Posts Tagged ‘Meta Comments’
Wickersham’s Conscience reader and sometime commenter Kate McLaughlin has a nice article in the current issue of Birdwatching Magazine this month.
Alaska has only one hummingbird species that breeds regularly here: the Rufous Hummingbird. McLaughlin runs North America’s farthest north hummingbird banding station in Prince William Sound. Through her research efforts, McLaughlin helped establish the range of the Rufous Hummingbird, as well as its migration – an astonishing 3,500 miles in one case.
So here’s a shout-out to a distinguished reader. Congratulations on the article and on the data.
WC’s posts will be a little irregular the rest of the month as WC investigates liquid water, bright sunlight and the color green. There may be posts; there may not. But photos will be taken. If any are worth posting, they will be. Just not necessarily immediately.
Raise your hand if you saw this coming…
According to the automated features of WordPress, this is the fourth anniversary of Wickersham’s Conscience blog. We’ll take a brief intermission to examine the statistics.
- 1,338 Posts
- 4,100 Comments approved
- 360,000 Views
- From 154 countries
- Most popular blog post
- Most popular search term
- Most continuous days with at least one post: 322 (and counting)
- First blog post
Certainly, there are mysteries here. What is it with trolls? Why is someone in Bangladesh reading this blog? Who is JellyAK and why has that person been emailing WC about gerbils for two years?
Thanks to each and every one of you who have spent your precious time reading Wickersham’s Conscience.
And we’ll now return to the regular maundering.
For his first 2.5 years at the University of Oregon, WC worked part-time at a restaurant on Franklin Boulevard, across from the Oregon campus. Every other weekend, Saturday and Sunday, WC worked a six hour shift at the Sambo’s Restaurant, climbing from dishwasher to short order cook and manager.
In the politically correct late 1960s, WC took immense amounts of grief for working at a Sambo’s. Everyone assumes that the business name came from Helen Bannerman’s children’s book, The Story of Little Black Sambo. It didn’t. The franchise name came from the first names of its founders, Sam Battistone, Sr and Newell Bohnett. The link to Bannerman’s racially … insensitive kid’s story came as a marketing ploy in the late 1950s. By the time WC was washing dishes at Eugene Sambo’s, the paintings on the walls had been changed to an East Indian Boy and a Bengal tiger. But that didn’t stop the jokes.
The Eugene Sambo’s had a near-ideal location. It was on the footpath from the big parking lots on the southeast side of the U of O campus to the footbridge across the Willamette River to Autzen Stadium. On home game weekends and during track meets, hordes of sports fans would stop at Sambo’s going to games, returning from games and even at football halftimes. Bicyclists and runners would stop to carbo-load before or after running or cycling. For WC’s entire shifts, the entire 210-seat restaurant would be packed.
In early September 1969, WC was shipped to Santa Barbara, then the Sambo’s headquarters, for training in restaurant management. By that point, WC had advanced from dishwasher to salad chef. Salads were made in 30 gallon plastic drums, just to give you an idea of the epicurean standards at Sambo’s. Anyway, for a week, WC was trained in short-order cooking, Sambo’s style, restaurant management and a kind of relentless feel-good personnel management style that WC found repulsive. The bonus system – “A Fraction of the Action” – was much more interesting. So beginning in Fall of 1969, and for the next 20 months, WC was the short order cook and manager every other weekend.
The average turn time for a table at Sambo’s was a little under half an hour. Call it 500 orders per hour. We were busy. Pretty much everyone ordered pancakes. The menu varied, but averaged a lot pancakes per order. Call it 2,000 pancakes per hour. Inescapably, WC made a million pancakes.
That was embarrassing enough. But Sambo’s gave WC a certificate. A Million Pancake Certificate. In a surprise ceremony at the restaurant. Worse, the mothership in Santa Barbara issued a press release. The Eugene Register Guard published it. Worse still, the bastards at Oregon Emerald, the student newspaper, where WC free-lanced as a photographer, published it. For a week, in every class WC took grief for his million pancakes. Every friend ribbed him about it. The dorm full of jocks where WC was resident advisor was especially merciless. The horror.
WC quit at Sambo’s. The Oregon Outdoor Program offered him a job leading trips. The pay wasn’t as good, and WC sacrificed 3 months of his “Fraction of the Action.” But the work was much more interesting. The scenery was much better. The air was vastly better. WC never looked back. Sometimes the money doesn’t matter.
