That '70s campaign

Earlier today, while writing about the Edwards selection, I needed to check whether Senator Lloyd Bentsen had actually run for president in 1976 or just talked about it. It didn't answer my question, but I stumbled across the site I didn't look at its material on the 2004 election, but going back to 1960, they have a bumpersticker, and the text of the basic campaign brochure of every candidate for president, even those who ran in only a few primaries. A very useful resource. Just for a great reminder of just how different the mid-1970s was, check out just these bumper stickers, for the font alone:

plus, a bonus: free subscription to The Note for anyone who can honestly say you knew that Robert C. Byrd had once run for president. You are a true geek!

Posted by Mark Schmitt on July 7, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

How do blogs rank so high on Google?

I'm a big fan of the system I use to create this weblog: TypePad, an easier-to-use version of Movable Type, which is obviously superb but just beyond my skills. One of TypePad's cool features is that it will show you both the statistics for your site -- number of hits, and what article(s) the viewers read -- and also, in some cases, just where they came from. That is, it might show that the hit came via some other blog that referred here, or from Yahoo or from Google. If the hit's from Google, I can actually see what it was that the person searched for that led them here. So today, for example, I noticed a few hits from Google, and out of curiosity found that two of them were from people searching on the phrase "How does Bush Get Away With It?" The first two results from that search -- an obvious question -- are to this weblog! It's not surprising that this post ranks high, since it includes almost the exact phrase, but why is this one second? It includes some of the words in the phrase -- "Bush," "Does," and "Get" -- but these are not unusual words. Then the third Google hit on this phrase is from Brad deLong: "Why Does the Bush Administration Lie All the Time?"

I find this odd. I don't think anyone else linked to the second post, so it shouldn't rank high on Google for that reason, and it was far from the search phrase. Although a person asking the question as posed to Google might well be interested in it as well as the other results. It seems that Google must somehow over-rank weblogs, compared to other publications or sites that might have a similar phrase. I'm not complaining, though: it's one of the things that makes it remarkable easy to pick up a readership, albeit still very small, without a lot of effort.

Posted by Mark Schmitt on November 22, 2003 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

The Other "Decembrists"

A number of people have asked me if I knew there was a band called The Decembrists. I did. I've heard them (thanks to the once-great but now ruined legal music download site, and I thought they were o.k. but a bit mannered. It's the sort of music that might be easier to enjoy if you weren't old enough to have heard this kind of thing back when it was called Progressive Rock. (Now it's called "chamber pop")

Anyway, in a search for this weblog on Feedster, I came across another that quoted the band's explanation of why they chose the name, from an interview in Pitchfork magazine:

Pitchfork: I realize this is an awful question but I'm curious-- why "The Decemberists"?

Colin: Well, there are a couple answers to that question. There's The Decembrists that everyone knows about, the 19th century revolutionary group in St. Petersburg. They staged a failed coup against the tsar at the time. It was put down and they were all sent off to work camps in Siberia. And so there are all these Decembrists communities in Siberia. But that's not really why we named ourselves that.

It's really just this: I like to think that the drama behind the month of December... there's a group of people who, that is their month, and they're sort of stuck in this month. And I think that sort of speaks to the songs and the characters in the songs: sort of marginalized, sort of on the outskirts, all living in the coldest month.

The first comment on the original posting of this quote says it best: "Barf."

I guess they've got their reasons and I've got mine.

Posted by Mark Schmitt on November 5, 2003 | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

Bush Press Conferences of the Future

President George W. Bush discusses jobs and the economy at the Timken Company in Canton, Ohio, May 28

"The sign did not mean that my economic plan would create jobs. In fact, the White House had nothing to do with the sign. It was put up by the workers at that factory, and it just meant that those particular workers had jobs."
President George W. Bush, May 28, 2004

Posted by Mark Schmitt on October 30, 2003 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Rumors abound!

I got the following e-mail last week from a fairly prominent person:


Rumor has it that you may be doing some work for Wes Clark. If true,
let me pitch an idea for The Speech.

What followed was brilliant, but I won't give it away.

Maybe I should let these rumors spread. But eventually I'd have to deliver. Unfortunately, it's not true.

Posted by Mark Schmitt on October 23, 2003 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

"Swiper does need a cap in his ass."

One reason I don't want to do too much linking to various things I read on the web is that I think it reveals a little too much -- "How did he wind up there?" But here's an exception -- and I have no idea how I wound up there: The comments section on "Dora the Explorer," the very popular children's show at the long-forgotten Jump the Shark (I know that I was curious about how a show in which every episode is identical could Jump the Shark.)

Most of the comments are hilariously hostile: "Honest to God, you're putting your kids on the train to Freaksville if you let them watch this." Or, "there was one show where Benny needed sticky tape to fix his balloon because his balloon was about to crash. If we are to infer that the balloon is filled at a pressure of 60 psi and that this show takes place in real-time, then they would not have the time to repair the hole by the end of the episode. I'm worried that my 2-year-old might get some glaring misconceptions about simple Newtonian physics....Also, Swiper does need a cap in his ass. Theft is illegal." This is interspersed with incredulous comments from proud parents bragging that their two-year-olds can count in Spanish thanks to Dora, and pointing out that "this show isn't aimed at 26 year old unemployed men."

The whole exchange, which goes on and on, is hilarious, but why? I think it's because the Internet mostly consists of little communities where people share interests, language, and assumptions. The sarcastic unemployed 26-year-olds who are obsessed with TV shows have their space; the proud toddler moms have theirs. For all the "flame wars" on the Internet, there aren't many points where such actually different cultures meet. This is like the Istanbul of the Internet.

Or, perhaps it's interesting because of the fact that in George Bush's America, there are a few too many 26 year olds with nothing to do but watch Dora.

Posted by Mark Schmitt on October 14, 2003 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack