Sunday, May 31, 2009

In Memory of Dr. George Tiller

I can't say much that means anything about the murder of Dr. George Tiller, one of the only late-term abortion providers in the country, and as such, a regular target for harassment and threats.

Our Bodies Our Blog (linked above with the story) posts a link to this AP list of significant incidents of abortion-related violence dating back to 1993. I suppose we can be happy it's not even longer, but seriously, is it not bad enough?

I'm off to donate to Planned Parenthood in his memory.

My sympathies to Dr. Tiller's family.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Ailment Report

I think I'm getting a cold on top of the allergies.

So I'm (stuffy AND headache-y AND my eyes itch) AND (aching AND have chills).

Heh. Search strategy humor is awesome. Or terrible, I'm not sure. I'm sick, my judgment has gone to pieces!

Actually I should say that I had chills until I put on wool socks and a sweater and sat down under a warm laptop with a giant mug of hot tea--now I'm sweating. Take that, illness! I fight temperature with temperature.

Anyway, I've got no brain power to spare for thoughtful writing, and am going to go to bed and hope to wake up chipper in the morning.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Art Appreciation

Oooog...tired from traipsing through Institute for Contemporary Art.

Well worth a look! So modern. So artful. So footwearing (in the sense of wear on the feet, not things worn on the feet).

Also tired from recent attack of seasonal allergies. Stuffy, itchy eyes, etc. It's a blast.

I did get a tetanus booster today, so at least if I stumble foggily into any rusty nails, I'm all set.

And at least tomorrow is Friday.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Mmm, Data

I always like a new database! Especially a free one I can recommend to the students.

Along those lines, we have, which will offer access to data sets from the federal government. It offers a "featured dataset" (today the Residential Energy Consumption Survey) and the option to access either raw data or tools for data mining.

It seems to basically collect data from various federal agencies that has probably been available on other sites, but is now conveniently in one place.

This could obviously be potentially useful for all sorts of research. There are several interesting categories to search, with information on education, nutrition, social statistics, law enforcement, and more.

You can search by keyword, category, agency, or data file type (XML, CVS/Text, etc.).

The site also invites suggestions for what sorts of data we'd like to see in future, so I'll be wracking my brain to think of helpful information I may someday like to access. Come on, brain! Tell me what you need!

There doesn't actually appear to be a whole lot there right now (47 results in "raw data," 27 in "tools"), but what's there could certainly be of help to someone--especially if you're interested in copper smelting, as who isn't--and I will keep an eye on the site.

iLibrarian saw this before I did.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Forbidden Print

Stephen's Lighthouse presents a clever idea, inspired by the teenager who's running an "illegal library" of banned books out of his/her locker at school (like all the numerous people on whose blogs I've read about it, I love this--if the story is new to you, it's linked in the Stephen's Lighthouse post).

Stephen's idea is that ALA should get together a collection of the books banned by this student's school, in e-form, and provide it to school and public libraries for free in honor of Judith Krugman.

I like this thought, although schools that ban these books in print would presumably just decline to offer access to them in e-form as well, so I don't know that it specifically gets around any rules that way.

Not that it should even be our goal to thwart the regulations of private institutions. But we can certainly cheer on internal rebellion on the part of those directly affected, right? Which I certainly do in wishing the illegal library much success, and the students much enjoyment of their forbidden reading.

I did think it was amusing that the student includes Interview with the Vampire in the illegal library, but spurns Twilight. I'd be interested in a heated debate about the relative merits of these two texts--not necessarily as a participant, but for educational purposes--because they both seemed like wildly overdramatic hot-vampire-mystique froth to me.

Mmm, froth.

Monday, May 25, 2009


On this day set aside for the purpose, I think of the honorable dead.

Many places, faces, causes, names. Many people who would by now be dead by other means if not taken by war, but with longer lives behind them.

Many who might still be living.

I can say little, alone with my little keyboard, and nothing that adds any meaning to the sacrifice and the loss of those families left behind.

It seems almost better to be silent. To think quietly, and let the weight of those lost lives be felt.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Evaluate and Rank Me!

Wired has a story about the concept of Journal Impact Factor and whether the Science Citation Index is the most accurate way to determine quality.

A physicist named Jorge Hirsch has come up with a new method he calls the h-index to rank important work.

