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September 28, 2006

Little Thought-Like Emanations

A bunch of little unrelated things:

* I've been getting hit hard recently by comment spam, and as a result ended up having to put a lot of keywords on my spam blacklist. This should not be a problem for you most of the time, unless you have a fetish for casually dropping the names of erection-producing pharmaceuticals into your everyday comment discourse. However, I've also blacklisted the word "casino" since it's appearing quite a bit recently, and that's a word that's not entirely outside the realm of regular usage. So if you use "casino" in a comment and it doesn't appear automatically, don't panic. When I made one of my moderation rounds, I'll likely release it into the wilds. However, if you write something like "there I was, in the Viagra Casino...." I may just leave it off. You damn pranksters.

* I was reading this article in the New York Times about people whose phone company won't provide DSL service because it's too expensive, and thus are stagnating in low-bandwidth hell, and I have to say I'm notably less than sympathetic. Hey, guys: satellite internet. Unless all that second-growth forest in Vermont is entirely blocking out the night sky, you can get high-speed internet that way.

I know whereof I speak: When I first moved to lil' ol' Bradford in 2001, the fastest local connection I could find was 9600 baud. The terror was complete and unimaginable. But did I bitch and moan to my local telephone company? Well, yes, I did. However, I also looked into my options, and satellite internet was one of them. It had its problems -- a small time lag when initiating a connection and having service blocked by storms among them -- but it was a damn sight better than 9600 baud. And remember, this was back in 2001, so it's not like this is untested, freaky technology. It suited me until DSL finally showed up here.

If anyone in Vermont is reading this, do let these folks know of the miracle of satellite internet. And show them your iPod, too. That'll really mess with their heads.

* Some nice news for me: I've sold The Ghost Brigades in the French language, where one assumes it will be known as Les Brigades De Fantôme or some such. Also, for all you Francophones out there, the release date for the French-language version of OMW will be January 2007, from Editions L' Atalante (who also bought TGB). Starting saving your euro-pennies!

* NPR is looking for a blogger. If I didn't already have my own pro blog gig, this might be attractive to me, except for the part about "being willing to relocate." Isn't part of the magic of blogs that you don't have to relocate? I mean, hell. I live among the Amish, people. I think that pretty much proves that you can blog from anywhere.

Also, this line in the job application seems a bit presumptuous: "a passionate desire to join the blogger 'A' list." Leaving aside the fact that being an "A"-list blogger is like being one world's elite kitten-jugglers -- a curious but strangely limited sort of fame -- who is on the "A"-list in the blog world is decided not from above but from below, primarily by who links to you and how often. So while I think it's groovy NPR has ambitions for its blogger, if I were applying for the job I wouldn't exactly exactly assume that if I got it I would suddenly be elevated to the oh-so-lofty heights of A-list bloggerdom. You've got to earn it, baby, through all the links and such and so on and blah blah blah. Then, and only then, will you take your place in the grubby, back-biting pantheon of bloggers.

* Speaking of pointlessly obsessive blog status mongering, here's something interesting: Technorati, which is the official repository of who is on the blogger "A"-list thanks to its dork-anxiety-inducing "100 Top Blogs" list, is massively underreporting my "A"-listyness, because it splits my links between a scalzi.com listing and a whatever listing. The Scalzi.com listing lists 1,192 blogs linking to me, while the Whatever listing features 1,140, which puts both listings in the 1000 range for most popular blog evar. But, since (follow the pathetic logic!) it doesn't make sense that people would link to both, just one or the other, in fact I have 2,332 blogs linking to me, which definitely puts me in the top 300, since Wil Wheaton's at 292, and he's only got a mere 2043 blogs linking to him! Ha, Wil! HA!!! Clearly I need to sue Technorati for underreporting my true blog awesomeosity, which is keeping me from making those six-figure book deals other bloggers are making, and getting the fabulous blog-groupie sex that I'm sure Kos and Ana Marie Cox are having on a regular basis (no, not with each other. With the groupies. Pay attention). Also, I will sue Wil Wheaton. Just to make the point.

