Leaving WordPress

This will be my last post on this site using WordPress, because dealing with WordPress isn’t worth the hassle. I’m building a new static version that will load faster and use less bandwidth, which will make hosting it cheaper.

If you follow this site on WordPress.com, this means you won’t get updates any longer. Nor will you be able to like or comment on posts.

To follow the new site, look for https://matthewgraybosch.com/feed/. It’s a standard RSS/Atom feed (like podcasts use) and there are a wide variety of apps that can handle it. Incidentally, a lot of blogs still provide these feeds, so learning to use a feed reader can help you break free of social media if that’s something you care about.

If you want to comment, send email to “contact” at “matthewgraybosch.com”. As long as it’s not abusive, I will eventually reply.

Slackware 15 pre-release on a Thinkpad T60

I tried installing Slackware -current using the ISO image prepared by AlienBob on the T60 Thinkpad that I used to carry around for writing pre-COVID. Not really using it for much else at the moment, so I figured: why not?

I got lucky with today’s ISO; everything installed correctly. The default graphical desktop is KDE Plasma on Wayland. Unfortunately, the Wayland graphics stack still doesn’t work on my T60 since its ATI Mobility Radeon X1400 graphics hardware still isn’t supported. This is a known issue that Red Hat apparently can’t be bothered to fix.

That’s fine; I can’t be bothered to migrate away from X.org to Wayland until the latter supports all my hardware—including the ancient-by-comparison Nvidia GeForce chipset in my 2003 iMac.

Hell, does Wayland even compile on 32bit PowerPC hardware? Probably not. LOL

Richard M. Stallman Isn’t My Problem

Apparently I’m supposed to care that Richard M. Stallman has returned to the board of the Free Software Foundation after being cancelled because he stuck up for a dead friend who happened to be one of Jeffrey Epstein’s guests. I mean, the guy’s autistic, and you expect him to not occasionally misread the room and say offensive shit in public? Talk about ableism.

People relatively close to him at MIT dismissed it as RMS being himself as usual, but a grad student found this dismissal offensive, decided to dredge up all the other times RMS put his foot in his mouth, and demanded that he be forced into retirement. The student soon found plenty of allies, and RMS stepped down in 2019, but now he’s back.

As a result, there are lots of self-righteous people arguing for and against RMS returning to the FSF, and I’ve had people try to figure out where I stand. So, for the record: my stance is one of militant indifference. I refuse to give a shit, as is my inalienable right as a human being.

I might use Free Software, particularly GNU Emacs, but I got into UNIX and FOSS via BSD-derived systems, not GNU/Linux, so RMS is no more my concern than Eric S. Raymond (who makes RMS look like Fred Rogers). If you try to pressure me into taking your side—whether you support RMS or oppose him—I will oppose you on principle. Your cause is nothing to me until I claim it as my own.

I’m not in this for your revolution, and I don’t exist to be your ally. If this offends you: fuck you; you had it coming.

Emma Goldman’s Danceable Revolution

Which of these is a quote from anarchist and feminist Emma Goldman (1869-1940)? Do you know?

Is this what she said?

If I can’t dance I don’t want to be in your revolution.

Or this?

If I can’t dance I don’t want to be part of your revolution.

How about this?

If I can’t dance to it, it’s not my revolution.

It seems that Goldman didn’t actually say any of these, according to Alix Kates Shulman’s article “Dances With Feminists”, published in the Women’s Review of Books, Vol. IX, no. 3 on December 1991.

The article used to be available on sunsite.berkeley.edu, but that site’s retired. I suspect it happened when Sun Microsystems was assimilated into Oracle. I was able to find a link to the article in the new Berkeley Online Library, but I can’t actually access the article. Fortunately, there’s still the Wayback Machine. Oh, wait. It’s here as part of the Emma Goldman Papers.

Apparently Ms. Shulman had a part in compressing what Goldman really said into something you could slap on a t-shirt, a bumper sticker, or a Unix fortune(6) cookie:

At the dances I was one of the most untiring and gayest. One evening a cousin of Sasha [Alexander Berkman], a young boy, took me aside. With a grave face, as if he were about to announce the death of a dear comrade, he whispered to me that it did not behoove an agitator to dance. Certainly not with such reckless abandon, anyway. It was undignified for one who was on the way to become a force in the anarchist movement. My frivolity would only hurt the Cause.

I grew furious at the impudent interference of the boy. I told him to mind his own business, I was tired of having the Cause constantly thrown into my face. I did not believe that a Cause which stood for a beautiful ideal, for anarchism, for release and freedom from conventions and prejudice, should demand the denial of life and joy. I insisted that our Cause could not expect me to become a nun and that the movement should not be turned into a cloister. If it meant that, I did not want it. “I want freedom, the right to self-expression, everyboy’s right to beautiful, radiant things.” Anarchism meant that to me, and I would live it in spite of the whole world–prisons, persecution, everything. Yes, even in spite of the condemnation of my own comrades I would live my beautiful ideal. [Living My Life (New York: Knopf, 1934), p. 56]

I think the real quote is better than the short versions, and I don’t blame Goldman for having been annoyed with this arrogant child. This sort of Puritanism makes progressives seem grim and joyless, and leads them to be censorious and rude toward people who might otherwise agree with them and alienate them. It makes me suspect that they’ve no interest in ending tyranny, but replacing the existing regime with one they deem more congenial.

