So, as a capper to an already awesome day, Jack asked me to step down as both admin and editor. This was probably a long time coming; I haven't been noding or editing like I used to.

Most of my inactivity is because I just haven't had time. But not all. Jack suggested I could stay on as a content editor if I wanted; I asked to remain a CE and gave him a harmless but ultimately selfish (and I knew it was selfish) reason for wanting to continue in that capacity. He said my reason wouldn't fly, was exactly the reason they wanted to trim the editorial ranks, and busted me back to plain ol' noder.

The whole thing felt weirdly like getting fired. I thought hard about why I didn't immediately have a good, non-selfish reason for wanting to remain on staff. For a while this place was what I looked forward to in the mornings, you know? It was my favorite thing ever.

I weathered the anonymous serial downvoters, and the vicious catbox fights, all that really didn't dull the lustre for me.

You know what finally did? The Google ads.

I understand that servers cost money, etc., and I'm all in favor of the site earning its own keep for Blockstackers.

So, at first I was enthusiastic about the ads. I mean, heck, I've got books, Sharq's got a book, Shaogo's got a restaurant, donfreenut and spiregrain have CDs -- a lot of noders have projects and such that they might want to advertise on E2, and E2 would get money in the process. A win-win situation, right?

So I paid my $5 cover charge and waded into the teeming shark tank that is the Google ad system -- and found that it was seemingly impossible to actually make a successful bid. So I asked nate what it would cost to take an ad out directly. He told me it would be $500 for 24 hours* across the entire site; apparently that's what the Google ads earn out each day, and anything less would clearly not be worth his (and Blockstackers) while. I suggested some alternate, indie-friendly ad systems to nate, but they were all deemed not worthwile because they wouldn't generate the same amount of cash.

So, we have a situation where the people who've spent years contributing hundreds of articles, people who have made the site what it's worth today, can't afford to advertise on the site ... but any rich con artist can.

And so instead of promos for Sharq's book, Shaogo's jazz club, Hatshepsut's bride site, or spiregrain's CD, we're treated to Viagra ads and an endless stream of vanity publishing scams.

Back in the day, a webzine that sold ads but didn't pay its contributors would absolutely be crucified. I know the times have a-changed, but I carry that outlook with me: it's not right to profit from a site (or even appear to be profiting) if you're relying on volunteer labor. Seeing the ads (especially the vanity publisher's ads across the top of my homenode) makes me feel like a chump for sweating to produce good writeups, and kills my desire to volunteer for any more heavy lifting.

This isn't a prelude to me flouncing outta here; there are people I care about here who've stuck around, and if they're here, I'll be here too, when time permits. This isn't me saying that E2 is doomed. This is just my two cents; the management can save it for a rainy day or toss it in the gutter as they choose.

clampe informs me that the figure quoted was $500, which he still rates as high. My error; I didn't have nate's email handy, and I had it in my head that it was $5,000, because at the time nate quoted it to me I thought "That's a novel advance!" and that's the part that stuck with me.

Notes from the Surf

Death Star over San Francisco
Will anyone ever trust "video proof" ever again?

Lethal Star Trek blade seized in knives amnesty
I don't know about your neighborhood, but those roving gangs of Klingon wanna-be trekkies have been menacing my neighborhood for far too long =)

Grandmother arrested after refusing to delete JetBlue fight video
Apparently a fight broke out on the flight and the airline didn't want to look bad.

Pope warns Italy in danger of returning to fascism
When the pope himself has to personally step in and remind people to fight racism, intolerance, and exclusion, you know something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

When the bottom line overrides the Hippocratic oath
...his first question was: "What's their insurance?" ...I can't remember if the child was underinsured, uninsured or was insured by the state, but it didn't matter. When I called the surgeon back, he refused to come in. His group didn't cover "those kinds" of patients.

Obama and McCain Tax Proposals
Over 60% of Americans would get a bigger tax cut with Obama. Apparently those claiming McCain would lower taxes "more", think the average American rakes in over $111K a year.

The Georgia-Ossetia situation only repeats the Russia-Chechnya situation 9 years ago
"Do not obey the orders of your commanders! Turn your weapon against those who sent you to war!"

