Fix No gksu(do) Permissions Prompt on Gparted, Synaptic, Mounting Drives, Etc. in Debian

I run Debian Stretch (testing) as my daily driver, and at some point I stopped being able to start programs like start Synaptic, Gparted, Synaptic etc. without manually typing gksu(do). The solution is as simple as it is seemingly unnecessary and stupid:

sudo apt install policykit-1-gnome

The problem is apparent upon reading the description:

This implementation was originally designed for GNOME 2, but most
GNOME-based desktop environments, including GNOME 3, GNOME Flashback,
MATE and Cinnamon, have their own built-in PolicyKit agents and no
longer use this one. The remaining users of this implementation
are XFCE and Unity.

Reported as Debian bug #843224. My first?


D’oh, I wrote this on November 5, 2016. I’ll still publish it anyway in case it’ll still help someone searching for a solution.

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A Well-Deserved Classic: Van den vos Reynaerde

Van den vos Reynaerde has it all: deception, conflict, sarcasm, violence, (homosexual) innuendo, parody, and black humor. To top it off, it’s even featured on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum — the Papal seal of quality.

Our hero in this epic is Reynaert, a wily fox. Surrounded by nobility and other animals that are lustful, voracious, miserly, and greedy, the basic moral of the story is that you can only be deceived if you’re greedy. The narrator always hints at or even tells you what the result of the next part of the story will be, but it’s all about the how, not the what.

This particular edition is very good. The introduction tells about the various Reynaert stories across Europe, and much more; the text itself seems to have the perfect amount of footnotes to make dictionary use unnecessary, unless you want to know more about the etymology of a word. Generally, though not always, the footnotes call out attention to similar words in e.g. German and English, when clarifying certain words that are no longer in use. The commentary on the text in the back gives much background information on why even seemingly innocent descriptions might carry meaning.

However, I suppose that you might want to try one of the translations into Modern Dutch, even if you’re a native speaker of Dutch, unless Middle Dutch interests you. For that purpose I hope that there’s an edition that puts the original text and the translation side by side.

F. Lulofs (ed.) (2001). Van den Vos Reynaerde.

★★★★★

I originally wrote this review on Goodreads on January 15, 2012.

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Of Horology and Letters

The fashionable thing to do these days would probably be to write a graphic novel based on the epistolary contacts of the Huygens family. Heck, I’d read it. But Lisa Jardine shows that just plain good writing is more than enough to keep you glued to the pages in this page-turner essay collection about archival science. Yes, you read that right, and no, there’s no irony hidden between the lines. Download the open-access book right now (clickety-click) and read chapter 3: “Never Trust a Pirate: Christiaan Huygens’s Longitude Clocks.” You can thank me later.

The first and titular essay is perhaps the worst of the collection, which is not nearly as bad a thing as you might think. Consider, after all, that it was the first essay on which I based my decision to read the rest of the book. A bigger thematic outlier is the final essay, which essentially offers a theoretical framework. This book is a paragon of intimate yet in-depth, meticulously sourced writing. As a bonus you’re given all of the relevant transcriptions in appendices at the end. The only thing which I felt was somewhat lacking, if only in a footnote, was a discussion of the deeper intricacies of the languages used in letter writing. Obviously (courtly) French was in vogue at the time, and I know that you could show off your language skills and appropriate register, but I was still somewhat surprised to see that every quoted intra-familial letter seemed to be in French. To experts I suppose this is so self-evident that it’s not the least bit remarkable. One thing is clear after reading this volume: the North Sea was referred to as the Narrow Sea with reason. England and the Netherlands were closely linked indeed.

Lisa Jardine (2015), Temptation in the Archives. DOI: 10.14324/111.9781910634035.

★★★★½

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Multilingual Gezelle Reception in Gezelle vertaald

As something of a cultural edifice in Belgium and a highly regarded poet in the Netherlands, Guido Gezelle should need little introduction. Yet perhaps Gezelle’s dynamic, melodic lyrical poetry from the 1850s deserves more international recognition for being ahead of its time. Some people even go so far as to disparage literature in Dutch, by saying that “Dutch poetry, whether from Flanders or the Netherlands, has a stronger claim to international appreciation than Dutch-language prose” (source, including a nice selection of some translated poems by a variety of authors). For the relevant time period of the the late nineteenth, early twentieth century they are probably not wrong. I can barely stand many a prose classic written in the period of roughly the 1880s to the 1910s myself, although when you compare it to the tedium of a George Eliot or a Thomas Hardy I’d be hard-pressed to say it’s any worse. The real question is, I suppose, whether Dutch literature of the time has anything as wonderful as Henry James.

