at noon (while most of the rest of the world is asleep and Americans are checking blogs during lunch-break
), then rising again to a high at midnight. My %foreign dropped from 43% in the early morning down to 21% about 4pmEST. I'll see if it goes up again tonight.
Stats from a large blog will track only the visits from the past few minutes, thus exaggerating the U-curve. A blog that gets about 100 hits a day should remain pretty constant over time, and even smaller blogs will be immune to the U-curve entirely, but will be more responsive to spam and random hits, thus fluctuating wildly.
More bloggers have posted their results on the Pharyngula thread, Tild thread, or on their own blogs (you can find them with Technorati searching links to those two threads, or to this post here)Update 2:
Ha! Found a US-based blog with MORE than 50% foreign readership: East Ethnia
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Tangled Circular Rounds in a Liberal Tavern
New edition of Grand Rounds
is up on Over My Med Body.Tangled Bank
is tomorrow, so you have just minutes to send in your late entry.
Sunday night (edited 11-29-05) is the deadline for sending in your stuff for the first Carnival of the Liberals
And don't forget this weekend to support the newcomer to the world of hosting Tar Heel Tavern
And the week after that I'll be hosting the Skeptic's Circle
so think of something to send in by the 7th of December.
How to talk to a Wingnut: a step-by-step guide
is the way to talk to a wingnut in your family. Much, much better than my feeble
Religion Teachers Dislike "God Of The Gaps" Argument
Nice article about Intelligent Design from the Harvard Crimson
, citing several theologians and divinity professors:
Leading scholars on the issue at Harvard Divinity School (HDS) and other divinity schools say their faculties have almost no proponents of intelligent design.
Mark U. Edwards Jr., professor of the history of Christianity and associate HDS dean for academic affairs, says intelligent design is bad science and bad theology.
And Richard A. Rosengarten, who is dean of the University of Chicago’s divinity school, says that “it would be the rare divinity school that would be sympathetic” to intelligent design.
Edwards, who has just finished writing a book about religion on campuses, says he sees intelligent design as a “sad” theological argument.
“It only invokes god when there is no natural explanation,” Edwards says. “But science keeps coming up with explanations.”
(hat-tip: Charlotte Capitalist
A Good Article About John Edwards
An excellent new article about John Edwards appeared on Alternet last night:Cornbread and Roses
It is long, but very worth reading. Here's just a short snippet:
All of which raises a question: Who is this guy -- and what has he done with the centrist New Democrat who once had Karl Rove quaking in his boots? While he clearly hasn't lost his all-too-palpable lust for the White House, Edwards has largely left behind the Clintonian emphasis on "personal responsibility" and "fiscal restraint" that often struck a hollow note in his campaign speeches -- particularly in contrast to his heartfelt cry of "two Americas." The metamorphosis began during the last campaign, when Edwards gradually found his voice as an economic populist. Less than a decade into his political career, he remains a work in progress.
"We might be seeing the kind of transformation Bobby Kennedy underwent," says Pete MacDowell, a veteran grassroots organizer and staunch Edwards critic ("a political Ken doll with a populist streak" is how MacDowell describes him) who runs the NC Progressive Democrats PAC. "After he initially supported Vietnam and went slow on civil rights, Kennedy developed a moral core and turned into the kind of Democrat we haven't seen since. I never thought I'd say this, but maybe that's what we're now seeing with Edwards. Maybe this is his core."
As they say, go read the rest. As I have said before
, many people on the Left totally misread Edwards last time around. See the label "centrist" in that passage above? Wrong. Just because he has a Southern drawl and picked a more conservative stance on a couple of issues does not make him centrist. He always was an still is a liberal, but a kind of liberal that almost every American can identify with - someone who grew up an ordinary American and never forgot how it feels to be looked down upon, the true fighter for the underdogs both as a lawyer and as a Senator.
Many pundits completely failed to grok him, and even resented his broad appeal. No other primary candidate last year had so many Republicans and Independents switching parties, rooting for him, working for him, voting for him in the primaries. That is why Rove was quaking in his boots, not because of John's good looks and smooth eloquence. I sure hope he decides to run in 2008. He is the only candidate who is widely known and with a broad enough appeal to actually win. And he'll sure make a great President once he gets there.
Monday, November 28, 2005
Dr.Love-of-Strange, or How I Learned To Love The Malaria...
There has been literally an explosion of new knowledge about malaria in the last ten years or so. It is an amazing disease. Looking at all the new findings coming out almost every week makes me salivate because of...teaching! Malaria is a fantastic case-study to keep mentioning over and over again throughout the course. Let me backtrack for a moment....
I teach general biology to adult non-science majors at a community college. It is a speed course, lasting only eight weeks. In eight meetings, one has to deliver an enormous amount of material to an audience that is terrified of science. Last time they had a science class was many years ago in high school. All they remember is that it was boring and hard.
At the time most of my students took biology in high school, the state syllabus was one of the most atrocious in the nation - much rote memorization of Latin words, be it human bones, parts of the flower, taxonomy of worms, or the steps in the Krebs cycle. Of course it was boring and hard - the old German style of teaching designed to instill discipline, not knowledge.
A few years ago, in response to Rep.Russell Capps' (R - Wake Co.) attempt to bring Creationism into NC classrooms, the state rewrote the science curriculum and it is now one of the best in the country - every unit in biology is taught within an evolutionary context. Teaching freshmen biology majors at State is a real pleasure now - those kids are excited and already knowledgable. But my adult students are not, and that makes them much more difficult to teach.
One of the problems of teaching introductory biology, at any level, is the way many units do not have an obvious relationship to "real life" of the students, especially the non-science majors. "Why should I learn this when it has no relevance to my life?' they ask.
The second problem is that biology is so big. The course is broken down into units, each unit introducing a different subdiscipline, e.g., genetics, evolution, behavior, anatomy, ecology, microbiology, etc. Taught like this, the units do not appear connected to each other. It feels like every week one starts on a completely different branch of science.
The solution to both problems is to find good case studies to use to introduce each topic. Hopefully, the case-study will be something "sexy", something that media writes about a lot, e.g., stem cell research, cloning, spotted owl habitat, global warming. I discovered that diseases are the best attention grabbers of all of such topic. By using cancer, AIDS, avian flu, SARS, etc. one can introduce any topic in biology and make it relevant to the student. Mad Cow Disease is a great way to get the students to pay attention before you lunge into the difficult lecture on protein synthesis (you start with prions, then work backwards).
The best examples are those diseases that can be used to span several topics. I found that Lyme disease and West Nile virus are really good for this - important discoveries on those were made by a whole range of researchers coming from very diffeerent angles, from genomics to ecology.
But by far the best is malaria. No matter what I talk about, I can smuggle malaria into it in one way or another. Genetics and genomics? Sure, this is the only disease in which all players' genomes have been sequenced (host - human, vector - mosquito, and parasite - Plasmodium). Population genetics? Sure. Blood physiology? Of course. Tertiary and quaternary structure of proteins? Just remember the sickle-cell anemia, which is also great for teaching about Mendelian inheritance. From protozoology and parasitology, through entomology and olfactory neurobiology, to immunology and evolution
, one can always somehow bring malaria into the conversation. Hey, just this one story
spans behavior, circadian clocks, evolutionary arms-races, melatonin, cellular endocrinology and insect olfaction (also see this
, via this
And now there is more! Who would have thought that malaria had anything to do with taste and alcoholism
?! I can already see how much fun teaching next spring will be.
