Category Archives: This Blog

Fixing Theme

Currently fixing my theme. Pardon the ugly default WordPress theme while I mess with things.

UPDATE: Maybe I fixed it, maybe I didn’t. We’ll see if the theme reverts any time soon.

Theme Broke

What the fuck? My theme suddenly doesn’t work. I have no idea why this would happen right now?

This will be addressed tomorrow.

UPDATE: 10:53PM – Apparently my theme wasn’t really compatible with the version of WordPress that I’m using. The confusing thing is why it decided to stop working now as opposed to when I upgraded. Any ideas?

Anyway, I found a version that works, so that’s all good. I got all the widgets to work, including my blogroll. I still have to fix the style sheet.

UPDATE: 11:41PM – So the issue was addressed today instead of tomorrow. Everything should be fixed. Leave a comment if something looks funny.

Disappeared Links

Alright, all my links on the left disappeared, and I’m not sure when this happened. I think it was probably when I updated to the latest version of WordPress.

I’ll have to go in the code and mess with some stuff. I’m not sure exactly when I’ll get around to it. I’ll probably have it finished within a few weeks. Just wanted to give you readers a heads up.

New Links

Pharyngula — PZ Myers writes about atheism and science. This is mainly how I keep up with the Evil Atheists Conspiracy.

Power, Seduction and War — This is Robert Greene’s blog. He’s the author of The 48 Laws of Power, which I have, and The Art of Seduction and The 33 Strategies of War, which I plan on getting. If you admire Machiavelli’s works, then you’ll admire Greene’s writing. Honestly, I admire this guy’s writing a lot. — Ryan Holiday works for Robert Greene. I enjoy this blog because Holiday constantly reads and puts up the insights he gleans from these readings (and insights from other experiences). These insights seem like they’ll be useful in my life’s journey.

Turning Pro — Found this via Ryan Holiday’s blog. He struggles with the problem of life in a way which I can relate to.

Featured Poems — Saul Nadata was my Intro to Fiction and Poetry I and Intro to Fiction and Poetry II instructor. Also, he was one of my favorite and most helpful instructors at JHU. This blog is his attempt at 365 poems in 365 days. I know Saul will have a marvelous career as a writer.

Drinking For Two — Fucking hilarious.

I am also currently reading these:, Smashing Magazine, Web Worker Daily. However, I’m unsure if they’ll stay daily reads over the next few weeks.

I removed Daryl’s blog from my blogroll because it’s defunct.

Book Reports and Updating the Blog Roll

I’ve decided that I’m not reading right. So, I’ve made it a rule that after I finish reading a book, I have to do a book report of sorts. I’ll post it on the blog. It may be a summary, writing what I’ve learned, connecting it to something, listing my favorite quotes, or some combination of the above.

I also need to update the blogroll. I’m going to list all the new links and why I read them.

What Obama Has Done

If we’re going to beat McCain in November, we’re going to need to do more than talk about what Obama can do. We’re going to need to be able to say what he has done. That means talking points need to be developed about specific achievements and those memes need to spread.

I have a goal for March: I will have written 31 weblog entries for the month. I need to sharpen my writing skills and develop talking points. I need to commit my political talking points to memory.

Experiment: Blogging Once a Day

I dislike my recent quick-burst blogging style. I didn’t sit down and decide to write short posts all the time; it just happened. Maybe it’s a combination of being busy and still desiring to blog. Or maybe I wasn’t busy and I was just to lazy to engage in sustained writing. Whatever the reasoning behind it, I want to change to style where I write one long post once a day.

Every time I read a blog entry by Glenn Greenwald, I’m amazed at the way he weaves together facts to build a case. Those who work in pundit-world issue broad assertions based on their personal feelings and pre-existing ideological shackles. Greenwald supports his claims with evidence. For example, look at the plethora of polling data in this post on the low approval ratings of Congress. Yet I’m not drooling over his writing because it contains data. As stated above, I like the way he weaves together those facts — he is able to connect different pieces of information and construct a cohesive argument. His writings don’t feel like blog entries; they feel like essays. I’d rather be an essayist than a blogger, and so, I’d like to imitate him a bit more. (The online essayist has the powerful tool called the hyperlink, which does change things some what.)

