1st Place: Henry VIII Was Gay

2nd Place: Meditations on Meditation

3rd Place: Tied between The Restoration and Chris Reeve Project Was Staged

BEST SCIENCE PAPER: How Does A Sail Work? (by a landslide) with Gravity and Turing the only other votes. (Though I forgot to add this as a category…)


1st Place: The Pacific Theater Series by a landslide.

2nd Place: The Tiananmen Square Massacre Was Staged

3rd Place: Fake Deaths in Weimar

Here’s wishing all of us a year ahead filled with new discoveries, good health, and increasing charge!

Hi Everyone, I’m back! Just in time for the annual ‘Best of’. Please write in comments below your vote for the best paper by Miles and the best guest paper of 2022. You have until midnight 12/31 to cast your ballot. No mail-ins allowed. If you are a new commenter please write in your vote and use the ‘contact’ link at the top of the blog to notify me and tell me your username so I can approve the comment.

I also want to take this as an opportunity to apologize to all of you for being absent and unavailable for far too long. I can imagine that commenting here became quite frustrating at times — far more than usual. I have reached out to a couple of people asking for help in moderating. I also want to move us to a proper forum. Somebody wrote to me suggesting a platform for that, but I’m having trouble finding it. So if that is you please write to me again.F

A little bit of background: the site receives many spam comments every day, sometimes dozens. I’m not talking about the spam advertising comments that are caught automatically by Akismet and sent to a spam folder. The ones I’m talking about seem to be generated by bots posing as people who want to comment on the blog. They have become relatively easy for me to spot. But they frequently come in waves one right after the other. The blog is set up so that new commenters always go to ‘pending’ until they have had one comment approved. So every new user trying to comment has each comment go to a comment pending folder. This is also true of established users whose comments randomly and not infrequently go to this folder, for reasons I have not been able to understand. Now, every time a comment goes to pending, I get a notification about it in my e-mail.

To keep up with comment moderation, I have to go through the pending comments to separate out the attempted bot comments from the real user comments (new and existing). When a bot tries repeatedly to leave a comment, I have to enter the username and/or IP address to a block list before it spins out of control leaving a crazy amount of comments.

I got really busy earlier this year and let it slide for a few days, at which point it felt overwhelming to deal with, so I let it sit for a few more days, which only made the situation worse, making me more reluctant to deal with it. After a while, it was just too much and I felt complete dread at the thought of trying to clean house and getting back into the habit of sifting through a bunch of pending comments every day – not to mention facing whatever justifiable frustration and anger many of you are probably feeling.

But I made a promise to myself to get back in the saddle by the end of the year. There are currently 2,229 pending posts. I’m not going to go through them, so I am hitting the ‘reset’ button so to speak. If you are a new user who hasn’t been approved, you can leave a comment then use the contact link at the top of this form to notify me of your comment and username so I can approve you. If you are a veteran commenter whose comments never saw the light of day – I’m sorry! But I won’t be digging into the folder to fish them out.

And with that, I wish you all a Merry Christmas, Happy Channukah, and all around joyful holiday season!