It is end of the year retrospective time. This is the time of year those of us who do stuff others read or watch all year run out of good stuff to do and dredge up old stuff to keep the few of you who are not flying to Mexico or baking cookies busy while we get drunk. This is the first in a seemingly interminable set of such retrospectives that I plan to do this year.

I’ll start my retrospective with a prelude:

Early in January I’ll be doing a live radio retrospective of the year’s science stories with Lynn Fellmann, on Atheist Talk Radio. We are waiting until the end of the year to make sure nothing happens at the last minute that we wouldn’t want to miss. Given Lynn’s interest in the last several tens of thousands of years of human migration and my interest in human evolution, this latest news about a “separate species” of humans that “interbred” with “us” in “Asia” would count as a last minute major story that we would have missed had we done our retrospective early.

I may also do a blogospective review of Minnesota news. I’ve been finding the exploration of Minnesotan news to be enlightening and sometimes entertaining lately, and I was just going over one of our local news station’s photo-retro. There are some interesting things there. Of the 30 stories or so, five or six will make an interesting blog post.

But now, to the topic of the present retrospective, referring to the title of this blog post. The answer to the question, “Why do people read my blog” for half of you is because I make you using such techniques as staring at you while you sit on the couch making you feel guilty of you don’t. For the other half of my regular readers, I can’t explain it, I figure you’ve got some sort of psychosis or something. So that accounts for my 12 regular readers.

For the remaining several tens of thousands of unconnected random page views per unspecified unit time, and the 12 of you might find this interesting, most people come to my blog to look at a picture of a chicken, to make fun of a cartoon, or to find out about how to trap a mouse or a squirrel. Another sizable group of readers includes those who are convinced, rightly or wrongly, that the end of the world is not too far off, and its the Yellowstone Caldera that is going to do us in, but blowing up again.

Indeed, my post on The Origin of the Chicken was a nice piece of blogging work, if I may say so myself. But the photograph of a chicken that I’ve got on there has attracted a huge amount of attention. This photograph has been downloaded so many times it is starting to wear out, and it has been used in many different educational contexts where chickens are appropriate. And probably some contexts where chickens are not. Appropriate, that is.

The single most visited blog post on my site is probably the cartoon that shows two arks, the regular one (Noah’s) and the Dinosaur Ark. The people on Noah’s ark have a cannon, and they’re ….. oh, why am I describing it. Just have a look. I have no idea why 720 gazillion people viewed this post over the week or so after it was published. A short term minor Internet memetic event, I suppose.

At some point in your life, you are going to need to know How to live trap a mouse, and eventually, you’ll work your way up to needing to know How to live trap a squirrel. And when you do, you’ll come here to find out. Everybody else seems to.

I’ve written about Yellowstone geology a couple of times, but my post, “The Yellowstone Problem,” seems to be the one that gets picked up by the search engines for phrases like “End of the world apocalypse geyser” or “yogi bear rapture explosion” and so on and so forth.

Notice that these posts are not selected (by me) from the prior year’s blogging. They are not among my personal favorites, for that matter. But in looking things over and deciding what to do for an end of the year retrospective, these posts kind of sprang out at me.

Part of the reason these posts have been viewed so many times is that they were written some time ago, but what is freakish about them is that they are still fairly hot, which is cool. Over the last one million page views on this site, 2% were of the chicken post, and about 2% were divided among the live trapping posts. Maybe I should write a post on how to live trap a chicken.

Comments

  1. #1 gwen
    December 24, 2010

    As one of your 12 regular visitors (LOL), I came upon your blog when I stumbled on your essays on your life in the African bush. I especially liked your writings on the encounters with the missionary family. You should write a book. I’d buy it and recommend it to others. I stick around because of your engaging writing style and interesting subject matter.

  2. #2 HP
    December 24, 2010

    I like the way you write about the Congolese as though they were Minnesotans. I also like the way you write about Minnesotans as thorough they were Congolese.

    I also like the way you let allusions just sit there, as though they were obvious, and needed no explanation.

  3. #3 chezjake
    December 24, 2010

    Yeah, me again. I tune in for the occasional stories of life in ancient Albany and/or Waterford, and for the luscious storytelling in the Congo Diaries. I haven’t quite made up my mind about the squirrels at the lake in Minnesota.

  4. #4 Rich Wilson
    December 24, 2010

    My hook was you and your daughter going through airport security, and her pointing out a loophole in their security in that those under 14 didn’t need ID. Or something to that effect.

  5. #5 Paladin
    December 24, 2010

    “So that accounts for my 12 regular readers.”

    Make that 13. I am a regular reader, but not so regular commenter, since i don’t have too much to say. I came to your blog a few years ago for a few Linux articles, and after a while i realized that the rest of the blog is interesting too.

  6. #6 Rorschach
    December 24, 2010

    You’re in my newsreader thingy. And someone said you once wrote lucidly about the Congo. Also, Linux.