I also have always enjoyed Lloyd’s weblog and he writes one entry a day. (Sometimes, he’ll update this same entry multiple times or address two different topics, but each day has one post.) Note that I wrote out “weblog” in full, instead of simply typing “blog.” That’s because it feels crude to call Lloyd’s weblog a mere “blog.” I can’t explain quite why I feel that the word is crude. There must be some element of unconscious synesthesia because the word’s texture feels crude in my mouth. In any case, I can’t apply such a crude moniker to Lloyd’s weblog because it is so much more than what normal people write. What Lloyd does goes beyond an online diary. His weblog a living, breathing manifestation of his self, his consciousness, his soul. Those who read his weblog are in no danger of a feeling of false intimacy because that really is a big piece of Lloyd on the internet.

I recently read Douglas Hofstadter’s book, I Am a Strange Loop. The small wikipedia entry for the book gives this quote: “In the end, we self-perceiving, self-inventing, locked-in mirages are little miracles of self-reference.” Lloyd has a created one of these strange loops with his weblog, which contains an unusual number of “hunekers” (Hofstadter’s imaginary unit of soul) for an online entity composed of words, pictures, and links. Hofstadter talks about how an image of his wife’s self partly existed in his mind. A lower-resolution image of this sort exists in the mind of all the readers of his weblog.

Okay, that’s enough philosophical dissection of “the free radical.”

While I certainly don’t believe that making one post a day is sufficient for writing like Lloyd, it almost seems like a necessary condition. Always writing lots of little things is too scattered to make a living weblog. It’s hard to take those disparate pieces and turn them into a whole. Limiting myself to one post a day will force myself to focus on creating wholes rather than pieces. I will be able to create sustained arguments rather than isolated bits of snark.

I don’t like the isolated bits of snark because it doesn’t tell anyone (including myself) anything useful. For example, check out this entry from July:

I’m going to print out this article, The Pentagon Gets a Lesson From Madison Avenue, and put it in my sarcasm filing cabinet, under “Fucking Brilliant.”

Yes, fucking brilliant! What the military needs is re-branding in Iraq! If we label this lead balloon as a happy balloon, everyone will buy it!

What I wanted to say is that it’s bizarre to treat a real problem as if it were an image problem. Imagine a bunch of corrupt businessmen saying that their problem was that people perceived them as corrupt. Futhermore, I doubt the ad-men say anything useful that isn’t already explained more in-depth by books on counter-insurgency, or at least that’s the impression I have after having read Fiasco.

Now imagine if I explored what I just wrote above and added some research. Juxtapose that with the snark you see above and you know why I’m so disappointed in what I’ve been writing. This blog is worthless as a learning tool if I just write those bits and pieces; focusing on condescending dismissal enhances my biases, instead of teaching me new things.

So, it’s time to make my blog more thoughtful and more fact-full. I will do this by limiting myself to one blog entry a day (along with doing more research).

Today’s Two Things

I spent most of today doing two things.

One: Fixing some old permalinks. All the stuff in the form “archives/200x_xx_xx.html” should now redirect to the proper place. I was getting a lot of 404 errors. After that, I just need to find some old pics and then individually fix some entries. It took a lot longer than I expected because the PHP explode() function wasn’t working as I hoped it would, and I had to figure out a way around it.

Two: Reading Fiasco by Mr. Ricks. I’m only slowly making my way through it because it is so painful to read. I can’t get past a couple pages without having to put the book aside and let my anger cool down a bit. One thing that’s particularly eye-opening is how the administration’s line still hasn’t change — we’re still making Remarkable Progress.

Screw IE 6

I’ve got an interesting graph here:

Graph of Most Used Browsers

It shows what browsers people use when they come to my websites. That’s like a random week’s worth of data.

One sixth of my visitors still haven’t made it to the 21st century.

