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This Blogging Month: June

It’s been another busy month this month, particularly in terms of hits and visitors, where I’ve once again had more than ever before. In fact, I’ve experienced the biggest month-on-month increase since January to February, resulting in almost 110,000 hits – that’s more that 500 hits per day up on last month. Advertising revenues have been astounding this month, thanks in part to a number of people buying high-priced electrical goods through my Amazon links, earning me a a decent amount of commision. I’ve far more than covered my costs this month, which is helpful, since the traffic increases may mean that we have to move over to a more expensive server before long.

Visitors from a total of seventeen different countries have been perusing the site this month, with the most common being the US, the UK, and Australia, and the least common being Japan, Denmark, and India. The majority of visitors are using Internet Explorer 6, whilst just under eight percent are using one verison of Firefox or another – a percentage which seems to be rising all the time.

As for the website itself, I’ve played around with the left-sidebar a little bit to reintroduce Google web search, and I’ve set this so that your cursor will automatically gravitate to this box when the page loads, the idea being that you can set sjhoward.co.uk as your homepage, read the latest posts, then head off on the rest of your web journey with Google. You’ll also notice that Google now supplies the search function for this site. I’ve made this move because Google archives the entire site, where the inbuilt site funciton only searched the blog. We were getting to the stage where the lag in Google’s archving was smaller than the amount that the site search didn’t search. So, basically, Google was better. But it may not be able to find the very latest posts, so be aware of that when searching.

To tie in with this new functionality, I’ve cut the number of posts on the homepage to ten, which confers much quicker loading time. The original figure of twenty-five was set when I was posting four or five times per day. Now I’ve settled down into more of a routine of one or two longer posts per day, it’s no longer necessary to display as many on the homepage itself. Remember, you can always access all of the posts on the site through the archives, which can be browsed using the links on the left, or searched with the search function on the right.

You may also have noticed that the ‘Most Viewed’ feature has disappeared – this is simply because it wasn’t working properly, and seemed to have become stuck. I’m now using a completely different stats package for ‘instant’ readings (which I use to determine the popularity of the various things I write, as well as to assess day-to-day traffic), whereas I’m still sticking with my host’s statistics for the monthly output you see in these posts. So all of the public info will remain comparable, as it’s still on the same system. I may reinstate some kind of ‘Most Viewed’ feature at some point in the future, but it’s pretty pointless at the moment anyway, because the Sudoku posts are far and away the most viewed, and don’t look like being over taken any time soon!

In the past couple of days, I’ve made some aesthetic changes to the site thanks to some comments made by readers. As with the old-version blog, I’ve increased the line spacing, as this makes posts a little easier to read. I’ve also implemented better highlighting of quotations, by giving them a fetching purple background in addition to the line on the left. The pay-off, of course, is increased scrolling. But I think it’s better this way. You can give me your comments through the usual channels.

As of 26th June, the copyright of all work on the site is protected by a newly updated Creative Commons Licence. As well as the normal update in the legalese, you will also find that the terms of the licence have changed, to give increased freedom for you to use the information on this site – specifically, you can now create derviative works, subject to given conditions. See the licence itself for more information. If the terms of the licence get in the way of something you’d like to do, then please remember that any conditions can be waived if you obtain permission from the copyright holder – that’s me. Feel free to ask.

The coding behind the icon has been improved slightly, so that as well as the post itself you also get a numbered list of the URIs of the links within the post, so that the links on the blog are reflected in the print version. Therefore, if you are printing posts for future reference it might be a better idea to use the icon rather than printing the individual post page – though, of course, that won’t include any comments that have been left, so you’ll have to return to the post’s page to see those (the URI for the indivudal post is included in the version). This whole paragraph is now pants. Refer to this.

I’ve gone through another minor software upgrade – I’m now running WordPress 1.5.1.3, up from 1.5.1. The upgrade was relatively painful painless (oopsie!) once again, and only resulted in about two minutes of downtime, which is quite impressive. This upgrade’s main function is to improve security of the blog, and was online at this site within four hours of its release. Let’s hope it works!

