Depolarisator

Via een interessant artikel kwam ik achter Bart Brandsma, een professioneel “depolarisator”. Op zijn website, polarisatie.nl vind je wat uitleg, in de vorm van o.a. een toegankelijk filmpje. Dit is eigenlijk wel een heel goede handleiding om bepaalde vraagstukken in met name internetdiscussies te benaderen. Het bevat dus ook een handleiding voor hoe in te grijpen: bruggen bouwen werkt soms averechts, iets dat ik wel herken ;)

Toen de auteur vroeg: valt depolariseren te leren:

De kunst is vooral: durf je te wachten met het vellen van een oordeel? Kun je om een vraagstuk heen draaien zonder meteen een positie in te nemen? Net zo lang vragen stellen tot je weet wat er echt, onder de oppervlakte, aan de hand is? Oog hebben voor de gevoelsdynamiek, en niet alleen voor de rationele kant van een conflict? Dat zijn gewoon vaardigheden die je kunt leren.

Albert Speer

Deze naam ken ik vooral van de BBC documantaire The World at War, waar hij een van de geinterviewden is en uiteraard een blik geeft in de gang van zaken aan de top van het Derde Rijk. Al is en blijft het een dader, het feit dat hij (enige) openheid van zaken lijkt te geven, spreekt voor hem.

Hij neemt ons hier, en in al zijn eerdere biografien, bij de neus, volgens Magnus Brechtken. In zijn biografie van Speer komt een heel ander beeld naar voren, namelijk die van de rasmanipulator die hij was en bleef tot het eind. Brechtken stoelt deze stelling op origineel bronnenonderzoek, waar hij voorgaande biografeurs verwijt zich hoofdzakelijk te baseren op de verhalen van Speer zelf. Geen van hen is de archieven ingedoken volgens Brechtken, wat natuurlijk schandelijk is en direct de geloofwaardigheid van elke andere biografie op losse schroeven zet. Is dit volstrekt de gang van zaken?

In elk geval komt in het interview bij de NRC meer naar voren over hoe hij zorgvuldig de geschiedenis is gaan schrijven na de oorlog, opdat we hem op vreemde manier toch sympathiek zouden vinden en hem het voordeel van de twijfel rondom zijn holocaust-onwetendheid zouden gunnen. Mooi niet, volgens Brechtken. Dat manipuleren deed hij met Hitler zelf, door hem te geven wat die wou zien in termen van groteske architectuur. Credit nemen voor andermans zaken, “Führernähe” gebruiken om invloed over dertien miljoen arbeiders te bereiken.

Het beeld is een ongebreideld en kennelijk buitengewoon effectief egoisme, waar wereldwijd historici en publieke opinie in is getrapt. Brechtken wijst aan waar in het archief zijn misdaden zoals het gebruik van arbeidskrachten uit concentratiekampen voor zijn constructies staan opgeschreven.

Ik ben er ook ingetuind.

Hourglass interfaces

A friendly redditor put me on the path of the Hourglass Interface. It’s a pattern that facilitates stable ABI interfaces, such as those between program and library. If you control all the source code this is usually not an issue, but even if you do, you may want to be able to use libraries and programs compiled with various compilers. In particular, this is a problem with C++, where something as basic, yet complex, as std::string is not binary compatible between compilers, and not even between compiler versions (you know who you are, Visual Studio. At least Microsoft seems to have changed this with VS2017).

So, what’s a stable ABI interface? C! Our old, reluctantly typed friend is the defacto binary interface because it’s simple, and never really changes. Well, it has, but C89 is spoken by virtually every FFI (foreign function interface) out there. So, Stefanus Du Toit argues, it is the perfect solution for solving ABI compatibility. It even facilitates creating binding with e.g. SWIG, because you’ll be designing the interface intentionally, rather than letting SWIG figure it out (probably suboptimally, which it can’t really help). The hourglass refers to the interface: we must squeeze, from out fat application, through C89, to the again (possible) fat library. Of course, you are free to chose something else, as long as your language can cooperate. Stefanus placed his example here.

