Various & Sundry, 10/22/08

Various things of not too much importance:

* First, because he’s been absent from the site for a while, here’s a picture of Lopsided Cat for y’all. Lopsided Cat gets underplayed as the third member of our cat troika, on account of he’s not as worldwide famous as Ghlaghghee or full of as much kittenish exuberence as Zeus, and also because he spends most of his time outside, hunting down the field mice and rabbits and bears and what have you (I remind people that I live surrounded by agricultural fields, so all our cats, Ghlaghghee included, are working cats, charged with keeping rodentia from invading the Scalzi Compound). But while he’s the least famous of the Scalzi cats, in many ways Lopsided Cat is my favorite because I see him as close to being the Platonic ideal of a cat, i.e., a fluffy yet totally badass predator. He is “cat.” And I, for one, love him for it.

* Apparently last night a radio talk show host named Mike Malloy read my “Being Poor” piece out loud over the radio, which is interesting because the first I heard about it was after it happened; i.e., this is apparently another incidence of a radio talk show host assuming that if it’s out there on the Internet you don’t actually need get permission to use it. Now, as it happens, I’m perfectly fine with the dude reading it on air; “Being Poor” is the one piece of writing for which I always give permission to reproduce, as long as there’s attribution (which as I understand in this case there was). But, you know. I’d still would have liked to have known. I might have listened in.

* A social networking milestone: I have 1,000 friends on Facebook, as of friending someone there last night. You may assume I have a deep and beautiful relationship with each and every one of them. I also have 695 MySpace friends and 1,356 followers on Twitter. I’m assuming at least some overlap. And, of course, put them all together and I only have 3,481,300 or so friends to go before I catch up to Tia Tequila. Which puts social networking “friendship” into perspective, doesn’t it.

* Paul Boutin explains in Wired why you shouldn’t bother to start a blog, the reasons boiling down to a) all the cool kids were doing it by 2004, so you’re an entire presidential election cycle behind the times, b) you’re probably barely interesting enough to justify a Twitter feed, anyway. I’m pretty sure he didn’t write the piece with the intention of sounding like a bored hipster geek asshole, but I suppose we all do things we don’t intend. I will say Boutin’s correct that if you intended to start a blog with the intention of having it become Teh Most Popular Blog EVAR, you probably missed that particular boat. But there are lots of other reasons to blog, such as, oh, you like to write.

* As a final note, I probably shouldn’t wonder why I’ve gained a little weight recently when I’m eating chocolate and peanut butter ice cream at 10 in the morning. But I’m also having a Coke Zero! Zero calories! See. That makes it all better.

53 thoughts on “Various & Sundry, 10/22/08

  1. “I have 1,000 friends on Facebook…. I also have 695 Facebook friends”

    Even when I squint, that still reads the same way and makes me confused and brain-hurty.

  2. David @ 1 – Thank you.

    I couldn’t help but notice the sickening irony of a man vaunting such a shallow and, how shall we say, tacky medium as Twitter while disdainfully turning their nose at personal blogsites. His is a voice I don’t think I would miss, even if I did give half a rat’s rear end about it in the first place.

    The fact that we was writing about this on the website for an ink and paper publication made the hypocrisy even a little more amusing.

  3. Ahhh, MySpace. See, how are we all supposed to stalk you when you fluff the details like that? It’s terribly embarrassing to post up, say, a photo of your name executed with squirrels nailed to the wall and it’s on the wrong forum or something.

    Er. Hey, look! And obvious distraction! Over there!

  4. I have Scalzi has a friend on MySpace. That’s enough. I barely check my facebook page. I also follow him on Twitter but he’s not as interesting as Wil Wheaton’s twitter feed. You need to work on that, Scalzi.

    I blog but its so boring it’ll put monks to sleep. I use it to keep track of what I am writing. I can’t imagine anyone else being interested in it.

    I also have a twitter feed but I use that to vent at work. Like my blog, it’s boring.

  5. My Intertubes fame is terribly insignificant, but I’ve actually had one of my essays read on the air as well…on a nationally syndicated radio show, no less.

    Trouble is, not only did the host not obtain permission ahead of time…he attributed it to someone else. But hey..if it’s on teh Intarwebz, it must be Public Domain.

  6. Hey, Scalzi,

    Good pic of TLC.*

    We give it a thumbs up and a friendly punch to the shoulder.

    Later, man.

    The Lopsided Cat Fan Club

    * Damn. That TLA doesn’t look right at all

  7. @Austin: Twitter? Tacky? I think you’re doing it wrong. Lots of good stuff out there. Try looking up Favrd to see how Twitter brings the funny.

    But moreover: a medium is tacky? An entire method of expressing yourself is in and of itself tacky? Wow. Chutzpah much?

  8. The way I see it, blogging is very much like writing: if you want to get famous doing it, you’ll likely be disappointed. You should blog because you want to, not because you have some goal of becoming the next big thing. And you should write because you like writing, not because you think you can be rich and famous like J. K. Rowling.

