Today We’re Going To Party Like It’s 1998

A couple years ago, when I posted about a weekly column and Web site I did back in the olden days, I mentioned I had my old AOL Web site stored somewhere and would someday reproduce it.

Well, I must have gotten started on it but never finished it until now.

So here’s what my Web site looked like circa 1998.

Mostly samples of my writing and the complete text of my two chapbooks of poetry and a teaser for my forthcoming book Flipside Id which I never did finish after losing touch with the artist who was working on the cover.

Back When I Did PhotoShops

Back in the olden days, I used to edit photos for humourous effect. Then, I had children and no free time. Although I have a bit more free time now, I haven’t gone back to it because the interest isn’t there, and the Internet has moved onto just putting text on a still image and calling it funny.

But for old time’s sake, here are some of my favorites from the annals of this blog.

Welcome Back, Potter:

The Harry Reid series of young adult novels:

Harry Reid's Babysitting ServiceHarry Reid's JourneyHarry Reid, Inc.

Soviet, Jedi:

All the sweet, sweet emus after the police in Carbondale shot a loose emu:

Emu in body armor Emunator Bulletproof Emu

I never claimed to be good at it. I only claim to have done it.

When Max Allan Collins Comes Around

I noticed a couple days back in my referrer logs that someone from Muscatine, Iowa reading the book report for Dead Street.

Muscatine, Iowa, as I learned when I was researching the book report, is the current home of Max Allan Collins, the author of Dead Street. So I was pretty sure it was the man himself.

Given that he linked the report on his blog today, I’d say I was correct.

Collins joins Diane Duane, author of the Star Trek novel My Enemy, My Ally and Joe Clifford Faust, author of A Death of Honro as people whom I can honestly include in the plural “you, gentle reader” in my continuing posts. Although in most cases it’s an honorary title. Given my blog traffic these days, plural is an honorary title when referring to my readers.

Also, it’s why although I’m not at Nick Hornby levels in positivity (as his book Ten Years in the Tub indicates, his magazine editors prefer he only have nice things to say about books he reviews), I try to keep snark to the minimum: because the authors are people, too. Besides, all of these people have sold far more books than I have.

Also also (which is my blog equivalent of P.P.S., which nobody uses any more), this is why I’m thinking about ending my book reports with boilerplate “It’s not as good as MY NOVEL!” Just to see if I can get any self-Googling real author to spend a buck on it.

Allahpundit Gets It Two Weeks Later

On December 14, I wondered Donald Trump: The McCaskill Manipulation Goes National?

On December 28, Allahpundit wonders the same thing:

If this sounds familiar, it’s because Democrats used the same strategy to brilliant effect in the 2012 Senate race in Missouri. The GOP primary was jammed up with three candidates; Claire McCaskill, the Democratic incumbent, wanted to do something to help Todd Akin win, believing (correctly) that Akin would be the easiest of the three to beat in a general election. The solution: Start attacking Akin before the Republican primary, knowing that a big-name Democrat’s official seal of disapproval would be a strong lure to Republican voters to consider Akin. Some of that is pure tribalism at work — Democrats are bad, therefore things they dislike must be good — and some of it is “they’ll tell you who they fear” reasoning at work. The problem is, sometimes they’re not telling you who they fear when they attack. Sometimes they’re telling you who they don’t fear and hoping you’ll fall for it.

You know, this blog was a lot more political when I started out, but I’ve drifted away from it because, honestly, I’m not sure my insights add anything and I don’t think I’m convincing anybody of anything.

I’m not even getting my insights and moments of synthetic thought out into the wild before someone else comes up with them.

Book Report: Blog by Hugh Hewitt (2005)

Book coverThis book was a mighty big deal back in the day when it came out. Bloggers were talking about it, Hugh Hewitt was talking about it. Of course, I didn’t talk about it then because I didn’t get the book fresh off the presses. I don’t tend to get my current events books new unless I get them as a gift; even then, I don’t tend to get right to them because, man, I’ve got 1960s science fiction and/or pulp paperbacks to read, man.

