In which I STILL don’t know anything

I got asked in comments earlier if I thought Bernie Sanders should drop out yet. The interesting thing is I was already thinking about writing this post when the question came through, and as I’ve thought about it a bit more I’ve decided that the answer is that I think Bernie should drop out, but there is an as-yet somewhat reasonable case to be made that Bernie should not yet decide that he should drop out.

Allow me to explain.

Biden is ahead in the delegate count by 154 delegates, with another 94 pledged to candidates who have endorsed him. Democratic rules mandating proportional allocation of delegates make coming from behind more difficult than it is in the Republican primary, because you can eke out close wins in three states and then have those gains wiped out by losing badly in another state. You might remember a lot of talk about Bernie’s surprise win in Michigan in 2016, which was interesting in a “here is how polls can be wrong sometimes” sort of way but ultimately irrelevant because Hillary blew Bernie out of the water in Mississippi on the same day and her gains from Mississippi were a lot bigger than his in Michigan. He ended the day farther behind than he had when he started.

I’m not going to crunch numbers right now on what states are left and what might go for Bernie and what might go for Biden, except to note that the polls for this Tuesday’s contests look very, very bad:

What I have crunched the numbers on– I did it just now, as a matter of fact, because I was curious and I am exactly that kind of nerd– is that Bernie has gotten a lower percentage of the vote in literally every single contest than he did in 2016. Every single one. The average drop is just a hair over nineteen points, with a median just over 16, and there are five states where his vote total was less than half of what he got in 2016:

This is the clearest evidence that we’re going to get, I think: Sanders’ support has cratered since 2016, and there is no evidence at all that this will get any better. None. And he lost badly in 2016 once all the shouting was over. This will be worse. Stick a fork in him, he’s done. Time to quit. He has literally persuaded no one who he didn’t already have to come over to his campaign.

But.

You may have heard of this Rona shit we got going around, I dunno. They’re starting to talk about it on the news a lot.

Who are Biden’s people, broadly speaking? Voters of color and older voters. Who are Bernie’s people, again broadly speaking? White folk, especially younger ones.

One group is more likely to have fewer polling places, meaning longer lines and longer waits (how long did that one dude in Texas wait on Super Tuesday? Seven hours?) and one group is also a lot more vulnerable to the novel coronavirus, meaning that they really ought to be spending as little time in possible doing things like waiting for hours in lines around shittons of other people.

One group is more likely to consider themselves basically invincible and not be as concerned about waiting in those same long lines, and that group is also (again, broadly speaking; college students have been screwed in this respect in some places) going to have easier access to a quick ballot casting than the other.

It is, in other words, entirely possible that the coronavirus is going to work out in Bernie’s favor. Will it be enough to make a difference, given the fairly large margins currently showing in the polling? I have not the slightest idea. Especially since, again, he needs blowouts right now, and shaving a 44-point ass-beating in Florida down to 20 or even a narrow victory is not really going to do him a whole lot of good. But it might provide a slim thread of hope to hang onto, and a reason to stay in the election.

Do I want him to do that? No; in fact, I think the more responsible thing to do would be to drop out precisely to drive down the number of people who want to go out and vote, because I don’t think he can win at this point. Which seems odd to say, but it’s true. And I should make something clear: I’m not mad at Bernie about this, and I don’t think he’s off in Vermont cackling and gleefully rubbing his hands together at the idea that Biden’s supporters might be proportionally less likely to vote because of a global pandemic than his are or anything like that. But I think it’s a real difference between the two populations.

Again: do I think it’ll make a difference?

No fucking idea. Like I said, I don’t know anything about politics.

In which I’m planning my nerdery and also I’m stupid

We’re heading to Chicago for C2E2 tomorrow; we only bought tickets for the Saturday part of the show, but we’re going to stay with my brother on Friday night so that we don’t have as long or complicated a drive to deal with on Saturday morning. I spent some time tonight looking around at who was planning on being there and trying to wargame out who I wanted to see and how much standing in lines I thought my eight-year-old might be willing to tolerate. Which is … probably not too much, honestly.

I have a handful of people on my list: two comics writers, Gail Simone and Al Ewing, both of whom should be easy enough to find at their Artist’s Alley tables, Noelle Stevenson, who my wife also wants to meet and who is responsible for the excellent Netflix She-Ra program, and a few science fiction authors: John Scalzi, Sam Sykes, Robert Jackson Bennett and S.L. Huang. I have absolutely no idea whatsoever how difficult it will be to get autographs from these people, and I’m not about to subject my kid to lengthy lines, but is Sam Sykes gonna have a long line? I mean, probably not, right? Who the hell knows. There’s also the minor decision needed about whether I’m gonna bring stuff with me for autographing, which takes up space and requires me to carry said stuff around, or if I’m going to plan on buying things for signatures, which, okay, it’s our anniversary so I’m gonna splurge a bit, but I don’t know how many extra books I need just for signatory purposes. I mostly want to just meet these folks; the signatures are frankly all sorts of secondary to that purpose.

