Saturday, June 14, 2003

MYSTERY WEEKEND: I took three kids from church to Knott's today, and we had a blast. I'm totally wiped out. Was there any news today? I don't know, I guess I'll check tomorrow.

We call it "Mystery Weekend" because the kids don't know where we're going to take them until we get there. In the past, it's also been known as "Misery Weekend", but not this year! Knott's wasn't too crowded (and there were lots of hot chicks there, which always makes time fly). We went on every water ride the kids were tall enough to ride, and every coaster the kids were brave enough to buckle into. We had ice cream dots, tons of candy, won stuffed animals... everything you can imagine. It was super fun.

Now, it's time for bed. I hope I can get up early enough tomorrow to run a few miles before church, because I feel extremely fat tonight. We went to Hometown Buffet for dinner. Argh.

Don't forget, tomorrow is Father's Day! Go get your dad something nice, and tell him hi for me.
FRIDAY THE 13TH: Happy Friday the 13th! I hope you all had a scary evening. I had some friends over and we watched Halloween 1 & 2, which is always fun. Classic thrillers, and they really defined the genre. Nothing comparable even existed until Scream came out 16 years later.

Anyway, time for bed. I'm taking some kids to Knott's Berry Farm early tomorrow morning, and I need to get my beauty sleep. I don't think there will be much posting... possibly in the evening.

Friday, June 13, 2003

FOREIGN OIL: Bill Hobbs mentions a plan to have our country driving hydrogen-powered cars by 2020. Fine and good. He then goes on to say:
If she's right, and if it works, the nation would be free of dependence on imported oil by the year 2020. Think of how that would change our foriegn policy toward the Middle East. No need to coddle the Saudis!
However, this does not reflect economic reality. We are not "dependent" on foreign oil now -- we can, however, buy oil from the middle-east and ship it to America more cheaply than we can drill and process our own domestic oil. Why? Labor costs and the burden of environmental laws.

I'm not saying this is a bad thing (I'd rather the Saudis despoil their desert wastes than pollute our own country), but that's how it is. The White House claims that two-thirds of the oil we use goes towards transportation, but that doesn't exclusively include cars and trucks. Even if we could reduce our oil consumption by 50%, what effect would that have on our use of foreign oil?

The oil market is worldwide, and the cost of consumption is based on the cost of production plus the cost of transportation. Once that total cost per barrel is known, it doesn't matter where the oil comes from when purchasing decisions are made. If we cut consumption by 50%, what will happen is that we will stop buying the most expensive half of the oil that we buy now, and the most expensive oil we use is produced domestically. I can't find a source online for this at the moment, but I'll keep looking.

Cutting total oil consumption would have an effect opposite to what most people expect -- on a percentage basis we would use more foreign oil than we do now because the absolute amount of domestically-produced oil that we would consume would go down. The only way to lower our use of foreign oil would be to lower the cost of domestic production and then let market forces handle the rest.
BREAK THEIR WILL: Donald Sensing quotes this BBC article which says that Israeli Army radio...
. . . has been reporting that the forces are now under orders to "completely wipe out" Hamas.

The radio said everyone from the lowliest member to Sheikh Ahmad Yassin - the crippled spiritual guide of Hamas - was a target.
In the comment thread for that post, Barry wrote:
I hope that the Israelis know the difference between actual Hamas members and their families - I know that women and children have been used and are still used as terrorists, but the fewer non-card-carrying Hamas Palestinians killed the better.
Personally, I'm not sure that hope is realistic. The Palestinian people need to have their will to fight completely broken. They're brainwashed by the Muslim death cult, and it might take quite a bit of killing to shake them out of it. I'm not saying it's a pretty thing, but it might be necessary.

Massive civilian deaths would have been counter-productive in Iraq, since most of the population didn't like Saddam and wanted him gone and was more than eager to surrender. If, however, Palestinians are more like WW2 Japanese and Germans they might require a bit more "convincing". Don't get me wrong, I'm not eager for bloodshed, but I'm trying to be realistic.

