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Some words about this blog and me…

I often get e-mail from folks out there in the web world who want to know about Under The LobsterScope and why I keep it going and put a major part of each day into it. It is for that reason that I’ve decided to say a few things that will clarify my relationship with UTL and, perhaps, encourage you to get involved as a commentor.

I started this blog through another editing site, Blogspot, during the 2004 presidential election year. I did several thousand entries over five years or so and then something happened. For some reason, someone got into my blog at Blogspot and did some fairly confusing stuff leaving it impossible for me to post on. I cancelled my relationship with Blogspot and over 4000 posts ago I started UTL up again through WordPress where it remains today.

While I was interested in electoral politics (originally in Maryland before my wife and I moved to West Virginia), my biggest interest at the time – and even now, a little – was in theatre directing. I got to do a couple of musicals and some plays at local community theatres and spent a lot of time attending theatre events (one of the reasons we moved to the Shepherdstown, WV, area was to be closer to the Contemporary American Theater Festival which we attend every year.

I also have a great interest in the visual arts… Elly’s background is as a painter and visual artist. That means heading off to galleries locally, in DC and other places. Add to the visual stuff an interest in music and poetry and dance. The arts in general are very important parts of my life.

As to politics, during the past couple of years beginning with the election of Barack Obama, I have become more and more an active Democrat and have felt it is my obligation, since this is a published item read by thousands of people a week, to expose the really awful things Republicans and extreme conservatives are trying to pull off.

Several of you have also noted that I often expose dangerous things being done by religious organizations. As you probably know I am a non-believer… an atheist, a humanist… and cannot understand how people with developed intellectual capacity can believe this stuff. I have no problem exposing things that might make readers see what I see. I am, however, as opposed to pushing my atheism on others as I am of them pushing their religious beliefs on me.

Now that my current age and health keeps me in the house most of the days of the week, I have much time to read other web sites, magazines and other publications, many of which I quote or comment on in the blog. On an average day I do at least 5 posts.

I have established some regular features in this blog that I hope you enjoy. Cartoon(s) of the Week is the one people think of first when I talk about regular features. I have been interested in editorial cartoons for many years. During the current election I have regularly been posting poll results which I see by the search term roundups many of you are looking for. And, of course, there is my regular posting of celebrity obituaries.

If there is any kind of post I do that you would like to see become a regular feature, just let me know and it’s likely to happen.

– Bill


Reviewing the “junk” or “spam” that comes into this blog…


Every so often instead of just trashing the entries that Akismet builds up during the course of the say, I take a quick review of where this stuff is coming from. Since I average about 9,500 of these bothersome bits a month, reviewing them is pretty much a waste of time, but it tells me what some people out in the blogosphere are trying to do.

Would you believe that this costs $1500.00?

For the most part they are trying to get free advertising posted as comments to blog entries. Last year the big pushers were porn sites, but this year I am swamped by women’s accessories – primarily Gucci leather products (mostly handbags) and various brands of ladies’ shoes.

Who do these people think this blog serves? Why do they think I’ll post this stuff?

I’d like to think the posters are wasting their time, but since I am sure this garbage is being put out by some kind of automatic list pushed across the web, I doubt that they are taking up anyone’s time at all.

Thankfully, Akismet has a great memory for spammers and removes them immediately. I recommend it highly.


Boy, I’m sick of Spam…

Akismet, the spam removal software that’s put up by WordPress for bloggers using their program, is very efficient in removing comments that are meaningless, or advertising, or just inappropriate.

However, I check all spam comments to make sure no legitimate comments have been accidentally taken out ( less than 1% of them… pretty good record). Usually it only takes me a minute or less to run down the list and check them, but in the last couple of days I have taken the most outrageous comments and checked where they are coming from.

Here is the result of my review:

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incomprehensible porn page from Poland

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That is the someway instruction that are supposed to be shared around the internet. Terrific paintings! Shame on the search engines for not positioning this put up higher! Come on over and talk over with my web page . Thanks in advance =)  – Russian news page which seems to be giving news about prostitutes and miracle bras.

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I’m not sure why anyone reading these comments would print them. So why do these idiots waste their time posting them?

Tomorrow at 10AM is the second Under The LobsterScope Podcast…

… and I’m happy to say that my guest will be West Virginia Poet Tom Domlin. Tom and I will get to discuss some of his poetry… he’ll do some reading… and we’ll have a good time.

That’s tomorrow morning from 10:30 to 10:30 AM at

Under The LobsterScope’s new Fundraiser:

Web Poppers now available for Blog Designers…

Web Poppers are a collection of small images, averaging 72 x 72 pixels, that are based on Bill’s picture font designs and other sources. They can be used to illustrate posts or to comment on any number of issues.

Each set is delivered on CD with 300 of the most popular JPEG images that I use in my own blogs, Under The LobsterScope and Panhandle Vegan. I have been getting great responses to these for the past year and the number of requests that I release them has been substantial.

So here they are.

The complete set costs $39.95, all taxes and shipping included. very set that is sold helps support this blog… and believe me, we need it.

Some samples from the 300:

To access PayPal. click here:

The Spam Writers are getting out of hand… I’m sick of them.

The hardest part of maintaining a blog, aside from writing, posting and promoting articles to various search engines, has got to be keeping spam out of the Comments. I use a great piece of software called Akismet which does a very good job of sending all spam comments to a page where I can review them (occasionally, about .005% of the time, it makes an error and labels a perfectly good comment as spam, and I have to reclaim it) and then, in one pass, I delete them all without really reading them.

