Reduced blog output

I know I’ve been quiet lately, with posts coming irregularly and posts that require much thought even more rarely. This is largely due to the fact that I started a new job in January, and my schedule is not as flexible as it once was. I’m also an employee of the federal government now, and as such subject to restrictions on my political activities. Fierce Roller has always been pretty light on the political content, but I have occasionally written about politics. I want to retain the freedom to do so, so I think it’s prudent to keep my blogging activities entirely separate from my job.

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A new way to follow Fierce Roller

For those of you who don’t use a feed reader, I have set up a Facebook page for Fierce Roller: If this works the way I think it should, all you have to do is go there and hit the “Like” button, and you’ll get an alert each time I publish a blog post. If you do use a feed reader, you can follow the blog by adding

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year, everyone!

I’ve been doing this for about two and a half years now, and no one’s more surprised than me to find that I’m still at it. I feel a bit like the Dread Pirate Roberts about the whole thing:

Good night, Westley. Good work. Sleep well. I’ll most likely stop blogging in the morning.

Westley’s still ticking, but no promises.

I published 121 posts in 2018, not too far from my goal of three a week. The most read by far was also my all-time most read, “Research Features: seems sketchy to me.” The reason, I think, is that that post appears not far from the top when “Research Features” is searched on Google. I had a colleague try it for me once, and my post was the third hit. So when the “magazine” contacts researchers, and they Google it to see if it’s legit, they get some criticism along with the magazine’s own self promotion. Several commenters wrote that this saved them time.

Research Features comments

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How I destroyed Freethought blogs (temporarily)

I’ve been getting frustrated because only the Publicize features seem to work only when they feel like it, and they feel like it about half the time. I don’t mind posting to Twitter manually, but only about half of my new posts were being accompanied by emails to subscribers. I got on chat with WordPress Tech support, who identified the problem as an out of date version of Jetpack.

WordPress support

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On vacation

Maine flag

Starting tomorrow I’ll be on vacation in Maine for two weeks, so posts are likely to be few and far between. The week of June 24, I’ll be completely unreachable, so if you’re a first-time commenter, your comment won’t get approved until around July 1.

Wow, that’s really Maine’s flag. It’s not the worst, but it’s pretty bad.

My conversation with PZ Myers

Over at Pharyngula, PZ Myers has been interviewing his fellow FreeThought Bloggers, and Sunday afternoon was my turn. It was supposed to be a group chat, but no one else showed up, so I got to ramble about Fierce Roller for a full half hour. Apologies for the vertical format on my end; I’ve been having audio problems with Google Hangouts on my laptop, so I had to use my phone.

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Comment problems

As an unexpected and unintended consequence of FreeThought Blogs kicking our old hosting service to the curb, apparently our commenter whitelists have been lost. Fierce Roller is set that I have to approve your first comment, but after that your comments post automatically.

At least that’s the way it’s supposed to work. Without the whitelist, though, WordPress thinks everyone is a first-time commenter (I had to approve a comment from Aeravi yesterday!). So I’m sorry for the inconvenience, but even if you’ve commented before, your next comment is likely to be held in moderation until I see it. So far, I’ve never blocked a comment that wasn’t straight-up spam, so comment away!

Relief is in sight

For the past week or so, we (FreeThought Blogs) have been having server troubles. Pages often won’t serve, and here in the WordPress interface I often can’t save drafts or add images. Apparently the problem is with our hosting service, which the powers that be are consequently kicking to the curb. According to PZ Myers,

This’ll be mostly invisible and painless, but there might be a brief lockout tomorrow or the day after as the transition is made. The pattern of glitchy interruptions should end early this week.

The sooner the better.