Note to readers

January 12, 2021 • 8:30 am

Just a reminder to readers—actually, two reminders.

First: do be aware of how often you post on a thread. “Da Roolz“, or the commenting guidelines, say this:

9.)  Try not to dominate threads, particularly in a one-on-one argument. I’ve found that those are rarely informative, and the participants never reach agreement. A good guideline is that if your comments constitute over 10% of the comments on a thread, you’re posting too much.

I can raise the limit to 15%, but to my mind some threads are being dominated by people who can’t resist posting over and over. This tends to intimidate others who think that “regulars” get preference. I’d prefer you to combine your comments if possible.

Also, be aware that I get several hundred emails a day—so many that I either forget some or don’t have time to acknowledge, much less answer, everyone.  My suggestion is that if you have things to send to me (and I do appreciate links and tips, which inspire many of my posts), please do so only once every two or three days. Otherwise I’m in danger of losing things. The exceptions include errors, typos, and other things that should be corrected immediately.



Wonky comments appearing

December 21, 2020 • 4:29 pm

For some reason that I don’t understand, the feature that required commenters to have an approved comment (the first one) before they could comment freely malfunctioned, as the relevant box in the dashboard got de-checked. The result was that a few first-time commenters came over here and dominated a post or two with lunacy.  I think I’ve fixed the problem, but I’m asking readers to email me if suspicious, wonky, or huge numbers of crazy comments appear. Let me know the thread and the commenter.

If you were a first-time commenter who got through without approval, I ask you to read Da Roolz for commenting on the sidebar. If you don’t adhere to them, you’ll be either moderated or banned.

Thank you,
The Proprietor

More improvements at this site

December 15, 2020 • 7:15 am

Just to keep you up to date about new features on the site, I’ll call your attention to the latest tweaks made by the Official Web Designer—nearly all suggested by readers:

  • “Next” and “Previous” post links are now at the top (and still at the bottom) of each post.
  • The Favicon (icon in the browser tab), has been updated to what it was before. It is of course Ceiling Cat.
  • A Home button has been added at the top of the left sidebar. This will return you to the main page if you’re anywhere on the site.
  • The time of posting has been added to the date at the bottom of each post. So far the time appears at the bottom of each individual post when you click on it, but not yet on the main page. We’re working on that.

I’ll keep you updated so you’ll know how things are changing.

New website features

December 14, 2020 • 11:30 am

In response to my own wishes as well as to some good suggestions made by readers, the website designer is still working on this venue. You’ll notice that the banner at the top is larger, the space between the sidebars is wider, and that the text with hyperlinks is less glaringly obvious, being red but not red and bold. You may not have noticed that you can now drag photos from the posts to the desktop, which you used to be able to do but which disappeared during the upgrade. (If you can’t drag a photo that way, simply click on it to make it bigger, and that will work.)

We’re also working on several other suggestions, including putting up the time of posting as well as the date, trying to ensure that the “next post” and “previous post” links are now at the top of each post instead of the bottom, and other things I won’t mention. It’s a work in progress, but I think it’s a lot better than it was.

The most requested feature was that readers wanted a way to edit their comments, and you now have 15 minutes to do so after putting them up, which allows you to fix typos but not alter things in response to stuff that appears later.

Stay tuned, and if you have other suggestions, please put them as comments below. Thanks to the website designer for all the work.

A note to those who follow this site with an RSS reader

December 12, 2020 • 10:00 am

Reader βPer from Canada sent me a tip that’s useful for those who follow this site with an RSS readers (I prefer subscriptions, of course, as seeing the numbers go up is one of my few pathetic pleasures).  Here’s βPer’s note:

I’m writing to inform you of a problem I experienced recently accessing your website posts, its cause and the way I dealt with it.  I think some of your readers may find the information useful if they’ve encountered the same problem.

Unlike most of your readers, I don’t subscribe to your site, because I use an RSS reader to follow all my favourite websites, including yours.  If I subscribed to your site through WordPress, the resultant stream of emails would be redundant and a burden.  I use the Feedly news aggregator (and RSS reader) to read the posts of dozens of websites, all of them via their RSS feeds.  BTW, I click through from Feedly to read each of your posts actually on your website, so you get the page hits just as if I were subscribed.

On Wednesday the 9th, your posts stopped appearing in Feedly.  The last post I saw was Rescued fox cub befriends his saviors –  the last post you made on the 8th.  I figured there was a temporary problem related to the site rewrite you’re in the midst of, so I ignored the problem for the day, assuming it would be corrected.  I just manually checked your website the old-school way for the day.

Today (the 11th), the problem persisted, so I decided to investigate.  Turns out, your RSS feed URL changed subtly.  I’ve had it configured as:


for years.  Now, it’s:


You’ve moved to making the link to access your RSS feed secure and private (HTTP -> HTTPS).  That’s a good thing, as far as I’m aware.

To correct the problem and start seeing your posts again in my RSS reader, all I had to do was modify the URL to your RSS feed in my RSS reader’s configuration to include the little ‘s’ before the double forward-slashes.  I couldn’t find a way to edit the URL in an existing Feedly source, so I just created a new source with the HTTPS URL.

I know that I’m not your only reader who uses RSS, and at least one other person has mentioned that he uses Feedly (a very popular RSS reader), so there may be other readers who would appreciate knowing why their WEIT fix has dried up and how to restore it.

