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.”

New WordPress glitch involving commenting

August 6, 2020 • 8:15 am

All of us, including me, are now subject to a new glitch on the site. When you want to leave a comment, you have to do so at the bottom of all the comments, which will show your sign-in requisites. Further, if you want to reply to a comment already on the thread, PLEASE hit “reply” below the comment to which you’re replying. The same sign-in box will appear, but your comment will be properly placed as a reply.

I don’t like this any more than you do, and I am fighting with WordPress, who says it’s an unavoidable “occurrence” with an outdated site design. I don’t believe that, as surely something can be reversed to fix it. At any rate, I ask you not to be deterred by this new glitch. I’ll try to get it fixed, but please bear with it until it is fixed (or not).

—The Management

On blogger’s block

July 13, 2020 • 8:15 am

Yes, I used the b-word, as “website-writer’s block” has neither beauty nor alliteration. At any rate, I usually have a few things to read in the evening that I might post about here the next day. Yesterday I had nothing: everything I read, including a science paper, was either tedious, poorly written, said nothing new, or wasn’t intriguing.

And then I remembered that for about the first 8 years of this site or so, I wouldn’t have the slightest idea what I was going to write about when I walked to work in the morning. In fact, that was a pleasure: to see a website appear out of neurons and thin air.

Those days are gone. In fact, they’re so gone that, when I was in that situation this morning, I felt I had to apologize for it here. Why? I suppose I feel a greater responsibility to produce content, and that’s buttressed by the many people who write me saying that they’re faithful readers, with some averring that WEIT is the first thing they read in the morning with their coffee. While that pleases me immensely, it also has imposed a bit of pressure on me to keep the interesting posts coming. I remember fondly the days when I didn’t feel that pressure, though I haven’t looked back to see if I post more now than I used to.  (The total number of posts, by the way, has been 22,285, including this one, with 1,098,183 comments.)

One result is that I’m constantly starting posts and discarding them when I lose interest: the third figure below is stuff that you’ll probably never see:

There’s an 80-page list of draft posts, and I might as well delete them all save the Caturday felid posts, which I construct as readers send me cat items.

The other result—and not a good one—is that sometimes I weigh what interests me against what might interest the readers. When they coincide, it’s good. Often they don’t, as in cat posts, boot posts, duck posts, and even science posts. But when I think that what interests me might bore other people, I go ahead and post. When the converse obtains, I deep-six the post, accounting for the 1,586 draft posts.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the 10+ years I’ve been writing this site, it’s that I have to write about what intrigues me rather what I think would incite readership and discussion. (I could, for example, write a gazillion posts dissing Trump, but that’s just boring; go to HuffPost or the New York Times if you want that.) So nothing much will change, though I’m delighted to receive suggestions (except for those urging me to can the duck and cat posts!) The mantra will remain, “to thine own interests be true.”

Oh, I just thought of something to write about!

Now: WEIT in Arabic

December 4, 2019 • 8:00 am

When they started translating Why Evolution is True into different languages (I think there are 18 of them now), my fondest wish was to see it in Arabic, for Muslim lands, due to the religious creationism inherent of many believers, don’t get much instruction in evolution. In fact, Turkey, once a bastion of enlightenment among Muslim countries, has gone backwards under the Islamist Erdogan government, who has now eliminated the teaching of evolution from all classes before college. (Iran, however, is an exception; I understand that evolution is taught regularly there. Plus they speak Farsi, not Arabic, and I’m not sure whether this book would even be useful to Farsi speakers.)

I tried for several years to find someone who wanted to translate it, and I didn’t want any royalties, as having the evidence for evolution presented to the Arab-speaking world was important to me.

It took a while, but eventually the Egyptian Translation Service, with the help of Professor Samy Zalat, agreed to do the job. Then it was interrupted by Arab Spring, and so it was delayed for half a decade.

But now the book is out, although it isn’t advertised and seems to be available in small numbers at only one bookstore in Cairo. But I got a copy today from Samy, and so I’ll show you what it looks like.

As for availability, it’s on the internet as a pirated version, and so if you’re an Arabic speaker and want the book, perhaps judicious inquiry can lead you to a copy.

The cover—dinos and fish and planes, oh my!

The title page:

A page with an illustration:

And the back cover:

Apparently where you can get it:

If you can read Arabic, I would love to have a translation of the front cover, title page, and back cover. Please put them in the comments if you’re so kind as to translate.

