Category Archives: Planning

Appearance of the Blog

If you’ve looked at this blog recently, you’ve noticed that there have been some changes in appearance (and maybe you’ve noticed changes in performance).  The sponsor of the ThinkerToThinker blog system, Prodos [that’s a guy’s name, for those outside the Objectivist world, and a powerful force of benevolence] decided some time ago to update the blog engine used on this site.  His efforts have now come to fruition, though not without some growing pains.  One of the more noticeable, though really minor, effects has been the loss of the appearance that Thought Laboratory was previously using.  This appearance, or “theme” is currently the default for the Prodos system.  In time, Prodos has promised that several dozen new themes will be available from which we authors can choose, and when I see something I like better than this default, I’ll change this appearance.

Many of the other changes, like moving to a new – faster – server have been well worth the frustrations.  He has also added the ability to put media within the blog entries.  However, given the nature of the content on Thought Laboratory, I doubt I will be making much use of that ability.

In case you are browsing this, Prodos, the first set of themes you’ve added are somewhat faulty.  If you have a full page of posts, about two or three screens down you will see that the border on the left edge of the posts moves inside the post text.  Looks rather awful.  This default theme doesn’t suffer from this problem.

I will take this opportunity to thank Prodos for all of the effort (and rampant enthusiasm) that he has put into the ThinkerToThinker network.  Although there are many places I could have chosen to host my blog, there is no other place where I can be in the company of so many other like-minded individuals.

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Coming out of the Block

I fall into the trap of wanting to post either fully-considered matters on this blog, or waiting until something truly compelling occurs to me. In this I forget my original intent for this space, which was to enable me to frequently record in writing my current ruminations, to enable the development of more carefully considered ideas – not only to record them at completion.

Part of the reason for the low activity at this blog recently has been the momentous political and economic changes that are occurring around us. Paradoxically, I’ve been unable to bring myself to write about these, for two main reasons. First, the sudden lunge toward a nationalized economy in response to the collapse of the credit market brings obvious outrage. I had nothing new to add to the disgust which others have expressed – adding my own expression of anger and dismay seemed redundant (particularly while wallowing in the trap described in my opening paragraph). The presidential election – where we faced a choice between two horrendous alternatives – was similarly lacking in ability to inspire novel thoughts. Secondly, concentrating on either of these developments leads me to an emotion of fear and despair. Although the direct effects on my life have so far been minimal, I see all too well the danger of higher taxes (whether through “tax increases” or indirectly through inflation or the denial of credit), as well as the danger of a widespread economic collapse. And so I continue to merely “monitor” the news, without inundating myself with the details, and turn elsewhere to keep intellectually active.

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A comment about comments

There has been a dramatic increase in spam comments being posted to this blog – typically I’m getting 70 or so every month making it past whatever filter has been deployed by the blog’s host. In the past these have been easily dealt with – the content of the spam was obvious, and I could whip through the comments and typically delete all of them.

However, more recently the attacks have become more wily and sophisticated. The spam contains complete sentences, sometimes seeming to agree with a point from one of my posts. Only the broken English and finally the address reported for the commenter indicate that these comments are not legitimate, and I can still easily identify and delete them.

Now it is true that I have maybe 4 readers of this blog – including my wife – and in the three years this blog has been here I’ve gotten about 3 comments that were worth posting. So I could just say no comments allowed, and have those who want to comment just call me – or better yet, walk down the hall and see me – to register their opinions. But there’s an outside chance that someone I don’t actually know may land here and be interested enough to want to start a discussion, so I would prefer to keep comments open.

It is also true that other blog sites might have better systems, with better filters. Yes, that may be true, but they also push advertising in the reader’s face, and not all of it (more likely any of it) would I find joy in supporting. Here there is virtually no advertising, and the host is highly trusted to only insert links which I enthusiastically support. I could complain to the host about the system, but since he offers it for free, and does so for the best of all intentions, I can’t bring myself to whine about his service.

Ok – the point of this story

If you are going to post a comment, please follow these rules.

  1. If you do know me personally, drop me an email elsewhere telling me you’ve posted a comment (I do want your comment here so I can post it and refer to it in the future. If for some reason you don’t want your comment posted publicly, just say so in the comment).
  2. Start the comment itself with your full name, then a -:-, and the title of the post your commenting on. That should be unique enough that the spam jackals won’t be copying it soon.
  3. If you make a grammatical or spelling error, it is very likely I’lldelete your comment. It amazes me that the spam jackalshaven’tfigured this out, but there has almost never been a spam email or comment that I’ve read that didn’t contain an error.

