17 July 2021

A concert

We have a husband and wife team of professional pianists in the village, who also teach piano and, at least once a year, arrange a concert in their home for their students; who may be either conservatory students or local children. We attended one of these this evening. The musicians were great; the western classical piano music, for the most part is mildly boring, sometimes irritating. I have less appreciation for it than for Middle Eastern and Indian classical music. It isn't the instrument that I dislike; I love the Keith Jarrett concerts, for example. But I came home and immediately put Cafe de Anatolia on. That's what I mainly listen to these days.


I have gradually come to the understanding that I'm interested in long-form blogging, and not at all in social networking or microblogging. I'm no good at the latter. I've never been able to build much of a network. My interactions are poor; fraught with inhibitions, sometimes cringe-worthy, and I've never been able to sustain interest for very long. I've had various false starts on the mainstream and the alternative networks. I enjoy writing, but it's mainly for my own benefit. Blogging helps me to process my experiences and develop my thoughts. In spite of that, blogging is a public form of writing. I could write offline in my journal, or in Cherrytree, where I often begin my posts. In Cherrytree, starting a day entry is as simple as pressing the F8 key. I could also choose to use one of the more obscure forms, such as Genesis, or establish an Onion site, use the Interplanetary File System, or start a Dat site on Beaker browser. I've thought about all of these possibilities, but I am writing online in order that my writing will be available, so it doesn't make sense to create obstacles to reading it unless I want to connect to a cabal of like-minded cranks, which I don't. I want the blog to be generally available.

On the other hand, I don't want to thrust what I write deliberately under the nose of those who came upon it by chance. The Fediverse, in order to build its popularity, has large instances with public threads. Those who have not yet established a network of friends and followers can follow the public timeline with posts from everyone who is on a given network instance. Joining one of those instances means that automatically, one's posts appear in the public stream, unless one elects to keep them semi-private and restricted to followers. I don't, or no longer, want either of those options. I want a publicly available blog that doesn't get put into a public timeline. But I want to announce posts to those who may be interested to read them, using a variety of means (see the About page). This year, I started auto-posting blog post notices - just the WP excerpt and a link - to Twitter and Tumblr. There is also the RSS news feed, and I found a way of enabling mailings of complete posts to anyone who wished to subscribe. I still had a dilemma regarding the Fediverse, and how I wanted to appear there. I am currently on three Fediverse instances; a Mastodon instance (Fosstodon); my Hubzilla channel, hosted on the same home server, and Disroot.org, where my Hubzilla channel is cloned.

Despite these options, I decided that the easiest solution could be to enable Matthias Pfefferle's WP Activity Pub plugin. The latter allows, in the simplest way possible, anyone on Mastodon or the majority of the other Fediverse sites, to follow my WordPress.org blog, without the additional step of posting it to any Fediverse instances. The blog itself becomes a valid member of the Fediverse. That's the solution with the least overhead.

All of this is fairly academic. I actually expect no one to follow the blog, far less to actually read it. The way that I've set things up, I probably won't actually know if they do. Comments are turned off, mail subscriptions are handled through a third party, RSS feed subscriptions are anonymous, and I am not active on any of the networks where blog posts are announced. Till now, signs of "engagement", as Facebook calls it, have been close to zero. That's all fine with me.

I sometimes think of the days prior to social networking. Writers would publish their creations with much less interaction with the reading public. Even today, when we read a book by a living author, be it a novel or a work of non-fiction, we do not expect to enter into a dialogue with her. Some writers have taken advantage of this separation in order to cultivate an elaborate fiction. For example, when we read Annie Dillard's famous Pilgrim at Tinker Creek (for which she won a Pulitzer), we are sure that this is an actual record of life in a wilderness area, and do not suspect that the author is writing from a college library while living on the fringes of a small town. The mystique is helpful to the book's success, and not just its commercial success. The mystery regarding the identity of the narrator is partly responsible for its transformative power.


Pluralistic: 16 Jul 2021 – Pluralistic: Daily links from Cory Doctorow

The Tower of Babel: How Public Interest Internet is Trying to Save Messaging and Banish Big Social Media

26 June 2021

My vertigo eventually went away by itself, without the need for special maneuvers.


