June 29, 2007

Mixing it Up

Yes, my ThunderJournal name has changed a tad. I've had a ton of visitor traffic over the past couple of months, and I'm starting to feel a bit. . . overexposed? Plus, I've had a few people I don't know telling me they enjoy my ThunderJournals, which is nice, but a tad disconcerting. Gone are the days of 18 visitors a day. Now are the days of 10,000+ a day.

Seriously, people, I'm not that interesting.

Oh, and for those of you who e-mailed me, asking about the logo change over on the right? A.) The answer is in the video below, and B.) Get with it, Web-surfers, that was sooooo last week.

Oh, and C.) As far as I know, I'm about the only person on the InterWeb who recognized, almost instantly, that the dramatic music being played in the Dramatic Chipmunk video is from Ghostbusters, right when Sigourney Weaver and Rick Moranis are morphed into demon dogs. Yes, that's about an 11 on the Geek-O-Meter.

Posted by Ryan at 12:30 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 28, 2007

Obligatory Paris Post

Ryan says: From an MSNBC.com article: “I’ve been through a lot,” said Hilton, her blond hair cascading across her forehead. “And it was a pretty traumatic experience, something that I really have grown from.”

Caroline says: Uuuuuuugh

Ryan says: Don't you just want to hurl?

Caroline says: She sucks so much.

Ryan says: I would have written it differently.

Ryan says: “I’ve been through a lot,” said Hilton, who paused briefly to itch her noticably inflamed crotch. “And it was a pretty traumatic experience, something that I really have grown from.”

Posted by Ryan at 01:45 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack


During my first two newspaper jobs, I was a die-hard believer in written notes, meaning I'd conduct interviews and write down salient quotes for eventual inclusion in a story. This worked fine for newspaper work, which didn't usually get very technical or particularly in-depth.

I tried to carry over my belief in written notes into my current capacity as an information technology (IT) writer, but I realized quite quickly that was an impossibility. I absolutely required a tape recorder, in addition to written notes, if I wished to last in this niche writing field, which I have, going on six years now.

But, man, I hate transcribing taped interviews. I mean, I HATE it. I can think of so many other things I'd rather be doing than transcribing tape, including rubbing 60 grit sandpaper on my scrotum. And, yes, I realize there are software programs in existence that can somewhat, sort of, do the job, but they cost more than a head transplant, so I won't be procurring said software any time soon.

The worst is when you have to transcribe an interview you conducted with someone who has a thick accent. And it doesn't matter what kind of accent, either. They all suck.

Anyway. . . so yeah, I've been transcribing tape all week. It's a hoot.

Posted by Ryan at 09:08 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 27, 2007

When I Die, I Want To Die As Hard As I Can

And, yes, this song will bore its way into your brain for at least a week.

Posted by Ryan at 09:01 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 26, 2007

The Biggest Bottle Rocket Ever Made

Growing up in Minnesota, where fireworks were—quite unfairly, in this columnist’s opinion—deemed illegal for the better part of my existence, the July 4th holiday was an annual impetus for pretty much every male kid in my town to settle in for, at least, a month of crime.

You see, for kids, a ban on fireworks is the equivalent of Prohibition for adults, and we all know how that turned out, don’t we? So long as Minnesota was flanked by South Dakota to the West, Wisconsin to the East and Canada to the North, stopping the flow of illegal fireworks into Minnesota was like trying to stop water from seeping through a pillow case.

All the kids in town had their own preferred firework suppliers, and in my neighborhood the Al Capone of choice was a young man named LuVerne. I’ve written about LuVerne before, a reliable dealer who always had a stash of fireworks and was always willing to sell his fireworks, at a substantially marked up rate.

For several years, LuVerne was my go-to guy when it came to firework procurement, but it was almost inevitable that at some point I would tire of the relatively tame pops and bangs of firecrackers and bottle rockets, and yearn for something more substantial.

