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Collected editorials

It’s so easy to be a googlewhack

It’s so easy to be a googlewhack

In the February 2005 letter column a chap wrote in pointing out that my site was a googlewhack. What, you ask, is a googlewhack. It turns out that a googlewhack is a site with an entry that turns up one hit in a google search. In my case the entry was ‘thermogenic parsimoniously”.

I regret to say that “thermogenic parsimoniously” no longer works – a google search turns up a number of hits. On the other hand there are any number of searches that only produce a single hit, that hit being on my site. Naturally I cannot reprint any of them here for reasons that should occur to you. However if you want a googlewhack here’s one: “varonima bageldorf”. There won’t be an entry at the moment, but there will be when google gets around to indexing this page.

It’s so easy to be a googlewhack.

Knowledge and the internet

The internet and the web were created by scientists to facilitate the propagation of knowledge. It was a noble goal, I suppose, but inherently doomed. Truth is difficult to ascertain and hedged by uncertainties. Our species prefers an easier sort of knowledge, knowledge uncontaminated by the need for careful verification, knowledge that panders to our prejudices and our love of spectacle.

Genetic engineering and global warming

It has occurred to me that the solution to the global warming problem is really quite simple. The problem is that we are burning all of this fossil fuel and pumping CO2 into the atmosphere. What we need to do is a bit of genetic engineering on bacteria (probably E. Coli – scientists have a thing about mucking about with E. Coli) and have them produce hydrocarbons as a byproduct. We could go straight for gasoline but that might be rather messy – a matter of mixing oil and water, so to speak. Instead we could go for some goopy gel (goopy gel is a technical term – don’t ask) that can be separated out easily and turned into gasoline.

The point of this exercise is that the only things the genetically engineered bacteria will need is water, carbon dioxide, and a source of energy. The energy we can get from the sun. The carbon dioxide we get from the air. The water, well, that can be a problem. We would like to put our vats of bacteria out in the Nevada desert where they have lots of sun. Unfortunately they don’t have much water in Nevada. Houston might be a good alternative.

So here is how it plays out. We replace Houston with vats of bacteria. (This is known as a win-win scenario.) The bacteria take water and CO2 out of the air and make gasoline. We burn the gasoline and put water and CO2 back in the air. This is known as a viscous cycle which works fine as long as we don’t reach a sticking point. Problem solved as long as the sun keeps shining.

Next: Getting rich in Cat and Rat farms.

Oddly popular pages

As my faithful readers know I use Earthlink’s monitoring tools to find out which of the several thousand pages on my web site are crrently the the most popular. Most of the time the same pages show up time after after time. Sometimes I get these little surprises.

Approximately half of the pages in the site are in a literary project called the reincarnation cycle. It is my pass at a interactive, non-linear, participatory narrative. In it you live one life after another. In each life you are presented with various choices which affect how the current life turns out and what your next life might be. The background is vaguely oriental and is modelled on the Chinese Empire. Following Hindu belief, however, history is cyclical and eternal. There is a great cycle of time; in your reincarnations you move from one age to the next in endless cycles.

People stumble upon it from time to time and get caught up in it for a while. It can be mildly addictive. The traffic in it is light but continuing. Recently, however, one particular page out of the lot has had a surprising popularity. The text of the page runs:

The men don’t like you because you are a source of trouble to them. You and the others they have caught are taken back to the village. Monkey meat is considered to be a great delicacy in the village. You end up as the main dish in a feast.
I’m not quite sure what this odd popularity is about and it may be just as well if I never find out.

And surprisingly popular pages

One of the pages on my site that has an enduring popularity is the The works of Jane Austin page. It recounts the works of a (fictitious) Texas novelist named Calamity Jane Austin who wrote such great works as “Pride and Precipice”, “Fence and Fencibility”, and “The Countess of Monte Christo”. It regularly gets a few hundred hits a month. In August it was the star of the site, getting 1922 hits. The companion page, A Brief biography of “Calamity” Jane Austin got an additional 1088 hits – that’s 3010 hits for the two pages.

I’m not quite sure what accounts for this burst of popularity. It may be some passing fancy or perhaps some big name web site has a link to it. I hope that that is the case. However I have the dreadful suspicion that it is being used as reference material in some university English department.