Also, I think Technorati is not doing nearly enough to raise the anxiety of bloggers everywhere regarding their A-list status (or lack thereof), so I propose that rather than posting a mere Top 100 list, Technorati post a top 1,000 list -- or even better, a top 10,000 list. Because you know the people scratching it out for positions 9,999 and 10,000 will stop at nothing to kill all those who threaten their exalted position. Yes, yes. If Technorati does but implement my suggestion, soon the Blogosphere will have all the drama it deserves.

Posted by john at September 28, 2006 08:26 AM

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KL | September 28, 2006 09:57 AM

You are an evil, evil man, John Scalzi.

Jon Marcus | September 28, 2006 10:04 AM

Mr. Scalzi

This this is to inform you that my firm will be filing a class action suit on behalf of kitten jugglers everywhere.

--Jonathan Marcus, Esq.

Paul | September 28, 2006 10:11 AM

I had to check my ranking: 217,260.

Do they have a Z-list? Or am I into the double letters?

AliceB | September 28, 2006 10:12 AM

Congratulations on the French edition. Will you wear a beret for the author photo?

Tim Walker | September 28, 2006 10:26 AM

Your top-10,000 idea has real legs, simply because it will allow that many more bloggers to wig out just like authors do now when they obsessively check and re-check their Amazon rankings.

So I guess what I'm saying is, KL is right: you are evil. But in an endearing, spread-the-love kind of way. With pie!

Mary | September 28, 2006 10:26 AM

No, but he will Photoshop one onto his head, and maybe add in some juggled kittens and baguettes for local colour.

So does Adobe pay you kickbacks, John?

John Scalzi | September 28, 2006 10:27 AM

No, but clearly they should.

Chang | September 28, 2006 10:29 AM

...unless you have a fetish for casually dropping the names of erection-producing pharmaceuticals into your everyday comment discourse.

I do, which makes my life difficult sometimes as people just have trouble hearing about the wonders of P/E/N/I/S E/N/L/A/R/J/M/U/N/T at my O/N/L/I/N/E/K/U/S/S/I/N/O.

Regarding elite kitten-jugglers... I was one of these once. Damn risky job but the perks are fabulous. To be A-list among the D-list is something else.

ajay | September 28, 2006 10:50 AM

I think you should start writing another novel before your obvious surplus of mental energy gets the better of you and you start bouncing off the walls. Threats to sue Wil Wheaton and multiple exclamation marks are worrying signs.

Dennis | September 28, 2006 11:06 AM

I think another measure of an "A" list blogger is how many people link "exclusively" to your blog. I don't have time to peruse 150 different blogs, so I generally count on you to point out anything interesting happening in scifi blogdom.

Tripp | September 28, 2006 11:14 AM

I think I've earned the following bit of geek pedantry. Please don't misuse the word 'baud' to mean 'bits per second.' Baud means 'number of signal changes per second' and in some cases, notably telephone-line modems, the baud rate will be less that the bit rate.

For example your 9600 bps modem was operating at 2400 baud, which is pretty much the upper limit for a telephone line.

Squeezing two bits into a baud was a pretty remarkable thing at the time. I'll leave it as a exercise to the users to explain how this could be done.

Jim | September 28, 2006 11:20 AM

The people of Rhode Island may file suit against you. After all, the big political issue here is about Question One on the November ballot regarding amending the state contitution to allow Harrah's to team up with the Narragansett Tribal Nation to build and operate a Cxxxxo to be known as The Narragansett Indian Cxxxxo. Your censorship of the word "cxxxxo" is keeping us from speaking truth to power.

Stephen G | September 28, 2006 11:23 AM

As a former member of the Church of Juggling Various Things (reformed), I must warn all of you of the dangers of cat juggling. It's not that the cats might be mean -- some simple tranquilizing can help with that. It's that, even tranquilized, a cat is pointy on all ends. Topologically speaking, it is a sphere with claws in all directions.