This is largely about individual author reputation, which Impact Factor technically does not measure, but of course we can hardly help but notice the number of times an author's work is cited when looking at ISI Web of Knowledge (it's just such a cool feature! and so right there!).

Now this is the kind of library geekitude about which one could become embroiled in fierce debates.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Look Askance at Info Sources

Interesting article on Health Beat about a study indicating that doctors--like many of us, no doubt--use Wikipedia quite a bit to locate medical information.

This is of course news of some potential concern to those of us interested in the authority of information sources.

As we tell the students where I work, it's not that the information on Wikipedia is necessarily bad. Often it's pretty good. It's just that it might be bad, and you wouldn't know it, since you or anyone else can change it anytime you want.

You can't completely trust it, is the thing. Not the way you can trust journals from reputable sources like Elsevier, right? Ha ha.

Guess we'd better do a better job of playing up our preferred information resources!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Picturing Risks

Here's an interesting visual depiction of various demographic characteristics, risk factors and health conditions from GE.

You can click on things like age, gender, BMI, smoking, heart disease and stroke, and see crowds of little people shuffle around into color-coded categories to show, say, the percentage of people in each age group who smoke.

It's moderately entertaining, and gives us the useful information that, statistically, if you're below normal weight you will not get any diseases. (Of the four included here.)

Also, if you're morbidly obese, you may get diabetes and hypertension, but you will not get heart disease or have a stroke.

There are also little tidbits like "A 12-13 point reduction in systolic blood pressure can reduce heart disease risk by 21%."

I should note that my sweeping statement about low-weight meaning no risk of disease is of course a lie: the site is actually based on "a random sample of 100,000 patient records" and "[t]he numbers and percentages aren't statistically significant," but are meant to present basic information about risks in a new way in order to encourage creative thinking about the issues.

Well...I guess it's still interesting, even if it doesn't support my desire for grand pronouncements.

I got this from ScienceRoll.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Boston PD: The Information We Need

I am so happy to live near Boston right now!

The police department here is ready to practice full transparency should the zombies attack. As one who has in the past (albeit on another, now deceased blog, so I can't prove it) expressed some anxiety about the zombie attack, I am delighted that I can at least count on honest information about my impending doom.

All I need to do is follow their Twitter feed. Done!

The Consumerist has the full story. Blog of the Moderate Left tipped me off.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Advice for the Day

You should floss.

I had my 6-month dental check-up and cleaning, and she said she couldn't really find much to clean, so I must floss every day.

Yes I do. Apparently it actually makes a difference!

Pass it on.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Entertainment News

I'm pleased to hear that Fox has renewed Dollhouse. I really wasn't too impressed with it at first, but it got pretty interesting as it developed, and I look forward to seeing where it goes with another season.

I've also enjoyed the detailed and thoughtful reviews of each episode by Maia at Alas! A Blog. Lots of good points.

And I swear, the plot is getting closer and closer to Altered Carbon territory, as I previously speculated.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Nifty Poster Goodness

I'm pleased to have the MLA2009 Official Blog to keep me posted on events at the conference. As anticipated, it fills me me sorrow and bitterness that I'm not there, but it's nevertheless good to be informed.

Among other things, the blog has alerted me to the fact that the posters from the poster session are available online in an interactive display. It's pretty cool.

You can see thumbnails of all the posters, hover to see titles, click to enlarge an individual poster (in effect--technically, you're going to that poster's separate page), zoom in on various segments, and even leave comments. It does require a download of Adobe Flash Player 10 and a restart, but that didn't take long.

It's been set up using a program called Trapeze Media Solutions that seems to be designed for photo slideshows, but works very well for this. You can even embed it into your page, where you can navigate with the arrow keys on your keyboard.

Nicely done, whoever set this up! And if I can stop oohing over the technology, the posters are pretty good too. :)

I encourage everyone to take a look.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

H1N1: Still Out There

We haven't heard as much about swine flu lately, but this post on Cogitamus reminds us that it hasn't gone away.

It's tough to keep a reasonable level of attention to things, I think. The initial excitement in the news may have been a little overdone (although we wouldn't be saying that if it had turned out to infect half the world), and now the lack of excitement may be giving a false sense of calm.

It's also true that the average, non-swine, flu kills quite a few people every year without generally being considered a big deal. It certainly doesn't help to panic constantly, but on the other hand it doesn't help to be unaware of health issues either.

