Welcome to the 37th edition of The Newsletter Leaf Journal. As always, this newsletter is coming to you from Nicholas A. Ferrell, editor of The New Leaf Journal, the perennially virid and growing online writing magazine. In this issue, I will recap the week of content at The New Leaf Journal, recommend interesting posts from around the web, take a look at our own site archives, and offer some news, notes, and anecdotes from the week that was.
If you are not already a subscriber to this humble newsletter, you can subscribe by email or RSS feed at our newsletter sign-up page.
I posted six articles since I reported to you last week. Below, you will find the articles with links and brief notes.
Nicholas A. Ferrell. June 6, 2021.
In my selection of “Around the Web” links last week, I featured an article about Bing’s censoring of image search results relating to the 1989 Tianamen Square protests. For my Sunday Around the Web post, I looked at an overlooked effect of Bing’s censorship. Many alternative search engines license results from Bing’s search index. As I discuss in the post, these privacy-friendly search engines were affected by Bing’s pro-Chinese Communist Party censorship.
Nicholas A. Ferrell. June 7, 2021.
I published two posts this week featuring graffiti in Brooklyn. The first covered a poorly maintained facade at a Brooklyn Heights grocery store, Gristedes. While I complain about Gristedes’ broken sign and graffiti, I also express puzzlement with its prices. Why is it so much more expensive than other grocery stores in the area? How does it stay open? I have no easy answers.
Victor V. Gurbo. June 8, 2021.
Victor V. Gurbo made his return to New Leaf Journal article-writing with a post about making his own umbrella. You read that right. Victor anticipated that some readers may be confused and provided a detailed explanation of why he took time from his busy life to graft the handle of a brass bird’s head cane onto a discounted wooden umbrella.
As you can see above, Victor was ultimately successful in his endeavors. He did not succeed without difficulty, however, as he explains in his post.
Nicholas A. Ferrell. June 9, 2021.
Victor and I have yet to complete the Pokémon Draft Battle that we have been planning since December. One reason among many is that I decided we should record our battle for The New Leaf Journal. Having little video-capture experience, Victor and I had a test battle that I recorded with a cheap USB dongle. The recording came out well, as did my uploading it to LBRY/Odyssee. This article has the full video upload and my detailed analysis of the battle with links to specific time stamps.
I did win, but it was a close battle.
Nicholas A. Ferrell. June 10, 2021.
In my newest Justin and Justina dialogue, Justin teaches Justina that the state of being “hot” or “cold” is nothing more than a state of mind. Justina does not buy Justin’s theory. She asks him for an example of some other thing that he applies this logic to. Prepare to join Justina in learning about the “basement state of mind” and the “first floor state of mind.” What does it really mean to “live in the basement”?
Nicholas A. Ferrell. June 11, 2021.
I have been seeing instances of “KING BABY” graffiti in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Gowanus, Carroll Gardens, and Columbia Street Waterfront District. I had not, until now, seen “KING BABY” on a truck.
That’s next-level tagging, I suppose.
Victor and I left you with plenty of New Leaf Journal content to read this week. But what if that is not enough to fill your leisurely weekend? Fear not, below you will find six reading recommendations from your favorite Newsletter Leaf Journal author. Furthermore, you never know when one of my around the web recommendations may turn into a New Leaf Journal article.
Randall Ryan. Updated June 6-11.
I could take my comment here in many directions. I choose this one: When did we start turning children’s picture books into audio books? This wouldn’t even make sense if it was a good picture book. Are parents too lazy to read to their children? Are the picture books too difficult for the parents? What’s going on here? Maybe Spark Notes needs to get in on this action. Audio book version of Where’s Waldo anyone? (I just convinced myself that this requires article-length treatment.)
Asha Barbaschow. June 10, 2021.
The second part of the headline is more or less in context.
David Meyer, Craig McCarthy, and Aaron Feis. June 7, 2021.
An MTA city bus crashed into a Brooklyn brownstone on Monday. It remained lodged in the brownstone until yesterday while construction workers ensured that removing the bus would not remove the brownstone. The bus became something of a tourist attraction while it remained stuck in the brownstone.
Now you may be wondering why I did not provide some first-hand New Leaf Journal reporting on the scene - especially since my bio notes that I live in “brownstone Brooklyn.”
I am familiar with a section of Bedford Avenue. I went to Brooklyn College, and Brooklyn is on Bedford Avenue. Bedford Avenue, however, is very long. I had never heard of “Lincoln Road.” I looked up the location on Open Street Map and found that it was a couple of blocks behind Prospect Park. Who knew? Not me.
Paul Thurott. June 4, 2021.
The first step, they say, is to create a specification. Then, it can chart a course for future evolution. There are, however, no plans for a single extension store that all browsers will use. Instead, each browser vendor will continue to operate their own extension stores independently.