Steve Buchheit | September 28, 2006 11:26 AM

Huhn, I though the Church of Juggling Various Things would be Congregational, not reformed.

Patrick Shepherd | September 28, 2006 11:31 AM

You're complaining about your rank? I'm way down at 1,704,110. Though how they come up with different ranks for all those blogs that have zero links to them I don't know.

John Scalzi | September 28, 2006 11:32 AM

I'm not really complaining about my rank, you know.

rayyy | September 28, 2006 11:35 AM

The lower your rank, the more 'exclusive' you are!

Relax. Enjoy the rarified atmosphere.

Patrick Shepherd | September 28, 2006 11:40 AM

Didn't really think so. Rank,smank. What counts is how readable you are, and there you rank quite high on my list.

Simon Owens | September 28, 2006 11:44 AM

I think there's a lot of crossover there, and that you can't really add both numbers together to figure out rank.

John Scalzi | September 28, 2006 11:46 AM

Uh, do I really need to add a "sarcasm" subtitle to this entry?

theophylact | September 28, 2006 12:06 PM

Not that it matters to the likes of me, but as Jerry Pournelle points out, adding another 45,000 miles (even at the speed of light) to your otherwise lightning response plays pluperfect Hell in online shooter games.

J | September 28, 2006 12:11 PM

I've sold The Ghost Brigades in the French language, where one assumes it will be known as Les Brigades De Fantôme or some such. Also, for all you Francophones out there . . .

Let us know when/if the Portuguese Brigades os Fantasmas appears. We Portugophiles (Galliciaphilies? Iberophiles? Anyone have an idea?) want to know these things.

Stephen G | September 28, 2006 12:21 PM

The reformed church doesn't allow mimes to join.

Nathan | September 28, 2006 12:25 PM

"I've sold The Ghost Brigades in the French language, where one assumes it will be known as Les Brigades De Fantôme or some such."


I just finished Ms. Bear's "Hammered" and I'm still trying to figure out exactly what Gabe was saying to Jenny in the dirty bits.

Kevin Marks | September 28, 2006 01:00 PM

John, Kevin Marks with my Technorati hat on here.
I'm sorry to dash your hopes but the 1,209 blogs to scalzi.com include the 1,158 that link to scalzi.com/whatever, just as the links to Whatever include the links to individual posts (such as the 161 linking to Being Poor and the 228 linking to Bacon Cat) so that means you have 51 people just linking to scalzi.com. (It's a little more subtle than that, as the counts used for ranking are links from distinct blogs in the last 180 days, so older Being Poor links will not be included).

We do show everyone their rank, but listing out to 10,000 would start to include a lot of tied rankings - about 50 blogs have the 242 inbound blog links to put them at 9,980, and of course everyone with 0 blog links is tied for 1,704,110th place (all 54 million of them).

Paul, if you want to feel better, consider that being 277,260 out of 55.3 million puts you in the 99.6th percentile. In the blogsphere, everyone really is above average.

Eric | September 28, 2006 01:06 PM

The reformed church doesn't allow mimes to join.

Sheer bigotry. For centuries, mimes have been suffering in silence, confined by invisible boxes of prejudice. A mime might spend his entire life walking into a relentless wind of public censure, yet they continue to march proudly on, letting nothing knock them to their knees. Except for sticks. And bricks thrown at their heads. Real ones, not the invisible ones--look, all that's beside the point.

Have you ever taken a minute to think about where this world would be without mimes? Think about all the ways that mimes have contributed to society. If it weren't for mimes, life would be very different from what you and I take for granted. Without mimes, we wouldn't have things invented by mimes. Without mimes, we would not enjoy the fine artistry of mime. Without mimes, things that mimes do would never get done. Do you have any idea what an absence of mimes would do to the economy?