Having malaria (or some such topic of your own choosing) coming up over and over again helps to unify various subdisciplines of biology in the minds of students. They see at least one example in which important knowledge has been accumulated by researchers in various fields. It is not just molecular biologists that can figure stuff out about diseases. Field ecologists can provide some key information - sometimes the most important piece of information from the point of view of prevention and treatment.
It also shows how deeply evolutionary thinking runs through all areas of biology. Practically all major advances in the study of malaria came through application of evolutionary theory to the disease. Just saying this is so may not be enough - demonstrating it, every week, on a topic they are inherently interested in, may help drive the point much harder.technorati tag: teaching-carnival
If there is a topic in the Universe....
... you can be sure that sooner or later someone will start a blog about it: I Love Colonoscopies
(hat-tip: Aldon Hynes
Sitemeter and Technorati - don't be shy to use them
Many people are apologetic about checking Sitemeter and Technorati, as if that was something to be revealing of vanity and to be embarassed about. But those two are essential tools in the conversation.
You have to be pretty good, big, and popular to have more than 1% of visitors actually leave a comment. Don't expect most of the responses to your posts to occur on your blog's comments threads. I feel that many newbies think this and give up blogging way too early in the game, in dissappointment when nobody leaves any comments.
Most of the conversation in the blogosphere is not within a blog (post-to-comments) but between blogs (post-to-post, or rather blog-to-blog-to-blog-to-blog...).
Without Sitemeter and Technorati you are standing on the soapbox and yelling into the wilderness. Your blog is your mouth. Sitemeter and Technorati are your ears - without them you cannot hear the responses.
Perhaps you want a monologue. But if you don't, if you actually want feedback, it is these two tools that will provide it to you. So don't be ashamed to use them.
And also leave your Sitemeter visible to visitors as that encourages meta-conversations and quicker inclusion of newcomers into your blogging community. When seeing a blog for the first time, I often check the sitemeter referrals (if possible) to see who links to this person, to what individual posts, and why. It quickly gives me the idea what sub-blogosphere that blog belongs to and if I am going to be interested in following that blog in the future (check my blogroll - I added a few new categories recently - let me know if I have miscategorized you, or missed you entirely).
Carnival of the Green
Carnival of the Green #4
is now up!
P.S. That carnival badly needs a homepage/archives so we can all keep track of all issues (not to even mention the researchers of the future trying to find each edition - out of thosands - individually!).
Sunday, November 27, 2005
Quorum Sensing and the Blogosphere as a Superorganism
Heh! I always wanted to write this post. Being lazy is actually good sometimes. Just wait long enough and, lo and behold, someone else will write your post! Saves you time and energy.
Daniel Conover, whom I had great pleasure to meet in person at the ConvergeSouth conference, wrote a very thought-provoking post: Bacteria, blogs, holographic consciousness and The Singularity
. There is a lot of biology there, but that is just a pretext for trying to understand what the Internet, and blogs in particular, are growing up to be. Perhaps something like a neural network? A collective consciousness? A superorganism? A hive?
While Daniel used bacterial communication, something usually called "quorum sensing", as the biological model for what the Internet is becoming, I was instantly reminded of the cellular slime mold. Those are single cells for most of the time. Then, when conditions are right, the cells start calling each other and aggregating. Together they form a mushroom-like structure with a head and a stalk. The cells in the head reproduce. The cells in the stalk do not - as good as suicide.
Dr. John Tyler Bonner has spent decades studying slime mold. Bonner, being a brilliant person, wrote a number of books on various topics, some technical, some much more easy to read. In his book Life Cycles
, he explains the strange life cycle of the slime mold in great detail, and explains evolution in a wonderful manner. In his Evolution of Complexity
he extends his insights from slime mold to animal and human communities (that was before Internet, though). His last book that he wrote around the time of his retirement 60 Years of Biology
is just a wealth of ideas about evolution. While on Amazon, check his other books, too.
Why do I think slime mold may be a better model? Because an individual can live alone or join the multicellular structure. This reminds me of the human ability to log on and log off. When online and blogging, you are a part of a superorganism. When you get offline, you can be alone, or re-join a smaller superorganism - your family, neighborhood, friends, colleagues...
But, while you are offline, your blog and other online activities are still up there for others to see and use. You have donated some information to the superorganism without having to actually be there yourself. Even after you die, your information hangs on there.
What about people who never get online? They are affected by what goes on online, no matter how much they may try to stay away from it all. Rise and fall of individuals in politics and the media is often initiated online. Databases of all kinds are now online. Voting machines, if online, may easily be tampered with. No escape from the influence of the Internet. See what happened to the hero
of bringing glasnost and democracy to Iran! A very, very chilling story! And don't forget Dooce.
How about defense mechanisms? Was the recent FEC decision (stating that blogs are media) influenced by the outrage by bloggers from both Left and Right? A cancerous cell does not follow the rules and the organism deploys various defense tactics against it. How does the Internet defend itself against the equivalent - splogs, for instance? Or someone like Paul Deignan who does not play by the rules and is now getting shunned, screaming from his blog into the empty wilderness while nobody is listening to him any more?
Then, there is another question - is there just one superorganism, or two, or many? How much cross-polination really happens between political Left and political Right, between personal diarists and techno-geeks, between English-language blogs and Chinese-language blogs? All those mini-blogospheres live pretty much independent lives. Yes, there is a little bit of cross-polination, but not more than, for instance, horizontal transfer of genetic material via viruses. There is definitely mutual influence between different realms, and even co-dependence (where would all of us be without techno-geeks who designed all the software we use, and who would they sell their programs to, if nobody else cared to write stuff on blogs?), but this reminds me more of different species in an ecosystem than of organs inside a single body.
How does this superoarganism evolve? Stuart Kauffman's book At home in the Universe
is excellent at explaining how many little simple elements, when interacting together, build a whole that is bigger than the sum of its parts. His last chapter applies to economics in an interesting way (I used to hate that chapter and vehemently disagree, but I have come around), and the same model may be applied to the Internet.
Finally, when individuals join groups, and the groups bump inot other groups, then evolution operates with selection at both the individual and the group level. To learn more about selection at the level of the group, the place to go is Unto Others
, a book by Elliott Sober and David Sloan Wilson. The first half explains how group selection works and gives examples from lab and field. The second half applies the model to the question of the evolution of human altruism. Wilson followed this up with another book, Darwin's Cathedral
, applying group-selection thinking to the problem of evolution and adaptive function of religion.
Please go to Daniel's post
for further discussion....
OK, today was a dark, wet, dreary and boring day. And it's Sunday. So, instead of doing something substantive, I worked on the List Of Abbreviations. I used my lab buddy's List as a template. He's just finished his defense a couple of months ago. Unfortunately, at least a half of the abbreviations he used I never do, and at least half of the abbreviations I use he never needed to use. Our research was quite different. So, I got that done and it is in its final form. Then I played around a little bit with formatting and such stuff and then backed up a copy of the whole thing on a Zip-disk. Not a great progress report, but it is important to sit down at the computer and do something, even something little, every single day.
