Summer Solstice, 2021

flowers

There aren't many wild flowers to look at in summer, in these parts. Mainly thorns.

Hubzilla

Having based this blog back in WordPress.org territory, I'm gradually moving on from Hubzilla. After this post I will stop sending links to the public stream of my hub (which counts for nothing) as well as the public stream of Disroot (where it is cloned). I will rely on Mastodon and Twitter for blog post announcements. I will, continue to cross-post for friends, of which there are maybe half-a-dozen. I don't think there is sufficient interest in these posts to broadcast them to those who didn't sign up for them. Indeed, to follow a Hubzilla public stream demands more patience than to follow a character-limiting Twitter clone, where talk is cheap. Unfortunately, WordPress's cross-post plugin mucks up the my posts to Hubzilla - removing paragraphs and what-not; so I'm not sure whether to send just the excerpt or the whole thing. I basically want to automate the cross-posting/linking.

Hindi

I spent a little while yesterday looking at online materials for learning Hindi. I don't know when I will next travel to India, and, when I do go there, it is usually to regions that are not Hindi speaking. Tamil Nadu, for example, is Tamil speaking. That's a much harder language to learn for several reasons:

  • It's a diglossic language, like Arabic, and each town has its regional dialect.
  • Its sounds are strange and difficult for Europeans to master. Even following speakers while viewing the text transliterated is hard (I tried yesterday).
  • Unlike Hindi, it has no relationdhip with European languages (except for Sanskrit loan words), meaning that every single word has to be learned, with no easy mnemonic reminders.
  • Tamil has its own unique alphabet.

Most of the above is true of other south Indian languages, like Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada, which are all related to one-another, though each has a unique alphabet. Malayalam has more Sanskrit loan words, as I understand.

If one wishes to learn at least one language of India, Hindi is the natural choice, despite the natural reluctance of southerners to adopt it. It is closely related to many other north Indian languages like Marathi, Gujarati and Bengali. Hindi is based on Sanskrit, Persian and, at a further remove, Arabic. With its origins in the Indo-European family of languages, it is a little easier for Europeans. Just as people pick up Spanish from telenovellas, one can learn a lot from the world's largest film industry. I am familiar with the alphabet (except for some of the conjuncts), having learned the rudiments of Sanskrit, and Hindi does not sound completely strange to me. In addition, I like the sound of the language. The only problem: I'm basically terrible at languages, but even the attempt to learn them seems to keep the brain young.

Links blog

The harassment of the BBC’s Nicholas Watt was all too predictable - The Guardian

Attack on Muslim man: India police charge journalists for tweets - Al Jazeera

The implications of this case go beyond those who have been accused here: the Uttar Pradesh Police is holding out a threat to those who report the voices of victims of crimes. It is attempting to create an atmosphere in which all journalists and news organisations will be dissuaded from reporting anything but the official version,” the Digipub statement said.

The Wire’s founding editor Siddharth Varadarajan told Al Jazeera the case against his portal was “an attempt to deter journalists and reporters from doing their jobs.

If you are making it a crime to report what the victim of a crime said on record about what happened to them, it means you want media to only carry what the police says or what the official version is, and that every other version, if you report, you are at risk of being prosecuted,” he said.

If such an approach is being allowed, then journalism will become impossible in India.”

Woman to stand trial in France for killing stepfather after years of abuse - The Guardian

Bacot, who had four children with her alleged abuser, will say how she was convinced Polette would kill them all and how everyone knew he was a violent sexual predator but nobody said or did anything. And she will tell how when the children went to the gendarmes – twice – to report the abuse, they were told to go away and tell their terrified mother to come in herself.

Apparently there's a book with her story called "Everyone knew".

17 May 2021

WordPress

I have successfully installed WordPress on my home server. For now, I will use it in conjunction with Hubzilla. I keep discovering that I'm not much of a social-media person (more of a blogger). As a blogging platform, WordPress still beats Hubzilla, unfortunately. Some examples (the ones that interest me):

  • it's easy to get a list of one's posts, where I can make quick adjustments.
  • one can backdate posts (this is possible in Hubzilla, by making an adjustment somewhere in the settings - I did this previously but was unable to discover how it's done. Mike MacGirvin's post describing how that's done was deleted).
  • It's easy to import and export one's blog from WordPress to other platforms.
  • It's easier to make theme changes and adjustments in WP.