I hope that all of you will join with me at 12:00 a.m. on September 29th, EST, for a moment of silence in honor of mimes, the silent minority. Thank you.

ajay | September 28, 2006 01:37 PM

Sheer bigotry. For centuries, mimes have been suffering in silence, confined by invisible boxes of prejudice

He would tolerate absolutely anything except anything which threatened the city*

*And mime artists. It was a strange aversion, but there you were. Anyone in baggy trousers and a white face who tried to ply his trade on Ankh-Morpork's streets would rapidly find themselves hanging upside down in a scorpion pit, on the wall of which was written LEARN THE WORDS.

John Scalzi | September 28, 2006 02:02 PM

Kevin Marks:

"I'm sorry to dash your hopes but the 1,209 blogs to scalzi.com include the 1,158 that link to scalzi.com/whatever."

Oh, sure, just because you're Technorati's principal engineer, you think you know something about it!

I suspected it might work that way, but then I wouldn't have had something to be mock outraged about. And as we all know, I'd be thrown out of the blogosphere if I let something as trivial as facts get in the way of a rant.

J | September 28, 2006 02:07 PM

The reformed church doesn't allow mimes to join.

Old news, really. I think it's vaguely attached to the Reformed distaste for anything physically expressive (am I remembering correctly that students at Calvin College aren't allowed to dance?).

In medieval times, traveling troubadours often weren't allowed into churches. Not to perform; I mean even personally. They were just personae non sanctae: Assumed to be so rootless and worldly as to be beyond any possible salvation.

Mark DF | September 28, 2006 02:21 PM

I used to be 142 with a bullet. Hubris got me. Five kittens wasn't enough. Nooooooooooo. Had to go for the sixth. Over a fire pit. On a tightrope.

Let's just say I now I have to kill 157,502 people to crack a million. Drop six kittens and the intertubes never forget. At least the bacon was crispy the way I like it.

Mark | September 28, 2006 02:24 PM

Kittens are more difficult to juggle with bacon taped to them. At least that's been my experience.

Johnny Carruthers | September 28, 2006 02:37 PM

That bit about the [ED medication] [gambling facility] sounds like it could have been an entry in the Bulwer-Lytton contest. Or it might just make for an interesting book title.

Mark | September 28, 2006 03:07 PM

Just a note on the broadband issue. DSL can be had for $15 bucks a month. Satelite at $50 bucks a month. How is that a fair option?

John Scalzi | September 28, 2006 03:10 PM

I don't recall saying it was fair, Mark. Just that the option existed.

Penny Hill | September 28, 2006 03:43 PM

Stephen G: ...cat is pointy on all ends. Topologically speaking, it is a sphere with claws in all directions.

Scalzi: I'd be thrown out of the blogosphere if I let something as trivial as facts get in the way of a rant.

To BOTH of you I say: Bwahahahaha.
Bad day. Good laughs. Thank you.

theophylact | September 28, 2006 04:43 PM

Actually, it's worse than that: a quarter of a second before you can begin to respond, and then another quarter of a second before your response is received. If I were into online games, satellite would be not be an option.

Alex S. | September 28, 2006 04:52 PM

They don't know about my blog, and it links to you.. So, it's at *least* 1210 .. :P

SFC SKI | September 28, 2006 05:21 PM

Regarding the French publication: Is it solely up to the foreign publisher to decide whether to publish your book in another language, or do you have any influence in detemining if your work gets published in a foreign language? The reason I ask is twofold: I have some level of fluency in several languages, and one way that I'll actually incraese my fluency is by reading novels, comic books, even instruction sheets for appliances, that are in more than one language. The second reason is because a lot of popular English works are translated into European languages, but very few are translated into Arabic, for example. I'm just wondering if you, or your agent pursues foreign publication or does a publisher approach you?

John Scalzi | September 28, 2006 05:50 PM

Generally my agent pushes the book but in least one case a foreign publisher has approached me. Of course, I am the only one who can give a yea or nay to selling the work in a foreign market.

Kevin Marks | September 28, 2006 07:04 PM

Alex, tell us about your blog. Go to http://technorati.com/ping.html and type it's URL in.

Carol Elaine | September 28, 2006 07:19 PM

I'm at 200,368 in Technorati. WooHoo?

