In which I talk back to the clickbait


I am sorry, YouTube clickbait promising the “top ten moments of Transformers The Movie (1986)”, but that would be the entirety of Transformers The Movie (1986). Though I have not seen Transformers The Movie (1986) since college I am certain it is exactly as awesome as I remember and has no segments that are now really embarrassing or painful.

OK, Wheelie was bad. But otherwise every bit of Transformers The Movie (1986) was the greatest thing humanity has ever done, not excepting the extinction of smallpox, Voyager’s “Pale Blue Dot” photograph, and every scene where a Simpsons character gives a false name.

In Which Clickbait Gives Me Some Much-Needed Good News


Photograph of a private jet, with the headline caption: 'Lansing Private Jet Rental Prices Are More Affordable Than Ever.'
I bet they did it by shortening the red carpet, though. I’ll give you four to one odds that carpet does not meet FAA standards. If it does, it certainly does not meet ICAO standards.

Whew!

I bet they still try to up-sell me to a bigger model than I need. I just need a subcompact, I’m tall but not that tall.

In Which The Clickbait Almost Gets Me


And so then I got this.

Clickbait ad: You May Like ... 20 Facts You Never Knew About the Legend Don Knotts
I mean, how am I supposed to resist? Other than by not clicking on the stupid thing?

If they ever work out that there’s much about ZaSu Pitts and Thelma Todd that I have yet to learn then I’m doomed.

In Which I Just Have Some Excuses Because It’s Kind Of Warm


I’d totally be on top of writing something that amuses at least me today, but I’m sorry. Given the heat I’ve been dealing with my car melting into a puddle of black-with-red-trim goo. It’s a huge hassle, as you might figure, especially given the prevailing tides. The only things that’ve been making it any easier to deal with are that the winds have been calm, making it easier to put up the foam barriers and squeegee much of the car back into some kind of shape, and that I never threw out that Super Extreme Large foam cup I got at the convenience store on a road trip a couple weeks ago, so that a lot of the backseat just fit naturally into the cup I had formerly thrown into the backseat. Anyway, it’s all very time-consuming and stressful and I’m hoping that it cools down before the rain comes because after the trouble when this happened three years ago I don’t want to have to go through reverse-osmosis on my car again. Thanks for understanding.

Scion tC covered in snow and ice from a late winter storm.
My Scion tC, here, not too warm.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

Investors panicked today after reports of — well, anything really. Why aren’t you panicking? Good grief, there was this clickbait ad saying “don’t invest in lithium until you see this” and that’s enough right now. Why would you be investing in lithium to start with? Why would you stop? Why aren’t people talking about this? Or why are they talking about this? Is that picture by it what lithium actually looks like in the wild? And the clickbait below it says the new shampoo is 100% guaranteed to and we don’t even see the rest and that’s enough too!

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What’s Going On In Gasoline Alley? February – May 2017


And as with my other low-daisy-content story strip reviews, this one might be out of date. This post should be good for explaining plot developments in the couple of months before late May of 2017. If it’s later than, oh, August 2017 when you read this, then if all’s gone to plan I have a new post updating things further. My most recent Gasoline Alley posts should be at the top of this link. Thanks for reading and I’ll do my best to be not too wrong in describing the goings-on.

Gasoline Alley, 27 February – 26 May 2017.

Jim Scancarelli’s Gasoline Alley has four major kinds of storyline, with many variations possible in those types. Three have been seen since late February. The missing one is the magical-fantasy storyline, wherein Walt Wallet or crew visit the Old Comics Home or something similar. The kind of story that just warps what reality could be. That hasn’t been around the last few months.

The second time is your classic old-style sitcom, ah, situation. The kind where one of the main cast has some scheme that gets advanced and then falls apart. You know, every sitcom from the 50s and 60s, and many of the radio sitcoms from the 40s. It’s an old-fashioned format but it’s still a perfectly workable one. Last time we looked at Gasoline Alley they were coming near the end of one of these. Walt Wallet had been invited to the TV show Shark Bait to pitch inventors his idea: put every household appliance together in one big raging appliance monster. The millionaire or billionaires (the strip made a point of raising confusion about this) don’t see how it would work, and one of them finds that exactly this idea was patented by the Hotenkold Appliance Company in 1935 and still makes the things. As predicted by everyone who’s encountered stories before, Walt Wallet does not go home wealthy. (The strip didn’t pay off the millionaire-or-billionaire question.)

