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Cannibalism and Slavery

Cannibalism and Slavery: An Analysis of Equiano, Swift, and Rousseau. Question-and-answer format. Essay by Richard X. Thripp.
2008-02-03 (Updated 2008-07-17) —
PDF version (90KB).

Question One: Who is Olaudah Equiano’s narrative, Travels, directed toward, and what point of view does the author use?
Travels is directed not only toward the slave-holders who claim to be Christians, but also the people who rely on goods produced by slaves, such as consumers of sugared tea in eighteenth-century England. It is shown that “some six to seven million slaves were transported to work on sugar plantations in the West Indies” (Fiero 616), so sugar alone was a source of much suffering. When Equiano writes, “O, ye nominal Christians! Might not an African ask you, Learned you this from your God who says unto you, Do unto all men as you would men should do unto you?” (619), he is calling out the hypocrisy in believing in a merciful, just god who gives countenance to all, except slaves. The account is written from a riveting first-person perspective, with the reflections following Equiano’s thoughts: “I no longer doubted of my fate; and quite overpowered with horror and anguish, I fell motionless on the deck and fainted,” he vividly recalls upon seeing the slaves chained together wearing faces of “dejection and sorrow” (618). As “he mastered the English language” (616) and writes that the slave ship’s crew spoke a tongue that “was very different from any I had ever heard” (618), we can deduce that Equiano’s autobiography is not for the people of his original Benin tribe.

Question Two: Which conditions described by Equiano are most contrary to the ideals of the philosophes?
People being stolen away, flogged, and forced to live at the bottom of a filthy ship for the long journey to slavery—this is not at all in accord with the motto of the philosophies: “wipe out all evils” (Fiero 606). Equiano recalls, the ship is “so crowded that each had scarcely room to turn himself”; the fledgling slaves are “almost suffocated” (618). Even the sheep and cattle of the day were treated better! Yet our noble Thomas Jefferson almost sanctions such depravity, seeing the blacks as being “inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind,” the inferiority being “a powerful obstacle to the emancipation of these people” (620). It is always necessary to claim slaves to be sub-human—it is merely the device that justifies the crimes being committed. There is no other way to support the ugliness of slavery, while in tandem, holding pretty ideals such as Locke’s statement that humans should “be equal one amongst another without subordination or subjection” (602), or Jefferson’s declaration that “all men are created equal” with the “unalienable rights” of life and liberty (604). Because slavery was such a benefit in the absence of mechanical automation, it persisted, despite contradicting enlightened thinking.

Question Three: What is the real thesis of Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal”?
Anything can sound reasonable, but we cannot look just for our gain; we must also be ethical. Even Sunday-morning Christians consider killing and eating babies to be morally objectionable. What Swift really supports is not cannibalism, but instead reforms to combat poverty in Ireland, such as “taxing our absentees at five shillings a pound,” introducing “prudence and temperance,” and using “what is of our own growth and manufacture,” as exclusively as is reasonable (Fiero 623). “A Modest Proposal” is profoundly satirical writing, so these ideas are presented as what cannot be spoken of, because there is no effort implement them. As Swift sadly concludes, “let no man talk to me of these and the like expedients, ‘till he hath at least some glympse of hope, that there will ever be some hearty and sincere attempt to put them into practice” [not included in the Fiero excerpt]. The author is ingenious in his use of “shock value,” as the last paragraphs—the thesis for reform—are far more influential than they would be in an ordinary essay.

Question Four: What is the character of the narrator in “A Modest Proposal”?
“A young healthy child” is a “wholesome food” (Fiero 622); the narrator does not see the evil in killing and eating children, unlike the audience and author. Swift satirically derides his own beliefs toward the end: “let no man talk to me of other expedients,” such as “learning to love our Country,” “quitting our animosities and factions” (Catholics versus Protestants), and “being a little cautious not to sell our country and conscience for nothing” (623). The narrator dislikes these noble proposals, instead finding his or her idea of infanticide to be the way: it will “greatly lessen the number of Papists” (Roman Catholics), provide “eight shillings sterling per annum” yearly to “the constant breeders” (622), and be “a great inducement to marriage” (623) while providing a new delicacy for wealthy landlords, improving the quality of life for the poor, and ridding them of their burdensome progeny. The separation between the author and narrator is much more solid than in “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas,” as Swift’s “profoundly moralizing body of literature” (621) is wholly separate from the outlandish ideas that seem to be pushed seriously in “A Modest Proposal.”

