Coffee heat rising

w00t! Rain! And a moment to reflect

Another best-laid plan gone awry: I had determined not to post today, but instead to spend Sunday doing other things, most of which entailed getting some exercise and schmoozing with actual humans instead of hanging out with a small dog.

BUT… It’s almost 9:00 a.m., and it’s just 80 degrees here on the back porch! A light breeze is pushing fresh air through the house, and the hummingbirds are jousting over the sugar water ten feet from my table. The houseplants, sated with rainwater, are glorying in the morning sunlight filtered through a layer of pearlescent clouds.

Weather like this is too miraculous to waste sitting inside a church. God, I’m sure, meant us to appreciate Her creation in the experiencing of it.

Sometime around 5:30, Cassie and I awoke to a lovely steady rain. Last night 80 degrees was so damp and sticky as to be gummy; this morning, with the moisture finally dropping out of the sky, the air is fresh and delicious.

After stuffing the dog with leftover chicken, veggies, and quinoa, I realized the indoor plants needed to be watered today and so hauled them out into the rain, and also put the big old five-liter vinegar jugs now used for fertilizing plants under the eaves to collect runoff. (Did you realize it’s against the law to collect rainwater runoff in many Western states? Yesh. Usurps the water rights of downstream and water table users!) So now we have two and a half big jugs of illicit water, capped and stored for the next round of houseplant watering activities. Another jug and a half are empty, but the skies promise still more rain; no doubt those will soon fill, too.

So, it was breakfast on the back porch, for the first time in many a week. How can I express my joy? LOL…maybe this guy can:

You realize, this meant I managed to actually read part of today’s Times! Speaking of the which, did you read Virginia Heffernan’s “The Medium” this morning? She holds forth on the sad devolution of the ScienceBlogs network from its former Elysian eminence to what she describes as a culture of one-liners, and its break-up over a tacky blog, a creature of PepsiCo, that the administrators, for reasons comprehensible only to those who have worked for commercial print periodicals, decided to put on the site. Heffernan notes a break-down in civility that echoes, sadly given the expensive education and supposed sophistication of the scientists and science writers involved, the tone of far too many much lower-brow sites. She even grouses at GrrlScientist, one of my favorite science blogs, for a crack about the “hugely protruding bellies and jiggling posteriors” of the megafauna visible in any of America’s public places.

Alas, if you track down the quote and visit the post to check out what was really said, you get a blank page (or at least, you do at 9:30 Sunday, August 1, 2010); presumably, either the author has taken it down or traffic is maxing the page. However, it appears that Heffernan took GrrlScientist’s words out of context, or at least so says Kathy Gill at the Moderate Voice. She cites the protrusions and the jigglings along with the words around them. Said GrrlScientist:

It’s taken me a few hours to cool off enough to write coherently and without using (too much) profanity after I learned that ScienceBlogs added a corporate PR “blog” about nutrition written by PepsiCo. I think I’ve learned all I care to know about corporate “food” giants’ definition of what is “nutrition” by being confronted daily by a flock of hugely protruding bellies and jiggling posteriors everywhere I go (yes, even here in Germany).

LOL! B-a-a-a-d journalist, Ginnie. No treats for you today! Yea verily, we might even say “go to your crate and take your lawyer with you!”

Nevertheless, as GrrlScientist and many others report, the schism over Seed Media Group’s move to install a crassly commercial fake blog mounted by a crassly exploitive megamanufacturer of fake food is real, and the result is more than sad for the blogosphere. It may rise to the level of tragic: it represents the destruction of one of the most successful blog networks the Internet has seen, one that has worked to clear the cobwebs of error and fuzzy thinking out of the corners of our collective mind.

True: if many of us are to make a living as Internet writers, particularly on our own sites, some mechanism has must be invented to make blogging profitable. As I’ve observed before, AdSense, which runs a particularly annoying ad on this site displaying cartoon protruding bellies and jiggling posteriors, occasionally returns something in the six figures: if the figures represent fractional pennies. But it takes a month of the coldest days in Hell for FaM to reach that Olympian height. Most of the time it earns between two cents and three bucks a day.

But still. One wonders. To make a living, do we have to sell our souls?

Memo to self: figure out how to get rid of the animated fat lady diet ad.

Maybe we’re on the wrong track, most of us, when we think of blogging as a potentially profit-making enterprise. Maybe writing these things, which really are on the order of diaries or writer’s journals, should be regarded as a labor of love. Any money to be made off them should be generated from more highly developed spinoffs, in the form of print and electronic books. Or, if we’re Uncle Jay or Ramit, from mugs, T-shirts, and online courses.

Ahem. Would any of you like to buy a Funny about Money mug? How’s about a nice T-shirt?

FaM Logo Here! For just $2 extra, get your mug personalized with YOUR NAME in cheery acrylic craft paint!! (Not responsible for Pepsi Cola logos.)

3 thoughts on “w00t! Rain! And a moment to reflect”

  1. the page still exists. i have never removed content from my blogs yet, and probably never will. unlike heffernan, i don’t have anything to hide, nor excuses to make. unlike heffernan, i know how to do fact-checking, i have a good grasp of professional (and journalistic) ethics, i don’t quote-mine or misquote people and i actually know a few things about science AND scientists.

    heffernan’s professional ineptitude is a shining example of the low quality that the NYTimes/NYTMag has sunk to, and shows that i and many other science blog writers should probably be hired as science writers by the NYTimes within the next six months.

    anyway, all that said, there is some exciting news that you will learn about tomorrow morning regarding the future of science blog writing. then, a few days or so later, i have my own very special news that i will reveal, so be sure to stay tuned. exciting and interesting times lie ahead of me, blog writing and science journalism in general.

    (and you heard it here first!)


  2. @ GrrlScientist: Later this afternoon I did get into the page…possibly my system had a hiccup this morning, or the Times sent so much traffic your way that your server was running slowly. In that case…well, “just spell the name right!”

    Really, it is puzzling that Heffernan would take your words so glaringly out of context to make a point to which your statement doesn’t apply. She must not have been reading closely, or else someone forwarded her the remark and she didn’t bother to check it. And checking was extremely easy: just a matter of entering a word string in Google.

    Oh well. We all look forward to the developments of which you speak. Readers! Check out that site, and also keep an eye on, also by the same writer.

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