I’m done supporting IE 6 on this weblog. I won’t uglify my CSS for you. If you haven’t even taken the time to upgrade to IE 7 or switch to Firefox (or Opera), then you’re not cutting edge enough to read this. Get with the (alpha transparent) picture.

Those stats are amazing, though. Half of the hits here, which includes The Chalkboard Manifesto, are from Firefox. Wow.

Comments on the Aesthetics of My Recent Redesign

I went into this weekend with the intent of making my blog 20% prettier. Instead, I made the site a helluva lot prettier. I’m happy with my design.

But… trees — why the hell would I pick trees? To be honest, I did a google search for wordpress themes and then I was browsing through some things and I saw a nice, spacious one with trees and fog in the background. It spurred me to search through a free stock photography site for different types of pictures. After much experimentation, I settled for the picture you see here (and made the picture a little greener). I decided I liked green (blue is so overdone). Then, when I figured there was too much green, I tried something that matched and came up with that nice yellow. I added the clip art leaf to the post headings because the plain black heading was hella bugging me, not because I love leaves. So it would appear that my aims were purely aesthetic.

Yet as any E.E. Cummings fan can tell you, multiple thoughts can inhabit your mind simultaneously. I did have something symbolic in mind. When I was looking through the stock photos, I also decided to take some photos of my own. They were all of my backyard. The photo I liked the best and actually tried to make work captured the view and the small table and chairs on my deck. I sit out there sometimes, in the sun, to think and write. I wanted the weblog to reflect that quiet and solitude. Unfortunately, the picture wasn’t working with the translucent boxes (you couldn’t see the right stuff) and I dumped it. But the symbolism stuck.

I am not normally a nature-person, but there is a certain allure to separating yourself from society and putting yourself entirely in the company of the wild. There’s a peace of mind you can get sitting on a rock in the middle of a lazy river that you can’t get anywhere else. I’ve staked out my own small plot in cyberspace to just sit and ponder. During the periods of time where I update this weblog almost everyday, the daily writing becomes ritualized. The writing tends to be late at night, when everyone else is quiet, and I can be alone and let my thoughts out. Even though this weblog is public, I like my initial process of writing to be very private; I
can’t write with someone reading over my shoulder. Despite the road and fence in the background photo, the trees are still enough to evoke a certain calm. Pavlov’s peace, if you will.

Make blog 20% prettier

Progress report on my to-do list for the weekend:



#4 – Make blog 20% prettier

I think I’ve accomplished this. There’s still a lot of tweaking to do with the site, editing colors and whatnot. Oh, and also moving the boxes around. However, I have made the site 20% prettier — more than 20% prettier, in fact. I will be messing with things throughout the day, but I’m happy to announce that I finished my to-do list. BAM.


Here’s my progress report on my to-do list for the weekend. We’ll go in reverse order.

#4 – Make blog 20% prettier

Haven’t started yet.

#3 – Write About page

Done. You can read the about page if you want. I didn’t give it much thought, but it turned out okay. I’m happy with it for now.

#2 – Update blogroll (from default WP links)

Done. I just went to my bookmarks and then added links to the blogs I visit the most. I also added links to my Myspace page and The Chalkboard Manifesto.

#1 – Fix blog archive links

Done. This took me several hours. (I was also watching TV at the same time. I finally watched Office Space.)

The problem was that URLs which looked like this weren’t working. The individual and daily entries were working, but the monthly pages weren’t. The monthly pages would open up my old MT monthly archives. When I tried deleting those index.html files, I’d get a file listing.

First thing I tried to mess around with was the MT templates. I used the individual entry template from Alex King’s solution for redirecting MT to WordPress (very good, highly recommend using it if you wish to make the same switch I did). Well, first, I had to decipher the damn thing and look up a few PHP commands. Eventually, I figured that this was a dead-end and I did nothing.

Second, I fixed it so I wasn’t getting the file listing anymore. But all that did was give me a 403 Error instead of a file listing.

So I tried a plain old redirect using .htaccess. I had to go into WordPress and go back to the old URL system to find that it was using /m?=200606 for example. I made index.html go to this. It worked, but now I was getting that ugly URL. I didn’t want that showing up because it would confuse people and because it was, well, ugly.