Question Five: When does the reader discover Swift’s irony?
While “A Modest Proposal” is in line with works of its day, such as The Satires by Juvenal, modern readers, unfamiliar with the style of writing, are totally shocked upon reading the statement, “a young healthy child is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled” (Fiero 622). While I discovered the irony upon reading that sentence (I perused Fiero’s lead-in first), many may continue to think the piece is serious, perhaps even to the end where Swift makes his real proposal, which is of “parsimony, prudence, and temperance” (623). In fact, it is a safe assumption, that because Swift sustains the deadpan satire for so long, a good portion of his readers, several paragraphs in, will be convinced of his conviction. Hopefully, the statement, “a child will make two dishes at an entertainment for friends” (622) is so laughable that the irony becomes obvious.

Question Six: What are the reasons for human corruption, according to Jean-Jacques Rousseau in Discourse on the Origin of Inequality among Men? How does he want us to live?
Rousseau believes that property, surplus, and collaboration are all the seeds of corruption. His philosophy: “As long as men . . . applied themselves only to work that one person could accomplish alone and to arts that did not require the collaboration of several hands, they lived as free, healthy, good and happy men” (Fiero 637). This is not at all the case in the twenty-first century United States, as we rely on hundreds of others at our workplaces, and for essentials such as food, water, power, and computer networking. Rousseau laments, “how much misery and horror the human race would have been spared if someone had pulled up the stakes,” disputing “the first man who, having enclosed a piece of land, though of saying ‘This is mine’” (636). As the QUANTA class has been well taught by Dr. Michael Flota, as soon as it was “found to be useful for one man to have provisions enough for two, equality disappeared, property was introduced . . . [and] slavery and misery were soon seen to germinate and flourish” (637)—this is the birth of surplus. We are corrupted by mechanization and the privatization of property to compete viciously with our fellow people, but in the primitive days of hunting and gathering, where the Earth had no owner, we had a more perfect society, despite its perceived obsolescence.

Work Cited

Fiero, Gloria K. The Humanistic Tradition Volume II. 5th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2006.

Freedom vs. Human Nature

Freedom vs. Human Nature: The Battle of Hobbes, Locke, Jefferson, and Smith. Question-and-answer format. Essay by Richard X. Thripp.
2008-02-02 —
PDF version (90KB).

Question One: How do Thomas Hobbes and John Locke differ in their ideas about human nature?
Hobbes believes that people must be united under the ironclad rule of a mortal god, be it a lone monarch or ruling assembly, to which we in unison say, “I authorize and give up my right of governing myself” (Fiero 601), that being the birth of a commonwealth. In his undeniable pessimism, Hobbes announces that our “natural passions” are “partiality, pride, [and] revenge,” so much so that the “laws of nature,” “justice, equity, modesty, [and] mercy” can only be maintained as long as we are constantly in “terror of some power to cause them to be observed” (600), which must be a mortal god, acting in concert with the immortal god, to enforce them at the threat of the sword. In contrast, Locke thinks of humans as blank slates. Hobbes’ “natural passions” only come about through our interactions with the world. Like with Hobbes, we all have the right to be “free, equal, and independent” (602), but we can only be removed from our property and subjugated to another if we consent. To “join and unite into a community” with stricter rules is fine, so long as “the majority have a right to act and conclude the rest” (602), as this does not harm the freedom of those who elect not to join. Contrary to Hobbes, if the rulers make laws for their benefit at the expense of the people, there is tyranny, and the people are entirely right to revolt. Simply, in the land of Hobbes, the people are the slaves of the rulers, but in Locke’s world, the rulers are the slaves of the people, hence the term, “public servant.”

Question Two: What ideas did Thomas Jefferson borrow from John Locke to write The Declaration of Independence?
Jefferson’s idea that “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are “unalienable rights” (Fiero 604) is harmonious with Locke’s statement that we are, by default, “all free, equal, and independent,” though we may choose to give up freedoms for “comfortable, safe, and peaceable living” (602), always at our option. In tyranny, we must throw off the shackles of our oppressors, even if it requires a forceful and bloody revolution—this both Locke and Jefferson agree on. In Locke’s powerful words, “tyranny is the exercise of power beyond right, which nobody can have a right to,” and the people, “acting without authority,” may oppose such so-called magistrates just as they would a foreign invader (603). Jefferson is similar, stating that when the rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” are alienated by a government, “it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it,” replacing it with a fair system (604).

