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November 04, 2022


It occurs to me that we haven't seen (that I remember) anything from Lurker in a while. Maybe things in Finland are busy? Might be worth going back further to get that address to add to the collection.

Feel free. ;-)

Lurker is just one of many commenters whose handles we haven't seen very recently, and/or who post only now and then in any case.

But -- I've done what I have time for right now. I might chip away at the longer history in odd moments, but unless we find a way to automate the process, it's a tedious business of paging manually back through comments from forever.

I just sent an email to the kitty just to be safe.
I believe lj should already have an email address from me but better to be sure.

You and lj (at least) have my real email address, despite the bogus one I use when commenting. Keep in touch!



I check in semi-regularly - just "semi" enough to have completely missed the outage until it was fixed! - and would be grateful to be notified when/if it happens again.

These days I've been hanging out at BJ (maybe JanieM has noticed Mr. Bemused Senior, that's my nym).


ral -- hi! Yes, I have noticed that handle. Nice to know you are one and the same. :-)

And count me in the bemused senior club, for sure.

still hanging around

The Powers That Be have given me an (unrequested) copy of the keys to the blog. I have never understood why people do that, but it seems to happen. When I was in graduate school the first time, I had nothing to do with the Dept. of Sociology, but the head of that department gave me a copy of the keys to their DEC mainframe. I guess I just have a trustworthy face. But I digress...

At this point in time, Typepad seems to have fixed their problems. At least from the user side, my perception is that the blog is intact and functioning properly. Page loads are consistently snappy. A quick check shows that the original post and its comments are there. Also Andy Olmsted's last post (see sidebar).

JanieM's concerns about platform are worth taking seriously. Typepad has not taken on new customers using the Typepad/Movable Type platform for a couple of years -- new accounts are directed to one of their subsidiaries running WordPress. My first order of business will be to obtain a local copy of as much of the content as possible. When I tried to export the database using the back end function, I got a nice progress bar that eventually finished, but when I tried to download the file I got an error message that the file was unavailable. I'll try again in a few days and if it still fails, take it up with Typepad.

In the meantime, I have confirmed that all but the most recent content seems to have been copied by the Wayback Machine, which is nice as an ultimate fallback. I'll be writing a few small scripts and copying everything out of the current site, including images (posters used to use lots of images) over the next several days. I'll make sure multiple people get copies.

McKinney -- gotcha.

Michael -- thank you! The export process went further for you than it did for me the other night -- mine never got to the "now you can download" point. Not surprising, given that they hadn't gotten the blog back to (relatively) normal yet.

I know that thing about a trustworthy face...when I used to spend a week a month in Cambridge for work, people on the street quite often asked me for directions. Approachable even if not very knowledgeable, in that case. Once two young Asian women asked me, with the very little English that they had, there they could find "tea." I started to point them to the nearest tea shop (there was a specialty one in Harvard Square at the time) -- until I realized that what they wanted was "the T." (The subway.) :-)

Which reminds me of our discussion a while back about articles in English (a, an, the). I've been poking around in Duolingo (after nous's mention of it -- for which, many thanks) to refresh my French. And -- articles. Topped with gender..... Stretching my aging short-term memory capabilities for sure.

...when I used to spend a week a month in Cambridge for work, people on the street quite often asked me for directions.

Walking around in a city that is relatively (or even totally) new to me, people will rush up and ask questions or for directions. When I moved to the East Coast to work at Bell Labs, one Saturday my aunt and uncle took me into Manhattan to see/do bunches of "touristy" things. On the train in, I had told them about expecting to be asked for directions, which they thought was amusing. On the inside observation deck of the World Trade Center, an elderly Chinese couple hurried up to me and began asking questions. When I looked over at my uncle... well, he wasn't rolling on the floor, but was laughing so hard that he had to lean against the wall.

I guess I just have a trustworthy face.