Keeping a blog that nobody reads seems sometimes like an exercise in futility; but this feeling must be familiar to many writers of even less meaningful writing projects: imagine someone writing their first science fiction novel, or first murder mystery. The book itself may be meaningless, less than useless. Perhaps the writer hopes that one day the book will establish their reputation as a writer, and that this could be a smart career move, or lead to monetary gain. (Who knows what is going through their mind?) But in any case, there is a nagging doubt that the whole project is for naught.

But in writing a blog, at least there is the advantage of processing one's thoughts, reflection, and sometimes it even stimulates propitious mental activity.


When reading the writing of G.R.R. Martin or Gene Wolfe, I'm dazzled, again and again, by their specialized mastery of the terminology and vocabulary dealing with the subject of their writing. Of course, it is expected; of course one expects builders to know the trade and writers to know their craft, but still. Sometimes it is as if they themselves served as a stable hand or squire to a knight, in some earlier incarnation. Often I find myself looking up words as I go along; words I know that I will forget in another moment. This necessity to learn vocabulary must be daunting to any budding writer who needs to write a novel on subjects that are not common knowledge. One of my reference books attempts to fill in holes in such knowledge; it's called "Word Menu" and attempts to be kind of a reverse dictionary, providing vocabulary associated with a given subject, such as "ships and boats" and "fox hunting". But what this book provides would be totally inadequate for novel writers. Today, for example, I learned the use of the word trace, with regard to horses and carts. The dictionary says that the traces attach to a whippletree. Aha. Of course, nowadays one can consult websites that deal with this stuff here's one, but in writing a historical or fantasy novel dealing with a thousand aspects of life that have passed out of our 21st century awareness, this could quickly grow tiresome. In addition, this itself is almost the least part of the writing; the equivalent of finding the right stage props for one's play.


movie poster

We watched an Indian film on Netflix yesterday, "Taare Zameen Par, "Stars on Earth", about a boy with dyslexia, and a teacher who comes to his rescue. If we could get over our astonishment that the problem of dyslexia could be unknown in India (the film is from 2007), it was a good movie. Long (2 hours and 40 minutes), but well acted and produced. Even D's 89 year old mother managed to sit through it, and enjoyed it. She said that it is "a special movie".


The Palestinian Environment Under Israeli Colonization Deceleration

China issues furious response after Canada condemns human rights record The Guardian

This ‘what-about-ism’ is an authoritarian reflex,” she said. “And it’s not new. Canada faced criticism over its treatment over Indigenous people from the Soviet Union during the cold war. But it’s also important to recognize it for what it is- a strategy to deflect from meaningful criticism, which, in this case, is the treatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang.”

Sushila Ravindranath reviews Redesign the World: A Global Call to Action, by Sam Pitroda The Hindu

Brexit: Five years after the vote, the United Kingdom is more divided than ever CNN

Khashoggi killers received paramilitary training in US Al Jazeera

French Spyware Bosses Indicted For Their Role In the Torture of Dissidents - Slashdot
I like that approach.

Canada: hundreds more unmarked graves found at former Indigenous school - The Guardian

‘Painful farewell’: Hongkongers queue for hours to buy final Apple Daily edition - The Guardian

Fossilised bones found in Israel could belong to mystery extinct humans - The Guardian

12 June 2021

“Steal from the best” - looking at Cory Doctorow's and Dave Winer's blogs

Seeking inspiration, I have been looking at the blogging methods used by Cory Doctorow and Dave Winer, because they are both admirable writers and bloggers, and they both understand technological and privacy issues.

Cory Doctorow runs his pluralistic blog, where he writes daily, using the date as the title “Pluralistic: 11 June 2021”. Typically, under that title will be a list of “links”, each of which gets a permalink of its own. The first of these “links” is his main story. The second will be a links blog, with a few significant external links for the day; there is also a “this day in history” type section, and a “colophon”, with details of his public appearances, etc.

He seems to put quite a lot of time and effort into his blog, almost as if it were a daily newspaper column. His stories are always interesting and the subjects are often important and unusual. Whereas one can often find a newspaper or opinion piece to be interchangeable with stories in competing journals, some of Doctorow's pieces are quite unique, or have a unique perspective.

Doctorow's blog is written in WordPress(.org), with the Jetpack plugin, to allow follows and likes from WordPress.com's quasi-social network. The blog's organization and design would not win any prizes. I tested his blog using ELinks in the terminal ( a good test of backwards compatibility) and it is not really readable there. The blog is well connected to alternative and mainstream social media, with the exception of Facebook. He cross-posts to Tumblr and writes also on Medium. He offers email subscriptions through Mailman.

