Stuff has been happening, and I have been Blogor absentibus, for which I apologise. I will soon be doing an introduction to argument series which will begin when I can take material I used in teaching and format it.

I am now an unemployed philosopher. It seems this is not a terribly uncommon state of being. So I have been trying to catch up on a few things and find a way to avoid sleeping in gutters. I can’t go back to robbing elderly ladies, since they can now run faster than I can. Please bear with me.

Rule number 1 when doing a large scale edit to a blog: turn off all automatic notifications.

If you got a request to join Gravatar just now, or you saw a slew of notifications of old posts on Twitter or Facebook, my bad. I’m importing all the old posts from the previous incarnation of Evolving Thoughts to this custom hosting site.

I didn’t realise that the widgets and plugins I have set up would treat each imported post and comment as a new one. So I just spammed the known universe. I shall now go and bury my very red face in my pillow and sob uncontrollably for a while.

On the positive side, I now have about three times as many posts and comments as I used to. Maybe. I don’t have the backbone to go check right now…

I hate moving, so the Universe has kindly arranged that I must do it around once per year. Despite having pared my possessions down to a begging bowl, loin cloth, and several thousand books, it is still a royal pain. But the worst aspect of it is that you have to redirect your physical mail. This leads me to Another Modest Solution.

These days, physical mail is addressed, sorted and often delivered to the local post office by computer. So why can’t I have, like I have a general domain name for my email which costs me $30 for three years, a personal virtual address? I call it the PAD (personal address). It would work like this:

Mail would be sent to “PAD John S. Wilkins”, or some other unique identifier, a bit like a Post Office Box, but not localised. The Post Department in the relevant country (Australia Post in my country) would read this, and assign the current physical address on the fly. If I move, within Australia or overseas, any mail sent to my PAD would be immediately redirected to the new locale.

The Post Department would get a fee for this, and would no doubt save on redirected mail costs from defunct addresses.

All I ask is that if you use any of these (copyrighted, all rights reserved) ideas, I get 0.01% of all gross fees.

Anyone got smart ideas here? I want to convert my whole blog into a formattable document, including comments, with a view to doing a book format (The Very Best of Evolving Thoughts). I want to be able to edit it, and put it through InDesign, and I want to do the whole thing in one go.

I’ve tried importing WordPress’ XML files, but nothing works. I’ve tried finding an export plugin, but nothing exists (though many have asked for it on the forums). I can export individual posts to InDesign, but that means I can’t convert the resulting markup to Word or Pages.

Any ideas, oh wonderful crowd of readers? Anyone want to write a WRX to RTF filter?

From Barry Ritholz’s blog

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data, ability to repeat discredited memes, and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Also, be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor even implied. Any irrelevancies you can mention will also be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

I withdraw any nasty comments I might ever have made about Americans and Irony.

Also see this post of his on why torture is not good for gathering information. We have come so far that people have to use an intelligence success based on the hard work of the old sort and use it to try to support the use of torture? There is only one reason for torture: to torture.

Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers. [Blanche DuBois, in Streetcar Named Desire 1951]

I am going to do something I very rarely do: boost a commercial product. In the running of this blog I incur a number of recurring costs (NB: see “Donate” button or menu item, hint, hint) to do with various services, subscriptions and plugins. One of the most critical is the spam filter, Akismet. I used them at the site, and when I set up this self-hosted server edition, I transferred it. I must have clicked on something because about a week ago I got an email saying that I had been charged money for the service.

I was concerned, since the Paypal receipt didn’t say what it was, but I tracked it down and found that it was for Akismet. But their site said that private users were given a free subscription. I contacted them and they informed me I had set up a paid account. Oh well, I thought, they are doing a great job, so I don’t begrudge them the $5 a month, and it’s my responsibility for having not read the destructions.

But they, off their own bat, not only set my account to free, they refunded me the money. Now that is corporate citizenry. If you use their service and are in anyway income generating (as ET is not) I urge you to cheerfully pay them the fee. They are making blogging safe for commenters and are a great company and service.

There. I promise not to promote any further commercial products until Pepsi offer me gobs of money.