On Blogging

The blog recently had a milestone.  100 published posts!  Cause for some self-reflection.

What makes a good blog?

I think sticking to one topic would help.  Most of  the blogs I go to exploit one theme over and over.  I can’t do that.  I am addicted to diversity.

When I started out, I got this advice : Quantity over Quality.  There’s two main justifications

1. Blogging is like throwing darts at a board.  The way the internet works, 99 percent of stuff gets ignored, and one percent goes bananas.  There’s a small chance you’ll hit the bullseye without expecting to.  It’s important to throw as many darts as possible.

2. This urban myth:  there was a pottery class, where the class was split in two.  One group was told their mark would depend on the quality and beauty of pots they made.  The other group was told their mark would depend on the volume of pots they made.  By the end of semester, the group that had been focussing on sheer volume was making rounder, better pots than the group that had been trying to focus on beauty.  Sheer repetition of the actions improved their skills.

Occasionally I may use the motto of quantity first as an excuse for dross!  But I think my blogging has improved a little.  I hope it improves even more.

How do I blog?

I have a contract.  I have to pay my girlfriend 20 bucks every afternoon if I haven’t turned in a draft for an article.  I pay her another 20 if I haven’t published something by 11.30 am. Highly motivating, although when the contract expires I sometimes stop writing altogether.

This website called stickk inspired me.  It uses this technique to commit people to their goals.  Great for people who have lofty ambitions they sometimes fail to meet in their day-to-day life.

Some people have misinterpreted this and said ‘a bet is a stupid reason to write a blog, you should write a blog because you want to’.  I do want to, I just find the moment-to-moment motivation harder to harness than the grand ideas.  The great thing about this is that she doesn’t get rich.  I’ve only missed a couple.

How much money do i make from blogging?



Here’s the revised top twenty  pages.

Modern Warfare 2: glorifying violence? 407 More stats
About 184 More stats
Inglourious Basterds – a review 169 More stats
iSnack Two Point – Oh dear… 118 More stats
Coffee Safari 103 More stats
Riders’ rights and responsibilities – have your say
88 More stats
My first (and last?) car. 81 More stats
Travel Disasters – the rat. 77 More stats
In which your correspondent is horrified 77 More stats
Eight things I don’t miss about the public service
70 More stats
Mt Hotham – a book review 67 More stats
To Err is Devine 67 More stats
A stab in the back for the heart of the nation 64 More stats
Travel disasters 61 More stats
Costco – A review 60 More stats
Accents eh, bro? 60 More stats
Intelligent delivery? 55 More stats
Fairtrade 54 More stats
Something-something and over it 49 More stats
Are we dense? 49

What’s frustrating is the most-viewed posts are not the best ones.  The audience depends mostly on how well I link them.  If I put a link in an incisive comment at the bottom of a good article in a popular newspaper, then the traffic can be massive.   If I don’t even put it on facebook, it will be minimal.

Comments are a better guide to what has got peoples attention.  Here’s the top ten articles, by numbers of comments.

Garbledy gook 5
Eight things I don’t miss about the public service …6
Bruno Sprunkelstein part 1 6
Should I run through the rain?
Inglourious basterds 7
Coffee safari ………………………………………………………8
Bargain 11
My first (and last?) car ……………………………………….17
Riders rights and responsibilities 20
A stab in the back for the heart of the nation ………. 20

You can see that the blog remains pretty modest, traffic wise…

On Maroon 5, Art and mad blurry skills

I like chocolate, but I’m not a chocolatier.  I like rum, but I’m not a distiller.  I like dags, but I do not breed hounds.

Is what you’re good at going to be what you like?  Could someone who has never drunk rum make a great one?  Could a blog-hater be the best blogger the world’s ever seen?

Do what you love, they say.

It could be that I would have been the world’s greatest plumber, but I never got to find out.  My girlfriend might be the world’s most dominant computer gamer, but she’ll never know.
Continue reading On Maroon 5, Art and mad blurry skills

Meredith Music Festival – A Review

I attended the Meredith Music Festival, centred around a grassy downhill just outside the town of Meredith, in rural Victoria.  Two nights and three days of bands and celebration.  I had never been before, but I loved it.  Before the festival, everyone was talking about the ‘Meredith experience’, and  noone was talking about the bands, which made me worried.  I was happy to find the music is still the centre of the experience.

