Just say No

Google just asked to be allowed access to fairly low-level functionality on my computer. There’s a chance I might have benefitted from saying yes, but there was no explanation at all given for why the Goog should have that access. No value proposition whatsoever, just “Google wants to use the accessibility interface”. (That’s not the exact quote, which I now regret not saving.)

Honestly, I don’t even know how to prove the request came from Google. So if you get something like that, do like I did. Say no.

Fingerprints

Tonight I created a new Google profile. The goal of the exercise is to increase my privacy by creating a separate Google account (with bogus information) so I can use the Google RSS service without dropping my pants. Not that I subscribe to anything particularly telling, but that’s my business. The answer: create a completely unique profile for only that purpose.

But, there’s a catch. There’s still a pretty good chance that the Goog (and all their pals) can still tell it’s me. They do this through fingerprinting.

Every time your browser asks for something over the Interwebs, it tells a little about itself. A lot of sites have little scripts they send your way that report back even more. It starts with screen resolution, the default colors for visited links, and a host of other little bits that, when put together, create a unique profile. Based on unprotected information, sophisticated sites can pin you down, even if you don’t (knowingly) volunteer information.

So tonight, before setting out to create a new Google account, I wanted to do something to prevent the Googlemind from figuring out that Arthur Kingman (not the name I used) was really me. It seemed like a pretty easy quest: I was looking for a plugin for my browser that would cause it to send slightly different information each time it made a request.

I found one (I think) — FireGlove for Firefox. I didn’t realize just how off Firefox I am until I was faced with the dilemma of using Firefox with this privacy plugin or using Opera naked. I never use Opera, so if I’m diligent and only use Opera in privacy mode when acting as my new alter ego it will be difficult for them to connect the dots. It’s inevitable, though, that at some point I will mess up.

It seems like there should be fingerprint randomizers for every browser. Maybe I’m just not looking in the right places. Anyone out there know where I might find one for any given browser?

The Pent-up Demand for Egg-Frying Advice

Not very long ago, 200 visitors to this blog in a single day was an event worthy of my turning to my sweetie and saying, “hey, I got 200 visitors yesterday”. Now here it is before noon on a Sunday and the magic number has already been surpassed. What gives? Ladies and Gentlemen and others of the blogging community, I call your attention to exhibit A (click to see a bit bigger):

egg-frying demand curve

surging demand for egg-frying advice

This is the number of loads of a single episode on my blog: my tutorial on cooking eggs over-easy. That episode has been around a long time, but you don’t need an advanced degree in statistics to see that lately its popularity has been gong through the roof.

The blogger’s lament: “If only I could figure out how to turn those visitors into regular readers!” Still, I can console myself that perhaps out there a few more people are experiencing delicious egg breakfasts.

I suspect Google’s +1 has something to do with the precipitous rise in popularity; if a few people have endorsed the page, Google’s going to move it closer to the top of its rankings. It is a pretty damn good tutorial, I have to say, even if the promised video is currently AWOL.

I’m a little surprised, because I suspect the +1 thingie at the bottom of each page doesn’t work for everyone. The code tries to load a script in a way that violates the security policies of my browser (and should violate that policy on all of them, though obviously it doesn’t). I’ve found another, no-script button set that I could use instead, but in my naïvety about how that all stuff works, I don’t know if I’ll lose my current mojo if I switch. Will Google see the next + the same way? I’m probably fretting over nothing.

The astute among you will see a period last year when no visits were logged at all. I address that issue in an episode about getting my cloud and my protective systems working together.

Why do You Think I Would Like That?

Got a message from YouTube today, saying they missed me terribly and wished I would *ahem* login *cough* now and then. So I did. I’m an agreeable sort of fellow.

Google, who now holds almost my entire music collection, whose business mandate is to use data about people to make money off them, suggested that I might enjoy watching the latest Beyoncé video. Or Lady Gaga, perhaps? Or maybe Justin Bieber.