Maybe because I have mimes performing at my gambling establishment. Veagera Cazeno is at the forefront of the art of mime performance. Cutting edge, really. However, I had no idea it would affect my Technorati score.

I'll have to decide which is more important to me...

Lawrence Schimel | September 28, 2006 08:58 PM

Mazel tov on the francais.

Note to J: Lusophile.

Owlmirror | September 28, 2006 09:07 PM

If a mime juggled kittens and dropped one, he would obviously have a bad gamboling problem.


If someone has a problem with online bulk pharmaceutical advertisers, would it be proper to say that he has Xan ax to grind?

Owlmirror | September 28, 2006 09:13 PM

Messing about to see if the Scalzinator® catches this:

And now for something completely different: Do you need an Online Viagra Casino? Well, look no further!
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John Scalzi | September 28, 2006 09:21 PM

Sneaky, Owlmirror. Don't tell any of the spammers about that.

Soni Pitts | September 28, 2006 10:02 PM

*view selection source*


Brenta | September 28, 2006 10:35 PM

(Speaking as a rural computer user in the wilds of the Appalachian Mountains, I have to ask: People really get $15 DSL? Those of us *lucky* enough to get DSL get it for $50/month. Sometimes I wonder if we're subsidizing the $15/rates elsewhere?)

Those of us Appalachians (my parents, for example) who live in forested valleys ("hollows") can't necessarily get the "clear view of the southern sky" to get satellite internet service (definitely not via HughesNet).

Hard to get a telecommuting job at 300 baud anymore. Which just continues to economically depress already economically depressed areas.

So, I think rural users should complain to phone companies and their Congressional representatives. Maybe mountains can be moved. Especially if they're blocking the satellite signal. And economic progress.

Ted Lemon | September 28, 2006 11:25 PM

John, no offense, but satellite internet *sucks*. Sure, it's great if all you ever do is surf the web, but if you do anything where you can detect the latency, like, say, try to do some work, it's painful. The reason it's painful is kind of cool: the satellites is in geosynchronous orbit, which is far enough away to create a delay that's not only noticeable but bothersome if, for example, you're typing at a shell prompt on the other side of the connection. The delay is enough that you have to type blind, and then wait for the other end to catch up before you hit return. Editing sessions in vi are genuinely awful.

Satellite connections also suck for MMORPGs, because that much latency simply kills the game - it's hard to even walk in the online world because the server and the client can't agree on where you are.

Another problem with satellite connections is that while the downlink has pretty decent performance, the uplink has *terrible* performance. So a lot of things you can do with a regular connection (e.g., Skype, or video iChat) are simply impossible over the satellite.

You, my friend, are living in a dream of the past, when VoIP wasn't in common use, and we didn't have MMORPGs - we had MUDs. As a popular science fiction author, you can no longer afford this kind of lazy thinking. You'd better get with the program, before people start referring to your work as historical fiction.

*annoying smile*

(My dad has satellite internet, so I know whereof I speak. I do better over dial-up than over satellite.)

Ted Lemon | September 28, 2006 11:28 PM

Brenta, delivering DSL in rural areas costs more, so of course it's more expensive. A really fast DSL connection in Bowie, AZ is about $80/month. But generally, here in the U.S., which is a third world country on the Information Superhighway, $15 DSL, if you can get it, is a promo, not something you'll get to keep. Maybe in Manhattan it could get that cheap, because the population density is so high.

John Scalzi | September 28, 2006 11:33 PM


Having had satellite Internet myself, I realize it's no damn good for online gaming or voip. However, the vast majority of things most people need to do online -- e-mail, Web browsing, etc -- work perfectly fine, and in general I would disagree rather strongly that dial-up is better than SI for most things.

Nathan | September 28, 2006 11:43 PM

DSL in Brooklyn....still $39.95/mo.