That is good news, in my opinion, for people who use Firefox-based operating systems. While I have not done a comprehensive survey, I do like the Mozilla store’s extension selection more than the Chrome store’s. However, I side-load all of my Chromium extensions. I can’t speak for the Edge and Apple selections, although Edge can run regular Chromium extensions as well as the ones on its own store.
Casey Baseel. May 30, 2021.
This is a brilliant idea. There needs to be a teetotaler version.
John Farrer. November 5, 2020.
“Buying firewood for your wood burner or open fire can be pretty expensive and you probably won’t have the space to store bulk buys either. Making your own coffee logs can help use up your waste coffee grinds that would otherwise end up in the bin.”
I don’t have a fireplace to test it out. Furthermore, even if I did have a fireplace, this would probably be too much effort. Nevertheless, my mind was blown.
Spring winds down as the temperatures turn warmer. I combined that with my having published a recording of my Pokémon battle against Victor to choose this week’s recommendation from our archive.
Nicholas A. Ferrell. October 16, 2020.
I celebrated the 20th anniversary of the U.S. release of Pokémon Gold and Pokémon Silver with two articles on the slogan for the starting town in what remains the grandest Pokémon adventure. You will see the slogan in two images below.
Elegant slogan. In my first of the two articles, I discussed the thematic significance of the slogan in the context of the experience of children who had played the original Pokémon Red and Blue before playing Pokémon Gold and Silver, which was released two years later. In the second post, which is this week’s recommendation from the archive, I explained how the slogan was one of the inspirations for The New Leaf Journal’s slogan: “Where the leaves are perennially virid.” The other inspiration was a line from John Evelyn’s “Sylva” - quoted in The Century Dictionary.
I decided to add some additional information to my weekly article view rankings. These rankings all cover a period beginning with Saturday and ending with the following Friday. I call it a “Newsletter Leaf Journal Week” since the purpose is to list the most-read articles between newsletters.
I went through all of the Newsletter Leaf Journal Weeks in 2021 and came up with the top 5 for each week beginning with January 2-8, 2021. Going forward, I will note how many weeks an article on the ranking has been in the top 5 (2021 only) and, when applicable, how many times it has been ranked first.
Before continuing, please note that these rankings are inexact. I use a privacy-friendly analytics solution called Koko Analytics which respects “Do Not Track” requests. For that reason, I probably do not capture all user traffic. In the case of this week, I am 100% sure that my post on the meaning of “tsuki ga kirei” was our most-read article, but it is possible (not necessarily likely, but possible) that a more robust (i.e. stalker-ish) analytics system would have given a different order for articles 2-4. If you want to help Koko Analytics make its first 2021 top five, you can read my early review of it. (You can expect a follow-up Koko Analytics review in July).
“The Mystery of Sōseki and Tsuki ga Kirei” (No Change)
By Nicholas A. Ferrell. March 14, 2021.
Weeks in Top Five: 7 (5 in first place)
“The Last Stand of Constantine XI” (No Change)
By Nicholas A. Ferrell. May 30, 2020.
Weeks in Top Five: 13
“An Early Review of Pixelfed - Instagram Alternative” (Change: +1)
By Nicholas A. Ferrell. November 13, 2020.
Weeks in Top Five: 19 (2 in first place)
“Persona 4 Golden Digital Artbook Review (Steam)” (Change: +2)
By Nicholas A. Ferrell. November 15, 2020.
Weeks in Top Five: 19 (4 in first place)
“Blob Dylan(?) Seen in Bushwick”
By Nicholas A. Ferrell. February 5, 2021.
Weeks in Top Five: 1 (NEW)
My post on Tsuki ga Kirei leads the rankings for the fifth consecutive week, again by a large margin. It is only the second article in 2021 to lead the rankings for five consecutive Newsletter Leaf Journal Weeks. My essay recommending RSS as an alternative to reading news on Facebook led for the 10th-14th weeks. If Tsuki ga Kirei remains atop the ranking for another week - which it should barring a Persona 4 Golden flash sale on Steam, it will be the first article in 2021 to lead the ranking for six straight weeks. That would also leave it one shy of Victor’s protective mask review, which led for 7 weeks total (4th-5th, 7th-9th, 15th-16th).
Speaking of Victor’s mask review, this is the first week in 2021 that it is not in the top five. I tip a mask to Victor and his post for having been in the top five for 22 consecutive weeks (23 if we went back to 2020). But nature heals, and as nature heals, interest in protective mask reviews wanes. With that being said, I expect to see the mask review in more weekly top fives in 2021, although I think (and hope, honestly) that April 17-23 will stand as its last week topping our article ranking.
Below, you will find some news, notes, and anecdotes. Fear not, I have leaf puns for each section.
Last week, I promised that I would make progress on a new category system. I delivered on the promise.
Please note that this newsletter is written for June 11, 2021. I describe projects that are in progress as of June 11, 2021. If you are reading the newsletter at a later date, it is possible (perhaps likely) that these in-progress projects have already been completed and are ready for you to fully explore.
