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Hydrant Marking on the Blog

     As you know, next week I'm gone, and indeed, I hope to spend as little time as possible this summer hanging around this blogohedron. Next week my colleague Marc Fisher will handle the blog on Tuesday and Wednesday, and my editaurs Sydney Trent and Tom Shroder will write it on Thursday and Friday. Their main job will be to keep the technology god Hal from following through on his long-term plan to change Achenblog to Hal's World.  The key to the next week, I think, is for the Select Audience of 15 to be on its best behavior. As you may have noticed, the regulars have marked this blog as though it were a hydrant. Man is not merely a social animal; he is also a territorial animal. The way this blog works is, I write a few paragraphs in the morning, and then these folks start posting random messages to one another, sniffing out mating possibilities. It's like I'm a bad lounge singer, belting out "My Way" to two tables of retirees, while the regulars hang back by the bar, trying to satisfy an inner gnawing hunger. So far this has worked well. This is our system. Other blogs have tried to emulate the system, but their readers stay on point, and the blogs suffer from linearity and thematic coherence. The best thing about all the hydrant-marking is that it scares away some people who might otherwise, by participating, broaden the blog's appeal and increase the number of page views, which obviously is not what we're after. The long-term goal is to drive the audience down into the single digits. In any case next week I will pay no attention to the blog, so you're all on your own. God help you.

By Joel Achenbach  |  July 1, 2005; 9:08 AM ET
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Ha! Glad you think "linearity and thematic coherence" are bad things. Wait, are you being sarcastic?

Posted by: jw | July 1, 2005 12:26 PM | Report abuse

Will Tom et al. periodically monitor for rogues and rapscallions?

Posted by: Tom fan | July 1, 2005 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Okay, so who are the select 15, may we have a list? And, may I ask Videlicet a question? Are you wiredog and/or EraserheadGuy?

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2005 12:50 PM | Report abuse

The 15 know (knows?) who they (it?) are (is?).

Posted by: Achenbach | July 1, 2005 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Know and knows, they and it. We are individuals, but we are one.

Posted by: Dreamer | July 1, 2005 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Since you never did cover "Less Filling vs. Tastes Great" (I'm assuming because, as you've given indications of, beer is below your social standing, although that seems difficult for someone that used to feast on ivory-billed woodpeckers!), would it be possible for one of the guest bloggers to cover it?

Posted by: Eric | July 1, 2005 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Light beers should never be discussed on this blog.

Posted by: jw | July 1, 2005 1:13 PM | Report abuse

So should we expect blogs that follow a specific topic? Like, all political next week? All sports next week? Or is diversity going to be thrown in there for SAO15 and company?

Posted by: Sara | July 1, 2005 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Of course the 15 know (knows)who (whom) they are (is), but I don't. Tick a lock, the game is locked, nobody else can plaaay, todaaaay, hooraaaaay!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 1, 2005 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Have a nice vacation Joel.

Hopefully wherever you're going, you'll get NASA TV or 'net access, so you can watch them play billiards with that snowball on Monday.

Should be neat stuff.


Posted by: bc | July 1, 2005 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Dear Posted by: |
The TSA-15 is not exclusive. Anyone can join. And yet the membership will never exceed 15. Each membership slot contains many dimensions.

Posted by: Dreamer | July 1, 2005 1:31 PM | Report abuse

For all anyone knows, the 15 are (is?) really two disturbed people posting under different names.

Posted by: jw | July 1, 2005 1:34 PM | Report abuse


so, the The 15 are dogs you say ?

Posted by: nottamember | July 1, 2005 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Just read the blog again. Love the "editaurs" comment.

Posted by: Eric | July 1, 2005 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Nixon had 15 henchmen (henchpeople) too...

Posted by: nottamember | July 1, 2005 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Joel, I'd be happy to write a day for you.

Posted by: Achnebach | July 1, 2005 2:05 PM | Report abuse

I don't know what to comment about the recent increase of posters.
Now that Achenbach won't be around we can post about his bad grammar. LOL

Posted by: fdg31 | July 1, 2005 2:10 PM | Report abuse

Those who aren't in the many dimensioned "15" already do that, though.

