Monday, May 19, 2008

Blog and Live Forever

I have survived the full-day meeting discussing the future of my academic department. Such events are the second-worst aspect of this job (the worst being grading). I have been around long enough to know that nothing will actually be decided in these meanings. On the contrary, all the important decisions have already been made before any of us set foot in that room. The meeting is just about giving the illusion of democratic process.

The low point of this meeting came when we had the opportunity to opt for a half-day gathering next year. “No, no,” my colleagues cried out, “We must have a full day wasted on things that we won’t remember discussing two months from now to critically discuss all the salient issues facing our program.” Why? Why are they so cruel?

To be honest, for most of the meeting, I zoned out into my own world. What do I think about when zoning out? This is a pretty accurate representation of what goes through my mind:

It really makes everything feel better.

Alas, though, my little bloggy hasn’t had much attention lately. Such is the way that it must be until I can finally put the Never Ending Research Project of Doom to rest. Only sporadic entries here at CoG for the next several months. I know, I know. I hear you crying out, "How can you be so inattentive, GayProf? We crave every moment of your attention. Our lives depend on your guiding gravitas!"

Okay, maybe you aren't saying that exactly. To paraphrase Charles DeGaulle: The nation’s graveyards are full of indispensable bloggers.

Given that this blog is currently on life-support, it made me consider what indicates the status of various blogs. Many bloggers become devoted to building a massive readership.

What changes a blogger from being ordinary to catapulting him/her/hir to internet celebrity (currently the lowest grade of celebrity possible)? Here are some signs to look out for in determining one’s social status in the blogosphere:

    Anonymous: You say that spam advertising penile enlargement “still counts” as a comment on an entry.

    Obscure: You get one or two incisive responses to your most provocative posts.

    Middling: You have a loyal core of readers who will give a comment, even if it is just out of pity.

    Celebrity: You are guaranteed a minimum of forty comments even if the blog entry is nothing more than a picture of your empty breakfast bowl.

    Anonymous: Your blog is not linked by anybody.

    Obscure: Your friends and family link you.

    Middling: People you have never met link you.

    Celebrity: People link you only out of the hope that you will link them back.


    Anonymous: The only e-mail generated from your blog is a secret offer from a Nigerian who needs you to open a bank account for him.

    Obscure: You occasionally get e-mail from people you don’t know in real life.

    Middling: You get birthday cards from people you don’t know in real life.

    Celebrity: You get mail from people that you probably don’t want to know in real life.


    Anonymous: Google doesn’t even know you exist.

    Obscure: People can find your blog if they type its exact name into Google.

    Middling: You find that Google sends people to your blog for incoherent search strings that have little to do with your actual blog content (For instance, “What are the dangers of tanning my vagina?”).

    Celebrity: Google is currently attempting a hostile take over of your site.


    Anonymous: The government has no idea that you exist.

    Obscure: Some really low level government bureaucrat once looked at your blog.

    Middling: The government is watching your blog to see if you are earning income that you are not reporting on your taxes.

    Celebrity (If on the political left): Your blog has resulted in the White House naming your blog part of the “Axis of Evil” and/or the FBI's watch list.

    Celebrity (If on the political right): Your blog has resulted in the White House giving you a medal for being their unpaid mouthpiece.


    Anonymous: When you wrote your last entry, you said that it was about practicing your own writing skills.

    Obscure: When you posted your last entry, you wrote it with one particular reader in mind.

    Middling: When you wrote your last entry, you imagined that it would later be published by Vogue magazine.

    Celebrity: When you wrote your last entry, you told yourself that it was just filling the time until you finally get your own television show.


    Anonymous: You are most often naked while you write your blog.

    Obscure: You have given away t-shirts based on your blog.

(Modeled byVUBOQ)

    Middling: You can actually sell t-shirts based on your blog at CafePress or other such sites.

    Celebrity: Designers send you their new clothes in the hope that you will wear them while you blog.


    Anonymous: You have posted pictures of celebrities.

    Obscure: You know another blogger who had a brush with a real-life celebrity.