I added a number of what I describe as “topical” categories. My original categories, which are still in place, focused on broad areas (e.g.., Essays, Original Compositions). New categories encompass articles on specific topics or areas (e.g., History, Poetry). Every article will still have one broad category, but you will find that others have topical categories as well.
All of our current categories are listed in the Category Directory. I have attached all of the new categories to all applicable articles.
I am not done with this project in three areas. Firstly, I will be constantly evaluating my topical categories. I will add topical and sub-categories going forward whenever it is appropriate to do so. Secondly, I specifically want to assess adding a couple of topical categories relating to Brooklyn and/or photography. One reason for this is because the broad Musings category has too many posts that have not been sub-categorized. Finally, once I am done with my initial run-through, I will add detail to the category archive. One detail will be new RSS feeds.
This week’s Notable Leaf Journal combines the news and notes sections into one.
New RSS feeds? I only just discovered that WordPress creates RSS feeds for categories, tags, and authors. Who knew? I will add more feeds to our Feed Hub Page. As of June 11, 2021, I added RSS feed links for both me and Victor. For example, if you are only here for Victor’s articles, you can subscribe to his feed and miss all of my articles. While that specific choice would make me very sad, I think that these specific RSS feeds (including feeds by category) will be a nice way to give you the option (if you use a feed reader) to stay on top of the content that interests you most. If you are a newsletter subscriber, you can use my weekly rundowns to see what we published outside of your selected feeds. Of course, the best way to follow all of our content is by visiting our homepage regularly (add us to your bookmarks) and subscribing to our main RSS feed.
(Also subscribe to this newsletter, of course)
For those interested in specific RSS feeds, you do not have to wait for me to update the site . Go to the page for an author, category, or tag and add “/feed” to the end of the URL. This will give you the author, category, or tag RSS feed. Please note that this does not work for series - which are created with a plugin.
I will caution people against subscribing to tags for the time being. I am planning to do a wholesale reassessment of our tags after I finish organizing the current series list. If I delete or rename a tag, you may lose the RSS feed for that tag. This would be a minor issue, but you may want to hold off on tag-specific subscriptions until I note in a later Newsletter Leaf Journal that I have finished reworking our tag structure.
Much of the web is powered by WordPress. Unless a WordPress site specifically disables RSS feeds (that can be done), the site should have a main RSS feed and feeds for specific authors, categories, and tags.
To test, I tried it on Beneath the Tangles, an anime blog that I read now and then. Beneath the Tangles is made with WordPress (they also use the free version of our author box plugin). It does not list its RSS feeds (as in it does not note that they exist or offer a quick follow button), but the feeds are there. If you add /feed to the end of a URL for the site homepage, an author, category, or tag, you will have the full RSS feed for it.
This does not just work on small blogs. The New York Post’s website is also created with WordPress. To the Post’s credit, it invites users to follow it by RSS in a clear way - listing RSS feeds in its footer and for specific authors. However, were one to have trouble finding their RSS pages and buttons, adding /feed to the end of its homepage, authors, or categories works just as well as it does for The New Leaf Journal.
RSS is a subject that interests me - as anyone who read my article advocating for it as a healthy way to consume content, especially when compared to big tech social media and search engines. I will work on an article in the future about ways to find RSS feeds with a focus on sites powered by WordPress.
This Newsletter is already quite long, so I will be brief in my weekly anecdote and expand on my June 10, 2021 micropost. Therein, I wrote about seeing a young adult woman in Brooklyn Bridge Park on a very tiny skateboard. The skateboard was sized for a toddler? Was the lady tiny? Not at all. She was thin and probably about 5‘5” or 5‘6”. She clearly knew how to ride a skateboard, but she was having some difficulty staying on the tiny, toddler-sized skateboard.
Why was she on a toddler-sized skateboard? Is this a special challenge for her? I will venture that she took a toddler’s skateboard. Perhaps the property of her son or daughter. Maybe a niece or nephew. While that could explain it, why not buy her own skateboard? She clearly enjoys skateboarding if she’s out there alone in Brooklyn Bridge Park on a weekday morning.
Maybe I need to work on more investigative journalism. I may do a brief post on this article as a follow-up to my piece on people who cannot ride skateboards in a straight line doing their best Tony Hawk impersonations.
Thank you as always for reading The Newsletter Leaf Journal. If you are a subscriber, I look forward to reporting back to you next week. If you are not a subscriber, I hope you enjoyed the content enough to consider joining us for our weekly newsletter. You can easily sign up via email or with our newsletter RSS feed for some (I hope) interesting reading every Saturday.
Tomorrow (June 13), I will publish an article reviewing alternative search engines. If you are reading this newsletter after the fact, you can find the post in our June 2021 archive.
Cura ut Valeas.