Many have noticed that the Pharyngula banner has been gone for a few weeks. This is a completely independent problem from our recent (and still ongoing) access bugginess. For some reason, our tech guy hosted all those images on the Amazon web server when setting up the pages, and Amazon has either locked us out or reorganized their directories, and they aren’t loading any more.

The easy solution would be to put the images in some other accessible place, and tweak the code to redirect it to load from the new address, but unfortunately, when the tech guy set up the images, he cropped and resized and tweaked them in various ways…and I don’t have the modified images. I have my original files, but I can’t simply upload those — they won’t work.

So I guess I need a brand new banner. Anyone out there have any graphic artistry who’s willing to whip something up for me, in return for an acknowledgment, and a link on my About page? I can give you the old logo collection (that’s a .tar file of a set of Photoshop images), tell you that the size should be 760×120 pixels, and turn you loose. There is no obligation to use the old logos, and creativity is a good thing (I always felt the old banner never had enough tentacles, for instance); also, if you send me something, I’m not going to feel obligated to use it, or may even use it for a while and then replace it. So don’t agonize over it, or I’ll feel awful.

Thanks to everyone who has pointed me to caches of the old banners, but they also won’t work. The old banners were composites put together by putting images together with some randomizing code. I’m really thinking of a fresh start right now, a simple single banner.

Problem diagnosed

We’ve finally received some information from the overlords about the recent problems. We’re being attacked.

We have been forwarding reports from bloggers and users to our hosting service, Rackspace, over the past few days. After monitoring our traffic and these reports, Rackspace has determined that ScienceBlogs is experiencing a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack and has blocked a range of IP addresses involved. While this means that ScienceBlogs is now loading correctly for most users, the attack is still ongoing and other users may still encounter sporadic loading problems, or be blocked entirely if they were incorrectly included in these preventative measures.

We’re still working with Rackspace to determine how and why this has occurred, and to get the site 100% accessible again, but in the meantime, we’d like to collect IP addresses from users who are still experiencing problems. Please ask anyone who has brought this problem to your attention to send their IP address to If they have trouble locating their IP address, you can send them to this site:

Who did I annoy now? Crazy astrobiologists? Fans of Ray Kurzweil? David Brooks? Every Christian, Jew, and Muslim on the planet?

We are experiencing technical difficulties

As many people are reporting, the site is having a few problems, and you may occasionally experience errors when commenting or even trying to look at Pharyngula. I know the site banner also mysteriously disappeared a few weeks ago, and yeah, I also know about the el cheapo ads for psychics that sometimes appear in the sidebar.

Unfortunately, the landlord is currently unavailable even to us residents, and I don’t even know who to complain to anymore, and even if I did, we don’t seem to have the tech support we’d need to fix the problems. Bear with us. I’m kind of expecting that when the whole dang network collapses, somebody in management might notice and come around to hand out blankets and tarps so we can assemble a few rickety shelters to keep going a little longer.

I also haven’t been paid as contracted.

Seed has some special deal with a big corporate benefactor, though, so somebody might profit soon!

Moving Molly right along

I really am catching up! Today, I tallied up the votes for the Molly for January, and the winners are…Iain Walker and Ing. Huzzah! Fireworks! Clink of glasses! Screams and alarums!

Now moving right along to the next order of business, you need to forget Iain and Ing and think back to last month and let me know who was the most memorable commenter of February. Leave their name in a comment here.

Frenetically catching up with Molly

I told you I was bad and neglectful, but we’re getting there. The Molly award for December 2010 goes to a long-dead Seleucid monarch, Antiochus Epiphanes…on the condition that he promises to leave Egypt alone, and occupy himself with conquering trolls on Pharyngula instead.

Now you get to leave nominations for a Molly winner for January 2011 right here in the comments.

Yeah, January. I’m behind. I’m going to do an abbreviated round of voting, so I’ll announce the January winner next week, and put up a post for nominations for February then. It’ll work, I think.

Post on Pharyngula, win big prizes!

This happens every year about this time: that first month of the new semester is such total chaos that I let stuff on the blog slide…like failing to take care of the Molly stuff. Now I’m going to catch up quickly.

The first order of business: I proposed a Molly of the Year award, and you people nominated a fair number of well-appreciated people for it. Unfortunately, you couldn’t just pick one, and the results congealed around a trinity…so I’m giving it to three people. I also can’t just call it a mega-Molly or something, so let’s give this a completely different title: Champions of Reason, to be awarded just once a year.

