In some circles there’s lately a vogue for vandalizing or pulling down Confederate statues. The people doing it think (or say they think) that they’re striking a blow against racism. I think they’re, at best, engaged in a dangerous reopening of old wounds. At worst they’re threatening to inflict serious new ones.

I’m a Yankee from Boston by birth and inclination. I’ve never bought into Lost Cause romanticism; I’ve studied the history and don’t buy the revisionism about tariffs or troop callups. The South revolted to defend the indefensible of chattel slavery, and deserved its defeat.

But once the war was won, the victors (both Northern and Southern Unionists) had to win the peace as well. It was not a given that the South would be reconciled to the Union; there was lots of precedent for the statesmen and the people of the era to look back on that suggested otherwise.

The South could have become a running sore, a cauldron of low-level insurrection and guerilla warfare that blighted the next century of U.S. history. Instead, it is now the most patriotic region of the U.S. – as measured, for example, by regional origins of U.S. military personnel. How did this happen?

Looking back, we can see that between 1865 and around 1914 the Union and the former South negotiated an imperfect but workable peace. The first step in that negotiation took place at Appomattox, when the Union troops accepting General Robert E. Lee’s surrender saluted the defeated and allowed them to retain their arms, treating them with the most punctilious military courtesy due to honorable foes.

Over the next few years, the Union Army reintegrated the Confederate military into itself. Confederate officers not charged with war crimes were generally able to retain rank and seniority; many served in the frontier wars of the next 35 years. Elements of Confederate uniform were adopted for Western service.

The political leaders of the revolt were not executed. Instead, they were spared to urge reconciliation, and generally did. By all historical precedent they were treated with shocking leniency. This paid off.

Of course, not all went smoothly. The Reconstruction of the South between 1863 and 1877 was badly bungled, creating resentments that linger to this day and – in the folk memory of Southerners – often overshadow the harms of the war itself. The condition of emancipated blacks remained dire.

But overall, the reintegration of the South went far better than it could have. Confederate nationalism was successfully reabsorbed into American nationalism. One of the prices of this adjustment was that Confederate heroes had to become American heroes. An early and continuing example of this was the reverence paid to Robert E. Lee by Unionists after the war; his qualities as a military leader were extolled and his opposition to full civil rights for black freedmen memory-holed.

Lee’s heroism and ascribed saintliness would later become a central prop in “Lost Cause” romanticism, which portrayed the revolt as an honorable struggle for a Southern way of life while mostly airbrushing out – but sometimes, unforgiveably, defending – the institution of slavery. Even today, the “soft” airbrushing version of Lost Cause retains a significant hold on Southerners who would never dream of defending slavery.

The statues now at issue were mostly erected between 1865 and 1914 by organizations like the Daughters of the Confederacy who were fully invested in the soft version of Lost Cause romanticism. In view of current revisionism, it should be remembered that, in the time before the early 1960s when one could express white-supremacist and segregationist beliefs in the South and expect a lot of applause, the statue builders generally didn’t play that song.

We know this because we can read the dedications they chiseled on their monuments. Whatever the statue-builders may have privately believed, the face – the myth – about that they presented was not one of white supremacy justified but of virtue and heroism in a lost cause.

My cultural and political ancestors, the Yankees who had won the war, got out of the statue-builders’ way because we understood that the statue-builders were, in fact, cooperating in the great settlement between South and North. Making heroes of the rebels was not a large price to pay if it meant that Southern pride became American pride.

In fact, the deception was quite mutual. Southerners, by and large, tried to pretend their revolt had not been a defense of the indefensible. Northerners by and large, decided that agreeing with that pretense (or at least not disputing it in public) was a polite fiction useful to everybody.

The statue-smashers either fail to understand that great settlement (likely), or intend to undo it (not likely), or are pursuing a broader aim which I’ll address near the end of this essay.

It is 2017 and the wounds of the Civil War have not entirely healed. “Damnyankee” is still a single word in much of the South. Failing to understand the great settlement creates the risk that those wounds could re-open into divisive regionalism and eventual conflict.