This poll of Palestinians taken in September, 2002, is not very encouraging. Here are some stats:
- 52% oppose peace negotiations with Israel.
- 73% are pessimistic of a reaching a peaceful settlement to the conflict.
- 66% are opposed to the Oslo agreement.
- 80% support the continuation of the al-Aqsa Intifada.
- 53% believe that the Intifada will achieve its object.
- 65% support suicide bombing operations against Israeli civilians [the poll question specifically mentions civilians].
These poll numbers support my belief that the Palestinian people themselves are a part of the problem, and need to be cowed.

Read more of my thoughts on Arafat the terrorist and the real cost of suicide bombers.

Thursday, June 12, 2003

WHAT'S THE DEAL WITH SPAM?: I don't get it. I get a spam email that tells me my secret admirer has sent me a message. Oh goody! Eager, trembling with anticipation, ecstatic at the prospect of having a secret admirer, I double-click and open the email...

ARGH MY EYES! Why, dear God, why must I be subjected to such a puketastic image!?

[deep breath]

What do these companies gain by trying to trick me into opening such things? If I wanted to see pictures of "cum soaked teens riding the pony" then I would probably be willing to open an email with that title. However, if I'm like the vast majority of people and would rather gouge my eyes out than even contemplate such a thing, I won't visit the website even if they trick me into opening their horrid visual regurgitant. I just can't imagine anyone getting taken in by the false subject, seeing the picture, and then thinking "hey that's pretty great, sign me up."
I HATE COMPUTERS: I know that I'm a computer science graduate student, but sometimes I hate computers. Like tonight. I have a picture of me standing on top of the stupid Palais de Justice in stupid Paris, and I said I'd scan it and post it, but my stupid printer/scanner dealie doesn't want to scan. It'll print all day long, it loves to print, but when I tell it to scan the stupid computer tells me the stupid scanner isn't connected. However, since I've now spent eight years studying computer science, I know this to be false -- if the stupid printer can print, then the stupid scanner can scan.

I reinstalled the stupid software. Same situation. Fan-stupid-tastic (imagine another word there besides "stupid"). So, no one gets to see the view from the roof of the Palais de Stupid except me.
BUFFY: I'm sure everyone is already aware of this, but Buffy season 4 came out yesterday. Man, I loved that show. Lucky for me I don't have to order the DVDs from Amazon -- I've got an inside connection that I met through ebay who gets me DVD sets at cost. Yay for me!

Via the LA Examiner, here's a UPI article based on an interview with James Marsters, who played Spike on the show. He was my favorite character by far, and some people have even said I look like him (which I gather is a complement, from the girls I've talked to).

I've got a thing for vampires, but then, who doesn't? They always dress cool, and sometimes they'll totally flip out for no reason.
BOMB SURVIVORS: It's not uncommon to read a news story about a suicide bombing in Israel causing something like 5 deaths and 30 injuries. Most of the time we focus on the few people that are killed without really thinking about the injured survivors, but even when victims survive their lives are often ruined.
X-rays taken from victims of suicide bombings reveal pieces of metallic fragments embedded in their skin, muscles, organs and bones, says Dr. Michael Messing, who visited the victims of suicide bombings while at the Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem. Suicide bombers pack their bombs with nails and other objects so even survivors of suicide bombings will suffer from the bomb's effects.

"They're trying to maximize the number of people they kill and injure," said Messing of the terrorists.

These bombs, which Messing says are sometimes funded by Palestinian authorities including Yasser Arafat, are packed with spikes, nails, screws, nuts, bullets, mortar, ball bearings and even rat poison. ...

"[The Palestinians'] goal is to do as much damage as possible and destroy functional life where they fail to actually kill. Their result is that often those who live and their relatives suffer much more than those who die," he said. ...

Messing said one of the victims he saw while in Jerusalem had around 300 individual metallic fragments within his body. The metal fragments, measuring from millimeters to centimeters, were imbedded in the young man literally from head to toe, he said.