    Middling: A celebrity stopped by your blog – once.

    Celebrity: You are currently in litigation for slander and/or copyright infringement with a celebrity


    Anonymous: If your blog was a retail store, it would be Montgomery Ward.

    Obscure: If your blog was a retail store, it would be Hot Topic.

    Middling: If your blog was a retail store, it would be Target.

    Celebrity: If your blog was a retail store, you couldn’t afford to shop there.


    Anonymous: You tell yourself you that you are blogging “for your own enjoyment.”

    Obscure: You tell yourself that you are blogging because you want to meet new people.

    Middling: You tell yourself that you are blogging because your ego leads you to imagine that other people expect you to blog.

    Celebrity: You blog because it's your main source of income.


    Anonymous: Nobody knows that you or your blog exists in the real world.

    Obscure: You once overheard somebody mention a blog that also happens to link to you.

    Middling: People recognize you based on your blog name.

    Celebrity: You have had to file restraining orders against readers of your blog.


    Anonymous: You link to current news articles in your blog.

    Obscure: Your blog is the first place that somebody hears of a particular news story.

    Middling: Other people build an entry using your blog’s coverage of a news story.

    Celebrity: Your blog is the news story.


    Anonymous: Nobody takes the time to speculate on you in real life.

    Obscure: People will mention that they think “you seem cool” in the comments section.

    Middling: People will take time out of their life to leave anonymous comments saying how much they dislike you and/or your blog.

    Celebrity: People have devoted their own blog to documenting how much they hate you.


    Anonymous: You have no social contacts based on your blog.

    Obscure: You have social contacts who read your blog, but they already knew you before you ever blogged.

    Middling: You have met new friends through your blog that you would have never met in real life.

    Celebrity: You have slept with people through your blog.


    Anonymous: Readers have no memory of your blog.

    Obscure: Readers remember your most recent entry.

    Middling: Readers remember one or two of your best entries.

    Celebrity: Readers claim to remember when "your blog was actually good."

    Anonymous: You still have perspective that the mainstream media shapes public opinion far more than all blogs combined.

    Obscure: You feel that a small community of bloggers might be able to sway some people and therefore post a banner for your favored candidate.

    Middling: You write extensive political posts imagining that somebody will take notice.

    Celebrity: Your ego is so out of control that you conclude that the 2008 election hinges on your blog.

    Anonymous: If your blog was one of Charlie's Angels, it would be Tiffany Welles.

    Obscure: If your blog was one of Charlie's Angels, it would be Chris Monroe.

    Middling: If your blog was one of Charlie's Angels, it would be Kelly Garrett.

    Celebrity: You would be too cool to fully understand these references.


    Anonymous: You take the time to write a blog entry when you want to do so.

    Obscure: You write a blog entry on a regular schedule.

    Middling: Your regular job is suffering because you are blogging all the time to “reach the next level.”

    Celebrity: Nobody has noticed that all your entries are really just summaries of news feeds. You have not posted an original idea in years.


    Anonymous: Nobody writes about you.

    Obscure: People make an entry in their own blog discussing having met you.

    Middling: People express disappointment that you are not as interesting/entertaining in real life as your blog persona.

    Celebrity: Somebody has sold naked pictures of you to a tabloid.


    Anonymous: It would never occur to you that your blog could be a source of swag.

    Obscure: You write a review of a movie/product hoping for swag.

    Middling: A company asks you to write a review in exchange for swag.

    Celebrity: You have your own swag that you give out.


    Anonymous: 100 percent of the general public doesn’t care what you write in your blog.

    Obscure: 100 percent of the general public doesn’t care what you write in your blog.

    Middling: 100 percent of the general public doesn’t care what you write in your blog.

    Celebrity: 99.999 percent of the general public doesn’t care what you write in your blog.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

School's Out for Summer

Summer is upon us. Well, not technically – That won’t officially start until June 21. Given that my life is dictated by the nine month academic calendar rather than the actual calendar, it has already started for me. Screw the solstice.