Next, I used mod_rewrite for the redirect. It took me a while to figure out what was even going on with mod_rewrite — it’s damn complicated, especially when one does not even know regular expressions. But I didn’t need the regular expressions. Eventually, I surfed google results for a while and found a simpler intro. I experimented with it and finally got the redirect to work. Mission accomplished.

Well, “mission accomplished” in the Bushian sense. I fixed that but broke everything else. Now the individual entries were giving me 404 errors. Argh!

Maybe the .htaccess files in the subdirectories were giving me problems. I tried putting the mod_rewrite WordPress code in the yearly and monthly subdirectories. No dice.

Okay, might the .htaccess file in the yearly directories be giving me trouble anyway? I mean, I had put those in there to allow HTML files to be treated as PHP files. (This has to do with the solution I used to redirect from MT to WordPress.) I deleted that, but no dice again. I put it back. That wasn’t giving me the problem.

I then thought that maybe WordPress was giving me the wrong code to put in my .htaccess file for those more friendly links. I temporarily changed the access to allow WordPress to write directly to the .htaccess file. Uh oh. 500 Server Error. Everything in WordPress was crashing. I manually uploaded the .htaccess file again and everything was well in the universe. That is, everything except my original problem.

Finally, I looked at the WordPress help file for permalinks a bit and something caught my eye about using a 404 redirect. I didn’t even read it through, but I experiment and I actually used 403 ErrorDocument to redirect things back to WordPress. Now the URL looks pretty and it goes where I want. Problem solved.

It wasn’t the most elegant solution. I had to go through and manually upload .htaccess files to all the monthly subdirectories and then delete all the index.html files. But I’m used to that mind-numbing repetitive stuff from work, so I bucked up and just did it. All done. Hooray.

Welcome to WordPress

I’ve switched over to WordPress. I need to do some work to fix all those dead links, though.

UPDATE: Changed theme. Wow, this is so much easier than MT. I think I’ll use this as a base for edits, which I probably won’t have time for today.

UPDATE: MT redirect successful! At least, for individual entries. Some of my old, old links are date-based. I’ll be fixing those later.

UPDATE: Okay, now the months aren’t working. Arg.

I guess it’s wordpress time

Alright, I created new databases. I deleted all the old folders. Then, put in all the new stuff. The only thing I think I forgot to delete were some of the files in the home directory.

But honestly, I can’t even figure out how MT managed to revert me back to January 30th, yet again! And all the old side navigation bars showed up! I mean, the whole left column reappears, along with the old bio. I don’t even know where that fucking data comes from!

Updating Movable Type

I’m installing a new version of MT today. Because of the weird issue where my index page keeps reverting back to January 30, I’m going to be deleting MT and then reinstalling it, instead of just upgrading. Hopefully, everything comes out okay. See you on the other side.

EDIT: Here we are at the other side, version 3.35. I’ll be fiddling with templates later.

EDIT: Man, I can’t get my template junk to work right.

regarding blogging about religion

A while back, I said I was going to write some entries on religion. These have not materialized yet. The problem is that I don’t really feel like blogging about this; I want to write an actual essay. So, I’ll continue blogging about politics while I work on my essay drafts. When they’re ready, I’ll post them.

Technical Difficulties

Currently experiencing technical difficulties. For some reason, the entry from Jan 30 keeps popping up on the index, while everything after that temporarily disappears. I’ll figure this out soon enough, I hope, but there’s a never-ever crapload of work to do.

Sprucing up the sidebars

I’m currently working on the left sidebar of this weblog at the moment, something I’ve just added. So far I’ve added an “About Me” module there — I love having a picture of myself here. I’ll keep you updated as I post more. Bear with the temporary “under construction” feel.

UPDATE: Added some links to the side.

UPDATE: Made this whole thing wider so the entries are readable. If your resolution is 800×600, too bad for you.

I think I’m done for today. I’ll work on other stuff throughout the week on this weblog, including color changes and font fiddling.