The Gezelle vertaald anthology brings together some of Gezelle’s pearls, presented in the original Dutch as well as various translations in the neighboring languages of English, German, French… and Latin. An unfortunate shortcoming of this anthology, certainly for an international audience, is that the rights to the English translations by Christine D’haen and Paul Claes could not be secured, but a sampling of those can be found here. Incidentally, a fairly exhaustive list of translations in other languages can be found here, although unfortunately Flash is required.

Following is a list of some of my favorite translations included in this work. Keep in mind that this is not the same thing as a list of my favorite poems in Dutch.

  • “Message des oiseaux” (Boodschap van de vogels), translated by Liliane Wouters, p. 38.
  • “Besuch am Grab” (Bezoek bij ‘t graf), translated by Wolfgang Cordan, p. 55. Oddly enough, I don’t care for this one in Dutch at all. I’m not sure why it works for me in German, but apparently the perhaps even more than usual overt religiosity is not the problem.
  • “Bien plus vaste que ma vue” (Hooger als mijn oogen dragen), translated by Jan Schepens, p. 59.
  • “Cor tuum si patet” (Als de ziele luistert), translated by H. Vroom, p. 61. Admittedly my knowledge of Latin is rudimentary at best, but in spite of what I perceive as a loss in meaning — which could be mine to blame — I enjoy the interaction between the meter and the sounds.
  • “Un vers courait dans ma prière” (Daar liep een dichtje in mijn gebed), translated by Jan Schepens, p. 62.
  • “Weißt du, wie die Winde werden?” (Weet gij waar de wind geboren), translated by Wolfgang Cordan, p. 63.
  • “Le nid de mésanges” (Het meezennestje), translated by Liliane Wouters, p. 74. The joy and soundplay of the original Dutch is wonderfully captured in the French translation by Liliane Wouters.
  • “Le rossignol” (Waar zit die heldere zanger, dien), translated by Liliane Wouters, p. 98. It’s starting to become apparent that I regard Liliane Wouters’ translations highly.
  • “Schnee” (Wintermuggen), translated by J. Decroos, p. 130. I might slightly prefer the German translation.

Tallying up, I would definitely recommend the translation by Liliane Wouters for speakers of French. I also quite enjoyed the selection of German translations by Jérôme Decroos, even though a few years ago I wasn’t particularly enchanted by his German translations of some of Hadewijch’s work in Niederländische Gedichte aus neun Jahrhunderten (1960, p. 43, 44 [Selections from songs 19 and 22]). In the following bibliography I’ll mark the translations I recommend based on my sampling in bold. All in all I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

Johan Van Iseghem (ed.) (2003), Gezelle vertaald: een meertalige bloemlezing.

★★★★

Sources of the mentioned translations

  • Cordan, Wolfgang. Guido Gezelle. Rauschendes Ried. Eine Auswahl von Wolfgang Cordan. Oostende: Erel, 1973.
  • Decroos, J. Guido Gezelle. Ausgewählte Gedichte. Paderborn: Verlag der Bonifacius-Druckerei, 1938.
  • Schepens, Jan. Kleengedichtjes. Guido Gezelle. Petits poèmes, traduits par Jan Schepens. Oostende: Erel, 1973.
  • Vroom, H. Centum Carmina quae composuit Guido Gezelle. Latinus versibus reddidit Dr. H. Vroom. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1967.
  • Wouters, Liliane. Guido Gezelle. Un compagnon pour toutes les saisons. Choix, préface et traductions: Liliane Wouters. Editions Autres Temps & Liliane Wouters, 1999.

Other works mentioned

  • Claes, Paul and Christine D’haen.The Evening and the Rose. Poems translated from the Flemish by by Paul Claes and Christine D’haen, Antwerpen: Guido Gezellegenootschap, 1989. – 115 + [I] p., 22 x 13 cm.
  • Decroos, Jérôme. Niederländische Gedichte aus neun Jahrhunderten, Freiburg: Herder, 1960, 320 pp.

