Archive for January, 2008

Some useful WordPress plugins

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

In the year that I’ve been running this blog, I’ve accumulated a decent number of WordPress plugins. Some I now consider essential; others are merely neat. The list below contains every WordPress plugin I currently have running on this blog, in alphabetical order (say you entirely wanted to duplicate the look of this blog, this list would be a good place to start). And if you see some missing from the list that you think I should be running, well, let me know in the comments.

  1. All in One SEO Pack. I know the name sounds kind of evil (SEO is a four-letter word in many parts of the Internet), but this plugin is really innocuous. The main functionality that I use is its ability to nicely and cleanly give posts meta descriptions, which show up under the page title in a search engine listing. It also lets you adjust all sorts of keywords, other meta tags, page titles, etc., but I haven’t messed around with that stuff yet.
  2. AskApache RewriteRules Viewer displays a list of URL rewriting rules, both those of WordPress and any applicable .htaccess files. It helped me out when I was debugging a permalink structure change. Though I haven’t used it since, I still keep it around just in case.
  3. Flexible Upload is a very useful plugin that extends the functionality of uploading and using images in WordPress. It creates thumbnails of a given size on the fly and offers increased control in how an image is placed within a post (without having to manually adjust the HTML). It will also do automatic watermarking for you. Just a caveat though, version 1.9 has some sort of incompatibility with certain themes or WordPress 2.3.x or something, so I’m running 1.8.
  4. Google XML Sitemaps automatically creates an XML sitemap of your blog and keeps it updated over time. XML sitemaps are still kind of a new thing, but Google is using them, and having one can potentially increase the visibility of some of your harder-to-find pages in search rankings. If nothing else, at least its output is nifty.
  5. In Series adds series functionality to WordPress. Think of a series as categories with ordering, so each post has a numbered table of contents linking to the other pages in the series as well as “Previous” and “Next” links. I’m using it for my telescope-making work log and my Diamondback opinion columns. One caveat: the only way to prevent the table of contents (which can get long) from displaying on the front page is by hacking up your theme. The next version of this plugin will make it a simple configuration option.
  6. Live Comment Preview implements live comment previewing in pure JavaScript, no AJAX or additional server calls required. A caveat, recent versions seem to have problems for logged in users (i.e. you) with WordPress 2.3.x on non-Internet Explorer browsers, so I’m using version 1.7.
  7. No Self Pings prevents your newly written posts from generating pingbacks on previous posts. Some people like them; I don’t.
  8. Random Posts Widget displays a number of links to random posts on your blog. I used to have a “Best posts” heading, but maintaining it was too much of a hassle, so I removed it and simply went for the random links. The ability to browse through a blog randomly rather than having to go chronologically or by category is great, and by giving a choice of posts for someone to click on, they can pick the one that most interests them. If you haven’t tried out the random links yet, do have a go. Most of the traffic on this blog is on recent posts, but the older posts don’t have any less quality.
  9. Raz-Captcha adds a CAPTCHA to user login and/or user registration. I just have it turned on for registration, because too many spammers were automatically registering accounts in the vain hope that being logged in would let their spammy comments through my spam filter (it doesn’t).
  10. Recent Comments Widget displays the most recent comments anywhere on the blog. This is one of my favorite plugins. It fosters discussion and also makes tracking down spam comments on old posts easy. At a simple glance of my page, anyone can see where the latest comments are, and then if they feel like it, they can respond to them. Without this plugin, this default WordPress functionality only displays a list of latest comments in the blog’s admin interface.
  11. Redirection is a redirection manager that can change a bunch of different aspects on how redirects are handled, but I only use it for one thing. I changed my permalinks structure to remove the /index.php/ part recently, yet WordPress was sending back HTTP codes of 302, or “Moved Temporarily”, along with all of the redirects to the new permalink URLs. This is bad, as it can split up search engine karma across multiple pages. So I used Redirection to change the HTTP code to 301, or “Moved Permanently”. This tells search engines to update everything to point to the new URL.
  12. Spam Karma 2 is one of those plugins that I don’t know how I’d live without. It’s caught tens of thousands of spam comments so far. I cannot even imagine trying to handle all of that manually. And it’s false positive rate is amazingly low. Put simply, if you are running a WordPress blog on the public Internet, you need an anti-spam solution, and Spam Karma 2 is much more configurable and feature-full than WordPress’s default, Akismet.
  13. Update Manager keeps track of your plugins and lets you know when a new version of one is available. Not much more to say about that. Just be wary about upgrading; as the caveats above show, newer is not always better.
  14. Stats tabulates post view statistics in a blog-aware fashion (as opposed to the other stats tracker I use, awstats, which just knows about web pages in general). The plugin itself basically just farms out all of the work to’s servers (for which you need a free API key). If you don’t want them knowing the intimate details of your blog readership, you don’t want this plugin.
  15. WordPress Automatic Upgrade provides a smooth way of upgrading WordPress whenever new versions come out. Instead of having to manually backup your database and upload the new WordPress files, this plugin handles everything. It’s very nice, but you don’t end up using it that often simply because WordPress updates don’t come out all that frequently.
  16. WP Super Cache is a caching plugin that stores rendered HTML versions of your blog pages. It’s very useful for keeping your site up and running if you were to be, say, Digged or Slashdotted. I currently have it installed but not running, however, because the way it caches means that dynamic widgets like Recent Comments end up not updating on individual pages until the expiration time of the cache is reached. But I still have it ready to turn on at a moment’s notice should I get hit with a flood of traffic.