Now, take all that, whip up a bunch of unnecessary COVID-19 related paranoia, and pour said paranoia all over my plans like some sort of infection-based gravy. There have been sixty damn cases of the novel coronavirus in America, and I know how to wash my damn hands, which is the best way to avoid it. I’m just not super eager to be northern Indiana’s patient zero when I contract this shit and then spread it all over a damn middle school. Am I going to let this change my plans? Hell no, although I’m probably going to spend a smidge more time with my hands in my pockets than I might otherwise, and there’s definitely going to be more hand-washing than usual. But it’s in the back of my brain anyway, because stupid, and because oh right I have an actual anxiety disorder and anxiety disorders love this shit. Like, there’s nothing an anxiety disorder loves more than going to a 100,000-person-strong nerd convention during the opening weeks of a pandemic. Loves it.

Unrelated to anything: I am listening to a Kesha album right now, on purpose, and I’m rather enjoying it.

Anyway, I’ll post tons of pictures– pretty sure I can’t be infected with anything through my camera– and the usual end-of-month posts will be happening as usual. Whee!

TikTok talk

So, yeah, I threatened everybody with writing this post yesterday, and as of right now it’s still percolating in my head, so screw it; we’re officially in “my blog” territory here and I strongly suggest that no one bother reading this as I intend to simply dump the contents of my brain into this blank text box and then go about my day.

Y’all might remember a web service by the name of Vine that shut down a couple of years ago. Vine was the Twitter of video; your videos couldn’t be more than something like six or seven seconds long, and somehow even given that restriction Vine was frequently hilarious. It takes quite a bit of creativity and talent to manage to be consistently interesting in six-second bites, and unfortunately I didn’t find out about the service until too close to it going away; I never actually posted any videos (I am funny in certain contexts; seven-second videos is not one of them) but I enjoyed browsing the site before it got turned off.

Enter TikTok. I first downloaded the app … I dunno, a month ago, maybe, thinking that it might be a worthy replacement for Vine. And, well, it’s not, if only because it’s doing entirely different things. TikTok, you see, exists solely to generate memetic content. The interesting thing about the app is that it allows you to copy the audio from any other posted Vine and use that audio with your own visual content. You can also “duet” another video, which plays that original video alongside yours with the audio from the original video; you can add your own text if you like.

What this means is that TikTok is literally the worst earworm generator on the entire Internet. And while it doesn’t have Vine’s restrictions, the videos are usually short, somewhere in the neighborhood of 15-30 seconds, maybe, although most of them are on the shorter end. Huge numbers of TikTok videos are either people lip-synching audio that other people originally recorded or sometimes putting it in another context. It can be hilarious, but when you’ve heard different spins on the “Her Name is Margo” audio from twenty-five different accounts over the course of a single day it’s going to start infecting your dreams, and God help you when a snippet of a song that you actually hear on the radio goes viral. It’ll melt your brain.

There are, near as I can tell, two components to the app. The first is the For You page, which is an endless stream of videos that I assume have been curated by an algorithm and may or may not differ in some way from user to user. The goal of any video is to make it to the For You page, because most people (I believe) interact with the app by mindlessly scrolling through those videos and that’s the best way for any individual video to get a lot of attention. You can like individual videos, which adds them to a list in the app, and you can follow individual creators, which creates a second list that is just of those creators, but doesn’t appear to be sequential or anything like that. It’ll just go on forever, repeating videos if necessary, until you die or close the app. It is terrible for those of us with mildly addictive personalities because it never ends and there’s no way to get shunted off into an article or something that causes you to accidentally learn something and get off the site for a few minutes. Just hours of the same five audio clips repeated until you die.

And then there’s Charli D’Amelio.

Charli is a fifteen-year-old high school freshman who has, as of this exact moment, twenty-seven point nine million followers on TikTok, the current high-water mark for the service, and I don’t believe second place is very close. By comparison, Barack Obama has about 113 million followers on Twitter, a much older and more established service, and oh also he was President of the United States.

Charli is a dancer. She dances. That’s basically it. She has a bunch of short dances that she’s (mostly? I assume?) made up for various songs (or, rather, parts of them) and she does her little dances and that’s the end of the video. She doesn’t speak in most of her videos. Now, don’t get me wrong, the kid is talented; I know she wants to dance professionally in the future and she’s absolutely going to be able to do that if the Social Media Queen thing doesn’t work out for her.

But I’m not just mentioning her for the hell of it. Remember how this site works. It works by other people taking audio from your videos and then either repurposing it or duetting you, where their video appears next to yours. And every single time Charli releases a video literally millions of people record their own videos either doing the dance alongside her, reusing the audio for something else, or issuing commentaries at varying levels of societal acceptability. And a quick look at her feed reveals that she’s done six videos just today. And every single one is going to end up being memetic content in some way or another. There is an entire account dedicated to finding out where she bought her clothes and posting where to get them and how much she spent. (Her family seems to be reasonably well-off, but the clothes aren’t expensive enough to warrant commenting on, for the record, much less creating an entire account for.)

I did a little experiment earlier, counting videos on the For You page and checking how many were either Charli’s videos or Charli-adjacent somehow. Each time I went through 100 videos, which takes less time than it sounds like it does since it only takes a second or so to figure out if she’s in the video or not. I did some of them logged in as me and some completely logged out to see if the app was deliberately steering Charli videos to me.