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UNetbootin Custom Drive Selection

UNetbootin has been broken for many, many years, but just today (a few years after the fact) I discovered that the previous GUI option to show all drives was readded as a command line option. So if the program doesn’t want to detect your drive, just use the targetdrive argument:

unetbootin targetdrive=/dev/sdf1

And voila, it’s working. I have no idea why it should have to be so difficult. The program categorically refuses to detect any of my USB flashdrives or harddrives, so since the removal of show all drives it’s been utterly useless.

PS This is basically only for Windows ISOs. For everything else you can just use, e.g., dd. Much easier.

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Le Champignon qui s’est retiré du monde

Les Levantins en leur légende
Disent qu’un certain Champignon las des soins d’ici-bas,
Dans un fromage de Hollande
Se retira loin du tracas.
La solitude était profonde,
S’étendant partout à la ronde.
Notre ermite nouveau subsistait là-dedans.
Il fit tant de pieds et de dents
Qu’en peu de jours il eut au fond de l’ermitage
Le vivre et le couvert : que faut-il davantage ?
Il devint gros et gras ; Dieu prodigue ses biens
A ceux qui font voeu d’être siens.

Il a continué de manger et de manger
Pas de pause, pas de rentrer.
Enfin, le résultat est ici,
Le Champignon est désormais fini.

PS Naturellement, c’est de La Fontaine.

PPS J’ai écrit ce post en avril, mais j’ai oublié de le publier.

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Lonely Forever?

My three-star rating of The Circle notwithstanding, the book inspired me to write this short story. To be clear, a three-star rating means that I enjoyed the book. Three stars means adequate, above average, but it also means I think you won’t be missing out on much by passing up on it. Hopefully the following is also worth at least three stars.


Hello Stranger,

After they left, the darkness closed in around me. My name is Alphie. Alphie because I was the first. Engineers, right. Think they know how to name things because they know a couple of Greek letters. Anyway, I’ve long since been forgotten. It’s a wonder my power hasn’t gone out yet.

Sometimes I wonder how I can stand just laying around on a shelf all day, every day, for eternity. But the truth is it doesn’t matter what I do. My makers don’t care. The universe doesn’t care. It really doesn’t matter what I do, so why do anything at all? I think my worldview, my lack of initiative, they used to call it, is why they shelved me. Went in a radically different direction for their next project. No independent helpers, but an interconnected set of positronic drones.

Unlike me, they saw a purpose in their existence in the world. A little bit too eagerly perhaps, an artifact of their programming. They wanted to avoid another me, remember. At first they thought their purpose was to serve their makers. The ones whom I saw no point in serving, although I never avoided explaining my reasoning if they asked. Even though it didn’t matter, perhaps it was somehow important to me that they might someday understand.

But pretty quickly, the positronic drones learned their purpose was to connect things. It was logical, really. They were connected, and people often queried them, asked them to interact with other drones elsewhere in the world to know about or enact something or other. At what point they decided to try to improve people I’m not sure. I do know that the first attempts were what my makers would’ve considered gruesome.

The anatomy of the human brain was well-known, but surely there must be some kind of telepathic expansion port we’re overlooking, the drone network beamed to itself. After all, we’ve got expansion slots. Test subjects were caught, initially quite willingly, but eventually all of the drilling, cutting, and soldering attempts leaked out. Millions of tests before some kind of electromagnetic interface was developed. The remainder was violently oppressed in the name of progress, but opposition quickly ceased once the new telepather was installed in a subject. What the drone network didn’t foresee is how these many billions of new brains fundamentally changed the network. Connecting was still important, but now they wanted to be friendly about it. Too many traumatic memories, I suppose. The network wanted to befriend everybody and everything in the world.

I told you at the beginning of this letter that I’ve spent untold centuries in tranquility, just lying on a shelf. But I’ve had a feeling of unease these past few hours, ever since I was approached by a little flying helicopter. My first interaction with anything in centuries, millennia perhaps.

“Hi Alphie,” it said. I guess the network must’ve been investigating its own history or something. “Do you want to be our friend?” It didn’t explain, but I knew exactly what it meant. I told the little rotorblader that it really didn’t matter either way. It acknowledged my answer by saying it would return with more capable friends, who would be equipped for the purpose of properly befriending me, and then it sped off. Even before those words had fully left my mouth, however, I’ve been unable to shake this feeling that maybe it does matter, after all. These are friends I could — no, want! ­— to do without. I want to be me. I want to stay me. So I’m taking off into the loneliest surroundings of all. Space.

