WordPress questions

I think it's time to give up on Livejournal and host my blog on my own server. I imagine I'll still feed RSS into this account, but the ads that LJ's Russian Masters are apparently subjecting my readers to before they can post comments hurt me deep inside.

Anyway, WordPress seems to be what the kids are using today, so I've installed that and I'm playing around with it.


  • Does "livejournal-importer-0.3" actually work? It would appear not to. So what's the second-easiest way? Convert my LJ to an RSS feed and stuff that in? Or hack it out in the SQL database directly?
  • What is the WordPress theme that most closely resembles the theme of this here LJ? I was going to just add some CSS to the default "twentyten" theme, but it sets colors in no less than 83 places, which is just ridiculous. (When I edit "style.css" am I editing a generated file? Or did someone actually produce that monstrosity by hand?)

  • What is the done thing for commenting and spam avoidance? Should I just install whatever-plugin and force people to have Facebook accounts to comment? What are the sensible choices here?

  • Any WP-related security gotchas I should know about?

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today's TSA comedy

Soldiers armed with deadly nail clippers:

A few minutes later, a guy empties his pockets and has a pair of nail clippers. Nail clippers. TSA informs the Soldier that they’re going to confiscate his nail clippers. The conversation went something like this:

TSA Guy: You can’t take those on the plane.

Soldier: What? I’ve had them since we left country.

TSA Guy: You’re not suppose to have them.

Soldier: Why?

TSA Guy: They can be used as a weapon.

Soldier: [touches butt stock of the rifle] But this actually is a weapon. And I’m allowed to take it on.

TSA Guy: Yeah but you can’t use it to take over the plane. You don’t have bullets.

Soldier: And I can take over the plane with nail clippers?

TSA Guy: [awkward silence]

This might be a good time to remind everyone that approximately 233 people re-boarded that plane with assault rifles, pistols, and machine guns – but nothing that could have been used as a weapon.

Schneier has a comprehensive round-up of recent absurdities.

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Thinking like an octopus

Thinking like an octopus

Octopuses have large nervous systems, centered around relatively large brains. But more than half of their 500 million neurons are found in the arms themselves, Godfrey-Smith said. This raises the question of whether the arms have something like minds of their own. Though the question is controversial, there is some observational evidence indicating that it could be so, he said. When an octopus is in an unfamiliar tank with food in the middle, some arms seem to crowd into the corner seeking safety while others seem to pull the animal toward the food, Godfrey-Smith explained, as if the creature is literally of two minds about the situation.

There may be other explanations for the observations. But whatever the answer, it seems likely that octopus intelligence is quite different from that of humans and, as researchers ponder the broader meaning of intelligence, may be as different as is likely to be encountered, short of finding it on other planets.

That’s because other creatures that are believed intelligent — such as dolphins, chimpanzees, some birds, elephants — are relatively closely related to humans. They’re all on the vertebrate branch of the tree of life, so there’s a chance the intelligence shares at least some characteristics. Octopuses, however, are invertebrates. Our last common ancestor reaches back to the dim depths of time, 500 million to 600 million years ago. That means octopus intelligence likely evolved entirely separately and could be very different from that of vertebrates.