This is especially so since Southerners already feel like victims in the red/blue conflict that now divides coastal urban elites from Middle America. Many Blue tribesmen talk as though they think everybody living more than 60 miles inland and outside a university town is a closet neo-Confederate. This is fantasy, but there is a possible future in which Southern resentment becomes the dominant symbology of the Red tribe in a way it is not today.

Some people are going to want to interject at this point “What about the insult to black people? Aren’t those statues symbols of white supremacy that should be smashed on that account alone?”

Brother, if I believed that I would be swinging a hammer myself. But the mission of the statue builders was to redeem the honor of the South in part by editing white supremacism and slavery out of our cultural memory of the war. They largely deceived themselves with Lost Cause romanticism. Making those statues into symbols of black subjugation would have undercut their whole project.

I do not want to see the post-Civil-War settlement undone. Thus, I’m in favor of letting Southerners keep their statues and their myths. We should let Southern heroes remain American heroes because that is what worked to pull the country back together – and because after the war so many of them really did argue for reconciliation.

There’s another reason I’m opposed to the statue-smashing that has nothing to do with the great settlement. That is: I believe the statue-smashers have a larger aim unrelated to any kind of justice.

Many of these people are, in effect, Red Guards. They don’t just want to erase icons of Confederate pride, they want to smash American pride. Statues of Columbus have already been defaced; I am pretty sure Washington and Jefferson will be next. The actual agenda is that Americans must be made to feel their nation was born in sin and cannot be redeemed – patriotism must be replaced with obsessive self-criticism and eternal guilt. Anything positive in our national mythos must be razed and replaced with Marxist cant.

If there were no other good reason for it, I’d defend everybody’s statuary just to oppose the Red Guards.

Posted Fri Sep 22 11:38:32 2017 Tags:
"Today I learned something new and stupid."

I should know that everything involving printing is just... perma-stupid. But still.

I've been tweaking both web sites to use <IMG SRCSET> in a few places in an attempt to speed things up a bit by downloading less data. The spec for SRCSET is actually pretty sensible, allowing the browser to download an appropriately-sized image based on the size of its window, the relationship between screen pixels and display pixels, and your hint as to how much of the screen the image will take up..

So let's say you've got a stack of SRCSET images, and the image on your screen is, let's say "five inches" wide, whatever that means, and the vagaries of the world result in the 768px image being used for that. So then you hit print. And now you're going to be printing a "five inch" image on a 300dpi device. Does it use the 1600px image for that?

The hell it does. It scales up the blurry-assed 768px image.

Safari, Mozilla, Chrome and Opera all do this.

This is annoying, because in the DNA store, when you buy a ticket, you are presented with a page with a image of your ticket on it, like so:

One of the common use cases here is "print it out and take it with you". So I've been serving 1600px PNGs, so that they will print well. But it sure would be nice if the people who aren't printing were being served a smaller file.

So I guess my choices are to keep serving large images always, or have prints be blurry. "Hooray."

Maybe there's some nuttery I could do with @print stylesheets in the CSS to override the SRC but that sure sounds fragile.

I mean, hopefully most people are using the Apple Wallet pkpass attachment we send them instead of printing, but still, this is dumb and ought to work.

Incidentally, is there some Android equivalent of pkpass? I'm including the Google-recommended EventReservation microformat in the confirmation email, but I tend to assume that microformats are still just wishful thinking. I haven't seen any documents suggesting that this format actually does anything anywhere. Does it? If it does, what does it look like? (Go buy a DNA ticket and send me a screen shot.)

Posted Fri Sep 22 04:58:05 2017 Tags:

In the 1980s, US militarists bemoaned the "Vietnam syndrome" that made the US hesitate to get involved in wars, especially unwinnable ones. Too bad the US has "recovered" from this lesson.

Posted Fri Sep 22 00:00:00 2017 Tags:

Distributing welfare payments through a card that tracks people is being sold in Australia as a way to stop the money's being spent on alcohol and drugs. Apparently it is not very effective at that, but it surely tracks people effectively.

Posted Fri Sep 22 00:00:00 2017 Tags:

When Bob Crane's electricity was cut off, he began using fires to cook. Eventually a fire got out of control and killed him.

Cutting off the electricity of a poor person is an act of stinginess, typical of an anti-welfare state.

