I have an ambivalent relation to the notion of patriotism
because all too often those who most loudly proclaim themselves to be patriots
are the worst sort of jingoistic, know-nothing, blowhards—be they Trump supporters, Brexiters, or Irish nationalists.
And yet, for all the flaws and failures of the American Experiment,
there are still things to celebrate.
America’s optimism and can-do spirit, although much abraded in recent years, is still exemplary.
Millions continue to flock here, drawn to the land of opportunity.
The Founding Fathers created a great and lasting democracy,
albeit with a franchise and a set of rights that had to be widened several times.
The world can’t get …continue.
My mid-2012 15" MacBook Pro has been getting ever slower.
My last two work laptops came with SSDs, but this older machine has a 768GB hard disk drive.
It was time to get a solid-state drive, which are far more affordable now than four years ago.
Rather than replace the HDD, I bought a Data Doubler kit and a 480GB SSD.
I removed the optical drive and installed the Data Doubler with SSD in that space.
I rarely used the DVD drive, so I won’t miss it.
The Data Doubler kit came with a set of screwdrivers and
a detailed manual that covered multiple MacBook models.
The manual had …continue.
Director: Brad Bird
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½
Watched: 2 July, 2016
Tomorrowland is a story of dashed dreams and recovered optimism.
In 1964, eleven-year-old Frank Walker meets a girl called Athena
who takes him from the World’s Fair into a futuristic city called Tomorrowland.
In the present day, where doom and gloom reign,
a teenager called Casey hasn’t given up hope of a better future.
She is recruited by Athena—somehow no older—to save the world.
Casey finds Frank, who is embittered at having been cast out of paradise decades ago.
They find their way back into the now-desolate Tomorrowland
and destroy the machine that’s casting a pall of …continue.
Title: Jimmy’s Hall
Director: Ken Loach
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Keywords: irish, historical
Watched: 1 July, 2016
Jimmy’s Hall tells how Jimmy Gralton became the only Irishman ever deported from Ireland.
Gralton returns to rural Ireland from the US in 1932,
after being run out ten years’ earlier
during the Irish Civil War for Communist activity.
He revives the dance hall he had built previously,
as it is a much-needed outlet for the young to dance, study, and talk,
and immediately runs afoul of the local powers,
particularly the parish priest.
Tensions escalate, culminating in his deportation.
Ken Loach is never subtle about his own socialist beliefs.
Jimmy’s Hall is a polemic about
the struggle …continue.
While researching yesterday’s post about nested markup in ReStructuredText,
I finally learned how to use anonymous hyperlinks.
Hitherto, I used one of these three forms for hyperlinks:
1. The central conceit of the fictional `Flashman Papers`_ is that Flashy
2. besieging Breda_ in 1625.
3. my club, `Freely Speaking Toastmasters <http://freelyspeaking.org/>`_.
.. _Flashman Papers:
.. _Breda: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Breda
The first, `Flashman Papers`_, is a named hyperlink reference,
which refers to an external hyperlink target, .. _Flashman Papers: URI.
Note that the reference name starts with a backquote, `,
and ends with backquote-underscore, `_.
The second, Breda_, is a simple reference name—the backquotes are optional.
`Freely Speaking Toastmasters <http://freelyspeaking.org/>`_,
is an embedded URI.
The syntax …continue.
I use reStructuredText for both this blog and the MetaBrite DevBlog.
This blog is built with Acrylamid, while the MetaBrite blog is built with Nikola.
Yesterday I used a link (~/.pgpass) that styled the link as an inline literal;
i.e., in the code font.
ReStructuredText doesn’t support nested markup,
but you can pull it together with a two-step substitution reference:
Here you have |optparse.OptionParser|_.
.. |optparse.OptionParser| replace:: ``optparse.OptionParser`` documentation
.. _optparse.OptionParser: http://docs.python.org/library/optparse.html
This is tedious as you have to create a pair of directives
for every such link that you wish to style.
Nested inline markup has been on the todo list for 15 years—it ain’t happening.
Many of us are guilty of saying “database” when we mean a database server or a DBMS.
A database is a collection of tables storing related data,
schemas, stored procs, and permissions.
Most database servers are capable of managing many databases simultaneously.
I needed to create a new PostgreSQL database at Amazon’s RDS last week.
I already had an RDS instance; I needed a new database on that instance.
My Google searches turned up various recipes for creating a new RDS instance.
The following worked for me:
SSH to an EC2 instance inside our VPC,
so that I could connect to the RDS instance using psql.
psql --host=SOME-DBMS-HOST --dbname EXISTING_DB \
Title: The Prisoner of Zenda
Author: Anthony Hope
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ½
Reading period: 23–24 June, 2016
Having read Royal Flash,
I also read its inspiration, The Prisoner of Zenda,
Anthony Hope’s classic adventure novel.
Rudolf Rassendyll, a young British aristocrat,
decides to visit Ruritania,
where his distant cousin and doppelgänger, the dissipated Rudolf Elphberg,
is about to be crowned king.
The future king has a half brother, “Black” Michael,
who begrudges him the throne and also covets his fiancée, Princess Flavia.
Michael kidnaps the king and the king’s friends,
in a desperate attempt to preserve political peace,
persuade Rassendyll to impersonate the king.
The imposture is successful and a stalemate …continue.
Title: Royal Flash
Author: George MacDonald Fraser
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★
Keywords: historical fiction, humor
Reading period: 19–22 June, 2016
Having made an enemy of Otto von Bismarck a few years earlier,
Flashman now finds himself compelled by Bismarck to impersonate a Danish prince
in a German duchy, taking his place in a marriage to the duchess.
Flashman is a doppelgänger for Carl Gustaf and with his talent for languages,
he’s able to pull it off.
At first he believes that Carl Gustaf is recuperating from an embarrassing case of the pox,
and he settles into enjoying his role.
Then he learns that …continue.
When histories of 21st-century Britain are written,
the Brexit referendum will undoubtedbly be prominent.
A small majority of Britons voted to do the unthinkable,
to secede from the European Union.
Xenophobes and racists in coalition with the marginalized and disaffected
have delivered a big fuck you to London and to Brussels.
Some had cast a protest vote,
not believing that Leave would actually win.
Remorse immediately set in,
as the pound has dropped to a thirty-year low,
billions in EU funding is set to dry up,
and prime minister Cameron has resigned.
Scotland and Northern Ireland both voted Remain
and now both are making noises about their own independence from the United Kingdom.