The place will be a mess for a while

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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

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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
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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
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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