Don't Shake the Flask

Because you don't know if it'll explode

Month: September, 2006

More Blog Stuff

Speaking of the Technorati Top 100… John Scalzi points out that very few of the popular blogs, according to Technorati, are personal blogs. The blog world, he says, is becoming ever more corporate and political and he laments the apparent imminent demise of personal blogs. Well, Technorati is not a very good resource to go to when trying to find blogs that people are actually reading. All it tracks are links. I suspect that there are probably more people reading personal blogs than political blogs but the readership is split between thousands of personal blogs rather than just a handful of political blogs.

Blogmatcher, Blogmatcher. Neil Kramer fixes up bloggers with other bloggers they’ve never read before in a yenta-like fashion. I am somewhat skeptical with all the glowing endorsements in the comments. I figure people are more excited about getting matched in the first place than in any new blogs they are being introduced to.

The strong, silent types. A commenter over at Dustbury says he will stop visiting his site if it starts getting a lot of comments. Stop visiting a site when it becomes popular? Hm. I’d say it depends. If the blogger’s style changes with the increase in visitors, I’d say yes, I’d probably stop reading too. Otherwise, I can’t really see myself being influenced by what other people choose to read. I personally do not comment very often on other people’s blogs because I do not feel like the blogger will pay any attention to what I have to say. (Well, most of my visitors never pay any attention to what I write in here–zero seconds spent on one page view, anyone?–but it’s a different matter when I’m just scribbling on my own web space.)

Blogging About A Book About Blogs

Blogosphere: Best of Blogs by Peter Kuhns and Adrienne Crew. What the heck am I doing reading a book on blogs? This must be the ultimate in navel gazing or something. I mean, I’ve been doing this for years so I must know what I’m doing, right? Anyways, I was curious so I picked it up.

There are basically three sections to the book. The first part is a short history of the blog, the second is the most lengthy which reads more like an abbreviated yellow pages of representative blogs in different topics, and the third part is on how to make your own blog. The authors also added that they had bonus chapters (13 and 14) up on their website ( but I got an error when I last tried accessing it. I tried looking it up on Google’s cache but I don’t see any links up on the cached page either. All I found was a bonus section of chapter 9 which was just an extended list of environmental blogs. I find this sort of silly–why write a book about blogs when the blog about the book on blogs isn’t even working properly?

As for the meat of the book, I was not surprised by the listings of entertainment, hobby, or political blogs. But parenting blogs? Sports blogs? How popular are those topics in the blogosphere anyway? I’m sorry, but I don’t see how you can justify filling up about one-fourth of all the listings with parenting and sports blogs even if a lot of people are interested in parenting and sports. There are tons of other subjects out there. And then there is this section about “faking it”, i.e. pretending to read blogs to seem cool. I am not impressed.

I couldn’t believe that they left out some essential topics. Okay, so these are geeky topics and perhaps the authors thought that only non-geeks would pick up the book–but dang it, blogs wouldn’t be possible without geeks. Where are the technology blogs–especially the ones that started it all? The linklogs? The science blogs? (No, sticking a chemist blogger in the middle of a list of medical doctors does not count.) How about the blog carnivals that highlight the best posts in the blogosphere? Photoblogs? Group blogs? But judging from one of the book’s blog entries about hoping to include an extra section about bloggers getting married in the next edition–I am not sure whether the authors really quite get it or they’re pandering to the clueless (and decidedly dull) crowd.


Arg. I’ve just realized that some of these blog comments are being marked as spam by Gmail. You’d think that it wouldn’t since Blogger is also owned by Google, but noooo. So if you’ve sent me a comment and are thinking that I purposefully deleted it–I didn’t! So send the comment again and I guess I’ll just go rooting through the spam instead of blissfully consigning the whole thing to oblivion.

The Thursday Threesome: Clean Air Act

Onesome: Clean– as a whistle? Can you whistle? When did you learn? …and with pursed lips or with that finger thing?

I can whistle. I taught myself around the age of nine or ten. However, I do not know how to do the finger thing.

Twosome: Air– quality: an issue where you live or not? …enough to move?