I can't believe I forgot to link to the Teaching Carnival #3
Carnival of the Godless
Carnival of the Godless #28
is up on The Evangelical Atheist.
Tar Heel Tavern
The brand new Thanksgiving edition of The Tar Heel Tavern
is now up on Slowly She Turned
. Laurie did a great job this week - go there and enjoy the carnival.
Also, if you want to host the Tar Heel Tavern
next week, please let me know ASAP.
Saturday, November 26, 2005
State of the Dissertation
Some people use their blogs to keep track of losing weight or quitting smoking. Perhaps if I use it to keep track of my Dissertation, that will keep me on my toes and force me to add a little bit to it every day so I can report my progress here. So, here is the current state:
Front page - Unless I decide to change the title for the millionth time, this is in its final version.
Abstract - It is longer than I wanted but not too long to be acceptable. I think it is pretty good, but I am sure that my advisor will have suggestions for editing and making it better.
Biography - As far as I am concerned, this is in its final form.
Acknowledgments - Once everything is done, I will look at it again and see if it needs a little polishing.
Table of Contents - I understand that recent versions of MSWord can do it automatically. Even if I decide I had to do it manually, this is something to be left for the very last day.
List of tables - once the rest is finished, this should not be hard to make.
List of figures - same as above.
List of abbreviations - This is a breeze. I'll get to it later, perhaps one day when I am bored with doing other stuff.
Introduction - Considering I started with more than 60 pages of text, wittling it down to about 35 is a major success. It is, for all purposes, in its final form. There are a couple of places where I still need to insert references. There are also a couple of places where I will have to look at the most recent literature and perhaps make a slight edit in light of recent research.
Materials and Methods - It is done. All figures, photos and references are in. At the very end of the process I will have to make sure that everything matches between Materials & Methods and Results, e.g., that Experiment 4a in Section 5 is the same experiment in both parts of the thesis, that experiments are presented in the same order in both parts, etc.
Results - This part has five long sections:
Section I - The longest and most involved part. All the text is written, but not in its final form. Almost all of the statistics have been done. I have almost all figures done, but discovered that most of them I have to re-do from scratch due to formatting problems - very frustrating. This is the part I am working on right now.
Section II - I have about half of the figures ready. No statistics yet, but that is not going to be very much or hard to do. No text yet, but that will also be pretty straightforward.
Section III - I have a couple of figures ready. I need to make more figures, do all the stats, and write all the text. This is the shortest section of the Results and nothing revolutionary, so this should not be too difficult.
Section IV - This is already in its final form. It will get one more reading at the very end, just to make sure everything is OK.
Section V - This is pretty much in its final form. I'll have to go over it one more time, perhaps change a word or two here and there.
Discussion - About a third of it is written. I have most of it in my head (and most of it will turn into my talk, too). It's almost like blogging. Once I get there, I'll write it in no time. Some back-and-forth with my advisor over a week or two should turn this into a nice final form, too.
Conclusion - This is a new requirement. Just a paragraph in the end. I think I'll just put this heading on top of the last paragraph of the Discussion and get it over with.
References - I have many references already in the text. I have many references already in the list. One of the last things to do will be to go through the whole thesis and check that each reference in the text is also on the list, and that each item on the list also appears somewhere in the text. Boring, but should not take too much time (a little Ctrl-F will do the trick). Too late in the process to switch to EndNote at this point.
I'll keep you updated on a regular basis, e.g., every time I make a major accomplishment, like finish a section.
Flame-war on my blog?!
OK, am I crazy? Go check the comment thread here
and tell me, because I am confused - who is right and who is wrong: me, Doctor Biobrain or enigma4ever? This is not a rhetorical question - I want to know if I was blind to something that I should have seen, or if I did not act correctly. Tell me straight.
That post is about the new Carnival of the Liberals. Enigma4ever posted a comment suggesting that the word "carnival" is bad - something that Repubs can use to laugh at us. Obviously, she is new to the world of blog carnivals, as this term has been around for more than three years and has quite a precise meaning
in the blogosphere. It is no shame to be new to something, of course. We are all here to learn from each other. Nobody who is aware of carnivals thinks twice about the connotations of the word - it has its own life on blogs now, and is not Left or Right in any way. I posted a comment explaining this.
Then, Biobrain chimed in, saying pretty much the same thing but in much stronger language. Enigma4ever kinda agreed with the sentiment, but took offence at the choice of words, and misunderstood Biobrain as addressing her personally. Actually, he addressed the idea of backing down (changing the name of the carnival) as abominable and was not directly adressing any person on the thread, something that is clear from reading of his comment.
What ensued was a series of comments by Enigma4ever, each more agitated than the previous. Me and some other commenters tried to explain, and more importantly, tried to get the discussion back on track - about the Carnival of Liberals.
Then, I got three e-mails in a row from Enigma4ever from which I deduced that Enigma4ever is a woman, that she's never been to my blog before, does not know what a carnival is, did not actually read the post (which explains a lot), let alone the stuff linked from the post (that explain even more). I get accused of being offended and offensive, of cronyism, of mysogyny, of being rude, finally even of lying. Believe me, I was trying to be SUPERpolite in answering her questions. I addressed every point. I tried to explain everything very calmly. Ah, to no avail....
Now she has posted on her blog
about this. Go see for yourself. I posted a comment, very politely, which she summarily deleted, accusing me of being rude and of lying. I posted again, politely, just to see it being deleted again. Apparently, on her blog, I am not allowed to explain myself.
Some of the things I tried to explain to her over e-mail, in comments on my blog and in comments (now gone) on her blog follow below:
We are all angry - at Bush, Republicans, conservatives, Religious Right, media, etc... She tends to direct her anger more straighforwardly on her blog. Biobrain tends to funnel his anger into satire, metaphors and snark on his blog. Both are fine. I like both styles. But I do not usually do that kind of thing on my blog. Non-bloggers, including some people who do not have the thick skin attained over years of Internet flame-wars read my blog. I want to keep it nice and clean for such guests.
The comment thread on which those two butted heads is inappropriate for that kind of activity. My blog is not Eschaton or Political Animal or Kos. It is small. If you come to my blog, it is as if you come to my home, not a public place where everyone can scream. I ask people to be polite. Dr.B backed off (I think - at least there are no new comments by him), but enigma4ever posted additional four comments - that was unneccessary. He misunderstood her and responded with speed and heat that was not called for. She misunderstood him and responded with speed and heat that was also not called for, and then proceeded to do it again and again. I doubt Dr.B even checks that thread any more. We've all moved on to new posts, new threads, reading other blogs....
The Carnival of Liberals is not MY Carnival - I am not its founder or proprietor (or 'moderator'), I am just helping to promote it because I think it is a good idea. If she has read the post, my comments on the post, looked around my blog, or followed the links in that post, she would have know this fact. I promote a lot of carnivals, including the Carnival of Feminists. Neither the founders of the carnival of the Liberals, nor I, have coined the word carnival. It was coined by Silflay Hraka - the inventor of the carnival practice, the founder of the original Carnival Of The Vanities. There are more than 130 active carnivals going on right now, and about a half (or more?) of those contain the word "carnival" in the title (something I find boring, but nobody finds insulting). Some of those carnivals are Righty, some are Lefty, most are both or neither - unpolitical in theme and topic.