"Several of the fragments penetrated into his vital organs. He sustained a punctured colon, a collapsed lung, and a lacerated liver and kidney. I could actually feel the nails under his skin where they had burrowed and lodged," Messing recalls.
Not only do survivors suffer grievous physical injury, but often worse:
Suicide bombers could be endangering the lives of people from beyond the grave by passing on hepatitis or blood-borne diseases to survivors, a science magazine reported on Wednesday.

Israeli doctors have found fragments of bone from a suicide bomber embedded in a 31-year-old woman who survived the attack. The fragments tested positive for liver disease hepatitis B. ...

"As a result of that case, all survivors of these attacks in Israel are now vaccinated from hepatitis B," Braverman told the magazine.

The biggest fear is finding HIV, which causes AIDS.
IN HIS OWN WORDS: Yasser Arafat is a terrorist, and there will be no peace in Israel as long as he in alive. Here are a few illustrative quotes, mostly taken from
"Our law is a Jordanian law that we inherited, which applies to both the West Bank and Gaza, and sets the death penalty for those who sell land to Israelis.... We are talking about a few traitors, and we shall implement against them what is written in the law books. It is our right and our obligation to defend our land."

"When we stopped the Intifada we did not stop the Jihad to establish Palestine with Jerusalem as our capital.... We know only one word: Jihad, Jihad, Jihad.... We are at conflict with the Zionist movement...."

"The Israelis are mistaken if they think we do not have an alternative to negotiations. By Allah I swear they are wrong. The Palestinian people are prepared to sacrifice the last boy and the last girl so that the Palestinian flag will be flown over the walls, the churches and the mosques of Jerusalem."

"All of us are willing to be martyrs along the way, until our flag flies over Jerusalem, the capital of Palestine. Let no one think they can scare us with weapons, for we have mightier weapons - the weapon of faith, the weapon of martyrdom, the weapon of jihad."

"I say once more that Israel shall remain the principal enemy of the Palestinian people, not only now but also in the future."

"Cooperation and understanding between the P.L.O. and the rejectionist organizations is what will lead to the speedy retreat of Israel from the occupied territories in the first stage, until the establishment of a Palestinian state with its capital in Jerusalem. Only a state like that can then continue the struggle to remove the enemy from all Palestinian lands."

"The jihad will continue... You have to understand our main battle is Jerusalem... You have to come and to fight a jihad to liberate Jerusalem, your precious shrine... No, it is not their capital. It is our capital."

"The goal of our struggle is the end of Israel, and there can be no compromise."

"You are the generation that will reach the sea and hoist the flag of Palestine over Tel Aviv."

"Peace for us means the destruction of Israel. We are preparing for an all-out war, a war which will last for generations."

"The victory march will continue until the Palestinian flag flies in Jerusalem and in all of Palestine - from the Jordan River to the Meditteranean Sea and from Rosh Hanikra to Eilat."

"Palestine is onle a stone's throw away for a small Palestinian boy or girl."

Wednesday, June 11, 2003

GRAY-OUT DAVIS: It looks increasingly likely that California's Governor Gray Davis will be recalled and a special election will be held either this November or next March. Some 900,000 signatures are required for the recall to make its way to the ballot, and organizers claim to have more than 500,000 already -- with months to go before the September deadline. This is a good thing; no matter who replaces Davis it's sure to be an improvement.

Despite his 24%-27% approval rating, Davis isn't counting himself out yet. He's the dirtiest political fighter that I've ever seen, and he's coming up with some rather underhanded schemes to stay in office. He's in a tough position: if the recall petition gets the required number of signatures, then there is no way to prevent the recall from appearing on the next ballot. It's not a competition -- there's no "counter-petition" that could, given any number of signatures, prevent the recall from going to the ballot. And Davis knows that if the recall proposal is put to the people, 83%-86% of them will vote him out of office.

So what can he do? Well, apparently there are only a limited number of companies available to be hired to circulate petitions, and Davis is trying to hire them all so that the recall proponents can't use them. Hey, that's pretty sneaky! What's really unsettling, however, is that Davis is also circulating a pro-Davis "petition" and getting people to sign it by tricking them into thinking it's the recall petition.
"The Davis carriers ask people 'Have you had a chance to sign the Davis petition?' They leave the impression with people that they've signed the recall petition, so voters then decline to sign the real recall petition when it's offered to them because they think they've already signed," Costa complains. "I believe that's fraud. For sure it's gutter politics." ...

