"To be" is not the question

How red are my hands? I descend from slave owners. My biological father developed weapons of mass destruction, chemical, biological, radiological, and advocated for them as somehow superior to nuclear weapons options. As a youth, American men and boys, not much older than me, were sent to Vietnam to burn women and children and villages, with napalm. Under 43 America murdered hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, tortured many more. I can, of course, go on.

I, on the other hand, have done none of these things. At least not personally. Still, my life is rich and easy because other Americans have killed on my behalf. How red are my hands?

Today we again are all witness to yet another senseless war. As in every war, back to Troy, or Alexander the Great, thru to the War to End All War, or Great Patriotic War and countless others after that, virtually everyone on all sides is so convinced in their own cause they are willing to die and kill for it. Everyone who goes to war has reasons, everyone somehow justifies killing and dying. 

How can it be? How can some ordinary 18 year old German drop Zyklon B into a room full of people? How can an American pilot drop bombs knowing hundreds, thousands, even more, will die as a result? How can men in suits quietly sit around a table and order tanks and cluster bombs to shred the flesh of their neighbors? Their neighbors, their kin, their friends?

All too easily. All too easily. We now know from psychological experiments how easy it is to turn ordinary people into sadistic prison guards. You simply ask them, tell them these horrific things must be done. And they do it. 

Cruelty comes easily to humans. 

Hitler quite easily drummed up reasons to invade his neighbors. To him and the German nation WWII was totally understandable.  America, just as easily, drummed up reasons to invade Vietnam and more recently Iraq. And there are reasons. There are always reasons.

Franklin's Four Rules for Living cvining

Franklin’s Four Rules for Living

  1. It is necessary for me to be extremely frugal for some time, until I have paid what I owe.
  2. To endeavor to speak truth in every instance; to give nobody expectations that are not likely to be answered, but aim at sincerity in every word and action – the most amiable excellence in a rational being.
  3. To apply myself industriously to whatever business I take in hand, and not divert my mind from my business by any foolish project of growing suddenly rich; for industry and patience are the surest means of plenty.
  4. I resolve to speak ill of no man whatever, not even in a matter of truth; but rather by some means excuse the faults I hear charged upon others, and upon proper occasions speak all the good I know of everybody.
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Written as advice to himself in 1726, on shipboard returning to Philadelphia from London. He was 20 years old

If you ride a man cvining

If you ride a horse sit close and tight, If you ride a man, sit easy and light.

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Write things worth reading cvining

If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing.

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Migration of this website from Drupal 7 to Drupal 9

Submitted by cvining on

I use this website as an archive of my scientific publications and as a place to post occasional observations on life, the world, and whatever comes my way. It's all very indulgent at this point.

Drupal 7 to Drupal 9

I've just completed migrating the site from Drupal 7 to Drupal 9, which was more work than certainly I'd have liked. But Drupal 7 is way out of date now, and they say future upgrades will be pretty painless. We'll see about that.

I looked at porting over to WordPress, which is an excellent CMS. I host a WP website for a friend but had no real experience building a website with it. I found getting a basic website up and running with WP was pretty easy and I'd recommend it to someone getting started with a small website. But after a while I realized Drupal was actually much better at some things. Drupal's Custom Content Types and Views modules are really powerful and to do similar things in WordPress press requires paying for plug-ins, which can be a costly rabbit hole.

And too, I've already invested in the Drupal learning curve. So for me, I think it was better to stick with Drupal despite the fact I had to rebuild a lot to get a Drupal 9 site working roughly like my previous site.

Abandoning BOA: Barracuda-Octopus-Aegir 

Since 2006, I think, I've been using a VPS from Digitalocean.com provisioned with BOA to host my Drupal websites. BOA is installed on a fresh server, taking over just about everything about managing and tuning the needed server software, and provides a front-end for managing Drupal installations. It made spinning up a new Drupal website an easy matter of a few clicks. Really, a lifesaver when I was hosting quite a few Drupal sites for clients.


Rand on Faith

Submitted by cvining on

Faith is the worst curse of mankind, as the exact antithesis and enemy of thought. To rest one's case on faith means to concede that reason is on the side of one's enemies - that one has no rational arguments to offer.


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When I was 14

Submitted by cvining on

When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.

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Widely attributed, probably inaccurately since Mark Twain’s father died when he was eleven years old

No right to secede cvining

If there was any constitutional issue resolved by the Civil War, it is that there is no right to secede

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Letter dated October 31, 2006, to Daniel Turkewitz. http://www.newyorkpersonalinjuryattorneyblog.com/uploaded_images/Scalia… 25, 2014, at the Wayback Machine