Archive for 2019

An unfond farewell to 2019

Tuesday, December 31st, 2019

I don’t normally write year-end posts, but the last few months have been exceptional. (In case you’re wondering, I’m not going to discuss politics, so as to avoid existential despair.)

Oh, the first part of the year–pretty much up to November–was fine. Did GOA4 (there’s the first half of the year), then started reading more books and the like–and made a probably overdue decision to shut down Cites & Insights, setting in motion a series of cleanup essays.

It’s the last two months that made 2019 so very special:

  • In mid-November, I wound up in the hospital for 11 nights, thanks to a roaring staph infection that had probably been building for months and apparently slowing me down for at least a few months. (I finish the antibiotics course on January 1…it’s a 60-day process *after* hospital release.)
  • In early December, I was back in the hospital, this time for four nights thanks to an intestinal blockage. No surgery required, but spent most of three days with no food or liquids, just intravenous fluids.
  • As a side note, I had not been in a hospital for more than one night in perhaps 50 years. Yes, I’ve been lucky.
  • Turns out both probably had something to do with the robotic-assisted prostatectomy of roughly two years ago: around 30% of the time, this faster and safer form of prostatectomy leads fluid sacs and/or adhesions.
  • By the way, the prostatectomy itself seems to have been wholly successful: PSA numbers since have been consistently too low to measure.
  • While the staph infection has no long-term consequences, once I get enough Activia in me to restore the biome, the same is not true for the obstruction, since no surgery was done: it means changing my diet, probably permanently, in a number of annoying ways (which, among other things, make it difficult to get enough calories: I was 160lb. before the hospitalization, 148lb. when I came out, and after 20+ days am struggling to get above 15o–aiming for 155lb, but that may take months). I’ll miss cashews and other nuts, Clif bars and anything else with rolled oats, raw carrots, raw spinach, raw… oh, and raw fruit with skins on in general. An ongoing learning process…
  • I shouldn’t forget that my spouse has been absolutely wonderful through all of this. We’ll celebrate our 42nd anniversary on 1/1/2020…
  • The web host on which this blog, and, and Cites & Insights all reside is shutting down in April 2020. Turns out that, as I’ve gotten older and more retired from a lifetime of technology work, I’ve become wary: specifically, I can’t even bring myself to start the necessary migration process. Anyone want to help?
  • Finally, just as lagniappe, the day after Christmas the keyboard on my 4-year-old Toshiba laptop went wonky: all any key would yield is l, q, – or the Windows key. After finding out that a repair, if feasible, would be at least $250 for a notebook that only cost about $400, I am now the proud possessor of a 17.3″ HP notebook, one of very few 17″-screen notebooks still available. Better CPU (8th generation Core i5 instead of, what, 2nd generation i3?), 8GB RAM–and only 250GB of storage rather than 500GB, but with a huge difference: the 250GB is SSD. (I never used more than 150GB on the old machine: I don’t do video or heavyweight photo work. Indeed, as I found when migrating data, if it wasn’t for 50GB of FLAC music files, I’d have about 6GB total to move over: text just doesn’t take much space.) I think I’ve re-established credentials at most websites I use (at least in Firefox), and I’ve reinstalled or redownloaded almost all of the programs I actually use–and the transition from Office 2015 to Office 2019 seems painless so far. (Although, when my wife finally gets a new laptop, Office 365 may be tempting: I don’t like subscription software, but a terabyte of cloud storage would make backup painless.)
  • One bit of good news here: Just as people have told me, SSD makes the new laptop a LOT faster than the old one when starting programs or doing file-based operations. I mean, three seconds to load either Word or Excel–I’ve timed it–and a second to load the 14,000-row GOA5 spreadsheet. Seems like the daily Malwarebytes scan is much, much faster as well. So yes, if you’re buying a new PC, absolutely look for SSD storage.
  • Oh, and of course I’ve now lost access to my websites, so that’s something more to work out besides the need to migrate…

So yeah, I’m hoping 2020 is less eventful than the last two months of 2019…

GOA4: December 2019 update

Tuesday, December 31st, 2019

Readership for the new edition and GOAJ3. As always, readership figures omit most of the last day of each month, because of the tools available.