So that’s all of the WordPress plugins that I’m using. I hope that I at least gave you some leads on useful ones. The WordPress software is pretty barebone, lacking a lot of near-required functionality that you only get through plugins. I just wish someone would release a plugin that auto-moderates all Trackbacks and Pingbacks. Yes, there are some older ones out there, but none are compatible with WordPress 2.3. I’ve had such a problem with splogs sending me pingbacks and trackbacks (which Spam Karma doesn’t catch because those links actually exist, they’re just one of thousands of fake posts) that I’ve had to turn off Pingbacks and Trackbacks altogether. I really wish I could re-enable them. If you find out about a plugin for this that works with WordPress 2.3, please let me know!

Security hole in MySpace leads to leak of private pictures

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

MySpace has had a security hole in it for months that allows anyone to access most photographs, even those of users who’ve set their profiles to private. It’s a simple URL hack; insert the user’s ID into an appropriately constructed URL for viewing photo galleries and you get full access. MySpace doesn’t have any real access control in this instance. News Corporation, the owner of MySpace, has been well aware of this bug for a damn long time, but they still haven’t fixed it. It makes you wonder if all those promises of making MySpace safer are nothing but noise.

Well, MySpace now has a bonfire lit under its feet, because a member of downloaded a huge number of private pictures from MySpace and released them as a torrent. The torrent weighs in at 17 GB and contains 567,000 photographs. Naturally, I had to download it. A day later (thank you Verizon FIOS!), the download is complete, and I’ve been browsing through them just to see what kinds of pictures people upload to MySpace behind supposedly closed doors.

Most of the images aren’t that interesting. There are a lot of wedding or other formal occasion photos. There are lots of pictures of babies. There are lots of miscellaneous pictures of people mugging for the camera, often in a party environment with drinks in hand. After going through several hundred of the photographs, I could take it no longer. The signal to noise ratio is simply too low. Maybe there’ll be a best of torrent at some point?

But I did find three photos out of the ones that I looked at that are interesting. This is a bit of flavor of what the entire torrent likely contains:

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To your mind, tools are a literal part of the body

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

A new study casts light on the (nearly) unique ability of higher order primates to use tools. It turns out it’s quite the elegant mental hack. So far as your mind is concerned, any tools you are using are literally part of your body. Scientists confirmed this by conducting an experiment on monkeys. They observed that the same group of neurons fired off in the same order when monkeys picked up a piece of food, no matter whether they used their hands, pliers, or reverse pliers that required opening the hands to close the pliers’ tip. The firing of the neurons thus had nothing to do with the movements of the fingers themselves when a tool was used, but rather, corresponded to the movement exhibited by the grasping end of the tool. It’s quite an amazing, revolutionary find, and as these things usually go, it makes perfect sense in hindsight.

