Jul 132022
 

Not all shell aliases of course, but some. I’ve just seen a youtube video that suggested creating a shell alias to run rmtrash when rm is invoked :-

alias rm='rmtrash'

Seems sensible enough doesn’t it? This is in fact the classic example of how dangerous shell aliases can be, although the classic example was to turn on “-i” :-

alias rm='rm -i'

The problem is that you get used to “rm” being safe – either it asks before it removes files (“-i”) or it safely preserves what is deleted in the Trash folder. But what happens when the alias doesn’t get created? Perhaps you have a broken .zshrc and Zsh stops interpreting before the alias is declared. Or you’ve logged on to a remote server that doesn’t have your .zshrc installed as yet?

All of a sudden you are running the unadulterated rm command – deleting files without being asked, or preserving them in the Trash folder. See the danger now?

It is better not to replace standard commands but create a new ‘command’ :-

alias del="rmtrash"

Perhaps you regard this as being excessively risk averse – fair enough. But just don’t say you weren’t warned – and I’ve encountered missing aliases every year over the last 30-odd years I’ve been using Linux and Unix.

The Bare Family
Jul 092022
 

The supposed resignation of Boris Johnson comes as a bit of a surprise to many observers – they felt that he wasn’t going to go voluntarily. But with an all time record of ministers resigning from his government, to the point where government business had to be suspended, there wasn’t much in the way of choice.

The funny thing is the number of misconceptions floating around about his resignation. I’m no constitutional lawyer (although I do at least know that the UK does in fact have a written constitution), but here’s some corrections :-

  1. He hasn’t resigned as the UK’s Prime Minister, or we would have a new one by now – the House of Commons would nominate and the Queen would appoint. This is distinct from his place as the leader of the Tory party.
  2. He may have resigned as leader of the Tory party, or potentially indicated his intention to resign once a new leader has been nominated and elected. In theory, he could simply refuse to stand down as Prime Minister – his position as PM is not directly contingent on his being the leader of the Tory party.
  3. The House of Commons could have a confidence motion to force the resignation of the PM or the dissolution of parliament forcing a general election. That hasn’t happened so far but may happen next week. In normal circumstances there is no chance of a government with a majority of MPs would lose such a motion, but these aren’t ordinary circumstances. And Tory MPs may feel that removing a rogue PM is more important than the risk to their seats in an early general election; certainly you could expect them to vote in the interests of their country. Although if Tories really are self-centred sociopaths who are more interested in covering their arses than the good of the country then such a motion of no confidence will fail.
  4. All the noise about the 1922 Committee is about the Tory party and selecting its leader – it has nothing to do with the government.

In all likelihood, Johnson will remain the PM whilst the Tories select a new leader – quite possibly sooner than the autumn even though Johnson is hoping for autumn. And the new leader will be worse than Johnson – Johnson is a lazy fool and his replacement will want to make their mark.

Filthy Roaring Beasts Rushing Along The Scar
Jul 032022
 

In 1973 seven dudes (the gender becomes relevant later) decided that US States had no right to legislate what women did with their uteruses specifically that States laws prohibiting abortion were unconstitutional. In 2022, four dudes and one women struck down Roe vs. Wade opening the floodgates to repressive State legislation.

On at least one point, the ruling is historically wrong – the make a big point about how many of the States had made abortion illegal in the 19th century; what they overlook (or gloss over) is that under English common-law, abortion was legal (and widely practiced) until the “quickening” (when it starts to move) of the foetus. Essentially that 19th century legislation removed a long-established right to abortion.

Of course the “pro-life” bunch are cock-a-hoop, although places where abortion is legal (and not just legal in name only where “pro-life” terrorists harass anyone visiting an abortion clinic) have fewer abortions than places where abortion is illegal.

Some of the reaction from the pro-choice has revealed some interesting misconceptions.

The first is the notion that this decision reverts the US back to the medieval era. It would be more accurate to say that when the States enact anti-abortion legislation, the situation becomes that of the early 20th century where abortion is illegal, but there are multiple campaigners. The medieval era was no shining light of liberalism, but abortion (before “quickening”) was legal or at worst treated by the church courts as a misdemeanor.

The second relates to gender – that this is men controlling women’s bodies. Well there’s certainly an element of truth there, but it isn’t quite that simple. Bear in mind that Roe vs Wade was enacted by seven old white dudes, and opposition to it is not exclusively male – those misguided justices that overturned it included one woman.

In addition, if we look at the wider US population support for prohibiting abortion, there is support amongst both genders – 40% amongst men and 37% amongst women (source: Pew research). A Gallop poll shows that 12% of women and 14% of men support prohibiting abortion in all circumstances.

No this is the result of a tiny minority of religious extremists having infiltrated the SCOTUS. They’re certainly misogynistic but it isn’t so much men as christofascists.

Dover Castle Gateway
Jun 292022
 

I have seen at least two or three Youtube videos by people of a certain age claiming that modern music is rubbish because of auto-tuning and other technology aids. I dare say there’s an element of truth to the accusation – certainly auto-tuning singing sounds a lot like cheating.

But people of a certain age have always claimed that modern music is shit – whatever era you choose. A certain Elvis Presley certainly had older people up in arms about this modern rock’n’roll rubbish back in the 1950s. And the Beatles in the 1960s, the Sex Pistols in the 1970s, etc. To a certain extent modern music is supposed to annoy people of a certain age – as far as young people are concerned that’s a feature not a bug.

What’s more, in every era most of the music of that era was just a little bit shit. We all remember the good stuff and forget about the dross. There’s probably no more rubbish today than there was in your favourite era of music (autotuning not withstanding).

HMS Mersey Arriving