Meanwhile, those who sign the "Davis petition" aren't really signing a petition, defined by Webster as "an entreaty" or "a request" for something. All the Davis document says is that signers don't want the recall.
Gray Davis is total scum. I could link to hundreds of different scandals he's been involved in, but here's five:

Davis accepts kickbacks from Oracle.
Davis abuses Coastal Commission to do favors for friends.
Davis admits to questionable fund-raising practices.
Davis gives prison guards 30% raise in exchange for $2.6 million in campaign contributions.
Davis' advisors owned stock in companies California bought overpriced electricity from.
ISRAEL: The Wapo has a set of pictures up from Israel today, where a Palestinian terrorist blew up a bus full of Israelis, and then the Israeli army fired a couple missiles at some Hamas leaders who were stopped in traffic. It's an awful thing to have open warfare in the streets, but I find it very hard to muster any sympathy for the Palestinians. There's a big difference between Israel attacking terrorist leaders and operators and Palestinians blowing up busloads of innocent civilians.

I do know that if I looked out my window and saw this every week, I'd be scared as hell.
THE SUN IS A MASS OF INCANDESCENT GAS: SDB explains that slightly less than half the earth is lit by the sun at any given time and near the end he gives a list of assumptions that he used to simplify the problem. Most of the assumptions are fine with me because they represent local earth conditions (altitude, weather, imperfect shape of the planet, &c.), but one of them sticks out: he treats the sun as a point light source rather than as a disk, and I think that incorporating this assumption changed his answer.
Think of the point on the equator on one side, just at dawn, and at the other side, just at dusk. They're the two points on the equator which are both lit which are furthest apart. The light arriving at those two points isn't parallel. Those two points plus the sun itself form an isosceles triangle whose base is the diameter of the earth (about 7900 miles) and height is the distance to the sun, about 93 million miles). Do the math and what you find is that there's a difference just shy of .005 degrees between the two, and that means that the sun is actually illuminating just slightly less than 50% of that circle. In order for it to be exactly 50%, those two light beams would have to be exactly parallel, and the light source would have to be infinitely far away.
I agree, except that the sun is a disk approximately 0.5 degrees across when viewed from the earth. This changes SDB's reasoning because the man standing at the sunset will be looking at one edge of the sun, while the man standing at the sunrise will be looking at the other, opposite edge, and those two edges will be 0.5 degrees apart.

The rays of light can be parallel for both viewers at the same time, or come in at an angle even greater than 90 degrees. In fact, slightly more than half the earth is illuminated by the sun at any given time, and this would be true no matter how small the sun appeared in our sky, as long as it's larger than a point.
LAST... FINAL... EVER: I'm off to take my last final, possibly ever. It's hard to be motivated considering that it doesn't really matter how well I do as long as I pass... but I still want to get an A because I'd like the professor to be on my dissertation committee next Fall. Anyway, posting will pick up later today, I expect.

The news recently has made me yawn. There's got to be another country with oil we can invade or something. What's up with North Korea? Quit stalling! Cable news ratings are sinking, it's time for another war.

Ugh, I feel so sick for some reason. I had a sore throat for a couple of days, and it's gone, but now my head is just stuffed full of snot. I want to go home and die, but instead I'm here at work. Ugh. My final went well, however.

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

DREAM GIRLS: I had a dream last night that I just can't get out of my head. I'm sure it won't make any sense when I write it down, but I don't want to forget it -- and even though these words may not mean anything to you, next year they might be sufficient to remind me of the dream. Check out Dream Girls over at The Forge if you want a little insight into my strange subconscious.
THE INTRUDER: I've written a not-too-subtle allegory called The Intruder over at The Forge. Apply it how you will. Oh, what the heck, apply it to the Middle-East "peace process".
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF FRANCE: Instapundit posts a letter from his Paris correspondent Claire Berlinski in which she mentions a large amount of security around the Palais de Justice ("Palace of Justice") due to the TotalFinaElf corruption trial that's going on there at the moment.