Sambo’s is long gone, except for the original restaurant in Santa Barbara, California. It was a victim of Securities & Exchange Commission violations, wretched marketing, changing times and corporate robber-baron Victor Posner. No loss.
WC still has the Million Pancake Certificate in a box somewhere. It’s a reminder of the lesson.
WC’s astute readers have noted there are all kinds of things WC doesn’t blog about, and ask why. There are several reasons.
Partly, it’s WC’s magpie sensibility. A lot of subjects simply hold no interest for WC. Macrame may be fascinating, romance literature titillating and celebrity gossip enthralling, but not to WC.
Partly, it’s because any subject gets boring after a while. Some, sooner than others. Economics and geology are both interesting, but if they were fascinating WC would have been an economist or geologist.
Partly, it is the simple limit of the amount of time it takes to put together a reasonably well-informed blog entry. If WC knows a bit about the subject, the learning curve is a bit shorter. Which means a little less time.
Partly, it’s that there are subjects that WC has officially deemed unworthy of his blog space. That might be because the subject is narcissistic, and lives for attention. Like The Quitter. The best way to deal with that kind of person is to simply ignore them.
WC is highly skeptical of what he sees as the misuse of social media to over-share personal matters. While WC tells personal tales from time to time, they are not, if you will, over-personal, by WC’s admittedly Boomer Generation social standards.
But mostly, WC is a lawyer. WC tries not to post on issues that impact his clients. It’s a no-win situation. And there’s always the risk of a claim that WC may have disclosed confidential information in a blog post. It limits the universe of subjects that WC can post about, but given the size of the range of topics otherwise available, the limits is not very severe.
Besides, if WC were to violate confidentiality, break the attorney-client privilege, they’d take away his lawyer license and he’d be forced to do something else for a living. The law is endlessly fascinating, even if WC can’t always tell you why.
So yes, there are doors that are closed, doors that WC chooses not to open and doors that are locked. All of which means there are things WC doesn’t blog about.
Those who follow the Order of the Stick – one of the best web comics there is – will have noticed it has been a long time since the last update. There’s a good reason for that.
Rich Burlew, a/k/a The Giant in the Playground, the guy who draws and writes the Order of the Stick, had an accident involving broken glass and his right hand.
Rich is notoriously private; we don’t know about how it happened. Here’s what Rich’s wife posted on the Kickstarter blog:
Rich had an accident earlier this week; he injured his right hand pretty badly on broken glass and was rushed in to have emergency surgery. They repaired some severed tendons in his thumb and he’s home now and recovering. But he won’t be able to draw for at least six weeks (maybe longer, depending on how quickly the nerves in his thumb heal). And he didn’t want to keep you guys in the dark for all that time.
You can see that there is both a cast and some serious slicing involved. Ouch. Rich has since reported that the doctors are pleased with his healing so far. And that’s good news. But nerves can take a long time to heal.
WC hopes you will join WC in wishing Rich a speedy, complete and uneventful recovery. But for the next month or two, there aren’t going to be any new cartoons.
This post is an experiment – can WordPress be used for a multiple-choice quiz? Here’s the attempt. Bonus points if you can identify the common thread among all three questions. The questions are from a handout at the Tea at Wickersham’s House.
It marked what the late Ernest Gruening in his fine history, The State of Alaska, called “The Era of Indifference.”
There’s really no excuse for getting this one wrong.
The expedition only got to 8,000 feet or so. And getting there involved an amazing effort.
The answers and how folks voted will be posted in a week or so…
WC will be off the Interubes until Labor Day. There are posts scheduled to go up in WC’s absence. You’ll be free to comment on those posts. But the comments won’t appear until some time Monday.
Ordinarily, WC would remove the screening of comments for a few days, but there has been a lot of spam lately and some recent comments that WC does not want to inflict on his readers.
WC famously fails to follow up on his posts. At highly irregular intervals, WC makes some effort to track down at least a few of the loose ends and see if there are developments. As always, the Magpie Principle applies.
Back in March 2011, WC asked if the far, right end of the Tea Party militia movements was dangerous. An Anchorage jury decided it was, and convicted Scheffer Cox and Lonnie Vernon of crimes that will put them in jail most of the rest of their lives.