WordPress does not work very well with social media. The Indyweb people have done as well as they can but Hubzilla's WordPress plug-in (hubzilla_wp), which draws comments back from Hubzilla to WP works better. At least, it did previously; I'll see now if it still does.

RSS newsfeeds have come to be regarded as arcane. I don't want to post links to Twitter or Facebook, but do want to provide an opportunity to follow me on the Fediverse. That seems to be a minimum. So I will continue to cross-post to Hubzilla.

In the meantime, I've stopped following anyone who has not engaged with me on Hubzilla.

Links Blog

Israel’s doctrine: Humane bombing and benevolent occupation
Indeed, since its inception, Israel has projected a conflicting image of being powerful but insecure, superior but needy, bloody but humane, violent but vulnerable, and ultimately a merciful warrior and a vicious peacemaker.

Marwan Bishara's opinion piece in Al-Jazeera is probably among the best, as usual. Again, I find myself losing patience with everyone who suddenly wakes up again to what is happening here, only to fall asleep again between the periodical flare-ups of the conflict. What this means on the ground is that the Hamas strategy of using violence in order to provoke interest is the only thing that actually works. If Palestinians are quiet and peaceful, everyone forgets about them. Israel can continue expropriating land and colonizing. The world is only too happy to ignore it. Meanwhile, Arab states like the Emirates, which have always wanted Israel as a business partner, can feel free to establish relations, without too much criticism from their own people. No one wants ugly violence and warfare, except maybe the politicians who stand to gain from it, the army and militants who get to use their skills, and the military industry that can test-drive their latest weaponry.

While the conflict rages, ordinary people on both sides are living in fear. Israel has the tactical advantage (by far), but when missiles are falling, people are petrified, regardless of how effective those missiles happen to be. We want it to stop, heal our wounds, rebuild, and get on with our lives. But what the country needs is constant pressure from the world to end the occupation, halt its colonial practices, and start behaving like a responsible, humane country. Palestinians need a real prospect that their children will see better times. Neither Palestinians or Israelis are bad people, or any worse than the citizens of other countries. They do much better when they are working together than when they are locked in conflict.

1 May, 2021

Seiza bench

Spent the evening making the simplest sort of seiza bench for D. so she will have something comfortable to sit on during the meditation retreat next week. My son had some wood and some tools, so that made the project a little easier.

Image/photo
Image/photo

I already have one for myself, purchased in the US a few years ago, though that's a more sophisticated version, and made to be portable.

Image/photo
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Help India?

My wife sent me a donation appeal earlier to help India, with its COVID disaster; a campaign is being handled by AVAAZ. India certainly needs help, but I don't think a crowdfunding campaign is going to achieve much. (As I write, 44,000 people had contributed.) If I were a regular customer in some guest house, or knew someone who was personally suffering as a result of the crisis, I might send some money, but to help the nation of India, with its 1.3 billion people, I don't think so.

Hubzilla

I've decided to move my blog to Hubzilla's "Articles" component, rather than using the channel timeline. I've done so in the past. Somehow, it feels a bit awkward putting whole blog articles in a fediverse public timeline, even though we can.

There are certain drawbacks: the existing categories refer also to channel posts, so if I include a category or tag cloud on the Articles page, these refers to items that don't exist in the Articles section. It would be theoretically possible to move all previous channel posts to the Articles section, but it isn't possible to backdate posts under articles (somehow I previously managed it under channel posts.

There's a certain line that can be edited in the configuration files (include/datetime.php, I think) that permits the backdating of posts. Mike Macgirvin once kindly explained to me how to do this once, but he's deleted most of his posts from the forum: I find my question, but not his response. Nevermind. I'll just continue from here, rather than moving blog posts over.

At the same time, I updated hubzilla. It wasn't quite as simple as /util/udall, since I had made a change in the configuration files. I had to precede /util/udall with a git stash statement, do the update and then give a git stash pop statement. Only then did it agree to do the update.