I don't have much to say about the trial, other than "duh".

But I do want to tell you a little story about the Palace of Justice. When my brother, myself, and one of our friends travelled in Europe in the summer of 2001 (we got home less than a week before 9/11) we visited the Palace of Justice in Paris, largely because the name sounds really cool. We had to walk a ways to get there, and when we arrived it was around 3pm on a Thursday afternoon -- the place was utterly deserted.

There was a security guard at the pedestrian entrance who made us walk through a metal detector, but once we were inside the huge and ornate structure we were amazed that we appeared to be the only people there. A few people in suits walked past us on the ground floor, but once we went up a few staircases we were all alone. Every door was unlocked and every room was empty. It was very surreal, like we were in Tel'aran'rhiod.

At first we were worried that we were in some forbidden area and that we'd get thrown into some Parisian jail and left for dead, but after wandering for a while we became convinced that there was no one to discover our presence anyway. We found several concealed spiral staircases that led up to various storage (?) cells (mostly filled with boxes and rubbish), and a few bolted doors that led to various parts of the roof. The doors were only bolted from the inside, however, and we were able to easily make our way out onto the top of the building using conveniently placed ladders.

We didn't have digital cameras with us, but we did take a lot of pictures from top of the palace (which I will scan, if I can find them). The Eiffel Tower was clearly visible from one angle, as was the Seine River. We felt like cat-burglers escaping from Justice League of France. Eventually the sun went down and the novelty wore off.

When we left, even the guard who had been at the main gate had gone home.

Monday, June 09, 2003

WHY I'M NOT A LIBERTARIAN (EXACTLY): I like libertarian ideas in some respects -- I believe that the government which governs least also governs best. The point of government is to prevent people from interfering with my life, and to leave me alone. That's pretty much it.

So why aren't I a Libertarian? Well, most Libertarians' foreign policy is far too isolationist for my tastes. I believe that one of the only essential mandates for government is to protect me, and in order to do that it may sometimes be necessary to have an active foreign policy (such as with Iraq and Afghanistan).

I tend to be more socially conservative than most libertarians... not because I want the government to meddle in my private life, but because, for instance, I consider abortion to be murder. Most Libertarians are pro-choice, but if they believed that abortion was murder they probably wouldn't be. I'm also not sure that legalizing drugs will solve as many problems as most Libertarians do, and I see some value in having laws that restrict freedom in order to prevent activities that have a very high likelyhood of causing damage or injury.

For instance, many Libertarians I know are against drunk driving laws, on the grounds that it's already illegal to run someone over with your car -- they think there's no reason to punish someone unless they actually hit someone. In my mind, this is like saying that it shouldn't be illegal to fire a gun into a crowd of people; we've already got laws against shooting another person, but if you don't hit anyone then what's the problem?

Libertarian ideas are nice, in theory, but in reality I don't think they completely pan out. There is a great advantage to social order and central government or else it wouldn't exist; the trick is in finding a balance of power between the group and the individual. I do think that in some ways our government has too much power, but most of my complaints could be solved by drastic tax cuts that left other laws untouched. That said, I'm very grateful to all the brilliant Libertarians out there who are fighting the good fight against excessive government, and more often than not I'm right there with you.

Amazingly, Mark Aveyard has just posted a rather elegant fisking of pro-choice Libertarian Arthur Silbur. What excellent timing! You'd almost think we planned it.

Update 2:
I want to briefly clarify my stance on abortion. Abortion is killing a human being, but in some cases killing is not murder.
CITY OF ANGELS: No, not the movie... the city! I've cleared out a few links from the left that I don't really visit, and I've added links to the LA Examiner and LA Observed. I love Los Angeles, despite the stupidity of Californians in general, and these two sites help keep me informed of local happenings.