At the suggestion of several readers, WC contacted Natural History magazine about publishing WC’s Fox in the Crane House post as one of its “Natural Moment” features. Natural History is in a financial jam, and has been published only irregularly. For whatever reason, there are no instructions in the magazine itself or at its web site on how to submit articles. An email inquiry to the general email address for the magazine went unanswered.
WC is on record regarding his distaste for software patents. WC is also on record describing his admiration for 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Richard Posner. Now Judge Posner is on record expressing his distaste for software patents, many computer hardware patents and the bad effects they have on innovation.
Readers will recall alleged human being Charles Carreon filed a particularly stupid lawsuit against The Oatmeal‘s Matt Inman, the American Cancer Society and the National Wildlife Federation. The idiot complaint was in response to Inman’s clever fundraising response to Carreon’s extortion attempt. Carreon cooled off and dismissed his lawsuit. Technically, he could file it again but that’s not a bully’s pattern of behavior. The Oatmeal raised $220,000 – eleven times his goal – for the two charities. Cancer bad; bear love good. UPDATE: See the photos of the cash and the Oatmeal’s mailing to Charles Carreon.
The Heartland Institute, a hotbed of tin foil hat climate skeptics and related thinkers, continues to lose donors following the Kaczynski billboard equating its opposition to crazed serial murderers. Karma really does work sometimes. The Institute has announced it will not be able to to afford to continue to run its bogus anti-climate change conference. A small victory for civility and common sense.
Goose Creek Correction Facility, Alaska newest white elephant, still doesn’t have any prisoners in residence. But that may be about to change. Assuming no court challenges and the ability to find Wasillites willing to put up with a 38 miles commute to work, the first prisoners will arrive later this month. There are schedules, flowcharts and probably progress charters drawn up, with a goal of more than 1,000 prisoners housed there by 2013.
And after all that good news, we’re halfway through the baseball season, so let’s look in on the Chicago Cubs. Yep. The doormat of the Central Division of the National League, tied for the worst record in Major League Baseball. On track for a 100-loss season. Sigh. Maybe next year. Any team can have a couple of bad centuries.
That’s more than enough. WC resolves to look forward, not back. Except in the case of the Cubs.
One of WC’s regular reads is Robert X. Cringely’s Notes From the Field, Cringe’s relentlessly self-promoting, sometimes amusing, sometimes insightful blog at InfoWorld.
[Aside: Back in 1992, WC was wandering the halls of MacWorld, the annual Apple expo in San Francisco. At the Addison-Wesley booth, WC purchased a book called Accidental Empires, written by one Robert X. Cringely. A few minutes later, WC was accosted by a fedora-topped, trenchcoat wearing guy who insisted on signing WC's new purchase. It was Cringely. The book is worth considerable money now. Largely as a result of Cringe's autograph.]
Cringe wrote on The Oatmeal Wars recently. Uncharacteristically, he was semi-serious about it, and has suggested a code of ethics for the Web. There’s some irony in this; Cringe’s business model is based upon folks leaking information to him in violation of confidentiality agreements. But still, the idea has some merit. Here are his commandments for a code of ethics:
1. Thou shalt not copy without permission.
2. If thou dost copy, thou must attribute the original author.
3. Thou shalt whenever possible link to the original source.
4. Thou shalt not pander or shamelessly promote.
5. Thou shalt make it easy to contact the author of a story.
6. Thou shalt not attempt to extort money from sites that complain when you break all of these rules with reckless abandon.
These aren’t bad rules. It would require some kind of logo, and some effort to push it into the consciousness of bloggers, who are a surprisingly insular bunch. No doubt the “news aggregators” – a friend of WC’s calls them “news agglutinators” – would ignore the Code because it would cripple their business plans. Think of places like FunnyJunk.
But WC would support the idea of such a code. WC’s nature photos turn up all over the web, usually without credit. It’s an unavoidable consequence of the decision to post them. But if shame worked on even a fraction of the internet community, it would be a start.
WC’s irregular postings here has resulted from a particularly nasty strain of influenza that decided to take over WC’s epithelial cells and make billions of copies of itself at WC’s expense.
Like most RNA-based viruses, influenza acts by penetrating the cell walls of its target cell, subverting the nucleus and causing the subverted cell to spawn more viri which can go and infect other cells, as well as friends and neighbors unlucky enough to inhale. It’s sort of like a computer malware infection, but with post-nasal drip.