Posted Fri Sep 22 00:00:00 2017 Tags:

In Dominica after Hurricane Maria, few were killed but everything is wrecked.

Posted Fri Sep 22 00:00:00 2017 Tags:

"Far away from any witnesses, my small town is being poisoned by fracking waste."

Posted Fri Sep 22 00:00:00 2017 Tags:

Trying to help girls of African descent escape genital mutilation by informing them about the issue on exit from the UK.

Posted Fri Sep 22 00:00:00 2017 Tags:

Mueller's investigation of the troll's connections with Russia demands records on some of the troll's activities in the White House.

Posted Fri Sep 22 00:00:00 2017 Tags:

Distinguishing between religious beliefs and delusions.

Comparing knowledge of science with Windows 10 is unfortunate, though. If Windows is some kind of "knowledge", it would be superstition.

Posted Fri Sep 22 00:00:00 2017 Tags:

Thugs killed a deaf man who ignored their orders. Bystanders were shouting that he was deaf, but they didn't hear.

A man is 15 feet away from you, holding a pipe. He has shown no hostility. Do you need to shoot him — or is that being on a hair trigger and jumping the gun?

Posted Fri Sep 22 00:00:00 2017 Tags:

HUION PenTablet devices are graphics tablet devices aimed at artists. These tablets tend to aim for the lower end of the market, driver support is often somewhere between meh and disappointing. The DIGImend project used to take care of them, but with that out of the picture, the bugs bubble up to userspace more often.

The most common bug at the moment is a lack of proximity events. On pen devices like graphics tablets, we expect a BTN_TOOL_PEN event whenever the pen goes in or out of the detectable range of the tablet ('proximity'). On most devices, proximity does not imply touching the surface (that's BTN_TOUCH or a pressure-based threshold), on anything that's not built into a screen proximity without touching the surface is required to position the cursor correctly. libinput relies on proximity events to provide the correct tool state, which again is relied upon by compositors and clients.

The broken HUION devices only send BTN_TOOL_PEN once whenever the pen first goes into proximity and then never again until the device is disconnected. To make things more fun, HUION re-uses USB ids, so we cannot even reliably detect the broken devices and do the usual approach to hardware-quirking. So far, libinput support for HUION devices has thus been spotty. The good news is that libinput git master (and thus libinput 1.9) will have a fix for this. The one thing we can rely on is that tablets keep sending events at the device's scanout frequency. So in libinput we now add a timeout to the tablets and assume proximity-out has happened. libinput fakes a proximity out event and waits for the next event from the tablet - at which point we'll fake a proximity in before processing the events. This is enabled on all HUION devices now (re-using USB IDs, remember?) but not on any other device.

One down, many more broken devices more to go. Yay.

Posted Thu Sep 21 04:52:00 2017 Tags:
Dear Lazyweb, I have a request.

As you know, the primary lesson of Scooby-Doo is that ghosts and monsters don't exist, it's always, always a shady real-estate speculator wearing a rubber mask.

Please combine all of these videos of supercuts of the Scooby Gang unmasking, and photoshop Donald Trump's cartoon face onto all of the villains.

I thank you. Future generations thank you. And most of all, those meddling kids thank you.

Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.

Posted Thu Sep 21 01:25:08 2017 Tags:

More depredations of the sex offender list.

Posted Thu Sep 21 00:00:00 2017 Tags:
@gknauss "Remember when Goebbels killed it on Burns and Allen?"

@DesiJed "Repeats the names of everyone who posed at the #Emmys with Sean Spicer like I'm Arya Stark."

Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.

Posted Wed Sep 20 20:29:17 2017 Tags:
tl;dr: "Probably".

Just for the record, when this Unfrozen Caveman bitches about the horrors of the world, it is not without recognition of my culpability.

Montulli and Weissman also deserve a portion of the blame, but I was the one who ran with it, so I'm sure they'd be happy to let me fall on that sword.

{You're|I'm} {welcome|sorry}.