You do! Or whatever is the online equivalent when somebody has been gleaning psychological clues from your postings for a few years. You could always be a brilliant psychopath, of course, so time will tell. My (notional) money is on the opposite.

Yes, nous's reminder about Duolingo has been rather consequential for me, too. I am making reasonable progress reviving my (now slightly more than vestigial) Italian, although still sorely lacking in understanding of the various pronouns and prepositions. I have to say, it feels like a really positive activity. Thanks, nous.

Michael -- don't know if you saw this:

A few of the lingering problems that we are still working to address are incorrect times in the referrers list in Statistics and 503 errors when attempting to download an export file. We also want to see quicker load times within the application.


(Back with my not quite 1-year-old assistant and all that implies, like not embedding web addresses.)

To be clear, if I comment then you've got my address, correct?

Gary K -- yes, correct. Thank you!

Glad that my recommendation of Duolingo has inspired some of y'all. As a true sign of my sickness I've been putting in some preliminary research for adding another, completely new language into the mix. Considering either Welsh or Irish, and listening to both of them being spoken at Wikitongues on YouTube:

Anyone here have any experience with either that they'd be willing to pass on?

I'd be a complete romantic and jump on Manx if Duo had it on offer, but I think it's just too small and endangered to attract enough attention to sustain it.

(I keep giving Finnish the side eye too, but that seems a further jump than Welsh for me despite already being fluent in heavy metal.)

I've had that same experience of being asked for directions in a place far from home. In my whole life I have spent about two hours in Pisa, but in that time I managed to point in the correct direction to the tower. I've even been asked for directions to a country I've never visited: on a street in Trieste I was asked how to get to Slovenia, and it was easy to point east toward the mountains.

nous -- i restarted french a couple of weeks ago (have several personal reasons for doing so) with Pimsleur CDs in the car. But I am not in the car enough for that to make a dent. When I went onto Duolingo intending to look at the French, I went immediately to...Irish. (But then came to my senses and started the French pre-test.)

I tried Irish from some obscure teaching CDs years ago. It's fun for me -- with my lifelong love of things Irish, and my history of spending time there when I had an Irish girlfriend.

Don't know if I can handle 2 quests at once but if you take up Irish let me know......might be an incentive for me!

nous: (I keep giving Finnish the side eye too, but that seems a further jump than Welsh for me despite already being fluent in heavy metal.)

I have dabbled in languages since taking Latin in freshman year in high school: Latin, French, Old English, and German formally, Irish, Italian, Russian, and Chinese informally.

The Chinese was via Pimsleur tapes before I went for my month's visit to my son in China in 2010. I was utterly lost. I basically let my son be my translator and never got beyond "Thank you."

IIRC, Finnish and Hungarian are related to each other, and/but not closely related to other European languages. Seems like that would make it extra hard. All the echoes, especially for a native English speaker, make German, Italian, French, and OE feel like they're accessible if only one would put the work in....

I have dabbled in languages since taking Latin in freshman year in high school: Latin, French, Old English, and German formally, Irish, Italian, Russian, and Chinese informally.

My experience, unsurprisingly, was that decent French and quite a bit of Latin (although years ago, but still, to age 17) were enough to seriously help with Italian. And I'm guessing the same would be true with Spanish, which would of course be a more sensible choice because of widespread usefulness, but Italian is what I have, and I love Italy, so no motivation to start another language. I've never done any Old English, but I'm glad to have done some Middle English so I can read Chaucer.

nous, your ambition (especially for unrelated languages) is rather awe-inspiring.

nous, your ambition (especially for unrelated languages) is rather awe-inspiring.

