WordPress comment spam

In the past few days I’ve been inundated with comment spam. I suppose the spammers respond when an inactive blogger starts posting again. So I changed my WordPress settings to close comments automatically on postings older than 28 days (most of the spams were comments on old postings, not the recent ones). Sadly that seems to have stopped it displaying the old, approved comments as well! They are still there in the database but they don’t display unless I re-open the posts for comments. I guess this is going to require some hacking of my theme, and I haven’t time, so it will languish on the to-do list for now.

I’m back

I blog only from a position of stability. I do admire those who can document their transitions in real time, but uncertainty leaves me tongue tied. So I’ve been a bit quiet of late.

And this week a new chapter opens. I have an employer again! It’s only part time (I hasten to add in case any of my publishing clients are reading this). Details are on my software engineering CV page.

The job seems to be a very good fit. I know the people—I worked with them before, back when we were all at ARM—and I like them; I can see why they need me, and how I can make a worthwhile contribution to what they are doing; and it looks as though it is going to be fun. I think I’ve made the right move.

The site is the blog; the blog is the site

This website had fallen into disrepair. All the action (such as there was) was going on elsewhere.

This week I have taken a deep breath, installed WordPress, learned how to customize it (it wasn’t nearly as hard as I’d expected), imported everything from my old blog, and created new (back-dated) pages and postings as homes for all the odd pages and other bits of material I had elsewhere.

It will take a bit of getting used to, but I think I like this. It seems more in tune with reality. Everything you write is out of date as soon as it’s published. So why not admit it? Put a date on it, and let it recede into the past. The perfect definitive ‘finished’ site is never going to happen.

Splendid day

Had a lovely ride through woods & bridleways near Chichester, thoroughly enjoyed despite (or even because of?) pony taking off with me across a ploughed field. Updated Facebook while waiting for train at very rural station, watching lovely effects of sun & wind. Couldn’t be better, really 🙂

Andrew met me at Victoria; to the East End to see the Cable Street mural (imagine a Stanley Spencer Cookham painting, but set in London and featuring politics rather than religion); early Karahi at Mirch Masala in the Commercial Road (light and fantastic); brisk trundle through the city, admiring the Gherkin, the Shard and St Botolph-without-Aldgate, to the Barbican; and then the best bit: Nigel Kennedy doing his brand new Four Elements/Four Seasons rewrite – warm, rich, jovial and quite mesmerising. And then we managed to catch the 23:15 from King’s Cross! Not good for much today beyond dozing on the sofa, mind.

Reasons to be cheerful in midwinter

  • Oranges are in season.
  • I am reunited with certain favourite winter clothes.
  • Underwear won’t show, so it doesn’t need to be chosen with any care.
  • Cats choose to spend more time indoors.
  • I wake with Andrew (not hours earlier).
  • If the garden is tidied, it stays tidy—weeds don’t grow back.

There must be more.

Electoral reform – can we do something in Cambridge?

This is the moment electoral reformers have been waiting for—a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I feel inclined to do something active. I’d have been in London yesterday outside the Lib Dem meeting, shouting, if I hadn’t had a work commitment. I know that a lot of people here in Cambridge feel as I do on the electoral reform question. Can we get ourselves together and do something locally, in the way of a public meeting, rally or demonstration?

I think it is important to remind the Lib Dems that a lot of their support came from anti-Tory tactical voters who will be outraged if they sacrifice this chance in order to make a deal. The long-term health of the country will be best served by their insisting on a referendum now.

For a statement of the main arguments for PR as I see them, see a piece I wrote some time ago in a quieter moment.

Déjà vu

These are notes for what might become an essay one day. It’s a big theme and I’m not sure I will ever write it up properly. The elements are:

  • Chapter 12 of Why Life Speeds Up As You Get Older: ‘In oval mirrors we drive around’: on experiencing a sense of déjà vu;
  • My own experiences of revisiting, after an interval of three(?) years, the half-remembered city of Lecce (‘I went in there—I’m sure I did—and there’s something to see in there, something quite grand, I think …’);
  • A visual illusion—an infinite regression—caused by two not-quite-parallel mirrors (see photo), which in turn reminded me (déjà vu!) of …
  • The downstairs front room in my grandmother’s house, long ago: the ‘shop’, as it was still called, though it hadn’t really been one for years—where there was just such an arrangement of mirrors, endlessly delightful to small children, and presumably also, though in a quieter way, to the ladies of Abergavenny in former days as the fit of their tailored costumes was altered (Granma with a mouthful of pins, measuring, tugging, adjusting with a confident hand—as she still did for us as children, though I never saw her with her paying customers).

Venice Biennale 2009 – first impressions

[Some jottings from my notebook]

 

Lots of site-specific work (it’s a meme! —first saw it with that American guy a few shows ago—v powerful piece about slavery etc with the weird black Murano glass chandeliers). Examples this year: Giardini; the Venetian blinds in the Korean pavilion; giveaway postcards of Marghera in the Corderia.

Stuffed cats so far: German, Russian.
Stuffed dogs: Nordic; USA (several, but not, I think, real ones).

Several works obviously feminine in style (use of textiles, domestic interiors). Amused to find that we were nearly always guessing the gender of the artist correctly (yes, discovered later that the Korean one was a woman, too).

Scandinavian gay dead writer most impressive so far, but it was a pity they had to include an explanation. Other half of that show (the Danish/Nordic pavilion) is v good too (and feminine, by way of contrast, and also bleak).

Russian pavilion is a ghost train! The automatic artist drawing circles is genuinely creepy. French one is a black prison with black flags inside. Lots of bleak stuff about—recession?

Spanish paintings a bit like our own Gail de Cordova. Nice chairs in there too (with bark on!).

Jef Geys (Belgium)—nice counterpoint to the Simon Baron-Cohen autism/Aspergers book (which I was reading at the time). Collection/classification is a pervasive theme (influence of Damien Hirst).

Yoko Ono quote found in the bookshop: the glass is not half empty. It is 100% full, half with water and half with air. Yes!

In between the good stuff there is a lot of sixth-form (puerile) art. Too much text. Using text in visual art is hard (see Keith Tyson or Tracey Emin for successful use). A beginners’ book on drawing and painting that I read years ago recommended always rendering text illegible if it occurs in the scene, otherwise it draws the eye and distorts the viewer’s response to the composition. Like all rules, this is to be broken, but only by those who know what they’re doing.

More to follow, and photos of the art, when I get round to it. See Biennale website meanwhile.