21 March 2021


In Auroville (Tamil Nadu, India) they also planted, as part of their early reforestation efforts, acres and acres of Australian acacias, because the tree adapts so well to the East Deccan's Tropical Dry Evergreen Forest eco-zone. In Auroville, it's known as the "work tree". The Auroville wiki says:

Work trees (Acacia auriculiformis) were used as a pioneer species in Auroville's reforestation work . They produce an enormous amount of biomass, provide a place for birds to sit, and create a micro-environment on the ground. They can be used to start a cycle of succession toward a more mature forest. Work trees have shallow roots, which can be seen as an advantage: a cyclone can uproot them relatively easily and in doing so hasten the dominance of indigenous forest species.
Work trees provide what is considered good firewood, and its seeds are edible.

However, I know that some people in Auroville regard the trees as an invasive species and a problem. Here too, the tree grows more or less as a weed. It sprouts up quickly, and when it reaches tree-size, the heavy boughs easily snap off and break. When I used to have a wood-burning stove, I didn't so much like it as firewood. The wood is heavy and produces a lot of soot and smoke.

In the Spring, the trees are covered in this intense fragrant yellow bloom. This produces a fine display, though people who suffer from hay fever may not like it so much.

Keyboard layouts

It took me a long time to set up the keyboard as I like it in Linux. Keyboards sold locally have either English + Hebrew or English + Hebrew + Arabic letters engraved on them. Surprisingly, there is actually room on a standard keyboard for three separate alphabets, and it works quite well. Mine has only English + Hebrew, which is sufficient, because when I need to post Arabic articles I am mostly copy-pasting. The English keyboard is according to the US version, rather than the UK variant.

At the software level, I need two keyboard layouts: English and Hebrew, and, under XFCE, can use the CapsLock key to switch between them. I find that more convenient than combinations like the Windows-centric Alt-Shift, though on my wife's Ubuntu system I couldn't figure out how to make that switch with the CapsLock key. For the English keyboard I use the "United States (International) with AltGr dead keys". As is mentioned in an article I once copied into CherryTree states:

Windows includes a keyboard layout called "United States (International)", which allows typing many special characters easily. The layout defines several keys as "dead keys", such as the apostrophe (') and double quotes ("). This means that to enter a single ', you have to press ' followed by a space. This can be annoying when you need to enter a lot of these characters, since each now requires two keys to be pressed.
In Linux, there is a keyboard layout named "USA International (AltGr dead keys)" that solves this problem and still allows typing special characters. If you want to type ', you just press '. If you want to use ' as a dead key, you use AltGr (right alt): e.g. AltGr+' a will produce á.
This repo is a modified version of the default Windows "United States (International)" keyboard layout that mimics the behaviour found in Linux. All five dead keys (`, ~, ^, ' and ") are now only dead when AltGr is pressed, otherwise they function as normal keys. Note that the original layout already defines several AltGr combinations, e.g. AltGr+' becomes ´. If you want to type these characters in the modified layout, you should follow the old keycombination with a space: e.g. AltGr+' will produce ´.

I don't know where I copied that from, but there's a good article on the same subject here.

The keyboard looks like this:


It works fine, though there are some decidedly non-intuitive combinations, like AltGr + y for a "u" with an umlaut (ü).
The last time I was on Windows (when I first acquired my current computer, it came with Windows 10, I decided to use the UK English International keyboard - I don't remember now why - and just remember the three or four differences between it and the US keyboard.

Irrespective of the above, it's also possible to get additional symbols using unix character codes, which are listed in the article here, though, unfortunately, the table does not show the results graphically. To obtain these characters, it's (example) ctrl + shift + u (release) 2665 (enter): ♥ but I am unable to retain many such combinations in memory.


I think I accumulated a couple more yesterday, but apparently didn't save them properly.

Links blog

Modi critic's resignation from Indian university post prompts outcry | India | The Guardian
"In recent months, academics, journalists, activists and even comedians have been charged with sedition for opposing government policies, whether in demonstrations, on social media or in writing."

The planet cannot survive our remorseless pursuit of profit | Oil | The Guardian
“Without a determined effort to drive back the political power of these corporate titans – which means questioning the very fundamentals of our economic system – our planet will continue to perish.”
Increasingly, the only sane solution to the mess we are in seems to overthrow not just the government but the entire capitalist system. But if making such statements is seen as a real threat, rather than intellectual entertainment, the system will use all the means at its disposal to defend itself.

Turkey pulls out of treaty protecting women from violence | Women News | Al Jazeera
“Turkey is not the first country to move towards ditching the accord. Poland’s highest court scrutinised the pact after a cabinet member said Warsaw should quit the treaty, which the nationalist government considers too liberal.”

The Audacity of it all: Version 3.0 of open-source audio fave boasts new file format, 160+ bug fixes • The Register