Well? What Do You Think? Or, New & Improved!


You may say absolutely anything you like, except that you don’t like it. Well, you may say it, but I have my palms over my eyeballs so I won’t see what you say. Nyah, nyah, Capital-N-la-di-yah.

I’m not going back to the old theme. It was a pain to maintain and to tweak. It had its notables, but it bordered on cheesy and amateurish. I never loved the way the old posts looked. Whether it was the contrast or the font itself, it was too hard to read. And this is a site which is almost all words.

I’m particularly interested in hearing which device you used while reading. I checked the design on several different browsers, but I don’t have a “smart” phone, so I don’t how it looks there—though through resizing, I think it will do well. Love the automatic menus! I can change the typography, of course, and probably will here and there.

Most new themes are magazine style or image-centric and assume the blog will be mostly pictures. They require readers to do too much work, such as “Click here to read more”, just to fit in more pictures. This Hemingway theme keeps the words to the fore. The less work you require of readers, the better.

Through clicking the wrong thing, I lost my donate button. Don’t panic! I’ll have this back up later, just in case you want, as you should want, to give, give, give.

The necessary but distracting navigational material, except for Search and Links, have been pushed to the bottom. Regular readers don’t need this material anyway, and it removes clutter. I took out the infinite scroll, which was cutesy, but it discouraged reading and blocked the bottom from showing.

Only five posts show at a time, which is enough. More people ought to make use of Classic Posts to see the best material.

Oh, yeah. At the top-top, that’s real-life bruiser Tom Neal and femme fatale Ann Savage from Detour (watch on YouTube). At the just-plain top, that’s real-life fighter Robert E. Beamon Jr. and homme fatale Yours M. Truly in USAF. This image will be familiar to regular readers, but it was appropriate for today.

Note to kiddies: that’s a real cigarette and real gun. Which is scarier?

Important The Scientific Ethicist needs a few more pleas and conundrums in order to put out his next column, which I’m hoping we can make a bi-weekly, or at least monthly, feature. Email your friends about this.

Update The database problem has been PARTIALLY fixed by a helpful Yahoo technician. I stupidly did not delete a plugin which was associated with the old theme. This accounted for the connection intermittency. That plugin was another reason I had to switch themes: the old one was a clunky mess. There are still some connection problems that are screwy though.

I was not going for anything modern or new looking. Heaven forfend! Indeed it took me days to find a theme that had up-to-date technical features but which was a throwback in looks. Just try finding themes that display ALL of a posts—and don’t require further clicking—like you see here. Too, there is a blizzard of colors and video and gee-whiz everywhere else. I wanted something like a simple newspaper.

True, the picture above is big, but so are newspaper banners. Plus, you can quickly scroll past the banner. And then nothing else distracts your eye. Like it should be.

And don’t forget The Scientific Ethicist emails!


  1. rms

    Nice job. Looks great on Mac, iPhone, and iPad.

  2. Scotian

    Don’t shock us like that, Briggs. You know how delicate your readers are. My only complaint at the present is with ipad where the text cannot be magnified. The ipad reader option works for the article itself but not the comments which thus can be hard to read.

    I’d guessed Sterling Hayden and Jean Hagen from the Asphalt Jungle.

  3. Sheri

    Looks pretty black and white to me. (Sorry, couldn’t resist) 😉

  4. Luis Dias

    I like the whiteness, but it’s too whitey. The comment boxes are almost invisible. Instead of using the #fafafa color, try the #eeeeee you are using for the selected box, and instead of the #eeeeee, use something like #dadada.

  5. DAV

    Like the font change. Squinting through a microscope wasn’t fun.

    Menu needs a Home button. Took me a while to realize the title was it.

    You should keep the “Click here to read more”, at least on the mobile. Without it the viewer is forced to download a lot more than may be desired. I have an unlimited Android plan but others may not and 4G coverage isn’t universal.

    Looks good overall.

  6. DAV

    Luis, and what’s wrong with being white?