The problem was that more substantial fireworks just weren’t available at the time, so I and a couple of my friends decided one year that we’d try to make our own fireworks. Now, it should be underscored we had only a very rudimentary understanding of how fireworks actually worked, but through trial and error—mostly error—we figured out how to loosely pack darker gunpowder if we wanted to make a bottle rocket that could actually lift off, and how to tightly pack gunpowder if we wanted a large explosion.

You may be wondering: how did we procure gunpowder? Simple! We carefully cut open roughly 10,000 firecrackers and bottle rockets in order to retrieve less than a gram of boom-boom dust each. Once you’ve dissected enough firecrackers and bottle rockets, you can build up a substantial amount of gunpowder.

Equipped with enough gunpowder to obliterate a large garden shed, my friends and I decided to construct the largest bottle rocket we could imagine, and we could imagine a fairly big one. For the rocket stick, we used a half-inch thick wooden dowel we found in the garage, which was about three feet long.

As for the business end of the rocket, we used vast quantities of cardboard, masking tape, duct tape and, most important of all, gunpowder. Once we had completed the mother of all bottle rockets, the thing looked like a torch specially made to be wielded by the Jolly Green Giant. Perched atop the wooden dowel was an explosive head as thick as a pop can and twice as long. We estimated the rocket would enter near-earth orbit before the tightly packed explosive tip—consisting of about 200 firecrackers worth of gunpowder—would ever detonate.

We marveled at our bottle rocket creation for about two days, decorating it with colored markers, with terms like “Moon Slayer,” scrawled along the side. After two days of talking about how awesome our bottle rocket was and regaling each other with bets about how high it would travel and how loud it would be—high as the clouds and loud as a nuclear explosion, by some estimates—the temptation had become too much. It was time to launch the “Moon Slayer.”

Now, because fireworks were illegal, we had cleared a section of a nearby wooded area where we could light fireworks largely hidden from view. It was in this secluded area where we set up our Cape Canaveral. Standing in the direct center of our makeshift clearing, the bottle rocket was an imposing sight. No sane adult would have looked at that monstrosity and thought “I should light that!” But, that’s exactly what we did.

As I said, our understanding of the physics behind fireworks was spotty at best, and one thing we didn’t take into account was how much that wooden dowel weighed, in addition to all that cardboard, tape and gunpowder fuel.

To our credit, the bottle rocket did actually lift off; to our detriment, it didn’t quite reach near-earth orbit. It did, however, make quite a noisy show for about four seconds as it ascended to the lofty height of about six feet, at which point the explosive tip detonated. . . which. . .

In tales told afterwards—once our ears stopped ringing and the shock of seeing a wooden dowel impaled a foot deep into the ground finally wore off—we generally agreed, even though we had never actually heard a nuclear explosion, our bottle rocket must have been pretty close to that loud.

And we pretty much stuck to regular firecrackers and bottle rockets after that, until I was 21 and blew up a grenade in my parents’ backyard, which I don’t feel like writing about again just now, thank you very much.

Posted by Ryan at 01:53 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

The Most Important Video You'll Ever See

Posted by Ryan at 11:51 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 25, 2007

So far, so accurate

I'm no meteorologist, but so far, this has been pretty spot on when it comes to regional weather.

Posted by Ryan at 10:25 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 22, 2007

Brian Lambert Is A Dumbass

No, really, he is.

It means accepting what the best available science has now concluded is fact about global warming -- that it's happening and human activity is an aggravating if not principal cause -- and pulling the plug on spurious "debate" engendered by conservative ideologues, much like what credible news organizations have done with Holocaust-deniers and creationists.

Oh, all that "spurious debate." Damn, how Brian Lambert hates hearing debate that runs counter to his own preconceptions. Drown 'em out! Drown 'em out! Let us not hear one more word from those with whom I disagree! I don't care that the earth has been warming for over 20,000 years! We're the principal cause, dammit! Us, us, us! I'm Brian Lambert, and my preconceptions and opinions are THE ONE TRUE WORD!

And, yeah, Holocaust-deniers have been soooooo marginalized by news organizations, except for that one denier over in Iran with the impossible-to-pronounce last name who has been given so much ink lately.