Date: Thu, 25 Aug 2011 20:01:22 -0700
From: Jamie Zawinski <>
Subject: Re: HTML e-mail: is it your fault?
Mime-Version: 1.0 (Apple Message framework v1084)
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii
X-Mailer: Apple Mail (2.1084)

Date: Thu, 25 Aug 2011 14:45:13 -0700
From: Andrew Gray <adsgray@...>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=us-ascii
User-Agent: Mutt/1.5.20 (2009-08-17)


I'm trying to figure out when HTML e-mails were first sent. Do you happen to know if the Netscape Mail and News clients that you worked on were the first MUAs to render HTML?

This question is in the context of struggling to craft an HTML e-mail that looks "good" in every possible stupid mail program that anyone could possibly still be using in the year 2011.

You know, my gut reaction is that the answer to this question is "no", but after some digging, I have yet to find any evidence of a mail reader that can display inline HTML messages (email or USENET) that predates Netscape 2.0!

So, maybe?

If you find out for sure, please let me know!

I think there may have been closed systems inside Compuserve and Outlook that supported rich text messages (in formats other than HTML).

The Andrew Message System at CMU and MIT supported WYSIWYG rich messages, including inline images and audio attachments, as early as 1985. Not HTML or MIME, but a predecessor to MIME, as the architect of that was Nathaniel Borenstein who wrote the first MIME RFC.

My other project is a time machine of course. First application: preventing HTML e-mail from ever happening.

Yeah, go back to chipping your USENET posts out with a piece of flint, why don't you.

Even if it wasn't the first, Netscape Mail was probably the first mail reader that put the ability to easily *view* HTML messages in front of more than a million users.

I know that Eudora 4 supported display of HTML email, and possibly composition of it, but I'm not sure when that was released.

Qualcomm/Eudora spent a while trying to push text/enriched (RFC 1523, published late 1993 -- not sure when Eudora first supported it) as an alternative to HTML, but that went nowhere. Early versions of Netscape (at least 1.1, I think possibly earlier) supported display of text/enriched, but just about nobody was even aware of that because nobody ever used it.

We also supported display of text/richtext, which was an HTML-like SGML dialect with only a few tags. In 2.0b1 or possibly earlier. I added that just to placate the peanut gallery, not because I expected anyone to actually use it.

I think the only person who really used text/enriched was Brad Templeton through ClariNet, where you could subscribe to USENET newsgroups of the UPI/AP feeds that were formatted with it.

From Mosaic Netscape 0.9 through Netscape Navigator 1.1 (1994), there was a mail composition window which allowed one to attach external URLs. They were attached as MIME multipart/mixed attachments with proper Content-Type and Content-Transfer-Encoding (using quoted-printable to ensure short lines).

You could also "attach" things with "Include Document Text" which would suck them in as plain-text with ">" at the beginning of each line, wrapped at 72 columns.

There was also a USENET news reader and composer built-in. The USENET reader's display of MIME documents was remedial at best. The composition tool only allowed plain-text. Version 0.9 displayed any part of a message between <HTML> and </HTML> as such, even if there was no Content-Type header. That was removed some time before 2.0. Back then, you couldn't actually rely on a Content-Type header propagating through multiple USENET hops -- bnews would strip out any headers it didn't know about!

(Remember that 1.1's big innovation was *tables*. 1.0 didn't have 'em!)

2.0 contained the mail reader, with full MIME support (which was also a news reader, replacing the minimalist one that 1.0 had). So that showed up in 1.22b or so, mid 1995, I guess?

I believe 3.0 was the first version with WYSIWYG HTML composition, early 1996. To accomplish that in 2.0, you had to attach an HTML file. If there was only one attachment, it was sent as the single MIME part.

Forwarded messages were attachments of type message/rfc822 and included full headers, which were hidden upon inline display. Nobody does that any more because now the world sucks.

There was the IETF MHTML working group as early as 1995. I can't find a working archive of the mailing list, but it was run by a fellow named Jacob Palme --

Microsoft Outlook Express shipped in 2005 and did not support HTML, but later versions (2006? Maybe 2008?) posted HTML *by default* to both mail and news. This angered many. Outlook Express is also where the blight of top-posting originated, those monsters.

Here, this may be helpful too:

Also this:;%20charset=us-ascii

It would be fantastic if you could update with your findings.

DNA Lounge - 375 Eleventh Street, SF CA 94103 - 415-626-1409

Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.