I’m not interested in a revolution that repackages original sin instead of abolishing it. Some would insist that this makes me no different from conservatives or the alt-reich, but I hate them, too. You see, I hate everyone.

No matter what you believe, I don’t believe in you, ’cause if I can’t bang my head to it it ain’t my revolution.

Catgirl: a new IRC client

I’ve been using IRC for the first time in over 20 years thanks to an article by OpenBSD developer Solène Rapenne. It’s called catgirl, and if you think that name is somehow problematic you should save your self-righteous indignation for the bitchX developers—not that they’re likely to give a damn.

catgirl is a simpler client than older, more popular clients like irsii, weechat, or hexchat. It runs in your terminal, and if you want to use multiple networks you need to run one instance of catgirl per network. You can create config files for your networks in ~/.config/catgirl/. As an example, here’s the one I use for freenode.net:

#! ~/.config/catgirl/freenode

host = irc.freenode.org
join = #openbsd,##writing,##metal,#freenode
nick = starbreaker
pass = ********************
timestamp = %R

When I want to log in, I just run catgirl freenode from a shell prompt, and after a couple of seconds of handshaking I’m lurking on four channels. If I also wanted to lurk on EFnet or Reddit’s snoonet, I’d create additional files and run them through catgirl separately. I might also use tmux to keep everything in a single terminal.

It’s not that hard to use, but I had a little trouble setting up auto connection for multiple channels until linetrace on Freenode pointed out that I only need commas, not commas and spaces. That’s what I get for not reading the manual with sufficient care.

catgirl is available for GNU/Linux, BSD, and macOS, but unless it’s packaged for your system you’ll have to build it yourself. The package won’t be available in OpenBSD until the 6.9 release unless you’re using the -current branch. However, it only takes a few commands to build as long as you already have LibreTLS installed (additional details on the about page):

make all
sudo make install

While I could use some of the other IRC clients I’ve mentioned, I’m glad catgirl exists. It’s good enough for my purposes because it doesn’t do too much and isn’t too complex. It’s just right as I slowly retreat into the dark forest.

What Happened to Free Enterprise?

TL;DR: conservatives and Republicans should try actually governing while they still have seats in Congress with which to do so, instead of wasting time on culture-war posturing in the middle of a pandemic to distract from their repeated votes against economic stimulus and minimum wage increases that would actually help their constituents by putting money in the hands of American workers.

What happened to the long-running conservative love affair with free enterprise lately? Conservatives used to defend businesses whose owners refused to serve black customers, bake cakes for gay weddings, or sell books they considered “immoral”. But apparently it’s not OK for Amazon to stop selling a book attacking “transgender ideology”?

I’m asking a serious question here. “Free enterprise”, aka letting business owners do whatever they like, used to be a fundamental principle of conservatism in the US. It used to be an article of faith, right up there with the (mistaken) belief that the US is a Christian nation and the (equally mistaken) belief that America is what the rest of the world wants to be when it grows up. Conservative belief in “free enterprise” is why we have the FAANG cartel (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google) in the tech industry. It’s why we have Disney when we used to have an actual entertainment industry. It’s also why you can have three different rock radio stations in your area that all have the same playlist.

Thanks for nothing, Republicans. If letting megacorporations run amok is your idea of free enterprise, you godless reds deserve the consequences and I hope you damned well choke on them.

credit: Austin Daily Herald (2019)

However, between repeated grillings by congressional Republicans of Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg, the CEOs of the social media corporations that have done for conservatism in the 2010s what the late and undeservedly lamented Rush Limbaugh did on AM talk radio in the 1990s, Amazon Web Services refusing to host Parler, and the latest furor over Amazon refusing to continue selling When Henry Became Sally, a book criticizing “transgender ideology”, it seems time to ask why Republicans are suddenly so concerned about how private citizens run their businesses. Is this just posturing to distract ordinary Americans from congressional Republicans’ repeated refusal to vote for economic stimulus or a long-overdue Federal minimum wage increase? I suspect it is, because Republicans only want one thing, and it’s fucking disgusting.

