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March 2010

February 2010

I think the patient has been stabilized

Comments seem to be working now in a somewhat consistent if unsatisfactory way. In Firefox, if you come to the main blog page, you see "2 comments" or whatever at the end of a post. If you click on that, you get taken to a page with only that post, and, again, "2 comments". Click on that, and you get the comments box.

It works the same in Internet Explorer, except: I find that when I go the main page the number of comments doesn't appear. Reloading the page (F5) makes it appear. But even if the number isn't there, clicking on the word "comments" seems to work as above.

The Recent Comments feature is not going to be there for a while, and when it reappears it will probably be because I've moved the blog somewhere else. I had left the old Haloscan code in the blog template. The JS-Kit folks had said it would continue to work properly. As we know, it did not. After a frustrating go-round with JS-Kit support, I finally replaced it with the new Echo code. That involved discovering and correcting some things in their examples that were just plain wrong and would never work. But Echo has no Recent Comments feature as such. Instead, it has a big ugly navigation tool which includes a Comments list along with some stuff I don't want. The tool is customizable to some degree, and I could probably make it less obtrusive and perhaps remove the unwanted items, but I really don't much want to bother.

My goal now is to escape Echo for all future commenting while preserving the old comments. The good news is that I think this will be possible: it turns out Echo comments can be accessed from locations other than the one where they were generated.

If you see my Links list empty, it's because I had to start from scratch with a fresh copy of the template (that's also why it was green for a while today). I'll put them back soon.

Update 2/28/10: we now have a recent comments list, although it's rather unattractive, and I've put the links back, so I think I'm in a position to put the commenting problem aside for now and focus on the question of where to move the blog itself. Officially I have until late March to make the move, but it's going to take a while for me to evaluate the options and make the decision.

It's funny how the absence of a recent comments list made the blog seem somehow crippled--a sort of flying-blind feeling. Just shows how important the comments are.

Facebook group: Dove Descending

I'm not sure whether I've mentioned it except in passing in a comment, but I finally gave in to curiosity and joined Facebook a month or so ago. I did mention back in January that I'm reading Thomas Howard's book about Eliot's Four Quartets for Lent. Last night I created a Facebook group for that discussion, partly because the commenting situation here is, um, in transition. So, if you're on Facebook and are interested, please join the group (and send me a friend request, though if I've set the group up as I intended that's not necessary for joining it). You're welcome even if you don't want to read the Howard book but know or would like to know the poem, which can be found, probably in violation of copyright, here.

Two Totally Unrelated Items

(because, like I said, I’m too distracted to think about any one thing for very long, and will be until the blog transition is done)

For cat lovers, or anyone who thinks cats can be nice to look at: Anja (who is a cat lover) sent me this video by a woman who apparently specializes in cat photography. Perhaps I should mention that although most of these cats range from cute to beautiful, a few are scary-ugly.

Too bad Francesca has given up LODW for Lent. Well, maybe she’ll look in on Sunday.

Like I said, totally unrelated: Toby Danna posted (on Facebook) a link to this fascinating NYT piece by Stanley Fish. The basic argument is familiar to religious people—that secularists who insist on keeping God and indeed all consciously held first principles out of public debate are, to put it bluntly, cheating. Not deliberately, really, but failing utterly to recognize their own axiomatic first principles, and smuggling in appeals to abstract ethical principles without noticing or admitting it.

I don’t know much about Fish; I thought he was, like, king of the deconstructionists or something. As far as I know he is coming at this question from the point of view of a severe skeptic, and if that’s the case he’s doing something like Nietzsche, stripping away the sentimentality from materialists who insist on moralizing.

Not Much Happening Here For a Bit

There are several things I'd like to post about, but I'm so busy trying to figure out what to do about the Blogger and HaloScan changes that I don't have time for much else. As of now it's probable that will remain where it is, and the blog up to some date in the near future will also stay there, and the blog from that date forward will be somewhere else, probably at WordPress. I would move the entire blog, but there doesn't seem to be any way to keep the comments if I do that, and the discussions here are half the fun at least. I've succeeded in getting Echo to work in what I think is it's as-designed way on Blogspot. But it appears that the business of opening up the page for the individual post before you can get to the comments is the way it's designed. I'm awaiting Echo's definitive answer to that question. If there's no way to make it behave like HaloScan in that respect, I don't want to keep using it. And if I'm not going to use Echo, then I'll probably start Phase 2 of the blog at WordPress, because I like WordPress's commenting better than Bloggers. (TypePad was an option but they haven't bothered to reply to an email question about importing from Blogger/HaloScan, so never mind...) I would really like to get this all resolved soon. If possible, I'd like to make the switch on March 1. Until this is over I probably won't be posting much besides the SNJ.

Blog transition: your opinions?

What a pain...I'm trying to decide whether to switch to WordPress or continue with Blogger. I won't bore you with the details but there are a lot of arguments for and against each one. One big one for WordPress is that I don't care much for Blogger's native commenting system (see Pentimento and Castle By the Sea in the sidebar for blogs that use it). But I'm really unhappy with the behavior of the new Echo Recent Comments feature. Echo itself is ok, but RC is now just a big pain, and I'm not sure whether it can be fixed, and if so how much hassle it would be.

So I'm experimenting and would like to hear any comments you have. I may really have no choice but to continue with Blogger if I want to preserve continuity, as it appears that the process for importing an existing blog into WordPress only brings in posts and Blogger-based comments--I don't think it's possible to import the old HaloScan/Echo comments, not to mention the fact that images would not be brought along.

Anyway...I am going to post this to as usual, and then immediately switch to Blogspot and re-publish, to see what's different. If you're looking at this after 10 minutes or so from the time of this post, you should be able to click here to see the Blogspot-hosted result.

I don’t support the Church

Following a link in this post at Inside Catholic, I read that actress Anne Hathaway and her parents have left the Catholic Church because they object to the Church’s teaching on homosexuality. She has a brother who is gay, and I know that’s a tough situation. But I was struck by the attitude revealed by her question: “Why should I support...” the Church?

I think that’s an upside-down way of looking at it. I don’t support the Church. The Church supports me.

Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday

I’m not doing anything much in the way of Mardi Gras partying this year. Not that my wife and I ever do much of that, not being real party people, but this year we aren’t even going to any parades: for one thing, she’s back in school and has to spend a lot of time studying, and for another we both have grown somewhat tired of the parades. Besides, it’s cold.

However, I have uploaded some pictures from Mardi Gras 2009 to my Picasa web album, which I haven’t really used before. I decided to put them there instead of on Facebook (yes, I finally joined Facebook a few weeks ago) so friends and family who aren’t on Facebook could see them. I posted several of them here last year, so if you were reading the blog then they’ll look familiar.

Tomorrow I’m going to do something I’ve never done before: spend Ash Wednesday in fasting (rather mild), prayer, and spiritual reading. My experience of Ash Wednesday has always been that it arrives suddenly, when I’m not ready for it, and I spend it at work, so that it becomes just another day full of distractions and annoyances, with the added bother that I feel a little sick from not eating the usual amount. So tomorrow I’m taking a vacation day and staying home. Usually the first week or so of Lent has passed before I’m really giving it much thought, and I hope this will make a difference.

When I say “silence” above, I mean, principally, no music and no Internet. So you won’t hear anything from me between midnight tonight and sometime Thursday morning—unless I happen to be awake at midnight tomorrow, which I don’t plan to be.