I thought the best of the festival was Paul Kelly.  His set at 7pm on the Saturday night kicked off an epic night.  Mr Kelly’s music is so familiar it’s easy to disregard, but live, the familiar veneer is taken off and you remember why you (and everyone else) listened to it so much that you still know every word.  The crowd was moved to tears, and in what is apparently a Meredith tradition, indicative of ultimate respect, everyone took off their shoes and waved them at him. Continue reading Meredith Music Festival – A Review

Eight things I don’t miss about the public service

Don’t get offended by the following list.  It’s just my experience.  Many of these thing probably apply in any organisation, not just government.  I’m sure many public servants find a challenging and rewarding niche and work their guts out.  It just wasn’t me.

Continue reading Eight things I don’t miss about the public service

Rabbit Run – A Book Review

I read Rabbit, Run by John Updike.  It’s a mid-century American novel.

I got one of those orange Penguin Classics that sell for ten bucks.  I love those.  I think that’s how much a book should cost.  I’m far more likely to spend money on books if I get three for thirty bucks than if I only get one.

Anyway, the book is considered a classic, hence its inclusion in the Penguin collection.

Whenever I go back and read books written before my time, I expect classic themes and minimal social critique.  This is because I am a poor student of history and assume that everything that existed before I was born is irrelevant. Continue reading Rabbit Run – A Book Review

The appeal of the steel wheel.

355,000 google hits for ‘I hate buses’.

294,000 google hits for I hate trains’.


214,000 google hits for ‘I love buses’.

849,000 google hits for ‘I love trains’.

Clearly trains are the George Clooney of Public Transport.

Continue reading The appeal of the steel wheel.


My suburb is dotted with flexicars.

Pay a once-off 30 dollar joining fee, a 70 dollar annual insurance fee, and an hourly rate between 9 and 15 bucks, and you get a car.  Petrol and insurance included.  When you book online you get a code that pops the car doors open.  The keys are on the console.

In Melbourne they are very much an inner city thing.  The northenmost is in Brunswick  the southernmost is in St Kilda.  It’s only in these burbs that the economics of parking are so bad that sharing a car with someone else could make sense.
Continue reading Flexicar

Vlad the bastard

When I went to Russia, I bought a Vladimir Putin T-Shirt.   It says bce putem.  it means ‘going the right way’ and it’s a gentle pun on his name.  That was 2003.  Now I keep it in a drawer with my Hitler and Idi Amin tshirts.  It’s hard to get a really good macchiato in the bohemian inner north when you’re wearing a genocidal dictator around. Continue reading Vlad the bastard

Airbags on the outside

Cars are too big.  Traffic would be better if cars were smaller, like bikes.  We can easily reduce the length of cars.  People like to be high up, as SUVs have shown.  Put the engine under the cabin and do away with the bonnet.

Cars don’t need the engine hanging out the front there mainly as a crumple zone.  Why carry round a crumple zone you’re not using? People also like to be safe, which is where this plan gets it’s incredible voodoo mojo from.  instead of having an engine as your crumple zone, you have airbags. On the outside.

They’d have little sensors that would pop them if they saw a solid object approaching at high speed.  I guess a technical problem arises here:  The power of the airbag that can absorb a cars collision is enough to splatter a pedestrian.  Smaller lighter airbags would have to be deployed for a pedestrian collision.

If this sounds pie in the sky, think about the incredible amounts of coin that are spent on road safety.  And a quick google reveals that while I came up with this idea independently, so did Toyota.  They’ve got a pedestrian saving device complete with radar and infra-red sensors under development in Japan as we speak.  Mercedes has also installed an external airbag under the car, to add to braking power.

There’s a big push to include new pedestrian safety standards in Europe’s car crash ratings, which could make this a reality by 2012 !

Freedom, civilisation and consumption

Libertarians are guys who live on farms.  They buy a bulldozer to dig a dam, and run a pump from the dam, so they can put out a fire, because you can’t rely on the state to save you if your house is on fire.  They have a weapons cache in every room, because you can’t rely on the state to save you if your house is invaded.   Chances are they cheat on their taxes and grow a little weed in their basement, because the state’s rules are a ridiculous, nannying infringement on man’s inherent freedom.

Continue reading Freedom, civilisation and consumption