Out of a hundred videos, the high mark was eighteen having something to do with Charli– four in a row, at one point– and the minimum was three. Which means that even on a signed-out, no-algorithm account a minimum of three percent of the videos this site was serving to me were from one person, on a site with hundreds of millions of users.

Think about that. This kid is fifteen and she is basically running this entire social media network. TikTok, at least partially because of the way it’s built– you could never have something like this happen on Facebook or Twitter because of the way people interact with them, and while Instagram influencers are a thing nothing Kylie Jenner has ever done has accidentally made it into my feed– has unintentionally (?) created a situation where one user is driving an enormous amount of their traffic– either from people watching her or reacting to her with their own videos. It’s nuts. Babygirl was at the Super Bowl and the NBA All-Star game, for God’s sake. How do I know that? Dozens and dozens of videos of her, from enough users that it literally couldn’t be avoided.

I don’t know if this is a sensible way to create a social media network, but it’s certainly interesting.

Damn

At 968,927 total words, I am closing in on a million words written on this site since it started in 2013:

There will probably be a real post later, assuming I shake off this ass-poor mood I’m in, but I just decided to check on my word count and felt like it ought to be noted.

2018 blogwanking

Ah, screw it, we’ll do it today. Christmas also falls under the “nobody’s paying attention” rule, right? ūüôā You ought to be able to click on any of these for a larger view, if you’re inclined to do that.

Overall traffic: basically right around the same amount as last year for pageviews, slightly down in everything else. That huge blip in 2015 is from the Syria post, which got over 100,000 pageviews and hugely inflated absolutely everything, and I was also posting twice a day or more most days back then. I haven’t been able to keep that pace up. Hopefully next year we’ll have a visible upward trend.

Writing stats:

I wrote more here than last year, but still not close to the pace I was setting in the early years– which, let’s be fair, was insane. Still, over 100K words isn’t nothing even if it is technically my second least-productive year.

Geography. This is this year:

And this, slightly more filled-in, is all-time:

I still prefer the way they used to do things, where that heatmap was a lot more useful, but basically I’m still looking at traffic from all over the world except for kleptocracies, hardcore Communist countries, bits of Africa, and Svalbard island. Top 10 countries for 2018 are the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, India, Germany, Brazil, Malaysia, Norway and Indonesia. All-time is a little different: the US, Canada, the UK, Australia, India, Germany, Brazil, New Zealand, France and Norway. I’d love to know what caused me to get more popular in Malaysia, which has had 40% of its all-time traffic just in 2018. And this little bit of weirdness still persists:

I have still never gotten a single hit from Kosovo. There has GOT to be something going on with the way WordPress calculates traffic that makes it impossible. I just don’t know what. Have ANY of you ever gotten any traffic from there?

(I do have 28 hits from the “European Union,” which is kinda weird, and I wonder if those are the Kosovo ones and are just tabulated strangely. 28 would be roughly in line with the rest of the countries in the area.)

The top 10 individual posts for 2018 will not surprise anyone who has been around here for a while:

The popularity of the Creepy Children’s Programming Reviews series continues to inexplicably endure; the Mini Force post is the #1 Google result for “Mini Force review” and was, all by itself, responsible for nearly 20% of my site traffic. The Snowpiercer review had a single day this year where it didn’t get any traffic, which is the first time that has ever happened. And I have no idea what the deal is with the “bad student” post. None of these make any sense to me at all.

And, for the record, after the top 10 posts (I’m ignoring the home page,) six of the next seven top posts are also CCPR posts.

Top 10 individual posts actually written in 2018:

  1. Na na naaa na, na na naa na, hey hey hey
  2. In which @amazonhelp doesn’t help
  3. KOKOMO-CON 2018: The Cosplay
  4. Snarf, 2004-2018
  5. Creepy Children’s Programming Reviews: THE AMAZING WORLD OF GUMBALL
  6. Creepy Children’s Programming Reviews: #SHERA AND THE PRINCESSES OF POWER
  7. Well that escalated quickly
  8. AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR, the spoiler #review
  9. Fuck Mel Hall, part 3 of an endless series
  10. VENTING: In which I’m going to vote for assholes

Nothing I wrote this year really blew up; the difference between #1 and #10 up there is only about 40 pageviews, which isn’t much, and there’s still two CCPR posts up there. I wrote three of them this year; the post for THE DAY MY BUTT WENT PSYCHO¬†doesn’t¬†appear¬†to¬†have¬†benefited¬†from¬†whatever¬†dark¬†sorcery¬†is¬†driving¬†traffic¬†to¬†the¬†rest¬†of¬†them¬†for¬†some¬†reason and is right in the middle, traffic-wise, of posts written this year.

Finally, just for the hell of it, referrers:

All of those Fark referrals are to the Snowpiercer post. I assume the lion’s share of the search engine posts go to the top 10 one way or another, and then there’s the 3000 referrals from Facebook that are keeping me from shutting my Facebook page down for good. Nothing too surprising here, one way or another.

How did you do this year?