This leads to my annual list of things that I must accomplish in the coming months. Here are items that must be done by September 2:

    * Complete the Never Ending Research Project of Doom. Yeah, this has been on my list consistently. This time, though, I really mean it.

    * Ruthlessly exploit friends and colleagues by having them proofread drafts of the Never Ending Research Project of Doom.

    * Attend an all-day meeting to discuss matters deemed critical for the direction of my academic department.

    * Struggle not to slit my wrists out of boredom while attending an all-day meeting to discuss matters deemed critical for the direction of my academic department.

    * Single-handedly heal the wounds of the Democratic Party once they finally decide on a candidate. The key will be baking enough delicious Bundt cake for everybody.

    * Lose eight pounds. I am at that awkward stage where my regular clothes are a tad tight, but my fat clothes are still too large.

    * Take my Honda Civic for much needed service. It’s odd that at the point that I finally paid it off, I decided to see if I could destroy it by not bothering to get its oil changed.

    * Quash my environmentally-dubious desire to purchase the insanely hot Dodge Challenger. I am not ashamed to say that I would probably have sex with that car. I would do it on camera too as long as I could keep the car afterwards.

    * Vigorously shake working-class whites until they realize that the Republican Party is their worst enemy.

    * Spend ample time in the sun to obtain a much needed tan and to stave off rickets.

    * Invent a new cocktail and name it the Gravitas.

    * Travel to New Mexico for research purposes.

    * Seek medical treatment for guaranteed heat stroke while in New Mexico.

    * Enjoy refreshing TaB cola.

    * Enjoy even more refreshing tequila.

    * Travel to Philadelphia and New Jersey for an event on my mother’s side of my family.

    * Contemplate just how much worse traveling by air will become if we allow Delta and Northwest Airlines to merge. Do we even remember that this nation once had anti-trust laws?

    * Solve the mystery at Lilac Inn.

    * Use my federal tax stimulus check to buy a single week’s worth of gasoline.

    * Update CoG more often (Unlikely if I want to accomplish the first thing on this list).

    * Remind the nation that allowing John McCain to assume the presidency would be to install somebody who has no moral conscious; enjoys war as a pastime; voted against the federal holiday honoring Martin Luther King, Jr.; has promised to continue the disastrous economic policies of the Bush presidency; and smells like Bengay.

    * Watch films that center on an alcoholic industrialist with a metal suit; a cowled misanthrope with abandonment issues; and an aged archeologist who probably also smells like Bengay at this point.

    * Wonder aloud about why Gwyneth Paltrow has a screen career. Conclude that it has to do with the U.S.’s incredibly low standards for acting.

    * Change my currency into something less likely to lose its value than the U.S. dollar – Like the Colombian peso.

    * Purchase a new bed and/or couch – Depending on whether I imagine that I will have more house guests or overnight guests.

    * Laugh at the fact that the media/government is trying to spin the loss of jobs in the economy as a sign of growth. Hey, we didn’t shed as many jobs as we expected, so things are looking up. That’s a great strategy that I am going to start using with my credit card companies. Hey, my check wasn’t nearly as late as I thought that it would be, so, really, we are ahead.

    * Completely redesign the syllabus for one of my fall classes (Unlikely if I want to accomplish the first thing on this list).

    * Wrestle control of the Federal Reserve Board away from the incompetent and dangerous Ben S. Bernanke and the other conservative white men who currently staff it (Yep, all conservative white men on the Fed – Nobody else seems to have noticed that).

    * Spend some quality time playing with my Mego Wonder Woman doll.

    * Convince my friends that spending quality time playing with my Mego Wonder Woman doll is not evidence of the long anticipated mental breakdown.

    * Celebrate the genius of Dolly Parton.

    * Be grateful to Guadalupe that I don’t have to move this year (unlike the previous three years).

    * Start a movement to finally dump the 1789 Constitution and replace it with a parliamentary form of government for the U.S. Why do we cling to a document that stated that some individuals only count for three-fifths of a person? Why do we tolerate a system where one person, one vote is not the standard? We have the technology to rebuild it. We can make it better, stronger, faster.