Unconscious Inertia

(Apologies for all the hashtags; I’m trying to make this searchable in Mastodon.)


I live in #HindsCounty #Mississippi, which leans Democratic and is majority-black. I've seen it implied or simply asserted in several places that the #election problems we experienced earlier this year—last minute changes of polling places at primaries in August, not enough ballots in some polling locations for the general election in November (which resulted in long lines while more ballots were retrieved, including at my own polling place; I waited a bit over an hour to vote)—were a #GOP and/or white effort to disenfranchise #Democrats and black voters.

I understand, given Mississippi’s history, why people might be inclined to jump to that narrative without too much thought.[1] But this assertion shows the ignorance (whether willful or not) of those making it. To wit, running elections in Mississippi—including determining polling places and printing ballots—is the responsibility of individual county Election Commissions. The Hinds County Election Commission is entirely composed of elected Democrats, most of whom, if not all, are black. It therefore strains credulity to imagine that the difficulties we experienced were some kind of political plot to prevent Democrats or black people from voting.

Long story short, the Election Commission just flat-out screwed up and has admitted it. Yes, they should think hard about how to avoid these problems for the next election, but at the end of the day, this wasn’t #politics, just human error—nothing #Democratic or #Republican about it. It happens, no conspiracy needed. Not really as satisfying—if that’s the right word—a story, but factual.

I think we’d all do better to base things on facts.

[1] Historically, of course, it would mostly be Democrats suppressing Republican voters, but the point stands.

I’m discontinuing the Friday Links posts, not that I was ever particularly consistent about them. Since I now have an account on the Fediverse, I’ll just post links there (if at all).

It’s just been me and the kids for a few days. My wife left Thursday for an academic conference, and doesn’t come back until Tuesday.

A couple years ago, we bought a Ford Transit, thinking that with eight kids we’d be using it all the time as a people-mover. This for various reasons turned out not to be true. In fact, the only time we regularly used it for all the kids was to go church Sunday morning. So a couple months ago we sold it (for more than we paid, as it happens). Looking at usage and gas costs and all that, this was the right decision! But when I had to make two trips this morning to bring everyone to church, I did kinda wish we still had the Transit.

While at church, we discovered that our youngest, age 3, had gotten a tick on her back at some point (impossible to say precisely when, but probably yesterday). I had myself all geared up to deal with an uncooperative little girl—but she was docile as a lamb while I pulled it out.

Also at church today, we had a visiting deacon (he was stopping on his way to visit family in Tennessee). Once again, I was struck by how much more fluidly the liturgy flows when a deacon is present. Not my call, of course, but I’ve begun to think that perhaps every Orthodox mission/parish should take as its second goal (the first being “full time priest”) the cultivation or acquisition of a deacon.

#bigfamily #Christianity


Here’s some things that came across my desk this week:

  • Fellow Mississippian Blake Watson presented a talk this week on home-cooked apps at MagnoliaJS.
  • MagnoliaJS is a—previously unknown to me, but been around since 2021—software development conference in Jackson, Mississippi.
  • Antoni Sawicki explored a niche of a niche: Windows NT 3.1 on DEC Alpha AXP.
  • Chris Siebenmann explains your email’s “Sent” folder and notes some potential issues.
  • Neil Clarke of Clarkesworld magazine notes some techniques for blocking AI bots.
  • Glad to see somebody’s put together a gateway for your Chaosnet Lisp Machine LAN to talk to these new-fangled systems using TCP/IP.

#software #retrocomputing #email #LLM #networking

“Can an email address be case-sensitive? The answer is ‘yes…if you’re evil.’” — Dylan Beattie, Email vs Capitalism, or, Why We Can't Have Nice Things

Although in practice these days an email address is case-insensitive, strictly speaking—that is, according to the standard—it doesn’t have to be. As Beattie notes in the talk linked above, in the early days most email travelled on Unix systems, on which alice, Alice, and alicE are all equally valid, and, importantly, separate users. Mail administrators, even today, could theoretically enforce this if they had a reason.

But there is an important exception to this! The current email standard, RFC 5321, which updates RFC 821 (August 1982) and RFC 2821 (April 2001) requires in section 4.5.1:

Any system that includes an SMTP server supporting mail relaying or delivery MUST support the reserved mailbox “postmaster” as a case-insensitive local name.

#TIL #email #trivia

Some things that came across my desk this week:

  • Harvey Matusow—quite an interesting character—was interviewed by the BBC in 1970, in his role as head of the International Society for the Abolition of Data-Processing Machines. Twitter has a clip.
  • Now you can run old Windows screensavers under XScreensaver. Because.
  • Daniel Berrangé has come out with exactly the sort of software tool I like: it’s simple and, strictly speaking, it’s unnecessary, but it’s still great because it makes things easier. It’s called Bye Bye BIOS. Its sole purpose is to be run against an OS image (say, for a VM) which is set up only to boot via EFI and, if you try to boot it via (legacy) BIOS, tell you that you need to use EFI.

#computers #software

  • I do not mind paying actual money for useful software.
  • I do not mind purchasing an ongoing subscription for software which which provides a useful service on an ongoing basis, or which continues to improve.
  • I very much mind paying actual money for software which then still tries to show me ads.
  • I flatly decline to purchase a subscription for an essentially static app.

Also, I don’t have strong feeling about this, I just think it’s kind of odd how many apps I’ve seen where the lure to the paid rather than free version of an app is…being able to change the app icon. I mean, if that’s important to you, I’m not criticizing. The little icon square is just not something I care about. (Okay, fine, I care a little; I’m not going to buy an app with a swastika for an icon, or whatever.)

#software #economics

Some things that came across my desk this week:

#airships #transportation #sports

Some things that came across my desk this week:

#archaeology #climate #philosophy #science