Everyone knows the LA Times sucks.
IDLE SPECULATION: I wonder how many of our Senators and Representatives would vote in favor of ratifying the Constitution and its various amendments (each individually) if they were put up for votes right now?
SWATTING FLIES: Everyone has heard about the Muslim woman in Florida who refused to take off her veil for a drivers license photo. Well, despite the ACLU's best efforts, a Florida judge has rejected her request to have the photo taken with the veil in place. Fine. This is pretty clearly the right position to take.

What's particularly interesting to me is what James Taranto notes from the side bar in the CNN article above:

Saudi Arabia: Women aren't allowed to drive
Iran: Women wear a traditional chador, which does not cover the face.
Egypt: Women do not cover their face in I.D. pictures
United Arab Emirates: Women do not cover their face in I.D. pictures
Oman: Women do not cover their face in I.D. pictures
Kuwait: Women do not cover their face in I.D. pictures
Qatar: Women do not cover their face in I.D. pictures
Bahrain: Women do not cover their face in I.D. pictures
Jordan: Women can drive if their faces are covered but do not cover their face in I.D. pictures
So, in the headquarters of Islam -- in Mecca itself -- women aren't even allowed to drive. Spiffy. In that long list of other Arab Muslim countries women are not allowed to cover their faces in ID pictures. Sandra Kellar is trying to claim that her religious rules should take priority over our secular laws, but in point of fact the very clerics who preside over her religion wouldn't allow her to drive a car, which would make her complaint in this case pretty much moot.

Translation: shut up, Sandra Kellar (a.k.a., Sultaana Freeman); shut up ACLU. Quit bothering us with all this nonsense and quit wasting our time with trivialities. If you want to be taken seriously, then concern yourselves with serious issues.
SOUND FAMILIAR?: Zimbabwean President for Life Robert Mugabe is beginning to sound a little like someone else we know.
Some news reports in southern Africa had suggested the 79-year-old despot, who has run Zimbabwe since independence 23 years ago, was considering standing down and handing over power to a government of national unity as part of a deal brokered by South Africa.

But Mr Mugabe scotched any such suggestion.

"I don't want to retire in a situation where people are disunited and where certain of our objectives have not been achieved," he said.

"It would be nonsensical for me, a year after my election, to resign."

So obvious was the electoral fraud in last year's presidential election that the poll has been dismissed as flawed by the United States, the European Union and MPs from the southern African region.

But Mr Mugabe said: "As long as there is that fight, I am for a fight . . . And I can still punch." ...

Mr Mugabe mocked the claim of the MDC [opposition party] that it was organising the "Final Push".

"The Final Push has failed totally if it was meant to be a push at all . . .," he said.

"On the contrary it has been a push in reverse.

"So who has pushed who? It was just some drama staged for the G8, but a drama in which the main characters have failed to impress anybody." ...

"The actions are blatantly illegal in that they are aimed at an unconstitutional removal of the country's head of state," he said.

"I hope . . . the British and the United States embassies realise that as they sponsor the MDC and instigate it, they are doing so in order to achieve an illegal objective . . . and I warn their instigation cannot be tolerated forever by my government."
This guy is as brutal as the come, and I hope there's a JDAM with his name on it.
CALIFORNIANS ARE AS DUMB AS THE FRENCH: Steven Den Beste has been running a series of great essays on why France is screwed because of unsustainable economic policies and a general refusal to face reality.

Well, unfortunately, California seems to be in pretty much the same boat, and people here aren't familiar with economics either.
Thousands of community activists from Sacramento to San Diego gathered in churches and city halls over the weekend to put a face on California's historic budget crisis as legislative leaders continued dueling for dollars under the dome. ...

Sacramento City Council members Sandy Sheedy, Dave Jones, Lauren Hammond and Bonnie Pannell all said they would support resolutions urging the Legislature to impose higher taxes on corporate-owned properties.

County Supervisor Roger Dickinson promised to protect county health-care clinics and maternal and infant-care programs from the $100 million he said is expected to be cut from county departments across the board.

Assemblyman Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, and Sen. Deborah Ortiz, D-Sacramento, said they would push for amending the state constitution to lower the bar for passage of tax measures from two-thirds to 55 percent of the vote.
California businesses are already heavily taxed, and many of them are fleeing the state for greener pastures up north or directly to the east in Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico. It's impossible to solve our budget problems by increasing taxes, because people won't pay them: they'll leave, as they have been doing for the past decade. Sure, our population has been increasing, but mostly with illegal immigrants who don't pay taxes (but do use services).

