Archive for October 31st, 2008

Executed Today’s First Annual Report: One Year of Dying Languorously

6 comments October 31st, 2008 Headsman

Somehow, it’s been a year since we launched last Halloween.

On this ghastly occasion, it’s time to do a little turn on the scaffold and review the highest points among the lowest of the dead.

Who’s #1?

The Year’s Ten Most Popular Executions

August 12, 1833: Captain Henry Nicholas Nicholls, sodomite
December 11, 1962: Arthur Lucas and Ronald Turpin
December 26, 1862: 38 Sioux
February 21, 1803: Edward Marcus Despard, a patriot without a nation
January 15, 1943: Sue Logue, George Logue and Clarence Bagwell
June 8, 1934: Three inept murderers (with a fourth to come)
January 9, 1923: Edith Thompson and Frederick Bywaters
May 15, 1916: Jesse Washington lynched after conviction
February 27, 1902: Harry “Breaker” Morant and Peter Handcock, “scapegoats for Empire”
January 24, 1992: Ricky Ray Rector, “a date which ought to live in infamy for the Democratic Party”

No shock, they skew heavily towards the earlier posts that have had the most time to accumulate views (although that’s somewhat mitigated by the fact that nobody was reading last November), topped off by the runaway #1, the post that scored an Andrew Sullivan link.

Breaking it down by month …

The Year’s Most Popular Posts by Month

January 15, 1943: Sue Logue, George Logue and Clarence Bagwell
February 21, 1803: Edward Marcus Despard, a patriot without a nation
March 22, 1796: Mastro Titta’s first execution of many
April 10, 1905: Fou Tchou-Li, by a thousand cuts
May 15, 1916: Jesse Washington lynched after conviction
June 8, 1934: Three inept murderers (with a fourth to come)
July 4, 1946: Eleven from the Stutthof concentration camp
August 12, 1833: Captain Henry Nicholas Nicholls, sodomite
September 9, 1990: Samuel K. Doe
October 31, 1589: Peter Stubbe, Sybil Stubbe and Katharina Trump
November 5, 1925: Sidney Reilly
December 11, 1962: Arthur Lucas and Ronald Turpin

Interestingly, there’s a heavy disproportion in both those lists towards executions in the past two centuries as opposed to earlier ones — even execution celebrities like Joan of Arc and Guy Fawkes get relatively short shrift.

My Creepy Visitor: You

But enough about me. Let’s talk about you for a while.

First, let’s get on the table what we all know to be true: I write a blog about death. You visit a blog about death. We’re all creeps here.

But still, geez … the stats tell no lies about what you’re looking for when you get here.

Most Popular Category Searches

Broken on the wheel
Public executions
Drawn and quartered
Gruesome Methods
Botched Executions
Mature Content

Where do your meatspace selves hang your hats? We recorded 188 countries and territories paying their respects, led by …

Most Frequent Visitors

United States
United Kingdom

The U.S.A. is the only country among those with a present-day death penalty of its own. If you aspire to become future content for this site, get out and see the world. (One word: Singapore.)

This blog is oddly compelling to Finns, whose bounce rate — the percentage of visitors who leave without clicking another link in the site — is barely over 50%, by far the lowest of any country with more than a handful of visitors. (The site average is in the mid-sixties.) On the opposite end of the spectrum, Executed Today is shallow and pedantic to the Vietnamese, who leave town without exploring 85% of the time.

No visits at all were recorded from any of the following:

Western Sahara
Congo (Kinshasa)

And, probably a number of island nations too small to appear on the Google Analytics maps overlay.

How did you find this site?

About 45% of visitors come from searches.

“Executed Today” is the most popular search term for this blog, and “” is also in the top 10. Leaving those aside, people were redirected to this chamber of horrors when ever-so-innocently pursuing information about …

broken on the wheel
sidney reilly
edith thompson
breaker morant
lois nadean smith
zoya kosmodemyanskaya
sue logue
kawakami gensai
public executions

Searches for specifically named individual executed women as opposed to individual men are noticeably disproportionate drivers of traffic.

Another 40% or so come from referral links, led by Google Images (which are really searches, and would push search up to about 50%).

The remainder come from directly looking up the site by, e.g., typing it straight into the search bar.

Guest Content

Executed Today got a full month’s worth of its posts from guest authors, who also happened to write some of the best content on the site. Hey, you get tired swinging this big, heavy axe every day. Respect for wonderful guest turns from:

Abe Bonowitz

David Elliot


Tim Goodwin

Kristin Houle

Laura James

Matthias Lehmphul




Dmitri Minaev

Sarah Owocki


Jeffrey Fisher


Mara Veraar

Similarly, several posts were improved with expert interviews, so thanks to the wisdom imparted by wiser heads than mine in these posts:

The Year’s Highlights

Prescience (Almost)

Just weeks after ranking Chadian dictator Idriss Deby among the current heads of state in most danger of eventual execution, rebels nearly seized his capital with him still in it.

I Only Did It For Attention

Caitlin at the addictive site Vast Public Indifference actually noticed and blogged about my downage. (See below for the reasons.)

