Down in the Cellar

Yesterday we wrapped up another grueling week of fundraising. This quarter’s effort was unusually inspirational, due to the volume of gifts — the huge number of donations made up for the modesty of the individual gifts. Several people included apologies for not being able to give more, saying that they were strapped for cash or out of work. One fellow in the UK said he would have liked to send more, but he was on the dole. My hat’s off to you, sir! You’ll get an actual thank-you note from me or Dymphna in due course (we’re about a quarter of the way through).

We’ve never seen this many donations in a fundraising week before — we’ll be a long time writing all those bread-and-butter notes.

If everyone who reads this site and finds it useful were to hit the tip cup with a modest donation, even half the average of those that came in last week, we’d be more than well off. And that’s not counting all the “fake” traffic that arrives here — the Internet searches that find us by mistake, the Google bots, etc.

Thinking about all those misplaced searches reminded me of the first “lanche” Gates of Vienna experienced, more than ten years ago. In early April 2005 we saw a sudden spike of traffic on our site meter. Although we wouldn’t even notice it now, was a big increase for those days. It turned out to be caused by hundreds of Google searches for “Bill Gates Islam” and similar combinations of words. What the heck?!

I eventually determined that those searches were finding us near the top of the Google results page because (1) we had “Gates” in our title, (2) we mentioned Islam a lot on every page, and (3) we had (and still have) Bill’s Comments on our blogroll, which appeared on every page. Those instances were enough to give us a high ranking on that particular search.

But what were all those people looking for?

It took me a few days to track down the explanation, with the help of the distributed intelligence of our commenters. It turned out that a website in Kuwait had posted an April Fool’s story about Bill Gates’ conversion to Islam. Many credulous Muslims believed the story, and were looking for more information. They must have ripped off their burnooses in disgust when their search led them to the infidels’ den at Gates of Vienna.

That was ten years back, which is ancient history on the Internet, so I don’t know if there is much information extant on the story. The Museum of Hoaxes had an entry about it for a while. But people kept searching for it months, maybe years. And even after all that time, there were still Muslims who insisted it was true.

For the next April Fool’s Day I prepared a follow-up post entitled “A Year in the Umma” which featured an interview with Abu Mai’saf al-Windaaz, the man who used to be called Bill Gates. Creating his photograph was the most pleasurable part of the job.

I continued to post Bill Gates-related stories on April 1 for several years — his apostasy and subsequent life as a homeless person in San Francisco. Then I moved on to other hoaxes — the Islamic Nerd-in-Chief had become a spent scene.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Our next big surge of traffic later the same year was also Google-driven. This time it was caused by hundreds upon hundreds of people, many of them from .pk domains, searching for “how to make a bomb jihad”.

Watching those appear on the site meter was infuriating. Just think of all those evil-minded Muslim zealots out there, using the Internet to help them build their bombs! It made my blood boil.

After a few weeks of it I’d had enough. I thought, “I’ll give these bastards exactly what they want.” And I posted instructions for how to make a jihad bomb.

I told the earnest mujahideen to: (1) Buy themselves a gallon of ammonia, a gallon of chlorinated bleach, and a large plastic tub. (2) Open each bottle and empty the contents into the tub. (3) Wait three minutes for the chemicals to mix properly. (4) Lean very close over the tub to see if the mixture has turned green. If it has, it’s ready to use for a bomb.

Dymphna and other squeamish readers pressured me to remove the post, so it only stayed up for a few minutes. I doubt any mujahideen were able to read it in that time.

Years later, when I was talking to the future Baron about ammonia and bleach — he majored in chemistry — he told me that he thought the reaction they produced when mixed was not that big a deal. He did a little research, and concluded that the common view of what would happen was largely an urban legend. Yes, they would produce a noxious gas, but not the apocalyptic mustard-gas-like reaction described in popular lore.

Oh, well. So much for the jihad bomb!

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Enough of this foolishness. Time for the final roster of donors:

Stateside: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, S. Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, W. Virginia, Washington, and Wyoming

Near Abroad: Canada

Far Abroad: Australia, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, India, Israel, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Slovenia, South Africa, Sweden, Thailand, and the UK

We’ll convene again in three month’s time, right in the heart of snow and ice season. At least around here; in Oz it will be blistering hot.

Our deep gratitude goes out to everyone who sent a gift. You’ll eventually be hearing from us directly and individually.

5 thoughts on “Down in the Cellar

  1. As the Baron is, I am most heartened by the number of donors and many new donors at that. Notice the number of blue state entries 🙂

    The Baron will probably write the vast majority of thank you notes. It is hard for me to be brief, as you may have noticed in the comments. Where brevity, clarity and wit are concerned as the hallmarks of good writing…I get an ‘F’ for the first virtue. I’m rilly, rilly, rilly going to try this time. Not as brief as a Twitter entry (something I’ve learned to do well) but something that doesn’t make your shoulders droop when you open my email.

    BTW, that child in the picture isn’t going to have her taters very long, the way they’re dumped on the floor like so many coal pieces. We had a friend named Sally who lived in a four-square house – four rooms in the dirt floor basement, four on the first floor, and four on the second. Some pal of Jefferson’s had built it along the lines he recommended so that at the vernal equinox if you opened the doors at both ends of the house, the sun shone straight through the east door and out the west one onto a very large ancient holly tree.

    Sally’s family had lived in that house since the 18th century. Her ancestors had a thousand acre land grant and the slaves to grow whatever they planted up here a bit away from tobacco country. The land included footage on the river and their house was a stop for shallow boats and bateaux which picked up and dropped off goods and mail.

    Most of the slave quarters were long gone, and the formal boxwood puzzle garden was long overgrown but still interesting. She’s managed to retain a hundred acres of that land but much of it must have been sold to timber companies.

    Sally showed me how people once lived, and how she did still, in a way (though she had running water and electricity, heat was supplied by wood and coal)

    Down in the root cellar screens were laid a few feet above ground to hold their potato crop. The screens and the potatoes were dusted with something white; I’ve forgotten what. Further back in the dark recesses were all her canned jars of vegetables and fruits they grew. The garden was quite large. The chicken house was small and though she no longer kept other domestic animals, she’d grown up with a milk cow and a few pigs. The big one of the latter would be slaughtered there in the very late Fall and all the meat preserved in one way or another. It was a big job, requiring quite a few people but that meant everyone had meat for their own smokehouse, too.

    In Spring, part of the garden was devoted to a large turnip plot. This was set aside for anyone who needed them – just come pull up as necessary. They would keep in the ground until it really froze. But by then, those turnips were long gone. It was a fascinating house and homeplace. I used to try to imagine what it must feel like to reside in a house full of the echoes of many generations of your kin.

  2. Never knew that anecdote about Bill Gates. Pretty funny and probably a seminal moment for the site!

    As for the Chlorox/Ammonia bit, I did that as a kid, yes it does indeed stink and is noxious, but you will be gone in short order due to the stench. Not actually like being exposed to concentrated chlorine gas, though, which did happen to me. Surprise of a lifetime and one whiff was enough to render my sense of smell and taste kaput for about a week.

  3. I hope my contribution did not get lost in the mail. I have not seen a reference to my state yet, but I did send it by snail mail. . .

  4. I definitely think you should post a lethal jihad bomb – name it as such. It would send a few jihadis to their virgin – a win-win situation for us.

Comments are closed.