Google, seriously. What the Fuck? You know all the songs I’ve listened to for the last month. Justin Bieber was notably absent. Ravonettes, 50 foot wave, Sex Pistols. Nothing remotely like the Beib came down the wire.

If you’re going to collect data about me and then try to sell me stuff, as least do it right.

I am Become Google, Destroyer of Worlds

Those who remember the old days might recall that sometimes I would compile a list of unusual search phrases that have brought people to these pages. What follows is a list I started quite some time ago, but either I’m getting more jaded or the number of wacky phrases people are finding me with is dropping. Fried Egg queries are still the most popular, but I’ve been letting the culinary pages gather dust, which lowers their attractiveness in Google’s eyes. That doesn’t really bother me. Still, when I take the trouble to look over the various ways people stumble across these pages, I have to chuckle. Here, then, is a list of some search phrases that have caught my eye, and (usually) a link to the place in the blog that fateful string brought them.

On another note, the phrase I bastardized for the title of this episode is more interesting than I ever suspected. Apparently, “I am become time…” is an equally valid translation. In context it makes sense. A God is trying to convince some schmoe to go for the glory, and pointing out that since in the long term he will be forgotten no matter what happens, he has nothing to lose. Bitchin’. Meanwhile, on with the show!

  • bily bear meat – Linked to an episode about czech hockey, of course.
  • wm byrne pub kilkenny – linked to an episode about our stay in that congenial place.
  • piker list of stupid – top hit, baby! When it comes to stupid, I’m very highly ranked.
  • fivepin bowling 5 pin approach video online – far more interesting than the idea of some guy knocking all the pins over, is a bunch of guys knocking all but the 5-pin down, while team bowling.
  • kicked in the balls+girl – no longer sure where it linked to on this site, but I’m pretty sure I don’t want to meet that girl.
  • Cost of Trip to Giant’s Causeway – whatever it costs, it’s worth it!
  • carl sagan trampoline gravity – linked, of course, to a particularly extreme get-poor-quick scheme.
  • All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku bathroom – bathroom? It seems odd until you remember that the bathroom stall is an elevator to the evil meeting room.
  • humped his sweater – brought the unsuspecting googlist to the Stories category page, where a Werewolf’s bad manners are discussed.
  • Deanna Mac Guinness – apparently I’m the only one at homepage.mac.com/ that Yahoo found any mention of Guiness and Deanna.
  • easy steps to sketch a large cowboy hatThe Cowboy God pulls in another one looking for something else.
  • writing essays with modern language ass. – I’m not sure how modern my language ass is, but I have some thoughts on the subject.
  • car accidents 395 adelanto – they’re not pretty.
  • Neurotic writers – Not surprisingly, I have some thoughts on that as well.
  • bosom machine – Ahh… bosoms. Though a mechanical one doesn’t sound as appealing.
  • jer’s novel writer for windows – doesn’t exist. Trust me.
  • Budvar Bar – there are many, but this is my favorite.
  • reggie wanker – John and I were recently lamenting that that movie is still not available on DVD.
  • why does bud light kill you? – it can only hurt you if you drink it. Don’t.
  • what do u learn when u study graphic designMuddled U starts attracting potential students!
  • ho does one save if earning 9000 – brought the searcher to, of all places, the Get Poor Quick category page.
  • glenwood cutoff – one of Google’s top matches brings people to the heart of suicidal squirrel territory.
  • post graduate degree course for someone who doesn’t have a bachelor’s degree – Muddled University again!
  • tom carruthers glendale ohio – someone was digging deeper into the insidious infiltration of the squirrels, and the humans who have betrayed us. We were here to help.
  • EDDIE ROCKETS – I’m glad that someone in the UK took the trouble to look past the first nineteen google results to land on my appraisal of the rather awful place.
  • how to fix a yoyo ball when it is broken in half – Muddled Ramblings was one of the top matches, despite the lack of yoyo’s
  • Nightmare Jer – surprisingly, was not my ex-wife searching. Whoever it was, ended up reading about a rather unpleasant flight I took recently.
  • one toe itches more so at night? – I hope they found a cure for that.
  • women in the great gatsby literary criticism – linked to my brief discussion of a pretty dang good book.
  • bagel rhymes – not just for breakfast anymore.
  • secret evil bunny labs – brought the searcher to the Rumblings category page.
  • cuttlefish for birds blister card – that almost makes sense until you get to the word ‘card’. Cuttlefish-man to the rescue!
  • cowboy holding coffee table – The Cowboy God pulls in another lost soul.
  • glad commercial, robbing bank – hey, I could have been in that, except I wasn’t very good.
  • Eddie Bauer fishing rod – all right! My open letter to Eddie Bauer is starting to attract attention.
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Gettin’ the Google On

