Don’t visit St. Louis

Normally I encourage people to visit St. Louis and Missouri, but I wouldn’t recommend this area to anyone for any reason for the next two months. The heat index hit over 100 today and should hit 105 tomorrow, and it’s still only June. Add this to a growing and worrisome drought and extremely poor air quality, and you have the fixings for an unpleasant time.

We’ve been turning up the temperature on our air conditioner to equalize between the inside and outside a little better. Now when you go outside, you stagger from the heat. Well, I stagger from the heat.

I need to put some shallow pans of water out for our growing group of squirrels, rabbits, and birds. Even the cockroaches, which I discovered when I was out taking moon shots. There were these largish long dark spots moving around on the sidewalk in front of the house, and when I got close, they scattered madly, most going into the cracks in the sidewalks. When they’re not in the house, they’re kind of cute.

I’ve been down and out the last few days with severe headaches and feeling a bit peaky, but plan on getting out tomorrow and Sunday. The St. Louis gay pride event, Pridefest, is this weekend and I’d like to attend to provide support, as well as get some photos.

Ah well, into each life a little ozone devouring polluted heat filled sunshine must fall.


As Charles noted, a major explosion and fire downtown hasn’t helped. Those poor firefighters.


Killer Bambis and other tales of the wild

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

The bites on my legs have improved and worsened, depending on which ones you look at. The one on my left inside ankle and right knee are just small purple dots. The one on my inside calf area of the left leg is developing what looks like a blister, but is pretty small; while the one on my right ankle has no blister, but it is about a quarter sized irregular shaped purple splotch. It is the two behind my left knee that worry me a bit. They’re inflamed and blistered, and don’t seem to be improving.

The bites aren’t ticks. I know this from experience. They also aren’t chigger. Ditto on the experience. Not bees, not wasps, not mutant mosquitoes, poison ivy, or about a half a dozen other things that can and do bite, sting, or rub off on you if you’re stupid enough to leave the trail when hiking in Missouri’s summer.

I’m beginning to suspect that the bites are from brown recluse spiders, particularly since I did go through an ill-formed, irregular web at one point when I was walking along the rocks overlooking the shut-ins and had a hard time finding a safe path back to the trail. I don’t remember getting bit, but I was feeling the effects of the heat and distracted by the bear, so I may not have noticed it. If it is brown recluse, it’s not that big a deal–most recluse spider bites heal fine on their own without any medical treatment. I do find it humorous, though, to have been worried about a bear all the while I’m being bit by a tiny creature the size of my fingertip.

At least I wasn’t pounded by Bambi’s Mom.

Weblogging Writing

Wincing words

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

There are certain words and phrases popular among webloggers that I’ve grown to dislike over time. Well some I disliked from the start; others I’ve come to dislike only after many repetitions. Whether people continue to use these phrases or not, I don’t care–to each their own. But if we are ever to meet someday and you use one of these words and I wince, you’ll at least know it’s because of the word, not your bad breath or the spinach stuck in your teeth.

The first is blogosphere. What kind of word is blogosphere? Haven’t we done enough damage with ‘blog’ that we have to tag on ‘osphere’?

To me, blogosphere implies that those who weblog live within a bubble isolated from the rest of the known universe. Every time I hear the term, I get a mental image of a huge beach ball floating on the water at the beach: drifting without purpose and soon to be lost. Except that in my visualization, there are millions of tiny little faces looking out at me from within the ball.

Brrrr! Gives me the cauld grue.

If we sail, do we use sailosphere? If we volunteer to help at the library, do we use the term bookosphere in reference to our activities in this environment? Why, then, blogosphere?

The second word isn’t a word, it’s an acronym: MSM. In case you don’t know the term–and goodness sake, how can you not know this term, it litters our pages like candy-shelled chocolate spilled from a bag–it means mainstream media.

First, what is MSM? Seemingly it has to do with professional journalism, but I look around at the people who use it, disparagingly, and notice that many of them are professional journalists–a contradiction leaving me going, “Well, huh.” Do we differentiate between us and this MSM by whether we get paid or not for our efforts? If I remember correctly, some of the more popular webloggers make a great deal of money from their weblogs.

If MSM is specifically professional journalism done by people who don’t blog, do we include all forms of journalism in this classification? If so, then if a newspaper gets a blog, does it stop being MSM? Or is it now, MSM…but with a blog?

How about movies? Are these MSM? They are media. They are main stream. Since most people who use the term MSM do so with a sneer, we have to assume that the ultimate hope is to replace this MSM. Are we saying that today there are podcasts to replace radio; tomorrow there will be vidcasts to replace movies? Look out Tom Cruise, move aside Cameron Diaz: here comes Adam Curry and Dave Winer starring in that blogosphere favorite, “The Odd Couple”?

It’s an Us and Them word, and Us and Them words never lead to anything useful. Besides, every time I hear MSM, I get hungry for Chinese food.

Blogosphere makes me wince, MSM gives me gas, but the phrase I dislike most of all is citizen journalist. I’ll apologize upfront to all of you who love this phrase, but I think it’s the most pretentious piece of twaddle to ever spill out of our brains.

If we’re citizen journalists, does this mean that the reporters down at my local paper aren’t citizens? Do I need to call the Department of Homeland Security on them? Could be fun, true; but I think I’ll pass.

Additionally, how is having a weblog so different from a ‘journalistic’ perspective that we need to have such specialized terms? After all, in this country at least, there’s long been a tradition of personal publications: flyers, underground newspapers, letters exchanged between a network of writers, even Joe the Wacko giving out his mimeographed opinions, printed on bright pink paper. A weblog is just medium, really. Less finger cramping than writing; not as pretty, though, as the bright pink mimeographed sheets.