'Skeezix! Do you think it was worth the embarrassment going on the 'Shark Bait' TV show?' 'Well, you're richer by $500 and a case of cereal, Uncle Walt!' In the other car: 'Boog! I want Chipper to look at you when he checks out Aubee!' 'Can he multitask?'
Jim Scancarelli’s Gasoline Alley for the 7th of March, 2017. One storyline gives way to another. Yes, Boog is the kid’s name and yes, much of the online comics snark-reading community is horrified by his name and his appearance but that’s just because he has those huge devouring-void black dots of eyes that suggest the Mirror Universe Dondi.

The strip passed things off to Hoogy Skinner and her kids Boog and Aubee, for a medical check. This led a couple of weeks of pediatrician jokes and let us follow the Physician Assistant, Chipper Wallet, into the third of the stock Gasoline Alley plot kinds. And I’d like to mention the smoothness of the segue: we followed Walt Wallet out of the TV show plot, passed off by switching from one car to the next with characters that brought us to Chipper Wallet, and from that into his story. It’s all smoothly done; I wonder if daily readers even notice they’re being passed on like that.

Chipper: 'I love my kids and am proud they decided to go into the medical field ... ' 'Excuse me, Chipper! I hate to interrupt, but there's someone here to see you!' 'Who's that, Reg?' 'You'll see.' In the distance a barely visible woman approaches.
Jim Scancarelli’s Gasoline Alley for the 18th of April, 2017. I never spend time discussing this in the main articles so let’s take some here. Boy does Scancarelli draw well. The scenes are well-composed and nicely balanced, and look at how good Wallet’s hair and beard look in the second panel there. The third panel is also a treat; comic strips rarely get to display depth of field, but here it is, used for good dramatic effect.

Anyway, this third kind of storyline is the public service announcement. Chipper Wallet leaves the office to drive to Durham, North Carolina, where he’s to speak at the dedication of the Veteran’s Memorial Garden of the Physician Assistant Society. Wallet gets waylaid by some car trouble and meets Reverend Neil Enpray and mechanic Don Yonder whom I’m just going to assume are from the Earth-2 Gasoline Alley. They gave me the vibe of being established characters but I don’t know the canon nearly well enough to guess. But it’s mostly a chance for the characters to explain to the reader about what they are, what they do, why they’re important. The story ends with Wallet being reunited with a woman he, as a Navy Hospital Corpsman in Vietnam, helped deliver a child. As I say, a bit of story and a good bit of public service announcement. It’s also a chance to fundraise for the historical society.

Scruffy: 'I ain't ate since yestidy!' Rufus: 'Well, hadn't yo' better run home an' get yo' momma t'feed you'? 'T'aint my day t'eat! It's my sister's turn!'
Jim Scancarelli’s Gasoline Alley for the 12th of May, 2017. I know this is my own peculiarity, but: oh, I’m not looking forward to this. Not because I expect the story to end badly. I project it turning out pretty well for Scruffy and his family. But just because I know, deep down, there’s a depressing number of real-world families going through this and the story will end without things getting better for most of them, and that’s the sort of thing that breaks my heart. It’s not Scancarelli’s fault, and I certainly don’t blame him for telling a story about one of those sadly realistic problems and having it turn out well for his characters. But it does make me think of deep down what a rubbish job we do at having a society.

And this led into the current storyline, one of the fourth type. It’s the weepy melodrama. It stars Joel and Rufus, two of the (bluntly) stupider adults in the strip. They’re usually busy with more outlandish hijinks and misunderstandings. (The segue for this story was Rufus bringing his cat in to see Chipper Wallet on the grounds that of course he’s a vet; he served in the Coast Guard.) Rufus has just met Scruffy, a kid whose family just moved into the abandoned old grist mill and is so poor they can only use parts of the Walt Kelly Pogofenokee comic-strip-southern dialect. The story’s in its earliest days so not much has been established past that the family’s desperately poor. I expect this is going to lead Rufus and Joel in a story in which they make some grand and slightly overcomplicated gesture to help that which misfires but still results in their being a little better off. (At this stage it’s playing Santa Claus Running Late. This may evolve.) That’s the kind of story Gasoline Alley does.