Question Three: How is this excerpt from The Wealth of Nations [abridged title for An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations] related to the excerpt from the same work in The Humanistic Tradition Volume II (Fiero 605)?

. . . every individual necessarily labors to render the annual revenue of the society as great as he can. He generally, indeed, neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. Nor is it always the worse for the society that it was no part of it. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good.

In An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, Smith writes that “we expect our dinner” not from “the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker,” but because of “their regard to their own interest” (Fiero 605). There is no charity in the hearts of our merchants, nor any loyalty in the shrewdness of our customers, yet everything is peachy because the invisible hand takes care of it all—business owners cut costs, raise quality, and lower prices, not to help consumers, but to trump their competitors and make more money for themselves. In Fiero’s excerpts, the “invisible hand” is not named as such, but the whole page is dedicated to it, with Smith stating that when bartering, we must “never talk to [the merchant] of our own necessities, but of their advantages,” and that “the monopolizing spirit of merchants and manufacturers” must not be legitimized by the government, as it is “directly opposed to [the interest] of the great body of the people” (605). The idea of a wall of separation between business and state, where the “invisible hand” thrives in industries free of governmental regulation, is sanctified in Smith’s passage in this question: the laborer “intends only his own gain,” but in doing so is “led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention,” and that end is promoting the public interest and society at large, whether the catalyst is merchants lowering prices, employees working harder for promotions, or home-owners operating yard sales to rid themselves of their possessions.

Question Four: How is the “Christian allegory” (Block 15-20) related to the assumptions of Thomas Hobbes, Thomas Jefferson, John Locke, and Adam Smith?
Hobbes, Jefferson, Locke, and Smith, despite their unique and differing ideas, all believe that we can better ourselves and build a wondrous society with effort. When looking for the cause of our short-comings, they look for individuals, not systemic blame, nor “original sin,” as in Christianity. Hobbes sees the bad apples who harbor revenge and do not value the liberty of others. Jefferson and Locke know that a government is needed, but that the magistrates are not godly and can be disputed, when they become corrupt or self-serving, defying our rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” (Fiero 604). Smith sees that the individual employees and business-owners, in their untiring efforts to benefit themselves and live securely, can “be of the greatest value” in contributing to society as a whole. They all were undoubtedly influenced by the Christian allegory: we are lost but can find ourselves through hard work, self-discipline, and god, or by extension, when you become fat, the path to morality is “greater personal discipline,” and when the economy fails, it is because “people fell into temptation and prosperity disappeared” (Block 16). However, the Age of Enlightenment is more refined: we are not hopeless, we can grow and better ourselves to build a heaven-like community on Earth; “the promise of reason [is] the realization of an enlightened social order” (Fiero 599), not an omnipotent God who controls us and everything. Halley’s comet is not God’s wrath, fate does not rule our actions, and the individual can make waves across society. These are the principles of reason’s age and philosophers, who know logic, secular thinking, and are optimistic about humankind.

Works Cited

Block, Fred L. The Vampire State. New York: The New Press, 1996.
Fiero, Gloria K. The Humanistic Tradition Volume II. 5th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2006.

Photo: Spores of the Sun

Spores of the Sun — a dandelion clock against the blinding sun

Took this by positioning the dandelion clock right in front of the sun, but I hurt my eyes a bit from the light. They’re fine, but it reminded me to be more careful about photos like this. This was going to be a sequel to Two of Us Against the World, but I decided to focus on the dandelion blocking the sun, as it’s so much brighter. Had to under-expose manually, because the camera didn’t want the sky to be black. This is my finest black-and-white photo since Raindrops. :smile:

[sniplet 4×6-lustre]

Canon Rebel XTi, EF 50mm 1:1.4, 1/2000, F16, 50mm, ISO100, 2008-01-25T15:27:19-05, 20080125-202719rxt

Download the high-res JPEG or download the source image.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Credit me as Richard X. Thripp and link here.