Most of the Influenza-A varieties have only 11 or so genes, and no correcting mechanisms. As a result, there’s a replication/transcription error in perhaps 10% of the viruses, making them terribly difficult for the body to identify, or for vaccines that are effective for very long.
Which is why, despite a flu vaccine last fall, WC’s nose is dripping on his keyboard now.
Blog posts may be erratic until symptoms abate.
Meanwhile, please excuse WC while he finds another box of tissues.
WC is on break. Or, more correctly, WC is in a part of the world where the series of giant tubes don’t yet reach. Photos may be taken. Back in a while.
It’s a mixed bag in the email box. WC will sort through a selection for you.
Reader Paul Eaglin pointed WC to a recent article demonstrating there is more than one way to rig a death penalty case. In the South, it’s often done by the selective use of preemptive challenges in jury selection. A “preemptive challenge” is the right of a party to a lawsuit to dismiss a potential juror without cause and with explaining why. North Carolina, which doesn’t always do the right thing, did enact the Racial Justice Act. Marcus Reymond Robinson used the Act recently to set aside his death sentence, because his lawyers demonstrated that the prosecution used preemptory challenges three times as often where the juror was an African-American as when a juror was white. In the context of a Black killing a White in North Carolina, the judge concluded, that was unjust. Marcus Reymond Robinson will spend the rest of his life in jail, but cannot be executed.
But she so perfectly distills the double standards and audacity of so many of our country’s self-appointed moralists and supposed traditionalists: hypocrites whose own histories, along with any sense of shame, tumble out the window as soon as there’s a microphone to be seized or check to be cashed.
Nice! But the referee has whistled WC for piling on.
AKYahoo noted Paul Jenkins’ comment in the Anchorage Daily News that the Alaska GOP recently did Senator Mark Begich (D., Alaska) a huge favor: they let Joe Miller’s storm troopers take over control of the GOP in Alaska. Presumably, that allows Joe Miller a head start at running against Begich. WC already had Jenkins’ piece flagged for a blog post, but a tip of the hat to AKYahoo for seeing the signs. WC respectfully disagrees with Mr. Jenkins. History suggests that the Alaska Republican Party is nearly irrelevant to the business of electing U.S. senators. Ask Senator Murkowski.
Reader Diana points WC to frugaldad.com’s infographic on The Mitt’s award as individual tax hacking champion. Among other insights, it shows that The Mitt’s net worth is greater than the combined net worth of the previous eight presidents. Note: WC hasn’t independently confirmed the accuracy of the graphic, or sourced it. Use at your own risk.
Foreignaffairs (Foreign Affairs!) emailed to ask what WC meant by “magpie sensibility.” WC is flattered and appalled. But in mythology, at least, magpies are attracted to shiny objects, whether valuable or trash, which they carry to their nest and then forget or ignore. WC has suggested it is an apt metaphor for the subjects WC chooses to address and, WC fears, the extent of his follow-through.
The same writer asks again how much of the stuff WC writes about is real and how much is made up and accuses WC of dodging the question. Yes. And yes. Get over it.
The rest of the stuff is too vulgar for WC’s blog and will be used as digital mulch.
WC will be taking a break from the blog for a few days. Posts will be irregular, if there are posts at all. Photographs of birds may be taken.
I may make all thing well, I can make all thing well, I will make all thing well, and I shall make all thing well; and thou shalt see thyself that all manner of thing shall be well.
WC will have a photo show running at at River City Cafe and Expresso April 6-30. The show opens on a First Friday, so WC will hang around and answer questions. If you are in downtown Fairbanks, stop by and say hello. If you are one of the handful of folks who haven’t figured out who WC is, you may be able to answer that question, too. Provided you don’t get too existential.
The show is titled “Birds of Alaska” and will feature birds photographed by WC over the last half dozen year in Interior Alaska and on the south side of the Alaska Range. Depending on how many will fit on the walls, there could be 20-25 photos, most 16″ x 20″. Some of those photos have been previewed here earlier. Easter candy will be served while supplies last.
Thanks to Bobbi Eller and River City for hosting WC again. Thanks to Alaska Camera for their usual fine work printing and mounting the photos.