Imagine swinging a baseball bat. You aren’t concentrated on your hands; once they are grasping the bat you don’t give them a second thought. No, you are concentrated on the sweet spot on the bat. It becomes your fingers by proxy, and the motion of swinging a bat is really just about extending your “hands” to meet an incoming object. That’s why we are so good at hitting baseballs coming in at even 100 mph. It wouldn’t work at all if you had to concentrate on the complex kinematic interactions governing how movements of your hands are translated into movement of the end of the bat. Thankfully, evolution has provided us with such an elegant hack that makes it all work — and a hack that is undoubtedly responsible for modern civilization, as well.

When I read this article I immediately started thinking about videogames. There’s a break-in period when confronted with a novel controller or control method before its use becomes natural. Before that happens, you’re still consciously thinking about pressing every button, rather than focusing on the effects those actions will have within the game. For instance, I played Guitar Hero for the first time over the New Year’s holiday. At the beginning I was playing easy level songs with only a modicum of success. But as I grew more familiar with the controller, as it became an extension of my body, I got better with it, and by the end, I was tackling medium level difficulty songs. Give me a few more hours with it and I’d be on hard.

My most familiar controller format has to be the standard for PC first person shooters: W,A,S,D (or rarely E,S,D,F) for movement and the mouse for looking and aiming. I’ve been playing games using that for so long it has become second nature to me. I’m not even focusing on my fingers at all. When I’m moving around in Team Fortress 2 I frequently detect spies trying to backstab me simply because I run into them. There’s no lag time at all between trying to move backwards and realizing I’m running into something, then within a fraction of a second I’m spinning wildly in place and firing my weapon before I even see the enemy. And the virtual gun on-screen has become an extension of my hand. That’s the amazing part of all this that I wish the experiment had covered. Not only does the tool become a part of your body as far as the mind is concerned, the tool doesn’t even have to be real at all. It can be entirely virtual. And why shouldn’t it? The cognitive hack thankfully doesn’t discriminate, so it will continue serving us well for decades to come as virtual reality becomes an ever larger part of our life.

A soul-crushing disparity in relative personal worth, as witnessed at a museum

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

Starry Starry Night by Vincent Van GoghOne thought has been lingering in my mind since I visited the Museum of Modern Art in New York City over holiday break: who would want to work as a guard in a museum? Working at the ticket desk wouldn’t be too bad, as I’m sure it pays better and is more fun than a typical minimum wage job. It also involves lots of interaction with people, which despite what many say, is a key component to job satisfaction for me (How could your job ever be boring when you keep meeting new people? People are inherently interesting.). But why would you ever want to be a museum guard?

At first thought, working as a guard at a museum does seem kind of cool. You would get to see all of these amazing works of art. And there would be a novelty to it (for maybe the first week). But there’s only so much to see in any one museum, and anyway, as a guard, you aren’t exactly allowed to browse the artwork at will. The uniform isn’t comfortable either. The guards at MoMA are forced to wear formal tuxedo-style clothing embroidered with “MoMA” on it — admittedly, probably the only kind of dress suitable for a museum employee, but they were still dressed far more formally and uncomfortably than the average guest. And — even worse — they don’t get to sit. They didn’t even look like they were allowed to lean. They just stood along walls and in dark corners for hours at a time, brooding, bored thoughts lazily tracing across their minds. Yet they must remain vigilant. Their only human interaction is of the negative kind, when they have to yell at someone to turn off the camera’s flash, or back away from the painting, or not touch the sculptures. It’s pretty much the opposite of the ticket desk job.

The sheer absurdity of the museum guard position was most evident when I stumbled across the painting Starry Starry Night (pictured above) by Vincent Van Gogh in one of the galleries. I’m not even going to pretend to be neutral here; Starry Starry Night is one of my absolute favorite paintings, and when I heard that it was part of the permanent collection at MoMA, I was looking forward to seeing it the entire day. It occupied an understated position in the gallery (I suppose MoMA is too “good” to value one painting over any other in terms of placement). It was the second or third along a wall from a corner, in the midst of a bunch of other unrelated paintings. But that was the only ordinary thing about it.

A crowd of people hailing from many nations stood clustered several deep around the painting, chatting excitedly in numerous languages, blocking line of sight to the two surrounding and totally forgotten paintings. Two museum guards stood on either side of Starry Starry Night, carefully keeping watch and shooing away those who got too close. Many of the guests were taking pictures of it, and each occasional camera flash elicited another stern monotone warning from the guards. The flurry of activity around the painting was so great that I was never able to have any quiet contemplative solitary time with it, which to me, is a crucial part of truly experiencing a work of art (as opposed to merely looking at it). Even when I did make my way close up to peer at it, I couldn’t focus; I was distracted by the general brouhaha. So I left dissatisfied. Starry Starry Night, it turns out, is simply too popular of a painting to have as a favorite.

