If you have been browsing the blog over the past few days, you will have noticed a proliferation of comments signed with "mu" plus some odd suffix ("phage" "iratus" "celebrex" etc.), as well as some anonymous or pseudonymous "sock puppet" comments of the same tone. These comments were posted by Michael Uebel. Though the content of many seemed distractive and attention-seeking, and though many were aimed with a fair amount of scorn at me (who knew that my work was a "gilded turd"?) (Well, Michael knew), the only comment that may have you truly puzzled asserted that the George Washington University was spying upon you through this blog.
I do not possess much in the way of techno-savvy. I can, however, declare to you with confidence that my home university has no interest in you, and -- even if it did -- no way to implant code in your operating system. This blog is not hosted by nor in any way affiliated with GW. The posts and comments of In The Middle reside (as a quick glance at your navigation bar will attest) on servers at Blogger.com, owned by Google. Eileen, Karl and I do track some basic information about our readers (number of visits per day, geographical location of visit) through SiteMeter, and we do monitor when other blogs link to us via Technorati. This information is also available to you as a reader: simply scroll to the bottom of this page and click on the links you see there. We also use Google Analytics, which does not record ISPs.
I can only imagine that Michael's post was an attempt to frighten readers from this blog. If you are truly worried that you are being spied upon in this way, I recommend that you fashion a hat out of aluminum foil and wear it constantly.
We are also moving this blog to a moderated format, and apologize in advance for the delay this change may cause in seeing your comments appear. The Book Club starts tomorrow, and that is the conversation we would like to focus upon. We will continue to allow "anonymous" comments, but we do ask that you keep a consistent moniker: please pick a nom de blog and stick with it. Dr. Virago, Ancrene Wiseass, ADM and so on: you will always be welcome here. Otherwise, we do encourage readers to comment under their own names.