I like the way Ace thinks when it comes to blog fundraising

Overflowing tip jar[I’m sticking this post to the top of my blog for a little while because . . . well, because it worked.  Several people were kind enough, after reading this post, to donate.  Even I can see the takeaway lesson, which is to expose a few more victims . . . uh, readers to this post. You can scroll down for new content.]

I wasn’t reading Ace of Spades back in 2004, so I missed Ace’s Fall fundraising request.  Maetenloch, who presides over that website’s excellent weeknight “Overnight Threads,” was feeling a bit tired last night so, rather than write his own post, he reprinted Ace’s 2004 plea for a little support for the resident bloggers.  If you feel inspired, my PayPal tab is in the upper right side of this blog.  If you don’t, no worries.  I love blogging, I’m delighted when people take the time to visit the site, and no one has any obligation whatsoever to fund my passion. But money is nice too, so I’m not going to be too shy about passing on Ace’s suggestion and useful information:

I figure that just about everyone who reads this site would be willing to donate $1 — one buck — four times a year. I figure there are four reason most don’t:

1) Fear about using PayPal. All I can say is that the transactions are secure, meaning coded, the same sort of deal that Amazon and other on-line stores use. I never see your credit card number. Is there a risk? Well, is there a risk when you sign your name on your credit-card receipt and give it all to a perfect stranger when you buy Urban Culottes at Banana Republic?

2) But I don’t have a PayPal account! You don’t need one. Only the recipient needs an account. You just need a credit card, and the will to succeed in selling distress-sale real-estate. It’s what I call “Money Motivation.”

Seriously. PayPal is just how the money is collected. Donors just need to click on the PayPal button and enter their digits as if they were buying books from Amazon or, more likely, Japanese pornography.

And, actually, you don’t even need a credit card. You can send them a e-check, and then they credit me once that clears.

3) It’s a pain in the ass. Well, it’s a minor pain in the ass, but honestly, the entire process takes two minutes. I’ve donated myself, so I know.

4) It’s almost insulting to just give someone $1; it’s better to not donate at all. This is just totally wrong. I have a good number of regular readers, and if half of them — just half — gave me four bucks a year, I’d end up with a pretty sweet haul. Not an Andrew Sullivan gilt-edged bandwidth haul or anything, but enough that I could get my creditors off my back and finally have a good answer when my family asks me why I spend so much time screwing around on the Internet.

The big point is that it’s not really the size of the donation, it’s how big the donation pool is. And if all of my regular readers who haven’t donated before (anyone who has donated — your subscription is in good standing) donated, it would be– well, it would totally, utterly sweet.

Like I said, it’s a buck. About the cost of a cup of coffee at 7-11, and 133% of the cost of a single copy of the New York Times.

Of course, not everyone is going to donate– I think probably 1% of my readers donate at most — so if you felt like giving $3 or $5 or $10 or $20 or even $50, that would be pretty darn cool too.

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You like me! You really like me! (Or Doug Ross’s Fabulous 50 came out today)

fab50-winner-200-267There is no way to say this without boasting:  I won!  I won!  (As did many of my blog friends and almost all of the legal thinkers I admire.)

For those bewildered by my boasting, a little context:  Every year, the inestimable Doug Ross publishes his fabulous 50 blog award winners:

So we’re more than pleased to announce the winners of the 2015 Fabulous 50 Blog Awards, the most prestigious new media awards in the conservative blogosphere.

Or, at the very least, in the 993 area code.

These awards recognize a variety of blogs and websites operating in the conservative hemisphere of the Internet, all of which have worked tirelessly to promote conservatism, free market capitalism, fiscal sanity, the sovereignty of the individual, and otherwise protect America from the cockroach-like Statists — some in very unique ways.

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Making my dreams come true

Overflowing tip jarYesterday, as my little Bookworm and I were driving along, she turned to me and said, “You know what my dream job would be, Mom?  It want to be a singer who actually makes money and doesn’t have to have all sorts of other horrible jobs to pay the rent.”

Inspired, I said to her, “My dream job would be having a full-time political writing career and getting paid for it.”

Imagine my surprise when I came home and discovered that one of my readers, totally out of the blue, had made a donation to my site.  In other words, within hours of my voicing my dream came true!!  Admittedly, the money donated won’t pay my mortgage, but it was a generous amount and made me very happy.

