My Photo

« When Is It Right to Remove a President from Office? | Main | Are Homophobes Born or Made? Open Thread »

June 02, 2005


But on the plus side, at least it explains why that memo was familiar ;)

Let me take a stab at it, as I've taught a lot of people how to understand HTML who never thought they could. I apologize in advance if any of this sounds like I'm talking down to you--I'm explaining the fundamentals as simply as I can so that you understand /why/ it does what it does, as I've found that knowing why helps people who don't take intuitively to it learn it much more easily.

What you're trying to do is create a hyperlink, or just a "link" as it's usually called. You're designating a word or phrase to be underlined so that when you click on it, it goes to another URL (the term for an address on the web, like

To do this, you use an HTML tag. All the tag does is mark the beginning and end of some text that your web browser is going to treat as special--so that instead of showing it to people exactly as you wrote it, it's going to interpret it to create a hyperlink. Since you're anchoring one web page to another, the tag that does this is called an "anchor" tag--represented by the letter "A".

This tag has a beginning, or opening: <a>

And an end, or closing: </a>

In the opening tag, you want to tell it the address of the page you're linking. This is the hyperlink reference, which we'll shorten to "href". It looks like this:

<a href="">

You don't usually have to put the quotes around the address, but it's a good habit to get into. Does it make more sense when explained that way? You're opening an "anchor" tag, and setting the hyperlink reference (href) as equal (=) to the address you're linking.

I've talked about opening and closing tags so far--but what are they enclosing? The answer is: anything you want. In between these two tags (<a> and </a>) you'll put the words that you want people to click on--this is what they'll see, in other words, what gets underlined. It can be pretty much as long or as short as you want, and it can say anything you want. So if you're linking to CNN's web site, it'd probably be good for the link to just say "CNN". Let's try that:

<a href="">CNN</a>

If you type that in, it'll look like this when you post:


Hopefully this makes more sense, and helps you understand the whys and wherefores of making a link. I know that everyone learns different things differently, but I think basic HTML like this is accessible to anyone--just don't let yourself be intimidated by thinking it's more complicated than it really is. :)

This comment from lily may help explain her problem. Even if she understands the concept she may not see well enough to be able to enter the tags correctly.

Lily, when you post here there is a box labeled URL:. It is probably meant for your home page, but you can use it to post any arbitrary link. If you open a browser window with the link you want and copy the link into the clipboard, then paste that link into the URL: box your name at the end of the post will become a clickable link. Just tell people to click on your name inside the post. My name links to a home page that I use here to keep my email from showing up and being harvested for spam. If you click on my name you will see the effect.

Sorry to be off in the non-virtual world & miss your replies, Ken.

(1) We didn't use nukes after 9/11 for 3 reasons:

(a) we didn't have to (invading Afghanistan wasn't terribly difficult; the enemy was riding around in Toyotas)
(b)there "were no good targets," as Rummy complained at the time; and
(c) al Qaeda, not Afghanistan, attacked us.

Iran, by contrast, has a serious military and would not be easy to waltz into; has good targets; and is a real functioning state.

If we had reasonable proof that Iran sponsored an attack on the Mall of America or whatever, killing a comparable number to the 9/11 dead, I have no trouble at all believing we'd nuke targets in Iran, rather than launch a full invasion. I think a Democrat or Republican would support this. Indeed, yellow-dog Dem that I am, I wouldn't vote for a Dem who wouldn't do this. (Hilzoy: What Would Clark Do?)

(Though given the Bushies' low standards for "reasonable proof," I'm not sure I would trust this President if he presented same, without a whole lotta corroboration.)

(2) WW2 recruiting is a technical subject that possibly neither of us is an expert on, but I am very skeptical that the rush to the recruitment stations after Pearl was enough to meet the USAFs' needs. We had a draft, I daresay, because we needed one. Politicians do not have drafts for the heck of it.

