Category Archives: writing

The Economist makes up

Here’s an update on my fractured relationship with The Economist magazine.

To my pleasant surprise, Alan Press, Vice President of Marketing & Circulation at The Economist actually posted a comment on my blog agreeing to cease and desist their renewal scare tactics!

We agree, the language is bad. We are discontinuing the use of this letter going forward, and will replace it with a message that makes clear how much we value readers like you.

(I didn’t notice the concession at first, as his comment got stuck in my Akismet spam folder for several days.)

I thought this was a stand-up gesture. I temporarily felt all warm and fuzzy about the good old days when The Economist and I first met. In all seriousness, I do appreciate the public comment and the prompt/effective action.

So are we getting back together?

That’s none of your business!

In any case, I’m happy to see blogplaining/freedbacking actually have an effect.

"You don't post enough"

I‘ve been blogging for about 33 weeks and this is my 31st post. Of those, I’d say roughly 12 are meals1 and 19 are snacks. So I’m clocking in a bit below one post per week, 1.5 meals per month.

If you feel that’s too few, or if you have any other comments or recommendations let me know. I’ll see what I can do. Without satisfied readers I’m just a tree falling in the woods 0.94 times a week.

In the meantime, if you’re craving more, you’re welcome to subscribe to the RSS feed of my shared bookmarks.2,3 There you can track me goofing off — er, conducting vital industry research. My bookmarking pace is closer to daily and I try to annotate each site with a revealing sentence or two.

Here’s an example of what the feed looks like in bloglines.4

1A meal requires some non-trivial amount of preparation on my part and digestion on yours. Hint: this post is not a meal.
2My shared bookmarks also appear in the two My Web Bookmarks widgets on the right hand column of this page.
3Christmas asks why I use My Web instead of No good reason except that I started using My Web first and I’m happy with it. By now I’ve invested enough effort in My Web that I don’t care to switch. Someday My Web,, and Yahoo! Bookmarks should play nice. UPDATE 2009/02/04: I’ve now switched to delicious.
4Looks like there are two blogliners subscribed to my bookmarks and 44 subscribed to the Oddhead Blog main feed.

Hacked and splogged and left for …

Yesterday I was hacked.

More specifically, my web hosting service DreamHost was hacked and Oddhead Blog was hijacked. Someone stole a bunch of passwords and methodically replaced index.* files, including the index.php file in my wordpress directory. If you visited this blog yesterday, this is what you saw.

Also yesterday, I noticed that I’ve been splogged. (Splog = spam + blog.)

The strange part about both incidents is that neither attack has an obvious motive. I don’t see any blatant ads or links or any real benefit that the attacker gained. Probably SEO related, but I just don’t see it.

Tough neighborhood, these Internets.

Lance Fortnow, 2002-2007


0001 Recently

0010 Lance Fortnow

0011 retired from blogging.

0100 Computer scientists everywhere mourn.

0101 Was one of the first.

0110 Still is one of the best.

0111 At one time topped search “web log”!

1000 A great voice a great craftsman, search great theoretician

1001 Goodbye blogger Lance your wit and wisdom sorely missed

1010 Goodbye blogger Lance your pagerank link juice refer power withdrawn

1011 Update: Twain Jobs Favre now Fortnow: return! Demise reports exaggerations great

Correct RSS feed address; New theme

Some administrivia:

  1. I was previously publishing the wrong RSS feed URL, which was truncating posts. If you’d like to subscribe to this blog, the correct RSS feed URL, with unabridged posts, is:
  2. I’m trying out a new wordpress theme: “Tiga”. So far I am very happy with it: easy to customize, clean, bug free, etc.
  3. One among several bugs in my previous theme was that comments were broken. Comments now seem to be working fine.

<begin> Oddhead blog…

So now it’s my turn to jump on the web log bandwagon. I hope I can add something valuable to the collective conversation. This blog is intended to provide an outlet for ideas, commentary, challenges, and questions related to my professional life. This blog will span a number of topics, though with heavy emphasis on prediction markets, an area of particular interest to me. For more on the intended scope of the blog and on my background, see the about page.

Why the name oddhead? I originally acquired the domain name as a good name for an odds aggregator like oddschecker or other gambling related portal or site. Then, in contemplating starting up a blog of my own, and keeping in mind this “mad scientist” photo my wife took of me, suddenly the “oddhead” name seemed a perfect fit for an “absent minded professor” type blogging about prediction markets and gambling. I’ve located the blog at, still reserving * for future unspecified uses which may never materialize — perhaps a central index of prediction market probabilities (tagline: “what are the odds?”).

As I go, I welcome comments, suggestions, and questions, either via this blog or by more conventional means.