Sometimes the timing on things is just perfect.

Also, while I’m talking about my site, please feel free to “like” my Bookworm Room Facebook page or friend me on my Sunny (Bookworm) Berman page.  (That’s a nom de cyber, by the way.)  I try to link most of my posts on those two pages so, if you’re a Facebook fan, friending or liking is a good way to see whether I’ve updated my site lately.  And of course, you can always feel free to follow me on Twitter.

‘Tis the season (for asking for money), plus video!

DonationI’ve noticed that a lot of my favorite sites are asking for end-of-year financial donations to help fund ongoing costs (e.g., National Review and Commentary). It seems to me that, if they can do it, there’s surely a message in there for me.

So I come to now you with begging hat in hand: If you aren’t still reeling from the Obama economy, and if the $18 trillion national debt hasn’t caused you to start hoarding your money, and if you feel that my daily maundering contributes some value to your life, perhaps you can see your way to sending me a little small change. You and I both know that I blog because I’m driven to do so, but that doesn’t mean I’m entirely immune to financial incentives.

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Warning about another change to the system

Broken computerI’m making another change to my blog.  My hope is that this change will make the blog more accessible to everyone.  I like my new blog format, which most people find easier to read.  The one down side is that the larger text and narrower columns mean that my posts take up a lot of vertical space.  People who want to see, say, the last five posts I’ve published, will have to scroll and scroll and scroll to discover what’s new since the last time they checked (or, if they’re new to the site entirely, to discover what type of things I write about overall).

The logical answer is to insert a “read more” code into my posts.  I’ve hesitated to do so in the past, because the “read more” button was programmed to send the reader away from the home page and to the page dedicated to that specific post.  After reading the page, one then has to click back to the home page.  This seems like a little thing, but it’s not.  Most people want to stay on the home page.  They want to browse through the beginning of each post and, if one catches their attention, to read more of that post without leaving the home page.

Thankfully, I’ve finally discovered the plug-in to make the ideal a reality.  From here on out, the “read more” link will expand a given post without navigating away from the home page.  Moreover, if you finish reading the article and click the “read more” link a second time, it will close the article up again, still leaving you on the same page.

You can experiment with this new system here:

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More information about the Disqus conversion

disqusMy wonderful webmaster passed on to me some specific information about the way in which existing commenters can convert to being Disqus commenters.  It’s an easy process and allows them to keep their commenting identity.

To reclaim your comments and identity:

  1. Sign up for a Disqus account.
  2. Verify your email address.
  3. Merge your accounts.

And remember, you can use this easy access Disqus account across all websites that subscribe, regardless of whether they’re WordPress or Blogger or some other platform.

Blog news: I’ve changed my comment format to Disqus

disqusBig news: I’ve switched my comment system to Disqus. I made the switch for a couple of reasons. The primary reason is that my current system was doing an inadequate job of protecting me against spam. Every day, for the past several weeks, my inbox has been deluged with spam comments requiring moderation. I have enough trouble at the best of times dealing with my inbox, so it was time for a change.

I chose Disqus as the new comment format because it allows people who have Facebook to sign in without having to create a special account, which encourages more conversations. Disqus also allows people who don’t have a Facebook account to easily create a Disqus account just for commenting — and they can use this, not just at my blog, but at all blogs that have the increasingly common Disqus comment feature. There’s also a possibility that, because I’m in the process of exporting all pre-existing WordPress comments into Disqus (which may take up to 24 hours), regular readers will already find their accounts loaded and ready to use.

As is always the case when I switch up the system a bit, I expect that there will be problems. Please don’t hesitate to let me know your opinion, either by leaving a comment (if you can) or by sending an email to me at Bookwormroom at gmail.com. Your feedback matters greatly to me, so don’t be shy about expressing your opinion.

Welcome to the Canardvark

Welcome matAs you see, below, the Bookworm Room welcomes a new contributor, the Canardvark.  He used to blog regularly under his own name at a prestigious site, but the demands of his real-world life made that unsustainable.  After a few years of lying fallow, he asked if he could occasionally contribute to the Bookworm Room.  I jumped at the offer.

I’m not giving too much away about his super-secret identity when I tell you that the Canardvark is clever (hence the funny, punny name), thoughtful, well-informed, and knowledgeable about national security issues, among other things.  I’m absolutely thrilled that he will be writing here occasionally.  Indeed, I’ve urged him to ditch the occasional part and write regularly, but I’ll take anything I can get.

