Vikshepa Blog

Mental Distractions

27 Jan 2022


I think the tiredness and weirdness I feel today may be a result of the 2nd booster shot that I had yesterday. It just occurred to me that that may be the cause. I hope it's the vaccination and not the virus itself.

Yesterday evening the storm struck out power to the village - they only fixed it at around 10:00 this morning. I watched an episode of The Expanse and went to bed.

Plain Text

A couple of days ago I read through the entire blog (or the parts that I understood) of Bastian Bechtold - I had it via his RSS feed, which was easier to go through than the blog itself. (As is often the case.) This got me thinking once again about the relative virtues of plain text. Really, I think we should be doing everything in plain text. However secure our CMS systems, the text is only as secure as the system. For non-programmers like me, at least, it's really hard to retrieve the text from a CMS system. I recently tried a WordPress plugin that produces static files from the blog and it ended up producing about 6,000 files. It's possible to extract a newsfeed but I wasn't able, on my last attempt, to get all the posts at once. (I think that was in - I've since found out how to do it in self-hosted WP) Plain text is surely the most future-proof of any format.

The value of a system like Bechtold's org-static-blog is that every post is a simple org-mode plain text file. Many static blogs create for every post a separate folder, of which the post is the index.html. I prefer the product of org-static-blog; a directory with org files and another one with the posts. The method of creating and publishing files is easy, and the code itself is as easy as it could be. It doesn't have a templating system; just an ordinary CSS file.

I used org-static-blog previously, but was lured back to the comforts of CMS posting. I'm not very good at remembering the codes found in emacs, and every time I go back to it, I find that I've forgotten them again. Maybe age plays a role, since I used to be very good at remembering WordPerfect codes, for the DOS versions of that word processor. As a word processor, WordPerfect and others of that era weren't so far removed from emacs

Anyway, I think I will give org-static-blog another spin. One of my good sides of my tech-fickleness is that I'm never intimidated by learning something new, or re-learning something that I've forgotten.


Nations are crap; pretty well all of them. Since nations seem to be the inevitable reflection of the individuals that make them, I suppose that means that we are crap too. At least, nations reflect the worst part of ourselves. Today I was reading the Guardian story about the death of the 78-year old Palestinian at the hands of the IDF (as if there was any doubt, his death was found to have resulted from "external violence"). There are many, many such stories about Israel's total disregard for Palestinian lives. But without the least attempt to excuse this country for its crimes, my problem is that all the other countries that I know are culpable too. Visiting or going to live in another country can provide a breather from the concern or disgust we might feel for our domicile - the problems of "foreign" countries are less within the sphere of our interest, after all. But it isn't necessary to dig far under the surface to find the same phenomena, on a greater or a lesser scale.

Sometimes we have the luxury of feeling that there has been progress. Britain is no longer the imperialist power that it was when it oppressed half the world. Germany is no longer the Germany of the third reich. But in the timeline of human history, 1939 or 1858 are just a second away and nothing much has been learned. When I look at the growing crisis in Ukraine, that seems obvious. It would be so easy for the parties of that conflict to reach a solution. Why do we need a Europe where nuclear-enabled forces of two hostile parties face off along a narrow divide. Demilitarize the whole area; move forces and missiles away from the borders on both sides.

All conflicts based on the perception of "us" and "them" are problems only of perception, and the larger the group identities become, the larger the potential for destruction. Wars between huge nations are obviously more dangerous than squabbles between clans. The dynamics are similar but the consequences are influenced by scale.

Let nations exist as convenient groupings to organize social services for the good of citizens. They are not worthy of our loyalty or patriotism. In an ideal world, individuals would be able to flow freely between nations. Their loyalty would be towards humanity as a whole and towards the welfare of all beings.

I rather liked the insult hurled by the Turkish journalist, which Erdogan said "would not go unpunished":

'The alleged insult was a proverb that translates as: “When the ox comes to the palace, he does not become a king. But the palace becomes a barn.”'

Tags: COVID-19 Plain-text nations
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