I'm always a little surprised when I hear tales about mishandling of government money. Not because it is unusual (alas, it isn't), but because of all the hoops, red tape, and rules surrounding research money I get from the government. You would only have to read the several webpages dealing with proper travel planning procedures that I have been sent to wonder how anything ever gets done in government. It reminds me of a quote attributed to Eugene McCarthy:
"The only thing that saves us from the bureaucracy is inefficiency. An efficient bureaucracy is the greatest threat to liberty."
Whatever the truth may actually be, I am enmeshed in writing a slew of end-of-the-year reports for various research grants through which I receive funding. I have to make a list of all of the papers I've written, talks I've given, and places I've gone. I also have to summarize progress and results of research projects, educational and outreach progress, and any other relevant information.
So, as I'm gathering statistics, I thought I'd just mention a few random stats that I've uncovered about this site. Since September (when my current research grant that supports this site started), the monthly number of visitors to the blog has climbed from 660 to 3140. This number supposedly excludes robots (who don't like astronomy anyway) and other automated web indexing programs. So, there are roughly five times more of you now than in September. Welcome! During that same 9 month period, the web site served up over 1.1 gigabytes of data -- not bad for a website where most of the content is text!
Also during that time, I started a page on MySpace. While it still needs sprucing up to look a bit more exciting, the number of friends there continues to climb. Right now it's at a not-so-astronomical 100 people (and about a dozen of those are personal friends, groups I'm interested in, and a few famous dead scientists). But hopefully that continues to grow and bring in new readers.
So, with a little work and a little luck, this site will continue to grow in the coming year. Thanks to all of you who read it! And, if you want to support your local scientist, feel free to write or email your Representative in Congress (or Parliament or Assembly or href="http://palaceoffice.gov.to/"Monarch, or whatever your national government may be) and request increased support for scientific research.