UPDATE: Doug from Bogus Gold tore Lambert limb from limb far lengthier and better than I did here.

Posted by Ryan at 08:23 AM | Comments (11) | TrackBack

June 21, 2007

Blowing The Dust Off This Thing

Last night, I finally got around to updating my blogroll. I've known for awhile some of my old regular reads are no more, so it was time for me to cut them loose. Likewise, if your blog still exists, but there have been no new posts in close to a year or more, I also just assumed that blog was done. Nothing personal. If you'd like to be re-rolled let me know.

It was kind of sad, really. A lot of those blogs I came to know in the days of the Plain Layne craze, where we all chewed mental bubblegum and gave relationship advice to a gapped-toothed tech geek. Those were simpler days. *sigh*

Anyway, it seems a lot of those Plain Layne bloggers just kind of fizzled out sometime in 2005, but their blogs still sit out there like faint dwarf stars or pulsars.

However, I feel I should note that "Planet Allie" didn't just fizzle out, it went a whole new direction! And, quite frankly, I'm surprised I didn't notice the "new look" a long time ago. Obviously, it's not the same "Planet Allie" I originally blogrolled. If you're curious, the new "Planet Allie" can probably easily be Googled.

It was with a heavy heart that I finally put "Strip Mining for Whimsy" out to pasture. Joshua and I had some good heart-to-hearts, he and I.

Oh, and I left Piano Forte up there, even though it was a borderline call. You better get back to blogging again, Joseph, or the hammer shall fall on your blog as well. You've been warned. Dum, dum, DUMMMMM!

Posted by Ryan at 03:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

My Bald Eagle

Ryan says: http://www.postbulletin.com/entertainment/photo_gallery/image.asp?id=48&imageid=21035

Ryan says: It's a good thing they explain which one is Stephen Colbert, eh?

Caroline says: If I had a bald eagle, I'd probably name it Stephen Colbert.

Ryan says: If I had a bald eagle, I'd name it "My Bald Eagle."

Caroline says: MBE

Ryan says: "Hey, have you seen My Bald Eagle?"

Posted by Ryan at 10:34 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Fred Thompson = My Vote

If the 2008 election were to be held today, I'd vote for Fred Thompson based on one thing and one thing only:

Russians don't take a dump, son, without a plan.

I must have watched that movie nearly 50 times my last year in college (we didn't have cable).

Posted by Ryan at 08:34 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 18, 2007

That's Some Big Cocaine You Have There

Posted by Ryan at 01:48 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Let Slip The Geeks of War!

I'm not a tech gadget guy, by most estimates. Regardless, the Apple iPhone gets my Homer drool dribbling to Pavlovian proportions. Damn that thing looks frick'n cool!

Posted by Ryan at 12:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

It's right twice a day

Sunday morning, I awoke at 7:45 a.m., which astounded me, because I'm notorious when it comes to sleeping in until noon on most weekends. I actually look forward to weekends SPECIFICALLY because I'll be able to sleep in until noon for two consecutive days.

So, I was a bit surprised to awaken that early in the morning, and I was also a bit elated, because it meant I could. . . GO BACK TO SLEEP! Which I did, and I slept luxuriously until waking up and checking my watch again, only to see it was. . . 7:45 a.m.

Obviously, time had stopped! I fully expected to fling open the drapes and see a world frozen in time: birds, captured in mid-wing flappage, a dog in mid-air, about to catch a frisbee, the neighbor across the street, two knuckles deep into her nose. . . all magically suspended by the mysterious powers of my wrist-bound chronograph.

Actually, no. My watch had stopped, and the world continued twirling unabated: birds continued flying, dogs caught frisbees unimpeded, and nose nuggets aplenty were dislodged by a determined neighbor. A dead watch battery does not, alas, cause time to stop.

Little known fact about me: I become slightly unhinged when I don't have the correct time readily available to me. I'm a clock watcher. I like to know what time it is. . . TO THE MINUTE. I'm not one of those free spirits who views time as a human construct meant to establish order and thinks you should just, you know, chill out man and enjoy the ride that is life. I like to hit those free spirits with my watch, which is probably why my watches tend to stop working all the time.