Dave Winer is the inventer of RSS news feeds and continues to be a software developer. He defines himself as a “proto-blogger”; he claims to have been blogging before it was a thing. His blog is Scripting News. The platform he uses is of his own creation, with features that are quite unique, such as expandable parts with additional information and clickable bookmarks to every paragraph. There's a lot going on in the background, and a fair bit of JavaScript, but when looked at in ELinks, it is perfectly readable. Like Doctorow, Winer's posts are also titled with the date “Friday, June 11, 2021”, but the subtitles are also permalinks (in the style: "http://scripting.com/2021/06/12/164446.html?title=fightingAutocracyWithMarketing").

Winer's posts are usually fairly short. He writes about politics, current affairs, tech issues, journalism, personal stories, sport, etc. He does not use tags. Winer is on Twitter and Facebook (maybe elsewhere to), though he does not expressly mention his social media connections in the blog or about pages. He does suggest direct messages through Facebook or Twitter as one of the ways to contact him. There's a very nice, custom-programmed email subscription for his blog posts, which faithfully delivers his posts, one-a-day.

Neither of these two men are idealists - they understand the intersection between democracy and technology better than most of us, but they are both pragmatic in their approach. Dave Winer rails against “silos”, but still uses Facebook and Twitter to get his message out: Google for his email and Amazon to host his services. Cory Doctorow sells his books without DRM, but still publishes them on Kindle. He writes his blog on his own self-hosted domain, but crossposts to Tumblr. He sends links to Twitter, and gives Automattic access to his data, for example.

I'm coming to see this kind of pragmatism as peculiarly North American. We are in the current anti-interoperability and intellectual property mess due mainly to the actions of American corporations, the laxness of US laws with regard to anti-trust, and, I think mainly the greater comfort that Americans feel with corporate behaviour and advertising. Compare Doctorow's satisfaction with Automattic to this German blogger speaking of the danger of incorporating Jetpack on your website: https://youtu.be/JtBsv-S-b2U . His indignation is visceral.

Both Doctorow and Winer acknowledge and respect the founder of the free software movement and creator of GNU/Linux Richard Stallman. But it has been pointed out that even Stallman does not understand the concept of freedom in quite the same way as Europeans.

The US, through the power of its corporations, rules the world, and only in recent years has Europe begun to fight back, with its GDPR and its successful suits against Google, Microsoft and other corporate giants. An internet regulated and controlled by the EU might end up giving Europeans less freedom than we have today. Various laws already constrain freedom of expression, while new laws are seeking to make content providers accountable for the material they host.

But looking beyond this, China is the new superpower that we all increasingly have to contend with. Its muscle is being felt everywhere. For example, it is in the process of establishing its own alternative internet, and wants to market it in Africa and elsewhere. It goes without saying that China's version of the internet is much less favorable to free-speech and much friendlier towards autocracy, so it will be a natural choice for dictators everywhere.

My blog

I'm happy to see that the theme I chose for it reads very nicely on every browser I tried with it, including ELinks in the terminal.

I found a no-effort way to provide a means of subscribing to it via Feedrabbit; that's a service that is based on the blog's RSS feed. One provides a link that looks like https://feedrabbit.com/?url=https://vikshepa.com/feed . That allows people to sign up for it through Feedrabbit's service. Anyone can sign up for ten free subscriptions in that way, and there is no advertising.

I looked at the privacy settings of my blog, and realised that I need to ditch Gravatar if I don't want it sending information to Automattic. The blog is already free of other trackers like Google Analytics, Google fonts, etc. Privacy Badger does not find any trackers, and the only cookies seem to be from WordPress, to recognize me when I'm logged in as the author, for example. I have disabled sign-ups and comments. My about page has information about social media, etc.

If I want to follow Doctorow's or Winer's example, I need to find a way of making permalinks to subtitles. That may be beyond the capabilities of the theme I'm using. (It is possible to use html bookmark links, like Stallman in his Political Notes.) On the other hand, I completely lack either of these men's ambitions for public recognition. I don't regard anything that I write to be of sufficient importance to grab someone's interest. I'm writing mainly for my own pleasure.

