Saturday, 10 July 2010

So long and thanks for all the fish

A few parting comments as I “virtually” turn out the lights:

First and foremost, there’s no immediate reason to worry about me. There’s no specific reason for my decision; nobody’s come to me and said “X would have happened if you didn’t have a blog.” Nor am I embarking on some ultra-secret endeavor that puts me under a gag rule. Having said that, this coming academic year is time for my third-year review—which, to those who are unfamiliar with how academia works, essentially means that what I’ve done so far will be closely scrutinized and that it’s prudent to begin actively seeking other employment options regardless of how the review turns out. I have no reason to believe it will be unfavorable (and I believe my C.V. stacks up well against those of colleagues in the social and behavioral sciences who have just been reviewed or will be reviewed along with me), but then again I have not been told to expect a favorable review either.

Second, once all of that is resolved the spirit may move me to return to blogging here. In the meantime, I plan to continue occasionally contributing at Outside the Beltway as the spirit moves me. (Those who use an feed reader may find this link to my feed handy, although I certainly recommend reading all of my fellow OTBers as well.) You can find short-form content at my Twitter feed, and a giant melange of stuff I’ve found interesting at FriendFeed. More professional stuff can be found at my professional site and my page.

However, there’s no need to delete your bookmarks. I plan to keep this site available indefinitely, and the “Stuff you should read” and “Random thoughts…” blocks will continue to update (so long as Twitter and Google Reader continue to cooperate). If I do eventually decide to return to blogging, I’ll announce it here first, and if I have any particularly exciting news to share with a broader audience I may post it here (even if I don’t formally resume the blog).

On my way out the door, I’d like to thank my readers; my former co-contributors Robert Prather and Brock Sides; and all the folks (readers and fellow bloggers alike) I’ve met over the years due to the blog. See ya!

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Making the beast dead

In what some have said is an “end of an era” and others have suggested is an event 4–6 years overdue, Signifying Nothing will be signing off—if not permanently, certainly for the foreseeable future—by the end of June. I still plan to contribute to Outside the Beltway (perhaps even on a more regular basis, given the discontinuation of this blog), and those who must hear my briefer thoughts on non-OTB-worthy matters may either follow me on Twitter, FriendFeed, or (if I know you, above an incredibly low threshold of “know”) Facebook.

There are a few reasons for the blog to come to an end. Probably foremost is that the world has moved on and others (with far bigger audiences) usually have something to say about a matter of interest before I find the time to comment on it in any detail. Twitter and my Google Reader shared items feed have essentially taken over any need for shorter, “go read this” posts, which leaves only sporadic content for a real blog.

The second reason, which I suppose matters more to me than to my readers, is that this blog really only worked when I was willing to discuss my thoughts in a much more unfiltered manner. Even though I’ve never used this forum in a way that might undermine collegiality, I have come to appreciate more that taken out of context—which much content on the Internet inevitably is, due to search engines—some of my more unguarded thoughts might be seen as representing more general attitudes that some might find as a convenient excuse to use to undermine future professional opportunities.

Being in a tenure-track position also, paradoxically, places me in the position for the first time of not being able to be quite as forthright about the serious issues that exist in academia generally and political science specifically. (I leave aside the paper trail of political views that would put me simultaneously outside the mainstream of academia and those of the American public at large yet somehow somewhere in between them, which certainly is a recipe for loathing from all sides.) I have no direct evidence that the blog has harmed my potential professional status to date, but frankly at this point in my career I feel the need to play it “safer” than I have in the past, and Signifying Nothing is an inevitable casualty of that decision.

Farewell; it’s been an interesting 7½ year trip.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Wordling the blog

Via PoliBlog, here’s the Wordle of the blog of late:

And, just for my amusement, I dumped my entire dissertation in and got this:

Thursday, 20 March 2008

Experiment of the day

For the bleeding-edge Safari and Opera users in the audience, I decided to add CSS3 Web Fonts support to the blog, providing a decent set of fallback fonts for readers; I’m currently using the freely-available DejaVu Sans and Inconsolata typefaces, with the stylesheet designed to only download the fonts if they are not locally-installed already. (Most Linux distributions these days at least include the DejaVu fonts; the next version of Debian will include a ttf-inconsolata package as well.)

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Gotta love Network Solutions

The reason you can’t read this (yet): Network Solutions won’t let me renew my domain name until I prove to their satisfaction that I am who I say I am, and I can’t transfer my domain to any of the registrars who believe I am who I say I am because I need to prove I’m me to NSI first.

Monday, 5 November 2007

Minor redesign

Readers visiting via the front page will have noticed a little bit of a redesign: I’ve integrated my Google Reader shared items into the right sidebar a bit better, and added my Twitter feed, as well as rearranging a few things, the end result of which is probably a bit more appealing to repeat visitors than the old layout. Overall, I think it’s an aesthetic improvement, but I could be wrong, and feedback is welcome.

I also changed the default fonts around a bit; if I get really bored, I may add downloadable font face support (as described here) for at least the free DejaVu Sans fallback fonts—I’m not going to draw Microsoft’s wrath by putting a copy of Calibri up on my website, although presumably many of my readers already have it one way or another. Not that downloadable fonts work in any of the common browsers yet anyway.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

Interesting things I've seen but am too lazy to blog about...