Anyway, there I was on Sunday, bereft of a working time piece, trying to golf and enjoy other weekend activities, all while hindered with the nagging thought: "What time is it?!"

SANE ME: Wow, that was a nice drive off the tee. That ball had to have gone 270 yards.

CLOCK WATCHER ME: Fine, fine. Yes, it was a nice drive, BUT HOW LONG DID IT TAKE?! What time is it?! At least check the sun's position in the sky. Throw me a bone here!

SANE ME: This is a relaxing dinner with my parents. I should really try to do this more often.

CLOCK WATCHER ME: Have dinner with them every day, for all I care, just so long as you KNOW WHAT TIME IT IS! It looks like it might be 6 p.m., but it COULD be 6:30 p.m. That difference is crucial!

Watch withdrawal is not a pretty process to watch, either. I'm constantly checking my wrist, as if I'm looking for newly-sprouted arm hair, roughly every ten minutes or so, which must look really weird to onlooking strangers.

Hopefully I'll have a new watch battery installed by the end of the day. If not, I could very well descend into further madness.

Posted by Ryan at 11:53 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

The List

Things that matter to me right now:

- Planning a Yellowstone vacation for September.

- Golf.

- Jiu-Jitsu.

- Getting the basement freakin' finished already, damnit!

Things I couldn't give a crap less about right now:

- Paris Hilton.

- Politics.

- Pretty much every blockbuster movie being hyped right now.

- The letter "P."

Posted by Ryan at 08:55 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 15, 2007

ThunderJournal Editorial Decree

The editorial board here at "Rambling Rhodes" has decided, in addition to spam and some nonsense comments, we are no longer going to tolerate completely off-topic trolling comments, either. Therefore, should the editorial board decide a comment is way the hell off topic in relation to a particular post, and is, by all rational standards, just a moronic attempt at trolling, said comment will either be:

A) Edited so as to make the comment unrecognizable from its original form, and will usually include words such as "poop," "butt," and "taint-lick."


B) Deleted outright.

Now, there will no doubt be those who will cry foul and say I'm squashing the right to free speech, to which I'll respond: "This is a Blog-Ocracy, which means you should go eat a cock."

Posted by Ryan at 09:20 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 14, 2007

An Interesting ThunderJournal Week

It's still only Thursday, but this has been quite a weird week for my ThunderJournal. First, I was pinged via SameTime by an IBMer who informed me I have quite a few "fans" in his department, which was nice to hear, but it's also a tad jolting to be reminded just how widespread your blog readership may be.

Then, I was linked to by Comedy Central, thanks to a screed about an unfunny bit "The Daily Show" did about mixed martial arts (MMA). My blog traffic after that was, shall we say, INSANE!

I find it ironic, during a time when my posting is light due to a lack of topics to write about, my blog gets the most traffic it's ever seen. Perhaps if I stop writing entirely, I'll get a million hits a day?

Silence is golden.

Posted by Ryan at 08:52 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 13, 2007

Continuing Taser Talk

I’d like to take this opportunity to write a little more about tasers. Awhile back, I wrote about a police officer “who demonstrated his Taser by zapping a willing subject in the genitals” and, as a result, drew down a warning from his bosses.

Following that ThunderJournal post, I thought a lot about tasers, and I spent quite a bit of time surfing the Internet, intent on finding video footage of someone getting tasered in the genitals. Just so you know, there are more YouTube videos of people getting tasered in the groin, willingly and unwillingly, than you would probably imagine. I highly recommend you do your own research in this area, because you’ll laugh yourself senseless.

Anyway, in addition to my own research into groin tasering, I also received ThunderJournal feedback thanks to my ongoing bout of writer's block, which is, mercifully, lifting.

A ThunderJournal reader, apparently aware of my fascination with groin tasering, and who also took pity on my writer’s block, sent along a link to www.inventorspot.com, and specifically called my attention to “The Pink Stinger,” a taser disguised as two pink tampons.