I think that’s about all I have to tell you in this month’s update – so that, I suppose, was June!

This 651st post was filed under: Site Updates.

BMA votes against lowering abortion limit

My union has helpfully agreed with my position on the lowering of the 24 week limit on abortions. Whilst I’m sure this will enrage the Daily Mail, it certainly cheered me up because, as far as I can see, there is no logical scientific reason for lowering the abortion limit.

The only scientific reason for doing so is because increasingly premature babies are surviving with medical assistance. But whilst that’s a reasonable scientific point, the logic isn’t present. Increasingly premature babies are going to continue to survive as medical technology improves, until eventually abortions will be impossible – or, more controversially – they will only be available to those who discover their pregnancy suitably early, thus probably disenfranchising those who are not expecting to become pregnant (and may therefore feel that they are in desperate need of an abortion). Very few of the campaigners supporting the idea of lowering the limit would support either of the above situations – and yet that is effectively what they are voting for.

The other popularly posited opinion is that now we have 3D scans, which allow us to see the foetus in greater detail than ever, we shouldn’t allow abortions at this stage of pregnancy. This is a foolish notion. Doctors have for many years seen the real foetus following abortion, and the foetus has always been at the same stage of development, even if it’s previously required a medical degree to interpret the images. Just because something can now be interpreted by the masses doesn’t change the nature of what is actually done.

Therefore, I agree with my BMA colleagues in their decision not to support the lowering of the abortion limit from 24 weeks to 20 weeks. And I will continue to hold that position, until I hear a reasoned logical and scientific reason to change it.

This 650th post was filed under: News and Comment.

Sir Trev ‘scoops’ Bush interview

It’s reported today that Sir Trevor has secured the only UK television interview with George Bush prior to the G8 summit next month. This is clearly some achievement. But did Granada’s Head of Current Affairs have to be quite so condescending about it?

“Sir Trevor has done this by his own industry. He interviewed Bush three years ago and has kept lines of communication open. He made a bid for an interview three months ago when we knew when the G8 would be,” Mr Anderson said.

“To get an exclusive interview with the US president is an achievement at any time, but to get it on the eve of the G8 summit is really special. Sir Trevor is to be congratulated for using all his contacts to bring it about.”

Quite why this relatively new journalist felt it necessary to pat a knighted veteran on the head for using his journalistic contacts is beyond me. There would be much better ways of phrasing his congratulations, making Sir Trevor appear as the brilliant journalist he is, but instead he’s decided to adopt a tone of “Well done, Trev, you did great. Let the grown ups carry on with the rest of the show, now.” And I think that’s unnecessary, unprofessional, and wrong, especially when you’re talking about the eponymous personality of the show, however little he may usually do in reality.

This 649th post was filed under: News and Comment.

Does this G8 summit matter?

The G8 is one of the few groups which truly has the power to change the world at the stroke of a pen. But, despite their huge wealth, they won’t.

Even if these largely Westernised countries offer enormous aid to those most in need, their inability to see the world from the eyes of the desperate will hinder any attempt to help: They are far to focused on Western cultures and ways of approaching problems to provide genuine solutions. They can’t even agree that condoms are the best way of preventing the spreading of HIV, despite mountains of evidence proving this, so how on Earth do they hope to tackle the far trickier problems of poverty?

But just because these countries can’t get together and change the world for the better doesn’t mean that we should write the G8 off as useless. However unproductive, argumentative, and ineffective the meetings are, we should celebrate the fact that at least these eight leading nations are co-operating and even holding meetings in an age of cynicism, distrust, and warfare.

Achievements aren’t everything. The symbolism is just as important. That’s why, now more than ever, the G8 summit really matters.

Originally written for Channel 4 News

This 648th post was filed under: News and Comment, Politics, Writing Elsewhere.


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