It’s only bad when there is a wild fire nearby. Then it can get worse than L.A. You can smell the smoke even when you’re inside a building. See the smoke. The nearby hills/mountains are virtually invisible. Otherwise, it’s fine.

Threesome: Act– Hey, do you ‘act your age’? Sure, that’s subjective, but what do you think? …or better yet: what do your friends think?

Er, I don’t know. I’m a rather reserved person so I suppose it would be difficult for most people to tell. How are you supposed to act like when you’re twenty-five? People say that they’ve been pretty angsty at that age since they were having their “quarter life crisis.” But I don’t do angsty.

Tangled Bank #63

Go read some science-y goodness over at OK So I’m Not Really A Cowboy that has the latest edition of Tangled Bank. (Unlike the commenters, I am glad he did not put up a country music theme. I’m subjected to the stuff far too often as it is anyway.)

Fight! Fight! Fight!

Boy, this brought a happy giggle to my week. Forget about chicken fights. Fly fighting is in! While I was fiddling with literature searches, I stumbled upon this paper by Dierick and Greenspan which is attempting to get into the molecular basis for aggression, specifically in Drosophila melanogaster. The experiments sounded fun. In order to select for aggression, the investigators watched two flies fight in what was called “the two-male arena assay.” Each fighting pair was graded on how long it took to start a fight, frequency of fights, duration of fights, and intensity of fights. See the video. (Also The Fruit Fly Fight Club for those of you who missed it when I posted it previously.)

There was one observation in the paper that I found sort of interesting. Without a territory, aggressive flies actually had less success competing for mates than the neutral flies. This must certainly give hope to “beta” and “gamma” males if everything else is equal…

My Neighbor Sang The Empire Strikes Back Last Night


MeepToys. Cute hand-stitched toys for sale! (Disclosure: This is my sister’s site.)

The Leaky Science Pipeline–and Why a Science Web is Better. Leslie Brooks doesn’t like the pipeline metaphor that’s been bandied about the blogosphere concerning the recent discussion of why women do not go into science. She argues that science should be more accepting of people who want to go into the field later in life and to emphasize that it does not only involve research. Interesting take–but research is still the aspect of science that gets high profile coverage.

2006 Fall Warmup. Write 25,000 words in two weeks! Starting Sunday! I signed up for it, but I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to write. I have no plot, no characters, no setting. As for those of you who want to participate in National Novel Writing Month this year, sign-ups begin on October 1.

The Thursday Threesome: Ice Cream Social

Onesome: Ice– skating? Yes? No? Rinks? Ponds? No way?


Twosome: Cream– soda? The work of evil scientists or a true pleasure in life?

Somewhere in between, I think.

Threesome: Social– Are you considered to be a social person? …or are you more likely to not be comfortable with a bunch of people around you? …and wait a moment: how about in a classroom situation? Is that different for you?

I consider myself a loner. Which is not necessarily a good thing. The world revolves around social networking and if you don’t make some sort of effort to communicate with someone, you pretty much get left in the cold.

As for the classroom–I will admit that I am intimidated with more than 15-20 students. The likelihood of me speaking up when there is a loud-mouthed know-it-all in the midst pretty much drops to nil.

Nuttier Than Pistachios

I stepped out of class this afternoon to find that a huge crowd had gathered on the Commons. People were holding signs that read, “Fear God!” I passed them, long enough to hear a old guy rant, “It doesn’t matter if you do good works your entire life! If you don’t believe in God, you’ll be eternally damned!”

What a bunch of crock. Religious zealots are always trying to convert people, be they saints or criminals. It doesn’t matter if you killed a bunch of people. If you convert, you’ll be saved. If you single-handedly created world peace and eliminated world hunger, but you don’t believe in their God, you’d be damned.

Why are people so obsessed with the afterlife, if indeed there is one? We’re living life now, and on a practical standpoint, I find it a freakin’ waste of time to worry about where souls go after brain activity flat-lines when there are more pressing problems in the world.


Some crazy wench on the other side of the library lounge has just doused herself with some foul smellin’ stuff. Some perfume and body sprays are better’n cannon balls and sabers.

I’m dyin’ here, mateys. (Or at least my nose is.)