Monthly Archives: March 2007

Liberal Debutante’s new digs

Samie and Katie have moved their blog, and it’s a good excuse to send you all over there: it’s as pink a paleontology blog as I’ve ever seen. Or as paleontological a pink blog.

(Guess I’m blog number 13!)

image Update: Oh, and as long as I’m doing the pointer to new digs thing, I’ve been remiss in mentioning that Michael Bérubé, former owner and curator of the coincidentally named and now closed blog Michael Bérubé Online, is now blogging on weekends at Pandagon and more frequently at Crooked Timber, which presents me with increased opportunity to appreciate the people with whom I disagree more than I appreciate those with whom I agree. I offer this thread as explanation and example. Unlike Michael and a few others in the thread, I think that the US’s hands are sufficiently dirty that no intervention in other countries will likely ever be productive, no matter how noble the cause, if carried out under the US flag. But I look at some of the people in that thread whose viewpoints are closer to mine and I think “yeesh.” It’s just a good thing Rich Puchalsky was in there saying everything I might have said so I didn’t have to. Anyway, Michael’s writing there.

I really can’t think of a variation on the “Lauren-Blogroll” joke I haven’t already done

Well, while I was thinking about other things, most of them having to do with me and the importance of my feelings to myself, a little thing called “Blogroll Amnesty Day” came and went.

Atrios declared it, Kos jumped on board, and a couple other prominent bloggers did as well. The idea being that they’d revamp their blogrolls on BAD (come up with a better acronym next time, fellas) to clean out the stuff they weren’t reading, theoretically opening up space on their rolls for new, less-well-known blogs. Some of them as were dropped felt hurt, and others took it in stride but pointed out that their traffic didn’t benefit from the change, which hurts if you rely on traffic to help — in the ugly phrase of the year — monetize your blogging.

And did a new crop of bloggers reap the reward? Dunno. Kos is explicitly focusing on electoral blogs. Atrios seems to have contracted his blogroll, and I say that knowing full well and gratefully that I could be described as being at the very top of his blogroll due to my secret identity as a Pandagon co-blogger.

Aside from that, how did BAD affect me? Apparently not at all, at least in any direct way. The one major blogger who’d both participated in BAD and had previously linked me here at Creek Running North is PZ, and he used the occasion to ask for suggestions of new blogs to list, which is as it should be. I made the cut, probably because PZ liked Zeke. I think I picked up a link from My Left Wing during that same week, or at least that’s when I first noticed it.

Lauren points to a good post at Republic of T in which Terrance analyzes the politics of the matter quite well. He’s dispassionate — I think he’s tired — and he’s done some writing on the subject before, so follow his breadcrumbs from that link if you’re interested. Elevator version:

Gone are the days of someone starting a blog on a whim, only to suddenly find themselves among the top ranked. You either have to have the PR muscle of a corporate entity behind you, or the cache of an already established celebrity like Arianna Huffington (with a bevy of celebrity friends to help keep the content flowing and the readers coming to see what those famous names have to say.)

There is perhaps one other path out of blog oblivion; there’s the possibility that you’ll be favored by a blogger further up the curve and, if they link to you often enough, find yourself finally “one of them.”

Of course, as Terrance points out, there is a converse freedom to be had here: if you don’t care about your traffic, you don’t need to care about who blogrolls you.

And I wonder whether the whole discussion is predicated on the assumption that there’s one blogging hierarchy, when in fact there are several. Making Light is way up in one, Twisty in another, Dave Winer in another.

I care and I don’t. I couldn’t ever climb anywhere near the top of the political blogging hierarchy even if I wanted to: I’m just too far to the left for such a thing to happen, and I keep mentioning pesky things like the history of US imperialism prior to 2002. Of course, that might keep me from becoming a leading dog blogger as well. That and not having a dog. I’d like my writing to reach a wider audience, and some of that there above-mentioned monetizationing would be nice, seeing as I am now without an income. But I recognize that predictability is a common denominator among most truly successful blogs, and this blog is not predictable. Some people run political blogs that occasionally veer into music or knitting or recipes. But I’ve got more feet planted firmly in genres than I have actual feet. This is a political blog. It’s a nature blog. It’s It was a dog blog. I write humor. I write inaccessible poetry. I seem to be getting into music criticism.

This is not supposed to be the way to blogging fame, I know. I’ve been lucky enough to get a link from Atrios and gained a few regular readers that way. Among big-league bloggers PZ and Michael B., and Amanda and Lauren/various of the Feministe people have regularly sent me boatloads of traffic.