Posted by: Sara | July 1, 2005 2:37 PM | Report abuse

For those who are feeling clueless about "The 15," "TSA-15," and various versions thereof:
The concept came about when Joel was blogging from a Houston food court a few weeks back (see the "Half the Nation in Poverty" entry.) He wrote, "Ideally the blog will have only about 15 readers, but very intellectual, refined, sensitive readers between the ages of 18 and 35 and with large amounts of disposable income." There was also something about not wasting anything "good" on the Select Audience of 15 (TSA-15). Since then, various blog readers -- those who weren't offended by the age and income restrictions of TSA-15 membership -- have self-selected themselves into this esoteric group. Others have proclaimed themselves not good enough to be members. The relative merits of being a member have also been discussed; as kbertocci once said, being a member is not necessarily something to be proud of (I'm paraphrasing here).
Bottom line, no-one should feel left out here.

Posted by: Tom fan | July 1, 2005 2:51 PM | Report abuse

I would enjoy being a guest-blogger. I think all the 15 should be able to email Joel a little tidbit, which he posts. Maybe on their birthday. As a side note, I declare my membership in the 15, even though everyone is either smarter, or better looking (I imagine Sara is quite fetching).

Would it be strange to propose a TSA-15 happy hour, for the local members? Perhaps Joel would grace us with his presence? It could be ground-breaking...we could be the first blog to break the reality--internet divide!

Posted by: jw | July 1, 2005 3:22 PM | Report abuse

Yes, if you think you're part of the SAOF, you are, even if Joel may not be counting you.

Are other blogs really more coherent and linear than we are? Maybe they are, but a lot of you guys are pretty damned witty, and that beats linear any day. Rather than making fun of Joel's grammar, let's make fun of people who make fun of the blog.

My topic suggestion for next week: lake or ocean? I'm a lake girl myself.

Posted by: TA | July 1, 2005 3:27 PM | Report abuse

In H.S. I was a lifeguard on a pond in MA, so I have to go with that. Nothing like a New England pond or lake, surrounded by pines, with cool, fresh water to swim in. The ocean is nice, but the salt is annoying and you might get eaten by a shark. Pools are right out!

Posted by: jw | July 1, 2005 3:35 PM | Report abuse

I would fly to the happy hour. If I made it without a handsome "plane" man snatching me up. After all, I'm fetching. *winks at jw*

Posted by: Sara | July 1, 2005 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and oceans. I like the waves. I suppose I could just go to a wave pool at a water park, though.

Posted by: Sara | July 1, 2005 3:48 PM | Report abuse

Have the happy hour at an internet cafe, and post from there as a group--then the outside-the-beltway bloggers can participate vicariously. I think it would be hilarious, the people who show up can take turns describing each other to the blog.

Posted by: kbertocci | July 1, 2005 3:51 PM | Report abuse

We should have the happy hour next week while Joel is away. The chaos of it all will surely make the babysitters crazy! All that non-linearity, bloggers knowing how the others hold their drinks, who likes good beer, who drinks Red Bull...

Posted by: TA | July 1, 2005 4:05 PM | Report abuse

I am not wiredog or EraserheadGuy. I animadvert my own brand of idiocy. I wager Joel won't be able to resist peeking back into the blog - it's like God creating the Universe, setting it running, and not sending a messiah every so often to correct things.

Posted by: Videlicet | July 1, 2005 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Happy hour sounds like a good idea. But not sure about my drunk typing ability. I don't want Well Paid Pat to pay attention to my writing.

Posted by: fdg31 | July 1, 2005 4:18 PM | Report abuse

The happy hour would have to take place on some sort of porch. (Don't panic, Joel -- I don't mean YOUR porch.) Perhaps there would be a caged cockatiel nearby. We would sip tepid red wine and eat cheese and crackers. Periodically, one of us would yell an insult at the others, to maintain the usual atmosphere of the blog. Maybe, God willing, a crowd of onlookers would wander over from time to time to invade our space and tell us we suck, but only if they overhear the words "Runaway Bride," "American Idol," "Michael Jackson," or "Karl Rove." Sounds like fun. I might even paint my toenails for the occasion. (Nah!)

Posted by: Achenfan | July 1, 2005 4:43 PM | Report abuse

Happy hour?

Sounds good.

Not sure how happy it'll be if some of the RovestormTroopers drop in though.

I'm good with sea or fresh water myself, though I do prefer surf and waves.



Posted by: bc | July 1, 2005 7:52 PM | Report abuse

Hot damn! I think I have 15-envy.

Right age, wrong income bracket, woe is moi! :)

Posted by: toady | July 5, 2005 3:34 PM | Report abuse

Consider yourself lucky, toady. For most of the 15, it's right income bracket, wrong age.

Posted by: Achenfan | July 5, 2005 4:50 PM | Report abuse

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