All links available from the project home page, as always.

GOA4: 2013-2018

  • The dataset: 391 views, 117 downloads.
  • GOA4: 1,708 PDF ebooks and one paperback.
  • Countries 4: 382 PDF ebooks
  • Subjects and Publishers: 279 PDF ebooks

GOAJ3: 2012-2017

  • The dataset: 1,675 views, 307 downloads
  • GOAJ3: 3,691 PDF ebooks + 450 copies of first few chapters (C&I 18.3)
  • Countries: 1,133 PDF ebooks
  • Subject supplement (C&I 18.4): 576 downloads
  • One paperback




Cites & Insights Final Issue (19:9) available

Thursday, December 26th, 2019

The final issue of Cites & Insights (19:9) is now available for downloading at

The 20-page issue includes:

The Front: The Final Issue pp. 1-8

Some notes on 19 years of C&I–the longest and shortest volumes and issues, possibly the most widely-read issues, and a chronological list of the long essays (that turned out to be much longer and more varied than expected). Includes brief notes on the five years of C&I’s predecessors.

Nostalgia pp. 8-20

Some commentary on relatively old (usually) items not previously discussed, on predictions, gengen, failure, blogging and librarians. (Also known as clearing out Diigo for the last time…)

The paperback version of Volume 19 will appear sometime in the first half of 2020, and the C&I home page will be replaced with a final static version in late January–and, if I’m able to migrate properly, will stay around for at least another year.

Cites & Insights 19:8 (December 2019) available

Wednesday, December 11th, 2019

Cites & Insights 19:8 (December 2019) is now available for downloading at

The 51-page issue, delayed for a period because of unexpected health issues, includes:

Libraries pp. 1-9

Mostly material from several years ago, that still seems applicable today.

Media pp. 9-16

One group of items on books and reading, another on music and audio.

Intersections: Open Access Issues pp. 16-36

The last OA roundup in C&I, dealing with myths, impact, access, DOAJ and miscellany.

Media: Warriors Classic 50 Movies, 1 pp. 36-51

Twenty-four peplum/sword and sandals movies.

This is not (probably the final issue; that should appear in very late December (possibly as late as December 34 or so…)

Warriors Classic 50 Movies, Disc 6

Thursday, December 5th, 2019

Son of Hercules in the Land of Darkness (orig. Ercole l’invincible or Hercules the Invincible), 1964, color. Al World (Alvaro Mancori) (dir.), Dan Vadis, Spela Rozin. 1:20.

As offered here, this is one in a series of Sons of Hercules films, with a lively and very silly theme song at beginning and end—and apparently offered as a two-parter, since roughly an hour in we’re given a fast preview of the final 20-28 minutes as “in the next part.”

Never mind. At times fast-moving, at times just lots of scenery with son Argolese and his cowardly sidekick wandering around either looking for a city surrounded by lava or within the city. The first 20 minutes have the daughter of a rustic village king stripping down to take a swim (although she winds up holding her short tunic in front of her) and about to be attacked by a lion, which Argolese naturally defeats. He’s told that would be enough to win the hand of anybody but the daughter of the king—but for her hand he has to slay a non-fiery dragon that’s threatening the village and bring back a tooth. Which, with the aid of a witch, he does—all in the first 20 minutes,

Meanwhile, the soldiers of an evil queen—frim the lava-surrounded city—destroy the village and take all but the coward prisoner. That sets up the rest of the movie. We see that Argolese has almost unlimited strength (he can easily defeat hundreds of armed soldiers, partly because the only use they make of their spears is to let him grab them and throw them, once impaling three soldiers on a single spear), but he’s not quite strong enough to keep two circus elephants from tearing him apart—until his quick prayer to his gods results in one of the chains breaking.

Lots more plot in one final busy day, and all ends well—if we’re to believe that the beautiful daughter, who’s been strapped to a St. Andrew’s Cross and bleeding nearly to the point of death is wholly recovered six minutes after being rescued. I guess love is strong.