Posted Wed Sep 20 19:24:45 2017 Tags:
From The 13th Hypervelocity Impact Symposium:

The worst case, given the specified uncertainty, would be that the approaching object is already fractured and weak enough to explode at high altitude. Such an airburst can spread its energy out over a larger area and will be more damaging than a crater-forming impact. The worst-case scenario would be a high altitude airburst releasing about 10.6 Mt of energy. The best estimate would be that the fragment is a slightly less dense 50-meter object. Even a relatively strong object of this size is likely to explode at high altitude; although it is possible some fraction of it could reach the ground and form a crater. This best estimate is almost identical to current understanding of the Tunguska explosion. [...]

Since the uncertainty in impact location is extensive, we also provided a map showing the damage footprint at several locations within the ellipse, which we then we convolved with the footprint (Figure 3). We advised participants that preliminary evacuation plans for an airburst over land should be in a lateral direction into area known already to be at no risk, but that detailed plans should wait until radar data becomes available (about 6 days before impact) [...]

Much of the uncertainty ellipse spans parts of the Gulf of Mexico. An impact within that part of the ellipse would produce a tsunami, and would affect the whole of the coastline from Texas to Florida. According to calculations by Souheil Ezzedine of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) a tsunami generated by an impact in the easternmost part of the ellipse would have wave heights of 3 to 10 m and would arrive at the coast over a time spanning from 1 to 4.25 hours after the impact. The tsunami would first reach the Louisiana coastline, causing near total destruction to the barrier islands, The wave run-up would extend inland as far as 16 km.

When planetary physicists start role-playing, you end up with the darkest tabletop strategy game ever.

Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.

Posted Tue Sep 19 22:15:03 2017 Tags:
Give me control of the shipping lanes and I'll make all the lightning you want.

When Joel Thornton at the University of Washington in Seattle and his colleagues looked at records of lightning strikes between 2005 and 2016 from the World Wide Lightning Location Network, they noticed there were significantly more strikes in certain regions of the east Indian Ocean and the South China Sea, compared with the surrounding areas. Unusually, they occurred along two straight lines in the open ocean, which coincided with two of the busiest shipping lanes in the world. Along these paths there were twice as many lightning strikes as in nearby areas.

"We were quite sure the ships had to be involved," says Thornton. But they still had to eliminate other factors that influence storm intensity, such as wind speeds and temperatures.

Once these had been ruled out, the team concluded that aerosols from the ships' engine exhausts were the culprit. Aerosol particles act as seeds, around which water vapour condenses into cloud droplets. In clean air there aren't many seeds, so the cloud drops quickly grow and fall as rain. But when there are a lot of seeds, like over busy shipping routes, a greater number of small cloud drops form. Since these are light, they rise up high into the atmosphere and freeze, creating clouds rich in ice.

It is this that leads to more intense thunderstorms: lightning only occurs if clouds are electrically charged, and this only happens if there are lots of ice crystals. [...]

Although lightning activity is higher over the shipping lanes, the amount of rainfall is no different to nearby regions.

Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.

Posted Tue Sep 19 21:11:21 2017 Tags:
Today on the Unfrozen Caveman show, I learned that when iOS displays a notification about new email, it ignores the text/plain part in a multipart/mixed message and instead displays the text/html part, after stripping all the tags without ceremony or finesse.

Because that's a totally reasonable thing to do.

It's not like "Hey I would like to display a plain-text version of this angry tag salad" is why multipart/mixed exists in the first place or anything.

My guesses on the thought process here, from least to most likely:

  • Eh, everybody just generates their text/plain part by stripping tags anyway, without even the courtesy-reacharound of turning <BR> into \n so why bother?

  • I tried that but then 90% of my mail notifications turned into, "Please use an HTML capable mail reader to view this message" because nobody generates text/plain parts but for unknown reasons they feel compelled to include them anyway.

  • By the time we are putting that dialog on the screen, we are thirty levels above the last framework that had access to the MIME parts, because that's how software works now, so fuck it, fuck it all, burn it all down.

  • Even though I'm on the team that writes a mail reader, I have not read RFC2046.

  • Herp derp I eat paste.

Previously, previously, previously.

Posted Tue Sep 19 20:35:08 2017 Tags:

Planet Debian upstream is hosted by Branchable.