I just pity those poor guards, who are forever standing in the shadow of a master artist whose impact on the world they will never even begin to be able to approach. Their entire working life revolves around guarding one of the thousands of artworks produced by a prolific genius over a century ago. Entire lifetimes are being spent protecting a work that was created in just a few days’ time. That is a massive asymmetry in worth that has to be absolutely soul-crushing. This, more than any other reason, is why being a museum guard must be such a terrible occupation. How can you be content when, instead of creating impressive things on your own, you are merely guarding those of others?

The major problem with minors

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

I was an opinion columnist for University of Maryland’s student newspaper The Diamondback for three semesters before I graduated. The columns I wrote are still up on the web archive, but I’d rather not depend on The Diamondback to host them indefinitely. Thus, I have decided to repost them on this blog, not only to archive them in a place under my control, but also so the readers here can get a glimpse of my writing from college. Here is the sixth of my opinion columns, The major problem with minors, originally published September 8, 2006.

The academic world is experiencing increasing growth in multidisciplinary studies. Once disparate fields are coming together in previously unforeseen ways, producing such hybrid offspring as astrobiology, bioinformatics and computational linguistics. Current university students will go on to provide the bulk of the workforce in these nascent fields. So why does this university make it so hard for students to get recognized experience in multiple fields at once?

In the absence of devoted majors for multidisciplinary studies, a student’s best bet to combine two disciplines is to double up and take on two separate majors. It’s simply impractical to expect the university to add new majors for all of the emerging multidisciplinary studies, as there are so many of them (although I am looking forward to the eventual creation of the College of Computational Cryptoxenocartography).

The problem with double majors, though, is they are not realistically achievable for the average student within a four-year timeframe. I’ll admit, I’m not sure if I’d be able to tackle two full course loads and still maintain what little social life I have left. The solution is to allow students to get certification for dabbling in another field outside of their major without forcing them to work themselves to death. What I’m talking about, of course, are undergraduate minors, which are within the grasps of most students.

So why is it that so few colleges offer minors? You can’t get a minor (or “certificate of merit” as it’s sometimes called around these parts) in any of the subjects under the jurisdiction of the College of Chemical and Life Sciences, including chemistry or biology. Out of more than a dozen departments of the A. James Clark School of Engineering, International Engineering is the only minor program. Nor are there any minors offered from the School of Business. All of these subject areas can be synergistically combined with other distinct areas to form cutting-edge multidisciplinary fields, but they are mostly out of the grasp of the average student.

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A real life Stand Alone Complex emerges against Scientology

Monday, January 28th, 2008

Laughing Man logoWith the recent appearance of the anti-Scientology Internet-based movement named “Anonymous” we are witnessing the emergence of the first true virtual Stand Alone Complex as envisioned in the anime series Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. Allow me to explain. First, some background on what a Stand Alone Complex is, courtesy of Wikipedia:

While originally intended to “underscore the dilemmas and concerns that people would face if they relied too heavily on the new communications infrastructure,” the concept of the Stand Alone Complex eventually came to represent a phenomenon where unrelated, yet very similar, actions of individuals create a seemingly concerted effort.

A Stand Alone Complex can be compared to the copycat behavior that often occurs after incidents such as serial murders or terrorist attacks. An incident catches the publics attention and certain types of people “get on the bandwagon”, so to speak. It is particularly apparent when the incident appears to be the result of well-known political or religious beliefs, but it can also occur in response to intense media attention. For example, a mere fire, no matter the number of deaths, is just a garden variety tragedy. However, if the right kind of people begin to believe it was arson, caused by deliberate action, the threat increases drastically that more arsons will be committed.

What separates the Stand Alone Complex from normal copycat behavior is that the originator of the copied action is not even a real person, but merely a rumored figure that commits said action. Even without instruction or leadership a certain type of person will spring into action to imitate the rumored action and move toward the same goal even if only subconsciously. The result is an epidemic of copied behavior-with no originator. One could say that the Stand Alone Complex is mass hysteria-with purpose.