The Sunday strips have all been one-off jokes, mostly characters setting up and delivering corny old gags well, and not part of any continuing storylines. That’s fine and pleasant but there’s no context I can usefully give to them. They’re whole on their own.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

The index rose eleven points as everyone was relieved to learn everyone else had clicked on that silly clickbait ad about ten ways to earn money from your hobby and there was no reason everyone should feel ashamed that, like, apparently there’s people whose hobby is investing in real estate? I mean, come on. Anyway the index is at 210 and that’s not even an all-time high and isn’t that amazing too? It’s amazing, yes.

210

Suddenly Clickbait Gets Me Worried


So then I saw this ad.

Picture of a guy standing in a cemetery with the headline 'Surprising Look At Who's Going Bankrupt In America'

Um … who … uh … is it dead people? Dead people are going bankrupt at surprising rates? What rate of dead-person bankruptcy wouldn’t be surprising? I mean, dead people may have few expenses but they’ve got no income and over a long enough time, you know, these things add up. Or is it cemetery caretakers? Maybe … groundskeepers who look kind of like they’re wearing a Post Office shirt? I’m confused by all this.

Well, meanwhile, my mathematics blog has some more comic strips to talk about. And also remember last week I wrote about conspiracy theories and this one where the Illuminati had Whitney Houston killed? I’m not saying this Vulture article was a coincidence, but when’s the last time you saw a mention of Whitney Houston an the Illuminati in the same essay? Just linking.

Another Blog, Meanwhile Index

Traders don’t see what’s so funny about this after the index lost another five points overnight when they were being so reasonable about it all..

90

Whew!


New High Powered Flashlight Is Now Available In Michigan.
So, uh, too bad for you, Indiana? I guess? Also this is clickbait somehow?

I had worried!


Does that seem skimpy ? That seems skimpy. Well, how about this . I was reading Lisa Jardine’s Worldly Goods: A New History of the Renaissance. In the last chapter she quotes a letter by the master artist Albrecht Dürer to one of his patrons. Dürer’s quoted as passing on his nephew’s thanks for two florins sent as Trinkgeld, money to get a drink. I’m delighted to learn that 16th Century German apparently had a perfectly legitimate word for “beer money”. Also that it’s adorable! I can’t imagine a more adorable term for this unless it’s whatever the Dutch version of “Trinkgeld” is. There must be a word for the joy of discovering an adorable German word for something. I bet it’s in French.

Statistics Saturday: Big Surprises You’re In For If You Own A Home In Michigan


It's a really big home that I'll bet isn't even in Michigan.
Also, no, that’s not the Grand Hotel at Mackinac Island, but you probably knew that already or are just nodding and moving on without thinking about it.
  1. You forgot to put the recycling out!
  2. If you’re on the landing exactly at midnight New Year’s Eve you can get into the secret extra floor there.
  3. There’s somebody, anybody, back east who knows you’re in the Eastern Time Zone.
  4. That shield bug in the bathroom that’s been motionless and on its back for two weeks? It’s not dead yet somehow.
  5. There’s still a Radio Shack in town.
  6. You will never be perfectly confident that the faucets are turning off correctly.
  7. Tucked inside the wall you can never get a picture nail to stick in? That’s the canvases of 19th century moving-panorama showman John Banvard’s famous half-mile long painting of the Mississippi River, once the toast of American and European theatrical performances, and thought to be completely lost.
  8. Oh, the basement, let’s not even.
  9. The button you never use on the dishwasher is for its twelve-minute Licking Cycle.
  10. That’s no home, that’s some 60s black-and-white French science fiction movie in which people grunt about how the essence of mankind is love and faith, courage and tenderness, and then getting shot until they fall into swimming pools at the direction of the all-powerful computer god, which is played by a heat lamp behind a box fan.

