The lowest white man

Submitted by cvining on

If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.

Quote Author

In Tennessee, an off-the-cuff observation he made to a young staffer, Bill Moyers.

The Galaxy Song

Submitted by cvining on

Whenever life gets you down, Mrs. Brown,
And things seem hard or tough,
And people are stupid, obnoxious or daft,

And you feel that you've had quite eno-o-o-o-o-ough,

Just remember that you're standing on a planet that's evolving
And revolving at 900 miles an hour.
It's orbiting at 19 miles a second, so it's reckoned,
The sun that is the source of all our power.
Now the sun, and you and me, and all the stars that we can see,
Are moving at a million miles a day,
In the outer spiral arm, at 40, 000 miles an hour,
Of a galaxy we call the Milky Way.

Our galaxy itself contains a hundred billion stars;
It's a hundred thousand light-years side to side;
It bulges in the middle sixteen thousand light-years thick,
But out by us it's just three thousand light-years wide.
We're thirty thousand light-years from Galactic Central Point,
We go 'round every two hundred million years;
And our galaxy itself is one of millions of billions
In this amazing and expanding universe.

Our universe itself keeps on expanding and expanding,
In all of the directions it can whiz;
As fast as it can go, at the speed of light, you know,
Twelve million miles a minute and that's the fastest speed there is.
So remember, when you're feeling very small and insecure,
How amazingly unlikely is your birth;
And pray that there's intelligent life somewhere out in space,
'Cause there's bugger all down here on Earth!

Quote Author

by Eric Idle (lyrics) and John Du Prez (music) is a part of the 1983 Monty Python movie, The Meaning of Life.

Nothing to offer cvining

I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.

Quote Author

Spoken at his first Cabinet meeting May 13, 1940 and again later that day to the House of Commons

"To be" is not the question

Submitted by cvining on

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

Submitted by cvining on

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.
Quote Author

Written as advice to himself in 1726, on shipboard returning to Philadelphia from London. He was 20 years old

Write things worth reading

Submitted by cvining on

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.

Quote Author

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 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.