Archive for September, 2006

Tinkering With the Related Posts Plugin

For ages now I’ve had a section in the sidebar of single-post pages that lists some other (possibly) related posts. The problem is with the ‘possibly’ — the suggestions just haven’t been very good.

I’ve been using Related Posts (2.02) by Alexander Malov & Mike Lu. It takes the words from the title of the current post and matches them against the text and title of all your other posts. If I were better at naming my posts it could work much convincingly … but I’m not and never will be.

The plugin has a secondary mode which lets you embed keywords in your posts and uses them instead of the post title but I have 450 posts to retrofit… Moreover, my brief dalliance with tagging tools made me realise how hard it is to produce helpful keywords. I can stare at one of my homilies and have no idea how to tag it. ‘Jesus’, ‘God’, and ‘love’ are too vague and anything sharper seems to prejudge what a homily is about … which I hate. After all the words should speak for themselves.

Now there’s a thought! How about picking the most frequent words in a post and using them to generate our match? You’d have to filter out ‘is’ and ‘and’ all the bland words. How many words would you need for a relevant match? I tinkered with the guts of the Related Posts plugin and here it is in working order on all my single-post pages. I’m really surprised how relevant its suggestions are.

See what you think. If nothing blows up I’ll make the plugin available.

September 30th, 2006

Empires of the Middle East

If you like animated maps of great swathes of history take a look at what’s been going on in the Middle East for the last 5000 years.

6 comments September 28th, 2006

A Word of Caution When Changing Domains

In my recent move I transferred the contents of this blog by using the WordPress XML Import/Export plugin developed by Aaron Brazell (from code by Matt Mullenweg that is being developed for WP 2.1). It basically did the trick as you can see from this working blog however there is a snag. Although it produces a working site it does not preserve all of the post slugs as it imports them. You get working posts but not necessarily with the same permalinks!

I noticed this because all requests to my old blog are being redirected to the new one and some of them are now appear to be missing. They are not but their ‘perma’-links have changed. It has been a problem for maybe 18 posts out of 440.

Update: I have edited the permalinks and post slugs by hand to make them match the old blog. I hope this works. If anyone out there spots an error please contact me so I can fix it.

More: I have discovered that the exporter/importer doesn’t handle excerpts either so all the excerpts have disappeared from my blog! For most of my posts it doesn’t much matter but one or two are essay length. I’ll have to re-do them by hand. Grrr.

September 27th, 2006

Moving Your Blog: A WordPress Plugin to Permanently Redirect Your Posts

If you ever have cause to move a WordPress blog from one domain to another you will want visitors to any pages on the old site to be silently redirected to the corresponding page on the new site. This goes particularly for Googlebot and other search engine spiders: you want them to be able to find your new site and update their databases so you don’t lose your ranking.

Moving Your Blog is a simple WordPress plugin that redirects all your posts and pages (status 301, permanently moved). The Admin pages are exempt so you can still administer the old blog.


  1. First setup your new blog in its new domain so that every post and page in the old site has its copy in the new site.
  2. Download the latest version of Moving Your Blog.
  3. Unzip and copy moving.php to the wp-content/plugins folder of your old blog.
  4. Activate the plugin from the Admin Plugins page.
  5. Visit the Admin Options|Moving page and enter the address of your new blog. When you update the address the plugin becomes active and starts to redirect your posts and pages.
  6. To turn off redirection delete the address of your new blog.
  7. If you need to uninstall the plugin it can be deactivated from the Admin Plugins page and/or deleted from your wp-content/plugins folder.


This is version 1.0 of Moving Your Blog. It is my first WordPress plugin.

Given the nature of this plugin it is hard to test so, for now, consider it beta software. If you try it let me know how it goes. The usual disclaimers apply.

63 comments September 23rd, 2006

A Few Blips

Well the plugin I put together to handle redirection from the old site to the new was working great until I thought “let’s tidy it up and make it presentable”. So I had to spend a couiple of hours messing everything up. I hope normal service has now been resumed! If it has I’ll post the WordPress plugin tomorrow.

September 23rd, 2006

Testing, testing, testing…

Well this is my old blog in a new location. If you visit the old location you should automatically be sent here … at least for a month or so until I close the old one down. Please update your bookmarks if you have any.

This post is also a test to see what happens to the site’s feeds.

Update: If you are subscribed to the site feeds you will need to make sure they are to and

September 22nd, 2006

Wednesday Week 23 Year II

Readings: 1 Cor 7:25-31; Lk 6:20-26

Setting his misogyny aside, I do love Paul’s urgency and absolute conviction that everything has changed. Everything is different after the death and resurrection of Jesus, with a difference that has diverted human—and even cosmic history—in a new direction. And in that new direction all the old rules cease to apply, all our customs and cultures are flimsy and fading. Kinship and consumerism, marriage and mirth—every bond and tie is loosened by the call of the coming kingdom.