Another example of how you have to try to balance awareness, concern, and having some attention to spare for other things in life.

Wacky Accents

I greatly enjoyed the new Star Trek, though it did make me wonder once again, whence comes this convention that people with Russian accents say "w" instead of "v"?

We've got the young Chekov (Pavel Andreivich) giving a vocal authentication and being initially refused because he says "Wictor Wictor" instead of "Victor Victor."

But, but...Victor is a Russian name. Chekov has three Vs in his own name. Russians gave us the name for vodka. (Thanks!)

I mean...Russian doesn't even have a letter for W, but does have one for V (although it looks like what we use for a B). It even combines the 'v' sound with other sounds to form interesting combinations we don't use in English, like 'tv' and 'sv' and 'vm.' Russian is all about the 'v'!

And yet we have this idea that throwing a 'w' in is just the thing to do. At least, we recognize it when we see it, even if we didn't actually learn it in 30-Second-Accent class.

It's bemusing, I tell you.

This puzzle has also been noted at The Volokh Conspiracy, where the comments include various theories. The most plausible of these may be that native Russian speakers could mix up which of the words they'd tend to pronounce with a 'v' should actually have a 'w,' so they overcompensate and sometimes toss a 'w' onto words that should stay 'v.'

The other good explanation proposed is that Chekhov speaks "movie Russian," not actual Russian, and the accent is just different there.

On second thought, that one is probably the most likely. I also see this interview with the actor, Anton Yelchin, who knows what Russian accents sound like and who explains that he was intentionally employing a goofy '60s stereotype of a Russian accent because it fit the somewhat goofy mood of the film in general.

OK, I guess I'm satisfied.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Dibs on the Red Hair Gene

Interesting story in the New York Times of a lawsuit challenging a patent on a gene.

The case is specifically about BRCA1 and BRCA2, but could have bearing on future questions related to whether or not it's possible to own, and to control the use of, this kind of information.

As the NYT explains,

The decision to allow gene patents was controversial from the start; patents are normally not granted for products of nature or laws of nature. The companies successfully argued that they had done something that made the genes more than nature’s work: they had isolated and purified the DNA, and thus had patented something they had created — even though it corresponded to the sequence of an actual gene.

The lawsuit argues that ownership of a gene sequence can inhibit research (since working with the gene risks patent infringement). There also seems to be a sort of reflexive distaste for the idea that a company can own the legal rights to something that is a component of someone's body.

Which, I must say, I completely understand. It just seems weird, doesn't it?

I'll be interested to see how this works out, although it will no doubt be some time before there's any conclusion.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Naughty Pictures?

Navelgazing Midwife has posted an Open Letter to YouTube, which apparently (based on anecdotal evidence about women the author knows) has been removing videos showing women giving birth.

The post notes that "Whereas most in our computerized culture never see another baby being born until we have our own, YouTube gave women a window into one of the most basic and universal experiences on earth," and laments that this opportunity seems to have been withdrawn.

Whether this is a YouTube policy or not is unclear. The Community Guidelines don't mention birth---they mention "sexually explicit content," but many people (including me) would argue that birth, while it may feature graphic nudity and have a certain implied relationship with sex in the past, is not "sexually" explicit.

There's a similarity here to the question of whether women are allowed to post pictures of themselves nursing their babies on Facebook. It's a little bit of someone's breast and a baby's head. What's the big deal?

So is it appropriate to show birth on YouTube? And nursing mothers on Facebook?

I don't set the rules, but I would say yes.

I can see how these could be the kinds of thing that some people would not want to see, but there are a lot of things on the internet, and even just on YouTube and Facebook, that I have no interest in seeing.

I avoid looking at them, and there we are. It's a little system I've been working on.

But what about the children?! What if little Billy is mousing around YouTube and comes across a video of someone giving birth and is scarred for life?

Again...there are a lot of things online that might scar poor little Billy. I feel bad for him, because he's got his work cut out to grow up with an unwarped mind if he goes anywhere near that thing [i.e. the internet].

Sympathetic though I am, however, I personally find it hard to get worked up about birth and nursing, when presented with the plethora of other exciting mind-warp options out there.

Besides, what about the grown-ups?! The pregnant women and their partners who might really appreciate the opportunity to see what it is they're going to go through? The mothers and their friends and family who might happen to think images of themselves nourishing their children are beautiful and worth sharing?