I have known Biobrain for more than a year from comments on Legal Fiction blog , since back when neither one of us has started our personal blogs yet. He is brilliant, if sometimes crazy, and his analysis is usually spot on. His post about Condi Rice
, if you have read it, is extremely sarcastic about her or women like her. I don't see how anyone could have misread that post as admiring such women - it is devastatingly snarky, yet Enigma4ever did understand it that way, i.e., literally.
Dr.Biobrain did not insult (with an F-word) Enigma4ever personally, but targeted the idea he thought she was espousing. Close reading reveals that clearly.
If Enigma4ever has been a reader of my blog for even a month, she would have know who Paul Deignan was, as I have followed that sorry saga quite closely. The post about it
is still on the front page as I write this, as that sordid affair is barely two weeks old.
Fellow bloggers, even liberals, say F*** and other mean stuff to each other on DU, DKos and other big liberal blogs all the time. Nobody is ever offended. Shrug, smile, move on. That is what Biobrain did when she attacked him, (I am not excusing his language, but she matched him,
then upped him four times more). Perhaps stroking his ego is a much more efficient strategy in getting a fellow blogger to play nice than fighting back or complaining....Stroking her ego by being super-nice to her had the opposite effect. I don't understand why.
My blog - my property - my rules. I'll close the comments, or even delete them if I want. I never did that before, I am not going to do it now, and I hope I will never be forced to do it in the future. Also, I never delete comments (except spam and my own duplicates when Blogger misbehaves).
I have never, nor will I ever edit or modify my own or anyone else's comments. She believes that Dr.B used CAPS initially. I don't think he did. I certainly did not modify his comment. The only person using caps in that thread is enigma4ever.
Posting more and more comments on that post defeats the purpose. That is now an old post. Nobody, including Biobrain, is going to go and read that comment thread any more (except now that I drew your attention to it, attention that will last a few hours at most). Blogs move fast. Dr.B has probably never read her comments there at all (except the very first one, the one he responded emotionally to). I don't think he backed off - he never came back to that thread to see if anyone responded to his comment at all.
I think everyone should read this post
about blogging ettiquete and ethics. It's a good one.
I told everyone, including enigma4ever and Dr.B, to play nice in my playground - why does she take it personally? What's wrong with playing nice? What nasty words have been said to date will be forgotten (not deleted, though), and we can all move on, can't we?
I am not the one offended here, although she thinks so (in her e-mail). It takes a lot to offend me. I've been on Usenet since early 1990s, I've blogged on campaign blogs - I've seen everything, I heard everything, I've been called every name imaginable, my computer was hacked by someone who did not like what I said on a forum. And none of that, ever, offended me. It is fun. Blogging is fun. Watching F**k-fests on comment-threads is sometimes fun, too, though I never participate - just not my style, I am too polite.
It appears she is offended by something I said/did. Why? What did I do? Apart from trying to be nice to both her and Dr.B and trying hard to drive the topic BACK to the carnival, and not let the thread get hijacked with tangential topic of who offended whom, what else did I do wrong? Why is she insulted? Because Dr.B attacked an idea, and she misunderstood that he attacked her personally?
In the blogosphere NOBODY apologizes to anyone for anything. Never did, never will. The rules of conduct are different - insults are part of the game, threads move on, not everyone is in a good mood every day, everybody gets to blow some steam off online and everyone's happy in the end. Insults stated online are NOT taken seriously by bloggers (except lunatic types like Deignan).
I have treated both her and Dr.B with utmost respect. Why does she feel I did not? I read his and her comments (and now e-mails) and figured out what each person misunderstood, then used that information to try to get everyone to play nice. Why is that not respectful? What does she want me to do - chastize Biobrain? Apologize for him? Call him a nasty name? That would be too funny - that is just not something done on political blogs.
He is a grown man. She is a grown woman. I have no need to mediate between them, apologize for anyone, or scold anyone. I can ask politely for level of discourse to rise to a certain level, and if it does not I can close comments, delete comments or even ban people - something I have never done before and hope will never be forced to do in the future.
The fact that she is a woman is irrelevant to this whole thing. Nobody, including myself, KNEW she was a woman. I just learned that fact from her three e-mails. Why does gender make any difference who says what to whom? Why does one have to be polite if writing to a woman, but
not towards a man? How does a woman reciprocate? Anyone wanna cross swords with Amanda Marcotte for sport? Or Echidne? Or Shake's Sis? Or Bitch, PhD? Good luck! Why does it matter if he's a man and she's a woman? Online, we are all equal and gender-less, especially when the handles are genderless.
As for the carnival, if a short comment by an unrelated person (Biobrain) on an unrelated blog (mine) has anything to do with the carnival, I do not see the connection. It is up to her if she wants to participate or not. It is none of my business, except on that one particular date when I will host one edition of it, when I will gladly accept both her and his entries.
So, yes, I am asking everyone to be nice. How is that not OK?
So, dear readers, tell me. What did I do wrong?Update
(originaly posted in a wrong post below): Now this is hillarious: Paul Deignan (man, that guy googles himself 24 hours a day) went to enigma's blog and posted a comment which was, you guessed it, promptly deleted.Update 
:Enigme has deleted her post. I hope this means the whole skirmish is over. However, my post will remain, as I never ever delete posts. Just a policy.
Self-Loving Post About Blog Carnivals
I am a founder and a co-proprietor of the Tar Heel Tavern
which I have hosted three times so far (here
I am a co-founder and co-proprietor of the Carnival of the Balkans
, which I hosted twice
I have put together six issues of Meta-Carnival
, until the Blog Carnival
webpage made it obsolete.
I have hosted a bunch of carnivals over time, including Tangled Bank
), Grand Rounds
, Skeptic's Circle
, Carnival of Bad History
, Carnival of the Godless
, Carnival of Education
, Carnival of Un-Capitalists
, Smarter Than I
and Karnival of Kidz
. I think that's all!
I am about to host the Skeptic's Circle again
in two weeks (send your entries!) and am lined up for hosting Carnival of the Liberals
pretty soon. I am already thinking which carnival to sign up to host next!
Along with those, my blogs/entries have also appeared on Blogarithmicly, Blog Of The Day, New Blog Showcase Extravaganza, Friday Ark, Carnival of the Vanities, Bonfire of the Vanities, Philosopher's Carnival, History Carnival, Carnival of Feminists and Carnival of Sin (I think that's all!). I am also supporting (and will, one day, write and submit posts for) I And The Bird, Circus of the Spineless, Carnival of Cockroaches, Carnival of Green, Teaching Carnival, Carnivalesque and some others, and I try to remember whenever I can to give them a shout-out and link to the latest edition.
Do you all think I am CRAZY!? Is there anyone out there who has hosted as much (not counting non-rotating pseudo-carnivals)? But let me tell you one thing - it was all worth it! The big avalanches of hits come and go - that's sweet while it lasts, but that is not the ultimate goal. What lasts much longer is discovery of so many bloggers who care about the same things I care about. Most of my blogroll (still under construction) consists of blogs I discovered via carnivals. It is also very nice to get in personal touch, via e-mail, with hosts (when I submit an entry) and with the rest of the community (when I am the host). That is priceless. So many friends. No more blogging alone
Anyway, a new long post about participation in blog carnivals, how to go about it, and what you get out of it, is brewing in my head, so watch this spot if you are interested...