I love that urgency—but of course I can’t feel it—even the greatest head of steam fizzles away over 2000 years. The world as we know it hasn’t passed away and we’ve all gone back to owning and operating with a certain relief.

Jesus has his own urgency and his vision is at once grander and more mundane. For him too, everything has changed. It has always and everywhere already been changed but we’ve conned each other into thinking otherwise. Not just so we can believe in tomorrow but so we can acquiesce to the demands of living the good life here and now. There’s a list of values—wealth, consumption, security, reputation—that we measure each other by. They drive our economies, control our customs, and feed our wars. And Jesus is saying we are wrong. Wrong on all counts. And we always have been. These are not the ways God accounts, not God’s values. Poor, hungry, bereft, and hated: those are God’s values, God’s way of life.

How can we believe such things of God All-powerful, all-knowing, all-present? Only by looking at Jesus: born in a cave, bedded in a trough, carried off as a refugee. Poor, hungry, bereft, and hated. … Happy.

1 comment September 13th, 2006

Changing Address

Until now this blog has been living at but with a web redirect from my ‘real’ domain Unfortunately I’ve been having problems with my domain registrar’s email forwarding and have decided to make a move. This is where the trouble begins!

My blog will continue to be accessible from but will shortly cease to be available via Now, of course I’m realising that ‘everyone’ out there has linked to the f2s address and not So … HELP!

1) If you have any links to this blog could you please update them to the new address.

2) Of course all my ‘permalinks’ are turning out to be ‘tempalinks’ — I will make all the necessary internal adjustments (thank God for search and replace!) but does anyone have any idea how to get my ‘old’ site (which I will keep alive for a month or so) to do an automatic redirect to the new place so that I won’t completely fall off google’s map? I’m running WordPress 2.04.

3) Any success stories or sob stories about the process of moving blogs?

4) And now I’ve just realised there’s the issue of feeds … arrghhhh!

8 comments September 11th, 2006

Sunday Week 23 Year B

Readings: Isaiah 35:4-7; James 2:1-5; Mark 7:31-37 

It seems likely that that word ephphatha, be opened, was the first thing that man ever heard. That he came to hearing with that as his first word. Wouldn’t it echo in his opened ears for the rest of his life? Wouldn’t that be the word he cherished and held dear and whispered to himself in the middle of the night?

It used to be part of the roman rite of baptism, blowing on the child’s ears and eyes and lips and speaking the word ephphatha. It is the first word of every Christian life: ephphatha, be opened.

Notice it is not ‘open up’ but ‘be opened’. Not something we have to do but something we receive. It is the first gift God gives us and it echoes in our opened ears all life long.

What does it mean to be opened? First on the list is the way we receive the world: to see clearly, to listen sensitively. But it applies to our expression too: ‘the ligament of his tongue was loosened and he spoke’. To be opened is to express oneself openly, freely. The first gift of the Christian life is God opening our hearts and unbinding our tongues.

Opening and unbinding: there’s most of the Good News in a single breath. What is the first thing on God’s mind for each of us and for the world? That we be opened and unbound. That tells us more about God than a whole heap of hearsay.

I have been wanting to say that such a gift imposes an obligation in return. That we too be ones who open and unbind; in what we do and what we say, in how we vote and how we spend our money and our time, in the way we combat closed minds and double-binds wherever we find them.

But of course I’m wrong. There is no such obligation, no responsibility of right-living, no burden of blessing. The first words we heard from God removed all obligation—we are given our freedom freely, as a gift. What we do with it is entirely and wholly up to us.

2 comments September 10th, 2006

Wednesday Week 22 Year II

Readings: 1 Cor 3:1-9; Luke 4:38-44 

What would it take for us to be weaned? For us to be beyond the milk of spirituality—past the rusks and the stewed apple even—and eating the spiritual food of adults?

Paul is pretty clear that the first thing to go would have to be the jealousy and wrangling and all those spiritual slogans that set us against each other in the church and the churches and make us such a laughing stock in the eyes of the real world. I can’t remember the context but it was Henry Kissinger who said of some situation of fevered hostility and bitter rivalry that it was all because the stakes were so low. And isn’t that how we must look from the outside? Which way should the altar face? What kind of music is allowed in church? What can a minister safely do in the bedroom—and with whom? Do you praise this Pope or the previous or the one before that?

Such matters matter I’m sure but bring out the scales and load them all in one pan and in the other place a single child maimed or murdered by the violence we sanction and see then how the balance weighs.

Jesus has a ministry of unburdening, of letting loose and setting free, but once the devils start speaking theology he shuts them all up and moves on out.

The test of our spiritual maturity is not in our religious purity and propriety—it’s not even in what happens on retreat—the test is how we manage to be or not be good news in the world. To be it, not speak it. Good news for those who doubt it most.

September 6th, 2006


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