    Good point about the edit box. Last night, I thought the Website block was the comment block. I agree the shade could be darker.

    I also don’t like the double spaced feeling. What would it look like if the lines were closer together?

    Sometimes it would be nice to underline even though it might get confused. If the word “underline” is underlined forget this part.

  7. JohnB

    Very readable – links within text are not obvious

    If I’d never commented before (and info wasn’t previously there), I wouldn’t know where to put my name, email, … (nor which were required).

    I’m glad the infinity divided by 2 cartoon is still there

  8. Briggs


    I agree: the comment box section is too faint. I’ll fix it soon.

    I also think the anchor text contrast a little low.


    Good idea on the Home button. The size in KB of text is minuscule, really; a few K per post. I don’t think this will eat people’s bandwidth too much, especially since the images (at the top) would still load.

  9. The cigarette and the gun are fine, but that fedora is pretty scary.

  10. Like the typography–easier to read for us old folks; don’t like the picture on top.
    Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way to edit your comment once published?
    bob kurland

  11. PS—who are the movie stars in the top photo? ,,, of my generation so I should know, but don’t.

  12. Briggs


    Fixed the Comments, including noting the required fields. Adjusted the anchor contrast.

    I like the line spacing, but will play with it some more.


    See the text on the pic.

  13. La Longue Carabine


    As a wannabe conservative, I hold to long standing traditions (changes made long ago) that have proven to be beneficial (ie. good). I also embrace changes made that have proved themselves to also be beneficial. When change is forced upon me, I improvise, adapt, and, if necessary, overcome.

    The new scheme is acceptable, and I find little to gripe about, and find the text readable, which is what matters to me.

    I would, if possible, move or copy the ‘leave a comment’ thingy so it appears below the article. Myself, I read the article, and then the comments. So, having to scroll all the way back to the top of the article to leave a comment is inconvenient.

    Oh, and thanks for all you do, all you say, and all you say you do.

  14. Briggs

    La Longue,

    The comment box is at the top right under the post for you? And not under all the comments? Weird. It’s not that way on any of browsers I checked. What are you using?


  15. Katie

    I agree with Carabine. Better to have the box on the bottom so when the urge to comment comes, one doesn’t have to fumble back to the top–or maybe fumble back to the top without reading to the end.

  16. Bruce

    A little overwhelming on a 27″ monitor. But not bad.

  17. katzxy

    If you like it, I like it.

  18. Looking forward to more posts from the hilarious Scientific Ethicist. May he be accompanied by the Scientific President and the Scientific Priest or Imam (for political correctness)? Maybe the Scientfic Psychiatrist, the Scientific Philosopher of Mind and the Scientific Metaphysician as well? No wait – that’s been done!

    Love the changes!

  19. Briggs


    The database is up and down. This seems to be my server (Yahoo) and not my fiddling. I ran a check and the MySQL seems to be running fine.

    That is, I can’t discover anything wrong with the DB. And Yahoo is often up and down.

    Let’s pray the troubles don’t last.

  20. Sheri

    The error does occur at random. I tried getting here from the email notice and it failed. It also failed the first run on Opera. I just tried again and it worked. My server also goes down, so there are two opportunies to see the errors here!

  21. Ye Olde Statisician

    You must really like Just Thomism, you have two links to it on the right side menu.

  22. Milton Hathaway

    WHOA! That picture at the top (the one where your wife/girlfriend is grabbing you by the collar) stretches from screen-edge to screen-edge, which is pretty jarring on full screen. The other pictures seem to retain their aspect ratio.

    I’ll second the request for less spacing between lines. With my aging eyes, I usually magnify the page when reading, but when I magnify the new layout, the words get really sparse. On the other hand, I don’t have to magnify as much, as I find the new font easier to read than before.

  23. Briggs


    I just re-re-ran myisamchk and all appears fine. This looks like a server problem because hitting the site three or four times in quick succession usually works.