Links blog:

China rushes through law to counter US and EU sanctions - The Guardian

China previously had neither the economic power nor the political will to use legal means to retaliate against US sanctions. It now has both,” said Wang Jiangyu, a law professor at City University of Hong Kong.

China’s Uyghurs living in a ‘dystopian hellscape’, says Amnesty report - The Guardian

Forget the Peace Process, the Focus Now Should be on Restoring Civil Rights to Palestinians - CounterPunch.org

Pursuit of a chimerical Palestinian state that, in any foreseeable political situation, is not going to be more than a collection of beleaguered Bantustans, has become a culpable diversion from seeking equal civil rights and personal security for Palestinians.
A ground-breaking examination of an alternative option is spelled out by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the US/Middle East Project in a detailed study called Breaking the Israel-Palestine Status Quo. This proposes a rights-based approach, notably freedom for the Palestinians from dispossession and discrimination and the assertion of their right to freedom of movement. This would confront and seek to reverse what the Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem and Human Rights Watch have both denounced as a system of apartheid, enforcing inferior status on Palestinians.

Breaking the Israel-Palestine Status Quo - Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

Unfair Use: Anti-Interoperability and Our Dwindling Digital Freedom - The Reboot

Free Speech in Europe Isn't What Americans Think - Bloomberg

Hate speech can only be banned in the U.S. if it is intended to incite imminent violence and is actually likely to do so. This permissive U.S. attitude is highly unusual. Europeans don’t consider hate speech to be valuable public discourse, and reserve the right to ban it. They consider hate speech to degrade from equal citizenship and participation. Racism isn’t an idea; it’s a form of discrimination.
The underlying philosophical difference here is about the right of the individual to self-expression. Americans value that classic liberal right very highly -- so highly that we tolerate speech that might make others less equal.
Europeans value the democratic collective and the capacity of all citizens to participate fully in it -- so much that they are willing to limit individual rights.

11 May 2021

The Conflict

I haven't felt like blogging after last week's meditation retreat got me out of the momentum. And this week, we have the latest conflagration in the Middle East to worry about. I can hear more booms in the background as I'm writing this. We haven't had any alarms so far in our locality, but the skies were lit up this evening by the Iron Dome system missiles that try to intercept the rockets from Gaza. Tonight's attacks killed three in Israel - ironically, one of them was a foreign care-giver from a small town in Kerala. Tomorrow, school is cancelled for children in our area. Naturally, Israel is responsible for fanning the flames of the latest conflagration, though the Palestinians don't need a great deal of motivation for their tempers to flare, considering the dire situation they are in. There's also a real danger that relations will break down between Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel itself.

Chromium seems to use similar resources to Vivaldi

I don't like any of my browsers. Vivaldi, which I've been using lately, takes too many resources - it seems to heat up my laptop, while none of the other work 100% properly, except Chrome, which I don't like to use. Today I downloaded Chromium, but there was one website, from which I needed to retrieve invoices, which wouldn't work in anything except Chrome. I wonder why it accepted Chrome but not Chromium? Interesting, but eventually tiresome. I'm writing this post in SeaMonkey.

I have installed an appimage of LibreWolf, which is a version of Firefox with improved security settings. One site which I often look at, the John Hopkins University COVID dashboard, doesn't load properly.

Various articles report that Vivaldi's resource usage is low, and indeed with a few tabs open it is using about 15% of the CPU and 10% Memory, so I still only have my personal experience that the computer heats up more under Vivaldi. I will see if Conky has a temperature sensor or in some other way try to test this more thoroughly.

25 January, 2021

Thinking about my recent blog posts

It takes a while to absorb new information, as well as to act on conclusions that one comes to. I am wondering about how what I have been writing affects me personally. I'm more certain regarding how it reflects trends taking place in the world. There too, there will be a huge lag before the consciousness of interbeing percolates down through society; and, indeed the sequence of events unfolding in the world may undermine scientific truths. Just as there are still millions of people, and influential politicians, who continue to deny climate change. Large changes, in any case, take decades to unfold, and, in the meantime, we humans leave the scene, while processes continue. No one who has ever lived ever gets to see the fulfillment of the changes that have begun to take place during their lifetime.

Be that as it may, there are still things that I need to decide about my personal philosophical direction, and I will continue to mull these.

Links blog

✭Zoom for Interpreters Explained
a few tips and tricks about interpretation via Zoom.