Silliness aside, this is well-mounted, a generally very good color print, panned-and-scanned well enough that it wasn’t bothersome, and fun. I’ll give it $1.50.

Gladiators of Rome (orig. Il gladiatore di Roma, and IMDB has the singular “Gladiator”), 1962, “color.” Mario Costa (dir.), Gordon Scott, Wandisa Guida, Roberto Risso. 1:40.

Sometimes life really is too short. The title credits were in yellow text on a shades-of-yellow background; after that, at least for the first 15-20 minutes, it was black, red and white, with various reds the only colors to be seen. Add to that the pace: several minutes of people talking so quickly that I could never follow the plot, followed by action sequences basically showing that the current emperor was a bloodthirsty villain determined to drive out Christianity at all costs. Oh, there’s a superhumanly strong slave—and a beautiful slave girl who is, according to the IMDB summary, really a princess.

What the hell. It’s on Amazon Prime and might even have real color there. I gave up. According to IMDB reviews, I was probably right to do so. $0.

Goliath and the Dragon, aka Vengeance of Hercules (orig, La vendetta di Ercole), 1960, color. Vittorio Cottafavi (dir.), Mark Forest, Broderick Crawford, Gaby André. 1:27.

Now this is more like it! Very widescreen (if your TV can zoom the small 3×4 picture), fairly good print (a bit red-shifted at times, but fine overall), and…did you notice the second named actor? That’s right, Broderick Crawford is King Eurystheus, the sadistic ruler of Italia, a kingdom nearby Thebes, which is protected by Goliath.

Goliath has been sent on a mission to restore the Blood Diamond from a god’s statue that Crawford hid—in a cave protected by three-headed/flaming dogs and, I guess, a not very impressive dragon. Crawford’s convinced that Goliath is dead, making Thebes right for the plucking. Things don’t quite work out that way…

The oddity here: we’re told early on that Goliath has been granted not only enormous strength but immortality—yet one of the subplots involves Goliath’s brother poisoning him (don’t ask). Maybe immortality has a different meaning than I thought?

Anyway: bare-chested specimens of brute strength. Women in peril. Men in peril. Telepathy. Visits from an ethereal representative of the gods—in the final one of which the representative apparently cares more for Goliath than for the gods. A reasonably happy ending. (Well, not for Crawford…)

There’s also a little peasant who could be a sidekick, but he’s only in the movie for maybe two minutes total. Oh, and Goliath is also apparently Emelius the Mighty. Oh, and Mark Forest is apparently our old friend Lou Degni.

Apparently the American version, which I saw, is significantly different than the original, including the pretty much unconvincing stop-motion animation of the non-flaming dragon. It also changed hero names because American International released it—and Universal owned the rights to Hercules. Gods are easy; studio licensing departments are tough.

Oh, the US version has all new music, by Les Baxter no less.

All in all, I found this one satisfying: by the low standards of Warrior flicks, a full $2.

Maciste in King Solomon’s Mines (orig. Maciste nelle miniere del re Salomone). 1964, color. Piero Regnoli (dir.), Reg Park, Wandisa Guida, Bruno Piergentili. 1:32.

Good things: the version I have doesn’t rename Maciste as Samson (although others apparently do, including the IMDB page, which clearly shows the Maciste title). Equal opportunity villains: the king who’s usurped the throne and his partner in crime, a woman who wants half the profits from the mines (which the old king had kept closed to avoid problems) are both sadists—which I guess explains why they take forever to carry out their Fiendish Tortures, thus allowing Maciste to save the day. Oh, and if you relish extended closeups of a grotesque hero’s muscles, well, you get lots of that.

Otherwise…it’s a panned-and-scanned segment of a widescreen movie. Another case where blues and yellows rarely appear. Reg Park comes off as an absolute doofus even when he’s not captive to a magic ankle bracelet (and yes, first overcome by a special garland—don’t these folks ever learn?). Indeed, his “acting” seems about as lively when he has no will as it does the rest of the time. It’s slow. And slower. Then, sometimes, it’s slow. Generously, $0.50.

