Archive for the ‘This blogging life’ Category


February 23, 2014

Another item from Elizabeth Daingerfield Zwicky: the formatting on the English Language and Usage Stack Exchange:


Beige background on the title, conservative, somewhat old-fashioned typeface; English Language and Usage is dull stuff.


The comments spam report

February 2, 2014

A periodic report on comments spam on this blog, which has taken an uptick in recent days. In any case, the spam count (since the blog started late in 2008) passed 800,000 this morning and is already over 801,000. As against  8,210 approved comments. The avalanche continues.

2013 in review

December 31, 2013

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 350,000 times in 2013. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 15 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Blessed relief

October 21, 2013

(About life on the net.)

Back on September 19th, I wrote:

By the end of the day, I will have accumulated 400,000 spam comments on this blog since it started. Meanwhile, spam e-mail has been accelerating; I’m now getting hundreds of pieces a day: spam in Chinese, lots of spam from Dr. Oz, huge amounts of penis enlargement spam, and much more. Fortunately, almost all of this comes via a Stanford server that will shut down at the end of the month. Meanwhile, it takes a lot of time just to find legitimate mail in this heap.

Then things got worse. The amount of spam e-mail — almost all of it for penis enlargement — increased by the day, until I was getting 300+ such messages a day. Appalling, since this junk was mixed in with mundane e-mail and things I really wanted to see.

This morning, I found 17 messages in the queue, instead of roughly 200. No penis enlargement ads at all. Oh blessed relief! (On the excellent hymn Blessed Assurance, see here.)

Miscellany for 9/19/13

September 19, 2013

Twelve items that have come by me recently.


Back from the dead

September 11, 2013

A truly dreadful day. To start with, it’s 9/11. Then came the news that my friend and colleague Ivan Sag had died (at 63) yesterday afternoon. (I will post on Language Log on his death.)

And then WordPress told me that this blog had been suspended because it violated their terms of service (without further explanation). I filed a complaint. And now:

Thank you for getting in touch. Your site was flagged by our automated anti-spam controls. We have reviewed your site and have removed the suspension notice.

… We greatly apologize for this error and any inconvenience it may have caused.

Not a good day, though some of it came out ok.

E-mail addresses

August 30, 2013

Over the years, I’ve had a number of Stanford e-mail addresses. For the one I’m now using (the simplest possible), see here. This address replaced a longer one, which I used for some years. The older address went through a server that closed down some time ago, but continued as a forwarding service. On September 1st it’s scheduled to be shut down entirely, and forwarding will stop.

So make sure your address book has my current Stanford address.

I’ve been getting an astonishing amount of spam mail recently, most of it through the address that’s about to be discontinued. I’m hoping that that will eliminate much of this spam.

[Update: users of the old address have now appealed to the staff, saying that the end of August is too soon, and the shift has been postponed for a month. I was hoping for some relief from tlhe spam -- now 50-70 messages a day -- but I'll have to wait a month.]

News flash: sex continues to sell

August 9, 2013

… and the sun continues to rise in the east.

Another report on views of this WordPress blog. Last time I checked in, the most-viewed postings were heavily about sex and sexuality, though my “agapanthus” posting (on the plant) had been leading the charts by a considerable margin for months. Then “agapanthus” dropped like a stone off the list, and “Five-Ku on Channing Tatum” (with hot photos as well as haikus) zoomed to the top and has held the lead for at least a week.

Top posts for the past week, as of today:

Five-Ku on Channing Tatum, 172 views; Gang showers, 124 views; The Weinerfest rolls on, 64 views; Olympic exposure, 64 views; Men kissing, 61 views; Seven Supermen and Brad Pitt [with homoerotic shirtlessness], 60 views; Three more cartoons for Sunday [Bizarro, Pearls Before Swine, Dilbert], 48 views; soft/hard, 48 views

Only the cartoons for Sunday have (as far as I can discern) no sexual content.

I note that I post a great many pieces with no sexual content, or only the most glancing reference to sex or sexuality: technical stuff on morphology and syntax, lots of postings on language play, things on music, art, food, and plants, and so on. But the sexy stuff sells.

On the unicorn watch

July 4, 2013

The story starts with this cartoon, sent to me by Don Steiny for pretty obvious reasons:


The cartoon is one of several offering, as an explanation for why unicorns went extinct, that Noah took two male unicorns onto the ark, so of course they couldn’t re-populate the species after the Flood. (In another version, the unicorns are explaining Noah’s mistake to him.) In another vein of cartoons, the extinction of unicorns is explained by their having missed the sailing of the ark, through a misunderstanding about the day or the time of day of the ark’s departure.

Side matters: one, the source of #1, which is obviously a professionally drawn cartoon; and two, the rise of a rainbow – butterfly – unicorn association in popular culture (a modern wrinkle in unicornology).


Website and blog changes

June 28, 2013

The world of AZ websites and blogs has altered, and will change further in coming days. Most of these changes are behind the scenes — access to all this material will continue to be possible by familiar means — but here’s what’s happened:

First, AZBlog is now


will work; it simply links to my new site. (Along the way, I have arranged to have ads removed from the site.)

My Stanford website — — remains, but in severely reduced form; all of its substantive content is now on the AZBlog About page — — and my Stanford site merely links to that About page. All of my .pdf files continue to be housed at Stanford, so a URL you currently have for one of these .pdf files will work exactly as before.



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 242 other followers