Archive for April 28th, 2008

Windows Live Writer

April 28, 2008

[UPDATE: See the comments, and this.  I am man enough to admit I was wrong about chunks of this.]

I’ve been using the Evil Empire’s Windows Live Writer for the last few blog posts, including this one. I haven’t made up my mind about it, but here are some impressions:

I do like the “form factor” of the Writer application as opposed to the in-browser WordPress interface, which I always find annoying. I find pretty much all web-based UI’s for inputting large swaths of text annoying, actually. WordPress’s, like many others, is naturally too short and too wide. I tend not to bother making it thinner, as that requires resizing the browser. I do make it taller, but that requires scrolling to get by all the stuff at the top of the page and allow space for the text.

A potential downside to WLV is that it stores drafts on the local machine, not online among WordPress’s drafts. That doesn’t matter for short posts, but for people like me who use multiple computers and write longer posts in multiple sittings, it could be a problem.

WLV is WYSIWYG, more or less, which for blogging is nice, but not really crucial. I imagine I will like it more the next time I add a picture, something that’s a pain to get right with WordPress’s native interface. WLV does not seem to understand WordPress’s “sourcecode” construct, which will be annoying for anything involving code. It also doesn’t get all the little details right—it doesn’t convert the keyboard pseudo-quotation marks to real quotes or multiple hyphens to em and en dashes, for example, and it doesn’t format lists correctly. For most purposes, though, I do find it an improvement over WP’s “visual editor,” which can be an over-aggressive pain at times.

Another minor complaint—the spellchecker highlights words even more obnoxiously than most Microsoft products, not only with squiggly underlines but with bolding. What on earth is that about?

The worst problem with WLV is that it doesn’t understand WordPress tags. Its tag interface is something else, requiring “tag sources,” that novice amateur incompetent blogger me doesn’t really understand. To get tags in I have to publish and then edit immediately. [UPDATE: it does understand them—see the comments.]

For now I’ll keep using it—the form factor thing is worth the problems. If anyone wants to correct my misapprehensions about said problems, please do.

UPDATE: Ha, I see one misapprehension already—there are options for “post as draft” and “open from weblog,” which get around the online/offline problem. My apologies for slandering you, Windows Live Writer!

Sometimes religion IS evil

April 28, 2008

Like Kerry Howley (who seems to have pulled her post; maybe it will come back), I’m appalled at the libertarian defenders of the FLDS. Even David Bernstein (and many, many commentators) at the usually sensible Volokh Conspiracy are characterizing the government raids as “child abuse in the name of protecting children.”

Now I understand that this sort of thing is a tough case for libertarians. Government raids on religious compounds are troubling even for me (no Libertarian I, but sort of a libertarian fellow traveler). Creepiness alone is no excuse for government raids; and worse, governments have a spectacular history of botching these things dreadfully.

And I should mention that I have no particular problem in the abstract with polygamy, or rather with polyamory. I couldn’t handle it myself, and there are excellent reasons for The State not to recognize it (actually, I think the state should be out of the marriage business altogether, but that’s a topic for another time), but I have no objection at all to other people living whatever lifestyle they choose.

It’s that “choose” part that’s important here. I admit to having no personal experience whatever with the FLDS—for which I am thankful, and in which I am just like virtually everyone else commenting on this case. But a society like theirs can exist without massive oppression of women, children, and probably all the men except the few in charge. Shouldn’t libertarians dislike oppression, whether or not it’s the government doing the oppressing? This is not to mention that it can’t exist without finding pretexts to exile most of its teenage boys, or the comparatively minor (morally minor, perhaps legally significant) fact that the FLDS supports itself through large-scale welfare fraud—“bleeding the beast,” it’s apparently called.

I don’t know how to draw the line between “acceptably weird religion” and “evil and twisted cult.” But wherever it is, the FLDS is on the wrong side of it. It makes me want to side with those annoying atheists—in fact, the first fifteen pages of Under the Banner of Heaven, John Krakauer’s account of Mormon fundamentalist murderers, are a far more effective argument against religion than everything Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris have ever written.