(3) I, like other commenters, do not really see the ayatollahs wanting to directly attack America or sponsor such attacks. They have nothing to gain thereby. If they were impractical fanatics like bin Laden, they wouldn't be where they are now. Waving the bloody shirt against America is a really good way for them to retain popularity & power, but it doesn't take a secular humanist to figure out what America would do in response to a serious attack.

And just to prove it works my name now links to the Clark web page that started this conversation, my previous post should still be my web page.
Hopefully our Obsidian Wings overlords will not view this as an abuse of the URL: box.

What would be so bad about attacking the Mall of America. That place gave me "The Fear"!

Otto, expect a visit from the FBI today or tomorrow.

WW2 recruiting is a technical subject that possibly neither of us is an expert on, but I am very skeptical that the rush to the recruitment stations after Pearl was enough to meet the USAFs' needs.

I'm not an expert either, but it is important to note that the draft was put into place _before_ Pearl Harbor. This link notes that just under 1 million men were drafted before the war started (for the US, of course).

Right you are, LJ, I'd forgotten that, despite having just finished Black's FDR bio; shame on me.

The draft extension bill in summer 1941 passed by just one vote, oft cited as evidence of America's reluctance to go to war, tho Black thinks that Congress was lagging behind popular opinion.

"The incompreshensible gooble-de-gook you post is not helpful. Nor is the impatient, sneering tone."

Oh, for god's sake. You're so welcome. Very gracious of you. And thoughtful.

Despite your response, I'll try to continue to be helpful to strangers in future. Go slap away everyone else trying to help you and answer your question now.


this is for you.

Lily, I commend Catsy's comment of 02:50 PM and hilzoy's comment of 12:42 PM to you. I would have been happy to so elaborate on my previous explanations of the same matter if you had but asked for further aid, rather than ignored them until you decided that my help was unwelcome and slapped my taking the time and trouble, several times, away. (Yes, I react to that as an extremely rude response; volunteering time and effort -- and, yes, I have to look up how to generate brackets without them being invisible, not that that takes a long time -- on my part was not, in fact, because I have no better use of time than to help people who aren't interested; I do hope you teach your students better manners.) Incidentally, HTML has nothing to do with learning about "computers," and I'm a guy who hasn't even completed a single year of college, let alone taken a single course on "computers" or computer languages, or anything related; I simply have learned maybe six whole tags; I gain my knowledge through looking things up. Also, I tend not to insult people who offer to help me.


See my comments above.

From the comment I linked to, on another post she wrote:

(BY the way, the minute I admit that I am a teacher I get paranoid that people are going to criticize my spelling, punctuation, etc. so I will pre-empt that with this disclosure; I am also legally blind in one eye and have very poor vision in the otherr one. I read get by by using context skills and a sort of global scanning technique. I can't see my typos.)

If Lily's eyesight is so bad that she finds it difficult to impossible to proof read her posts, how do you expect her to enter the fussy syntax of html with any confidence it will work, or a reasonable chance of fixing it if it doesn't? Open tags and broken links are the likely result.

I offered an alternative that should work consistently for her, using the Post a comment URL: box. As helpful as you, Hilzoy and Catsy are trying to be, it probably won't work for her to enter html directly.

Ggary was a typo, not a stutter. I wish I didn't have to cut and paste to spell check.

Apparently some people pick up HTML formatting as easily as others pick up communications etiquette.

Bruce: Apparently some people pick up HTML formatting as easily as others pick up communications etiquette.


Lily, I think the final thing is - for heaven's sake, don't worry about it! Entering links as coded HTML is a luxury, not a necessity.

Jesurgislac Johnson is right! Rarum!

But seriously: useful information and interesting thoughts presented in a readable form are a much higher priority for me than whether or not I can clink the accompanying link, or must cut and paste it. I like having both, but I also know what it's like to have limitations that aren't obvious to others. (In my case, it's an immune system run berserk with some nasty allergies, like to orris root, the base of naerly all perfumes. Going out can be quite an adventure.) At that point I do what I usually do, which is shrug and say "enh" and look for the next interesting post. :)

Hilzoy: But we need to do something quickly.

