4 January, 2021

Stargazing

Went with my granddaughter to the top of the hill to look at the stars, just after sunset. I was no longer able to find Saturn next to Jupiter; either because of clouds, or because the stars were still too faint, or because Saturn had moved (the name for planets in Hebrew translates to "stars that walk/move"). She was most excited by the sight of Orion's belt.

Ubuntu Media PC

The Ubuntu system on the computer we use as a Media PC (I think it was 16.4 or even 14.4) expired a long time ago and wouldn't upgrade, so I decided to install a new version. I thought this would be easy (as in, something I've done dozens of times). But this time all kinds of obstacles presented themselves. First, it somehow got stuck on formatting a partition. Then it got stuck right at the end of the install and wouldn't re-boot. Then, just at the last stage of the install, when it asks you to remove removable media, I accidentally unplugged the computer when I was reaching for the usb stick (which wrecked the install). On the next install, I tried installing without erasing the previous install. It painstakingly copied all the existing programs, which took much longer than downloading them. But again it failed. The next install worked fine, but I made a dumb mistake afterwards and I deleted an essential directory (thought I was deleting something in a previous Ubuntu installation on another disk). Installed again. Now it all works. But, my Firefox won't run Netflix; even after allowing it to work with DRM. I'm tired of Chrome and refuse to sign in, so I tried to download Vivaldi. It downloaded, but Ubuntu refused to install it. Another gripe is that Vivaldi isn't in Ubuntu's Appstore. Why? And the Appstore itself doesn't seem well thought out. Under what category is one supposed to find browsers? There isn't one, at least not a category that makes any sense.

I chose Ubuntu for the media PC only because that's what my wife has on her PC, and I wanted it to be familiar to her. Otherwise I would install my favourite, which remains MX.

Image/photo

Complexity

We are forced to deal with ever more complex systems that are beyond our natural abilities. I fear what will happen in old age. It isn't just Linux (which actually works very well most of the time). I mean, we recently bought 7 new Lenovo Thinkpads with Windows 10 installed. On every one of them there's a problem with the speakers. A Windows update makes the driver stop working. The first time, after not being able to fix the issue, I called in the company repair guy. He showed me what to do, but said also that sometimes the fix works other times not - just the previous week he'd had to send a computer back for re-formatting and reinstallation. The next time, I managed myself, but the problem came back after a new Windows Update.

These sorts of problems are beyond what ordinary users can solve. We are at the mercy of complex systems, wherever we look, while using technology is no longer a choice. During the pandemic, it's been the only way many of us could communicate with family members, order food, obtain the stopover grants provided by the government, obtain health services, interact with the bank, and so many other things.

Reading and spiritual life

Reading is an activity that brings one in contact with a writer's consciousness, and the experience is sometimes unpleasant, in that it involves you in their issues; their paranoia, their violence, their appetites, their obsessions. A spiritual seeker isn't supposed to read novels, watch movies, etc. But it isn't just because the mind gets wrapped up in stories, and you end up populating your consciousness with ghosts, rather than attempting to look into the essential nature of reality (or contemplate the divine, understand the meaning of ahankara, calm the vrittis, perform zikr, intuit the meaning of the koan, or whatever). It is also due to this communion with the lower consciousness of the writers and producers of fiction, and their "demons".

Links blog

✭ Librera Reader: an All-Format eBook Reader for Android
https://librera.mobi/
All-Format eBook Reader for Android. Interestingly, purportedly supports RTL languages
#technology
✭ The Julian Assange extradition ruling: right result, wrong reason | Julian Assange | The Guardian
https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/jan/04/julian-assange-extradition-ruling-us
"The US war machine depends on being able to airbrush out of existence the brutal human realities. If innocent civilians can be silently killed without consequences, then there is nothing to stop even more suffering the same fate. The US military cannot be allowed to operate with impunity: that’s what this case is really about. And while Assange’s freedom may be saved – though this is not certain – the argument for revealing the truth about wars conducted in the name of the American people must be made more stridently than ever."
#Assange #US #press-freedom

✭ Julian Assange cannot be extradited to US, British judge rules | Julian Assange | The Guardian
https://www.theguardian.com/media/2021/jan/04/julian-assange-cannot-be-extradited-to-us-br
Judge says it would be ‘oppressive’ to extradite WikiLeaks founder to US, citing concerns for his mental health
#Assange #freedom-of-speech

✭ Australian women’s rights activist faces charges in Tanzania | Australia news | The Guardian
https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/jan/03/australian-womens-rights-activist-f
An Australian ex-Muslim women’s rights activist faces “politically motivated” charges in Tanzania, including for a tweet allegedly critical of the country’s president, according to her supporters.

I read almost to the end of the article thinking this was Tazmania

✭ Palestinians excluded from Israeli Covid vaccine rollout as jabs go to settlers | Israel | The Guardian
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jan/03/palestinians-excluded-from-israeli-covid-vac
Israeli, Palestinian and international rights groups have accused Israel of dodging moral, humanitarian and legal obligations as an occupying power during the pandemic.
#palestine

✭ Israeli soldier shoots and paralyzes Palestinian man in dispute over power generator - CNN
https://edition.cnn.com/2021/01/02/middleeast/israeli-soldier-shoots-palestinian/index.htm
"An Israeli soldier shot a Palestinian man, leaving him paralyzed from the neck down, after an altercation over a portable electric generator, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health."

"Video of the incident, which occurred on Friday near Hebron in the south of the West Bank, appears to show Haroun Abu Aram, 24, along with three other men, attempting to hold on to the generator while Israeli soldiers seek to take it away."
(At-Tuwani)