Quotulatiousness

June 16, 2017

Coyote Blog going dark? Say it ain’t so!

Filed under: Media, Politics, USA — Tags: — Nicholas @ 05:00

Sadly, it appears that Warren Meyer is thinking of closing down his excellent blog:

I am not sure I am able to continue blogging in the current environment. When I began blogging over 12 years ago, it was to report on my various adventures in trying to run a small business. It soon morphed into a platform for me to think out loud about various policy issues. For example, while I didn’t really understand this when I started, it became a platform for me to think through mistakes I made in my initial enthusiasm for the Iraq War. You can see me in the early years evolve from a kind of knee-jerk global warming absolute denier to a lukewarmer with much more understanding of the underlying science. I think of myself as an intellectual (though one who cannot spell or proof-read) who likes to discuss policy.

But I am not sure this is the time for that. The world seems to be moving away from intellectualism. I say this not because Trump voters were somehow rejecting intellectualism, but because intellectuals themselves seem to be rejecting it. They act like children, they are turning universities into totalitarian monocultures, and they compete with each other to craft mindless 140-character “gotchas” on Twitter. I challenge you to even find a forum today for intellectual exchange between people who disagree with one another. In politics, Trump clearly rejects intellectualism but for whatever reasons, the Democratic opposition has as well.

We have a tribal war going on in this country that has officially gone beyond any real policy issues. While the US and the Soviet Union had real differences in philosophy and approach, most of their confrontations were in proxy wars which bore little resemblance to these values. That is what politics are now — a series of proxy wars. We spend several days focusing attention on Jeff Sessions, but spend pretty much zero time talking about real issues like approaches to the drug war, and police accountability, and sentencing reform. Instead all we can focus on is the political proxy war of this stupid Russia hacking story. Obama’s birth certificate and Hillary’s servers and Russian hacking and Trump’s real estate sales — all we fight are proxy wars.

And like most tribal warfare, the two tribes are incredibly similar. I have called them the Coke and Pepsi party for years. Go talk to the the rank and file and sure, one group may like Nascar and barbecue while the other likes Phish concerts and kale, but you will see them asking for the same sorts of things out of government. Take the minimum wage, a traditional blue tribe issue. In Arizona, a heavily red state (we have a super-majority in the legislature of the red team), a $10 minimum wage referendum passed by nearly 60% of the vote last year. The members of the two tribes absolutely hate each other, but they support the same laws. I guess I should be happy they don’t get together, since as a libertarian I think many of these things they want are bad ideas.

I frequently link to Coyote Blog, as I find his analysis of issues to be though-provoking and often well worth sharing — despite his addiction to the archaic, pre-digital age “two spaces after a period” typing tic. I’ll be sorry to see him go.

May 10, 2017

And another blogiversary rolls past

Filed under: Administrivia, Personal — Tags: — Nicholas @ 03:00

Blogs aren’t as relevant today as they were a decade ago, but I’m still recording over 1.7 million hits every year (1,701,503 according to my WordPress stats page, which translates into 1,287,505 unique visitors). Those numbers are down a bit from 2014, which is still my peak year for overall traffic, when 1,766,068 visits were logged (2015 was down to 1,741,859, but it was the first decline in traffic year-over-year since I started blogging in May 2004).

While I’ve (almost) always had a daily quote of the day post, in the last few months, I’ve been adding a video of the day as well — I know a lot of people are more visually oriented than I am, so I’m trying to avoid the “wall of text” look that the blog sometimes gets when there’s a lot of written material unrelieved by graphics, photographs, or videos. Am I striking the right balance for you, the readers? Should I be scraping the Wikimedia archives for more graphics to spice up the postings visually?

Earlier anniversary postings:

March 19, 2017

QotD: Social media and the mentally unbalanced

Filed under: Health, Humour, Media, Quotations — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

I should also add here that, in my limited experience, social media is God’s gift to grandiose psychiatric patients. None of them are “a guy with a Facebook page”. They’re all “social media celebrities with hundreds of followers”. It’s always “YOU CAN’T DO THIS TO ME! DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM? I HAVE HUNDREDS OF FOLLOWERS ON TWITTER! EVEN [NAME OF TWITTER PERSON I HAVE NEVER HEARD OF] FOLLOWS ME! THIS IS GOING TO GO VIRAL!” One patient even told me, in a threatening manner, that his blog had over a thousand hits. “You mean a day?” I asked. “No, total,” he answered. Then he wondered why I was so utterly failing to look impressed.