Between them and video games and music it's all bulwarks against dementia. Gotta keep the brain young, especially if you hope to relate to young adults. And it keeps me closer to humble with my students who come to college writing from other linguistic backgrounds. Always good to be reminded of how hard it is to translate big thoughts through small vocabularies.

it's all bulwarks against dementia

Well, as it happens, that was my initial reason for trying the Duolingo Italian. I'd had a couple of unnerving memory blanks, and though all my friends claim it happens to them all the time it put the wind up me, and since I have always regretted not taking Italian further (and in fact letting it badly lapse) I decided to see if a Duolingo course helped. I think it really has, and my Italian is reviving. Win - win!

I’d say welsh is easier, Irish orthography is really rough. Though with Irish, you get these phrases that, when they come out in English, if you’ve hung out with people from Ireland, you are like ‘geez, I’ve heard someone say that!’

This article might also be of interest, on how Murakami got his first novel going by writing the first chapter in English

At least from the user side, my perception is that the blog is intact and functioning properly.

Michael Cain: I'm sure you already know this (and have maybe mentioned it before, although a quick search was unsuccessful), but the Archives on the right, after Recent Posts, seem to have disappeared. I know you are not concerned because of the Wayback Machine etc, but just thought I'd mention in case this is a new phenomenon...

Wave :)

novakant -- gotcha. :-)

I haven't posted here in forever. Don't know if anyone still remembers me.

This place is still in my RSS feed, so I do check in from time to time.

Chuchundra -- waving back. :-)

Nice try. When I had lunch with Janie I kept a hand on my wallet at all times. Mainers. Especially those Ohio Mainers. Be careful who you give your email to. Next thing you know, your pension is all in Bitcoin.

Attached email is my more real one which I don’t check less often. ;-)

lol, i've been outed......

When I had lunch with Janie I kept a hand on my wallet at all times.

Aha, we've been warned! (Not).

I'm hoping that not just past commenters but also lurkers will be in touch....

It has been wonderful to see old friends appearing out of the woodwork. And to discover lurkers that I, for one, had no clue were here. Thanks to all of you.

Thanks to all of you.

But, if I may presume, don't stop! I suspect there are many more. And by the way, does anybody know what has happened to Marty? Ideological differences aside, he was a notable part of our ecosystem.

I remember Chuchundra. I am waving. I often read without comment.

I hope some other infrequent commenters speak up. I miss a lot of people.

Thanks to all of you.


Drops by to wave.

I’m having a crack at Korean, GFTNC.
Vocab doesn’t stick as easily as it did when I was a kid. OTOH, I have a slightly better appreciation of how language works.

Fun learning the new vowel and consonant sounds.,

Stopping by to wave. Not commented here in years, but I read sometimes.

I haven't been commenting much recently, simply because I haven't had much to say. All of my snark reserves have been dedicated to Oz, Musk, and Putin.

As for changing from Typepad, as long as the blog name is reasonably similar, google will find it.

FWIW, a quick search sez WordPress has a TypePad import function. I dunno if that needs tweaking to get the formatting done properly & you’re looking at 2 decades worth of data, but it’s there in principle, anyway.

While we’re on the subject of makeovers, something has been bothering me - and I’m sure I’m not alone on this - it’s the complete absence of advertising. How am I supposed to know which Super Ultra Testosterone Mega VitaVigorBlast is gonna get me that Alex Jones fire hydrant physique without an interminable barrage of pop-up windows? I mean, people can see that I have a neck. Frankly, it’s getting embarrassing. I hear the whispers.

FWIW, a quick search sez WordPress has a TypePad import function.

At the current time, a problem is that the export function on sites hosted by Typepad using the Typepad software doesn't work. Typepad admits this and is working on it. I got invited into this because I expressed interest in whether there was an alternate way to recover the data.

Ah. I thought there might be a way to pull the full site in, kinda like a web scraper. Export to import may create more problems than it solves. If it works. Which I guess it don’t.

The Powers That Be have given me an (unrequested) copy of the keys to the blog. I have never understood why people do that, but it seems to happen.

