Some Numbers for May 2014 (“14” Excluded)


Since Saturday was a day for statistics of general use, let me make this Sunday one for talking about how the blog is doing, and let’s never mind that it’s actually Monday according to the WordPress Server Clock because that’s getting too confusing.

I had my most popular month of all time in May: 571 page views, up from 396 in April, and pretty convincingly more than the previous record (468, in March). The number of unique visitors is up, too, from 167 in April to 186 in May, although that’s the fourth-highest number of unique visitors on record. It is by far the highest views-per-visitor ratio, 3.07, that I’ve had; it’s up from 2.37 last month. I also had my 5,983rd page view, so I missed the big six thousand just barely, for May. Ah well. At least I got it somewhere around the first of June, which is pretty neatly organized.

The most popular articles the past month were:

  1. Math Comics and Ziggy for some reason; it’s just pointing to mathematics comics and mentioning a Ziggy that mentioned Popeye.
  2. After Our Pet Rabbit Had A Day Outdoors, the stirring true story of the aftermath of letting him in the yard a little.
  3. Math Comics Without Equations, which is an even more mysterious entry because it’s from January and it’s again just a pointer to the mathematics blog.
  4. Five Astounding Facts About Turbo, That Movie About A Snail in The Indianapolis 500, of course. Hey, are they having the Indianapolis 500 this year?
  5. Popeye Space Ark 2000 Pinball … I Don’t Even Know, the engagingly deranged story which the late game designer Python Anghelo (best known for Joust) dreamed up for, alas, one of the least interesting pinballs of the mid-90s.
  6. About the Foot-Drawing Hall of Fame, which I just really like myself, so I’m glad it’s well-received here.

The countries sending me the most readers the past month were the United States (478), Canada (15), and the United Kingdom (10). Just a single reader each came from Cyprus, Finland, India, Italy, Slovakia, and Spain. Fewer countries sent me a single reader each last month, but Italy and Spain were among them.

Among search terms that brought people to me:

  • socrates chewed gum
  • meaningless awards
  • chase nebus
  • comic strip “unstrange phenomena”
  • s j perelman counter revolution

Good luck, whoever was looking for things.

What My Humor Blog Did In February 2014


I do make a serious effort to track what’s being read and what isn’t around these parts, and for February 2014, it turns out the number of readers of pages around here went from 337 in January to 337 in February. At least they were different readers. Actually, the number of readers increased from 153 to 170, implying a page-per-reader count drop from 2.20 to 1.98, so I’m amusing more people, but they’re all a little less happy with what they see.

The most popular articles the last thirty days were:

  1. Mathematics Comics, Over That Way, pointing over to my mildly popular mathematics blog.
  2. Statistics Saturday: Hi, Dad, which gets you to a better understanding of my father.
  3. Unintentional Laughs, where I just make fun of Mary Worth and Flash Gordon like they needed me to do that.
  4. Another View of the United States, offering the fascinating statistical matchup between states of the United States and nations of the world.
  5. Newton’s Prank, about this time he made a fake comet, and which I realize has a thematic link to Also, Heidegger Was A Shingle Weaver, and the unexpected sides of historically important people.

As usual the countries sending me the most readers were the United States (261) and Canada (28), with the United Kingdom (8) and Singapore (6) coming up next. The countries that could just barely tolerate me were Denmark, Japan, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Russia, Spain, and Sweden. None of them were on last month’s roster, just as last month none of the countries were from December 2013’s roster of single-viewer nations, so my plan to amuse one person in every country in the world is continuing to exist.

Socrates and the Aftermath of the Aftermath


Another bit of the aftermath of that whole Battle of Arginusae thing: like I learned, the generals who were responsible for the victory over Sparta there were tried for failing to rescue so many Athenian boatmen. Fair enough. Wikipedia’s article reports how “all six generals [ there had been eight, but two of them ran away ] were found guilty and executed including Pericles the Younger. The Athenians soon came to regret their decision in the case of the generals, and charges were brought against the principal instigators of the executions. These men escaped before they could be brought to trial”.

The thing is, this happened all the time in ancient Athens. You could barely get the citizens together to express regret for the last time they had someone executed without their figuring they had to have somebody executed. Every gathering went like this:

Antisthenes: Boy, we were stupid to have Socrates killed.

Crowd: Yeah! Whose dumb idea was that?

Antisthenes: It was Meletus, wasn’t it? Let’s kill Meletus!