I really have nothing to say

HeadacheSome time ago, I don’t quite remember when, I told you that my output was slow because I was adjusting to a new medicine for controlling my migraines.  Fortunately, not only did the medicine work against the headaches, I also got used to it sufficiently to get my old brain back.  Sadly, though, as is often the case with these medicines, it suddenly stopped doing its job.

Since life with migraines isn’t much to celebrate, I contacted my neurologist, who has put me on a new medicine to control migraines.  I’ve been on the medicine for three days now, and have been migraine-free for the second and third day, so that’s a good sign.

The down side of this experiment is that, as happened with the last go-round of migraine medicines, the creative, analytical part of my brain has shut down.  I usually see words and ideas in these layered, interlocking dimensions.  Ideas for posts explode in my head and the posts pretty much write themselves (for better or worse, as the case may be).

Today, however, with the new medicine doing its anti-migraine magic, I can barely think in one dimension, let alone multiple, interlocking layers.  Ideas float vaguely through my head — e.g., “Obama = hubris = ancient Greeks = new concept in America, which hasn’t ever had rule by an unfettered monarch” — only to lie there.  I can’t build them into anything.

I anticipate that, as happened the last time around, my brain will adjust and I’ll start being able to write with fluidity and verve again (for better or worse, as the case may be).  Until then, I hope you’ll bear with me if my blogging is a little weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable.

In the meantime, if you’re desperate for Bookworm prose with some life behind it, feel free to check out my latest collection, The Bookworm Returns : Life in Obama’s America. Moreover, if you read it, and if you like it, and if you feel in the mood to do a little writing yourself, please don’t hesitate to leave a review at the Amazon page. (Will you think me weak and hypocritical if I don’t suggest that those who dislike it leave reviews as well?)

Gack! I’ve done it again — I’ve self-published a book on Amazon

Kindle.web_Andrea.coverMASTERI’ve been silent today for a reason:  I was putting the finishing touches on my Kindle e-book, The Bookworm Returns : Life in Obama’s America, which has just gone live at Amazon. It’s a collection of my favorite posts from the last three years.  I describe it on Amazon as follows:

In 2008, President Barack Obama promised that he would fundamentally transform America — and that’s one of the few promises he’s kept. In a series of clear, elegant, witty essays, Bookworm looks at the changes in American society since Obama became president. These changes have seen America become a poorer, less safe, less free, more racially-charged nation, adrift in a world that, without America as both protector and anchor, is also become increasingly poor and dangerous.

I had a lot of fun assembling the book.  I was rather delighted to see how prescient I was when discussing Obamacare, the Obama economy, foreign policy, educational trends, etc.  I was also pleased to see that my original posts, which I tend to slam out in bouts of frenzied writing between parenting, household maintenance, caring for my mother, and the occasional legal job, were fairly coherent.  They all had typos (sigh!) and awkward phrases, but once I ironed those things out, they seem to me to read pretty darn well.

Also, please note the bee-yoo-ti-ful cover, which a friend of mine, who is a professional graphic designer, created for me.  If you’re interested in working with him on your own e-book, or have other graphic design needs, you can see his contact information on the inside title page.  (You can see that title page simply by downloading a Sample of the book.)

If you enjoy my writing, please consider buying the book (a bargain at $2.99).  I will receive $2.05 for every book sold.  You’ll get reading pleasure (I hope), and I’ll get a return on the effort I put into blogging.  As you know, I blog compulsively, rather than to earn money, but it’s really nice to see a little money coming in for the effort.

Some changes to the site

Hey, everyone!  Notice the snazzy, yet austere, new look?  It’s not permanent.  My wonderful webmaster, Terry Trippany, is trying to figure out why, occasionally, all you see at my site is a string of advertisements.  There’s obviously something nasty buried in my theme’s coding.  After fruitlessly looking through endless lines of code, Terry realized that the only way to deal with the problem is to throw everything out and start anew.

This is a really nice, clean-looking theme, but it has some deficits, most notably the fact that it’s two columns, not three.  And although all the ads were irritating, I want them back, because I was earning money off of them — at least enough to keep the dogs in kibble and the mice in mouse food.

So, expect to see some changes over time as Trip works to get rid of some nasty malware that took up residence at the Bookworm Room