E&R is three years old!

Technically my blog’s third birthday was on the 14th of October but, I’m ashamed to say, I forgot all about it this year. To make up for it, I decided to move the celebratory post, and future ones, back to the end of the year as it will hopefully be easier to remember.

There doesn’t seem to have been much change in the number of hits per week compared to last year, though this year seems slightly higher. I now have 188 followers (45 in the first year, 118 in the second year) and this is my 220th post (168 at the end of last year). I no longer consider PZ Myers as a good example of rational or free thought and have removed Pharyngula from the blogroll. There also seems to have been a remarkable number of spam comments recently; 9070 spam comments blocked this year, more than half of the total number.

Views per week

Views per week

Like before, I’ve included a map of countries where my blog has been read over the past year. There are a couple of countries that are on the all-time map but not over the last year, which is a bit sad but not unexpected. What is quite unusual is that this year South Africa came in second in terms of views, overtaken by the US. I’ll take that to mean that my content has been more international. As I’m no longer following South African news, the difference might be even more pronounced next year.

Views by country

Views by country

Top 10 countries by number of hits:
1. United States
2. South Africa
3. United Kingdom
4. Australia
5. Canada
6. Germany
7. Philippines
8. India
9. Japan
10. Italy

As my productivity here has decreased, I have decided to limit myself to five top posts (more or less) which I consider the best or particularly important. These posts are not in any specific order. Notably absent is a post on the NSA leaks, internet privacy and security. I had done several posts on the topic but I don’t recall any individual one being particularly good. Now, without further delay, the top posts of 2014:

1. SASHG & YRF 2013 conference and Trip to OIST and Japan
These two both make it in as expanding my horizons and academic growth. This wasn’t my first time attending a conference but it was my first time travelling so far to one, the biggest one I’d been to and the first time I presented at a conference. In addition it was just quite a fun trip.
My interview in Japan was the first time I had left the country and was an amazing experience. Although I did not get that position I was later accepted to do a PhD in Austria and I have good memories of my brief time in Japan and look forward to visiting it again in the future.

2. That’s offensive! So what?
I still have a problem with the way people take offence at remarks and expect the person causing offence to be punished. At times, that may be appropriate but, I think, in many cases it is better to let the comments go. Distinctions about governmental vs private suppression in the context of free speech seem to ignore the sentiment embodied in that concept. To me this is the key point.

It worries me that the idea of freedom of speech seems to have moved from “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” to “I disapprove of what you say and if you say it anyway you’re on your own.”

3. Wolves in South Africa and Animals in zoos
I put these two together as they are related. The first is my visit to a wolf sanctuary when I was visiting a friend in Port Elizabeth and the second describes some of the effects that zoos have on the animals inside. This of course leads to questions of whether they are worth the stress it causes and what alternatives there are to zoos, using the wolf sanctuary as one possible alternative.

4. Indulging superstitions comes at a real cost
Superstitions are harmful to individuals and society and it is necessary to recognise that. Just because something is comforting or sounds good doesn’t mean that it work. Essentially all alternative medicines do not work. Sometimes harmless superstitions allow the kind of thinking that can lead to more dangerous superstitions that end in injury or death.

5. Gaming is not just mindless entertainment
Hopefully I can convince you here that video games have meaning and value. They are going to grow in influence and in some ways they are modern novels and new sports for a changing world. Despite some impressions that they are perhaps shallow entertainment, some games run deep, tapping into classical literature and philosophy to encourage complex thoughts and analysis.

And a special mention as the most read post of the year…

6. Hypocrisy, thy name is…
My take on Euodia Roets accusing Woolworths of stealing her hummingbird design when it turns out she had originally copied a photo without permission. This post amassed 51 comments/pingbacks and 8968 views! That’s only about 700 fewer than my post on Jacob Zuma and The Spear and makes Hypocrisy, thy name is… my second most-read post.

Thank you very much to every one that has read or commented over the year. I hope you continue to do so next year. Happy New Year!

First year’s celebration.
Second year’s celebration.

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