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Time of the Gypsies

I was looking on YouTube and somehow hit on the

Ederlezi: Time of the Gypsies - Goran Bregović, Emir Kusturica
by Ένας αγέρας on YouTube
for Emir Kusturica's Time of the Gypsies. That led to downloading and watching the entire film, which is brilliant. It's from 1988, but hasn't aged much. Kusturica is interesting guy: part filmmaker, part actor, part musician, part writer, and he lives, according to Wikipedia in a town he created for one of his films. I enjoyed Roger Ebert's review of this movie, though, in my opinion, it deserved a higher rating than he gave it.

I've had Gypsies on my mind quite a bit lately due to the Achraf Kallel remix of the Charles Aznavour song in one of the Cafe de Anatolia songs I've been listening to.



Charles Aznavour - La Bohème (Achraf Kallel Remix)
by AODION on YouTube

The Roma people, according to linguistic and genetic evidence, hail from India, and there have been appeals to recognize them as a part of the Indian diaspora. One theory I read links them to the Bauls of Bengal (the grammar of their language is closest to Bengali); another to the Doma, another caste associated with music and dance.

As for the Ederlezi song and festival (for St. George's Day and the rites of Spring), that's interesting too; incorporating, as it does, Christian E. Orthodox and Turkish Muslim elements.

Image/photo

St. George, the hero of the Ederlezi festival, was a Roman soldier born in Turkey, who lived about 10 miles away from here, in Lydda, where his bones are buried. Lydda's celebration of his day takes place in November. George is sacred for both Christians and Muslims. Wikipedia has quite a lot about this.

George is described as a prophetic figure in Islamic sources.[31] George is venerated by some Christians and Muslims because of his composite personality combining several Biblical, Quranic and other ancient mythical heroes.[citation needed] In some sources he is identified with Elijah or Mar Elis, George or Mar Jirjus and in others as al-Khidr. The last epithet meaning the "green prophet", is common to both Christian and Muslim folk piety. Samuel Curtiss who visited an artificial cave dedicated to him where he is identified with Elijah, reports that childless Muslim women used to visit the shrine to pray for children. Per tradition, he was brought to his place of martyrdom in chains, thus priests of Church of St. George chain the sick especially the mentally ill to a chain for overnight or longer for healing. This is sought after by both Muslims and Christians.

13 February, 2021

Quiet Saturday; D. was away at a mindfulness retreat, I had a lazy day. Yesterday, we watched "The Dig"; the Netflix film on the discovery of Sutton Hoo. Ralph Finnes is a fine actor and the film is quite watchable.

Playing around with Hubzilla

Posts were not being delivered to my test profile on Mastodon (Fosstodon) since last August, though comments did get delivered. After reading a recent thread in the Hubzilla Support Forum, I tried uninstalling and reinstalling the Activity Hub protocol. Now it's working again, and posts like this one are reaching my test profile. But a possible alternative reason for their not previously reaching Fosstodon was the inclusion of formatting. I tried editing and removing formatting from an older post, with the result that it did get posted to Fosstodon. However, then it recognized the older post as a new one, and advanced it to the top of my stream in Fosstodon, so editing posts is not something that I would want to do retroactively; particularly since Mastodon does not recognize Hubzilla's title field (which I use for the post's date). I'll make more experiments on new posts, with and without formatting, with and without Markdown, etc.

After the success of federating with Mastodon, I attempted to re-subscribe to Bob Mottram on his Epicyon instance which also uses the Activity Pub protocol. But, as before, his posts do not reach my Hubzilla instance; annoying since the only place I can see them is on Fosstodon. There's the possibility that it's by his own choice, however, which is fair enough.