Now, you may be asking, “why would you disguise a taser as two tampons,” to which I would respond, “WHY NOT?!” In fact, I think we should be disguising tasers as all manner of everyday items. Just think how well behaved everyone would be if everyone else could be armed with a disguised taser. That man across the street, lighting a cigarette? You may consider walking up to him and telling him of the dangers of smoking, but then you notice the cigarette package looks suspiciously like a taser, so you think better of it. We’d have a far more docile society if everyone was packing 50,000 volts of hidden ferocity, I think.

But, this is about “The Pink Stinger,” which I can say 40 million times in a row and still giggle. According to inventorspot.com, which has some of the best marketing writing I’ve ever read:

“Ladies can replace that monthly period with an exclamation mark as feminine hygiene goes lethal with The Pink Stinger, a stun gun creatively disguised as a tampon...except for the buttons, prods and high voltage. This weapon of mass absorption aims to target a niche market consumer, that being the tampon wielding women who desire private and discreet security in a friendly familiar package.”

First off, I wish I could take credit for writing that most awesome paragraph. Second, I’m trying to imagine an assault involving “The Pink Stinger.”

MUGGER: Okay, lady, give me your purse and there won’t be any trouble!

LADY: Why, I’d be happy to give you my purse. But, you caught me at a really bad time. Do you mind if I reach for my tampons quick?

MUGGER: Uh, no, I guess that would be all right. Go ahead.

LADY: Oh, you really are a gentleman mugger. Thank you, kind sir.

MUGGER: No problem. Say, why are you aiming your tampons at me. . . ARGH!!

In other words: Polite Muggers. . . BEWARE of The Pink Stinger.

Now that I think about it, The Pink Stinger would also be a most excellent deterrent for guys to carry around as well. Seriously, just imagine what would go through a mugger’s mind when he assaults a male target, only to be confronted with two pink tampons jutting forth from his back pocket. The confusion alone would give the victim the time he needs to use the The Pink Stinger against his assailant, and the last thought to go through the mugger’s mind prior to the application of 50,000 volts would be something like “why is this guy carrying tampons; I did not expect to see tampons where his wallet should have been; this is a totally unexpected development and. . . ARGH!”

I also feel I should note that, on the inventorspot.com Web site, there are animated images of a victim of The Pink Stinger, dubbed the “Tampon Stun Gun Demo.” Oddly, the recipient of the 50,000 volt tampon is dressed as a burglar, and the taser nodes hit him in the neck, which strikes me as an uncommon area to be tasered. But, that’s just my opinion. You can decide for yourself at http://inventorspot.com/security_system.

And if you have any feedback, please share. Anything to lift a case of writer's block.

Posted by Ryan at 12:18 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


Just so you know, being linked to from a Comedy Central blog does crazy things to your blog traffic.

Posted by Ryan at 08:33 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 12, 2007

Woah. . . ha, ha.

Yeah, I GOT the joke. Just didn't think it was funny. Ya know?

Never mind. Next topic!

*love the Daily Show!*


Posted by Ryan at 10:52 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Just Stupid

Normally, I enjoy "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart," but last night they did a bit about mixed martial arts (MMA) that was just plain stupid. I mean, seriously, here you had Jon Stewart and John Hodgman, two pasty, doughy, gonads who wouldn't know the difference between an armbar and a left hook, and who have certainly never been in anything resembling a fight in their entire lives, commenting on the "homoeroticism" of MMA, complete with nonsense slow-motion video of ground-fighting grappling which, if you've ever grappled, you'd know it's about as "homoerotic" as getting hit in the face with a rake and is, in fact, exhausting, fierce and competitive combat.

Here you have a sport that's eclipsing the NBA play-offs in popularity, and all they can do is make giggly jokes about the "man-on-man" action? It's like I'm back in high school all over again.


Posted by Ryan at 08:23 AM | Comments (15) | TrackBack

June 11, 2007

Today's Mood


Posted by Ryan at 02:47 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

My blogging Has Been Crap Lately

But her's hasn't.

Michele Ehler, I should note, is the wife of a high school classmate/friend of mine. She's in India. Go read her. I'm busy fighting writer's block.