    I also cut back on the line spacing. How’s it now?

    I understand some folks have giant monitors. I’ll see what I can do about this. Header image looks fine for non-Hummer-sized screens.

  24. Jim Fedako

    Too much space in the comments. But looked great on my very old LG phone.

  25. Jim Fedako

    Also, the banner photo looks stretched.

  26. Noblesse Oblige

    I like it. And the fact that it will offend people who believe they have a right not to be offended makes me like it even more.

  27. DAV

    Much better. Line spacing makes it easier to read IMO. and not so “whitey” in Luis’s words.

    Lines around the edit boxes works for me.
    The top banner display on android is obscured by the blog title. Maybe it should scale a bit? Interesting that the title block fades when scrolling. Did you work extra hard for this?

    I had to keep trying periodically to get back. Rapid fetches didn’t work for me. The database error message might just be caused by caching in the likely many servers at (Yahoo is it?).

    I only mentioned the Home button because I use it a lot. I may be the only one. I see it’s still missing.
    All around, I like the look.

  28. Brandon Gates


    The grayscale tones fit with the theme of old movies. It reminds me of times that I see as more innocent and simple than now, even though for me the “then” I am remembering is the age of Technicolor and Polaroid. It reminds me that grays and colors are nice, but that black and white also have their place.

    I like that there’s less clutter, emphasis on text as you intended. The previous theme did not diminish the text in any way nor clutter your message … I think so at least … for all of us have our own clutter, neh?

    It’s your theme, your expression of self and I can only assume you like both. I also you appreciate you asking for ours in return.

  29. Brandon Gates

    PS: viewed with latest Firefox on Ubuntu Linux laptop. Haven’t tried Chrome yet.

  30. Edward

    Yes, the change was a surprise. I am too old to accept change. No, wait, I don’t admit to being that old, so I will get used to it.

    For readability (you indicated that was important), a font with serifs for long text helps avoid eyestrain. Or does that not work so well on iPhones, etc.? Sans serifs is fine for captions and other short text,

    Please return your saying “the love of theory is the root of all evil.” It is truer than science, whether you believe it or not (if I may borrow from yesterday’s post).

    Finally, keep the fedoras. I am a fan and wear one (they are not as scary as Steve thinks). Other than that, I am fashion unconscious.

  31. Hey Matt, I don’t see any text on the top picture…other than links to who is wmb, etc. ???? Using Chrome as a browser…I’ll try Safari (I’ve deleted Firefox).
    And I’ll echo–thanks for all you do…continue to be a porcupine!+

  32. John Moore

    Looks okay to me. But then, I usually read the blog on Feedly (faithfully, every night except when I’m storm chasing).

  33. zatsun

    I am very sorry, but I was very fond of your old layout and that is the truth.

    Maybe it works out for you, it is more like many contemporary blogs I see out there. I cannot fault it for not looking like a “current” or “modern” blog.

    The banner picture is not without some charm, but it’s not the same as the little comic you had. I always wanted to ask where that was from. But it didn’t matter much, as even left mysterious it was perfect.

    Old blog looked smarter, this looks dumber, but I know this is only appearance and impression.

    There, I enjoy your writing but there also is the truth.

  34. zatsun

    PS what do I find after posting — but the little comic at the bottom. I beg your pardon. I miss it from the top, all the same. It looks lonely and isolated down there.

  35. zatsun

    PS 2 Maybe to soften the criticism, I say it is my taste — these later, newer blog designs I see popping up make me feel like going from comfy old rooms with nice wood and warm colors to brilliant, gleaming glassy fluorescent spaces. Disconcerting to me. But you are not alone in choosing these designs from what I have seen.

    (I am reminded of Tolkein talking about people whose vision of the world of the future was something like a giant train station.)

    Thank you for the indulgence, this is my last comment on it all.

  36. Sera

    Would have prefered Lauren Bacall, but Ann Savage is ok, I guess. I prefer the larger typeface- I don’t have to squint or use my readers. Thanks.