(IE users having problems with the site now — I know, I know; I’m working on it. Also: use Firefox.)


For my money, Walking the Berkshires is one of the best free pleasures on the Netosphere, so I was red-cheeked to get this callout. (I still haven’t paid it forward yet.)

These are dopey things, but sincere gestures of appreciation are coin of the realm to bloggers. (That, and Google ad clicks. Lots of Google ad clicks.) Being reckoned eighth-freakiest was also a nice one, since I didn’t make any effort to push the award after an initial ask, but the votes to keep Executed Today in the top ten kept coming organically. (Can I be freakier still in the year ahead? You decide.)

There have been too, too many friends, linkers and well-wishers to hope to name them all. In addition to — but overlapping with — the fabulous passel of guest bloggers, a few among the many to whom I owe a debt (I reserve the right to extend this list as appalling omissions become obvious):

The year’s lowlights


My original, terrible host.

Regularly, randomly down for seconds or minutes or (a couple times) hours, and when I showed disinclination to quintuple my user fee, they made the downage permanent without warning on the preposterous grounds that a few hundred page views a day were monopolizing multiple web servers. Yeah, the old “CPU usage” canard, just one of many ways that LunarPages sucks.

They have yet to document my actually violating any terms of service or exceeding any usage standards — for that matter, they’ve never documented CPU usage — and naturally they’ve kept the rest of the service fee I paid in advance. Now that they dropped a daisy cutter on my site and forced me out, they’re very graciously keeping my account open for me until it expires. Nice.

The company is a scam, and not hyperbolically: it’s literally the core of their business model to perform negotiation-by-hostage-taking.

As for this site, it would likely been down for several days had not Logjamming fixed my cable. They’re a brilliant host with $5 and $10 packages and smart support. Just a couple weeks after this forced transition, an unexpected A-list link served up the site’s biggest traffic surge, several times anything LunarPages had ever seen. Logjamming didn’t bat an eye.

Really, I can’t endorse Logjamming strongly enough.

But the infernal deserts due LunarPages would confound Dante himself.

The Digital Oubliette (the phrase is not mine; see here)

I probably should have planned to archive locally more of the video embeds I’ve used — there’s been a lot of great supplementary content eaten by the Internet. Many outbound links will probably follow a slower but ultimately similar path of decay.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: Administrative Messages

Tags: ,

1793: The Girondists

9 comments October 31st, 2008 Headsman

On this date in 1793, in a revolutionary Paris where the machinery of the Terror was clattering to life, five tumbrils bore to the guillotine twenty former Girondist ministers to the National Convention — plus the corpse of their late colleague Dufriche de Valazé, who had cheated the executioner by killing himself.

Named for the region of Aquitaine from which their leading lights hailed, the Girondists (or Girondins) had in the compressed history of the Revolution ascended from fringe democratic party to governing party even as the political facts shifted under their feet. Finding themselves the conservative party in an assembly increasingly dominated by radical Montagnards and the Paris mob, the Girondists’ tactlessness and stubborn refusal to deal with Georges Danton after his (still historically murky) involvement in the riotous slaughter of prisoners during the September Massacre eroded their position.

As the terrible year of 1793 unfolded, the Girondins discovered themselves successively overthrown, expelled from the Convention, proscribed, and hunted. Though many more — Girondists and others — were to follow in their steps, the trial of these 21 before the Revolutionary Tribunal and subsequent guillotining, the first notable mass-execution of the Revolution, raised the curtain on the Terror.

L’ultime adieu des Girondins le 31 Octobre 1793, by Paul Delaroche

Decades later, the English historian Lord Acton remembered the faction’s doomed heroism.

[The Girondins] stood four months before their fall. During that memorable struggle, the question was whether France should be ruled by violence and blood, or by men who knew the passion for freedom. The Girondins at once raised the real issue by demanding inquiry into the massacres of September. It was a valid but a perilous weapon. There could be no doubt as to what those who had committed a thousand murders to obtain power would be capable of doing in their own defence.

Almost to the last moment Danton wished to avoid the conflict. Again and again they rejected his offers. Open war, said Vergniaud, is better than a hollow truce. Their rejection of the hand that bore the crimson stain is the cause of their ruin, but also of their renown. They were always impolitic, disunited, and undecided; but they rose, at times, to the level of honest men.

They were easily beaten and mercilessly destroyed, and no man stirred to save them. At their fall liberty perished; but it had become a feeble remnant in their hands, and a spark almost extinguished. Although they were not only weak but bad, no nation ever suffered a greater misfortune than that which befell France in their defeat and destruction.

That Pierre Vergniaud who scorned the hollow truce was the last to mount the scaffold this day — a shining orator of the Revolution who captured the calamity engulfing his nation in another well-remembered aphorism, “the Revolution devours its own children.”

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 18th Century,Beheaded,Cycle of Violence,Famous,France,Guillotine,Intellectuals,Mass Executions,Politicians,Power,Public Executions,Revolutionaries,Treason

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