Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Ecosystem Project Update

by Tom Bozzo

As Oscar notes at Columnist Manifesto, our little game with the Truth Laid Bear link ecosystem has, thanks in no small part to fellow traveler Jeremy Freese, quickly achieved one of its primary goals. As of this writing, this blog is ranked #451 in the ecosystem. While TTLB processing apparently assigns rank and ecosystem categories separately, leaving Marginal Utility a very high ranking 'Adorable Little Rodent' for the moment, #451 is normally in the upper half of the Large Mammal category.

(Addendum 4 March 2005: A little intra-social-sciences harmony at Pub Sociology brings Tina Fetner into the ranks of co-conspirators. The TTLB rank is now #273. I'll have to install a supplemental oxygen system if this goes any further.)

This accomplishment has been described as "silly" and "competitive and pointless" by a level-headed blog pal. As I have already answered challenges of this nature, I will simply say to my co-conspirators, intoxicating beverages and possibly also large slabs of meat are on me at a time and place of mutual convenience!

There are a couple of delicious details that I must note. First, I temporarily outrank the Becker-Posner Blog! Regular readers may know that I would nominate the B-P-B for the Gary Carter Award for Most Overrated Academic Star Blog. I also outrank Donald Luskin and his "Conspiracy to Keep You Poor and Stupid." I will let James Wolcott say what must be said about Luskin.

The down side is that I've also outranked a number of blogs that achieved their rankings by consistently fine, intelligent, and/or scandalous writing simply by having assembled a small but determined team of terminal degree holders. Let me acknowledge the excellence of the following temporarily lower-ranked Large Mammals, whose other common feature is that their links on the TTLB Large Mammal page happen to have the "I've recently been there" color:

The Panda's Thumb, the evolution collective.

Michael Bérubé, without whom I might not have noticed that my copy of The Crying of Lot 49 vanished in the move.

Bitch. Ph.D., sensible views on the academic work week and undergraduate course evaluations.*

And, honorable mention, in no particular order:

Knowledge Problem

John and Belle Have a Blog

Sadly, No!


I hope it goes without saying, the blog rankings are a game. Inventive and sometimes even informative writing is what really elevates the quality blog from the primordial ooze.


* Speaking of which, the course evaluation gem from my mercifully brief teaching career — I'm a firm believer in the division of labor — was a complaint that it was "distracting" that I "drank so much coffee" during an 8 A.M. class.
In addition to comments (on your game) such as "silly" and "competitive and pointless" I would add that it was "clever," "fun to track and read about" and "well done."
Maybe you're suffering from post-"siumulblogging the Oscars" syndrome, because it kind of sounds like an acceptance speech. "I'm very grateful for receiving this Large Mammal award." I couldn't have done it without jumping over the following fine blogs..."

Oh, and another thing!

As a Met's fan I cannot let the "Gary Carter is overrated" remark go by without taking a good hard swing at it. Gary Carter put up extremely impressive offensive numbers considering (a) he was arguably the best defensive catcher of his era and (b) compared to today, the 70s and 80s were a "dead ball era." In his time, 30 HR and 100 RBI were considered "MVP numbers." He crossed (or barely missed) that threshold three times, and led the league in RBI a couple of times. A strong defensive catcher who can bat 3 or 4 in the lineup is an extremely valuable player, and Gary Carter filled this role for most of his career.
1. Thanks, Nina!

2. Oscar #1: Yes.

3. Oscar #2: These days, there are just so many overpaid and underperforming baseball players, I did feel a little bad picking on Gary Carter. Then again, he was making more than $2 million a year through the late eighties, so I don't feel that bad.

By the time he was making those big bucks with the Mets, later in his career, he had become one of the few free agents of the era whose marginal revenue product couldn't be shown to exceed his salary: he was overpaid and/or underperforming. Hence the Becker-Posner reference. Sorry!
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