As I pay more attention to where visitors are coming from (Have the Campbell Award judges come by? Have the Campbell Award judges come by?) I am once again bemused by the wide variety of odd searches that people type into Google and Yahoo, only to end up here. Go figure.

In the past I have obfuscated key words in these entries, in order to avoid misdirecting the search engines to here, rather than to the original page. This time, though, I’m just too lazy.

  • stacking haircuts – I’d much rather be stacking rocks.
  • “large breasts” embarrassing incidents – linked to an episode where I discuss the darker side.
  • cult in scotts valley – linked of course to the shocking expose that only this blog dared expose.
  • minimum sample size – I doubt the searcher was looking for thoughts on Czech TV, but that’s what he got.
  • girl with extra-arms – the Stories category page was buried way deep at match 190, but that was enough for this searcher to arrive here
  • soup boy – linked to an episode in which I describe learning of my first pro sale.
  • Budvar Barthe place is near home, and it’s cheap, to boot.
  • write without fear – it’s an important ingredient for success. Sometimes I almost come close.
  • half baked sex – and understandable misunderstanding to be misdirected here.
  • stacked rocks – maybe I’m just paying attention more now, but interest in rock stacking seems to be on the rise. On Menorca , they’ve been doing it all along.
  • laura k hamilton blog – misspelling the famous writer’s name got me a high ranking in this misspelled search. Linked to an episode that talked about the words that ended up here.
  • boobs lake mead – nestled among the predictable crap was the sleep-deprived story of my day as I traveled from Las Vegas to Mesquite, or more accurately, Through the Valley of Fire to the Bosom of Bobbi.
  • Bearded actorsEverybody’s searching for them!
  • bud light banner – I assume if the searcher wanted a banner advertising the product, he didn’t share my opinion about that vile substance.
  • i like to clean my duck of air and heat myself – I think I feel sorry for the duck. Linked, strangely enough, to the Eels category page.
  • How to write a writing questionaire – attracted by a mutual misspelling to my writing category page, where no help at all was to be found.
  • how tall is kareem abdul jabaar? – mentioned tangentially in a Pirates! episode that took me from a garden party in Prague to a hotel bar in England.
  • Buffalo Butts – imagine the dismay when the searcher found an image of the back ends of bison.
  • “pork sparrow” – there’s only one reason to search for that phrase, and that’s to answer the question “what the hell did I just eat?
  • can a blind man dream in color – I ask the same question myself in a pile of random stuff, but no answers are even offered.
  • sestina origin – that my explanation is the top match in Google is likely a disservice to the poetry world, but what can you do? Plus, I like my version.
  • wizard of id ; shinola – linked to an episode in which I ramble about (among other things) how profanity is encoded in the mainstream media.
  • menorca pigeons – the episode mentions pigeons in passing, but it really about life, death, larceny, and all that stuff.
  • two beers in japanese – linked to an old, old episode in which I enumerate ways to say “two beers“. Your favorite not on the list? Leave a comment!
  • lonely in adelanto – whatever the searcher wanted, I doubt he found it in this episode with a sexy title.
  • summer seems shorter – linked to an episode with a story that with a little work would be all right. The comments are the best part of the episode.
  • hankering for bud light – notable only because my episode called Bud LIte is Horrible was the second match out of 36,000.
  • stacking things on drunk people – Good sport! Linked here.
  • my first enema – the constipation mentioned here is metaphorical.
  • Ax Chop Elf – linked to The Quest for the Important Thing to Defeat the Evil Guy , which has axes, chopping, and lovely young elves, but is almost certainly a far cry from anything the searcher wanted to find.
  • Mount Mazma – once it was very tall. Now it’s not, but it’s very pretty.
  • big ass diverson – Yahoo! corrected the spelling and brought the searcher along with me to San Angelo, Texas, for some big-ass beers.
  • dont get mad get glad – I don’t get every role I audition for. One time it didn’t work out.

