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March 21, 2006

The "March Madness" of Modern Literature

Generally speaking, I don't pay much attention to the major book awards. The Pulitzers and its brethren (with the possible exception of the Newbury medal) just don't seem any more relevant to me than who Oprah's picked for this month's club.

All that changed this afternoon when I came across a new exception to this rule and realized that part of what made those awards boring was that we only get to see the results, not the process that led to those decisions. The process is the fun part, of course, and the online magazine The Morning News understands that. For their Tournament of Books, just beginning its second incarnation, the process is entirely transparent, completely out in the open, and promising to be a lot of fun.

They, with some help from their readers, have chosen 16 widely hyped books from 2005 and laid them out in classic atheltic tournament brackets for a cascading set of one-on-one, mano a mano, no-holds-barred faceoffs with each contest's winner advancing into the next round. Each weekday, starting today, the results of one pairing are announced via a short essay by that competition's pre-chosen judge. There's even a kind of play-by-play commentary by the Tournament's chairman, author and TMN contributing writer Kevin Guilfoile.

Pavel sez, "Check it out!" As the website proudly proclaims, "the Tournament of Books brings the bloodlust so lacking in the publishing world's awards." Who among us couldn't get into a little literary bloodshed?

March 17, 2006

How low can you go?

I would never have guessed that a web site could be as truly, deeply, unintentionally-but-awesomely bad as http://www.globalaigs.org.

No, really. Trust me on this one. You have to experience it to believe it, that's how incredible it is.

(You'll need both Flash and a sound card to ... appreciate ... the site. Thanks to David Nichols for the pointer to this compendium of bad sites, which naturally had to include that one.)

You were warned.

March 14, 2006

Finally, the recognition I deserve...

Back in September, when I upgraded the blog to the new version of Movable Type, I noticed that they'd added support for moderating TrackBacks, so I decided to try enabling them. It would be fun, I thought, to see all the interesting sites where other people were linking back to my blog.


And thus was I introduced to the concept of TrackBack spam. I was, by then, already pretty familiar with comment spam; indeed, the support in the new version of Movable Type for semi-automatically dealing with junk comments was a major reason why I made the upgrade. That's worked out reasonably well, actually, and the same machinery also manages junk TrackBacks, so it's really just a question of going into the admin interface every once in a while to clear out all of the junk it's automatically quarantined for me.

Last night, after posting about the funny cats video, I decided to do some junk cleanup. It had been a little while since the previous scrub, so there were about 150 junk comments stacked up and about 250 junk TrackBacks. As usual, I skimmed through the two lists fairly carefully, making sure that everything there was really junk. But last night, for the very first time since I enabled TrackBacks, there was actually a real one buried in the middle of the junk! Somebody somewhere had actually both linked to an entry on my blog and used blogging software that bothered to tell me about it via the TrackBack mechanism.

Lia, from cheesedip.com, had somehow come across my Mount Tee posting, been ... impressed? ..., and linked to me. Here's the best part, though: she didn't just say, "Wow, that dude has one heck of a lot of T-shirts!" No, indeed! Lia, obviously being a person of penetrating discernment, recognized my true nature. She has named me, truly, "the Imelda of T-shirts"!

What a great title! Now I just need to get that printed on a shirt...

March 13, 2006

Cats do the darnedest ...

This video arrived as an email attachment today and I thought it amusing enough to be worth passing along in a less server-resource-intensive manner. Judging from the laugh track, this is captured from some "funniest home videos" kind of television show.

The first segment will be familiar to anyone who's been visiting long enough to remember the "why sumo is better than karate" posting, but the rest of it was new to me. I think my favorite is the second-to-last segment; I can so imagine our own cats doing that.

If you've got some cute, or funny, or otherwise good video of cats, feel free to send it along. Obviously, I'm a glutton for this kind of thing, so I might as well admit it and get on with just enjoying it.