I don't umderstand this stuff like you guys do (I have no idea what the acronyms in Ted's post meant), but they advertise DSL for "as little as $14.95/mo." When I call Verizon to ask why mine is twice that, they tell me that (I'm paraphrasing here), the crappy 100 year old copper wire in my neighborhood is only allowing me to avail myself of 60% of the speed that DSL offers. I can switch to the $14.95 option if I want to squander another 20% of the speed I've got.

Great options.

Ginny | September 29, 2006 01:33 AM

Technorati give me a headache. ginnysanchez.com is listed as 301,817 (75 links from 10 blogs) and ginnysanchez.com/nucleus is listed as 570,265 (53 links from 5 blogs)...but it's the same site. if you simply type in my URL, you get forwarded over to the directory of the blog. So if I actually have 128 links from 15 blogs, I'm still pretty lame, but my ranking is probably a lil better...isn't it?



Owlmirror | September 29, 2006 02:03 AM

Sneaky, Owlmirror. Don't tell any of the spammers about that.

You might be able to riposte by changing the filter to strip out blank tags — but of course, I just thought of some counter-responses.

I also thought of a good and utterly valid reason to use the word in question:

Casino Royale, w00t.

James Bond doesn't need any damn Viаgrа.

Ted Lemon | September 29, 2006 02:50 AM

You're living in the past, man. Streaming media is where it's at. Get with the program. :')

Seriously, a year ago nobody I knew knew anything about VoIP. Now most of them are on Skype, and in fact Skype is more useful than email for contacting them (what with spam filters and all). And these aren't my geek friends - these are my Dharma friends, most of whom needed my help to set up the microphone the first time. But they asked me - I didn't even suggest it to them.

Web browsing is mostly a mechanism for not getting done what you need to do (e.g., why am I typing this? To avoid doing real work), so I can't really count that as more useful than Skype, which I actually do use to get useful work done.

Nathan: VoIP == Voice over IP. MMORPG == Massively Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games (e.g., The Matrix Online). MUD == Multi-user dungeon - these are text-based, and latency really isn't a big issue since the text crosses the gap in chunks, not a character at a time.

Ted Lemon | September 29, 2006 02:54 AM

OBTW, I don't read _any_ of the blogs in your technorati top 25, and now that I've seen the one with the cute chick, I'm not going to read it again, because she's like *so* shallow, you know? She is pretty, though. The fact that a lot of people link to you doesn't mean that a lot of people read you. Whatever is in my RSS checker. I don't think boingboing ever will be.

Kevin Marks | September 29, 2006 03:18 AM

Ginny, same thing as with John's, the subdirectory links are included in the top-level one. We count the links people actually use.
As for rural broadband, the real scandal is the Universal Service Fund, which all our phonebills include, allegedly to subsidise rural telephony. In practice is subsidises gold-plated rural subsidiaries of the Bells, and then is used by Congress to circumvent the first amendment in schools and libraries.
They should take the whole of the USF money and spend it on rural wifi.

Brenta | September 29, 2006 09:35 AM


Yeah, I guess I was being a touch snarky about the expense of DSL in rural areas and the subsidization issue. :-) (Sorry about that.) Our base rate here is $50 and goes up from there.

While not having personal connectivity is a real pain (and an educational detriment for the young'ins), I'm really most worried about the difficulty of attracting industry to rural areas. Businesses can't use satellite internet because of the latency issues and limits. I've seen too many recent situations where industry has stated that they would have considered moving into this area, but because there was no high-speed infrastructure, they couldn't commit to a site here.


Nathan | September 29, 2006 10:20 AM


Thanks for the definitions. But, what's an RSS Checker.....cause, I'm, like, ya'know.....a moron.

Ted Lemon | September 29, 2006 02:51 PM

Well, right now I'm using Flock, which is a browser based on Mozilla. It tracks RSS feeds, and tells me when there's something new. An RSS feed is basically a way to say "there's a new entry in my blog." I don't know what RSS stands for, but that's basically what it does. It's an imperfect technology, but it makes tracking blogs a lot easier.

Jon H | September 29, 2006 09:58 PM


Vermont has mountains, which are satellite-signal-opaque if they happen to be in the way.

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