Notable also is that in the last two weeks there has been a surge of searches for suicidal squirrels. The searchers are in Western Europe, mostly Germany but also France and Italy. The trend seems to be spreading to Eastern Europe as well. The crack team of Squirrel Watchers at Muddled University will continue to monitor this trend very carefully.

Tiptoe Through the Google

Quite a lot of the traffic to this site is thanks to Google and the other search engines. I imagine that most of those drawn here with the promise of a match on their phrase take one look, say “Well that wasn’t what I was looking for,” and leave again post-haste. Nevertheless, I like to browse through the search phrases that brought people here from time to time, just to get a feel for the odd things people want to find. Some of the things I list below are there for entertainment, while others are there because the link back to episodes I like. Think of this as an index to my site compiled by a dyslexic teenager with raging hormones.

  • where is the rubble from Japan? – Where indeed has all that rubble got to?
  • how to write a nursing reflection essay – visitor 40404 landed, improbably, on an episode about writing without fear that I happen to like.
  • threat level indicator – It seems most of the other threat level indicators out there are for silly things like pandemics and stuff. Fortunately the SSDC threat meter ranks right up there with the top matches on Google.
  • sexy nymphs stickers – attracted to the verbal pot-luck that is the observations category
  • sex pitchers – more economical than sex by the glass
  • band rush bobblehead dolls – that just seems wrong on so many levels.
  • how much for a single rose? – Oh, you are only beginning to pay the price when you fish out your wallet.
  • “rat trap” bucket bacon – another poetry candidate. Anyone want to make a bit of verse that uses this? Connected to a chapter one that starts and ends well. Natasha is cool.
  • “bad song” daniel powter – could the searcher actually have been looking for my version?
  • respectable breast – rated high in google, where, nestled among the more predictable results, was a brief discussion of the American Road Myth, an essay that has since been improved here.
  • “you’re “selling past the close” again – linked to a tour through my unfinished business, an even more muddled ramble than usual, but there are some interesting bits.
  • ned’s albuquerque – sitting in a bar after a long drive.
  • some people ruin their drinks with ice” – a lyric I quote in an episode about a particularly good day.
  • Tallest Structure before 1889 – This recent episode is already attracting attention. (The answer is in the comments.)
  • english story writing-it was raining heavily i dashed in a deserted building – the Stories category page seems to have hit on many of those words.
  • born guy but had sex change now woman with pics – surprisingly, the Stories category page came up on top in Yahoo, despite just a smattering of matching words. No, no pics, and no sex changes, either.
  • origin of the sestina – Google has decided that I have the explanation the world will most want to see. Google is dead wrong.
  • bud light taste nasty – oh, yes it does
  • we met a the sports bar on sat in mesquite – but was Bobbi there?
  • fotbol slang – I don’t know any, but I’m still the top match for an episode in which the Czechs qualified for the world cup (barely)
  • smoll bar – a new addition to the list of bar names people search for
  • speed bowling – the precursor to team bowling
  • pregnant and constant headrush – believe me, there’s nothing on this site that could possibly be of interest on that subject, but there is always the Homeless Tour category page.
  • sunshine company ocean beach – a bar mentioned in this episode
  • strasnice – Google’s first match was for “Find a Grave”. My episodes that mentioned the Haunted City came quite a bit farther down.
  • beyond yotta – the rest of the scientific community is beginning to show interest in my pioneering work
  • haircuts by drunk man – That might yield some interesting results. No haircuts in this episode, but there is drunk.
