Monday, May 02, 2005


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.

Close But No Cigar
I publish several web sites that run advertising sold byBlogAds, a broker that has been a financial boon to hundreds of weblogs.

I rejected an ad today from a site that sells Cuban cigars. The site claims that it's legal for Americans to import two boxes, but the language of the site's frequently asked questions page gives me the willies:

The original embargo on Cuban products has been revised by the US Dept of Justice to allow importation of small quantities when returning from a licensed trip to Cuba. This revision was extended to the public who are now allowed to import up to 2 boxes for personal use. There is no formal regulations that outlines the ability for US residents to import Cuban Cigars. There have been thousands of customers importing Cuban Cigars for personal use in the US and there is no history of anyone being prosecuted. Also, it has become a common practice among celebrities, military personnel, politicians and even law enforcement.

AU.S. Treasury brochure on the Cuba embargoseems pretty clear on the subject, stating that Americans can't even buy Cuban products while in foreign countries.

I rejected anabsinthe adlast year over similar qualms. When I saw that Google wasn't selling text ads for absinthe, I decided to adopt the same policy.

A Google search for the phraseCuban cigarsfinds only onecigar sellerin the sponsored ads, and that company won't export to the U.S.

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.

Fame or Something Like It
I wasn't prepared to be famous for 24 hours, but now that myweblog traffichas subsided to normal levels, I can relate some of the experience. The rest has to be filtered through therapy first.

For anyone wondering how I became a television personality as well-known for a day as theVirgin Mary grilled cheese, my friendMatt Haugheyhas digitized the interview on theToday Showwhere I talk aboutBenedictXVI.Com.

After theToday Show, I began receiving calls from TV producers. Almost to a person, they were fast-talking, Type A females who sounded likeAngelina JolieonLife or Something Like Itbefore she learned you don't have to become Stockard Channing to be truly happy. One even berated her assistant while talking to me, effortlessly switching the tone of her voice from sweet to"that better be a double shot espresso or you're on the next bus to Topeka."

These women are relentless; they will not take no for an answer. My friendJonathan Bournehas produced several talk shows, and he said I could have gotten some free swag from the programs by playing hard to get.

I caved too quickly for even a singlecoffee mug-- one flattering remark about my hair and I was asking where to show up. I had to disconnect my phone that afternoon, afraid of what else I'd agree to do.

I've saved avoicemail messagefrom Maryam Ayromlou, the MSNBC producer who asked me to appear onCountdown with Keith Olbermann.

This isn't the recording of Ayromlou I wish I had. I love Olbermann's show, but a few hours after agreeing to be on it, I called her to chicken out.

"I've spent money,"Ayromlou responded, referring to the en-route Orlando TV crew and a conference room booking for the remote. In the nicest way possible, over a several-minute call, she gave me the impression that if I backed out, there would be no place on Earth I could hide from her. I've never been more frightened of a person in my life.

I appeared onCountdownas planned.

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.

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