Some would say that this form of journalism is different, because weblogging gives us a much broader audience. As to this, anyone with a box and a street corner can broadcast. Writing a letter to an editor is broadcasting. Joe the Wacko standing out in front of City Hall is broadcasting. It’s the will to have an opinion and make it heard that’s essential to broadcasting. And who is to say which broadcasting approach has more and lasting influence?

Listen to the phrase, too: citizen journalist. It’s a spooky phrase, and should make your spine tingle in warning. Replace ‘journalist’ with ‘copjustice’ and you have vigilantes; replace ‘citizen’ with ‘patriot’ and you have fascism. Replace both with ‘weblogger’, and you have me.


Real world

I received an email yesterday telling me I was one of the 50 ‘honorable mentions’ in the AlwaysOn/Technorati Open Media 100. “Dear Open Media 100 Contender”, the email began. Open Media 100 Contender? I had no idea I was an Open Media 100 Contender. If I was nominated, it was probably as a joke.

Anyway, I didn’t get listed in Open Media 100 and now my life is ashes, and my hopes are dirt. Well, not really — but it sounds good.

There are folk I respect in the list, and I don’t want to rain on their parade. So for them, I send congratulations, with an added note that they deserve the recognition. But you know without looking who most of the people are in the list — categories carefully designed to ensure the proper (read that link popular) people are listed. My name being among the honorables is one of the few surprises in the list, if that isn’t pretentious of me for saying.

Dave Rogers, Mr. Cranky Pants (he is so going to get tired of this quip) had something to say about the list, and he isn’t even an honorable (neener neener, Dave, neener neener). He writes:

You know what I think? Well, you probably know what I think, but I’m going to tell you anyway. I think it’s all bullshit. I think the world needs this “framework” like a rooster needs socks. I think it’s all just a scam to get some high attention-earners to vector a little attention toward these attention-seeking entities. A little fancy, high-tech, brown-nosing. Invoke that whole reciprocity thing. I link you, you link me, we’re a happy family… Oh, sorry, just had a hideous flashback to a purple dinosaur that traumatized me as a parent.

If Dave is a cranky writer, at least he’s a cranky, good writer. But he’s not an honorable. Neener.

Mitchelaneous writesYou can only milk that cow so long before it runs dry. Lots of farm metaphors in relation to this list. Rooster with socks, milking cows and all.

John Wagner writesThe AO/Technorati list seems a step in the wrong direction. You step in the wrong direction at a farm, you’ll know it.

Anyway, I want to know if this “honorable mention” I got is worth something. Both the Yahoo and Microsoft jobs I had interviewed for didn’t come through (which didn’t necessarily surprise me, but did disappoint me) and I just applied for a job as a check out clerk at Dierberg’s, a local grocery store. If this honorable mention can’t help me get a job at Yahoo or Microsoft, or a new book at O’Reilly or some other publisher, will it at least help me get that cashier job at Dierberg’s?

Critters Environment

Japanese whaling duplicity

The Japanese have decided to double the country’s kill of whales for scientific research. In addition to hunting minke whales, the country is also going to be collecting specimens of other, endangered whales for its researches.

In response to Japan’s extensive ‘research’, New Zealand’s Conservation Manager, Chris Carter, said:

Where is the science from 18 years of scientific whaling? It doesn’t exist. What right has Japan got to go into the Southern Ocean and slaughter these rare animals? We say shame on Japan.

The Japanese condemn these angry words — saying they’re ‘divisive’.

The Japanese have used a loophole in the moratorium against commercial whaling to continue its whaling practices under the auspices of ‘research’. The country has also tried to claim that whaling is part of it’s traditional culture. At one point, whaling in its local waters might have been–but not the local waters of Australia and other points south and west.

In addition to its ‘researches’, Japan has also given ‘aid’ to countries who have suddenly joined the International Whaling Commission; unfortunately for Japan, they haven’t shown up to give the Japanese the ’support’ they want on the commission. So far.

(Sorry for all the quotes — if I were using my fingers, they’d be badly cramped now.)

There is no country is the world dependent on whaling, either for food or by-products. There is no culture existing on the earth today, dependent on whaling; not unless the participants are willing to row out in small books in their own coastal waters and use manual harpoons to do the kill.

Though the numbers of some whale species have increased, this could change quickly and drastically, as whales, like all large complex creatures, are fragile to changes in their environment. Whales are impacted by the engine noise and vibrations of large oil tankers and other big ships; vulnerable to the increasing pollution in our waters, as well as the ongoing climate changes; susceptible to the loss of food due to overfishing of many species they’re dependent on.

A whale species could go from a comfortable number to an endangered species within a few years, all based on many factors other than whale hunting. To add whale hunting in as yet another factor makes these large creatures of the sea that much more vulnerable.

If the whale meat was an essential item in the diet of the Japanese, the issue might be looked at differently. Except for a few communities, though, most of Japan had never even had whale meat until the middle of the last century. It was at that time that the United States, during this country’s occupation of Japan after World War II, encouraged the hunt of whales to prevent famine in Japan.

In case you’re curious, Japan is no longer starving. Whale meat is nothing more, now, than a delicacy in a land that prides itself on the esoteric. It isn’t even a popular protein source: the younger generation doesn’t care for it and has to be encouraged to like it — all in the name of ‘tradition’, you understand.

So why is Japan still pushing for commercial whaling? The BBC’s article referenced earlier has some of the reasoning behind Japan’s insistence on a continued whale hunt. It is seen, in part, as Japan standing up to the pressure from other countries. I’m all for staying by your principles when other bigger parties are putting pressure on you to change. But if you’re going to be proud enough to stick by your principles, then do so openly, honestly, with integrity and without duplicity.


When it comes to protein, Japan is more dependent on various fish; when it comes to delicacies, Japan should stick with Kobe beef and Fogu.