Final two issues of C&I delayed, future uncertain

Friday, November 29th, 2019

I had planned to release the December issue of C&I around now–and the final issue near the end of December 2019.

An eleven-night stay in the hospital (sepsis/staph, to be followed by six weeks of daily antibiotic injections and some period of draining) changed all that.

Based on energy and more important matters, the final issues will probably get done. Eventually. The spirit is good, but needing to keep legs elevated a third of thetime, and still not-quite-back-to-normal energy, and being homebound…isn’t helping.

Beyond that, I now learn that my web host is shutting down in a few months, and have to figure out, how, where, or whether to move this blog (tricky because the sitename is based on a domain that’s presumably going away), (where I feel obliged to retain some pages/pointers related to the GOA project for a few years), and C&I (which I’d planned to retain for three years).

Anyway: I’m not dead yet. We shall see what happens.

GOA4: October 2019 Update

Thursday, October 31st, 2019

Readership for the new edition and GOAJ3. As always, readership figures omit most of the last day of each month, because of the tools available.

All links available from the project home page, as always.

GOA4: 2013-2018

  • The dataset: 307 views, 80 downloads.
  • GOA4: 1,476 PDF ebooks and one paperback.
  • Countries 4: 363 PDF ebooks
  • Subjects and Publishers: 259 PDF ebooks

GOAJ3: 2012-2017

  • The dataset: 1,602 views, 268 downloads
  • GOAJ3: 3,627 PDF ebooks + 438 copies of first few chapters (C&I 18.3)
  • Countries: 1,215 PDF ebooks
  • Subject supplement (C&I 18.4): 566 downloads
  • One paperback

Cites & Insights 19.7 (November 2019) available

Thursday, October 24th, 2019

The penultimate or, more probably, antepenultimate issue of Cites & Insights, to wit Volume 19 Number 7 (November 2019), is now available for downloading at

This 44-page issue contains two essays:

Intersections: What’s the Big Deal? pp. 1-34

Most of this is about one particular Big Deal, and the heading for that section (actually three sections) should be a clue: Fiat Lux.

The Back pp. 34-44

The final set of little snarky items about a range of things–including a small set of updates on audiophile-approved system prices. The short version: leaving out digital sources and cables, you can get an audiophile-approved system (with speakers and turntable) for as little as $750…or as much as $694,000. For that matter, if you want a Class A (the best, price no object) system and $694,000 seems a bit steep, you can get by for $21,600.

Cites & Insights 19:6 (October 2019) available

Tuesday, October 1st, 2019

Cites & Insights 19:6 (October 2019) is now available for downloading at

The 39-page issue consists of a single essay

Intersections: Preditorials and Other Questionable Items pp. 1-39

In what’s probably the last C&I essay on The Lists and so-called “predatory” publishing, this roundup begins with a look at a few of the many preditorials–my neologism (or portmanteau) for editorials and other commentaries based on the notions that The Lists are infallible and that “predatory” publishing is undermining scholarly communications. The rest of the roundup deals with related issues.

This may or may not be the antepenultimate issue of C&I (The Limelighters will never die…); even if–as seems likely given the volume of comments received–C&I disappears at the end of Volume 19, there might be one final farewell issue.

GOA4: September 2019 Update

Monday, September 30th, 2019

Readership for the new edition and GOAJ3. As always, readership figures omit most of the last day of each month, because of the tools available.

All links available from the project home page, as always.

GOA4: 2013-2018

  • The dataset: 273 views, 63 downloads.
  • GOA4: 1,281 PDF ebooks and one paperback.
  • Countries 4: 302 PDF ebooks
  • Subjects and Publishers: 241 PDF ebooks

GOAJ3: 2012-2017

  • The dataset: 1,555 views, 255 downloads
  • GOAJ3: 3,593 PDF ebooks + 436 copies of first few chapters (C&I 18.3)
  • Countries: 1,101 PDF ebooks
  • Subject supplement (C&I 18.4): 558 downloads
  • One paperback