… can now be seen to the right on the front page, or via this link.

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Is this thing on?

I think we’re back up and running. We’ll see how this goes…

Update: Apparently, I originally spoke too soon. But now I've done what I should have done in the first place, and sprung to have Signifying Nothing hosted on a virtual private server; if the VPS seems to be working well, the rest of my web empire will follow soon enough.

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Downtime forthcoming

Due to the annual ritual of Chris moving to another city, and Chris being too lazy to make alternative hosting arrangements during the move, Signifying Nothing will be down for a few days starting sometime Friday. See you on the flip side!

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Tea leaves

Odd that Google has switched from showing John McCain ads to now showing Barack Obama ads, while continuing to intersperse ads for Newt Gingrich’s weekly email or whatever. Perhaps the core demographic of my blog is “fans of members of Congress who will never be president.”

Thursday, 24 May 2007

Spam reduction in effect

I just added reCAPTCHA to the blog, which should cut back on some of the comment spam issues around here immensely; this solution means your commenting also has the nice side-effect of helping to digitize old books that can’t be OCRed reliably by computers.

Since this should eliminate the spam problem, I’m also going to allow comments on posts up to four weeks old; the previous limit was 10 days, which might have been a tad short. Please send me an email if something is broken; my testing was reasonably thorough (considering it only took me about 45 minutes to add the code, since there wasn't much to do at my end), but you never know on these things.

Thanks to Adam Rossi-Kessel (via Planet Debian) for the tip.

Thursday, 26 April 2007

Blog reader survey

Something for you to do if you’re bored this afternoon: take this survey that allegedly will help me attract (better?) advertising to the blog, or something.

Wednesday, 20 December 2006

Amazing disappearing comments

I upgraded my PostgreSQL installation yesterday, but my Mac seems to insist on launching the old version of PostgreSQL instead. I think I have it fixed... but we'll see soon.

Saturday, 21 October 2006

46 page views

Someone visited my blog today and looked at 46 different pages. I really didn’t think the blog was that interesting, to be honest.

Wednesday, 26 April 2006

Don't mind me

I’m going to be busy much of this week with grading (I have 73 term papers to grade, and I need to get them all done before Sunday) and a conference, so don’t expect a lot of new posts on the Duke lacrosse situation or anything else for that matter.

Tuesday, 18 April 2006

Me, in transcript form

For those of you who missed my 15 minutes of fame, here’s a transcript from CNN. I’ve tried to reconstruct what I said in the audio gaps from the webcam to the best of my memory.

Friday, 7 April 2006

Duke Lacrosse Investigation

If you’re new to the blog, all of the posts related to the Duke lacrosse investigation are here. Please also read below the fold for a few groundrules.

I recommend the CourtTV discussion board for this case if you want to discuss the intricacies of the evidence.

Saturday, 4 March 2006

Blog transition complete

The blog is now running on the Mac mini, apparently without incident. The blog seems a little zippier in responding to requests now that it’s not running over the wireless network; the dual cores on the Mini may also be helping the zippy feeling, as the computer is compiling an Emacs 22 prerelease from fink in the background.

Thursday, 18 August 2005


Well, that was fun. Things are sorta-kinda working here now (including, thankfully, the air conditioning), although I am still two cable outlets short of audio-visual nirvana.

Also: if you’re expecting to hear from me via email, give me a couple of days to get through the backlog.

Saturday, 14 May 2005


Thanks to Backcountry Conservative Jeff Quinton for name-dropping our humble blog during his appearance on MSNBC’s “Connected: Coast to Coast” yesterday; he specifically referred to my posts on the BRAC list’s impact on Mississippi. If you didn’t see it live or on TiVo delay, Jeff’s link above has the streaming video; I think the Signifying Nothing mention is in response to the first question from Ron Reagan.

Saturday, 19 March 2005


As you may have noticed, I’ve done some minor futzing with the stylesheet recently. The big changes are a new header image that replaces the Magnolia and Tennessee flags with a cartographic theme, made with scans* from my Michelin 2005 Road Atlas, that better uses PNG alpha transparency; frames around each post; and the “recent Flickr photos” box at the top of the page, currently featuring my camera phone photos from today and the ones I took on my aging Olympus C-2100UZ camera in New Orleans.

Saturday, 5 March 2005

Comment feed

For those of you who like to keep up with the discussions on our posts, a few minutes of hacking led to an experimental Atom feed of comments. It’s not playing nicely with If-Modified-Since yet, so be gentle.

Friday, 4 March 2005

Plug'd again

When it rains, it pours. Thanks to Steven Taylor of PoliBlog for naming Signifying Nothing as one of his three favorite blogs in his interview with Norm Geras.

Monday, 28 February 2005


Thanks to Jon Henke of QandO for their plug this morning; I know Robert and I appreciate it.

Monday, 7 February 2005

Memory holed

I’ve been futzing with some posting stuff to make Robert happy; the jumps in entryids are not because we have something to cover up… just test posts (and, in some cases, non-posts) that disappeared into the ether.