Scott Alexander, “The Case Of The Famous Physicist”, Slate Star Codex, 2015-07-03.

January 1, 2017

Blog traffic in 2016

Filed under: Administrivia, Media — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

The annual statistics update on traffic to Quotulatiousness from January 1st through December 31st, 2016. Overall, the traffic dropped slightly from 2015, which in turn was down a bit from the peak traffic year of 2014:


Over eight and a half million hits. That’s a pretty good number for an obscure Canadian blog.


The final count of visitors to the blog will be about 2,500-3,500 higher, as I did the screen captures at around 10:30 in the morning.

December 23, 2016

QotD: How not to do scientific journalism

Filed under: Media, Politics, Quotations, Science — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Something has happened at Slate. Until relatively recently, Slate‘s science page produced so much amazingly good content that we were tempted to link to them multiple times per day. In our 2013 list of the Top 10 Science News Sites, we awarded them an honorable mention.

But, that was then. Now, for some reason, Slate‘s science page has partially abandoned its strong tradition of in-depth analysis to promote an angry, opinion-driven reportage that is mostly aimed at insulting Republicans and Christians.

This is counterproductive. Science journalism that forsakes its primary mission of science communication to engage in partisan culture wars does a grotesque disservice to the scientific endeavor and is doomed to fail. Just ask ScienceBlogs, which has become a shell of its former self because, as the New York Times described, it became “Fox News for the religion-baiting, peak-oil crowd” that utilized “redundant and effortfully incendiary rhetoric.” Slate‘s science page is heading toward a similar path.

Alex B. Berezow, Slate‘s Science Page Has Gone Crazy”, Real Clear Science, 2015-05-25.

May 20, 2016

Mommy blogger blows the whistle on Mommy blogging

Filed under: Media — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

The actual blog post by Josi Denise has been removed (go to the original URL and you get an “Account Suspended” notification), but Robert McCain quoted perhaps the key part of the post here:

YOUR MOMMY BLOG F–KING SUCKS.
NOBODY IS READING YOUR S–T

I mean no one. Even the people you think are reading your shit? They aren’t really reading it. The other mommy bloggers sure as hell aren’t reading it. They are scanning it for keywords that they can use in the comments. “So cute! Yum! I have to try this!” They’ve been told, like you, that in order to grow your brand, you must read and comment on other similar-sized and similar-themed blogs. The people clicking on it from Pinterest aren’t reading it. They are looking for your recipe, or helpful tip promised in the clickbait, or before and after photo, then they might re-pin the image, then they are done. The people sharing it on Facebook? They aren’t reading it either. They just want to say whatever it is your headline says, but can’t find the words themselves. Your family? Nope. They are checking to make sure they don’t have double chins in the photos you post of them, and zoning in on paragraphs where their names are mentioned.

Why? Because your shit is boring. Nobody cares about your shampoo you bought at Walmart and how you’re so thankful the company decided to work with you. Nobody cares about anything you are saying because you aren’t telling an engaging story. You are not giving your readers anything they haven’t already heard. You are not being helpful, and you are not being interesting. If you are constantly writing about your pregnancy, your baby’s milestones, your religious devotion, your marriage bliss, or your love of wine and coffee…. are you saying anything new? Anything at all? Tell me something I haven’t heard before, that someone hasn’t said before. From a different perspective, or making a new point at the end at least if I have to suffer through a cliche story about your faceless, nameless kid.

You’re writing in an inauthentic voice about an unoriginal subject, worse if sprinkled with horrible grammar and spelling, and you are contributing nothing to the world but static noise.

No blogger, Mommy- or other, wants to be told that nobody is reading their posts. Something like this could ruin your whole day…

May 10, 2016

Twelfth blogiversary

Filed under: Administrivia, Personal — Tags: — Nicholas @ 03:00

From blogs being “teh new hotness” in the early 2000s they’ve evolved (or devolved, if you prefer) into a much quieter backwater of the internet — still relevant (at least to some), but no longer the big thing online. I’ve been forced to reduce the pace of postings since my health issues right before the new year, and I doubt it’ll return to those heady days of 5-6 new entries every weekday. In spite of that, I still get a fair bit of regular traffic here (yesterday was an unexpectedly busy day with 9,525 recorded visits), but overall traffic to the blog looks to have peaked in 2014, when 1,766,068 visits were logged (last year was down only a bit at 1,741,859, but it was the first decline in traffic year-over-year since I started blogging in 2004).