It's no coincidence that they want to lower the bar for raising taxes to 55% of the legislature (rather than the 2/3 super-majority that's required now). The Democrats control slightly more than 55% of the seats.

As SDB writes about France, economic implosion is inevitiable -- maybe not today or tomorrow, but soon.

Bill Hobbs points to a Capitalism Magazine article commemorating the 25th anniversary of California's Proposition 13. Prop 13 was passed in 1978 and limits property taxes to 1% of assessed value, with valuations frozen at the time of purchase. The amendment to the state constitution is also responsible for the 2/3 super-majority requirement for tax increases.

Sunday, June 08, 2003

LINKAGE 2: Following up the post directly below, I'm adding a couple of new sites to my blogroll at the left. As I said, my general policy is that I'll link back to anyone who links to me, and I'm particularly happy to link to other small-ish sites.

Especially when they say nice things about me! Aimless, for instance, asks where all the intelligent men like me are in real life. I can only speak for myself, and very often I don't know where I am. But I know where you're going... to the blogroll!

Jane, the Social Reject tossed me a link as well, despite her 37 years of rage and venom. If she's only 37 years old, then that's her whole life! Maybe my link will cheer her up. She says she doesn't like conservatives, fundies, and pro-lifers, but she linked to me anyway... wait a second, she really really hates morons, so maybe she hasn't read much of my site yet.
LINKAGE: As a moderately new blogger who likes to get linked to by my big brothers and sisters, I've tried several approaches to getting noticed. Mind you, I mostly write this blog for fun and to hone my writing skills and imagination, but it's fun when other people read it and so I do whore myself out in a few ways. So, how to get read and how to get links? I mean, aside from good writing -- I'm going to try to stay within my realm of experience.
1. Be female. Ok, so I'm cynical. I haven't tried this, but it seems to work pretty well. If you want a scientific explanation, read up on negative frequency dependent selection. There are fewer female bloggers than male bloggers.

2. Post comments on other sites. Most big sites don't have comment boards, but many moderately popular blogs do, and the big boys often read the comments. Specifics? Well, I've gotten lots of refers from comments I've made to Mean Mr. Mustard and Donald Sensing. There are plenty of others, but those are two of my favorites. You can write a few sentences and then mention that you're going to write a post about it; people may click through to see what else you have to say.

3. Email posts to bloggers you think might be interested. This is tricky, and in my experience only works around 10% of the time even with moderately-sized targets, and even when the post you've written is particularly relevant to whatever topic the blogger is writing about that day. This approach works best when you correspond with other small bloggers -- write an email to one of your peers and ask them for their opinion. They'll often be happy to discuss the issue and then you can link to each other and share your combined readership. This is what community is all about, anyway, not just getting links from the big-leaguers.

4. Post pictures. I want to get a digital camera so I can start posting more pictures -- people like to see what's going on, and with a camera you can do real reporting. Take some good pictures of a protest (for example) and you're almost guaranteed to get a few links. You'll need to set up some image hosting service for this to work, but that's not too hard. Man, this trick is almost too good to share.

5. Some bloggers say that in order to get popular you need to "find your niche", but that's just not my thing. It may be true, and worth trying, but from the get-go I determined that this site would be wide-ranging and esoteric. It's in the title!

6. Tell your friends -- I have a good number of non-blogging friends who read my site. Links aren't everything, and you'll probably enjoy yourself more if a dozen friends read what you write than if a hundred strangers do.

7. Link to everything. Some people are stingy with their links -- which makes sense if they're a valuable commodity -- but when you're just getting started there's really no reason not to link to everyone in sight. I remember how happy I was when someone first added me to their blogroll. So blogroll the sites you read, for certain, and when you post put up links to any website that might have inspired you to write what you did. Link as much as you can, especially to your peers. I link to everyone I see who links to me or one of my posts.