Friday, April 29, 2005


You Heard It Here First
Without interviewing me, Jacksonville TV newscastFirst Coast Newsreported Thursdaythat I was selling the domain:

While the World Wide Web might not be a priority for Pope Benedict XVI, one local man hopes someone will think it's worth some cash to him. Roger [sic] Cadenhead of St. Augustine registered the domain nameBenedictXVI.comalong with other potential choices before the Pope selected his name. Cadenhead wants to sell it to the highest bidder.

This was news to me. I had been telling all reporters the exact opposite, as the original story in Tuesday'sWashington Postattests:

Reached on his cell phone, Cadenhead said he hasn't made any decisions about what he'll do with the domain, but he vowed he wouldn't be pawning it off to the highest bidder.

"I never really registered it with the intent of making money, and I think to crassly auction it would be a sin of some kind. ..."

Five hours before the newscast, BenedictXVI.Com wasdonated to the charity Modest Needswhile we wait to hear from the Vatican, as I wrote on my weblog.

A First Coast News producer e-mailed me for an interview at noon, but I was unable to call him back -- I haddisconnected my phonebecause I couldn't say no to female TV producers.

Interestingly enough, I can see exactly what the station read on my web server, because the office computer the producer used to e-mail me requested several web pages Thursday, including these:

  • 9:58 a.m.: Thefirst papal weblog entry, which stated"I don't think there's any speculative potential in these domains"
  • 10:09 a.m.: TheWorkbenchhome page, where thetop entrystated"my goal was to keep it away from pornographers"
  • 12:24 p.m.: The BenedictXVI.Com home page, which at the time displayedthis page, where I explained that I"registered benedictxvi.com to prevent a pornographer or online casino from getting it"
  • 12:24 p.m.: Myfavorite photofrom my10th wedding anniversary cruise
  • 1:17 p.m. and 2:04 p.m.: The same BenedictXVI.Com home page

All told, that First Coast News computer made 115 web page requests before the newscast, also checking out mybio,books, and thetelevision categoryof my weblog.

I don't know how thestationcould have reported something false that contradicted several pages they viewed on my server and so much other press coverage. My only consolation is that the story wasn't delivered by Donna Hicken.

Extended Pings in Weblog Pinger
Dave Winer addedRSS supportto Weblogs.Com this morning, making it possible to send an extended ping message to the service that includes the address of a site's RSS feed.

This will make it easier for services that are built atop Weblogs.Com, such asTechnoratiandGigaDial, to incorporate RSS feeds.

I haveextended my pingerto support this new feature.

Weblog-Pinger, an open source class library for PHP, can send update notification pings over five XML-RPC services that monitor new weblog content.

Holy See, Holy Do
I'm getting a lot of comments like this one by Concerned Canadian:

I think it would be in your best interest to use this site to better humanity. Use it to donate to some sort of Catholic charity, or use it to write about the history of the Catholic church. Cashing in on it would be very typical, and if you have any personality at all, you won't want your 15 minutes of Internet media fame to be seen as typical.

I haven't decided what to do with thebenedictxvi.comdomain -- my goal was to keep it away from pornographers, not grab a domain for some kind of papal superstore.

But now that my weblog has 120,000 new readers, just counting yesterday, I'm using the opportunity to promoteModestNeeds.org, an organization that's like a charitable eBay: They match up donors with people who have short-term, under-$1,000 emergencies (such as repairs to the family's only car), helping them get out of the crisis.

SmartMobsdescribes how the charity got started in 2002:

The founderKeith Taylorbegan Modest Needs by giving 10 percent of his $350 a month earnings as a way to return a no-strings kindness paid to him when he most needed it. He told me,"Those who need help can always ask for it at Modest Needs, absolutely for free. How much money we raise matters less -- to me, anyway -- than simply providing a vehicle for human kindness."

Here's thelatest donation-to-expenses reporton Modest Needs from GuideStar and the charity'sfull financial statistics, for people who want to research the group before contributing.

Master of My Domain
The owners of other Pope Benedict XVI domains are taunting me.

Jacopo Di Trani, an Italian who gotBenedict16.Com, has declared that pornographers and online casinos are welcome to buy it from him:

The first time i didn't believed Cadenhead when he said"i'll never give my domain to gamble/porn site developers"!

He's a very kind guy, but, first of all, his hair CAN'T be real, and, second, although i have respect for his decision to give for free his very valuable domain (with a billion of christians in the world), it doesn't change my opinion about the human nature and i'll never do something like that with this domain!

