St John Karp

Ramblings of an Ornamental Hermit

Tenth Birthday

It’s been a year since I renewed my dedication to this blog and pivoted towards more casual posts about what I’m reading and watching. I was looking back on the year’s posts to get some perspective on how it’s panned out when I realized this blog is exactly ten years old. Ten! I can’t believe it. I’ve changed so much over that time and this website has changed with me. Let’s retrospect.

Some Numbers

In the past year I’ve written thirty-five blog posts out of ninety-six in total. This post will be the ninety-seventh. That means the past year accounts for over a third of all the posts I’ve made. If my rate of posting keeps accelerating at this rate, I will be writing ninety-six blog posts per second by the year 2025. SCIENCE.

These numbers don’t take into account the entries I subsequently took down because I no longer liked what I wrote. For example, there was one where I really let Barnes & Noble have a piece of my mind after their shitty software erased weeks of my work. Yeah that’s right, Barnes you prick and Noble you smug bastard, I haven’t forgotten our blood feud. I haven’t given them a cent of my money since then and neither should you, but I did remove the post because it didn’t reflect the tone I wanted my blog to have.

I didn’t have this in mind when I started writing more in December 2019, but having this outlet has been a pretty good hobby during the pandemic. It helps you feel a little less bored and alone to be able to do something creative and share it. I’ve always been passionate about reading and writing, so I guess I lucked out that they’re solitary hobbies.

Domain Names

From memory this site has been hosted on two other domains ( and before I eventually settled on, and I’m not entirely happy with that either! Coincidentally my three novels to date (Radium Baby, Skunks Dance, and Quake City) all end in a top-level domain, so I went and bought,, and I haven’t quite decided what to do with them yet.

Blogging Platforms

This blog has always been self-hosted, but it’s had a number of different platforms over the years. It was powered by WordPress at first, but this proved difficult to scale and tended to crash whenever I had a popular post (yes, it has happened from time to time). I switched to using Pelican, a Python-based static site generator that was a solid platform for many years until I suddenly lost the source files and configs for my site in a hard drive crash. Since last year I’ve been using Squeeze, a static site generator I wrote myself in Prolog. It can both generate a static site from sources, and recreate the sources from the static site. Neat trick, hey?

The only substantive user-facing thing that’s changed is that I got rid of the comments section when I migrated from WordPress. I’ve never felt the loss. I never had enough traffic to generate any significant discussion or solicit much feedback, and comments sections in general have fallen out of favor as site owners have realized they don’t bring much value. Online discussions have largely moved to link-sharing sites and communities like Reddit.

Security, Privacy, and Analytics

Back in the day this blog made heavy use of JavaScript (required for WordPress), and used Piwik for analytics. Migrating to a static platform turned out to be the start of an endless quest for minimalism that led me remove all the JavaScript from this site. I don’t load any global scripts, and I can’t recall any inline JS (although there may still be some vestiges in an older post). Even the interactive image galleries are pure CSS.

Transitioning away from WordPress was probably a good move for my own security. A large number of the 404s I get on this site are still for /wp-admin or various PHP files because there are bots that go crawling the web for known vulnerabilities. It’s not hard to spot them in your server logs.

For security and privacy reasons I removed the Facebook and Twitter sharing links which were pretty common on every blog when I started, and I removed the analytics platform. This blog keeps no analytics at all outside of the Nginx server logs, and those get rotated out so they’re not permanent. I’m dedicated to upholding my belief in your rights as web users. You have a right to privacy. You have a right to security. You have the right to browse the web with JavaScript disabled and still expect it to be basically functional.

What is this blog thing anyway?

My best friend Parker told me, “You have a blog? That’s so 2008.” And he’s not wrong. What’s the point in keeping a blog that’s not in one of the corporate walled gardens? Why have this Web 1.5 throwback?

My original intent was to write about interesting and little-known bits of history. I was even trying to be a YouTuber and made some crappy videos to go with my blog posts! But I enjoyed doing the research and wanted to make something people might actually like as a way of showcasing what I did as a freelancer. That freelance research sideline was barren and worthless but the blog persisted, branching out from straight-up history and into some humor and my half-arsed literary criticism. The past year has seen me turn strongly towards movies and books, writing posts that take me an hour instead of weeks or months, because in the end you can kill a blog through a slavish adherence to detail and perfection. I want something fun and funny, something casual, something more like a conversation I might have with my friends.

I never got the kind of readership I wanted and to my knowledge this blog hasn’t helped me sell a single novel, but I do it anyway. It’s something I really enjoy. I find it rewarding. It gives me a forum to write, to marshal my thoughts, and to express some creativity. And now, with ten years of blog posts to look back on, it’s enormously rewarding to see the body of work I’ve built up. Even just looking back on the last year is a thrill because I remind myself of movies I’d forgotten I’d seen and books I’d forgotten I’d read. So maybe this is more of an online diary, but I would rather it be sincere and personal and independent rather than “content” owned by Facebook and designed to sell you ads.

I couldn’t have predicted that this, out of all my blogging endeavors (yes, I used to have a LiveJournal and a Twitter…), would be the one that stuck around. I don’t know where I’ll be in another ten years and I don’t know where this blog will be then either. If I’m still the only one who reads it, I won’t be angry about it so long as I’m still having fun.