Does eating turkey make you sleepy?
I'd say: likely yes
Friday, November 25, 2005
Revenge of the Turkeys
"Backpack-laden kindergartners struggle to catch school buses before territorial gobblers catch them; churchgoers, post-office patrons, and brawny construction workers are routinely held hostage in their cars by scolding toms; unsuspecting joggers are followed by trotting turkey shadows reminiscent of Jurassic Park raptors; rush-hour traffic can be stalled by bumper- pecking broods."
Thursday, November 24, 2005
Most of me is junk, I know....
You are DNA. You're a smart person, and you appear
incredibly complex to people who don't know
you. You're incomparably full of information,
and most of it is useless. Which Biological Molecule Are You?brought to you by Quizilla
Ah, huddling with my histones all day long. So warm. So nice....
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Announcing the brand new spectacular Carnival of the Liberals!
Why are we letting the Right take over the world of blog carnivals? They have a dozen or so carnivals devoted to bashing the Left, each with a different level of obnoxiousness. It's time to strike back!
So, I am happy to report that a couple of enterprising souls on the Left are launching the brand new, super-special Carnival of the Liberals
, "the first and only blog carnival devoted to highlighting the best of liberal blogging from all around the web." If you click on that link you'll see that the website has an automated submission form
, making it easy to participate. So, look at your recent blog activity and pick your best of the most recent posts. Be sure to read the guidelines
The carnival will be bi-weekly, appearing every other Wednesday on a different blog. The first edition will appear on December 7th, 2005 on Brainshrub
. The second issue will appear two weeks later on Neural Gourmet
. Those two blogs are, let me make sure to point this out, the founders of this magnificent new carnival.
As you can see on the carnival's calendar
, hosting is wide open, so volunteer
If you are not exactly sure what a blog carnival is, I have written extensively about the phenomenon here
. You can see a well-organized warehouse of all currently active carnivals here
and explore some defunct ones if you dig through here
If you are nervous about hosting, you may want to read some bloggers' experiences first. Here are a few, by Hedwig the Owl
(that's an old one, though), Coyote Blog
, Free Money Finance
. By far the best advice for carnival hosts was written by Mike of 10000 birds
, something worth a close reading.
So, what are you waiting for, write a good post, send it to the first host and watch new readers coming to your blog on December 7th. After a few weeks of doing that, you may want to try your hand at hosting, too. It's fun and it's good for you!
Birds in a NC school
Kids are at home. Fight for the computer is getting bloody. I barely got on for a (timed!) 20 minutes. I'll blog more tonight after they are all asleep. For now, just a couple of carnival announcements:I And The Bird #11
and the new Carnival of Education
are up. Learn about the birds and learn about learning....
The next Tar Heel Tavern will be hosted by Slowly She Turned
, so send your entries there.
What Am I Doing These Days?
a) Dissertation. In a recent thread on Crooked Timber, someone stated that it is better to write just 15 minutes per day than to let a day go by with no writing at all. I will try to abide by this dictum. Whenever I sit down at the other computer (the Mac that is not connected to the Internet) I realize I get engrossed in it, fighting the computer to make a graph look EXACTLY the way I want it to look and, lo and behold, I realize I spent four hours doing it. If I persists every day, my Thesis wil be done in a couple of weeks....
b) I am preparing a lecture about circadian rhythms for next week. 230 freshmen and sophomores in the audience. I've done it before, but each year it is a nerve-wrecking event.
c) I've been writing a proposal for teaching a blogging class at the community college where I teach biology. I hope the Dean approves of it. If so, you'll be able to all watch it happen live online.
d) I've been quietly working in the background - updating my blogroll. I have also slipped on updating the Archives By Categories - one thing that I most wish Blogspot will start automating soon. I need to get those back up to date.
e) I've had several blogging friends encourage me to turn some of my best posts into a book. I am starting to consider this idea seriously. I may just do it. I am more interested, though, in writing several more serious Tutorial-type posts on Circadiana (plus doing some mild editing of the old ones) and turning those into a (text)book.
f) I will be hosting the next Skeptic's Circle in two weeks on Circadiana. You can find my e-mail address in the "About Me" section, so send me your entries.
g) I have read several books recently that I feel I need to review here, the most recent being Chris Mooney's "Republican War on Science". Be patient and you will see all those appear in this space over the next few weeks.
h) I am working on a long list of "My favourite science fiction books (and Why I like them)". I hope to post that within a few days and I hope a lot of people chime in with their ideas in the comments.
i) I am working on a looooong post that summarizes all of my Lakoffian-based thoughts in one place. That would also be an opportunity to link to many of my older posts that new readers may not be familiar with. I am having a hard time, though. I feel a lot of that is highly speculative and that makes me uneasy about the endeavor. I guess I can dig through the psychological and sociological literature to back up (or alter) my claims, but that will take too much time that I do not have right now.
Also, much of it is a rehash of the old stuff with relatively little new insight, just better organized, more clearly written, and all placed in a single post. Should I keep working on it? Or should I just ask you to dig through the "Understanding America" category if you have not done that yet? These are some of the same reasons I am having trouble with the idea of turning this blog into a book - I feel I need to find peer-reviewed papers to back up some of my more outrageous claims before submitting my thoughts to print.
j) I am seriously looking for a part-time job. I am sick of getting in the red every month and begging for money from the family and my blog readers. Do you know of an opening in Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Pittsboro, RTP, Cary, Raleigh, Morrisville or Apex? I'll even go to Durham if the job is good. Teaching, writing, data-entry, waiting tables, sales, shelving books....whatever.
k) It is a holiday, after all. I am looking forward to the turkey. Traditionally, I get the leg! Sometimes I also get the wing. It is nice being the favourite son-in-law...
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
The supermarket checkout lane tabloid edition of the Skeptic's Circle
is up! Elvis is alive. Yeti and Bigfoot are covert RNC operatives. Flying Saucers are just Bill Gates' toys. And more....
Hapy Thanksgiving, Geeks...
Signs You're Having Thanksgiving Dinner with a Geek
):11. Dark meat is separated from white meat using a light probe.10. Everyone mentions broadband, Linux or dual-core processors in their "I am thankful for..." speech.9. A round of Counter-Strike: Source determines who gets to carve the turkey.8. House decorated with plush microbes to celebrate the pilgrims bringing diseases to the new world.7. Someone constantly keeps saying "The pilgrims had coffee, didn't they?"6. Plates have a heatsink attached to them so you don't burn your mouth.5. The cranberries are caffeinated.4. Whipped cream for the pumpkin pie made with Dremel.3. Three words: Lego gravy boat.2. Pilgrim decorations have red hats instead of black ones.1. The turkey is given the opportunity for a saving throw before being butchered.
Which one made YOU laugh the most? I laughed at #4 the most...don't ask...
I've also seen a comment on a blog recently (sorry, cannot remember where) with a paleontologist blessing (paraphrase): "Thanks for the meteor that fell on Earth 65 million years ago, as without it we would not be eating a turkey today - the turkey would be eating us".