Posted by Ryan at 02:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Is there anything a wang can't do?

Apparently not.

Posted by Ryan at 10:20 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 08, 2007

Better Than I Could Have Hoped

Last month, I wrote:

Not content to go softly into that small jail cell, Paris then tried to rally her fans around her, preparing a petition signed by countless teenage boys and girls that was then sent on to California governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, in the hopes the good actor-turned-politician could find it within himself to issue a pardon to the partying Paris. According to one headline covering this development, "Paris' pardon plea was laughed out of the governor's office."

So, reading about all this unfolding drama is how I managed to get through my non-trust fund socialite existence last week, and I simply can't wait for June 5 to roll around.

Well, June 5 arrived, and so did June 6, and June 7, and now June 8, and I can't believe just how wonderfully fun this Paris-Hilton-in-jail story actually IS.

I mean, one day it's all like "she's in jail," and the next it's like "oh no she isn't," and the next day is like the judge saying, "oh, yes she is!" I can't keep enough popcorn on hand for all this hilarity. It's the funnest thing EVAR!

Posted by Ryan at 02:06 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

For the record

I would just like to mention, primarily so it's chronicled here on my ThunderJournal so I'll always remember it: I just let loose the largest poop I've ever deposited in a toilet that I can remember.

It was. . . magical.

Posted by Ryan at 09:15 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

June 07, 2007

The Worst Part About Writer's Block

Is the blocked ability to write.

Seriously, I look at the blank screen, and I'm left thinking "I got nothin'."

Posted by Ryan at 09:18 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 06, 2007


Well, this is definitely better than "At World's End."

Posted by Ryan at 08:37 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 05, 2007

An Oldie But A Goodie

Man, this thing makes me laugh every single time.

Posted by Ryan at 12:25 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Well, this is amusing

Initiated into the blogosphere.

I have recently cottoned on to the fact that some people have long been posting insults about me on their blogs

Well, I haven't, mainly because I've never heard of you, but I'll take a stab at it here.

I should point out here there really is no period after "blogs" in his opening sentence, showing once again why blogs are so inferior because they don't have editors like the mainstream media does.

Fate, my dictionary tells me, is “a power regarded as predetermining events inalterably”.

Ah, the time-honored method of using a dictionary definition to augment a column. I'm guilty of the same.

I dwell on fate because it seems to sum up what happened to me last week. As I walked into the office, a colleague gave me a knowing smile, and told me she knew my secret. She knew that I was the one writing a blog under the name of Silwane. “It’s got your touch,” she said. “It’s gotta be you ...” or words to that effect.

I told her I didn’t know who Silwane was. Worst of all, I didn’t really know what a blog was. I knew it had something to do with cyberspace.

Brilliant deduction, Holmes!

It was only after a few agonising minutes that I remembered that one of my friends had told me not so long ago that his cyberspace name was Silwane kaNjila.

Okay, he's taking a bit of time to zero in on a point here, but I'm patient.

Needless to say, I hadn’t visited his blog as I didn’t know how to find it.

*blink, blink* What?

And I’m afraid it never occurred to me to Google it! Duh! Apparently the word “duh” is an essential part of blogosphere lexicon. Sadly, my dictionary is silent on this matter.

My friend, you can hide behind "duh" all you want. If you're a journalist, and you didn't know about blogs, or how to find a particular blog by Googling "Silwane kaNjila," until May of 2007. . . well, let's just say you're so far behind the times, you'll need a Flux Capacitor to catch up. Seriously.

You see, I surf the Net for entertainment and research but I’ve never had to visit someone’s blog.

I'm sorry, but this simply stretches the imagination. Time Magazine named Powerline the "Blog of the Year" back in 2004! The same said magazine named ME, and you and everybody else, the Man of the Year for 2006, primarily because of the ubiquitous nature of blogs and MySpace and FaceBook and YouTube. newspapers around the nation and around the world have adopted their own in-house blogging arms.

Those who feel they have something to say to me have forwarded me stuff from their blogs. As a result, at the time my colleague accused me of being a blogger, I wouldn’t have recognised a blog even if it hit me in the face.

