turning inwards

Ramadan approaches, and I am going to make the effort to use the time I’d normally use for Warcraft, anime, and other geekery for more spiritual pursuits instead. That’s not to say I am putting this blog on hiatus for a month; I intend to post as often as I usually do (ie, wildly unpredictably). But my topic matter is going to take a turn for the philosophical in some respects. I’ll also be blogging extensively at City of Brass since Ramadan is understandably a major opportunity for an explicitly muslim-oriented blog.

As it happens, my Warcraft account expires tomorrow, and while I did buy a new card from Target, I’ll hold off on activating it until after Ramadan has ended. I hope Blizzard doesn’t delete my characters! I also will put my netflix account on hiatus as well. So, less temptation, and more self-discipline, for a month anyway. Wish me luck.

The @Otakusphere comes to Twitter

I have created a Twitter account, @Otakusphere which is an aggregate of all the blogs I link to in my sidebar and which are indexed by the Otakusphere Search Engine. The advantage of this over an RSS feed is that each link takes you to the original blog instead of viewing the post in the blog’s feed. It’s actually being aggregated via an Otakusphere Room at Friendfeed wich makes it very easy to manage the source feeds which pipe into twitter via Twitterfeed. If you’re on twitter, follow @otakusphere and if you aren’t, you can subscribe to the aggregate RSS feed.

The Otakusphere Search Engine

It’s somewhat ironic that after having finally settled on a blogroll length of manageable size and purpose (namely, just the blogs I read on a regular basis), my embrace of a RSS feed reader essentially rendered the idea of a blogroll moot. But as a reference of sites I recommend, it still has value. I find myself relying on the sites on my blogroll almost exclusively when researching anime series to watch, as well as finding the diversity of topics beyond anime very well-matched to my tastes (such as games, movies, science fiction, etc). I have increasingly found myself doing custom google searches on site:chizumatic.mee.nu or site:nickistre.net etc etc all the time, which became somewhat cumbersome. So, in search of a better solution, I decided to roll my own search engine for my personal slice of the Otakusphere. Using Google’s backend, now, the search box on Haibane.info searches every site on my blogroll (see the Otakusphere section on the sidebar to the right). You can also access the Otakusphere search engine directly without visiting Haibane.info by visiting http://bit.ly/otakusphere ((which redirects to a very ugly Google URL. The google folks very badly need to read this screed by Dave Winer on the topic)). You can even embed the search box on your own site – see below the fold for the relevant HTML code for cut and paste.

The Otakusphere search is of course very highly tuned to my needs and tastes. However i do want it to be of more general use, so i woudl like to solicit suggestions for high-value sites in the Otakusphere for inclusion. I’m looking for sites that have a lot of in-depth reviews of anime titles in particular. Note that since most of the sites I am already including tend to link to smaller sites with detailed reviews ((particularly Pete at Ani-nouto, who is very skilled at finding excellent quality reviews from the furthest reaches of the Otakusphere)), these sites will get indexed too, since the Otakusphere search also indexes pages linked from the core sites. Still, there must be other great aggregators of reviews out there that i’ve missed, so please do let me know.

I assume that very few people are going to use this as often as I do. In a sense, by using it I am being counterproductive since searches on my site will now lead more often away from my content than towards it. Still, since I blog primarily for my own benefit, that’s exactly the way i want it to behave. I hope it’s of some use to others as well.

Continue reading “The Otakusphere Search Engine”


is it just me, or does the otakusphere seem filled with political posts these past few weeks?

I am not knocking anyone’s choice of blogging subject material, but I am finding it harder to use the otakusphere as my release valve for the bitter and divided one-sidedness of the poli-sphere (left and right alike). I am not above that fray – in fact I am actively and proudly a partisan myself – but one of the great things about the otakusphere is that it is one of the few common grounds left on which we can meet our putative idoelogical opponents on without acrimony.

At any rate the solution is simple; if you don’t like what others are writing about, don’t read it. But I am looking forward to this election season being over so we can all go back to discussing the important things.

engineering a debate

Steven was previously mulling about a change in his comments policy, and today just pulled a post because it (apparently) triggered some rather heated debate. I’ve noticed that Steven in particular tends to attract a lot of this sort of comment abuse – perhaps a better term for it is “signal saturation” because unlike spam or trolls, this isn’t a noise problem, it’s too much signal.

One thing I’ve noticed is that these incidents always tend to occur in the context of an engineering discussion. Whether it’s the scalability of solar energy or the relative merits of liquid vs solid fuel for rockets, it always boils down to numbers. In contrast to engineers, we scientists tend to have less of an attention span, ending up on wild tangents rather than being able to focus on one topic long enough to disagree on fine details such as these. I wonder if these predilections are hard-wired into our career profiles.

At any rate, it’s because I don’t have people crawling over every word I post with rebuttals and counter-factuals that keeps my blogging fun. If I were in Steven’s shoes, I’d probably close comments entirely. As it is, I am thankful that my comment threads are pretty tame and invariably filled with interesting things and perspectives rather than nitpicking galore.


I was out of town this weekend, to celebrate my daughter’s first birthday in Chicago with my parents, so I figured that I’d throw a fun post up on the blog for you all to enjoy. Unfortunately, Akismet seems to have decided to stage a coup in my absence and tried to eat everyone’s comments, which seriously blunted what would have been a really fun thread. I just returned home and found Akismet drooling like Smaug over its hoarded commentary, loath to release them until I forced it to my will. Maybe it’s time to look at serious spamtrap alternatives.

In the meantime, how about that wacky telescope thingy, eh? (sigh). I know. Thread’s dead, baby.

and boy, are my arms tired!

was out of town this weekend. My inbox is a nightmare – over 500 messages not including spam. I am seriously considering nuking it. Step 1 towards email independence is simply knowing when to cut your losses. If you sent me an email, please comment below so i know what to prioritize.

not to be outdone, 1,000+ unread items in google reader? Not for long.

The Tao of Scientism

Daniel Dare is one of those web personalities you come across who you might initially think is a crank, but after integrating over time you see that they have a subtle depth. He’s largely hostile to belief and subscribes to the Dawkins ultra-rationalist condescension of spiritualism. I haven’t asked him directly but I suspect he would strenously disagree with the inconvenient truth that rationality itself is flawed. At any rate, he’s got a blog and it’s worth subscribing to on RSS.

I think he’d be one of the most interesting people in Twitter if he were to get the Zen. In the meantime, I’ll settle for his Tao.