The Plot Against Liberal America
"...democracy cannot work when wealth is distributed as lopsidedly as theirs was-and as ours is. The inevitable consequence of plutocracy, then and now, is bought government."

Bolivia: An Election Post-Mortem
"the faces you see in the news sections of the paper are no more representative of Bolivia than all those smiling faces at the quincineras of the wealthy that you see on the society pages"

Nepal: Workers Assume Control of Factories, Gardens and Restart Tea Production
Who needs to strike when you can go to work on your own terms?

A few people have asked me to respond to Lucy-S's message above, and it deserves a response. I have been a long time admirer of her writing here, a purchaser of her books, and an admirer from afar. I'm only responding to the issues regarding the ad system. The question of who is or is not a content editor is up to Jack and katherine (with temporary help from Apatrix) and the MSU/BSI team has a long term hands off policy.

Let me say that I haven't spoken with either nate or kurt about this, although I plan to. What I'm talking about here is more clarification and what I hope to be able to talk my BSI collaborators into.

Let me say clearly that I think Lucy-S is right, and the people who have contributed to this community should have the ability to advertise on this site. In fact, we've always been (I thought at least) pretty supportive to the projects of noders, making announcements on front pages, linking to websites and whatever we could do outside of the ad system. I personally fought long and hard against lawyers to make sure our contract with MSU was such that we could continue linking to 3rd party vending, so people could have their cafepress links and whatever on their homenodes and the front page. The clickthrough rates for those links tend to be way better than or the banners too *grin*. I'm not expecting ticker tape for these previous endeavors to support noder creative projects, but I think it does show we've been committed in the past to advertising noder projects.

I would also remind folks that we're *all* volunteers here. The writers are obviously most important, but the content editors, e2gods, Jack, Apatrix, Michigan State University and BSI are all volunteering our time. I'm not sure which orifice nate pulled $5000 out of, but that's definitely not what we're bring in in ad revenue. We earn tens of dollars per day. We're hundredaires. It could be that's the price google charges for a complete buy out of the site over a 24 hour period, but we're earning definitely less than a hundred bucks a day in ad revenue. (nate sez: I do have an orifice that i can pull $5000 out of, but it's for emergencies only)

So where is that money going, besides hookers and blow for klaproth? Some is going to continued hardware upgrades (isn't the site nice and fast compared to 18 months ago?) and some is going to defray Internet costs. Alot of it we are banking to hopefully pay for coding work being done, and eventually even writing work. More on that later.

Google is the fucking Voldemort of Web ad sales. They're the alpha and the omega. For any site not Facebook or Yahoo! they are the way web ad sales are done. They're serving our ads, and it's insanely difficult to serve other inventory on your site in the banner location while they are doing so. Yes, I feel like a freaking suit using the word "inventory".

We should support the products of our community members. That simple proposition still leaves lots of open questions. Lucy-S, Sharq, Shaogo, Spiregrain and donfreenut (hey dude) are easy cases. What should they pay? Should the pay be dependent on how *much* they've contributed to the site? Who manages the system for noders? My own druthers is that they shouldn't pay anything, but part of the problem is that neither nate, kurt or I can be depended on to reliably manage anything.

Consequently, here's what I'll recommend to nate and kurt with consultation with Jack and katherine. Forget the banners for noders, but create a special area on the front page of the site for noder products that should be promoted. This is good for the site, as it becomes clear our contributors are goddamned serious people, and hopefully it draws a little attention to the projects people have out there. We don't bury it in News for Noders but make it its own section.

The other thing hidden in there, and an undertone I've heard in the e2forum and here is paying noders for the content that they write. does this, and people earn hundreds of cents on that site. Yahoo! Answers did this for a while, and people could make as much as a nickel per answer. I like the theory of this idea very much, and like Lucy-S I started out in the zine culture where this was more normal. Again, this has been in the works, though the priorities have been to make the site stable and to add features (like better feedback tools for writers) that have long been asked for. We're getting there (and Oolong kicks ass). I do think we still have room to *soon* get some money to noders.