And our three champions are: Sastra, Cuttlefish, and David Marjanović. Congratulations all around!

And of course there are prizes. I ought to be giving out cars and vacations in Cabo San Lucas, but instead you’ll have to settle for your very own limited edition Spaceship of the Imagination and a free imaginary trip to anywhere in the galaxy. That’ll do, right?

If not, I’ll also be sending you a copy of Hank Fox’s Red Neck, Blue Collar, Atheist — just send me a shipping address and they’ll be on the way. And all you worthy contributors who did not get an acknowledgment this year can simply order the book for yourself.

Guest posts?

This guest post from James Kakalios got me thinking — if anyone wants to take advantage of this prominent platform I’ve lucked into for the purpose of publishing their views, I’d be willing to give them an occasional opportunity. I wouldn’t want to turn the place into wall-to-wall other people (it’s mine, dangit!), but something from some other voice now and then would be OK.

I’m going to set a few rules, though.

  • No commercials, and this isn’t Craigslist. Don’t send me press releases, either. Opinion pieces and entertaining summaries of your exciting research are fine.

  • Don’t expect to get paid. You’ll still own your own work, but it will be posted here under the same terms with Seed that my articles are — they can also freely use them, if Seed chooses. You’re doing it for the few hundred thousand page views you’ll get.

  • Links are OK. Maybe your plan is to write something provocative that will include a link to your blog and drive up your traffic — and that’s fine with me as long as what you send me stands on its own and isn’t too blatantly spammy.

  • I’m the editor, and I have complete and arbitrary dictatorial power in what I’ll post. You should be familiar enough with the site that you know what kinds of things fit in. If you want to write something that disagrees with me, that’s fine, as long as it’s interesting — but no, your screed in defense of creationism or why Jesus is your Lord won’t get posted, except maybe under “I get email”.

  • I am also a lazy editor. I won’t fix your typos (sending me something loaded with typos means I simply won’t use it), but on the good side, that also means I won’t change anything you write. It goes up as you send it, with only minimal changes to put it in html format.

  • Details: Email your article to me, with a request to consider it as a guest post. If it’s already formatted for html, I’ll blow you a kiss, if not, just make sure it’s easily read and not reliant on intricate formatting. Don’t send a book, a few thousand words is the upper limit for a blog article. Tell me exactly how you want it attributed; anonymity is fine, it’s also fine to ask me to include a brief biography with links to your CV or whatever, as long as you write it.

  • It’ll either appear or it won’t. You’re just taking a chance that it will appeal to me and that I feel like posting it. Don’t pester me with questions about when it’s coming out.

For everyone else: if I do regular guest posts, don’t worry, they won’t be frequent enough to dominate the site; I’m not aiming to change the character of Pharyngula. I’ll probably also take a moment to get into the css file and create a custom format for guest posts so that you’ll be able to easily spot them by their hot pink background and purple text, or something (all right, I’ll try to be tasteful).

And of course, maybe no one at all will be interested. No worries either way.

An unfortunate choice of subject

In my previous post about an absurd NIMBY protest in Canada, I suggested that it would be far worse to live next to a pig farm than a hospice. I was not aware of the sordid story of Canadian serial killer and hog farmer Robert Pickton and the rather traumatic associations people in that region have between death and pig farms. No such connection was intended, and my apologies to anyone who thought I was making any implications between dying in a hospice and being murdered by a vile criminal.

The new John Benneth policy

That loopy homeopath, John Benneth, is bragging now that he is the most widely read homeopath in the world, and that his blog has broken all previous viewership records. He’s quite proud of this “accomplishment”.

One of the last John Benneth Journal entries for 2010, IN ONE YEAR, has broken all previous viewership records and sparked more commentary and outrage amongst the pharmaceutical company stooges than any previous Journal entry, enlisting the usual fury and nasty responses.

He seems to be aware of how it happened: I linked to that one article. What he doesn’t seem to appreciate, though, is that what I giveth, I can take away, and that it doesn’t say much for homeopathy that one link from one blog can make such a dramatic difference in his traffic.

So, because he thinks it’s meaningful, I’ve added a little filter to this site: using “” in a comment will get it held for moderation…and it won’t be approved. Bye bye, Mr Benneth.

You’ll have to look him up indirectly, as in this mention on FSTDT. Otherwise, ignore the loon.