  37. Bob

    Viewing the blog on my PC it looks good.

    It also looks good on my Samsung Galaxy Note 3, both in vertical modes and horizontal modes. The pages resize as desired, and the fonts are good.

    You are evidently using Yahoo as a hosting provider. I don’t have any experience with them. Was there a problem with WordPress?

  38. Good start but fine-tune the contrast with the text in the header and on the right side column, Not enough differentiation for old eyes Font sizes seem ok.

    The most dangerous item up there is the brunette in the upper left corner, silly.

  39. Regan

    The aspect ratio of the cinematic background looks a bit stretched in the horizontal. I’m using Chrome Version 34.0.1847.131 m.

  40. Edward

    Ah, I see that your modern aphorism is at the bottom of the page. Obviously, I don’t get there very often.

    Is it possible/practical to move some of the items at the bottom to a more prominent place higher on the page, such as above/below the links, or perhaps to the left side of the screen?

  41. Edward

    Ah, I see that your modern aphorism is at the bottom of the page. Obviously, I don’t get there very often.

    Is it possible/practical to move some of the items at the bottom to a more prominent place higher on the page, such as above/below the links, or perhaps to the left side of the screen?

  42. j ferguson

    Running this on Chrome, I read the post and when I get to the bottom instead of seeing a “comment opportunity” and the current total number of comments, I have to go back to the top. It dilutes the opportunity to react thinking “Am I really the only one who thinks this is nuts?”

    Otherwise i like the new format fine.

  43. Guess for the actress and actor in the top image: Colleen Gray and Sterling Hayden in “The Killing”, film noire directed by Stanley Kubrick (1956). I don’t think it’s the Asphalt Jungle.
    bob kurland

  44. M E Wood

    On a laptop the banner image is stretched too far .I tried to remember my HTML
    lessons and looked.
    Is this the problem here ?
    —-content=”width=device-width,initial-scale=1.0, maximum-scale=1.0, user-scalable=no” ——
    I would try a different font too ,this font is difficult in black and white. One with a serif as requested above may do well, and larger or not so much space between lines. it is difficult to read.
    I remember black and white films. Humphrey Bogart etc and they were always shades of grey with not so much contrast . It must have been the celluloid. Can you dim the images a bit -give the old smokey newroom effect of the old page? Without suggesting the evil weed tobacco , of course.
    Thanks for the page it’s just about the only blog worth reading.

  45. Jonathan D

    The post titles do not wrap in any sensible manner. I suppose the stretchy banner could be fixed, but it doesn’t seem such a big deal.

    I think La Longue was referring to a alack of link to the individual post page at the end of each post on the main page.

  46. Mike Ozanne

    “Note to kiddies: that’s a real cigarette and real gun.”

    Oh you are just cruising for a visit from the thought police aren’tcha…….

  47. Larry Geiger

    I’m a comic book guy. Will sort of miss the old header. Really don’t like fonts with no serifs. Really don’t. Seem to be all the rage these days. Font size is very nice and the pages readable. No dark orange font on black background or some other nonsense. I don’t see the gun. What’s up with that? General formatting is very nice.

    I like the header photo. She has THE look. I’ve seen THE look. It’s been directed at me before. He doesn’t have the proper obedient facial expression. He is in SO much trouble. He probably has no idea how MUCH trouble he is in. But he is in trouble. Maybe you’ve seen THE look once or twice yourself?

  48. Larry Geiger

    We could name the protagonists in the banner photo.
    Her: Judith Curry
    Him: Michael Mann

  49. Larry Geiger

    Okay, here’s another one:
    Her: Mom
    Him: William M. Briggs (with the M since it’s mom and he’s in big trouble…)

  50. Larry Geiger

    Her: Hillary
    Him: Gowdy

  51. Jeff Cagle

    On IE11, it splits title words mid-word, no hyphens. Eg:

    Well? What Do You Think? Or, N
    ew & Improved!

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