But how, and to whom? Do we go by popularity of nodes based on adsense hits? Then I gotta find masukomi, because the anal sex node is an all time winner for this site. Pay by the most "I like it"s? Highest rated WU for the week gets some scratch? Content editors pick someone? Every noder gets a few cents of kickback? I'm not expecting actual answers to these questions (please don't try to answer them), I'm just pointing out that all concerned parties need to think it through a little before we jump in. But in general, I'm for it. I hope to Thor that we don't get to the point where the promise of a few bucks is what is causing people to write on the site; I'd rather burn the servers in holy offering. Still, I agree with the central proposition that some portion of ad proceeds should go back to the noders, as well as the more ephemeral community elements like servers and bandwidth.

So that's where I'm at. I'll chat with nate and kurt tomorrow. Jack and katherine will advocate for you guys as always and keep on top of me as the usual flood of grad students and lowly undergrads vie for my attention. You guys kick ass, and hopefully we can find more ways to show you that we appreciate that.

She Who Breathes Night Air

Some months ago, now, I went for a walk in the moonlight. I intended it to be just that. I was enjoying the cool night air, the moon was full, and I was on my way to a drag show. I was a little stoned and a little drunk, and the walk across town alone didn't seem very far. There was a strange portent riding on the breeze that night. I could feel the moon shining out, from underneath my skin.

I sent two text messages to my best friend, who lives some 400 miles away these days.

I went walking in the moonlight and I swallowed the moon.
I only meant to breathe the night air.

I walked around all night feeling as though I had swallowed the moon. I felt radiant and invincible. I felt blessed by a goddess I had only half believed in.

Two weeks later, I sent my friend another text message.

Something is about to happen... Can you feel it?
And in another two weeks,
There's a seamonkey in my uterus!

In which we hear of many dramas of the human kind.

My best friend, who is also my boss, just had a panic attack and walked out of the office. It's not the same office - I work in the Dublin branch, he works down in Cork. He's been working two jobs for the last couple of months, not because he desperately needs the money, but because he is a workaholic freak with superhuman amounts of energy. By day he's an IT contractor on a doomed, mega-budget project, and by night and at the weekends he runs a restaurant and cafe in one of Ireland's most popular stately homes. Last weekend he catered a wedding for 150 people, worked flat out from 7am until 11pm on Saturday and Sunday, tried to come into work again on Monday and just couldn't move out of bed. He made it in today, developed a severe headache, tried to text people to tell them he was going to go home, and found himself unable to spell. He then sat at his desk crying until he called me to say that he wanted to leave the office but didn't know how. He phoned me and I had to talk him through the process of shutting down his PC, getting his coat, leaving the office and going across the road to a hotel where he could sit and have a cup of tea and wait for his head to sort itself out. I think he'll be OK, I'm calling him back again in a bit.

Three years ago he nearly died of a very serious illness that they think was a form of TB-related meningitis. His brain swelled up so much that he hallucinated continually in hospital for weeks and his personality changed completely for quite a long time. For weeks, he says that he couldn't understand people when they spoke, and he couldn't form words properly. He would gabble nonsense at his visitors, and freak out when they came into his room because "It felt like they were pressed right up against me even when they were across the room." Now, every time he gets a headache he gets panic attack symptoms that can involve not being able to understand people, and not being able to talk or think. They're not true recurrences of the illness, but some kind of trick his brain plays on him, like acid flashbacks - all the same, every time it happens, he's terrified, and starts thinking he's going to end up back in hospital and turn into a vegetable this time.

I just called him again, and he's feeling better. The panic has subsided and he's going to go to his doctor and take the rest of the week off work. Real-time drama for your viewing pleasure!