✭Facebook deletes Netanyahu post, suspends chatbot over privacy violation
Facebook deletes Netanyahu post, suspends chatbot over privacy violation

Facebook Sunday deleted a post by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and suspended a chatbot operated by his official account for a week for violating the social media network’s privacy policy.
The chatbot has been sending private messages to followers, asking them to provide personal details of people over the age of 60 who have not yet been vaccinated against the coronavirus, adding that the premier will then persuade them to get the inoculation.
The request was also featured in the deleted post.
"In accordance with our privacy policy, we don’t allow content that shares or asks for people’s medical information," Facebook Israel said.
#israel #COVID-19

✭Indian comedian held over ‘indecent’ jokes at show where he did not perform | India | The Guardian
'The police superintendent Vijay Khatri said it “doesn’t really matter” if Faruqi made the comments or not because there was still “intent”.'

✭The Guardian view on India's farming revolt: a bitter harvest | Narendra Modi | The Guardian
"There’s a growing backlash against Narendra Modi’s autocratic tendencies and the plutocrat donors who fund his party"

20 January, 2021


The COVID outbreak has, from the beginning, stoked my natural, unhealthy interest in watching charts and graphs. But doing so also helps to temper some of the subservience we have to media reports, which often tend to be alarmist in some cases and negligent in others. For example, much of the news lately has been about new variants in Brazil, the UK and S. Africa, which have boosted the number of cases to an alarming degree. But if you looks at the charts, you can actually see that the number of cases in those countries has been declining in the last few days. And, when they speak of a new outbreak in China, you can see the number barely causes a bump in the graphs. While in Israel the numbers have been soaring (despite a severe lockdown and vaccinations), in the West Bank and Gaza the number of new infections has been declining rapidly since mid-December.

Blogging. journaling

I might at one point take a break from this blog, or stop completely, in favour of my handwritten journal. The purpose of all blogging or journaling is to reflect on life, current events, either personal or collective. Some of that can be done publicly, and sometimes it's best done privately. In any event, for some of us, reflection is useful in processing and helping to gell information, and the act of writing is helpful for reflection. This is the rationale behind blogging and journaling. The public (or half-public) dimension imposes a little discipline sometimes, though this is not always desirable or helpful (i.e. constraint imposed by the fact that one's writings may be read by others is not always helpful, while at other times it is.)

20 October, 2020

Somebody said on the internet...

"I said it before and I'll say it again: cyberpunk romanticizes oppression."
I think one of the problems of science fiction in general is that we usually conceive the future in terms of what we know. Orwell's 1984 was his 1948, a dark vision based on what he saw in the present, and he said later it might not have turned out quite as miserable if he hadn't been so sick and miserable himself at the time that he wrote it. Science Fiction, like worry, is a prayer for what we don't want. If our vision of the future is dystopian, then we are likely to reap a dystopian reality. If we can imagine a future based on freedom and abundance, where we find creative solutions to the problems that threaten us, we have a better chance of surviving as a species. Martin Luther King understood the power of such positive vision when, in a few simple words, he conjured up a reality that both black and white people instantly wanted. However alluring dystopian fiction might be, it is not where we should spend our time. Yuval Noah Harari says that science fiction is the literary genre for our time. But I don't think he meant visions of doom and gloom. Solarpunk is better than Cyberpunk. The images at the end of David Attenborough's new film are pure solarpunk.

Life on our Planet

We watched, before going to bed, David Attenborough's latest film on Netflix. At age 93, he's still amazing, and this is the sort of film you instantly hope that everybody will watch. I wonder what people in the future will make of these plaintive appeals for a change in direction, pitted against hard, intractable interests? Giants like Attenborough are after all quite small and trivial compared to what they are up against, and, in a way, perhaps they are participants in the same game. I have the image of a bunch of people being swept along in a great flood of debris, each of us clinging to a raft of beams from a ruined house, or sticks of furniture; the wealthy land owner and the landless peasant caught up in the same flood, unable to do more than hurl insults at each other as they float on towards the open sea.

Bichlal, I think the best strategy in our times might be that of the Tao Te Ching, the best protection to be vulnerable but useless, a gnarled and knotted tree for which the carpenter has no use, whose only value is to provide shade for the weary traveler.