My list of potential removables that I have primed Akismet for are any comments which are really not concerned with the post being commented on, but which are actually pieces of advertising in disguise… tricks to get people to go to their web sites for commercial reasons. These try to look like real comments, but, oddly enough, the texts of each one is a copy of another I’ve already seen… it’s like one robot is writing all these in quantity to my site and, I would imagine, many others.

Here are a couple of samples:

I was incredibly pleased to derive this website. I wanted to thanks for your time for this great read!! I as a matter of fact enjoying every small bit of it and I have you bookmarked to take a look at new stuff you blog post.

Thanks for honestly using permissible grammar. Approximately all sites were absolute gibberish. Astounding website & writing skills. You my friend have Talent! I just StumbledUpon this. Not bad. I’ll give it a thumbs up.

I enjoy reading a post that makes people think. Some genuinely exquisite posts on this internet site , thanks for contribution. Also, thanks for allowing me to comment!

I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I right on enjoying every limited bit of it. I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post.

That last one is my favorite. “Every limited bit of it.”

One of the things the spam blocking software does is show you the URL you would go to if you happened to click on the comment to see more from the person who is “incredibly pleased to derive this website.” The sites they would take you to sell all kinds of things: motorcycles, South American real estate, jewelry… and penis enlargement programs!

Today I eliminated over 60 spam messages which led to penis enlargement programs… at least half of them to the same user’s site, posted at comments on virtually every post I’ve put on this blog in the past two years. Some were even comments on ILLUSTRATIONS within posts (like the Web Poppers that I use in articles like this.)

While I am happy that these are kept away from my readers, I am very tired of seeing them pop up for elimination. I imagine other bloggers have similar problems. I could avoid much of this by limiting comments to approved subscribers… or by eliminating comments all together. Neither of these things do I want to do. I have always enjoyed the on line “conversations” one gets into with legitimate readers and I don’t want to change my policy.

It would be much better if these creeps heeded the anti-spam warnings I put near the top of my right column. Or maybe they would realize that their post like “Your well thought out ideas upon new approaches on this subject matter were insightful and an excellent help to us. Thank you for having time to write down these things as well as sharing your ideas” never shows up on Under The LobsterScope.

But they persist.

If any of them are reading this post, LAY OFF! Go comment on someone else’s page… perhaps one of those dating sites or a nice religion post. Or maybe a politician’s campaign website. You won’t get posted here.

OK, I’ve Changed the Look of Under The LobsterScope

It has been a year and I had gotten tired of the previous design, so I’ve made a change in the look of Under The LobsterScope. It still has the same kind of commentary… you won’t miss Cartoon(s) of the Week or any of the Quotes… it’s just going to look different. And I hope nicer.

For you WordPress users, I’ve adapted a theme called “Mystique,” which I spent time on today. I chose the two column version and had to adapt my old three-column stuff to the new format. I wanted to make the space for articles wider and more prominent.

Anyway, let me know what you think… just click on the mailbox and send me a note.

– Bill

Defending a Blog from Spam…

Since I put it in 3 years ago, my spam preventing software, Akismet, has kept 9,454 people from getting their comments or pingbacks on Under the LobsterScope. It’s accuracy rate has been 98.31%, and of the 1.69% it has removed by accident, I have been able to check through them and put them all back. This is a pretty good record and I’m very happy with Akismet.

For the most part, the spammers we have intercepted were people trying to use comment areas for free advertising. Obviously, they ignore the warning I put at the top of column 2 of the blog. I am glad to promote much advertising, but not for free and not in the comments. And since it is easy to get ahold of me, I’m surprised that none of these yoyos do it.

I also cut out sex sites, comments on politics which don’t take a fair and honest look at either side ( I quickly cut comments that use expletives to describe most politicians and especially Democrats and Liberals… although I have been known to apply this protection to Conservatives as well) and comments that have nothing to do with the post it is commenting on.

All in all, it has not effected the 356,000+ readers who have visited  Under The LobsterScope over the same period… many of whom have left comments that often educated me on various issues, and for that I am grateful.

– Bill

I’m Packaging 300 of my Web Poppers which I will make available next week…

Several of my readers have asked me where I get the little 72 x 72 pixel images I put in some of my posts…especially the ones I use to describe events in my own life. I call these little guys Web Poppers and they are all quality JPEG images that are easily placed onto blog posts (in WordPress I just use the “add an image” button at Upload/Insert).

For 25 years I have been developing picture fonts (many of you have purchased one or more of the monthly promotions over in the next column that I use to fund this blog) and have built up thousands of images over the years. Some are abstract decorations, some are food oriented, many are people doing activities…and more. As I have perfected some of these and converted them to small JPEGs, I have been finding all kinds of ways to use them (such as I am doing on this post.)

Next week I will be releasing a CD with 300 of the best of these images, the ones I use the most, which I will be selling for $39.95, which includes shipping and sales tax. There are no limitations on how you may use them… I would hope, however, that you don’t sell them to someone else, but send them your friends to me. The funds I receive from this offer will help keep Under The LobsterScope going into the future.

Look for the release ad next week.

– Bill

Snow on Under The LobsterScope until January 4…

…thanks to our hosts at We’ll have snow falling on our main page through Christmas. Almost makes me feel like I’m back in New England!