Another comment on reddit pointed to cppcomponents, a library that automates some of this. I haven’t looked into it very deeply yet, but for sure I’m keen to try out this pattern.

Conda is a package manager

This article cleared up what (Ana)conda precisely is. Altough I’ve used the miniconda installers and the mkl-built numpy library for a long time to get modern and fast version of the various scientific libraries working on a variety of platforms (Ubuntu with outdated matplotlib, CentOS servers with even more outdated or simply unavailable packges, Windows desktops). So it turns out conda is a package manager (I’ve always used the command as such) and just provides hosting for the packages. Anaconda is the distribution that you can also download, and then possible pay for support on. I did not know that conda is pippable!

VSCodium

Visual Studio Code is a fantastic editor, and that is remarkable because it is built on Electron. The uptake and plugin eco-system is what makes even staunch Emacs-users switch allegiance, according to Hackernews threads. Stuff that even Sublime doesn’t have (and Kate certainly doesn’t), such as the fantastic todo-tree plugin, which does almost what I already did in a terminal (grep for TODO), but also show it in a pane and allow me to quickly navigate to the right line in the file: todo-tree. Oh so simple compared to for instance Eclipse’s builtin todo management…

Now, the dirty is that VSCode builds are no open source, but proprietary builds with loads to tracking and anayltics built-in. SAD! From the title of this post you probably feel what’s coming: VSCodium. Although you still must use the preferences to disable tracking, at least you are now using an open source community build. Linux and Mac builds only, but a friendly guy named Timothy D. Jewell provides Windows build for those that need it right here. Enjoy your freedom and great plugins!

Kafka

How to read Kafka, part 1. Indeed. I don’t have the time, patience or drive to read all through the modern thinkers. But I do have the time to wish I could read and study them. There exist these books that summarize them, and although I was told these books are for cheaters, I don’t think that is true: I must not be the only person with limited time for a serious study of Kafka, but yet still interested in the precise origins of the ‘kafkaesque’, so, if you can accept the thinking is done for you (one hopes these summaries are largely concensus-based), then why not?

Above a summary of a few of Kafka’s works. I really like how he sees how rationalism is no guarantee for better results. Being aware of our human nature is essential for any improvement (The Burrow) and we must be aware that old structures can be identical to new ones without us realizing (The Castle). Good stuff, even if it is a summary!

PGP 4

This is part 4 of this series in which I describe my experiences of setting up PGP for myself and my significant other, as a test and a way to in fact email about our bank robberies and so on.

So nothing has changed much since the last episode. An important thing I misunderstood before I now correctly understand: the use of signing messages. Encryption means only the person with the right private key can read it. It does not however ensure anything about the author, which is handled by signatures. So, end-to-end PGP encryption requires both, because without a signature anyone could have written the message. I missed this nuance, which I now think is not really nuanced, when I read K9mails PGP considerations a while back. Signing and encryption are two different things, and for privacy the latter is most important.

I realized this because there are two mailbox hosters that offer the user to upload their public keys with which they’ll then encrypt all incoming mail. If you believe the hoster they discard the plain-text versions, you have a fully encrypted IMAP server that only you can read, and no subpoena, government request or hack will reveal a single thing. Since this is obviously not end-to-end encryption, I invented the need for signatures and then slapped my forehead realizing that obviously that is what signing messages is for. Even though I say this every now and then, I must now say it to myself: it is extremely unlikely you’re the first with that idea…

Posteo and Mailbox.org are the two hosters offering public key PGP encryption. I thought this is rather elegant, because avoids lock-in to a silo like Protonmail or Tutanota since it is fully compatible with existing PGP tools. Hope more mailboxes will follow.

50+

Op GoT een grafiekje dat elke bejaarde zou moeten zien: het netto-profijt van het Nederlandse sociale stelsel per geboortejaar.

Ik zit in de put 😢