School So Far

I was just telling my friend Marianne, over at her deviantART journal, about what I’m up to at school, so I’m posting it here too:

I’m doing great, though it’s a lot of work this semester. Here are the courses I’m taking (6 this time!). I’m in a learning community that covers three courses, continuing from last semester, which is fun despite the high demands. I’m doing Trigonometry and Internet Research (an easy online course), plus my favorite, Photography. I got my film camera today and had it for the class; they let out early though so I’m writing this from the school computers. I know most of the concepts from digital work, except everything relating to film. :silly:

Trigonometry is the hardest because math takes the most effort for me… need to study this weekend.

Speaking of the photography class: I got my camera, a Canon EOS Elan IIe, just today, and was ready in time with 72 exposures of black-and-white film (Kodak Tri-X 400) and the special battery. Today’s weekly class covered a lot of the basics of shutter speed, aperture, focal length, film speed, etc. which I already know, though everything about film was new to me. We learned how to put the film on a spool, and an overview of using developer, stopping, fixing, and washing (we’ll get to do it ourselves next week). I took a photo of two dandelion clocks against the bright sun, like Two of Us Against the World, but with a lot more contrast. Then I took it with my digital camera, and found that I had to go quite below what the light meter indicated, so I likely over-exposed three pieces of film… I was dumb and forgot about the danger of the sun, but stopped immediately when my eye hurt a bit… didn’t damage my vision, fortunately. Let this be a lesson to all of you! If you’re going to have the bright sun in the viewfinder, do it quickly and without looking, or if you must look, get a point-and-shoot and use the LCD screen, so that you don’t hurt your eyes. If the sun is below the horizon, there is little danger, but otherwise, take caution as normal. I got a really great photo though; will be adding it tomorrow. It’s title will be Two of Us Against the Sun Spores of the Sun.

That’s all for now! Glad to see I’ve gotten fifty visitors in the past day; people must be liking my photos and finding my writings informative. :cool:

Simple Advice on AA Chargers & Batteries

Rechargeable AA batteries and chargers — Photo by Richard X. Thripp

Normal alkaline AAs are fine for the casual shooter, but in the long run, you’ll save money with rechargeables. Duracell and Energizer are good, but my favorite is Tenergy (sold at, which are cheaper and have worked well for me. Get a charger that is “smart,” in that it doesn’t stop just on a timer. I like the Duracell CEF90NC 30 Minute Charger, though I have an older version. Mine doesn’t take long (one hour), has built-in cooling, stops based on some sort of charging detection system that works well, and has worked without fail for 2+ years. The new model should do the same, unless they’ve messed things up. Then, you won’t have to change batteries often, unless your camera is particularly power-hungry. The charger runs $30 and comes with 4 Duracell batteries. Avoid 15 minute or faster chargers, as they stress your batteries more, are prone to overheating, and cost more.

When I got my first digital camera, I bought a charger with four AA batteries for $10. The charger took 16 hours, and would not stop automatically. It was inevitable; I charged the batteries for 24 hours once, but fortunately there was no apparent damage, likely because the charger is less apt to damage batteries for being so under-powered. One month later, one of the batteries leaked acid. If it had been in the camera, it would have corroded the contacts and perhaps render it unusable. I bought new batteries, but continued using the original three for my CD player. Another month later, I opened the player to find that the battery had leaked, and the acid had burned through the compartment, onto the CD, corroding it so that it was unusable. It was a CD I burned, but if it had been a commercial release it may have been a loss of up to $20. I stopped using those batteries, filed down the corroded part in the player so that the CD wouldn’t touch it while spinning, and used aluminum foil to fit the battery against the corroded spring. After several months, it became such a hassle to keep the aluminum foil in place that I stopped using the player; the batteries would frequently fall out of place despite my efforts. I paid $33 for that CD player; this was three years ago, and it was one of those fancy models that would play MP3 files from CDs (flash memory was expensive back then), so it was quite disappointing to lose.

That is my cautionary tale: be careful of the batteries you choose; the cheesiest option isn’t the best. Digital photography is expensive, but this is no place to skimp, as your camera is useless without working batteries.