Actually, for my part, it is hard won experience. I've been in several volunteer organizations and if you have to pry passwords out of people, things are going to go pear-shaped sooner rather than later. I suppose this is why spear-fishing and social engineering work so well, but the lockdown and refusal to trust people, at least for groups with no clear hierarchy, is going to cause problems down the road.

Ah. I thought there might be a way to pull the full site in, kinda like a web scraper. Export to import may create more problems than it solves. If it works. Which I guess it don’t.

The Wayback Machine has that, plus-or-minus some number of gaps, incomplete pages, time inconsistencies, and variations in mark-up language. However, I now have on my machine HTML files containing 8,788 posts and 506,330 comments, including large amounts of unnecessary but consistent mark-up. Basically the whole site, less images (and comments made in the last 24 hours or so). Images come next.

Michael !!!!!

Awesome, Michael!

Cometh the hour, cometh the man!

This is what Perl was made for. The download script is 110 lines. It would be less but I wanted some options and command-line flags to set them (and "-help" because I'm lazy). The count script is 27 lines. Both could be shorter but I try to avoid some features of the language, at least early on.

If push comes to shove, extracting all of the detailed information and shoving it into a suitable format to import into a different platform is a whole different kettle of fish.

Long time lurker, first time caller, old Perl hacker.

Waving! I read Obsidian Wings religiously, including (and especially!) the comments, as this is one of the best commenter communities on the Intertoobs. But I read news via RSS feed on my iPad, where it's a PITA to do anything so keyboard-heavy as comment.

Anyway, I'd hate for this blog and its community to vanish on me, so please add my email. Y'all are my reminder (as an American living in southern Europe these past 15 years) that there are still sane Americans residing in North America. Otherwise, I'd think they were all over here.

I'm caught up on addresses, even if I haven't responded to each person who came and waved.

Thanks you all!

Y'all are my reminder ... that there are still sane Americans residing in North America.

This made me laugh ruefully, because I feel the same. I remember being on a train up to the North Country sometime between November 2016 and January 2017, and getting into conversation with a travelling American. He was astonished when I said I thought a civil war might be on the cards. I spoke too soon, but my fear of that outcome only grows.

My fingers are so tightly (and pessimistically) crossed for the results of today's elections, that my circulation may be in danger. Good luck, all.

Dear Kitty, please PLEASE don't forget me. I know I've neglected you for a few months, but I can change, really I can.


Tony P! So happy to see you again, and on a day which has turned out to be not as terrible as was predicted - a happy coincidence.

Tony P. -- Gotcha. Actually, hadja. But it's good to make sure.

If you haven’t commented lately but would like to be notified if we can’t post information here, please comment, if only to wave as you go by, and I’ll collect your email address.

Commenting, as requested.

Hi, Tony, Janie, others.

Hi Bernie. I hope you're thriving -- I haven't been to Cambridge since pre-covid. Hoping to get back there someday.... It has been an intense 3+ years for me since I retired.

Hi, Bernie!


BC: waving back.

Can’t remember when I last commented, but it might have been awhile, so here is a wave.

Hi Donald. :-)

There are 754 references to images nominally hosted on the site spread across the thousands of posts I downloaded. Copies of 748 of those are tucked away on my machine now. The other six generate file-not-found 404 errors when I try to grab them. I did not try to grab images from outside the site because of the greater chance of eventual copyright issues.

checking in.

bobbyp: gotcha.


/waves back.

Am giving a big wave here. Not sure if anyone here remembers me - sekaijin.

I had been commenting here a number of years ago but found that in order to give truly meaningful commentary, I needed to dive into some data, links, etc., and at the risk of coming off as lazy, I simply had no time to do so to produce such missives, especially compared to the great communitariat here. There are a whole slew of commenters, trolls, and such on other blogs, and I didn't want to be one more of those, all the more so as in 2016, just enough Americans elected one such as president.

But I have continued to follow ObWi over the years, especially liberal japonicus, whom I personally know, and who has never failed to be one of the most level-headed people around, no less so here.

sekaijin -- waving back. Nice to see you around.

