July 9 2021

WordPress

I did some work on the website of the Thich Nhat Hanh sangha website that I manage voluntarily, using the Weaver theme - there were a couple of new posts to add, and I discovered that I was unhappy with the page that lists the various local sanghas (practice groups). Under Weaver, one can show posts (one possibility is to use Weaver's plugin "show posts") on a WP page. That can create, for example, the typical 3=box layout that one sees on many websites. However, the local sanghas were created as Pages (i.e. sub-pages, rather than Posts, and I found no parallel way to show sub-pages, so had been using a dull menu of subpages as a widget on the page that featured the directory of local sanghas. The best solution seemed to be to convert the pages to posts. There is no real difference between pages and posts on WordPress. It turns out that there's a plugin for converting between pages and posts, "Post Type Switcher", so that's what I used. I created a category for the new sangha posts, so that the Show Posts plugin could filter according to that category, and used the translator plugin (on that website I use Polylang) to translate the categories.

For now, on that page, I have placed just the titles and featured images for each sangha. That already looks better than the plain menu. What I really need to do, though, is add the contact information right there in the directory page, so that it isn't even necessary to go to individual sangha pages. I could imagine a JavaScript that converts the featured image to text when one hovers over it - but that's probably too ambitious.

Sangha

Sangha in Buddhism, as with satsang in Hinduism, means something like community, gathering, assembly, congregration, ecclesia, synagogue. In Hebrew knissia (church) and beth knesset (synagogue) and Arabic jamia (the congregation in a mosque) have similar meanings. The idea and the meaning of the words used to express it, seem to be common to most religions.

Etymologically, sangha is composed of the common Indo-European root sem, meaning "as one" from which is derived the English "same" (and "similar") and han, which, according to the Online Etymological Dictionary (I'm too lazy to check further) means "to come into contact". So sangha basically means something like "to come together as one". Satsang, mentioned earlier, adds the word sat, which means something like wise. So it's "a gathering of the wise."

Sangha presents an interesting challenge, when transliterating it into Hebrew. The person that has just taken over the creation of texts, used סנגה but that does not render the aspirated "gh" sound in sangha. The usual practice in Hebrew is therefore to repeat the final ה - as in סנגהה. That final ה is used in Hebrew as a marker for the vowel occurring at the end of a word, as in Hebrew there are no vowel letters as such. In Sanskrit, on the other hand, all consonents inherently contain a vowel sound, so sangha is written संघ , with the घ denoting the "gha". Neither English nor Hebrew have aspirated consonents, though it is not so difficult to say them, unlike, say the retroflexive phonemes that exist in most Indian languages. (Even the word "India" is usually pronounced with a retroflexive n sound by Indians).

Covid's toll

Covid deaths have passed 6 million; the number of people that are said to have died in the Jewish holocaust. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the same people who deny that the Holocaust happened also deny the death toll from COVID.

Links

‘Heat dome’ probably killed 1bn marine animals on Canada coast, experts say - The Guardian

Climate crisis ‘may put 8bn at risk of malaria and dengue’ - The Guardian

Researchers predict that up to 4.7 billion more people could be threatened by the world’s two most prominent mosquito-borne diseases, compared with 1970-99 figures.

Dengue has no specific treatment. The disease is under-reported, with almost half the world’s population at risk. Dengue is estimated to infect 100 million to 400 million people every year, killing 20,000.

WP & Hubzilla cont’d

Spent a few hours uglifying adapting my blog to suit the (slightly modified) Pumpkin theme of my Hubzilla channel. In this way, the two CMSs look more suited to each other. The Weaver Xtreme theme is one of the best and most flexible that is available in WordPress, and is very well cared for, well-documented and regularly updated. There's a premium version, but a simple blog site doesn't need it. Weaver Xtreme could exactly duplicate the Hubzilla theme, but for for now it's close enough. There may be need for a second round of modifications for comments or other features.

Playing with wordpress’s P2 theme

I'm still playing with P2 - Automattic's new(ish) twitter-like interface. It's buggy. Messages are defined from the beginning as "status updates", "blog posts", "Quotes" or "Links", some of which correspond to wordpress categories. Status updates do not receive a title, or rather, a title is not shown on the page. If you go into the dashboard editing interface, a title appears in the title box. This is an extract of the first words of the status update. Any editing done in the dashboard brings back a title, just like a blog post. Even if you remove the title from the title box, wordpress then recreates a title from the text extract, and this appears on the public version of the site. It may be better to always create status messages as "blog posts", but choosing to write a blog causes P2 to automatically mis-categorize the post as a blog post, rather than a status update.

So the P2 theme is actually more like a hack than something that Automattic has thoughtfully worked into the interface. Actually, I think it would make more sense for blogging software to work the categories of links, status updates and posts directly into their interface, in a similar way that Facebook does this; except that it should be possible to incorporate all of them on the same page. I could imagine a 3-column page theme that would do this in a satisfactory way.