March 6, 2021

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Day of the Rescuers

Today is the European Day of the Righteous. In our village, we have a garden dedicated to this same idea, though the local initiator of the project, Prof. Yair Auron, prefers to use a different name, "Rescuers", because he thinks "righteous" sounds overly religious. The day honours those who help to save the lives of others, especially those normally regarded as "the enemy", in times of war, genocide or natural disasters.

We commemorated the day earlier, on Thursday, and this year honored two organizations, Médecins sans Frontières and Physicians for Human Rights or PHR - a local Israeli organization) for their contemporary work in saving lives, without regard to citizenship, national origin, or other factors. Both organizations work extensively in the Occupied Palestinian Territories in very difficult conditions and do their utmost to enable free medical care for all. The doctor in our village who volunteers with PHR couldn't be at the ceremony because he was again in Gaza.

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During the morning I was reading about plain text and about the use of RTL languages. There's a good, if rather dogmatic, website about the use of plain text in emails. To speak in the manner of Stallman, I find plain text "more convenient" for basic communications, i.e. the majority of my email. But I would not use it for sending out email newsletters, for example. I think one of the mail clients I previously used - either Kmail or Evolution, had the option to receive and compose in "simple html", which sounded like a reasonable compromise.

Whenever I have to write in Hebrew, I always switch to html, because plain text has no solution for right-to-left languages. The words will be right-to-left but the paragraphs will be aligned at the left margin, when received in Gmail (unless they receive the message in Thunderbird or some mail client that knows how to handle right-to-left plain text.). It would be disingenuous to say that they should therefore be using Thunderbird. The whole point of plain text email is for it to be accessible in any email client. There is more on on Right to Left languages at the following links:

★ Introduction to typing and using RTL (Right to Left) text, and configuring software applications to support RTL.

★ Right-to-left language support and bidirectional text - Finance & Operations | Dynamics 365 | Microsoft Docs

★ 464436 - 'Bidi Mail UI' functionality neLinkeded in Thunderbird for RTL locales

★ 119857 - There is no way to set the reading/composing directionality via the UI

In the morning, the son's wife's parents came over and we went to have a look at the progress on the new home being built. They've reached the stage of the upper floor of the building shell, and it's looking good; a lot more impressive than our own house.

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In the afternoon, went for a walk in the woods with grandchildren. It was a perfect day, with a deep blue sky and clear views across the coastal plain.

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Links Blog

★ India's top judge tells accused rapist to marry victim to avoid jail | India | The Guardian
“By suggesting that this rapist marry the victim-survivor, you, the chief justice of India, sought to condemn the victim-survivor to a lifetime of rape at the hands of the tormentor who drove her to attempt suicide,”

This was just the most egregious of recent stories of misogyny coming out of India. Or maybe the story of the father beheading his teenager with an axe and carrying the head to the local police station was.

★ ‘Active threat’: Chinese hackers target 30,000 US entities | Cybercrime News | Al Jazeera
"Microsoft said early this week that a state-sponsored hacking group operating out of China is exploiting previously unknown security flaws in its Exchange email services to steal data from business users."

This evening I'm feeling a bit world-weary. The news sites are full of such terrible stories. Sometimes I look at the National Geographic map on my wall and wherever I rest my eyes there are authoritarian regimes, wars, protest movements being crushed, a growing darkness, and that's without even considering the climate crisis that is threatening all of us.

Thank goodness for music.