Links Blog

Came across an article in WIRED by an anthropologist and mycophile (mushroom lover) who, 12 or 13 years ago did some volunteered in our office. She introduced me to the concept of social media and gave me some good music; it was the first time I'd heard of Sufjan Stevens. Her writings can be found on WP and Medium

✭Digital identity and biometrics in Africa, Part 2: risks & questions | by Joanna Steinhardt | Medium
https://medium.com/@jb_steinhardt/digital-identity-and-biometrics-in-africa-part-2-risks-q
"If we’re going to honestly evaluate the ethical and political ramifications of these technologies, we have to consider how they build on or reinstate inequalities in global power and wealth and the potential for oppressive state governance."
#africa #surveillance

✭Hackers, Mason Jars, and the Psychedelic Science of DIY Shrooms | WIRED
https://www.wired.com/story/hackers-mason-jars-psychedelic-science-diy-shrooms/#intcid=_wi
"The history of home cultivation methods of Psilocybe is more connected to early internet culture than you'd think." - Joanna Steinhardt
#hallucinogens

✭Hardcore Spirituality
http://souciant.com/2011/05/hardcore-spirituality/
The connection between Punk, Hardcore, Krishna Consciousness
#music #spirituality

✭Analysis: Facebook has become a $770 billion clone factory - CNN
https://edition.cnn.com/2021/02/12/tech/facebook-innovation/index.html
"Instead of brain tech or other novel hardware devices, Facebook has released a long list of copycat products lifted from YouTube, Twitch, TikTok, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Slack. Facebook has taken on popular dating apps, launched a Craigslist competitor, and famously ripped off Snapchat's most popular feature Stories in 2016, shortly before the latter went public. And according to a report this week, Facebook is now looking to do the same with Clubhouse, the audio-focused app of the moment."

The article goes on to suggest that Facebook improves on the ideas created by its competitors. This is bullshit. Even Facebook's core functionality doesn't work well. It's consistently frustrating to use this network. Whereas FOSS projects suffer from a dearth of developers, probably FB has an overabundance of them; maybe that can be a problem too.
#facebook

✭Uttarakhand avalanche: Village at center of India glacier collapse warned of impending disaster for decades. No one listened - CNN
https://edition.cnn.com/2021/02/12/asia/india-glacier-raini-village-chipko-intl-hnk/index.…
#india

I think I may have seen this damaged power station, on my journey up to Ghangaria.

✭Dramatic discovery links Stonehenge to its original site – in Wales | UK news | The Guardian
https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2021/feb/12/dramatic-discovery-links-stonehenge-to-its
Find backs theory that bluestones first stood at Waun Mawn before being dragged 140 miles to Wiltshire
#archeology

2 January, 2021

Updated hubzilla to 5.08

Finally dared to do the update. The update was painless.

Changed my avatar to its square version, because, in the round version, hubzilla does not consistently remember png transparency. That seems to be a result of the interplay between the main instance and its clone.

Links blog

✭Jews of the World, Disunite…in Israel! - CounterPunch.org
https://www.counterpunch.org/2021/01/01/jews-of-the-world-disunitein-israel/
"Finally, despite all you have done to us or has been done in your name, we cling to our faith that the great religion of Judaism—with its foundational pillar of social justice—will guide you to equality. That is, Jews being no better nor worse than others. For that vision, I will fight alongside you when you arrive and comfort you as you wake up. Which you will do after facts counter the falsehoods you’ve been fed. Then the dirty jackboots of occupation will be taken off our necks. Consigned to the dustbin of history, those boots will be refashioned into sandals…which we will wear hiking mountains together. And after the oppressive sands of Zionism wash away, we will also walk together on beaches…barefoot."

Sam Bahour, an effective communicator for the Palestinian cause, and by all accounts, a really nice guy, ends his cynical self-described "rant" against Jewish newcomers to Israel on quite a friendly note. I'm reminded of that passage in "Passage to India" where it becomes clear that there can be no natural friendship between the colonized and the colonizer until India is free again.

Sam doesn't say so, but until the occupation ends and all the inhabitants of the land live under a universally elected democratic government, even the friendliest, most sympathetic Jew or other immigrant who benefits from the "Law of Return", can never truly be welcome, except possibly as a political ally in bringing about change. Afterwards, we'll see.

WP & Hubzilla cont’d

Spent a few hours uglifying adapting my blog to suit the (slightly modified) Pumpkin theme of my Hubzilla channel. In this way, the two CMSs look more suited to each other. The Weaver Xtreme theme is one of the best and most flexible that is available in WordPress, and is very well cared for, well-documented and regularly updated. There's a premium version, but a simple blog site doesn't need it. Weaver Xtreme could exactly duplicate the Hubzilla theme, but for for now it's close enough. There may be need for a second round of modifications for comments or other features.