Preserving the presence of the past

Before I started this blog, I posted for more than a decade at Footnotes on Epicycles. The blog software I was using was somebody’s indie programming project, and they had stopped maintaining it years before I migrated over here. Sometime in the last month— possibly due to a server update— the code finally stopped working. So I spent some time over the last couple of days hacking together a solution which makes all the old posts available at most of the same URLs.1

If you want to poke around over there, I’ve also added an archive page.2

A fair showing

At Daily Nous, there’s discussion of how much philosophy sites figure in Google’s C4 data set— and so in the training set of Large Language Models. The Washington Post has a widget to search for the rank of specific domains.

This very site— this blog plus my other foofaraw— ranks 612,096th with about 38 thousand tokens.

My old blog ranks close behind at 625,716th with about 37k tokens.

Although the tool isn’t designed to give this kind of result, the two together would rank somewhere around 300,000th.

How blogging went in 2022

I’ve been blogging since the mid-aughts. When it started, it seemed like I was a late adopter. Then it seemed like blogging died. Now, with exodus from Twitter, some people are looking at blogging again. It’s been here the whole time, man.

Last year, I wrote 12,701 words across 35 posts. Eye-balling the graph, a best-line fit has me writing zero words when I die of old age.

A graph of blog output per year in words and entries.
Blog output per year, normalized so that entries and words can go on the same axis. The green bar is the transition from the old blog to this one.

I for one welcome our new robot watercolorists

Today I discovered Midjourney, an AI image generator that’s rather more high-powered than other free ones which I’ve tried. Riffing on prompts by other users, I had it generate a Frank frazetta painting of a wombat newscaster. The result was pleasant enough that I’ve adopted it— for now— as the blog header.

ai image of a wombat newscaster

Footnote to an allusion

In an earlier post, I overthought the Paul Simon line “I was living in London with the girl from the song before.” In an earlier draft of that post, I quoted more of the song.

Good intention: I copied and pasted from a lyrics site, to avoid making a typo.

Poor execution: The site I copied from had “the summer before” as the lyric!

Continue reading “Footnote to an allusion”

How blogging went in 2020

For a while I had the minimal goal of writing at least one post every month, but I’ve failed at that for a couple of years now. The new goal is just to blog at least every once in a while, so that it doesn’t become moribund.

Last year I wrote 43 entries that totaled to over 15K words. As you can see below, that’s middling output. I have the sense that I wrote more about teaching this year than in previous years, because the shift on-line forced me to be more reflective about pedagogy.

Blog output per year, normalized so that entries and words can go on the same axis.

Remote feelings

I’ve formulated and not written several blog posts about life in the time of Covid-19.

Last week was Spring Break, which meant that events didn’t quite register the way they would have done any other week. Being at home and not seeing students would have happened anyway. Now classes have resumed, such as they are.

Continue reading “Remote feelings”

How blogging went in 2018

My minimal goal with this blog is to post something every month. I surpassed that in 2018, writing 46 entries which comprised over 16K words.

How does this compare to previous years?

The graph below summarizes the results. 2018 was a solidly middling year for blogging. Not the best, but not the worst either.

graph of blog output over time
Blog output per year, normalized so that entries and words can go on the same axis.

The curviness of the lines in the graph is just whatever meaningless smoothing Excel does by default.

At Footnotes on Epicycles, my old blog, I counted years from one blog anniversary to the next. I started the blog on October 4, 2005, so I counted words from one October 4 to the next. In the graph, numbers before 2015 are nudged to the nearest calendar year.

With 2015, I switched to counting by calendar years. So 2015 was worse than it looks in the graph, because I’ve added late 2014 and 2015 together to cover the gap.

Wombat facts

A. The name “News For Wombats” is a reference to a Monty Python bit.

B. Wombats poop cubes. There’s a recent study that’s been discussed widely on the internet about the mechanism by which they do this.

C. When I picked it as my Twitter handle, I didn’t realize how hard it would be to draw a wombat. The shaggy wombat sketch was my only successful attempt for the longest time. My attempts would end up looking like a bear, a monkey, or (sometimes) a pig.

After much practice, I’ve gotten a bit better. So today I updated the header graphic.

shaggy wombat sketch
The sketch that served as the blog header for a long time.

Nothing leads where I expect

When I started News For Wombats, I expected to be writing slightly different stuff than I did at Footnotes on Epicycles (my old blog).

I thought I’d post about politics, but I haven’t.

The present scene is alternately too depressing and too crazy. One example of a post that almost happened: I was struck, in the aftermath of Charlottesville, that the New York Times could could still whinge about Trump’s “moral standing as president.”1 I mulled it over a bit before posting, Trump doubled down on deferring to racism, and then the Time’s understatement seemed hardly worth mentioning.

I thought I’d write more capsule reviews, but I haven’t.

For example, the Netflix show Iron Fist is almost unwatchable. I ultimately soldiered through so that I could pick up the continuity of the Defenders. The biggest problem with Iron Fist is that the action scenes are terrible. I don’t just mean that the martial arts are technically poor (which they are) but also that they fail narratively. I am fine with fight scenes in old Star Trek episodes: Kirk takes out aliens with hammy rabbit punches, but it comes across that he’s supposed to be pretty good at punching. Silly fight choreography aside, the narrative is clear. In Iron Fist, Mister Fist is thrown around by even mook-level bad guys. The show doesn’t let me the viewer know that he’s supposed to actually be good at this.2

Hey, now I have written about those things. How about that?3 Continue reading “Nothing leads where I expect”