In the original anime, the Stand Alone Complex emerges in the form of the Laughing Man, a mythical figure under whose banner a large variety of disparate groups and individuals launch attacks against corporations and governments, with a common unifying theme of speaking truth to power. But there was no centralized organization, nor was there even an original who set out to launch such a crusade; the concept evolved spontaneously across the Internet, led by no one person but shaped by hundreds of independent ones.

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A wrenching decision

Sunday, January 27th, 2008

I was an opinion columnist for University of Maryland’s student newspaper The Diamondback for three semesters before I graduated. The columns I wrote are still up on the web archive, but I’d rather not depend on The Diamondback to host them indefinitely. Thus, I have decided to repost them on this blog, not only to archive them in a place under my control, but also so the readers here can get a glimpse of my writing from college. Here is the fifth of my opinion columns, A wrenching decision, originally published May 9, 2006.

Recently, it was revealed that at least six people knew information about a high-profile murder for the better part of a year without anyone going public with it. Though everyone has been paying attention to what the murderer, his friends and the family of the victim may have been thinking, not many seem to wonder about the anonymous tipster, who, upon learning of this secret, made the incredibly difficult decision to go public with it. What internal wars might he or she have waged? What follows is a possible account of his or her story.

Have you ever been let in on a terrible secret? One so dark and wrenching that lives hang in the balance? We’re not talking about trivial bedroom squabbles – we’re talking about arson, death – yes, even murder.

You’ve become friends with a tight-knit group of people. You like them and seem to be fitting in well. You thought you knew all there was to know about them, but one drunken, dreary night, something you were totally unsuspecting of comes up: One of your friends knows a murderer. And all the rest of them know it.

You remember hearing about an off-campus house catching fire last year. One student was killed and another seriously injured. It was ruled an arson shortly thereafter and buzz flew across the campus. But in the months to come, no new leads presented themselves and the case was nearly shelved, unsolved. Yet half a dozen people knew the truth and did nothing.

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Who wants to see “The Dark Knight” now?

Friday, January 25th, 2008

The new Batman film The Dark Knight is due to be released in July. But with Heath Ledger’s recent death, I’m wondering how that will affect the film. His death has already nixed the film The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, but only because it was all of his scenes hadn’t been shot yet. His shooting on The Dark Knight, on the other hand, was completed.

Personally, I find the thought of seeing a movie starring an actor who recently met an untimely death unsettling. It would distract me from the rest of the film, because each time the dead actor appeared on screen, I’d be thinking of him rather than his character. The suspension of disbelief and immersion in the story would all dissipate. I can’t imagine enjoying a movie under these circumstances. So my best guess would be that his death will negatively impact the movie’s success upon release.

But maybe most people aren’t like me, and the increased publicity and morbid curiosity over Ledger’s death will more than offset the people like me who are weirded out. Heath Ledger does play The Joker, who is very dark and psychopathic, so his character is at least not at odds with Ledger’s death. Now if he had been playing the male love interest in a romantic comedy (which would have a happy ending as all such movies do), his death would be more damaging to its chances of success than to one where he plays a twisted villain like The Dark Knight. In some perverse way, maybe Heath Ledger’s death will improve how his final character is received.

So, what do you all think? Is Heath Ledger’s death good or bad for the movie?

(And don’t go railing off against me for being cold-hearted or whatever. Many others have amply discussed the circumstances and tragedy of his death, so forgive me for forgoing the traditional “Oh this is so sad” clich├ęs and focusing exclusively on this one aspect.)

Evaluation process flawed

Thursday, January 24th, 2008

I was an opinion columnist for University of Maryland’s student newspaper The Diamondback for three semesters before I graduated. The columns I wrote are still up on the web archive, but I’d rather not depend on The Diamondback to host them indefinitely. Thus, I have decided to repost them on this blog, not only to archive them in a place under my control, but also so the readers here can get a glimpse of my writing from college. Here is the fourth of my opinion columns, Evaluation process flawed, originally published April 25, 2006.

Admittedly it isn’t the most interesting of topics, but I feel that I at least presented a good argument.