The Oatmeal is arguably the worst-drawn, popular comic on the web. It would certainly be on the short list if it isn’t demonstrably the worst. But the very bad art can’t defeat the very good messages. A case in point:
The Oatmeal is drawn by Matthew Inman. He reports that the idea for this cartoon came from a reader. The reader was vague about the origin of the idea. Inman tried to perform his due diligence, but it turned out that there was a much older, 2009 cartoon on the same meme over at Atheist Cartoons,
Inman has apologized, which is pretty much all you can do in these circumstances. But WC draws two additional lessons from The Oatmeal Experience.
First, it’s increasingly clear to WC that public avowal of atheism is less unacceptable than formerly, to the despair of WC’s Christianist acquaintances. There was a time in this country when atheism was widely regarded as the moral equivalent of child molestation. Atheists have been criminally prosecuted for blasphemy in America. So amid all of the general deteriorata, there are some positive developments.
Second, truly original material is hard. There are hundred of thousands of bloggers all chasing the same set of memes. While there are certainly bloggers who steal without credit, at least among the passably honest bloggers, it’s an unavoidable by-product of lots of authors and a limited set of current events. WC has certainly read other folks’ blogs and used the ideas there as the starting point for his own works. The present blog is obviously a case in point.
So if some of WC’s blog posts resemble other bloggers’ work, keep in mind the blogger/subject ratio. Perhaps the issue can be the next blog meme.
According to the statistics features at WordPress, this is WC’s 1,000th blog post. Hmm. When Wickersham’s Conscience launched in November 2009, WC had no expectation that it would last this long, let alone amount to 1,000 posts.
Some notes for the occasion:
- The most popular post ever is . . . A Field Guide to Trolls. Yes, that is pretty embarrassing. Some of these blog posts take hours to research and write. And a 15 minute lame attempt at humor proves most popular. It’s not even laid out well. The art – generously calling it “art” – is shamelessly stolen.
- The post with the most external links to it is . . . Palin, Teabaggers and the Dunning-Kruger Effect. Any post about Caribou Barbie is popular, but apparently WC was the first person to link the little-known Dunning-Kruger Effect to the particularly delusional characters that support Alaska’s Quitter. From time to time, it’s footnoted in her entry in Wikipedia, but then the Palinbots edit it out.
- The post that took the longest to write, by far . . . WC’s 95 Theses on Joe Miller. AKM over at The Mudflats claims she uses it as a reference, which is flattering. For all the work it was not particularly popular. Of course, neither were Luther’s efforts at the time.
- The most popular post on photography – and remember WC’s primary interest is nature photography – is . . . Photography Challenges: Fairbanks, on the trials and tribulations of obtaining a reasonably attractive photo of downtown Fairbanks. It’s also one of the few posts on photos that wasn’t on nature photography.
- The most referrals to Wickersham’s Conscience have come from . . . The Immoral Minority. Thanks, Gryphen.
- Total views of Wickersham’s Conscience are approaching a quarter million. And that’s humbling. On the one hand, that’s a bad afternoon’s traffic for, say, Andrew Sullivan at The Dish. On the other hand, it’s astonishing and flattering that so many people have troubled to visit this blog.
- WC has been read – well, viewed – by folks on six continents from about 80 countries. WordPress offers a spiffy map:
WC can understand Sweden and Denmark, checking up on the M/V Polar Star, but Oman? Very strange.
And that’s where WC will leave it: thanks to each and every one of you who take the time to read Wickersham’s Conscience. It matters more than WC expected when he started out. Now WC will turn his magpie sensibilities to a 1,001st post.
Readers may have noticed WC sometimes titles blog posts, “Says It All, Really.” In an unusual fit of scruple, WC wants to provide the source for the quote.
In Terry Pratchett’s novella,
Faust Eric (Amazon link), the protagonists encounter Ponce da Quirm, who is looking for the Lost Fountain of Youth. And finds it!
Met later in Hell, he explains that while it is true to say that he definitely started feeling younger for a while, no question there, in his excitement he unfortunately neglected the crucial need to boil the water first. “Boil it first. Says it all, doesn’t it? Terrible shame, really.”
Which WC has shortened to, “Says it all, really.”
Others may have different sources, but now you have WC’s.
After about 90 consecutive days of new posts, WC is going to take a few days off from the blog and see if there are any birds left to photograph.
Feel free to discuss among yourselves… WC’ll be back in a while.
(By the way, in response to comments and questions, yes, that’s an un-retouched photo taken in Fairbanks.)