Okay, I'm trying to absorb this from far different perspective. I've been covering information technology stories since 2001, and blogging since 2002, so I'm obviously coming to this from a journalistic perspective that's arguably a bit more informed, technologically-speaking, than this guy. BUT STILL! To be in journalism and not have at least a passing knowledge of what blogs are, or about MySpace, frankly boggles an already boggled mind.

But I have since become enlightened and know exactly what a blog is, what with some bloggers dragging my name into cyberspace.

Okay, wait. Just. . . wait. You have a column that appears online. Therefore, BY DEFINITION, you're dragging your own name into cyberspace.

This is thanks to Business Times columnist David Bullard, who wrote a scathing piece advocating tough action against some bloggers.

Ohhhhhhhhh, THAT GUY!

I’ve since been receiving mail from obviously angry bloggers, who think I am part of the crusade against bloggers.

Let’s recap. In his inimitable style, Bullard wrote in his column last weekend: “Most blog sites are the air guitars of journalism. They’re cobbled together by people who wouldn’t stand a hope in hell of getting a job in journalism.”

And now, perhaps as proof this guy is actually being honest that he never heard about blogs until last month. . . HE CITES ME! ME! He cites a blogger (sorry, ThunderJournalist) who is most famous for posting a picture of his own butt! I mean, I'm flattered, really, but still!

To which one blogger called Ryan (http://ramblingrhodes.mu.nu) retorted: “I’m willing to bet a good chunk of those 70 million bloggers don’t even know what a columnist is, and some might even think columnists build Roman-style pillars for a living ... Many probably don’t even know what journalism is.”

And I stand by that. Oh, sure, there are obviously bloggers who know full well what columnists and journalists are, but I think there's a larger chunk of bloggers who are blogging more to expound about the wonders of dog ownership or what their favorite boy band is than they are interested in breaking into the mainstream media. For many bloggers, the concept of journalism is probably as alien as Spock.

This last bit came to me as a relief. I can assume that because they don’t know what journalism is, quid pro quo I am not expected to know what blogging entails.

Well then, not only are you woefully uninformed, you're also logically handicapped. An 11-year old girl blogging about her Barbie collection is not under any obligation to know what journalism is or what columnists are. Likewise, a 19-year-old frat boy who blogs about the partying bender he went on last weekend doesn't have to care one can of Budweiser about what Tom Friedman or Paul Krugman have to say.

But yes, you, as a journalist, had better damned full well know what blogs are, and about MySpace and FaceBook and every other venue for personal online publication that's redefining the rules when it comes to disseminating information. Here you have an explosion of online personal expression that has the mainstream media scrambling to keep pace, lest they fold due to obsolescence, AND YOU WEREN'T EVEN AWARE OF IT UNTIL LAST MONTH?!!! Hey, I have this cool thing called a microwave I'll sell you for $14,000. I assure you, it's state of the art.

I am “so like yesterday”, as my son always reminds me when we talk about anything cyber-related.

No, you're so like last Millennium, from the sounds of it.

Anyway, thanks to the Bullard- instigated fight about the blogosphere, I have realised that some people have long been posting insults about me on their blogs.

What does that tell you? Bloggers have been tearing you apart now for a long time, and you haven't been aware of it? I mean, I understand you're a South African news outlet, but I'm not sure that's an excuse. In fact, I'm SURE it's not an excuse. My mind continues to boggle.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a column in this newspaper about our vacuous celebrities. I happened to use the alleged dancer Somizi Mhlongo as an entry point into the story.

Well, it's better than a dictionary definition-based segue, I guess.

I have found out that a blogger, responding to my column, jumped to this sad conclusion: “The message of the [Fred Khumalo] column, for many Sunday Times readers, would have been: ‘If a man dresses up in panties, he is a self-satisfied, deluded and pretentious fool.” Duh!

Unfortunately, I couldn’t respond to this tawdry bit of drivel as I didn’t even know of its existence.

