The place will be a mess for a while


While I was in Wales con­nectiv­ity was bad, so I had time to keep up with secur­ity on AoB Blog and Then Dig, but not here. This coin­cided with the dis­cov­ery of a major secur­ity flaw in a plug-in. For the past month or so I’ve been look­ing at how to fix the theme without los­ing everything, but it seems that might not be an easy task, so instead I’ve star­ted work on adapt­ing the AoB tem­plate for other sites.

It’s a handy exer­cise in see­ing what is effected by the hack and what isn’t, but it also means that vis­it­ors here will see things shuff­ling around or break­ing for the next few days or weeks.

An email to the Georgia DA etc, re: Troy Davis


Dear Recipient,

No doubt you’re receiv­ing plenty of emails protest­ing the exe­cu­tion of Tory Davis, and no doubt you’re aware why — and not con­vinced that reas­on­able doubt is enough to pre­vent an execution.

Instead I have a couple of questions.

If it is found later that Troy Davis is inno­cent, would you sup­port the con­vic­tion and death pen­alty of all those who pro­ceeded to enforce the exe­cu­tion des­pite clear evid­ence of reas­on­able doubt?

Would you also recom­mend that the UK Foreign Office warn British cit­izens against vis­it­ing Georgia on the grounds that the state of Georgia does not con­sider the pos­sible inno­cence of a per­son suf­fi­cient reason to avoid killing them?

With all due respect,

Alun Salt

Picking up the pieces

Aberystwyth beach
Aberystwyth beach

The Spirit of Aberystwyth (inspired after Instagram)

The move to Wales was less suc­cess­ful than I thought. Broadband was due on Aug 23, then August 31 and now October, some­time. It left me with very lim­ited time to con­nect to the inter­net and keep­ing the work site tick­ing over was the pri­or­ity. I’m back in England till either Sky or BT real­ise they can con­nect the house to the inter­net after all.

Over on AoB Blog, the new HTML5 theme is live. It inten­tion­ally looks like the old theme, but there are some obvi­ous changes made. The cus­tom­isa­tion of SlideDeck was helped greatly by this page on CSS select­ors from NetTuts and X:nth-child(n). It’s not sex­ily data­base driven, but it does the job. The theme was built from H5, a tem­plate from Digging into WordPress.

It’s been done a dif­fer­ent way to usual, as I prefer to exper­i­ment with new themes here first. It’s less of a prob­lem if some­thing goes hor­rific­ally wrong here. But for vari­ous reas­ons that’s no been pos­sible. I’m now look­ing ser­i­ously at rework­ing the theme for Then Dig, as that site has a few flaws. Something I’d like to add to Then Dig is a ver­sion of the Photo Search that I’ve set up at AoB Blog.

I also have another pro­ject I’d like to kick out of the door before Christmas, so blog­ging here will prob­ably be a little light for a while.

Oh, and see­ing it’s the anniversary of the Voyager launch I’ve updated the post I wrote on space archae­ology in 2006.

Death and belonging

Walking in Merthyr Vale

This is another post that’s being pulled from the draft folder. The first draft was writ­ten a couple of years ago. My grand­father had just died and on the day after the funeral some­thing popped up in my RSS reader. It was a smug and rather vicious piece by a bishop about how athe­ism had noth­ing to offer at funer­als. He went one with some rel­ish ima­gin­ing what athe­ists would say to griev­ing fam­il­ies. I think the idea was to con­trast it with the caring, con­sol­ing approach of Christianity. Instead it just read as an intol­er­ant rant and prob­ably revealed far too much of his own sup­pressed desires of what he’d want to say at a funeral.

My reply never went up. I wanted to write some­thing that was the oppos­ite. Not a piece that said Christianity was a lie and offered noth­ing of value for the griev­ers. Whether or not it’s true it’s not some­thing you’d want to rub in the face of a fam­ily that’s lost someone. So I wanted to write some­thing pos­it­ive. After writ­ing it I had no anger for the bishop, only pity. Respect for the feel­ings of another human being isn’t a uniquely athe­ist pos­i­tion. Nearly all the Christians I know share the same feel­ings. The venom of the ori­ginal post sug­ges­ted he’d lost some con­nec­tion to human­ity and his rage was more about his own prob­lems. Publicly nam­ing him and berat­ing him wasn’t going to help.

It stayed unpub­lished because it seems a com­mon fea­ture for someone with big­oted views to claim they’re “Christian” views rather than per­sonal views. Reductio ad absurdum the Westboro Baptist Church claim their pick­et­ing of funer­als is not a demon­stra­tion of the hate at the core of their beliefs but a neces­sity of Christian val­ues. The fact that many Christians vehe­mently dis­agree shows that the Phelps clan are at best self-deluded. Treating big­ots as spokes­men for Christians does no one any favours.

But if you strip away the spite and hate, the bishop raised an inter­est­ing ques­tion. If there is no eternal reward what hope is there for the future? For someone raised in a reli­gious tra­di­tion it’s a reas­on­able ques­tion. Just before Christmas my grand­mother became ser­i­ously ill. Recent events mean I’ve taken this out of the drafts folder and had a go at re-writing it.  Continue read­ing