You can’t win

July 16, 2019 • 12:15 pm

When I criticize Ilhan Omar, I get faulted for not mentioning Trump or Omar’s death threats. Now, when I criticize Trump, I get this (not posted, of course):

As the saying goes, you can’t satisfy all of the people all of the time.  But I’m sick and tired of this kind of stuff, and of accusations of whataboutery: “Why didn’t you denounce [opposite ideology from what I’ve denounced]?” Trump doesn’t just happen to be saying mean things on Twitter, of course: he’s wrecking the country. But Samedi wants me to go after the left-wingers more. I suggest he—again, I’m presuming it’s a male—read Breitbart.


Now: WEIT with 60K subscribers

June 18, 2019 • 5:15 pm

I just noticed, at 5:10 Chicago time, that we had attained this goal:

Technically, it’s 60.001, since I’m following it, too, but I don’t count. Over 10 years, this means about 6,000 subscribers a year. I can’t hope for that pace to maintain itself, but if it does, in 7 more years (if I’m still alive), we’ll reach my dream goal of 100,000 subscribers. Then I can retire and raise ducks.

Oops. . . I just noticed it went back down to 59,999. Who’s the miscreant who unsubscribed?

We have a million comments!

May 23, 2019 • 11:00 am

Well, it’s taken ten years, but as of a few minutes ago, the number of comments on this site passed a million.

I noticed a few days ago that we were close to the Golden Number, and, if I was awake, I wanted to watch as it happened. But the comments accumulated faster than I thought, probably because I don’t notice comments on old posts.

So, when I just looked at the dashboard, I saw this:

I was going to offer a prize for the millionth comment, too, but worried that that would inspire a lot of comments that wouldn’t normally be made. So perhaps the prize is best offered post facto.

When I looked to see what was the penultimate comment, it turned out to be from a “regular” who makes a big contribution to the site (click on screenshot to see this comment in situ):

So Michael Fisher made the millionth comment, and he gets a prize: a book by me of his choice, autographed and with a drawing of his choice (contact me, Michael). I have no hardcovers left of Why Evolution is True, but a couple dozen of Faith versus Fact, so it’s your choice. Or, if you want one sent to someone of your choice as a gift, I’ll be glad to do that.

It’s an appropriate comment for #1,000,000, too.

Note that there are on average a tad more than 50 comments per post. I always told myself that when it dropped below that, I’d think about giving up the website. I don’t think I’ll do that, as I now realize that many people read the site on their phones, which doesn’t register as “hits”, and it’s harder to comment when reading on a phone.

Anyway, it’s been a good run so far, and I’m going to keep going.

Thanks to the many readers who commented over the last decade (we started in January of 2009) and to Michael, who deserves his prize because he’s made not only many comments, but enlightening ones.

I am not posting anonymous comments

February 24, 2019 • 9:18 am

Sadly, there are a fair amount of comments that arrive here, and are held in moderation, without either a name or an email address. They are innocuous comments that would be posted if they bore a name and an email address (the latter is never shown on the site). As I said before, I’ve started trashing these comments because we can never identify a specific commenter so long as he/she uses “anonymous”. If this site is to work, we have to have a person associated with each name, real or not, and you must stick with your name unless for some reason that’s impossible.

When you make a comment, PLEASE fill in your name and email address (they don’t have to be the right ones, though I’d appreciate a correct email address since I sometimes contact readers), and make sure it’s in there when you submit the comment. Otherwise your comment won’t show up.

Yes, I know WordPress is being wonky these days and I’m trying to do something about it. But until we can identify the issue and fix it, please fill in your name and email.

No more comments with “Anonymous” authors

February 22, 2019 • 7:06 am

As of today, I’m no longer allowing comments to be posted whose authors are “Anonymous”, which is what the website does by default if you don’t fill in your name. As I’ve said before, while I don’t require that people give their real names (or their real email addresses in the submitted comments, addresses that are never shown but which I sometimes use to contact a reader), each commenter should have a unique name so that we can follow a given person over time. You can’t do that with an author called “anonymous.”  In the past several days there have been about ten such comments, and I’ve binned them.

PLEASE make sure your name and an email address are filled in when you make a comment. It may take an extra two seconds, but that’s not much trouble, is it?