The more we get caught up in the struggles that aggrandize victors, the more we ourselves become vectors of the pathogens they disseminate. In such an epoch, we need to have the smallest possible footprint in the herd that is ravaging the earth, treading nimbly around the insects so easily crushed by our clobbering feet. In practical terms, we need to consume as little as possible, remain anonymous. Our cloak of invisibility is simply that we are indistinguishable from everyman.

Yesterday I went to the dentist and she was convinced that my magnetic health fund card must have expired. It bore no signs of activity; no visits to clinics or hospitals, no prescribed medicine, no charted medical conditions. It seems that this is an anomaly at the age of 64, but really, I want as little to do with physicians as possible. If I die now, it might be a little young, but I have no unfulfilled ambitions. Better to live out my allotted number of years, but I wouldn't put up a struggle. I've no wish to live to David Attenborough's immense age, certainly. But it's true that I should do more to maintain my body and keep it hale. I try to eat right and live a healthy lifestyle, but don't get enough exercise.

Social blogging

A Hubzilla channel is a networked blog; somewhere between traditional blogging and traditional social media. I'm not a big fan of social media. I like to follow a few people who have interesting things to say, as long as they do not grow too wordy. I've stopped following people in the fediverse who are over-active for my taste. As for my own posts, I have learned recently to limit them by making a single post for the day and then editing it to include sub-posts. The edits don't usually reach beyond Hubzilla itself, if at all. So there's a daily reminder that I continue to exist, and the link to follow if someone is more interested. But since I'm writing mainly for my own pleasure, the presence or absence of viewers is unimportant. I might even stop using this space, or making posts public, if posts begin to create more engagement.


✭ 'Military Disneyland’: a cathedral to Russia's new national identity | Russia | The Guardian
“We are not talking about the geopolitical background at any particular time, we are talking about the fact that our armed forces have sacred help from above, from God and from the heavenly saints. That’s what the cathedral is about.”

✭ Russian cyber-attack spree shows what unrestrained internet warfare looks like | Cyberwar | The Guardian
"They did not just cause confusion and inconvenience. Quite apart from their alleged role in the rise of Donald Trump, they are accused of depriving hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians of light and heat in the middle of winter, and closing down the computer systems of a major Pennsylvania hospital. Their exploits are a foretaste of unconstrained cyber warfare might look like in the real world."

14 October, 2020

The ideal blogging tool

I went over to Scripting News to see what "proto-blogger" Dave Winer has been up to. I just noticed that he does like I have been doing lately, and lumping several short items into a single post under a date line. Of course, his system is a bit more sophisticated than that. However, I came across the following recent post. He seems to be pretty much describing what Hubzilla already is, though of course he is too mainstream to know or appreciate that.

Dave Winer on  The ideal blogging tool

The ideal blogging tool design would come from merging the publishing of WordPress with the interactivity of Facebook.
I don't mean the culture of either product. WordPress imho is too exclusive in its deployment. It should be easier. And without any FB-like algorithms.
You should be able to deploy it on your own. It should install as easily as an app on your iPhone. And you should have full control of hosting. Move whenever you want with no breakage. It should be as easy to port as it was to install.

It's true that Hubzilla is a little bit hard to install, but that's because setting up a home server is not trivial. Yet, if Bob Mottram could get his Freedombone to actually work as promised (it didn't for me), with a Hubzilla installation that works out of the box, setting up a home server with Hubzilla needn't be hard at all.

If we really want to break up the big tech monopolies and restore the promise of the web, we really need to take the plunge and set up home servers for all our services. It's hugely liberating and just feels right.