Blogging Ethics Survey
Go help this guy
out. He is writing a paper about bloggers' ethics for his blogging class and needs people to answer a set of questions. It will take you five minutes and it will help a student of blogging. Who knows - perhaps the results of the survey will be surprising. I hope the paper gets published online once it is finished.
The Mad Scientist of Pharyngula
A wonderful article just came out profiling my favourite blogger PZ Myers
. Go read the whole article and also look around his blog if you are not already a regular there.
From the e-mail:
Please join the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity for a panel discussion Nov. 22, 4:30-6 p.m.
Strategies for Improving the Wages and Working Conditions of Low-Waged Workers
TODAY- Tuesday, November 22, 2005, 4:30-6 p.m.
Law School Rotunda - UNC Campus
Please join the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity for a panel discussion exploring strategies for improving the economic situations and standards of living of low-waged workers, including issues of collective organizing.
Introduced by Sen. John Edwards and moderated by Professor Arne Kalleberg, Kenan Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Senior Associate Dean for Social Science, the panel includes:
John Sweeney, President, AFL-CIO
Annette Bernhardt, Deputy Director, Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law
Eduardo Peña, United Food and Commercial Workers
Melanie Stratton, Student Action with Workers
This event is free and open to the public - no registration required. For questions, please call 919-843-8796.
This event will be audio taped and available on the Center's website soon after the event.
But it's brown! And I'm not changing it!
|Your Blog Should Be Green|
Your blog is smart and thoughtful - not a lot of fluff.
You enjoy a good discussion, especially if it involves picking apart ideas.
However, you tend to get easily annoyed by any thoughtless comments in your blog.
I knew it!
You've made your own rules in life - and sometimes that catches up with you.
Winding a web of deceit comes naturally, and no one really knows the true you.
Your best movie matches: Swimming Pool, Unfaithful, The Crush
Monday, November 21, 2005
...so light blogging. Still, I managed to add a couple of strange categories to my Blogroll. Let me know where you want your blog to be included.
Carnival of the Green
Carnival of the Green #3
is up on Sustainablog. Get smart about the environment.
Form over Function, again.
Via Lux et Umbra
, I found this post by Paul Stamatiou
which lists some advice to new bloggers on how to increase traffic. He gives some solid and useful advice, sure, but the whole approach is so techno-geeky, i.e., using gizmos to drive traffic and paying way too much attention to the "look" instead of content. OK, the guy is 19 years old and going to a Tech school. Perhaps when he grows up he'll be less impressed by technological bells and whistles and more impressed by quality content.
He cites, at least twice in that post, and with, gasp, APPROVAL, the notorious 10 Mistakes Bloggers Make
by Jacob Nielsen
. I really don't need to go into this right now, since that article has been ably fisked by a lot of bloggers, including PZ Myers
, Sharon Howard
, Dave Hook
, Gypsy Librarian
, Plead the First
and Burning Bird
. From that last one, a commenter makes the best summary of Nielsen:
Isn’t Jacob neilson a “PhD.” and a consultant… a mere pundit. What you could teach Jacob about blogging could fill an entire Kitchen. I would love to see your Top 10 list for newbie bloggers.
1. Say Something You Actually Believe (Even if you KNOW someone will be offended or take it personally).
2. When you’re really upset… blog it.
3. If you don’t know what you’re talking about…
allow comments… you’ll learn a thing or two.
4. If your blog reads like every other blog or even most “Top 100″ blogs then you’re just adding crap to the conversation… Be different.
5. If you love something… blog about it… someone will be changed.
6. Try to avoid using number is lists unless it seems to be a requirement.
7. Seven is a good place to stretch your imagination… consider blogging as a farm animal.
8. Eight looks really funny as a number and tends to make your post wander off topic.
9. Nine is german for No. Try not to upset Germans with excess negativity.
10. Have a strong finish… If they stick with you to the end give them a small treat… because they are the really smart ones you want to keep visiting… like you gentle reader!
Carefully read the comments on all those posts for more ideas.
This I Believe, Too
This morning's essay in the This I Believe
series on NPR was really good, succintly and eloquently describing what many of us think:There is No Godby Penn JilletteI believe that there is no God. I'm beyond Atheism. Atheism is not believing in God. Not believing in God is easy -- you can't prove a negative, so there's no work to do. You can't prove that there isn't an elephant inside the trunk of my car. You sure? How about now? Maybe he was just hiding before. Check again. Did I mention that my personal heartfelt definition of the word "elephant" includes mystery, order, goodness, love and a spare tire?So, anyone with a love for truth outside of herself has to start with no belief in God and then look for evidence of God. She needs to search for some objective evidence of a supernatural power. All the people I write e-mails to often are still stuck at this searching stage. The Atheism part is easy.But, this "This I Believe" thing seems to demand something more personal, some leap of faith that helps one see life's big picture, some rules to live by. So, I'm saying, "This I believe: I believe there is no God."Having taken that step, it informs every moment of my life. I'm not greedy. I have love, blue skies, rainbows and Hallmark cards, and that has to be enough. It has to be enough, but it's everything in the world and everything in the world is plenty for me. It seems just rude to beg the invisible for more. Just the love of my family that raised me and the family I'm raising now is enough that I don't need heaven. I won the huge genetic lottery and I get joy every day.Believing there's no God means I can't really be forgiven except by kindness and faulty memories. That's good; it makes me want to be more thoughtful. I have to try to treat people right the first time around.Believing there's no God stops me from being solipsistic. I can read ideas from all different people from all different cultures. Without God, we can agree on reality, and I can keep learning where I'm wrong. We can all keep adjusting, so we can really communicate. I don't travel in circles where people say, "I have faith, I believe this in my heart and nothing you can say or do can shake my faith." That's just a long-winded religious way to say, "shut up," or another two words that the FCC likes less. But all obscenity is less insulting than, "How I was brought up and my imaginary friend means more to me than anything you can ever say or do." So, believing there is no God lets me be proven wrong and that's always fun. It means I'm learning something.Believing there is no God means the suffering I've seen in my family, and indeed all the suffering in the world, isn't caused by an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent force that isn't bothered to help or is just testing us, but rather something we all may be able to help others with in the future. No God means the possibility of less suffering in the future.Believing there is no God gives me more room for belief in family, people, love, truth, beauty, sex, Jell-o and all the other things I can prove and that make this life the best life I will ever have.
Sunday, November 20, 2005
Blogger's Curiosity Chest
I think every new blogger should be familiar with some of the blogs that are just, let's say, strange. They are part of the lore of the blogosphere, so, even if you don't like them, you should be aware of their existence for the sake of not getting embarassed at the next Blogger meetup.
For instance, there are Blogs Written by Animals. Which one do you like the best?Hedgical TrevorThe Japing ApeFerdinand the Conservative Cat
Do you know any others?
Then, there are Impersonator's blogs. The target may be long dead, or a currently floodlit public figure. Do you like any of these?Franz KafkaSamuel PepysT.H.Huxley
(a spoof of Dembski' blog)Tom DeLayHarriet MiersSamuel Alito
is a spoof mirror site of Pharyngula
Then, of course, there are Celebrity blogs:Rosie O'Donnell
would be fun if written in Standard English.Barbra Streisand
barely qualifies as a blog as there are no comments.