  7. #7 Nemo
    December 24, 2010

    The link for “The Origin of the Chicken” is broken. It should be:

    http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2008/02/the_origin_of_the_chicken.php

  8. #8 Dunc
    December 24, 2010

    I come here to watch you winding up gun nuts. :)

  9. #9 mumfie
    December 24, 2010

    I read you because you’re interesting, multi-faceted, informative and entertaining, with quirkiness thrown in.

  10. #10 Elizabeth
    December 24, 2010

    I come here for the anthropology :)

  11. #11 wyatt
    December 24, 2010

    Looking forward to the radio show, and the other retrospectii.

  12. #12 Steph
    December 24, 2010

    14th reader here. I’m in it for the pictures of Huxley and the stories about Pygmies.

  13. #13 Temaharay
    December 24, 2010

    The Anthropology and the opinion articles; always informative, interesting and current.

  14. #14 Fiona
    December 24, 2010

    I like the peer reviewed research blogging but I rarely comment. Once so far, including this one.

  15. #15 DBC
    December 24, 2010

    I come largely for metablogging posts like this one. I have strange hobbies.

    Also, you’re rarely boring. That’s few of very few people, in meat or blog formats.

    Please tell me “yogi bear rapture explosion” was an actual search term that lead someone here.

  16. #16 Virgil Samms
    December 24, 2010

    I read it for the rampant godlessness.

  17. #17 Camille
    December 24, 2010

    I like the variety of topics and the writing style.

  18. #18 J-Dog
    December 24, 2010

    I come here because:
    I’m smart.
    I’m an Anthro guy.
    I hate asshole Republicans.
    I think you are all of the above PLUS you write waAAAAAY better than me.
    And most of all, just for fun.

  19. #19 Alice
    December 24, 2010

    You are the only Scienceblogs blogger left worth reading.

  20. #20 Oliver
    December 24, 2010

    More stories, please!

  21. #21 Lynn Wilhelm
    December 24, 2010

    I’m for the godlessness too. And the science. Oh, and the politics.
    Don’t remember how I found you (it was before the chicken and the ark cannon), but I keep coming back.

  22. #22 george.w
    December 24, 2010

    Your blog is one I follow in my Google Reader; wish there were a way to have that register as a hit. But I enjoy your stories and Linux articles, and watching the fireworks when you talk about gun control. Though I was mystified by the troubles you seem to have with digital cameras.

  23. #23 DuWayne
    December 24, 2010

    I come around for the baby videos. Well, the baby videos and the parties.

    Actually I come around because I love you and because I love a good argument – or a bad argument, for the matter. That, and occasionally there is catharsis to be found in the random religious, gun or whatever nut. Really, your blog is more fun than most barrels of monkeys.

  24. #24 Doug Alder
    December 24, 2010

    The squirrels make me.

  25. #25 Enoch
    December 24, 2010

    They say they like the baby videos but they really come for the crashes.

  26. #26 Unlurking
    December 24, 2010

    I like to watch.

  27. #27 Neon Sequitur
    December 24, 2010

    I find your opinions hilarious.

  28. #28 Charles Sullivan
    December 24, 2010

    The irony is that I’m forced to read it at gunpoint.

  29. #29 MadScientist
    December 24, 2010

    Because it was there. And you’re not an idiot. You’ll never see me on Behe’s blog.

  30. #30 Lynn Wilhelm
    December 24, 2010

    Error @21
    I found this blog after the chicken and ark cannon posts!

  31. #31 The MadPanda, FCD
    December 24, 2010

    IIRC I first came here because of an online poll mentioned over on Pharyngula…and then stuck around because while I have a mere single semester of Anthropology in my educational background, I remain an interested bystander. That is to say, I know just enough to get myself into trouble, but I also have an idea of how much I don’t know.

    Then there were the Congo Memoirs, which kept me around: right around the time you were leaving, I was taking a course in the recent history and political systems of Sub-Saharan Africa…and those filled in a lot of conceptual gaps for me, adding a human element.

    Finally, there’s everything else. I don’t always agree with you, but you always give me something about which to think carefully.

    So there you have it :)

    The MadPanda, FCD

  32. #32 simba
    December 24, 2010

    Missionary family post! Missionary family post!

    Why do I come here? Don’t know, I just like your writing style and the way you think about people. You have a good eye for them.

  33. #33 Mango_greentea
    December 24, 2010

    Evolution. Biology. Atheism. And other interesting things.

  34. #34 gruebait
    December 24, 2010

    I have no idea how to change the Live Bookmarks I set up in Firefox long ago, and I gotta read something.

  35. #35 Chris Lindsay
    December 25, 2010

    Ditto for what Mango_Greentea (#33) said

  36. #36 David Lee
    December 25, 2010

    I asked PZ who he read when I was interviewing him. I think you were the only name mentioned.

  37. #37 Glendon Mellow
    December 26, 2010

    I come here for the subtleties of your opinions – you often post links to things you don’t agree with, and the fur flies in the comments. You are engaging in long-form blog writing, something I don’t always have patience for with other blogs.

    Oh, and blog-slaying.

  38. #38 momkat
    December 28, 2010

    I come for the typos. They amuse me grately. (yes, I meant that, you figure it out)

  39. #39 يوتيوب
    August 14, 2011

    good man The squirrels make me.

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