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Categorization of Posts

I’ve just spent the past hour going through all of the posts and mapping them to appropriate Categories. In emphasizing that this space should not be read as a Blog, but as a collection of ideas, I recommend making use of the Category list found on the lower right side of this page, if you are not merely bringing yourself up to date on my latest additions to Thought Laboratory.

I also completed (I hope) removing those dang A-hat characters that magically appeared in some of the older posts. If you find any remaining, please post a comment so I can remove them.

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Note on “Parts”

The reader may notice that I have become rather disorganized in the order in which I am creating and expanding topics. This is in line with the nature of my desire for the use of this “blog” (a term I dislike using to describe this space). Thought Laboratory is meant to be primarily a storage location for my ideas. The fact that others can read and comment on these ideas is merely a bonus (one that I am guessing is not very often being exercised).

When I mark a topic as “Part I” etc, this is an indication to myself that the topic is incomplete. In some cases, I merely ran out of time or energy to complete an existing thought. In other cases, I recognize the topic as incompletely formed, and yet I have not yet thought through the additional components of the topic that I wish to visit. The patient reader may or may not find additional parts forthcoming.

One general comment, which I might try to add to the banner of the site: Unlike “blogs” (ugh), this collection is not meant to be read in any particular order, nor is the content meant to be “timely”, but quite the opposite – “timeless”. The organization of the material itself is indeed an example of my most recent post on the problem of organizing information (Quest for a Thinking Assistant: Part I). This archive is clearly not the best solution, but at least allows a persistent storage location for my thoughts as they occur.

I’ll try to examine the features of this environment (e.g. keywords and categories) to see if these can be of use in at least coarsely structuring the material for the reader.

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Annoying Â’s

For those of you wondering what the heck the deal is with the Â’s littering all of my posts since last June, I’ll tell you that I have no idea what has happened. Certainly they weren’t there as of the end of 2006, and have suddenly appeared. I’m going to go through and try to eliminate all of them, but this is going to take some time.

This bothers me somewhat, as it suggests some instability or corruption of the data on this blog. I’ll be in contact with the host, and see if he’s aware of any cause for this problem.

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Before Continuing…

I think thismay a good point to remind the reader of the purpose of this Blog, particularly since I have attracted some traffic other than my close friends and acquaintences. I use these pages to explore my thoughts on a variety of subjects. Up to this point, this has consisted mostly of commentary on other reading, or of history. In a sense, this replaces a journal I have kept for several years – the advantage here is the ease of typing over writing, and the ubiquitous availability.

What this body of material does not represent – necessarily – are finalized conclusions stated in a publication format. Most of what I have written here I have not seen a need to correct, but as these posts are written with very little editing, some of the discussion is poorly framed or otherwise awkward. The eventual goal is to later review the posts and extract material to form essays on particular topics of interest.

As I move into the next phase of posts, several of whichIhope will focus on the philosophy of Mathematics,I will include some original content, and I want to clearly indicate these caveats:

  • The ideas presented will be a product of my own thinking, but mixed with, and at times dependent upon, the thoughts and writings of others. I do not promise to fully cite each reference I am using, though some attempt to indicate the source of major ideas (where I remember the source) will be made.
  • When I contradict myself (in the process of developing this body of thought, this may be inevitable), I will call out the contradiction. If I do not, and you the reader find a contradiction, I will appreciate a comment to that effect.
  • I will nominally try to present this material in a logical sequence, although most likely mixed with other topics; however it is very likely that in the first attempt the presentation will not be linear.

Ok, with that out of the way, lets get on with the fun.

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Commenting on a Page Solved

As you can see, there is more than one “template” through which the blog can be displayed (about 30 to choose from). I had a hunch that the “features” available might vary by template, and I was right. This is the least unattractive (to my eye) of the formats that allow commenting on pages.

If you go to any of the pages, you should now see an area at the bottom of the page in which to write your comment. All comments are moderated, meaning that I have to read and approve them before they appear on the site, so don’t be concerned when your comments do not appear immediately.

I’m going to test this with Bob’s emailed comments on the December 30th meeting later tonight or tomorrow.

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