Coyne’s Third Rule for Life

March 2, 2015 • 5:17 pm

As I believe I’ve mentioned before, when I was about twelve I decided to compile a list of “Coyne’s Rules for Life”: a series of simple instructions that, I supposed, would improve everyone’s existence.  Ah, I was a lad full of hauteur then!  But I still maintain that the first two rules,  formulated at that early age, are useful. I never got past the second rule.

But now I’d like to report that, more than half a century later, I’ve come up with Rule #3!

First, let’s review rules #1 and #2:

Rule 1: When you’re buttoning your shirt or sweater, always start with the bottom button, and work your way up. (That way you’re sure not to put a button in the wrong hole.) Everyone should do this!

Rule 2: When running the water for a bath or tuning on a shower, turn the cold water on first, then add the hot. In that way you won’t scald yourself when testing the water.

And now I present the the rule I formulated today after nearly bumping into someone on the street at high speed, and then engaging in one of those “body-jousting contests” in which each person moves to the same side so that bumping is not avoided. Sometimes the mutual side-stepping can go on several times. The solution?:

Rule 3: When you are walking down the sidewalk, or in the street, and encounter another human or bicycle about to  bump into you, stop walking and stand in place! The other person or vehicle will swerve to avoid you, and thus avoid a collision.

I invite readers to add to these rules. Remember, these are Rules for Life, which differ from “Laws of Life,” like “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” I am asking for practical hints that will help nearly everyone.

We’re number 2 :-( and a note on roolz

January 19, 2014 • 6:55 am

As I’ve said, you can never predict which posts will get the most views. for sometimes someone links to something from this site on reddit, or another aggregator site, and all of a sudden we get inundated with views.

Sadly, the stuff that attracts the most attention is never anything I write myself. Rather, it’s cute little pictures, or a new paper about the perfidies of Mother Teresa (a record with 303,739 views in one day), or, in the latest case, a post about a church sign, which yesterday attracted 90,000+ views (about 3.9 times the normal traffic), thanks to reddit and reddit atheism.  Again, for one brief, shining moment we assumed the #2 position among all WordPress sites.  We were second to—yes, you guessed it—”Watts Up With That?”, which permanently holds the #1 spot like a limpet on a rock.

This morning’s rankings:

Screen shot 2014-01-19 at 4.00.44 AM

What’s up, by the way, with the Hamilton School in Aberdeen?

We’ve been #2 once before, and again it was something unusual: a gif of a bacterium sitting on a diatom sitting on an amphipod. In that case, “Watts Up With That” was still #1.

I’m not an ambitious boy, and I don’t want riches, but please, O Ceiling Cat, can I beat “Watts Up With That?” just one time? It would be gravy to be in the #1 spot for just a day, but even better to beat out this popular and execrable climate-change-denialism site.


On that note let me add a few items about The Roolz. As traffic on the site has increased, the number of nasty, fractious, and obstreperous commenters has increased, along with the number of religious people trying to leave comments that are absolutely insane. I can’t do much to prevent the latter, most of which I trash, but I want to emphasize again that I want discussion on this site to remain courteous. That means that you are not allowed to insult other commenters or call them names.  If I catch you doing that, I will either warn you on the site or send you a private email asking for a public apology.  About 70% of the time the commenter remains obdurate, often sending me an even nastier email (you wouldn’t believe some of those!).  That gets them banned.  If you do apologize, that’s great, and I hope you mean it. But even so you’ll be put on moderation for a while, with each comment needing approval until your “time out” has expired. (That varies in length depending on subsequent behavior.)

Needless to say, one of the worst sins you can commit is to insult Professor Ceiling Cat. That’s equivalent to urinating on his Ceiling, and I won’t have it.  Be respectful to your host, please, who himself tries to remain courteous while looking after all the kittehs.  Do not call me “Coyne” (“Jerry” or “Professor Ceiling Cat” will do fine, thank you), do not tell me that I am writing too much about one topic or too little about another, and please do not accuse me of being disingenuous, hypocritical, and the like. This is just simple civility, but I’m learning that many people, especially under the cover of pseudonymity, abandon all sense of decorum and propriety on the Internet. Behave here as you would behave having a discussion in someone’s home.  You can be animated, passionate, or critical—but do not be nasty.

Finally, please don’t write me asking me to publicize your book, your own website, or your local event. If you want to call my attention to these things, that’s fine, but nothing makes the Cat’s fur bristle more than an email that says, “Would you mind calling attention to my new Awesome Atheist website, because I could use the traffic?” or “I’m sure you’d like to mention the next meeting of our East Worksop Atheist Club.” Cats are independent, you know, and don’t take well to orders.

I am working on codifying these Roolz and putting them as a document on the sidebar, but I’ll have to consult my tech-savvy friends to do that. In the meantime, be nice.

Note to readers

December 20, 2013 • 4:02 am

I’m trying to figure out if I can get The Roolz posted somewhere permanently on the sidebar, but until that happens here is another Rool.

I am glad to receive items from readers, though at times their number is a bit overwhelming! But many of my posts come from those contributions, and I try to remember to h/t readers if I use their contributions. (Sometimes I forget this acknowledgment—in which case my apologies.) If you send me something and I don’t use it, please do not feel bad. I get many more tips, photos, and other stuff than I can possibly use, and have to choose.

But please do not send me items asking me to post them, or saying, “I think this would make a great post for your site.” That feels a bit presumptuous and coercive, and, as readership grows, I’m starting to get these requests more frequently.

Also, please do not ask me to publicize your or your friend’s book, business, or any other endeavor.  If you want to call something interesting to my attention—and of course it must be of potential  interest not just to me, but to readers—that is great, but don’t ask me to post things. I will make that decision, because:


Another person micturates on my rug

October 17, 2013 • 11:54 am

Note to newbies: do not do this (it’s an attempted comment):

Mcbart commented on Was Jesus made up by the Romans?  

Dr. Coyne, Perhaps you could like separate your anti-religion rants from the rest of your content. Maybe move them over to an ‘atheist angst’ section or something. I love your blog, but when I visit I gotta scroll thru all the shit to get to the good meat. I don’t know what the above post is about but it’s probably a good candidate for my proposed new section of your blog. You should consider my awesome suggestion. Anyway, I love the non-idealogical stuff. Keep on rockin’, professor! Take care.

Two roolz are being violated here.  First, “Mcbart” is impolite (“anti-religion rants” and “all the shit”).  Second, Professor Ceiling Cat does not take kindly to suggestions about how to run his website, which, by the way, he proffers for free. He doesn’t even get noms in return.

If you feel like Mcbart, either keep it to yourself or, better yet, by all means go to another site that has more “meat”. I don’t need the tsouris.

Not listening copy