How Apartment 3-G November Apartment 3-G Treated Apartment 3-G My Apartment 3-G Blog: Apartment 3-G Edition


So, readership-wise, November 2015 was the best month I’ve ever had. By far. Indeed, “by far” is too short for how good it was, in terms of attracting readers. Cut November 2015 in half and would still have been the most popular month I’ve ever had here.

Of course I have two things to thank for this: my decision to track how much nothing was going on in Apartment 3-G, and the comic strip shutting down entirely. The strip’s descent into baffling, dadaist dream-logic brought many people over here trying to learn what had happened, and then The Onion AV Club mentioned my blog as one of those writing about the strip’s collapse.

So here’s the final tally. According to WordPress there were 4,528 page views here in November. There were 2,308 unique visitors. The previous records had been set in October, with 2,204 page views and a mere 1,242 visitors. Yes, I’m staggered by that too. And before that as Apartment 3-G Bafflemania heated up, September 2015 gave me a then-record 1,687 page views and 888 unique visitors. If I could have a longrunning comic strip come to a sad, pathetic conclusion every month I might be able to make a go of writing blogs.

Almost all of that is the AV Club side effects, of course. WordPress says there were 1,042 referrers just from that one article. There were 1,316 from Google searches, almost all of them about the end of Apartment 3-G. (There were 108 hits from Yahoo, Bing, Google Image, AOL, and Ask.com searches all together, revealing that Ask.com is still around.)

There’s essentially no point my listing popular articles this month. Apart from “What We Found In The New 2015 Penny” all the top ten articles were Apartment 3-G related. Expand to the top fifteen and we get more 3-G and finally “when I Gave Up”, which was more of me mocking clickbait. Down in the dregs of the top twenty we start getting more distinct stuff I wrote, like “What I Think Of The Peanuts Movie” and “What Amazon Think I’ll Buy” and the surprisingly durable “Local Architecture Critic Derides Seasons, Nature”.

November ends with my having 622 total WordPress followers, WordPress says. December opens with the blog having gotten 28,629 page views and 14,600 unique visitors.

Statistics that suggest reader engagement were up slightly. I suppose most of the AV Club readers aren’t sticking around. But the site drew 299 Likes in November, up from October’s 279 and September’s 281, but down from this time last year. Ah well. WordPress recorded 45 comments, down from October’s 65 and September’s 56, and well down from early in the year when a hundred or so was common. I don’t know what to do to draw in more comments.

Countries sending me the most readers were, as usual, the United States with an unusually high 3,861; Canada with 225; the United Kingdom with 121; Australia with 64, and Germany at 24. India sent me 12 readers, technically up from eight. Singapore sent seven, up from two.

Single-reader countries were slightly more numerous than usual: Austria, Bangladesh, Chile, Czech Republic, the European Union (?), Indonesia, Malawi, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Panama, Peru, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Trinidad and Tobago, Turkey, Venezuela, and Vietnam. The repeats from October were the Czech republic, and Norway. The Czech Republic is on a three-month streak here.

Statistics Saturday: What Warren Buffett Is Warning Americans About


'Warren Buffett Just Gave Americans A Big Warning' ... also there's a tooltip warning there's a breakthrough causing people to lose too much weight.
I forget what the breakthrough was that causes people to lose too much weight.


Biggest ones: 'Nothing is happening in Apartment 3-G. NOTHING'. Also: 'handled in a facility that contains ingredients', and, 'That's no ordinary guinea pig!'
Just missing the cut: ‘You’ll find Fallen London a way more interesting game than you expect’.

So apparently I’m okay with using clickbait advertisements as inspiration. Not sure how knowing that makes me feel about myself.

Also, happy National Day, Singapore. That hasn’t anything to do with anything here, but how often does a nation observe its 50th National Day? Except the nations that claim they’re 50 years old every single year, like some of those Caribbean islands do.

Statistics Saturday on a Monday-ish, for July


First I want to point out that Thomas K Dye’s Newshounds web comic resumes this Monday. He’s a friend. Give it a try. It’s a longrunning strip (with precursors that go back to before the Internet was a thing), but you won’t get lost.