In the banner, the chargers, from left to right: Tenergy V-2833, Duracell CEF80N, Energizer CHDC, Digital Concepts CH-1800. The Duracell CEF80N is the one I’m saying good things about above; the Digital Concepts CH-1800 is the one I’m saying bad things about. The Energizer one uses an 8-hour timer, so I don’t like it. I haven’t opened the Tenergy one, but it says it takes 18 hours, which is too long. The batteries on the left are Rayovac Hybrid brand, which are low self-discharge batteries. I’ve kept them for a year without charging and they still work, but I only recommend them if you use your camera infrequently, as they’re pricier. The middle ones are Tenergy brand, which I like. The Energizer brand batteries on the right are good too, but are $10 a pack.

If you don’t want to worry about changing batteries, or want some spares to keep in your bag just in case, lithium AAs are a good choice.

Photo: Spring Sunshine

Spring Sunshine — bright green and yellow leaves, lit by the sun

Shot this on Christmas day; the winters aren’t so brutal in Florida. This looks like a spring scene, so I named it such. Enjoy. :smile:

Basic contrast enhancements with curves and sharpening is all that this needed.

[sniplet 4×6-glossy]

Canon Rebel XTi, EF 50mm 1:1.4, 1/640, F3.5, 50mm, ISO100, 2007-12-25T11:49:21-05, 20071225-164921rxt

Download the high-res JPEG or download the source image.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Credit me as Richard X. Thripp and link here.

10 Ways to Get Your Camera Stolen

1. Wear that “Canon EOS Digital” neck-strap proudly so the whole world can see what expensive equipment you have.
2. Take the camera on a plane; no need to keep it in your carry-on bag because you won’t be using it. If it doesn’t magically disappear, I hope you like broken glass.
3. Keep all your gear in your fancy new Lowepro bag, then leave it at a restaurant table to go the the bathroom. Don’t worry, it’ll only take a minute!
4. Use a lens with a big red ring around it.
5. Leave your big red ring and “EOS 5D” logo open for the world to admire. Some black tape and a Sharpie marker just doesn’t fit in your budget.
6. Stash your camera and pricey lenses in your hotel room. What could be more secure than a hotel room?
7. Leave it on a beach towel; you have to go surfing after all. Or, for extra safety, walk back to the car and put it in the trunk, then wonder how someone knew it was in your trunk.
8. Have a friend hold your bag. Oops, I forgot about your stuff! It wasn’t anything important, right?
9. Oh no, your brand-new DSLR has dust spots! No matter; just send it back in a big box labeled “Camera Repair Dept.” for warranty service.
10. Family portrait, no one to snap the photo? Just get one of the local bums to assist. Oh wait, he’s backing away slowly… must be to get the most compositionally pleasing shot.

Piano: Turkish Rondo, Rustles of Spring, and The Entertainer

Get the Flash Player to see the wordTube Media Player.

Songs by me on the piano at a recital on 2008-01-04. I’ve been playing for five years; Rustles of Spring is the newest one, which I started on a year ago. I still can’t play the middle part at tempo, but it’s coming along. The Entertainer is quite entertaining, and I’ve perfected an abridged version of Turkish Rondo (Alla Turca); the beginning is cut off as my Dad started recording too late.

Turkish Rondo, abridged [Mozart]
Rustles of Spring [Christian Sinding]
The Entertainer [Scott Joplin]

Photo: Modern Lightning

Modern Lightning — a white tree branch against an ominous sky

Lightning reborn. This is what I get for leaving the flash on. I’m proud of this for its uniqueness.

More contrast, darkening, and switching to black and white makes this awesome. :big-grin:

[sniplet 4×6-glossy]

Canon Rebel XTi, EFS 18-55mm, 1/60, F10, 18mm, ISO400, 2008-01-12T17:43:29-05, 20080112-224329rxt

Download the high-res JPEG or download the source image.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Credit me as Richard X. Thripp and link here.

Adventures in Film

Started my photography class two days ago (2008-01-18). First thing I see entering the class room is a large-format camera mounted on the most impressive tripod I’ve seen; very nice. Shockingly, we’re expected to buy our own cameras and black-and-white film. I did a quick, thorough search online, and settled on the Canon EOS Elan IIe, a 35mm SLR film camera with no lens. It was $70 used, including shipping (paid $5 extra for expedited shipping, so it ought to be here before next Friday’s class). The MSRP was $720 when it was released in 1995, but we can see that has fallen drastically. I imagine my beloved Canon Rebel XTi will be $70 in 2019, if not less.

