Livin’ in the 1980s

I got a new tape deck!

Now that newspapers have started reporting on how all the hipsters have moved from vinyl to tape (because vinyl got too popular), hipsters have probably stopped buying tape decks.  (Too mainstream now.) So I was finally able to pick up a good one today, after looking for a month.  (My previous one started making squeekey noises.)

And look at all those knobs and blinking lights!  Oh, my.


Ever since Google Adwords dumped Gmane for reasons, Gmane hasn’t had any income.  It doesn’t really matter that much, but I find it annoying.

The Gmane web site has some traffic.

About half a million page views per day.  Surely there’s $$$ in that.  Not that I like ads.  I think ads are yucky.

I signed up for Google Webmaster Tools to see if it had anything interesting to say.

I’m going to digress a bit.  Google sucks.  Has anybody noticed?  They make a bunch of things that are barely good enough, and then they don’t improve, in general.  Take the Webmaster Tools signup process.  Please.  Gmane has a bunch of different sub domains, and they all have to be signed up separately.  Geez.

So I signed up them all, which involves putting a special file in a special file on all the domains, which was kinda complicated, since none of the domains actually map unto actual files.

But I got it done, and then removed the hacks to make it work.

Uh-oh.  If the files aren’t there, then they’re “unverified” after a while, so I stop getting stats.


Anyway, I left the file in place for (by accident), so I’ve got some stats there:

So, er…  There are 15K queries.  Which are…  uhm…  distinct things that people have asked and which has led to Gmane?  Perhaps?  And there are 4M “impressions”.  “Displaying 60K”.  Which means…  Ok, I had no idea, so I binged.

After fifteen minutes, I’m still not sure, but some people seem to say that “impressions” means that Gmane was included in the search result on some page or other.  The page displayed, perhaps?  And “displaying 60K” is a mystery.  It might be the things included in the list below, but I don’t know why they’re only displaying 60K, or what the criteria is.

Then there’s “Clicks 200K”.  So 200K people clicked on a link to Gmane?  Again with the mysterious “Displaying”.

Classic Google information quality:

I love the Y axis here.  Choosing 70K as the scale here instead of the more traditional 50K is a daring, avant garde choice.  Or perhaps they just don’t care.

Anyway, interesting as all this may be, it doesn’t really give me any money.  So I signed up with the Amazon ad network. 

They have a wonderful product called “omakase”, where you just put the ad JS into your page, and then they spider your page and put relevant stuff on your page.

Money will soon ensue!

*a month passes*

So let’s look at the relevant ads on gmane.linux.kernel now:

Amazing.  I didn’t know that so many Linux kernel hackers were into Jimmy Buffet and Jay-Z!

But looking at the logs, I can’t really see any activity from the Amazon omakase spide, so perhaps it’s not so surprising after all.


Anyway, it’s not that this is that important, but it’s…  annoying.

1995: The Novellas of Martha Gellhorn

1995 is over, and this is perhaps the essence of books-that-I-didn’t-read:  It’s a short story collection; it’s an omnibus; it’s really long; I bought it on sale; it’s by an author I had grown disenchanted with.

I first read Martha Gellhorn’s The Face of War, and was completely blown away.  Then I bought The View from the Ground, and I … wasn’t.

So when I happened upon this book in 1995, I bought it, but probably didn’t intend to read it.

It’s an omnibus of four collections published between 1936 and 1978.  I hate omnibus collections.  Books are usually the length they are because that’s the right length.

You pick up a book, read it, and then choose a different book to read.  When you collect separate books into collections, it just feels wrong.  I go out of my way to avoid these, and buy the separate editions instead.


The first book collected here, The Trouble I’ve Seen, was published in 1936.  I think I remember (from her essay collections) that she was a reporter working somehow for the White House (or something) collecting reports on the poor.  This book has four stories about very poor people indeed, so I’d say it’s likely that there’s some sort of connection.  Based on true people?  I don’t know, but the stories are shattering.

Totally shattering.

Every one of these tales are bursting with emotion.  Reading these, I found myself thinking sometimes “Is she beeing too maudlin here?  Is this too gauce?”, but I don’t really care.  I love the insight into these people’s lives, and I love the passion Gellhorn writes about them with.

The second book, Two By Two (1958) is quite different.  Each story is about a couple in love, and most of them take place during or after WWII.  We have (Italian) princes and princesses, British gummint aspirants, and war correspondents.  While interesting and well written (perhaps “better written” than the first book), the passion seems to be gone.

I have no idea whether anything much in this book is based on real life, but the last story has a character who used to be passionate about reforming the world, but then she toured all the German concentration camps during the liberation, and lost faith in humanity.  It’s tempting to read something autobiographical into that (Gellhorn was a war correspondent and she did visit the concentration camps (I think)), but perhaps that’s a too trivial explanation.

By 1965 with Pretty Tales for Tired People, Gellhorn seems to have lost what remained of her enthusiasm.  The three stories brim with ennui.  I find myself wondering why she even bothered writing this book. 

The stories have the unfortunate whiff of gossip.  As if she had heard  some deliciously scandalous tales about aquaintances, and felt compelled to make gossip into short stories.  But hearing gossip about people you neither know nor care about is tedious.

The last book in this collection is from 1978: The Weather in Africa.  Here the gossip is explicit — all the stories feature several scenes with people gossiping about the protagonists.  But!  Gellhorn has gotten her enthusiasm back.  Perhaps it’s because these stories are set in Africa, but Gellhorn writes more intensively again.  Not as harrowing as the first book, but with real tension and interest.

The final novella is particularly good.

As long as a book starts and ends well, the middle parts are forgiven and forgotten.

Rating: Novelicious