Agreed, and that something is to begin withdrawing from Iraq.

Dear everybody, Thanks for the directions on how to make a link. I have printed out the step-by-step directions and, when my boyfreind has time, he will walk me through it. I will practice, and I will be good to go.
Sorry about the whining over my eye. The computer I was using at that time has very small, blurry letters and I knew my post was going to be bad. Most of the time I don't have much problem. Right now, on this computer, I can see fine. For those of you who worry about my students or my ability to produce professional communication--never fear! Spell check works wonders. I just don't know how to use it on posts.
Gary--I enjoy your posts when you write about politics. I always read them carefully and come away better informed. I think, perhaps, that communication with you would be easier if we could see each other's faces. In the absence of facial expression, your more personal, editing, correcting, or directive posts come across to me as abrupt to the point of arrogance. "OK? Got it? Questions?" Maybe with a smiling face those three interrogatives would seem friendly or encouraging. In a vaccumn I didn't take it that way. So anyway...peace now?

P.S. The alien thing may be why Slartibartfast just doesn't recognize Tom Delay or Grover Norquist as fellow Republicans, but rather as objectionable personalities who appeared from the sky and who happen to be in his party.


Just playing on the moody meme. Not "appeared from the sky" so much as...ok, maybe that IS a good way to think of it. I mean, how else does one explain Nancy Pelosi?

What's wrong with Nancy Pelosi? I mean, she hasn't equated the Estate Tax to the Holocaust (like Norquist), or wholly (or, afaik, even partly) corrupted the House, like DeLay. (In this context, I also have to mention DeLay's explanation of why he didn't serve in Vietnam:

"He and Quayle, DeLay explained to the assembled media in New Orleans, were victims of an unusual phenomenon back in the days of the undeclared Southeast Asian war. So many minority youths had volunteered for the well-paying military positions to escape poverty and the ghetto that there was literally no room for patriotic folks like himself. Satisfied with the pronouncement, which dumbfounded more than a few of his listeners who had lived the sixties, DeLay marched off to the convention."


You may or may not agree with Nancy Pelosi, but she's a basically normal person, not a lunatic.

No, I wasn't saying she's a lunatic, at least not on the scale of equating estate tax to the Holocaust.

Next to that, the claim that she's a "conservative Catholic" is minor-league bizarre.

Lily: "So anyway...peace now?"

Peace. I'd like to note that most people who know me in person like me, but, of course, there are exceptions to that, as well (not reasonable exceptions, you know, but people are just like that, somehow, and besides, such folks have clearly bad taste). At the very least, I don't think anyone has ever leapt over the table at me when I've either tried to help them, or even just teased them in friendly fashion.

I disagree, on the one hand, with those who, in the fashion of limited knowledge, tend to worship Strunk & White as the be all and end all of writing, but although their advice to be pithy is generally wise, it does also run counter to trying to put in a lot of cautions and emotional gentlings and "if-then"'s. I tend to fall back on the belief that if active hostility isn't outright revealed, or at least shown as a likely covert intent, in writing, it shouldn't be assumed, but I do know that many folks do tend to react to unadorned words with a negative interpretation. All I can say is that if I were better at assuring people that I'm generally benign in intent, it would probably be noticable. (I did take a break from here over the weekend, both because I was so irritated at feeling spat on for offering help multiple times, and because I don't actually enjoy expressing irritation at other people [okay, unless I think they really really deserve it].) Peace.

"Next to that, the claim that she's a 'conservative Catholic' is minor-league bizarre."

I don't recall yet reading anything about Pelosi's religious beliefs or practices; what do you have in mind that strikes you as bizarre?

If this is true, the Marines are desperate.

The comments to this entry are closed.