    But that’s my take on it…

  9. I have a blog because I find it useful as a place to store things I might want to find later. I use Twitter to keep up with what my real-life friends and colleagues are doing. It isn’t about building a new network, but rather about keeping track of the (admittedly smallish) network I already have. I don’t use Facebook or Myspace (though I do have a Myspace account just to mortify my teenaged children).

    Robert Scoble had some interesting things to say along these lines, including “The secret to Twitter is how many people are you listening to, not how many people are listening to you.”

    http://scobleizer.com/2008/03/23/the-secret-to-twitter/

  10. Boutin is a writer for ValleyWag – a gossip website about the Silicon Valley in-crowd, that is about as silly and pathetic as it sounds. When he talks about the blogosphere being flooded with professionally-produced crap, he ought to know; he’s responsible for more than his share of the offal.

    I have Twitter and Facebook accounts, and almost never use them. But I visit my favorite blogs (or at least, their RSS feeds) every day, and still occasionally update my own blog.

    But then, I’ve never claimed to be on the cutting edge of technological fashion. I mean, I don’t even own an iPhone.

  11. SMD [#13] “blogging is very much like writing”

    You mean it isn’t exactly like writing? And here I’ve been banging away on a keyboard like a sucker.

    Kidding aside, I think that the way things are shaking out, in the long run something very like blogs will probably be the only way a lot of authors get published. Sure, I’m not getting paid much for my pictures and essays about the bugs I find around the house, but if I were trying to actually publish it as a book, I’d take a very good chance that no publisher would want it, meaning that I wouldn’t get paid at *all*. Not to mention that nobody would see it until it was all finished, rather than having it be a growing document.

    The textbook[1] I co-authored some years ago pretty much put me off of publishers in general – we worked on that fool thing for years, finally got it published, the publisher promptly priced it so high that hardly anybody bought it, and my total royalties amounted to a free copy of the bound book. We would have been better off publishing it a chapter at a time in a blog format.

    [1] on a completely unrelated subject. It was about coal desulfurization. Not the sort of thing that gets on the Best-Sellers Lists in any case.

  12. Incidentally I’ve been blogging since 2004. Since my real life friends are pretty much internets-illiterate (I know, I know, wrong friends) I started it because I like to write not to keep in contact with people I know. For a very long time I put poems and long posts up, and I met some interesting people when I joined BlogHer. But then somehow my blogging became shorter, rarer and more of a venting kind – pretty much exactly like tweets. Now I try to use twitter for that – and it is what I appreciate twitter for.

    But in the long run I can’t constantly communicate in 140 characters. So I still blog and keep reading the people on my blogroll. And I’m not planning to stop however “dead” (Boutin says) blogging might be. Which I think it isn’t btw. I think blogs and social networking sites are completely different in their content, but people aren’t exactly deleting their blog as soon as they join twitter et al… So… yay for blogs! Keep blogs alive!

    See, I couldn’t have said all this in 140 character :)

  13. Hey, John — a bunch of our students are reading Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed as a group reading. Would you mind if I forwarded this to the group coordinator for a link posting/print copy/Blackboard post for all the students and faculty involved? It would be about 200 people …

  14. The Boutin article reads to me as a typical expression of the urge to Be a Famous Writer, as distinct from the urge to, well, *write*.

    I’m interested in folks who are good at the latter, not so much in folks who are mainly after the former.

  15. What you need to do is scoop a bowl of ice cream for Krissy, then eat it. If it’s on someone else’s plate (even if that someone is absent) it’s free calories. Of course Krissy might take umbrage of having to saddle all those extra calories you’re pawning off on her.

    And who the heck starts a blog to be famous? I do it to write and kvetch.

  16. I’m with Steve @23 – I started my blog in Dec. 2007 — well after the cutoff to be cool about it — to get in the habit of writing regularly. It has worked for that purpose. As for being the most popular blag EVAH, well, on a good day I get 25 hits. Not 25 unique hits, but 25 page views. Big whoop. Just means fewer people to notice when I misspell “Rubick’s” Cube.

  17. Coke Zero, better known in our house as Damage Control.
    My cats are not hunting cats, one won’t even go into the garden if the bunny is loose and she’s not exactly a ferocious buny of doom.

  18. Patrick:

    Yes, I don’t think there will be too many MTV-watching early-20somethings lining up to date an already-married and nearly middle-aged science fiction writer living in Ohio. I could be wrong. But I don’t think so.

  19. I’d be careful if I were you about the Coke Zero addiction. I had some blood work done an couple of months ago, and the scary results came back “possible hypothyroidism.” I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what I was doing to bring something like that on, but on a hunch I Googled “aspartame thyroid,” and blanched at what I found. Went cold turkey on all diet sodas, and my most recent labs were normal.