Let’s make a few things clear, though:

  1. I’m OK with regulating corporations like Amazon to within an inch of their lives. Congress has the authority to do so under the Commerce Clause since Amazon operates across state lines.
  2. I’m equally OK with doing to the FAANG cartel what we did to Standard Oil, AT&T, and many other corporations. Hell, we ought to break up AT&T again since they don’t seem to have learned their lesson from last time.
  3. I’m also OK with the Federal government leaving small businesses that do not cross state lines alone and leaving the regulation of such businesses to the states under the Tenth Amendment.
  4. I don’t really give a shit about transgender people one way or the other. As Thomas Jefferson is reputed to have written: “If it does not break my leg or pick my pocket, what business is it of mine?”
  5. Because I don’t give a shit about transgender people in general, I address trans people by their preferred names and pronouns because it’s less hassle that way. It’s not my job to police your body or your identity.

That said, I don’t believe for a second that if Amazon refused to sell a book advocating masturbation, recreational sex, legalized sex work, and pornography called I’m a Sodomite and I’m OK the Republicans would object or accuse Amazon of censorship. Instead, they would probably praise Amazon for upholding “standards of decency”.

However, I would strongly caution Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Mike Lee (R-UT), Mike Braun (R-IN), and Josh Hawley (R-MO) about the precedents they seek to set, because forcing Amazon to sell books that appeal to conservatives can also be used to force Amazon to sell books unfriendly to conservative ideology. Hawley in particular should know better than to think that “liberal” big businesses control everything; when Simon & Schuster cancelled his book it was Regnery that stepped up to offer a publication deal.

Instead of trying to force Amazon and the rest of the FAANG cartel to kowtow to conservative interests, conservatives would do better to do everything in their power to help make big business irrelevant. Admittedly, this would go against the habit of decades, but it would be more in line with the rest of their stated ideals. Letting a few megacorporations have the lion’s share of American commerce does not serve the cause of local control or help small business.

Nobody would care if Buckley’s Books of Intercourse, PA sold nothing but books published by conservative-friendly houses such as Regnery and Baen—even by mail order—as long as Buckley’s didn’t hold a monopoly. But because it’s Amazon deciding which books it will or will not stock, everybody’s losing their minds? It would seem that the obvious solution is to break out the century’s worth of antitrust statute and precedent that progressive Republicans led by Theodore Roosevelt started and start reclaiming the old GOP legacy as a party of progress.

In any case, it’s not like people can’t buy When Harry Became Sally directly from the publisher. Encounter Books has its own internet storefront, as does Regnery Publishing and many others.

The real question is whether modern Republicans have the backbone to stand up for a higher principle than power by any means or profit über alles. If so, they can start by supporting efforts by the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission to prosecute Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Netflix, and Google under the relevant Federal antitrust laws—starting with the Sherman and Clayton Acts—and put their influence behind breaking up the megacorporations that have come to dominate commerce in the US and abroad.

Memo to Republicans: stop crybullying about censorship when you’re fine with it as long as it’s artists you don’t like getting censored. Remember Robert Mappelthorpe and the PMRC? Remember Bob Dole condemning movies he had not seen as “nightmares of depravity”? Remember Ed Meese and Phyllis Schafly? Likewise with cancel culture. Remember the Dixie Chicks? I do, and I haven’t forgiven the Republicans their censoriousness any more than I’ve forgiven that asshole Tipper Gore. You’ve got more pressing concerns than “transgender ideology”, because conservative ideas are becoming increasingly and deservedly unwelcome as people realize the full extent of your moral and intellectual bankruptcy.

In fact, stop posturing about censorship in the middle of a pandemic when you’ve repeatedly voted as a party against approporiations bills that would put money in the hands of ordinary Americans and help them weather a plague that has been ravaging the country for a year thanks in large part to your utter refusal to govern. There are reasons that conservative ideas are no longer welcome. If you need help finding them, start by ducking into the men’s room and looking at a fucking mirror.

The fundamental tenet of conservatism is that existing traditions and institutions are somehow inherently deserving of preservation, that profitable enterprises deserve to remain profitable, and that any change—no matter how trivial—must somehow be justified. That’s not how reality works. In the real world, change is inevitable and it is the preservation of traditions and institutions that must be justified.

Conservatives need to accept that the world is going to move on with or without them. Transgender and bisexual people today are where gay and lesbian people were in the late 1990s and early 2000s. They are going to keep demanding the acceptance that is their rightful due, and if conservatives can’t accept that then nobody will mourn their exile from the mainstream.

Demography is destiny, and the gulags that await American conservatives are already built, in operation, and run for profit by private corporations. We just call them “nursing homes”.

person holding a stress ball
A Baby Boomer in the conservatives’ gulag. Photo by Matthias Zomer on Pexels.com

I will happily dance on conservatism’s grave. And my urination upon it will be the only libation this misbegotten movement of apologists for tyranny deserves.

Theme Switch Coming Up

I’m going to be switching the site’s theme from Libre to Libre 2 since the latter works so well on starbreaker.org and the former is no longer being maintained. The widgets on the bottom of the page might disappear for a few minutes, but other than that there should be no issues. If I’m wrong, I can restore from a manual backup.

Smudge the Sysadmin Cat

a brown tabby cat considering his bed
*meow* I’ve got this. I’m totally not stoned on catnip.