The Great August Flood

In the ordinary course of events July and August are hot and dry in these parts. Hot is the neighbourhood of one hundred degrees Fahrenheit (~ 38C in the rest of the world.) Dry is a total rainfall for the month of a few hundredths of an inch. (Don’t worry about what that is in metric – think millimeters.) The thing is, in these here parts (such a lovely construction, “these here parts”) the average annual rainfall is somewhere around 20 inches a year (that would be about 50-60 centimeters.) That would be the average rainfall – every few years we actually get as much the average. Once in a great while …

… it rains a good deal more than average. August 2007 was a month like that. June had been a rainy month, rainier than usual. July was a return to normal SD summer weather. It didn’t rain at all as far as I can recall. And then came August. August started out dry for the first two days. On August 3rd (hereafter known as Wet Friday) I drove from Chez Harter into town to visit Our Lady of the Large Black Dog at her town residence. I noticed that it was sprinkling as I drove in. I thought nothing of that – the weather forecasters had mentioned that there was some slight chance of rain. They do that now and then; natives in these here parts learn not to take these forecasts too seriously. Usually these predictions of rain produce about four drops. Sometimes however the forecasters understate matters a wee bit.

After arriving I settled down at my computer and started composing those wise, learned, witty and profound writings that it is my wont to compose. (I may also have snuck in a game of solitaire or two.) It started to rain. After a while Deborah commented to me that it was really raining out. I opened the patio door and looked out at the streams of water falling out of the sky and agreed, yes, it was really raining outside.

After an hour or so of this Deborah wandered upstairs and noticed water on the floor of the upstairs hall. She stood there wondering why there was water on the floor when all of a sudden she heard … drip, drip, drip. It was then that she realized the first horrid truth – the roof was leaking. (Well after the fact she learned that the flashing around the chimney was faulty – it has been fixed.) It didn’t take her long to run to the basement where she encountered the second horrid truth.

Deborah’s house was built circa 1915. The foundation is, ah, porous in places. What is more the gutters were somewhat less than useless. What she encountered was the sight of water seeping in everywhere. Well it wasn’t quite seeping in everywhere. On the east wall it was spurting in. Thus began an evening from hell – a very watery hell. She put a bucket under the water spout and started sopping up water with a number of towels. Yours truly participated in these water sports for a bit before getting the bright idea of going to my house and getting the Rainbow.

It seems that I haven’t written about the Rainbow. Sometime ago I acquired a rather expensive vacuum cleaner called a Rainbow. The major feature of this wondrous machine is that it sucks dirt into a pan of water rather than into a bag. The machine is a wonder. It never loses suction. The only thing that comes out the exhaust is clean air. It delivers what other vacuum cleaners only promise. Be all of that as it may, it has one other feature that made it a godsend at that moment – it can vaccum up water from the floor.

The mile and a half drive to Chez Harter was interesting – definitely interesting. The visibility was about one hundred yards (meters if you like) or somewhat less. I’ve seen a lot of whiteouts – this was a grayout. The streets and the highway were dangerously wet. As I arrived at my place I heard the roar of a rapidly running stream.

This requires a bit of explanation. The Harter place occupied both sides of a creek bed. There are farm buildings on the north side and the ranch house on the south side. When my mother died the farm buildings and the surrounding lands were sold; I kept the two and a half acres that Chez Harter sits on. In the ordinary course of events the creek bed is dry except for the brief period in the spring when the snow melts – or when we get an extraordinary amount of rain.

This definitely was an extraordinary amount of the rain. I arrived at the house, dumped 4.5 inches out of the rain gauge, gathered up the rainbow, and headed back to town. The rest of the evening was spent in the basement vacuuming up water from the floor, emptying buckets as they filled up, and sopping up water with a large number of towels. Oh, yes, I was patching the wall with gum. If you’ve seen that ad in which the guy patches a leak in a dam with a bit of chewing gum you’ve got the idea. It actually does work, but not very well. Finally about midnight the rain let up. We prayed that it had really stopped raining and crashed.

The next day I went back to Chez Harter and dumped another 3.8 inches of water out of the rain gauge. 8.3 inches of rain is a lot of rain in one single hit. The creek was no longer roaring but it was still running vigorously. I took a bunch of pictures that I sent off to my sisters – without photographic evidence they were never going to believe in the creek running in August.

That wasn’t the end of it. A few days later we got another 1.6 inches of rain. The rains continued. Every few days we would get another half inch of rain or so. I didn’t keep records but I reckon that there must have been at least 15 inches of rain in August. It’s gotten very green in these here parts.

I asked Deborah’s father if he recalled any year being this wet. He thought about and said there was a year in the 1950’s when there was fourteen inches of rain in July. I guess the big rain is something that happens every fifty years. I’m looking forward to the next one.

R rated automobile ads

Mercades Benz has been running ads showing yuppies nuzzling their cars. According to their ad material nobody loves their car like Mercases Benz owners. All I have to say to that is that Mercades Benz owners have really weird love lives.

This page was last updated September 1, 2007.

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Collected editorials