Welcome Back to the Agnoiologist

Here’s the story:

Towards the end of April, I went over my bandwidth for my websites. Instead of paying a hefty fee, I decided to just wait it out until the end of the month. So, I did. Finally, my websites — including this weblog — come back up on May 2. I post Stephen Colbert article. Sometime in the next few days, the website went down again — billing issues. You see, my contract with my old web host was just about up and they were asking if I wanted to renew or not. I told them no because, well, I just went over my bandwidth limit. I needed more bandwidth. So, I signed up for a new web host. I changed my nameservers but for some reason, no change for a few days. I wait out 48 hours, and then another day. Finally, I contacted my host yesterday, despite being practically bed-ridden from disease. (I still have a massive sore throat.) BAM! Problem fixed. They say the site will be up tomorrow, and here it is. Welcome back.

You’ll notice the site looks a little bit different right now. I installed a new version of MovableType. Another funny little side effect is that now all my links (within old weblog entries) to previous entries probably aren’t working. I’ll get that fixed over a long period of time, slowly working my way backwards.

Something else I took the liberty of doing is posting a few entries that I had posted on MySpace because I had to feed the weblogging urge. So, you probably haven’t seen All Quiet on the Eastern Front or The GOP Majority is in trouble. In other news, I broke my old Minesweeper expert record.

If you’re looking for the Chalkboard Manifesto or… they’re not up yet. They’ll be online probably May 12… maybe the 13th.

So, in the coming days, I will be doing a few things. 1) Definitely changing this template. 2) Maybe changing my categories. 3) Regular weblogging goodness.

I’ll finally get to do that entry on Soltero that I was planning on doing.

You can now once again enjoy near-daily Agnoiologist updating.

And So It Begins

This weblog has started before the actual site because I’m hoping to get my ideas down for it. Many entries here will probably turn into articles. The design of this weblog is undergoing development. I’m not one for big intros — I personally find them rather boring — so I’m going to delve into a subject right now.

Agnoiology, specifically, is the branch of philosophy which investigates the nature and extent of human ignorance. It’s an archaic, but useful, term. The stupidity can extend into rants, but I’m going to stay away from those because I think there are enough on the internet. The main site will be a philosophical site. At times, this weblog will be… less than philosophical, let’s say.

The inherent question: Why are people stupid? Hm, I’ll have to get back to that later. How about the other part, the extent? I know it’s far-reaching. Stupidity pervades every single aspect of humanity. This is what makes it such an interesting topic. It’s anthropology, but more fun, since I’m looking at all the dumb stuff. So, with this site and weblog, I’m going to delve into the specifics, and also some of the why.

So, I begin the specifics with a light, more humorous topic: Instant Messenger language. “Kids are creating a new slang,” they say. “They’re dumbing themselves down,” I say.

One excuse for this “slang” is that it is faster. Perhaps if they typed quickly and correctly, they wouldn’t need all the acronyms. The argument, however, doesn’t withstand close scrutiny when it is found that some of these abbreviations aren’t actually abbreviations. They’re the same length, if not longer than the actual word. Also, the mIxED caPs probably takes a long time, since you’re wasting a finger with all those motions. The real killer with mixed caps is that it takes longer to read. “l33t” is worse! Some of the acronyms are unknown, so they end up wasting more time than they save. Granted, even I use a couple of acronyms. For example, “brb.” I do find the excuse legitimate in this case, if I have to leave in a hurry. In most cases, there is no real reason to save time. This time is spent waiting for the other person’s response. The saved milliseconds aren’t helping anyone.

It is true that internet speech is dumbing people down. Many have confessed that they have messed up and began using instant messenger-type writing in class. Punctuation and spelling are atrocious for many people. Can part of this be attributed to instant messaging? Hell, yes. Someone should do a study and prove me right. Or better yet, someone help me do the study. It would be interesting.

Imagine how hard it would have been to read this entry in that type of speech. Imagine a novel with run-on sentences. It’ll make you want to put the book down. And it makes me want to quit instant messenging. My own typing was becoming horrible, but I’ve slowly begun cleaning it up. Join me. Don’t dumb yourself down and help make the world an easier place to read, or something like that.