Crowd: Yeah!

Meletus: Ulp!

[ Two weeks later: ]

Next Guy: Man, we were idiots to kill Meletus.

Crowd: Yeah! Whose dumb idea was that?

Antisthenes: Me. Sorry, it was mine.

Next Guy: Let’s kill him!

Crowd: Yeah!

Antisthenes: Ulp!

Founders of Western Civilization and yet nobody pointed out they’re always sorry two weeks later. None of them ever gets the idea, “hey, if he really needs killing, he’ll still need it a month from now, so no rush”. I’m guessing this is what happens when your government consists of getting a couple hundred guys together where they have to shout to be heard at all while making sure they have all the wine they can drink.

Socrates and The Aftermath


I don’t mean to brag, but, I did research for that little thing about Socrates the other day. In particular I cast about for names that maybe plausibly could have been of people Socrates might have known, because it’s fun and research avoids actually having to write, and getting that sort of irrelevant detail right is the sure way to win the lifetime adoration of someone who specializes in whatever it is I’m writing about. So that’s why I picked, particularly, “Euryptolemus” as a name. My spouse wondered how I had, and I had to dig through my notes.

It’s all kind of long, complicated, and confusing, in that way ancient history just is, but he was one of the figures in the controversy over the Battle of Arginusae. This was a battle during the Peloponnesian War where the Athenian navy beat the Spartan one, and then most of the navy was sent to try relieving Sparta’s siege of the city of Conon rather than stick around picking up Athenian survivors. A storm came up, and both the attempt to relieve Conon and the attempt to pick up survivors failed, and the Athenian population naturally put the generals responsible for beating not Sparta enough on trial. This gets back to Socrates because some of the trial was done under his authority as an epistates, possibly the only time in his life that Socrates actually held a political office.

In fact, my spouse, the professional philosopher, didn’t know that Socrates ever held office. Socrates’s role in trying the Eight Generals from the Battle of Arginusae was one of moderation, because he apparently didn’t think there were constitutional grounds for the motion to just have the generals killed right then and there. This reason, if it’s true (and it’s hard to be perfectly sure as ancient historians felt more free than we do to alter facts so to make a better and more instructional story), neatly foreshadows his refusal to take the chance to escape his judicially-sponsored murder two years later, and shows his belief in the social compact binding people in a society to each other, for good or ill. It’s a fascinating peek at the historical Socrates that makes him a more real and more compelling character, and by the time we had read enough ineptly-written Wikipedia pages to we think straighten all this out in our heads, we were captivated. My arbitrary plucking of a name had given us the chance to see how a person who studied so diligently the problem of how we could come by knowledge and how we could be confident we had it dealt with the inherent uncertainties in judging human affairs, particularly in the boiling-over world of ancient Athenian politics.

Two hours later we both realized that while we hadn’t the faintest recollection what the name of the battle was, who any of the generals involved were, or what city the navy was sent to relieve, or what precisely was the name of Euryptolemus, we nevertheless were describing, in precise enough detail for scholars to completely reconstruct it, that Big Red chewing gum commercial with the marching band.

Also, Heidegger Was A Shingle Weaver


My spouse, the professional philosopher, startled me the other day while we were driving to Meijer’s by mentioning that Socrates had been a master stonecutter. That’s really the sort of thing you expect to hear on the way to Kroger’s. Up to that point I had never imagined that Socrates even had a profession. I’d assumed he had always made his living by committing acts of philosophy against the Athenian population. My mental model was that he probably had started out seeking wisdom and truth and maybe beauty around the holiday seasons. I had thought I was supported in this by Plato’s recording of Socrates’s discussion with Isocrates, which I had to read for an undergraduate history class about the Cold War, 1945 – 1963, because the professor was bored:

Isocrates: Good fellow Socrates! It has been an agora’s age. No, no, say nothing, I’ll not be engaging you in any conversations anymore. Everyone knows perfectly well how talking with you ends up.

Socrates: Everyone does? How does everyone come by such perfect knowledge?

Isocrates: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA [ continues for 26 scrolls of papyrus ] AAAAAAUGH!

Euryptolemus: Sorry to interrupt but the Spartans are invading Mytilene again.

So with a background like that you can see why I’m stunned to know Socrates ever had to do anything to pay the bills other than collect ransom for going off and talking to other people instead.

Continue reading “Also, Heidegger Was A Shingle Weaver”