So, what is this book? It’s Hewitt cashing in on the relatively new blogging trend that really reached a crescendo around the 2004 election. Dude, even I was live-blogging presidential debates and nominating conventions. Although I thought blogging would be a good way to get myself writing regularly rather than a way to make money (although in those days, who knew how far you could go?) The book is pretty short; although it is 222 pages, it’s really only 156 pages of new material and then sixty pages of Hewitt’s previous columns on the topic and a number of comments from his Web site.

It’s a quick hitter “aimed” at businessmen who need to know about blogs and what they can do to a business, both positively and negatively. He thumps the washbin about executives hiring Glenn Reynolds, the Powerline guys, Ed Morrissey, and other leading lights as consultants. And it paints a fairly rosy picture of blogs.

Ten years later, most of the people he mentioned as leading lights are still leading lights, or at least bloggers I still read. There’s been a lot of consolidation in the industry, so the aggregate blog trumps individual blogging as far as the amount of noise they can raise. And the microblogging (Twitter) and social media trends quickly overwhelmed blogging, as it’s easier and more accessible to individuals to put up a pithy short sentence than to write what amounts to a short, coherent essay from time to time.

So in 2015, the book is a historical document relevant mostly for its place and moment in the history of online communication. I suppose you could read it and replace the word “blog” with “social media” and get something out of it, but there are probably more modern books on the theme all looking to make a quick two bits on explaining the current state of the Web, and they all come with an expiration date of about two weeks from now.

Strangely enough, though, I got the most out of the early comparison to the Protestant Reformation–in the early going, he likens the rise of Web logs to the changes in communication that made the Reformation possible and how the blogs paralleled it. So it has a history of the Reformation and the rise of printing in it, and I liked that.

At any rate, it might be worth your time if you haven’t read it already.

Train of Thought

So, I see Ms. K.‘s post about this video:

And a little later, I’m recollecting a conversation about raising cattle with a friend, and I thought I’d ask him if he’d been in the FFA, which leads me to think of this song:

And so I think, you know self-directing machines are going to hit the farms first, where they can go along in their laser-and-GPS-guided finery to handle the time-consuming chores of farming with far less insurance liability concerns. Just imagine when this becomes mainstream, at least as mainstream as farming is, and automated farm machines can work day and night on ever larger farms. Great swaths of land will really become food farms, and it’ll squeeze out the family farmers most likely.

Will the prices go down for commodity foods (but remain high for the locovore organic artisan stuff), or will it put Google in charge of our food supply?

Regardless, I’m getting my robot insurance before that, too, is nationalized.

The Rest of A Story

Back in 2010, I did a little throwaway bit about a courier company that helped an elderly woman avoid being taken in by a scam. The story itself was on StLToday.com, and it mostly focused on the Arizona company trying to bilk the old woman out of $15,000.

Me, I just wondered how the courier knew what he was delivering.

And so I made that little post, playing in my head to the paranoia schtick I toss around on here from time to time (I don’t actually eat my shredded documents, you know) and a bit of the-newspaper-is-leaving-some-of-the-story-out bit.

The owner of the courier company contacted me to explain the rest of the story, and I’ve appended it to the original post. The part of the story the St. Louis Post-Dispatch blogger didn’t cover is as interesting as what he did.

Check it out.

Wherein Life Imitates Frank J. Before Frank J.

Revealed: How the U.S. planned to blow up the MOON with a nuclear bomb to win Cold War bragging rights over Soviet Union:

It may sound like a plot straight out of a science fiction novel, but a U.S. mission to blow up the moon with a nuke was very real in the 1950s.

At the height of the space race, the U.S. considered detonating an atom bomb on the moon as a display of America’s Cold War muscle.

The secret project, innocuously titled ‘A Study of Lunar Research Flights’ and nicknamed ‘Project A119,’ was never carried out.

