After several months of procrastination and dawdling, everything now appears to be working again.
I had originally thought that it would be impossible to restore any comments from after February 8 of last year, which was the last time I made a proper backup of the database. This bothered me somewhat, as it would mean that all of the comments from the earthquake and initial Fukushima disaster period would be gone, which was a major reason for giving in to my procrastinatory tendencies.
However, after not having done anything for a while, I decided last week to finally suck it up and restore what I could, even if we lost a few months of comment activity. But before that, my friend Tryon Eggleston, webmaster at Drew University, took another look at the site, and realized that for some reason it was now possible to extract comments from the damaged database file using the same techniques that both of us had tried, without success, several months ago. Exactly why this should be so is mysterious — perhaps there was an update to the server software that changed how it handles the database — but it was certainly welcome. With that problem solved, all of the blog software was wiped, re-installed from scratch, and the content of the old database was imported into a fresh one. I also took this opportunity to switch from the old, somewhat broken, theme that we had been using to an only very slightly tweaked version of the new default theme. Unfortunately, the old header image does not fit these dimensions, but I will slap something else together at some point.
So, here we are. The blog works, and virtually no content has been lost. I am not going to promise anything specific about future activity, from either myself or other authors, but I will say that I at least keep things more active than the comatose state of the past eight months.