There are several Blogs written by Science Fiction Writers. I am aware of these:David BrinGreg BearKen MacLeodRobert SawyerCory DoctorowWilliam GibsonC.J.CherryhBruce Sterling
How about other fiction writers? I am aware only of Sarah Dessen's Journal
. She is a very popular and good writer of teenage literature. I've read a couple of her books and liked them a lot. She also has a regular website
There used to be, but I cannot find it any more, a blog called, if I remember correctly, "Boring Blog". The entries (each garnering hundreds of comments) were short and each read something like this (paraphrasing from memory):
"I detected an itch on my chin, so I lifted my right hand and scratched it"
"I thought it was dark in the room, so I switched on the light"
"My left arm was getting uncomfortable so I moved it to a different position", and so on. Can anyone find it, anywhere, perhaps cached? It's a hoot! I hope your blog does not sound like this!
I am wondering how many of the above blogs are actually written by Bloggy
The Tar Heel Tavern
The latest issue of the Tar Heel Tavern
is up on Pratie Place
Meet old and new participants in the North Carolina blog carnival.
Saturday, November 19, 2005
Tar Heel Tavern - call for submissions
Don't forget to send your Tar Heel Tavern entries to Pratie Place
Onion. Funny. What's new?
Long-Awaited Beer With Bush Really Awkward, Voter Reports
WARREN, PA—Although respondents to a Pew poll taken prior to the 2004 presidential election characterized Bush as "the candidate they'd most like to sit down and have a beer with," Chris Reinard lived the hypothetical scenario Sunday afternoon, and characterized it as "really uncomfortable and awkward."
As they say, go read the rest....
(hat-tip: Not Like You
Friday, November 18, 2005
Setting the Record Straight on Edwards
Last Raleigh Independent has this short article:John's 'fessing up on Iraq
Readers of the Indy, or our nascent blog called "dent" (www.indyweekblogs.com/dent) or of OrangePolitics.org, the blog we got it from, weren't surprised to see John Edwards' "The Right Way in Iraq" column on Sunday in the Washington Post, also known as his "I was wrong" column. We all had the heads-up about it from Elizabeth Edwards, John's wife, back on Oct. 21.
Edwards is owning up to his vote for the war, which he admits now was "a mistake." His mistake, he writes, was based on information supplied to him by President Bush and the intelligence community that "wasn't the whole story." Edwards adds: "Had I known this at the time, I never would have voted for this war."
In recent weeks, 2004 Democratic presidential contenders John Kerry, Dick Gephardt and now Edwards--each of whom voted in Congress to authorize the war--have said they're sorry about that.
Edwards first uttered the word "mistake," apparently, in an interview with former Indy editor Bob Moser that took place in Chapel Hill in mid-October. Moser's resulting profile of Edwards as anti-poverty populist--and potential '08 presidential choice of progressives not inclined toward Hillary--appears in the Nov. 28 issue of The Nation.
A few days after the interview, Elizabeth Edwards, blogging to OrangePolitics, passed along a hot tip: "John has said that the war was wrong and that his vote for the war was wrong. His taking responsibility for that vote, his direct statement that he was wrong (instead of watering it down with excuses) makes me very proud of him." We printed that news ("Elizabeth Edwards: Blogger") in the Oct. 26 Indy, and tried thereafter--to no avail--to interview John about it. Now, with The Nation story out and his column in the Post, John's finally gotten everybody caught up to his current view, which is that Iraq "is a mess and a far greater threat than it ever was."
A fact for which he is taking responsibility, Edwards says, and he suggests that others--Bush, Cheney--start doing so, too.
I think I have linked here to that OrangePolitics post where Elizabeth shows up in the comments. It is so much fun to be right here on the ground where everything is happening. It is also interesting that pretty big piece of news about a pretty important person first gets aired in a comment on a local blog. It's just cool.
Also, we have to look forward to that Nov.28. issue of Nation... There is a little quote from it - you have to click on the link above - right where I placed the "snip" separator, which is VERY interesting!
Sunny Baudelaire is a wise young lady...
The twelfth (out of thirteen) book in a Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket came out a couple of weeks ago and I finished reading it yesterday. As the series goes, the books are getting darker and darker, and waiting for the next tome gets harder and harder (the first few books were more independent units, but now the story flows from one book to the next).
If you are not familiar with the adventures of the Baudelaire siblings, and you should be
, let me just tell you that the youngest sibling is Sunny, still a baby. She cannot talk properly yet, but every now and then she utters a word, an exclamation that only her sister Violet and brother Klaus can understand (and the author provides the translation). You can find some of the translations here
In the latest volume, on page 268, Sunny has the best utterance yet:
"Scalia," Sunny said. She meant something like, "It doesn't seem like the literal interpretation makes any sense," but her siblings did not think it was wise to translate.
From the mouths of babes...
Building My Blogroll
I've been slowly working on building my blogroll. Check out what I did so far.
Most blogs are eclectic but I have tried to categorize them in the spirit of Borges' Chinese Classification of Animals. The political and science blogs, as there are so many of them, are the hardest to do, so I'll do them last.
What category you'd like to see your blog in? If you think I have miscategorized your blog and think it needs to be moved, let me know. If you do not want your blog listed here, let me know. If I got a link wrong, or if you moved to a different platform, let me know. If your blog is not listed here, but you'd like it to be, let me know (no guarantee, of course). Check on "About Me" for my e-mail address.
My paycheck is coming in a month. My wife's paycheck in two weeks. We have to survive until then on about $50 and we did not even pay ALL the bills yet. I guess Harry Potter movie will have to wait a month or so.
Anyone in the area knows of a part-time job I could do?
Now you know why I'm here....
Feel free to swipe these buttons off of here and place them on your sidebars. You can make your own at the Button Maker
Also, if you scroll aaaaallllll the way to the bottom of this page, you will see buttons for some of the carnivals you may like to have.
Thursday, November 17, 2005
Even More On Female Orgasm
Physician Working with Pain Relief Device Stumbles Upon Delightful Side Effect
Meloy soon realized he may have discovered a device that could help thousands of women who have trouble achieving orgasm.....
Turn your blog archives into a book (and sell it)
So, you've been writing a blog for quite some time now. You are proud of some of your work. You are particularly proud of some of your old stuff, now burried deep in the archives never to be seen again. Who reads archives, after all? You don't want to repeat yourself over and over again, and have never felt at ease with constantly linking back to your old posts (I never had such qualms). So, what can you do to make your old stuff more accessible and available?
Well, now you can turn it into a book form - yup, the real, physical book - and sell it through your blog, as well as through all the regular online booksellers (e.g., Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell's). And it is easy and fast these days to do so. Here, the guy who writes the Coyote Blog
describes the entire process - it took him several hours of work and in two days he got his books in the mail.
Apparently, the best and cheapest place to go to publish a book is Lulu.com
. Lulu makes it easy for you by providing a ready-made template
and tips on formatting
, so the whole process appears really easy.
To get the people excited about this, they have now opened a contest - the Lulu Blooker Prize
- for books that originated as blog posts, or what they call 'blooks'. As the blooks come in they get listed on the sidebar of the Lulu blog
, so you can go and check them out, as well as keep track of the contest on the blog.