The owner of PopeBenedictXVI.Com, who received a $150,000 bid on EBay that turned out to be a hoax, had a question-and-answer page up where he posted this:

I'll be keeping every red cent of this dough, thinking about blowing it on horse races. ... the person that you saw on tv is the owner ofbenedictxvi.comand not me, you will just have to take my word on the fact that I'm much younger and sexier than that guy, I've got more hair too.

I know in a higher sense I did the right thing by donating the domains toModest Needs, a great charity that continues to getrecord traffic, but if my gesture turns out to have an actual market value of six figures, I think I'm going to spend the rest of the day curled up in a ball eatingChunky Monkeydirectly out of the container.

Update: A discussion onReal Time with Bill Maher:

Joe Scarborough: I think there's going to be a porn site."BenedictXVI.com."

Sen Alan Simpson: [overlapping] John Waters would love it.

Scarborough: [overlapping] In fact, go to it.

Insert Charlie Brown"Auuuugh!"here.

I've Been X'ed
I did an interview yesterday withAVNOnline, believing the"AV"stood for audiovisual, like theA.V. Clubentertainment site published byThe Onion.

I liked the final piece, although I thought it was odd for the reporter to quote another papal domain registrant talking about"nipples and snatch."That kind of talk hasn't appeared much in the media since the end of the Clinton administration.

When I showed the story to my wife, she noticed that the ads around the piece were forX-rated sites and products(warning: link advertises X-rated sites and products).

As it turns out, AVN stands forAdult Video News, theleading trade publicationof the adult entertainment industry.

Virgin Mary of the Viaduct
I received an e-mail from someone affiliated with theVirgin Mary viaduct, the Chicago highway underpass that has alife-size water stainresembling the mother of God. They wanted advice on setting up a web site.

I'm a firm believer in the idea that all religious iconography that develops naturally upon either surfaces or food should have its own site. This is exactly the kind of thing for which the Internet was invented.

Because of the visual nature of the underpass and the community that has developed, the ideal place for its web presence isFlickr.

Flickr's a terrific photo-sharing community that was recently purchased by Yahoo for 5.2 bajillion dollars. You can create an account for free, upload your photos for public viewing, and add tags that describe the subject of the shots.

Every time I find myself on Flickr, I get lost in the photos, most recently in the work of Justin Hankins. His pictures of theBridge of Lions,Night of Lights celebration, andIntercoastal Waterwayare some of the best shots I've seen of St. Augustine.

Flickr photos can be grouped into sets and viewed as slideshows. Somebody should hire Robin Jean, the photographer doing thisRockstars set, to take column mugshots for newspapers.

Habemus Domini!

"A spokesperson for the US Conference of Bishops declined to speculate on whether the Vatican would ask Cadenhead to transfer ownership of BenedictXVI.com and the other potential papal name addresses he controls. Messages left with the Vatican's embassy in Washington were not returned."

When I registered six domain names at the end of a 14-hour writing day earlier this month, I didn't realize that my actions would reach all the way up to theVatican. I figured that some idiot was going to do it, so the idiot might as well be me.

I've received an offer from a gambling site. I'm pretty sure that's a bad idea, ecclesiastically speaking, but I should contactBill Bennettto make sure.

Thinking out loud, I'm trying to figure out what I might ask for, should Pope Benedict's people get with my people (a hastily convened College of Cardinals that includes my grandmother Rita and my in-laws, fellow Catholics whose commitment to our faith was demonstrated by their nine children).

Here are some things I would like. Please do not call them demands:

  • I. Three days, two nights at the Vatican hotel they built for the conclave.
  • II. One of those hats.
  • III. Complete absolution, no questions asked, for the third week of March 1987.
  • IV. A back-cover blurb from the Pope for the next edition ofMovable Type 3 Bible Desktop Edition. But only if he uses the book to create his own weblog.
  • V. World peace.


All-Podcast, All-the-Time Radio
A San Francisco radio station is going to start airing nothing but user-submitted podcasts beginning on May 16. The station, which calls itselfKYOU Open Source Radio, will broadcast on 1550-AM/San Francisco and the Internet.

Submitted podcasts must be 60 megabytes or less in size and can be in any format. The categories on thesubmission formdemonstrate how strange this is likely to be -- traditional fare like news, sports and politics is mixed with over-the-road trucking, sex and wiffleball.

This could be one of the great wheels-off radio experiments of all-time -- at least until earnest liberal San Franciscans fill it with local community news, activism and independent music.

The station sounds like a good opportunity for Jacksonville webloggerTodd Smith, who devotes his site toAmericana musicand has a Saturday morning show about the music on alocal college station.

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