January 24th, 2009


Blog Directories

If I have ever seen a more pathetic collection of moth-eaten, miserable, marginally functional code ... I can't recall where. I started with this respectable list of "20 Essential Blog Directories."

This one -- ONE -- functioned smoothly:
Blog Explosion is a blog directory, social network, and traffic driver. The parts I passed through actually worked. Give the competent geeks some chocolate.

These sites don't require membership or login, but have minimal services, and they are not very business-friendly:
SpillBean aka Sutra Directory
Blog Listing

The following services glitched repeatedly, doing such things as blanking the screen for no reason, misreading data entered into fields, printing gibberish on the screen, or otherwise displaying signs of defective code. Some of them I eventually got through, others I gave up. Some of them looked promising but proved too much of a hassle to keep working.

The others on the list of 20 either weren't suitable, crashed completely, or never answered my application for membership.

Some of the sites looked like they were just slopped together in an attempt to make money from traffic. Most of them wanted reciprocal links, of which I furnished very little. Normally I don't mind doing that, but a majority of these sites made me not want to look like I was recommending them. YMMV; maybe other folks have had better luck with these assorted directories.

If this is an accurate sampling of blog directories -- and 20 is not a bad sample size -- it's a wonder anything ever gets done. Okay, I know, the code for a directory is complicated; but social networks are no more so, and full-scale search engines probably more. Okay, I picked the free sites, but offering something for free is not an excuse to do a half-cheeked job of it. I've done a lot of research and a lot of webcrawling, all pretty much on free sites of many and varied types, and this really is the first time I can recall having hit such a string of consistently clunky sites displaying a similar flavor of error.

Anyway, if you want to use a blog directory, try Blog Explosion.

Politics: Several Steps Forward

President Obama continues to do things which fill my life with squee. Some are symbolic, some are practical, and many are a combination of both. These are some things that caught my eye recently:

Obama Wants to Reopen Lady Liberty’s Crown
Visitors to Liberty Island and the Statue of Liberty will once again be able to climb the 354 steps from the base of the Statue of Liberty to the iconic crown that overlooks New York Harbor -- but not quite yet. The Obama administration wants to reopen the crown, but certain safety measures have to be in place first. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar went to the top of the crown with fellow Democrats New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez, New Jersey Rep. Albio Siries and New York Rep. Anthony Weiner.

This demonstrates a commitment to Liberty as an ideal, and also an understanding of people's need to be uplifted and inspired -- particularly in dark times.

Obama Ends Funding Ban for Abortion Groups Abroad
Matt Spetalnick, Reuters: "President Barack Obama on Friday will lift restrictions on US government funding for groups that provide abortion services or counseling abroad, reversing a policy of his Republican predecessor George W. Bush, an administration official said."

Providing full-service family planning will help reduce the Earth's severe overpopulation problem and improve the lot of women. Removing the ban may also help repair America's tattered reputation and make this once again a country that gives more aid than hassles.

Obama First Calls Abbas
Patrick Martin, The Globe and Mail: "US President Barack Obama's first full day in office certainly made a big impression on some people. His first action - the suspension of the Guantanamo system for alleged Islamic terrorists - caught the attention of Muslims around the world. And his first overseas telephone call, to Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, stunned Palestinians and many Israelis as well. 'We were not expecting such a quick call from President Obama, but we knew how serious he is about the Palestinian problem,' said a very excited Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior adviser to Mr. Abbas."

This is another excellent foreign policy move: reaching out to other world leaders, and promptly starting the (doubtless long and difficult) process of shutting down the many offensive installations and policies established by the former administration.

Obama Frees Bush Historical Records
Robert Parry, Consortium News: "When authoritarian forces seize control of a government, they typically move first against the public's access to information, under the theory that a confused populace can be more easily manipulated. They take aim at the radio stations, TV and newspapers. In the case of George W. Bush in 2001, he also took aim at historical records, giving himself and his family indefinite control over documents covering the 12 years of his father's terms as President and Vice President. It was, therefore, significant that one of Barack Obama's first acts as President was to revoke the Bush Family's power over that history and to replace it with an easier set of regulations for accessing the records."

Obama is in the White House and still concerned about providing benefits directly to the American people. This is just one of several things he's done to limit the power of the Presidency, restore checks and balances, and put more power back into the hands of the people.

Discussion: Critiquing "Praise Song for the Day"

President Barack Obama chose to include a poem in his inauguration activities, "Praise Song for the Day" by Elizabeth Alexander. Many people have spoken about the poem's uplifting qualities. In this article, however, Moeursalen expresses considerable dissatisfaction. Well, I've spent time as a literature student and an editor; I'm capable of dissecting a poem and starting a discussion. Let's see where it takes us.

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Reading Levels on My Blogs

I was not surprised to find that the reading level for Gaiatribe: Ideas for a Thinking Planet is this high:
blog readability test

TV Reviews

I was surprised that The Wordsmith's Forge is this much lower!
blog readability test

Movie Reviews

So then I tried Hypatia's Hoard of Reviews:
blog readability test

Movie Reviews

I am baffled by the split. There is not exactly a shortage of hard and soft sciences on here, and that's what I'd suspect pushed the rating up on the first one.