My main reason for picking a Canon SLR with an EF mount is so I can use my Canon EF 50mm F1.4 lens (photos). I do use it as my primary on my Canon Rebel XTi, though with the crop factor it is like an 80mm lens, but on a full frame camera; in this case, a film SLR with a 36x24mm film, it’s just peachy. The zoom lenses that come standard are more versatile for their variable focal lengths, but falter in low-light and low depth-of-field photography—if I want to take a photo at 50mm with my XTi’s kit lens, I can’t go below F5.0, but with the non-zooming (prime) 50mm lens, I can open the aperture up all the way to F1.4 (though below F2.2, the depth-of-field is generally too shallow). Plus, prime lenses are lighter, cheaper, have better image quality, and, according to some, cutting your zooming potential forces you to be more creative.

Speaking of creativity, we are in an age where it is harder to be creative than ever, with the tools available to most digital photographers. Too many consumer cameras omit manual mode or give too few controls. I started out working with one where I had no control over aperture, shutter speed, ISO speed (!), only auto-focusing, no manual white balance, and while I did produce many of my best images with it, I could’ve done far more far earlier otherwise; even 5-second exposures, focusing closer than three inches, RAW mode, etc., were not options. While I keep my DSLR in shutter-priority mode with auto-focusing for quick shooting, it falls short often; all auto-exposing systems want to make everything look gray, including snow, a bright sky, or scenes dark with shadows. Cameras do not know where to focus; if I place my subject in anywhere but the center, my friends become a blurry blob while beautiful trees get razor-sharp clarity. Switching to a different focus point is quick and easy, but in digital compacts it is painfully hard, or entirely omitted; then you have to put the subject in the middle, half-click, recompose, and shoot, which takes too long. Don’t even try it on a cell phone camera. It’s good to take a film class cuz they’ll force you to learn all that stuff, and you’ll be using a camera where it’s all available. I’m in it more for film and film processing, as I know nothing about that (good stuff to know so I can sound like an expert, ha ha).

In twenty years, 35 millimeter film will be a relic of the past for still photography. Medium and large format film will stick around much longer, as they will continue to outstrip digital cameras in clarity and resolution. Perhaps the megapixel war will be over (it ain’t yet), and we’ll be junking our silly rasterized cameras for infinitely scalable, automated vector photography. We’ll have flying cars too.

Speaking on my website: if you haven’t been here in a week, you’ll notice that the author line below each post has spiffy formatting. It’s now a dynamically-compiled sentence with the author (I’m richardxthripp), time of posting, categories, and tags. Had to change my WordPress theme to use ISO 8601 date formatting. Get used to it; we’ll all be writing our dates like this, soon as we switch over to metric and start using Oxford spelling. All the times are UTC, which is five hours ahead of local time (North American Eastern Time), and four hours ahead during that pesky Daylight time. I do show the local time that each of my photos was taken at; look for the data line below the sales pitch.

The same fancy line appears on the printable view of each page (which has been moved to a gray-text link at the bottom of each entry). I use WP-Print for those pages; I could use a special style-sheet for print, but it’s more work, and I wouldn’t get that pretty list of links at the bottom. By default, it likes to append a trailing slash to every link: “/print” is instead “/print/”. I don’t understand everyone’s love for trailing slashes on every URI (“URL” is obsolete); I know they’re supposed to represent directories, but all pages are not directories. So, to get it to do what I wanted, I had to edit the source code (there is no option in the user interface). Unfortunate, but not hard to do through trial-and-error.

If you like to read this blog on the LiveJournal or Xanga mirror, all the “add to your shopping cart” links now work from there! I hard-coded my blog’s URI into the YAK source code (the WordPress plugin I use), because before, it was relative, so the buttons would try to take you to the add to cart page at or, which obviously won’t work. Other bugs have also been squished. The Printable, ShareThis, similar, next, and last entries links have all been moved to the footer of entries instead of being displayed inline with the text; this makes them clearly separated, gives focus to the content, and saves a lot of space.

There is also a brilliantly simple hit counter on the sidebar, below the ads; it says “You are visitor # 1,190 at” right now. You are two visitors if you browser for over an hour, or come back later. This is all thanks to StatCounter; I’m not putting the load on my server. Dedicated WordPress plugins write stats to the database for every visitor; this is awful if you get really popular.

That’s all! I hope everyone is looking forward to the Martin Luther King holiday, which we’re celebrating six days after his birthday, for some reason.

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