✭ Rewild to mitigate the climate crisis, urge leading scientists | Conservation | The Guardian
"If a third of the planet’s most degraded areas were restored, and protection was thrown around areas still in good condition, that would store carbon equating to half of all human caused greenhouse gas emissions since the industrial revolution.
The changes would prevent about 70% of predicted species extinctions, according to the research, which is published in the journal Nature."
✭ Women in South India have more freedom than their northern counterparts. Here’s why
✭ Tanishq pulls ad showing inter-faith couple, a sign of the angry, fearful times in which we live
It supposedly normalises “love jihad”, a term that has been categorically stated in the Parliament as a non-existent concept.
✭ ‘Not just a dog bite’: why India is struggling to keep rabies at bay | Global health | The Guardian
Changing the disease’s official status is the key to eradicating rabies. “Only then will people stop treating it as ‘just a dog bite’
✭ Ladakh Buddhists who hailed India’s Kashmir move not so sure now | India | Al Jazeera
Be careful what you wish for: “Ladakhis thought once they will get the union territory status, they will be the masters of their own land. But that has proved to be a nightmare for them because a union territory has very little power and most of the decision-making happens in New Delhi.
India's energy use (World's 3rd largest energy user still using 97% fossil fuels)
✭ Less than 3% of India’s energy needs met by hydro, solar, wind and nuclear sources - Energy News India- Power News India, Energy, Oil and Gas News
Energy policy of India:
 Secretary-General Antonio Guterres slams India for coal subsidies:
 https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/un-secretary-general-antonio-guterres-slams-india-for-coal-subsidies/article32464190.ece✭ India’s potential for integrating solar and on- and offshore wind power into its energy system | Nature Communications
 meet 80% of anticipated 2040 power demand supplanting the country’s current reliance on coal.

Blogging in the mainstream

I'm not sure how popular blogging is these days;  I've read about a mass turning away from traditional blogging in favor of Facebook.  My own evidence is only anecdotal.  I find quite often when going through my bookmarks that blogs I had once visited now lie dormant, neglected and forgotten, or worse, show a 404 error code.

But together with this, popular news sites like the Guardian are now full of articles that read more like blog posts, and would be better suited to the blogosphere, instead of taking up space for the news I'd gone looking for.

Last week when I came to the end of a glowingly positive take on a just-terminated Netflix science fiction show - one which I had given up on after a single episode - I was just thinking well maybe I hadn't given the show enough time, when I glanced at the talkbacks.  The first commenter said that this show was truly juvenile rubbish and that if he encountered more stories like this in the Guardian he would cancel his sub.  And I thought wow - I still have that gullible mentality that if something is appearing in a reputable journal like the Guardian, then it must have some sort of value. But actually, this more critical reader was dead right.  The story was just a shitpost.  It belonged to the democratic blogosphere, where everyone can post, and we keep our noses primed accordingly.

So that's what I did today when reading a blog-type story about coffee - also in the Guardian, called: My neverending search for the perfect cup of coffee.  Perfect blog material indeed, with lines like "The perfect cup of coffee is like the perfect lipstick: a quest that will end only with your death."  Which isn't strictly grammatical.  It's a pleasant post, though you don't actually learn anything (partly because she's lazy about hyperlinks).

I love my blackened stove-top Bialetti for reasons to do with nostalgia and all-round stylishness, but it makes pretty mud-like coffee: good for days when you’re knackered, but very bad indeed when the last thing you need is to be wired like Frankenstein.

It doesn't matter - it's an engaging and enjoyable read - perfect blog material.  Just a pity I'm reading it in the Guardian.  I could be moseying around Medium or WordPress instead.

But maybe I'm being too narrow in my views.  I think as I'm growing older I'm becoming  dogmatically taxonomic.  Hey Bob, you've misfiled that in the wrong folder again and assigned the wrong file name.  And how can I relate to the subject of your email, if you've written about it in a reply to something completely different?

There's a legitimate middle ground of excellent themed webzines that are entirely blogs.  Like 972mag.com or Scroll.in.  There are dozens of these. I don't think many people go to them with the same religious regularity that they go to news sites.  It's more likely that someone recommends a story on Twitter of Facebook, and they follow a link, and then perhaps find themselves reading more stories.  And one of the reasons that I'm coming across these blog type stories on the news sites, rather than in the blog venues, is that I'm not so much into social media lately, and have been neglecting my news-feed aggregators.

TLDR; - hard to say;  it's like that story about coffee. Just a few reflections.


It looks like nice work that Aral Balkan has been doing on his Indie web server. I 'm not sure I believe any longer in the open web and like Hubzilla's model of privacy and access restrictions, but otherwise I might go for it. I found yesterday that there are plug ins that enable one to convert WordPress sites to static websites. I was thinking of importing my blog in that way to Hubzilla. But I'm also tired of this work of endless archiving and preservation. For me the value in writing is more in the process of it. It allows me to develop my thinking and imagination. Afterwards I rarely look at what I've written. So I wonder what is the value of trying to preserve it. Most of what I write is anyway in long hand, in Moleskines and Boleskines (cheap imitation made in Auroville).