. . . .

Under the scenario, a missile carrying a small nuclear device was to be launched from an undisclosed location and travel 238,000 miles to the moon, where it would be detonated upon impact.

The headline is a bit misleading, as the plan was to detonate a single atom bomb, not to destroy the moon.

But this secret now revealed makes me wonder how good Frank J.’s sources are, as he wrote the famous essay A Realistic Plan for World Peace a.k.a Nuke the Moon:

Now the world will be pretty convinced that America is frick’n nuts and just looking for a fight, but we need to really ingrain it into everyone’s conscious so that no one will ever even contemplate crossing us. This requires making good use of our nukes. I know, nukes can kill millions of people, but they sure aren’t doing anyone any good just sitting around. I mean, how many years has it been since we last dropped a bomb on someone? No one even thinks we’ll actually use one now. Of course, using nukes shouldn’t be done haphazardly; all uses have to be well planned out because the explosions are so cool looking that we’ll want to give the press plenty of notice so they can get pictures of the mushroom cloud from all sorts of different angles. But what to nuke? Well, usually the idea is populated cities, but, by the beliefs of my morally superior religion, killing is wrong. So why can’t we be more creative than nuking people. My idea is to nuke the moon; just say we thought we saw moon people or something. There is no one actually there to kill (unless we time it poorly) and everyone in the world could see the results. And all the other countries would exclaim, “Holy @$#%! They are nuking the moon! America has gone insane! I better go eat at McDonald’s before they think I don’t like them.”

Yeah, we all thought Frank J. was crazy or just being humorous. It makes you wonder what else Frank J. has the inside dope on. Is or ever was Glenn Reynolds a puppy-blender?

(Link via Ace’s place.)

UPDATE: It looks like fellow old-timer Stephen Green got here first.

Paperback Readers

I’ve added a couple bits to the sidebar for pulp fans like me. Well, it is for me, since I’ll be using them, but they’re good reads for paperback lovers:

That ought to hold you between my silly little book reports.

Wither the Live Bloggers?

So the Republican National Convention has started up, not so much that one would notice from the live blogging going on.

Vodkapundit? Nothing.

Ace? Open threads, not Blog It Live action.

Instapundit? No notices of other bloggers live blogging it.

I see a lot of open threads on my usual haunts, but no live blogging.

What could account for this?

Has the medium grown up? Have the bloggers grown up? Or is it that the people who would usually treat the elections as a spectator sport deserving of traffic-driving instant commentary think that this election is vitally important and are out there working on the election?

If that’s the case, it bodes ill for the forces of complacency and stay-at-home-on-November-26.

The Stages of Aging on the Internet

The stages of Internet Aging:

  1. You’re young, and you read the hip sites like Fark and watch the Internet memes as they emerge.
     
  2. You’re middle-aged, and you see Internet memes going on all around you and recognize them as memes, but you have to read Know Your Meme to understand the source. When you reach this age, you often refer to formerly hip sites as “hip,” not knowing whether they’re still hip or not because you don’t visit them any more.
     
  3. You damn kids, get offa my blog!

I’m, thankfully, only middle-aged in Internet years (I had to visit KYM yesterday to try to glean the reasoning or source behind ERMAHGERD, and I couldn’t find any sense in it), although my blog’s traffic numbers might indicate I’d reached level 3 and succeeded.

Also, note that I have owned the domain names whatyourkidsnow.com from a time when I was in stage 1 and thought we’d start something like a KYM site for parents to understand their damn kids. None of the above stages say anything about not being lazy.

UPDATE: See also the stages of aging in celebrity news appreciation courtesy Tam K.

Also, note the tipping point in one’s music appreciation as demonstrated by the content of one’s musical library. At some point, and not some point when one’s body sags anywhere, that one will discover that more of the artists in his or her musical library are dead, many of old age and not drug overdoses or suicide at 28, than are alive. I’ve passed that tipping point already.