So if you ask me, post the birth videos and nursing pictures.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Party Online, Everyone!

In case you were worried about the carbon footprint of your internet use, the Official Google Blog has helpfully provided this post on Energy and the Internet.

It calculates the amount of electricity used by a Google search and expresses common items, including among others a glass of orange juice, a load of dishes (in an EnergyStar dishwasher, of course!), and a cheeseburger, in terms of the number of searches you could make for the same energy cost.

Quite a few, it turns out. The average monthly electricity use of a U.S. household is equivalent to 3,100,000 Google searches, so internet use is probably among the least of your energy use concerns.

An obvious note is that this calculation (at least explicitly) describes only the energy cost of searching Google on the internet. I'm not going to deny I spend a fair amount of time doing that, but I also spend a lot of online time doing other things.

It is impossible to determine, based merely on this post, whether those other things might use more energy. Watching TV shows, searching databases, downloading articles, uploading attachments, writing blog posts...the amount of energy required for these activities is not noted here.

I'm not really saying it should be, it's Google's blog and they don't have any obligation to break down the details of any activities they don't want to, but this does somewhat limit our ability to point to this as justification for declaring "woo hoo, party online everyone, internet use is completely unproblematic from an environmental standpoint!"

Although we might as well declare it anyway, just because we like to issue grand statements.

TechCrunch and Stephen's Lighthouse noticed this before I did.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

MLA 2009...Far Away From Me

Prompted by the Official MLA 2009 Blog, I am now following MLA 2009's Twitter feed. I will not likely be using the official #mla09 tag for any of my own tweets, on account of I won't be there, but I want to keep an eye on the action.

Join me at the cyberconvention, my legions!

Even though there's a strong risk it will just make us sad and bitter about all the cool things we're missing. The loss of free pens alone nearly breaks my heart.

I'll be channeling my bitterness into vicious weeding of print journals and old textbooks. No pity! No remorse! You're out!

How will you be compensating for the tragic fact that you're not in Hawaii?

Monday, May 11, 2009

Gaming On

I have played Ginger Dawn. It's entertaining, if not complex.

You pick a red haired character (male or female), and run around looking for people to procreate with. Other gingers are the best bet, but some blond or dark haired people carry the recessive gene, so you can't rule anyone out.

Each level assigns a certain number of ginger babies you must produce in order to succeed. But there's a hitch: since we redheads sunburn easily, you have to make the babies quickly and get back to your house before noon or you'll be burnt to a crisp (literally: you turn to charcoal and your eyeballs fall out).

Fortunately, babies are quick and painless to produce and require no follow-up care. Just like real life!

You can pick up sunblock to extend your time in the sun, and bagpipes to make yourself more attractive to members of the opposite sex (because Scotland has the highest percentage of redheads).

On general gameplay I'd rate this an amusing trifle, but no more. However, based on its theme, I have to consider that it is in fact the most awesome game ever designed.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Food Conference Notes

OK, the internet is back. Whew! I was about to go into withdrawal.

So I may not be able to afford MLA this year, but I won't let that stop me from putting in some time at some sort of conference. 'Cause I like to learn about things that interest me.

I neglected to take a pen to the Future of Food conference yesterday (normally I always have about 15 pens with me, but of course this would be the one time I had no writing implement), but it was an interesting day that as an added bonus featured lots of samples of organic fair trade chocolate.

Mmm, chocolate.

Also, I knitted an entire afghan square. I should have taken more yarn, I could have started another one.

Here are a few notes from the various sessions, presented without editorial comment because I am too lazy to expand upon any of them just now:

  • We have a lot more food banks in the United States than there were a few decades ago; it shows a worthy impulse that we donate to charity this way, but clearly, we're not addressing the roots of the hunger problem since the need keeps growing
  • We cannot realistically expect to continue consuming the amounts of meat and dairy that we currently do in the U.S. (an average of 200 pounds of meat a year)
  • In a related point, it is also clearly unsustainable to spend 10 calories for every one calorie of food energy produced in the current (agricultural and animal farming) system
  • Globalization has allowed the "globalization of market failure" as well as of trade
  • Cheap food is cheap only because of our failure to account for the 'externalities' of subsidies, damage to worker health, etc.
  • The way the food system has collected so much of production into relatively few locations makes contamination, shortages and transportation problems potentially very dangerous
  • Genetically modified foods have not so far lived up to the potential of increased yield, higher nutrition, etc., while long-term ill effects remain unknown
  • Climate change could actually benefit some regions of the world by extending growing seasons for staple crops; unfortunately, some of the most populous parts of the world are projected to be "losers" in this outcome, with desertification and loss of cropland more likely
  • Animals raised for food account for more greenhouse gas emissions than the entire transportation industry
  • Organic and local are both important concerns for how we eat, but one needn't exclude the other: whole, local/organic and as close to vegetarian as you can manage is the most sustainable diet
  • 'Ethical' food choices are relegated to the wealthy in the current system, since eating this way is simply too expensive and time-consuming for many people
  • Gardens are good; also, go bake some bread!

I don't have a yard, so no garden, but I did bake some bread today. It came out OK.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Great. No internet in my house. Well, no food conference notes tonight--apologies to my legions of anxiously waiting followers.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Food Conferencing

I am deeply interested in food, so when I just a couple of days ago heard about this conference on The Future of Food: Transatlantic Perspectives, and also heard it was free, I decided I must go.

So I'm going to hope to be learning all kind of interesting things tomorrow about global food chains and how we are what we eat and so forth.

I'll be sure to pass along any tidbits that I find particularly noteworthy.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Fun Stuff

David Rothman mentions a new way to pass the time: a game called Sneeze, in which you play a flu virus in a human host who must try to spread yourself around by infecting as many people as possible through well-timed sneezes.

It turns out the site that offers it, Routes (which was also an interactive mystery game/genetic exploration that ran from January through March this year--too bad I didn't hear about it then, it sounds fun), also has other entertaining games I can't wait to try.

During the live run of the game, you apparently could play for points and get prizes, which is no longer the case, but it still promises some fun--and in association with the Wellcome Trust, so you know it's also informative!

Breeder lets you try to "pass on your genes by mating with other players," and DNA Heroes asks you to match DNA sequences and "become a Nobel prize winning genius."

But here's the one you know I can't believe I haven't been playing nonstop since I learned to use a computer: Ginger Dawn.

It gives you the laudable goal of increasing the population of redheads in the world through spreading recessive red genes. Love it!

This site looks like a blast, and I totally plan to give these games a try. I'd be doing it right now, except I have to go watch Star Trek.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

About This Phone-Posting Thing

As noted below, I was playing around with the nifty features of Blogger and find I can successfully post from my phone without trouble, but the formatting options are pretty much none (unless someone has cool tricks?), so I can't add a title or line breaks or anything.

Therefore, it looks pretty bad.

I figured this had probably been possible forever and I just never noticed the little 'set up mobile posting' option, but it turns out it's only been there for not quite two months (according to

Which makes me still pretty unobservant, but not as much as if I'd always been able to do this and just noticed.

Frankly, though, considering its lack of aesthetic appeal, SMS posting is not up to my usual high standards. I will only be using it for those times when I'm desperate to share a sudden awesome thought or important bit of news (160 characters or less!) and am not near my computer.

Don't hold your breath.

In an utterly unrelated item, I thought this map of the U.S., where a bunch of place names taken from native languages are replaced with English translations, was pretty cool. As just one example of the information I found here, I did not know that Winooski (Vermont) means Onion Land.

It's an interesting idea. The meaning of place names tends to get lost in the background of the conception of a place, even when they're in a language I understand (New York? I only rarely think about old York when I hear the words), and when they're in languages I know nothing about, it might as well just be sounds.

This map reminds me that these sounds are actual words expressing some description of a place. Even if it's not necessarily an accurate description anymore (is Winooski still onion land?).

The station where I get on the train to go to work isn't exactly a grove of oaks anymore, either.

The map was put together by National Geographic, and was noticed by LISNews before me.

So, it appears I can now post from my phone. Let us all marvel at the wonders of technology! And see how dreadful this looks once it goes up. I'm betting very.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Breaking Ancient Art News

Interesting news about van Gogh's ear.

The official story is that he cut it off while depressed, but art historians Hans Kaufmann and Rita Wildegans, after years of research, argue that Gauguin may have done it with a sword.

You never know when you're going to hear a new idea about an old story, do you?