Believe me, you don't want to start mixing it up with bloggers. Just. . . don't. Let the insults slide off your back unparried. Otherwise, you'll end up with a Nick Coleman-esque meltdown that would be pathetic if it weren't so entertaining.

But a respondent on the same blog wrote: “Maybe you can enlighten me as to why so many gay men feel the need to not just wear a dress, but go to enormous lengths to resemble parodies of ageing hookers and then make spectacles of themselves in street parades.

“Ridiculous wigs, bucketfuls of ghastly make-up, falsies hanging out of tarty frocks and the highest possible heels. It appears to me that this is how they see women, and — as a woman myself — I’m offended.”

That’s the only concern of mine about the blogosphere.

Oh, Gawd, here we go. . .

Since it is entirely unregulated, people post willy-nilly almost anything that takes their fancy — insults, pornography and so on.

Again, this is a South African newspaper, so I make no claims to know anything about their rules regarding free speech and free press, but this guy seems to have a problem with those concepts, which is always disheartening to read coming from a "journalist."

Make no mistake, I love a good fight, but I have to know what my adversary is all about. For now, I cannot sustain a fight with the blog community because I still have to come to grips with the mechanics of this terrain.

Yeah, good luck with that. A couple years of 24/7 research should just about bring you up to the present day, which of course means you'll still be two years behind, but that's better than the six years you're behind right now.

Some of the entries (do you call them entries? This is virgin territory for me, remember?) are so badly written and convoluted you have to guess what the writer is trying to say.

I call 'em blog "posts," but you can call them entries, if you really want. And, yes, there are literally millions of badly written and convoluted blogs out there but, by and large, those are ignored and often short-lived. However, there are other blogs that write circles around even the best of the mainstream journalists, and there are A LOT of them.

We communicate in order to be understood immediately and clearly and our communication, most of the time, must elicit a response.

In cyberspace, people speak above each others’ heads.

And, such places in cyberspace are pretty much ignored.

However, there are some blogs which are exquisitely written and worth responding to.

LIKE RAMBLING RHODES! Okay, maybe not, but on this point we generally agree: there are excellent blogs out there, and they're usually rewarded with high visitor rates and longevity.

My parting shot brings to mind an anecdote about Winston Churchill getting sloshed at a society party. Embarrassed by his awkward behaviour, the lady of the house sidles up to him and whispers: “Sir Winston, why don’t you get yourself together before you ruin your reputation entirely?”

The witty Sir Winston, replied: “My dear lady, I’m so embarrassed that I’m making such a fool of myself, getting drunk and all that. But when I get up tomorrow, I’ll be sound and sober. But you will still be as ugly as you are now, I’m afraid.”

Which is to say: although I am an ignoramus now, by next week I will know more about blogging and bloggers. But many bloggers — if blogger Ryan is to be believed — still won’t know what columnists or journalists are. Duh!

But bloggers don't HAVE to know what columnists or journalists are. The opposite simply isn't true, so get busy researching this newfangled blog thing, Fred Khumalo, your job just may depend on it.

NOTE: Also, I should mention that, although I appreciate when my blog is mentioned. . . anywhere, I do also appreciate, at the very least, an e-mail heads up when a reporter working for a mainstream news outlet deigns to quote my blog/ThunderJournal. Bloggers quoting bloggers is more informal, so I don't worry about that, but in this case, an e-mail would have been nice. Nevertheless, getting mentioned in a newspaper--particularly a South African paper--is always a treat.

Posted by Ryan at 10:57 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 01, 2007

Alfred Hitchcock Would Be Proud

Nothing breaks up the monotony of office life quite like an errant barn swallow flying indoors and flitting around the hallways, freaking everyone out.

Posted by Ryan at 12:04 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Black Eyed Peas

Caroline says: http://www.nyjournalnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070601/NEWS02/706010464

Ryan says: That's nothing. Back when we were dissecting animals in class, the guys who were dissecting a cat threw the eyes in with the peas on their way through the line.

Ryan says: Those of us "in the know" avoided the peas that day I can tell you.

Posted by Ryan at 10:27 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack
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