But I look at my referral stats, and once you subtract out the 95 percent of my traffic that comes straight offa Google, the bulk of people who click over here come from blogs with far less traffic than the big folks. And all those links from less-trammeled blogs mean more Google traffic, too. Technorati, which misses a lot, says about 325 places link in to this domain. About a dozen of those are at big-traffic blogs, I’m thinking. Nineteen of them go to Ron’s joint. The rest of the links come from non-A-list, and probably non-B-list blogs. Whatever those terms are supposed to mean. I have no idea what they mean, myself. I’m just flinging them around. In fact, I have been referred to as an “A-Lister,” even before I started blogging at Pandagon.

It’s certainly a subjective assessment. I get a thousand visits on a good day these days. Lots more than most blogs, but far less than most you probably read. And yet I got one of these in the mail recently:

B-List Blogger

I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t know that I have the luxury, any longer, of playing the apathetic outsider sneering at the unimportance of blogrolls. I went to sleep one night being a person cruelly deprived of link juice, and woke up the next morning being the person benefiting from incoming links without giving nearly as much back. 325 links coming in and I’ve got about 58 going out from the blogroll. Is that fair?

I hate long blogrolls, though. This is the problem. I don’t usually use other people’s blogrolls to look for blogs I haven’t visited before. I’m far more likely to follow a link in the text of a post. And I’m far more likely to want to link to your blog in a post as well. My sense is that those links are more valuable. And my sense is that — when I can actually bring myself to write a post these days — I’m pretty free with those links.

But maybe I’m on crack. What do you folks think? How do you use blogrolls? Do you use blogrolls? Is this BAD an abrogation of community, or a petty feud?

Oh, and check out my blogroll. Lots of good folks there. Some you’ve heard of, some you haven’t.

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Today’s natural history observations

The first Douglas iris in the yard opened without my noticing it. I went looking for it after seeing a Pacific Coast Hybrid, generally a bit later to bloom, already in bud. The opened one was the usual brilliant purple. We were on our way to dinner. I’ll snag a photo tomorrow.

I will be careful from now on in choosing what I feed to the pitcher plants. Yesterday’s selection was odd enough: I nicked the the tip of my left thumb with a Japanese pruning saw, a deep but clean cut that did not hurt until significantly later. But it bled relatively copiously for some minutes. Not to the point where exsanguination was an issue, mind, but copiously enough. By the time the third little piece of paper towel was soaked through and I was looking for a cotton sock I didn’t want, I realized there were pitcher plants in the room, a Sarracenia and a Nepenthes, that would be happy for the nitrogen, and probably the iron. Today, though: I cut off one of the dying pitchers from the Sarracenia to see just what it had raked in during its useful lifespan. Took a box cutter and sliced it longitudinally, and out tumbled about one and a half cubic inches of insects and spiders decomposed nearly to humus, and one very live, very well-fed earthworm I’d put in two weeks ago. I let it go in the just-watered herb garden. It likely benefited the plant, helping break down the insects a bit as the digestive powers of that particular pitcher faded with age. Some tropical Nepenthes apparently have a similar relationship with tree frogs, and one secretes bait for rodents, which escape the pitcher unharmed but lightened of their daily excreta. I think I may have an idea for Little Shop Of Horrors III.

We bought a small, cobalt-blue ceramic birdbath two weeks ago to mark Zeke’s grave. The small birds were his friends those last few months, and they deserved a round of drinks on him, we thought. What better memorial than a place for his birds to get chest-deep in some water? Today, after two weeks, was the first time I saw any bird brave the thing. It was a sparrow, one of the mixed flock of English sparrows and towhees that has scratched around the soil here the last few months, and I watched it perch on the bath’s broad rim. It looked around, gazed at the water for a moment, and then took three deep draughts, tilting its head back to swallow each one.

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A woman after my own heart

What does that mean, anyway? “After my own heart?” I mean, I know it means “a kindred soul.” And I know it’s at least as old as the King James Version of the Bible. But “after my own heart?” like the heart’s a prototype or a mold or model, and the next person came “after”? Dunno.

Anyway, Cowtown Pattie just put a buncha yuccas and agaves in her garden somewhere in Texas. And one yucca that isn’t a yucca. It’s a hesperaloe. But it might as well be a yucca. Except not pointy.

Texas is, of course, the capital of agaves, as long as you ignore everything south of the Rio Grande, which is after all what the media would have us do. Agaves are to the Chihuahuan Desert what saguaros are to the Sonoran and Joshua trees are to the Mojave. Except that both saguaros and Joshuas have rather limited altitudinal ranges — there are depths below which they will not go, and heights too — and don’t tend to like valley soils whatever the altitude. Conversely agaves grow anywhere in the Chihuahuan Desert that isn’t encrusted with salt.

The Chihuahuan Desert can be found in extreme west Texas, which is redundant. It can also be found in the state of Chihuahua, which is part of Mexico, which is the actual center of agave (and yucca) diversity despite the field guides and the New York Times cutting off their coverage at the fence.

I need sleep. Does it show?