For Gold, Peace, and Freedom


History and Treatment of Scurvy

April 30th, 2007

scurvy-dog-pirate.jpgEarlier today, while playing a PC game called Port Royale 2, I encountered a passage in the game that explained some of the history of scurvy, the infamous disease that afflicted many sailors during the Age of Exploration. The segment of text from the game claimed that the treatment for scurvy had not been discovered until the time of James Cook (1728-1779), who had been able to successfully prevent scurvy on his long voyages by providing his crew with fresh fruits and sauerkraut. I was somewhat skeptical of this claim because I remember reading in some history texts (and also in references from other seafaring types of PC games) that the cure for scurvy in the form of citrus fruits and their juices had been used a century or two before Cook’s voyages. After digging into this subject a little further, it turns out that I was at least partially right; treatments for scurvy had been discovered and used before Cook’s time, but it was not until the latter half of the 18th century that the prevention and treatment of this disease became widely known or standardized in any way.

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Civil War Essay: What They Fought For

April 29th, 2007

civil-war-essay.jpgIn the book titled What They Fought For, 1861-1865, James McPherson draws on an abundance of primary source material in the form of soldiers’ letters and diaries in order to examine the issue of what the soldiers of the Civil War believed they were fighting for. He asserts that not only did the North and South fight for political and ideological causes, but that many of the soldiers of both the Union and Confederate armies actually understood the issues about which they were fighting. The book largely refutes the popular notion that the people who fought the Civil War were mostly ignorant, uneducated peons who were just blindly following orders and did not really have any idea of the underlying issues pertaining to the war. The literacy rate of the soldiers was surprisingly high (about 90 percent for Union soldiers and 80 percent for the Confederates), and this allowed most of them to express their ideas. However, after reading the book, I have observed that their English proficiency, particularly regarding spelling and grammar, left much to be desired.

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Google’s Froogle Becomes Google Product Search

April 28th, 2007

Google has officially renamed Froogle, its search engine spinoff for shoppers that was launched back in December 2002, to Google Product Search.
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Online Focus Group Closes Early

April 27th, 2007

The online focus group that I had been participating in over the last three days has apparently closed a little earlier than expected.
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Paid Survey Leads to Bulletin Board Focus Group

April 26th, 2007

My adventure through the world of paid surveys continues with my recent participation in an online focus group. Last week, I took another one of those market research surveys that was supposed to be only five minutes long. The stated topic was “Banking”. After navigating through a few screener questions, I managed to get invited to a focus group about “banking problems and solutions”.
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5 Things to Consider for Your Blog’s Post Length

April 25th, 2007

One of the key issues that many of us struggle with as newbie bloggers is the topic of post length. Is it better to write longer, more detailed posts or to keep them short? Like a lot of things in life, the answer seems to be a resounding “it depends”. After scouring the Internet for clues and doing some thinking on this topic, I have discovered five important considerations that should be taken into account when deciding how long your posts should be.
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10 Tips for Writing Better Blog Content

April 24th, 2007

Creating better quality content is arguably the single best thing you can do for your blog. In order to create better content, you need to be able to use the written word effectively so that you can connect with your readers and maintain their interest over time. Here are ten things that you can do to make better use of your words.

1. Use strong keywords in text and links

Although it is always a good idea to write for actual human readers instead of writing only for search engines, using well-chosen keywords that are relevant to the topic of your article is still one of the best ways to improve the overall visibility of your blog. You can use some of the free keyword research tools offered by Google AdWords, Overture, or Wordtracker to get ideas for good keywords and then refine them to suit your specific needs.

2. Get to the point quickly

Many people who scan blogs, feeds, and search engine results do not have the patience to read past the first two or three sentences unless they see something interesting. Therefore it is important that you capture their attention by telling the reader what the main point of your article is within the first two sentences. If you ramble too much in the first paragraph without getting your message across clearly, the reader is very likely to click away from your blog instead of reading the rest of your content.

3. Edit your post for clarity and relevance before publishing

In order to translate good ideas into good writing, editing is necessary to clarify the exact meaning of your words. This includes not only adding relevant content to support your ideas but also removing unnecessary and/or irrelevant content to increase your post’s power and effectiveness.

4. Create content that stands the test of time

Although difficult to do in the case of news-oriented blogs, it is always useful to write articles that contain the kind of enduring wisdom that maintains its relevance with the passage of time. With the exception of a few major historical events, most current events and fads will not be remembered 20 or more years from now. But solid advice on finance, lifestyle, personal growth, and other similar topics never goes out of style.

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How to Organize a Political Campaign and Create a Winning Coalition

April 23rd, 2007

In organizing a campaign for public office, there are many steps that a candidate may take, and many of them depend on the kind of office that the candidate is seeking.

The first step that all candidates must make is that of filling out the initial paperwork. This usually involves filling out some forms designed to establish that the candidate meets all of the eligibility requirements for that particular office. In Texas, candidates must also file paperwork with the Texas Ethics Commission. The initial report that the candidate must file is about 12 to 14 pages long, and involves the disclosure of any financial wealth that the candidate has on hand, including both income and assets. Any candidate who plans to spend more than $500 on the campaign must also file additional reports wherein the candidate must declare the sources and the amount of any funds that are actually spent on the campaign. The candidate is also required to appoint a campaign treasurer (candidates who do not plan to spend any significant amount of money on their campaigns are allowed to appoint themselves as the treasurer). After completing all of the required paperwork, such candidates will become the nominees of their chosen party, or they may run as independent or write-in candidates.

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Google AdWords Trademark Lawsuit

April 22nd, 2007

American Blind & Wallpaper Factory, a reseller of window blinds, is suing Google for abuse of trademark rights because it wants other companies to be blocked from advertising on the AdWords network when Internet users search for its name.

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Ignorance vs. Stupidity: Yes, There Is A Difference

April 21st, 2007

bush-stupid-ignorant-miserable-failure.jpgThis is an essay on ignorance and stupidity that I originally wrote back in 2003 as part of an English assignment for one of my brother’s college courses. As an experiment, I posted it to a few different forums after the end of that semester just to see if the forum readers thought that I could write well enough to eventually pursue a career as a freelance writer. The essay proved to be controversial; some of the replies were rather unfavorable, but none of the critics ever offered any constructive suggestions. Now that I have my own blog, I figured that I might as well post it here since I could probably stand to spice things up a bit.

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How to Avoid Duplicate Content in Wordpress Blogs

April 20th, 2007

As I mentioned at the end of my article about simple SEO strategies, duplicate content can be a real problem for websites and is definitely something that you should avoid whenever you can. Much to my chagrin, I have discovered that Wordpress blogs seem to have their own particular issues with this.

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