Earlier anniversary postings:

February 24, 2016

Blogging will continue to light for a few days at least

Filed under: Administrivia, Personal — Tags: — Nicholas @ 08:21

As you may have noticed from a post the other day, we’ve just moved into our new-yet-quite-old house and are up to our armpits in packed boxes and not yet properly set-up furniture and “things”. It will take a while for us to clear paths through the debris, so blogging will be something I neglect for most of the day and perhaps post something a bit later. The QotD posts are queued for at least a week in advance, so there’ll be something to see each morning…

February 23, 2016

First the move, then the unpacking 

Filed under: Administrivia, Personal — Tags: — Nicholas @ 12:22
 

The boxes of books in my new office

 

January 8, 2016

Home again, home again, jiggety-jig

Filed under: Administrivia, Personal — Tags: — Nicholas @ 16:36

I’m finally home again from the hospital. It was, by far, the longest hospital stay of my life (the previous being two days when I got my tonsils out at age 11 or so). Just the walk from the ward down to the parking garage left me feeling I’d put in a full day’s work down in the mines. Nearly two weeks of pretty much no physical activity leaves a mark. On the bright side, I lost ten pounds or so … but now I’ve got a bunch of pills I’ll need to take at various points during the day. Plus the joy of trying to find a doctor to provide after-care and monitoring (there may be parts of the GTA where doctors accepting new patients are plentiful, but Durham Region isn’t one of them).

Blogging will probably continue to be below normal volume, but I should manage a bit more than just the auto-posted QotD entries from now on.

Thanks again to those of you who’ve contacted me through various channels. Your words of support were very welcome.

December 31, 2015

Blogging will continue to be light

Filed under: Administrivia, Health, Personal — Tags: — Nicholas @ 18:37

I’m sharing this post from my iPhone while reclining in my bed in the Intensive Care Unit at Lakeridge Health in Oshawa. I’ve suffered a totally unexpected health setback on Tuesday evening and I don’t know when I’ll be able to resume blogging. There are still several postings in the queue, but once they’re posted, the blog may go quiet for some time. 

My best wishes to all of you in 2016. I hope to be back to a relatively normal life as soon as medicine and rest will allow. 

June 4, 2015

Posting will be irregular for a few days

Filed under: Personal — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 07:56

Yesterday afternoon, my sister suffered a massive heart attack and was rushed to hospital. She died late in the evening, never having regained consciousness. She was 51. I will be doing whatever I can to support my brother-in-law Gord, my niece Samantha (who is due to deliver her first baby any day now), my nephew Jimmy and my mother.

There will be a few pre-scheduled items posted on the blog, but I don’t expect to be actively posting anything for at least a couple of days.

Hilary Mallett obituary

May 10, 2015

It can’t really be eleven years already, can it?

Filed under: Administrivia — Tags: — Nicholas @ 02:00

Once again, I almost missed my own blog’s anniversary. It’s now eleven years since I started blogging … but I won’t say it seems like yesterday (it seems like maybe two or three years ago, actually). In rather the same way that I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, I still don’t really know what I’m trying to do with the blog. It just keeps dragging me back when I think I’m done with it…

Earlier anniversary postings:

February 27, 2015

WordPress theme updates

Filed under: Administrivia — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 07:22

This morning’s WordPress update appears to have messed around with the theme I’ve been using for the last several years. Most of the formatting looks to be okay … except that I’ve lost the banner graphic at the top of the page. I don’t have time to fix it properly now (not to mention that I don’t remember what I did back in 2009 to get it working in the first place), so I’ve just dropped a placeholder banner there (it’s the banner from the old MovableType site, actually).

February 20, 2015

My Twitter word cloud

Filed under: Randomness — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

If you’d like to generate one of these for your own (or someone else’s) Twitter account, the instructions are here.

Click to see full-sized at imgur.com

Click to see full-sized at imgur.com

Because I use my Twitter account primarily for auto-posting links to my blog, the word “post” is by far the most common word, followed by “qotd” for my daily quotation posts. After that, it seems pretty representative of what I’ve been blogging about for the last year or so.

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