If you’re like me, you’ve been getting spammed recently with e-mails urging you to fill out your course evaluations for this semester. You may even be getting verbally spammed by your professors. And if you’re like me, you bothered with course evaluations once during your first semester freshman year and then never again. The reason is simple: Course evaluations don’t count for much, and thus, many students don’t take the time to fill them out.

First, let us remember the primary goal of professors here at the university. Contrary to popular opinion, many consider themselves researchers first and teachers second. That’s okay; obviously we need researchers to keep the wheels of progress spinning. But I know most students don’t appreciate it when a research-oriented professor comes in and does a half-assed job of teaching.

Luckily, we do have many good (and even some great) professors here at the university. These are most often the ones who urge everyone to fill out the course evaluation form. Why? Not because they want to look good to their superiors, but rather because they want to get real feedback directly from their students on how their teaching is going. I’ve even had professors who, on their own, made up and gave out a course evaluation in the middle of the semester to get ongoing feedback about how the class was progressing. Now that’s dedication to teaching.

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American Gladiators is unbelievable, brother

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

Crush from American GladiatorsThe newly revamped American Gladiators is the one show that every employee at work watches, and thus, it inevitably becomes a regular topic of discussion over lunch. The show is simply too awesome not to watch, though not always for the right reasons. It’s everything the original series was, which most of us were fascinated with as kids, and more. Sure, American Gladiators may not be as strenuous as, say, boxing, wrestling, or mixed martial arts, but it takes itself so seriously that it’s hard not to get caught up in the epic narrative.

Each contender has a tragic life story and/or proud wide-eyed children looking on from the stands, and the chance at winning the $100,000 is portrayed as their major chance of success in life. If contender X doesn’t win, he won’t be able to buy the house that his destitute always-supportive mother so desperately deserves! And the show isn’t so foam-padded that there isn’t any danger; we’re just five episodes into the season and two people have already sustained leg injuries in the Power Ball event bad enough to force them to drop out of the competition, spinning their tale of woe to the hosts and begrudgingly wishing their replacements luck even as they hobble around on crutches, wincing with each step.

And I haven’t even brought up the gladiators yet, each of which is a stereotype of a caricature of a stereotype. There’s the trash-talking black guy from the streets! The crazed tribal warrior from the Pacific islands! The tough, hulking Viking warrior! The finely chiseled Greek god! (Interrupt me if you’ve heard any of these before.) We’ve had a great time in the office simply ranking the female gladiators in order of attractiveness, with one ranking by a woman at the office being a particular bone of contention. Fury as #2? No way! All her attempted rationalizations — that Fury would look better without her topknot ponytail, and that the rest of the female gladiators are all wearing a lot more makeup — fall on deaf ears. At least we can all agree that Crush, pictured above, is the hottest (and her gladiator name helpfully suggests exactly what we should do about it).

The one deficient part of the show, however, is Hulk Hogan. He consistently, utterly, and terrifying fails in his duty as a host. The excitement is there, but the eloquence is not. His post-event commentary consists of random permutations of the words “unbelievable”, “dude”, and “brother”, as in “Dude, that was so unbelievable brother that I couldn’t believe it!” or “Brother, I couldn’t believe that! That was unbelievable dude!” The whole time he’s speaking I can’t help but thinking, over and over, “God dammit, learn a few more adjectives already. One isn’t enough.”

It’s painfully obvious that the writer’s strike is in full effect, because unlike his stint in the WWE, he has no one writing his lines for him now. He did well in the WWE, where the primary job qualification seemed to be how many ccs of steroids he could inject in a day, but now that he’s trying to host, well, the resultant lack of intelligence caused by massive steroid overdoses and repeated untreated concussions isn’t helping him any. Even the contenders seem to be picking up on his imbecility, repeatedly using the words “brother” and “dude” when speaking with him in the same manner that you might tailor your speech when speaking with a small child, sticking exclusively with words you know they are familiar with.

Hulk Hogan is such a bad host that he couldn’t even host a tapeworm properly. He’s dragging the show down with the staggering totality of his ineptitude, and I’m sure the studio executives all stand around in the editing room afterwards wincing at his performances, trying (and failing) to come up with the least terrible footage to put together into the broadcast. If you kneel down, face Hollywood, and strain your mind in just the right way, you can telepathically feel the urgency with which those studio executives are looking for a replacement. Here’s hoping they find one soon.