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.