Those dang comments

Scalzi is discussing comment management. There are…ideas…floating around there; some suck, some are interesting. Here are My Opinions™ on comments.

  • Comments are absolutely essential and are not going away. What do you think I read the site for? Besides, we’ve long had an interesting community here.

  • I’m not going to require real names. Consistent pseudonyms are good enough. I really, really hate sockpuppets; they undermine the credibility of all pseudonyms. I will burn all puppets to the ground on discovery.

  • My smartest recent move was appointing monitors who write in to report troublemakers. I don’t have to read everything constantly to track comments, which relieves a lot of strain.

  • The banhammer: too much or too little? I’ve been a little bit more heavy-handed lately, because of all the sexist jerkwads who’ve been popping in. I’m leaning in favor of more.

  • With the loss of the dungeon, I’ve thrown away most of my tracking of bannings, which doesn’t bother me much…but one thing I’ve long been missing is some way to achieve redemption. Once you’re banned, you’re dropped into a bottomless pit of blackness, never to be seen again, and there isn’t any way to gain forgiveness. How could we arrange to have a ban removed?

  • One capability I wish WordPress had was a way to require a certain minimum of words in a comment. I’d rather see fewer one-liners and more thoughtful discussion.

  • Should I implement a comment limit? I don’t think it’s currently a problem, except for that one guy who would dump German opera librettos or whatever into comments.

  • I do have keyword filtering, and I use it to block a lot of the language misogynists use, which is remarkably effective (there sure is a lot of rapey hatey talk stuck in the spam filter now). Other suggestions for words that magically disappear the bad guys would be useful. Also maybe words that block some of the knee-jerk responses from the good guys. What words/phrases do you hate to see popping up?

  • Never gonna implement comment threading or comment rating, so don’t mention ‘em.

  • Scalzi shuts off some comments while he’s sleeping. I’m not going to do that: it discriminates against Australians and Europeans, and we have too many of that furrin ilk here.

  • Any wordpress experts know of any useful plugins for comments? I can pass suggestions along to the tech guy…who’s supposed to fix the main page first, of course.

  • I know the crappy preview function is a sore point for lots of you. Anything else that bugs you?

  • Styles. While we’re wating for the tech guy to get everything else done, one thing I can do all by myself is tweak the stylesheet. Any comment layout stuff you desperately want?

Skepticon wants more money

They need more donations. And they remind me that some of the people participating are providing incentives to coax cash out of your pocket.

Dogma Debate is trying to get Aron Ra to dress as a Jedi!

Shelly is going to write an amazing song that we choose!

Deep Fried Freethinkers is making dinosaur shaped chocolates!

Registrants who donate $100 or more receive a totally sweet gift!

Hmmm. Maybe you can make some suggestions in the comments for what I should possibly do to encourage more donations. What could I do to entice moolah out of you?

Christ-centered and cross-focused

Sorry about the earlier confusion, but it turns out the interview on Lutheran talk radio this morning was recorded and broadcast in the afternoon. But you can listen to the archive now.

They seemed nice. I hope they didn’t pull a Ray Comfort on me; let me know if the recording has me praising Jesus and professing my love of the Lutheran church.


Also, I’m done with classes for the day. Time to stagger home and vegetate.

OMG, it’s sinking in

Calendars are abstractions I ignore until I actually slam into the events listed in them. My teaching schedule has back-to-back lectures on Monday, Wednesday, Friday. Today with that radio interview, I have been talking non-stop for three hours. And on Wednesdays, I have lab immediately after my last class. This isn’t hump day, it’s splat-face-first-into-a-brick-wall day.

One of my students kindly gave me a gift of tea on the first day. I’m going to slump down into an exhausted heap after this is all over, and try to soothe my poor overworked vocal cords with something wet.

Quote war! We win!

A new billboard has gone up in South Dakota in reply to Coalition of Reason’s recent sign.

"When I saw the sign I thought of it as a direct attack on my God. I thought that it would be good for people to know that God is alive and that He has something to say," Kreider said to The Christian Post.

So, Mr Kreider, what does your god have to say?

The fool hath said in his heart, there is no god.

The fool hath said in his heart, there is no god.

Oh. The same damned quote you kooks always drag out. You know the authority of your bible is about the same as the authority of a Pokemon manual to me, so flinging quotes at me does you no good.

I can give you quotes, too — quotes from people who actually existed.

So much blood has been shed by the Church because of an omission from the Gospel: “Ye shall be indifferent as to what your neighbor’s religion is.” Not merely tolerant of it, but indifferent to it. Divinity is claimed for many religions; but no religion is great enough or divine enough to add that new law to its code.

Mark Twain

We despise all reverences and all the objects of reverence which are outside the pale of our own list of sacred things. And yet, with strange inconsistency, we are shocked when other people despise and defile the things which are holy to us.

Mark Twain

The World is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.

Thomas Paine

Religion has convinced people that there’s an invisible man … living in the sky. Who watches everything you do every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a list of ten specific things he doesn’t want you to do. And if you do any of these things, he will send you to a special place, of burning and fire and smoke and torture and anguish for you to live forever, and suffer, and suffer, and burn, and scream, until the end of time. But he loves you. He loves you. He loves you and he needs money.

George Carlin

Ask yourself this: if there is a god, why are the atheists so much more creative and witty?

Not surprising, but nice confirmation

Why present this as a mystery solved? I’ve been hearing about this hypothesis for years.

Many deep-sea squid actively grab their prey, sporting two muscular tentacles used to drag unsuspecting prey into their mouths.

But one squid species that lives down deep—the "wimp" of the proverbial playground—has limp noodles for arms. Scientists have wondered for years how it managed to catch and eat anything.

Let’s not exaggerate the mystery too much. Lots of deep sea squid have been known not to be active hunters: Vampyroteuthis, for instance, despite the fearsome name is actually a flabby-bodied blob that lives in near-anoxic waters and has a very slow metabolism. The hypothesis that they catch small prey by ambush with dangling tentacles has been the default for a good long while.

But that doesn’t change the fact that it is beautiful to see. Here are recently captured video images of Grimalditeutis bonplandi flitting it’s slender tentacles about as lures for prey.

MBARI always gets the most gorgeous footage.

First day of classes!

Summer “vacation” (yeah, right) is over, and today I go back to the grind. I’m teaching cell biology and cancer biology this term, as well as an independent study course in science writing, and as my calendar shows, it’s going to be a very busy semester.

Or maybe they'll surprise me & it'll be an interview with Idris Elba

Or maybe they’ll surprise me & it’ll be an interview with Idris Elba

But as a last weird fling, remember that I’m going to do an interview on Lutheran Talk Radio at 10:30 Central. I have no idea what we’re going to be talking about, other than this book thingie I wrote — you think they might be sympathetic? — so maybe you can tune in to their streaming audio and listen as I get spanked by a crack team of Lutheran theologians. You want to hear that, right?