    Aspartame is some deadly shit, my man.

  20. 1. Love the Lopsided cat. Ghlaghghlee has let his fame go to his head, so he’s not as genuine as a cat like Lopsided. Can I have Lopsided cat’s email address?

    2. I only have you friended on Facebook, not Myspace or Twitter. Someday, maybe you’ll be Myspace-worthy. ;-) I don’t even have Twitter.

    3. About not starting a blog because it’s too late to become the most popular blog EVAR…

    Hmmm…I disagree. Why shouldn’t a new blogger take the blogosphere by storm? That sounds like a rather dinosaurish thing to say. Like something a blogger from, say, 1997 would write.

    I have a different reason why you shouldn’t start a blog…because blogs are going out of style. Folks in their 30′s and 40′s are reading them, but the younger set have moved on. If you want to be the most popular [internet thing] EVAR, then do whatever it is they’re doing. (I’m not sure what that is, but I have a 20 year old sister, and among that set, blogging is a bit passe.)

    I also think that blogging is evolving. More legitimate news outlets and professional writers are getting into it, which means standards are rising. What I would say is that if you don’t already know how to write, and aren’t already clueful about journalistic standards on validating facts and referencing sources, you’re likely to be either a) lame or b) caught with your pants down when the internet libel and slander suits finally start hitting the courts. (I’ve been watching lazy bloggers making unfounded allegations with no evidence for years–it’s overdue.)

  21. I would not want to be the furry or feathery critter on the receiving end of Lopsided Cat’s glare…

  22. Grilled onions, oh, yes.

    One of my co-workers got himself an order of Animal Fries. I had a heart attack in sympathy.

    And, John, aren’t you going to have an In-N-Out Flying Squad operating on your behalf at Loscon? That would make me jealous as all get out.

  23. If you want to be the most popular [internet thing] EVAR, then do whatever it is they’re doing.

    If you want to be the most popular Internet thing EVAR….with the twentysomething set. Which would certainly not make you very interesting to the under-twenty set.

  24. Eating ice cream for breakfast is one of those things you get as an adult to help offset the grim reality of approaching death.

    Kids don’t get to eat ice cream for breakfast, but they get to be kids.

  25. Somehow, as I quickly scanned your blog entry, my attention half on another matter, your “butter ice cream” became “butt cream.” Shortly after, you had my full attention. However, I’ m now feeling a slight sense of disappointment. The world is not as quite interesting as I once thought.

  26. OK, Paul Boutin writes for something called “ValleyWag”. I got that part. And he thinks blogs are old hat. So are fire and the wheel, eh? It’s the “Why I should care?” part I don’t see.

    Scalzi can at least write some things I’ll pay to read. And he gives “Whatever” away free. And besides, I really liked “Agent to the Stars” when he first posted it. On the other hand, he disses my Oxford commas. On the gripping hand, he’s got cats. I have cats. I don’t have any bacon, though.

    And Scalzi posted this thing about some inane loser named Paul Boutin. Who is Paul Boutin, again? Is he related to Anthony Bourdain? I like Anthony Bourdain. Cobra hearts, yum. Can Paul Boutin go and get me some of those wrapped in bacon, please?

    Puzzledly,
    Jack Tingle

  27. Yea, Lopsided Cat! Although I have not spent large amounts of time with the four-footed Scalzi creatures, LC is my favorite because he always greets me from under the bush to the left of the driveway on drop-off or pick-up a girl runs. He has a very dignified but menacing presence, definitely watching for rodentia to dare to place a foot on his turf.

    And ice cream meets a dairy requirement for the day. In a yummy manner. And if you accidentally serve yourself more than the 1/2 cup serving size, it just means you’re very responsibly increasing your calcium intake. No fragile bones.

  28. Jack @ 43

    Gripping hand? Wow, I haven’t been to the Mote in a long time. Guess I better add that to my “now that I have my books out of storage” reading list.

    When I look at Lopsided Cat in this picture, I can almost see his carnivorous thoughts churning behind those eyes.

    Ice cream, yes. diet sodas, no. Even though I’m diabetic I’m more scared of Aspartame than sugar. Actually, I’ll probably have to rethink this sooner or later.

  29. And then there’s fivethirtyeight.com. Zero to however many hundreds of thousands of readers in less than one election year. No medium is full if you’re doing different and are really good at it. Heck, I hear some people even insist on writing new novels.

  30. Like others here, I like blogs and journals and such for having a record of what my friends and people I’m interested in have been up to, and a chance to leave thoughts, news, and whatever for them to see. I think it’s a really, really good format for stuff at any level of seriousness that you want to share with an audience who won’t be all tuned in at a particular moment.

  31. To this unarmed Scotsman, Lopsided Cat looks like the type of cratur those freedom protecting 2nd amendment types might spend time pursuing through the woods with their “save us from socialism” guns.
    Tell me there’s no woods in Ohio.

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