In "other news", Jo had another mostly sleepless night with Joshua, who is being cranky. He was very peaceful the whole of yesterday, then turned cranky today. There is no pattern. We have looked for one and there is none. I took a long lunch and Jo slept while I carried Josh around the flat, pointing at things while he got distracted enough to forget he was supposed to be upset. He has discovered that it gets lots of extra activity going if he wees on us during nappy time, so that has been happening more often too. Doesn't make much of a difference to my clothes, but it upsets Jo :-)

My sister hates her job. Not just that, but I suspect she hates her entire field of work. She's a corporate lawyer and I think it's making her miserable. She's 30 and she wants to start a family, but her boyfriend is 25 and doesn't (yet). She just doesn't know where her life is heading, and it's making her depressed I think. I'm getting all this via my mother because I think she wants to keep it from me. I have a new baby and I'm too busy, would probably be the rationale. In reality, when I'm busy is when I have most time for people. Maybe I'll give her a call.

I feel OK. My non-iron shirt needs ironing and I'm drinking too much tea and eating WAY too much chocolate, but other than that I'm coping.

I nearly forgot to mention - my granny, Joshua's great-granny, came to the apartment the other day to see him. She held him very confidently and cooed over him. She's a tiny, frail woman of 89, but her hands are big and strong from decades of gardening, and it was so lovely seeing the look on her face as she talked baby-talk to him. It wasn't all baby-talk either. "Do you know that we're at opposite ends of life? That you're at the beginning of life and I'm at the end? Do you know that?" she said, in the same cheerful tone of voice as she had just said "Who's a beautiful baby boy? Oh, you are, you are!" Her husband died this year - taken into hospital for pneumonia, he had a massive heart attack. They'd been married for more than 60 years. She's been giving away money to her relatives - "I don't need it any more." There's nothing wrong with her right now, but sometimes you just know that someone is preparing to exit, and doesn't feel bad about it at all. I love her and I love being around her, and I always have, ever since I was a baby myself.
I remember the first time we met. We had a great conversation.
I remember the first time we kissed. It was Earth-moving.
I remember what you got me for our first Christmas.
            A silver necklace, a grey and yellow Nike shirt, and a poem.
I remember the first time I told you “I love you”. 
            The day after our first Christmas.
I remember the first time we were naked together.
            So intimate, so sensual.
I remember the first time I gave you oral sex.
I remember the first time you gave me oral sex.
            So intimate, so sensual.
I remember the first time we had sex. You were amazing.
            I really miss…
I remember our first formal dinner. You were so beautiful.
I remember your first orgasm.
            I really miss that too. 
I remember walking the beach. We always had fun.
I remember the first time we ate at Manny’s. It was our favorite restaurant.
I remember riding with you to school. You were great with fashion design.
I remember your visits to me at school. Those were great times.
I remember asking you to marry me.
            The offer is still on the table.
I remember we would wrestle with each other. That was so much fun.
I remember when you left me. You had just come back from Orlando.
I remember the last time you gave me oral sex.
            It was the day before Thanksgiving. It was an unexpected surprise.
I remember the last time we had sex. It was that same December.
            At Azalea Park. As always, you were amazing.
I remember the last time I gave you oral sex.
            You hated me the next day. Mistrust set you prying and you found something.
I remember when you visited me in Iowa. That was a wonderful night.
I remember not seeing you for 2 years.
            I was lost.
I remember still remembering things about you.
            That was earlier today.
I had it great when I was with you.
            I should… should at least try. I miss you more everyday.

I checked my Inbox to find a handful of messages from gods (they still called that?) politely notifying me that some of my old Editor Log entries had been moved to nodes that consolidated all of the writeups for that month.

I took the opportunity to read a couple from 2000 and 2001. I was a little shocked at the young Quizro's boldness and impatience. Back then I was willing to announce publicly that individual contributors to E2 were being stupid and writing shit. I remember that I was actually pretty tolerant as an Editor, but when something pushed my buttons I guess it really pushed my buttons.

Maybe it's because I was young. Maybe it's because I took my bad days out on the nodegel. Maybe it's because I was passionate about this site and hated to see people inflict crap on it. Maybe it's because I was a new Christian and in love with my newfound faith and had to set everyone straight about it.

Now I'm 41, and the road from Then to Now is strewn with dead bodies, burning buildings, broken friendships, financial ruin, and the ashes of time. The list of things I do not give a shit about has grown dramatically. My priorities are not what they once were.

Man. Who was that kid? I barely remember him.

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