  • “I LIKE THIS BAR” – not a bad search string — you could combine it with a city name before you go anywhere and find a good place to hang. Like, for instance, here.
  • sabotaging brakes – someone should have put the brakes on this episode, I suspect
  • to inspect mimeographed miles – an odd phrase, that, but there’s been more than one search for it landing here lately. Perhaps it is a line in a poem or pop song or something. Miles strike me as being rather difficult to mimeograph, although that might explain Kansas. Cowboy God was the number two hit.
  • How Many People Owned Televisions in 1950 – I have no idea, and I suspect the searcher came away from the Homeless Tour category page none the wiser.
  • as i drove she began to rub my crotch – linked not to stories from my road trip (there is not crotch-rubing there, I promise you), but to my Stories category page.
  • “Bar and Books” Prague – another bar I mention
  • trouble with trendy fern bars – I don’t have trouble with them, per se
  • “slush pile” “magazine of fantasy & science fiction” – the searcher came to the writing category page, but was probably looking for the Slush God.
  • lil j’s sports bar, san angelo, tx – another in my legacy of bar stories that rate higher than the sites for the bars themselves (if the bar even has a site). Maybe there’s a business opportunity there…
  • sad music – buried way deep in Google’s results was a link to a brief episode where I wonder what might have been.
  • menorca call girls – this is not the place to find out about those, but don’t tell Google.
  • kundera essays – if not call girls, then perhaps the writings of a celebrated Czech author. Linked to the Stories category.
  • moonlight sonata story – Well, I have a story called Moonlight Sonata with which I’m fairly pleased, but not THE story of Moonlight Sonata. I have improved the sotry since, but this version is still pretty good.)
  • “en vogue girl” – Ah, the key line in the lyrics to Cutey Honey Flash!
  • first time auditions daisy – linked to an episode about my experiences
    casting Pirates.
  • “embarrassment to our country”bush – linked to the episode long ago where I declared my candidacy for president last election.
  • why do sneezes come in threes? – linked to a not-very-good chapter one.
  • nature of bowling – not so surprising that Team Bowling would show up, buried deep in a list of results. In fact, it was right before an article called “Aggression in Invertebrates”.
  • hiking stacking.rocks – the dot did not interfere from MSN recognizing a kindred spirit.
  • cadíz – I’m surprised my episode about Cadíz ranked so high (5th out of 37,000), but it was the Czech Google, so maybe the presence of a few czech words here and there worked in my favor. Or maybe not — maybe it was my use of the accented í without the accented a. Czech Google may be more accent-sensitive, as are the czechs.
  • 9 bastards of the World – top match on Yahoo linked to a brief episode about Skype bringing cheap bastards of the world together.
  • can pomegranates cause flatulence in some people – came from a search engine I’d never seen before. Linked to the main page where I still have an episode that mentions Persephone and farting.
  • road food weed california – included here as an excuse to link back to an old episode about my trip to Weed, a rambling episode from early in my ramblings.
  • Jerry Seeger – quite a few people recently have been looking for me by name. I must confess I always have to check where they’re from. I know, I know, but I just can’t help it. New York is suddenly an exciting place for someone interested in me to be from. They have agents there.

Of course, there are the perennial favorites – Egg friers and those looking for lyrics to theme songs for very silly anime. Several people have come looking for suggestions about what to write in yearbooks, while others are attracted to descriptions of particular bars. In the last two days, there has been a surge in people searching for Suicide Squirrels, which makes me think it’s time to review the threat level meter.

I get a few hits from image searches as well. The picture titled Rain in San Angelo gets a surprising number of hits. Go figure.

What does this all mean? Are the search engines providing a cross-section of modern thought? I hope not.