I got this from Tiny Cat Pants.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Pre-Holiday Anxiety

What's Mother's Day doing coming up this weekend all of a sudden?

Why wasn't I warned? By, say, a calendar of some kind?

Well, I've ordered chocolate-covered sunflower seeds for the mothers I need to recognize. I love those things, so maybe they will too. Plus, they're colorful and fun like flowers, but have the advantage that they won't wilt and involve chocolate.

Also, never fear, I do remember I my awesome plan to send my mom a CDC e-card.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Public Health Management Techniques

GruntDoc passes along a useful tip on How to ameliorate flu panic: don't test the nasal swabs sent in to see whether or not they're positive.

Thus, no new confirmed cases, and no new confirmed cases=public calm!

You have to admit, there's something very straightforward and practical about this plan. Easy, too.

In related news, there's a probable case of H1N1 at one of the schools my library serves (presumably to be confirmed or disproved once a nasal swab is tested, should anyone choose to do this).

We're proceeding as usual for the time being.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

To Do List for May

Got Medieval reminds us that May, the calendar month in which the present day falls if I am not mistaken, is traditionally the month for hawking.

The post is skeptical about the ability of hawking to keep us entertained for an entire month, but I bet we can do it. If it comes down to it, we can start dressing up the hawks in cool costumes (wild animals love that!) and holding cooking competitions with the game they retrieve.

Also, never underestimate the entertainment value of training our hawks to stoop to our enemies' hats.

Of course, first we have to get some enemies. I'm working on it.

In a related matter, I suppose that's why we say "I won't stoop to" do thus-and-such. The etymology in my mind prior to this moment involved stooping as in bending the back ("I won't stoop/bend so low") but it's easy to see the connection to stooping as in diving from above.

So "I won't stoop to that" means not only "I won't lower myself that way," but also "I can't be bothered to attack that." It is beneath me, and I'm not going down there after it!

Words are cool.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Company in the Front Hall

There is a response from Caveat Lector to responses to yesterday's question.

The author promises a later report on ulterior motives (my favorite kind of motives!), and discusses a few of the responses that were received.

Now I wish I'd actually had a conclusion (as opposed to winding up with "yeah, I dunno if teaching databases is a good idea or not--ooh, look, a metaphor!").

I should have emailed in some sort of creative answer such as "because we like databases, and want to share the love! How will they ever learn to adore Boolean operators if we don't teach them?"

She does express sharp scorn for one argument that I touched on:

One response in particular… well. “They have to do lots of stuff in college they’ll never have to do again. Why not this too?” People. PEOPLE. That is not a reason. That is an excuse. I expect better from my tribe.


Although as far as I know Caveat Lector* does not read this blog and was not referring to me personally, I would nevertheless like to state in my defense (and that of anyone else to whom it applies) that I did not say this was a good reason to teach databases, only that it was not necessarily a good reason not to, if there was some demonstrable value gained.

I stand by this as a valid distinction.

I should also note that as a teacher of databases to graduate students, I today experienced a heartwarming bit of geek satisfaction when a student assignment included references to truncation!--and the aforementioned Boolean operators!

I can't really argue that this incident is a good reason in itself, though. My geek satisfaction is clearly very important to everyone, but I do recognize that it's not the primary consideration in every single decision.

Well, I'm certainly staying tuned for more on the ulterior motives.

*Edited to note that by this I of course mean the author of Caveat Lector. Caveat Lector itself, as the title of a blog, presumably does not read anything. I do this sort of metonymy in my head all the time, essentially naming the author after the blog, but it's not exactly an accurate description of reality.

I think it comes from a perhaps misplaced sense of blog-privacy, where it seems almost impolite to mention a person's name (after all, they publish under such-and-such heading--that must be what they want to be called!).

If the blog is anonymous, this is pretty much the only option (and maybe that's where I got into the habit), but in cases like Caveat Lector, or, indeed, this blog, where there's an actual person's name attached to it, it becomes a little more interesting.

Is it more polite to use a person's actual name, even though other readers online may then have no idea which blog you're talking about? To use both the name and the blog title? To do what I do, and conflate blog title and person?

Let's not even talk about blogs with multiple named authors, for to tread there brings madness.

It is possible that the etiquette has not yet been completely established. Someone should become the Miss Manners of blogs!

Not me, though.