I have been checking in for over a dozen years.
This was one of the first blogs I ever read, particularly Hilzoys posts.
So I have a continuing soft spot for Obsidian Wings.
Could you therefore let me know about your new platform.

Jim Edmondson
edmondsonjim @

Jim -- gotcha.


Hi Norvin -- waving back. :-)

No idea where Marty is, sorry.

Your post made me worry about Gary Farber, but he's posting on Facebook like there's no tomorrow, so all seems well with him, lol.

Late waves from London, previously Durham (NC)!

Hi Tom. Glad you stopped by.


Batocchio -- waving back.

Quick note - still here

So, slightly longer, I have enjoyed the evolution of this blog as the more conservative voices, mostly me, have stepped away.

It has allowed Janie and some others to have a more consistent and less stressed interaction, much of which I enjoy reading on occasion. Best to all.

GftNC, I do check in to see how you are doing, have you seen Dylans book?

Marty -- waving back at you, too.

Marty! I'm so happy to hear from you, and that you are still alive and around. Of course I've read about the Dylan book, but haven't necessarily been moved to buy it - I attach two reviews from this side of the Atlantic for you, and on the whole I agree with the second one about his prose writing/criticism. In case you can't read it (firewall etc) I also copy a relevant quote.

Enough already. Personally, I am done with crediting narrowly if uniquely talented men with Leonardo-esque versatility. This nonsense is killing us all. Dylan’s googling chops and Discovery Channel subscription do not make him a polymath; his serviceable but rudimentary piano skills need not be described in the kind of critical language we reserve for Keith Jarrett; and Chronicles being far better than expected does not oblige us to cry Proust every time he finds a pencil.

Was Dylan worth his Nobel? Damn right he was. Dylan the songwriter is a stone-cold, world-beating, god-like genius, for all that Leonard Cohen might edge it for some of us. Did he get it for this stuff? No more than Richard Feynman swung the Nobel prize in physics when some thoughtful Swede chipped in with, “Plus he’s handy on the bongos.” But if Dylan was up against Cohen, he won it in a fair fight. As a music critic, Dylan walks into the ring with Greil Marcus, Ellen Willis, Ian Penman, Ted Gioia and David Cavanagh. Pro-celebrity boxing is usually an easy one to call.

Stay well, Marty, or as another Dylan fan recently said to me when I was saying goodbye (leaving the North Country probably for the last proper time) "May you stay forever young."

Thanks GftNC. As John Prine put it, I'm just a child that's grown old. But I'm not sure how to react to leaving the North Country, perhaps wistful regret. I hope you are well.

For all, a bit of Crowell, still learning how to fly.

Life's been good it's true
When I'm feeling just like new
The same old rules need not apply
I've got a past full of sticks and stones
And a good feeling in my bones
I'm still learning how to fly
I want to go faster
I don't want to slow down
I don't want to get off of this merry go round
I want to be reckless
I want to be vain
I want to make love like a runaway train
Life's been good I said
I'm 10, 000 miles ahead
The day I rest is the day I die
I've got a past like a broken wing
But you ain't seen anything
I'm still learning how to fly
I'm still learning how to fly

Long time lurker, very infrequent commenter here - since Hilzoy's time.

Waving at Robert P. :-)

/waves [email protected]

chmclean -- waving back.

Hi Janie,
Please keep me in the fold.

Hi Lewis, consider it done. :-)

It has been a long while, but of course "von" would like to keep in touch.

(Referring to my post above.) A very, very long time ago, I helped create this blog. Now the content is from others, as it has been for a decade plus, and I like that. But I'd like to keep in touch because I like interesting conversations, and this blog has always had one, with or without my participation.

von -- hello! It has been a while. :-)

Von! My silly memory - "The guy who looked like Henry Rollins and had to hang weights from his body to make pull-ups sufficiently hard."

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