Now on to myself. And my blog’s readership for the month of July. I’d like to say the crisis has passed. Folklore I’ve received says WordPress stopped counting viewers from mobile web devices and that’s resulted in depressed readership numbers for people. My readership is back up this month, though, quite satisfyingly high. However, digging deeper into the numbers, I see that I had one extraordinarily popular post this month. If I remove that, then the numbers drop back to … higher than June, but not so high as before the mysterious drop.

So I had 1,126 views in July. That’s far better than June’s 739 or May’s 759. It’s a bit below the October-to-December rush times last year, when I accidentally trolled Kinks fandom. But it’s still impressive. WordPress also reports there were 669 unique visitors; that’s the third-highest I’ve ever had, after October and November of last year.

But the number of likes dwindles, for the (ugh) fifth month in a row. That’s down to 349 likes in July, compared to 365 in June and 380 in May. The number of comments rose. There were 76 of them in July, compared to 59 in June, but that’s barely down from May’s 81. This all seems to imply I got a lot of casual readers, but kept my regularly engaged set. That’s not bad.

The most popular country sending me readers was, as usual, the United States with 921 views. Canada came in a distant second at 55. The United Kingdom came in at 32. India popped in at 18, which is well up from June’s five.

The single-reader countries were Belgium, Brazil, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Georgia, Guatemala, Indonesia, Israel, the Netherlands, South Africa, Switzerland, and Turkey. South Africa’s the only single-reader country from June too.

The most popular postings in this past month were:

  1. Statistics Saturday: What We Found In The New 2015 Penny with a total of 326 views, by far the most I’ve gotten on anything ever. Honest. It’s even topped the Secret Life Of Ray Davies post that accidentally got the Kinks fandom interested, and the astounding facts about Turbo post, and those have had way longer to accumulate page views. So, I guess I’ve accidentally grown a moral quandary here.
  2. I Don’t Know What’s Going On In Apartment 3-G Anymore, which is from March, and
  3. What’s Going On In Apartment 3-G, showing how confusing the comic strip has gotten lately, and
  4. The ‘Nothing Is Happening In Apartment 3-G’ Update to emphasize this. Nothing is happening in Apartment 3-G. Believe me, it’s even more nothing than you imagine.
  5. Statistics Saturday: How I Evaluate The Truth Of A Thing, a trifle that I really think I could have done more with because I like the idea.
  6. Local Architecture Critic Running Farther Amok, showing how much fun there is to be had in teasing local alternate weeklies for minor quirks.

If you take out the 326 views the Penny clickbait gave me, then there were 800 views this month and as few as 343 unique visitors. That’s still heading upwards, at least.

WordPress tells me I start the month at my 19,096th page view, and with 599 followers.

Finally, I’ve read advice that it’s worth reminding people how to follow your blog, so that people who read it can be nagged into reading it again. This seems logical. Since I’m right now on the Twenty Fourteen theme here, there’s a green button on the upper left that reads “FOLLOW, PLEASE” which is good for that. On my machine the FOLLOW is split between two lines, because that somehow makes sense to the computer as a thing to do. I’ve looked at alternate themes, I just haven’t found one I quite like. Well, I do like P2 Classic, but I use that on my mathematics blog.

If you have an RSS reader, then I agree with you that’s a good way to follow posts and I don’t know why it’s getting so hard to do that anymore. Anyway, https://nebusresearch.wordpress.com/feed/ will give you my posts. https://nebusresearch.wordpress.com/comments/feed/ should give you comments, too. And my regular old Twitter account is @Nebusj, which is about what you might figure except I sometimes chat with people you don’t know about things you have to kind of guess about. We’ll see.

Statistics Saturday: What We Found In The New 2015 Penny


'You won't believe what we found inside the new 2015 penny', it claims. This picture is from 2015.
Clickbait artists are poor judges of what I find believable. Warning: do not click!

I admit the clickbait ad above made me curious. So I checked. Here’s what was inside the new 2015 penny:

2004 Penny Struggling To Escape Capture; Merengue; Trilithium Resin; Poise, Gallantry; Wood Pulp. Also some fan fiction and some chocolate 2-Euro coin wedges. And a kind heart.
Oh, yeah, and there’s something about zinc.