There will be prizes for three books, one in each category - fiction, non-fiction and comic strip. The best of those three will get $2000, the other two will get $1000 each. Not shabby for a poor blogger. You can learn more
about the contest and see the rules
if you are interested.
The judges are not associated with Lulu, but are respected bloggers themselves: Cory Doctorow
of Boing Boing
, Robin Miller
who writes at a lot of places including Slashdot, and Paul Jones
, the director of amazing Ibiblio
. If you win, they'll write you blurbs for your book!
Well, they don't do pop-up books so I have no idea how can one deal with the links. After all, the link is the currency of the blogosphere (or ATP, if you are a biologist). Coyote Blog guy just copied and pasted, after very mild editing, all his posts from the first year of his blog and - voila - here's the book. But what can you do if your blogging style is profuse linking and building a network? I guess that is just not suitable for turning into book form.
I actually have a backup MSWord file of all my original/substantial posts from this blog (in chronological order, as opposed to blog-traditional reverse chronological order). I don't bother saving one-liners, copyrighted cartoons, linkfests and carnivals. Seeing this whole book thing unveil, I looked at that file again. It is almost 800 pages long (OK, it's in New York Times 12pt, which can be and should be changed)!
All those posts, even the longest and most "mine", still contain bunches of links. Should I edit the links out, change the fonts and see if it looks like anything? I'd like to have a few hardcopies to send to people who are unable to read my blog (e.g, my mother), though I have no chance of winning a Blooker Prize when Washingtonienne and Belle du Jour have already submitted their stuff. There are so many much better writers than I am, and their blogs are so much more focused. My blog is just too ecclectic, as well as uneven over time, with ups and downs in quality - every reader would like some posts and hate, or be indifferent to, most of the others. Should I go ahead and do it? Would anyone be interested in it? After all, I am most proud of some of my oldest posts - the recent stuff is just so scattershot and scatterbrained.
Actually, what I will do, but not yet, is put together the "Clock Tutorial" posts from Circadiana
and publish them as a textbook. I need to work on those much more, though. That may take another year of writing.
My first high-school teaching experience
Yesterday morning I went to Hillsborough and talked to two 10th grade classes about circadian clocks and sleep. That was quite an experience. I have just realized right there and then that this was the first time that I have ever set foot in an US high school.
I've had a PPT slideshow ready, but I suspected that a high school was not as technically well equipped as a University, so I changed my mind and did the whole thing just talking and drawing on the whiteboard (I was right about the AV - it did not work).
I was pleasantly surprised to see the kids genuinely interested and asking many good questions - both interrupting me throughout the lesson (THAT I liked a lot) and at the end. I was surprised at how many questions had something to do with alcohol. I was expecting questions related to sex.
Oh, and how did I get this gig in the first place? Well, of course, the science teacher reads both of my blogs... Thanks for the invitation and the experience.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Triangle Bloggers Bash
Just a quick recap. It was great fun last night in the old, wonderfully renovated Durham Tobacco District. Big thanks to Anton
(poor guy, his house got broken into that day) for organizing the whole thing.
for giving me a ride there.
The first part was a tour of the brand new studios of WUNC
(the local NPR station). They scooped a major victory by getting Dick Gordon
to join the ranks and develop a new show ("Connections" was my favourite while it lasted). This portion of the party (and that was a LOT of great food) was sponsored by Lulu.com
, an online book-publishing company (more about them in a later post).
For the second part, we moved to Tyler's bar where we had beer (that's Guinness in my hand in the pictures) courtesy of Henry Copeland
of BlogAds and the local TV station WRAL
, which is most courageous of the local TV outlets when it concerns online endeavors. They even have on their website a listing of area blogs
You can see some pictures of the event here
and some more here
Paul has his own thoughts
on the event. Follow his links....
It was great seeing a lot of people, some new to me, some I know from before from MeetUps and conferences, especially AE
and Will R
. And, believe it or not this was the first time Pam
and I met in person. She is just as cool and funny in person (or more) as you can expect from reading her blog. You'll have to follow that link (above) to pictures to see us. I could not upload them here because they are not JPEGs but GIFs, but I am the guy with glasses in a brown-patchwork sweater....
Carnival of Feminists #3
The Third Carnival of Feminists
is up on Sour Duck. Lots of divesre voices to enjoy.
It seems everyone's doing this....
You are one of life’s enjoyers, determined to get the most you can out of your brief spell on Earth. Probably what first attracted you to atheism was the prospect of liberation from the Ten Commandments, few of which are compatible with a life of pleasure. You play hard and work quite hard, have a strong sense of loyalty and a relaxed but consistent approach to your philosophy.
You can’t see the point of abstract principles and probably wouldn’t lay down your life for a concept though you might for a friend. Something of a champagne humanist, you admire George Bernard Shaw for his cheerful agnosticism and pursuit of sensual rewards and your Hollywood hero is Marlon Brando, who was beautiful, irascible and aimed for goodness in his own tortured way.
Sometimes you might be tempted to allow your own pleasures to take precedence over your ethics. But everyone is striving for that elusive balance between the good and the happy life. You’d probably open another bottle and say there’s no contest.What kind of humanist are you? Click here to find out.
For those of you interested in science, Tangled Bank #41
Where's my pony?
My inner child is ten years old!
The adult world is pretty irrelevant to me. Whether
I'm off on my bicycle (or pony) exploring, lost
in a good book, or giggling with my best
friend, I live in a world apart, one full of
adventure and wonder and other stuff adults
How Old is Your Inner Child?
brought to you by Quizilla
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
That's what my wife thought....
The people in the Balkans are the best lovers!
Monday, November 14, 2005
An Intriguing Article
The End of News
I have started updating my blogroll
. It is a long tedious process. It will probably take several days to complete.
Let me know if your blog is on and shouldn't be, or is not on and should be, or is on but the link is bad, or is on but in a wrong category, or you think I should blogroll someone else.....my e-mail address can be found in the "About Me" section.
Abused become Abusers
psycho-deconstruction of evangelicals/Republicans. It misunderstands that abusive parenting is not neccessary, i.e., that plain old strict parenting is equally potent in developing fearful, femiphobic cultists, but the rest of the article is intriguing.
Cool link-logos (check the very bottom of my blog)
You can find code for link-logos for some of your favourite carnivals here
. More are coming soon. If you want more, contact the owner of the site.
Sunday, November 13, 2005
Carnival of the Godless
Carnival of the Godless #27
is up on Pharyngula. Go get your bi-weekly dose of reason and rationality.
The Essence Of Everything!
From Sit Properly
, via Eric
, the deep, deep, deeeeeeep English-to-Hindu-to-English translation of Hokey Pokey:You place your entire being insideYou place your entire being outsideYou place your entire being inside and vibrate your entire being everywhereYou do the hokey pokey and revolve your being in a circleThat is the complete essense of everything.
Hey, this happened fast - crossing the 90,000 mark. It is because Atrios linked to this excellent post by Frogs and Ravens
about commenting policies and blogging ethics that, in its first sentence, links to this post
of mine. Update:
She has now also been linked by DailyKos, Heretik and Steve Gilliard's News Blog.
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