A tip from a reader on how to subscribe to threads, and a question

December 10, 2020 • 8:15 am

If you want to subscribe to comment threads without leaving the “sub” comment that puzzles some new readers, we have a tip from Reader Gregory:

I’ve found that I can now subscribe without leaving a permanent comment on the page like I used to need to do. If you leave a comment, say “Sub”, and then delete the comment, you will still receive the comment-delivery confirmation email that allows you to get updates whenever someone else leaves a comment on the page.
I like it because it leads to a cleaner page and fewer people will ask “What does ‘sub’ mean?”
Also, we’re still working on the site upgrade. If you’ve had any problems, or have any suggestions, please leave them in the thread below.

You can edit your comments, but it’s time-limited

November 27, 2020 • 2:15 pm

Our crack web designer has taken a common readers’ (and my) suggestion on board, so you now have the ability to edit your comments.  You’ll see when you post your comment, though, that a little clock starts running beside it. That means you have FIFTEEN MINUTES to edit your comment before it becomes set in stone.

This allows people to correct spelling or grammar mistakes, or fix infelicities of prose, but not to modify comments in light of later comments. That seems like a fair solution to me.

There will be other changes, all of which, I hope will constitute improvements. Stay tuned.

Crowdsourcing new web designs and site features

November 21, 2020 • 10:00 am

For a possible change in the design of this site—which will be a conservative change as I don’t want major changes in appearance—I’m asking readers to comment below about what features they like and don’t like. I am aware of some of the glitches, like having to fill in your name and email each time you comment, while others I don’t know about (mobile appearance, as I never access my site on a phone). I also know that some of the links that used to be on the right sidebar are broken.  Futher, some people like the new “like” buttons for posts and comments, while others don’t.

At any rate, you have about a day to give me recommendations for fixes as well as features that you’d like to stay. I can’t satisfy everyone’s wishes, but I do want to make the site user-friendly—and the main user is me.  But, while we have a chance, you are encouraged to sound off below.


One more post about WordPress glitches

November 17, 2020 • 9:30 am

I’m getting fed up with the unresponsiveness of WordPress, which changes formats without warning, causing problems for this site and others. Yesterday I was informed, after several glitches over the past few days, that my “theme” is no longer supported, though I was told the day before that that everything would be fixed.

As a result of these problems, I’m informing readers about the changes that have occurred, how to deal with them, and then I’ll advertise for someone to redesign this site.

First, the left and right sidebars, with the search boxes, number of subscribers, and place to subscribe yourself, have somehow combined and migrated to the bottom of the screen, so if you want to find them, don’t look top right and left, but scroll all the way down. As for making comments, you may have to fill in your information when you do. (I have to do this as well, and never had to before.) Chrome autofill might make this easier. There’s also a new “like” button for comments, which appeared briefly during the last glitch about a year ago (it mysteriously disappeared). Use it or ignore it if you wish.

My own posting has become quite a bit harder. The site runs much more slowly, embedding photos is extremely slow, and I can no longer insert, say, New York Times URLs and have the article appear as a click-on shot. Instead, I must take a screenshot and then link it to the article. Saving drafts and resurrecting up past drafts takes a lot of time. I’m bearing with it, though life is short.

For me, the obvious remedy is to find someone to redesign the site, using a theme that is supported. (I’m sufficiently conservative to not want to migrate to a new host.) My wish is to keep the appearance of the site as unchanged as possible given the use of a new theme. In that way I’m also a conservative, though open to suggestions. Thus, I’m looking around for someone who can redesign a site to make it work well, but also to keep it much the same. If you have extensive experience designing WordPress sites, and are willing to play around with this one, please get in touch with me (email is best). I am of course willing to remunerate designers for their time and work.

My other alternative is to say screw it and stop writing here, but I’m not ready to do that. I know this because I felt pretty bad yesterday having to deal with these issues, which meant to me that I’m not yet ready to throw in the towel. But damn, WordPress is an unresponsive organization, despite the dosh I give them under the expensive “business plan.”

Some stats on this site (and some ducks)

September 10, 2020 • 1:30 pm

I just noticed how many posts I’ve made on this site, and decided to do a few quick calculations.

This website began on January 22, 2009, with the first post being a short announcement that I’d published a Letter to Charles Darwin on the Oxford University Press website. Today, September 10, 2020, makes 4250 days since the site began. And, if you include this one, the total number of posts is 22,660, with the number of comments adding up to 1,113,584.

This works out to be 5.33 posts per day, 262 comments per day, and 49.14 comments per post (I was chagrined when it went below 50). I can’t believe I’ve written nearly 23,000 posts, and that doesn’t include the 1,587 posts that are drafts, the vast majority of which will never see the light of day.

I think it’s the equivalent of a large book, but nobody has read the whole thing. Looking at the early posts, readers have come and gone, some bored, some ticked off, and some, like the old faithful Ben Goren, getting married and adopting a much bigger interest. Still, subscribers become more numerous, and perhaps I’ll see 75,000 before I die. But of course this all becomes useless when I go underground, and then lost forever when the Sun burns up the Earth.

Well, the mallards will vanish too, but right now I have to feed them. The males are getting their green heads, and I’ve never seen them green up before. The sexually selected and iridescent raiment starts as a patch on their forehead and a mustache by their bills, and then spreads over their heads. Maybe they’ll be fully green when they leave.

They’re almost prettier when they’re half green than when their in their full resplendent sexual plumage.  The pictures below, taken today, show several drakes in Botany Pond. I think it’s fairly early for the males to get their colors, but it’s been a screwed-up year.

“New drake, who dis?”