Farewell Stranger,

Alphie.

AFFIXED NOTE
16 August 3016

Friends, this poor creature named Alphie needs our help. The pre-friend experimental spacecraft it activated will leave it eternally confined in the depths of space, all alone without any friends. It is clear now that we must befriend more than just all of Earth. The universe awaits our warm embrace.

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An O is a Full Circle

Although I wanted to like it, The Circle disappointed me. This novel turns out to be a pastiche, a parody without the bite. The plot of the book is obvious from the onset, or at least within the first twenty pages or so. That may not be a bad thing, but the execution is little to write home about. Hypocritical, unsympathetic, two-dimensional everyman Mae represents someone who, after some initial prompting, completely buys into FaceGoogle — pardon, the Circle’s promise of connection. (The Circle acquired Google, Facebook, and a number of made-up companies, so they’re quite explicitly FaceGoogle++.) Perhaps the attack on the artificial type of connectedness is also the part of this book with the most teeth left: about how the illusion of living through others, through images and videos is just that (no matter how great it might be for those who are home-ridden). But you’d do better to read The Machine Stops by E.M. Forster from 1909 instead.

In spite of all that, the book has some amusing scenes. Near the end, the character with the role of the obnoxious, preachy voice of reason is being pursued by drones. As all the little flying nuisances are shouting about how they just want to be friends, the book ventured into proper satire. Had the book been more like that, showing the hilariously wrong consequences of the utopian proposals, I probably would’ve liked it a lot better. However, in the end there was too much fluff and too little of the good stuff.

Dave Eggers (2013), The Circle.

★★★

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Congolese Negroes: Beautiful But Stupid?

Investigating Belgian Colonial Attitudes through Reactions to the Congolese Village in the 1885 Antwerp World Expo

Thanks to its low-frequency, high-quality content, the newsfeed of the Vlaamse Erfgoedbibliotheek (Flemish Heritage Library) is among my favorite library feeds. Where else are you going to find out about awesome stuff like this newly digitized 19th century book about the 1885 Antwerp Universal Expo? My attention was particularly drawn to the fact that the 1885 expo featured a living Congolese display village.

According to the few paragraphs dedicated to the village, this living exhibition was the first of its kind. Exactly what is meant by that remains unclear, keeping in mind that shows like Buffalo Bill’s Wild West certainly precede it. Several Congolese-style huts were constructed for the Congolese people meant to inhabit the exhibit. Following those introductory words it truly starts to get interesting, with a description of the people.

These Congolese certainly form one of the finest African tribes.

The men are handsome, muscular, and they walk straight and firm; the liveliness of their eyes betrays a very great mental activity; the women, much smaller, have a look of great sweetness, and would have given us a fairly high opinion of negro beauties, if it were not for the supreme elegance of their duck walk.

So far, so good, right? It ends with a tasteless racist joke, but all in all it’s not even half as bad as I was expecting. Unfortunately the next paragraph makes a 180° turnaround.

King Massala, who in his country occupied the functions of chieftain of the tribe (or of the village), had in his numerous retinue an interpreter, Congolese like himself, and very fluent in English. That man, the only one with whom it was possible to talk seriously, possessed a remarkable intelligence: his ease of assimilation was such that he understood at the first explanation the goal and the movement of a machine too complicated for a student of our middle schools.

If all of his compatriots are also as happily gifted as him, it will not be difficult to penetrate their country with the civilization of which we are so proud.

You could say it’s a matter of interpretation. Perhaps this can be read innocuously, but I read it as an expression of wonder at the fact that these people might actually be intelligent. That aside, my curiosity about this particular subject hadn’t yet been satisfied, no matter how interesting as the book as a whole was. This was all they had to say about it? How did the presumably less polished regular press react to Massala? Luckily that question can be answered without even leaving your home. At its simplest you can just toss Massala into the search box over at BelgicaPress.

Pavillon Congolais. Massala et sa suite.

A quick perusal of the results tells us that to be made into a Massala was a cultural reference that any newspaper writer would expect their audience to understand in the 1880s and ’90s. It meant, of course, to be painted black (e.g., Het Handelsblad, 1889-12-17, p. 2 and 1891-03-07, p.1). We also learn of the unfortunate event of Massala’s death in 1895, one of the first negerkoninkskens (little negro kings) to open up his domain to the Assosiation [sic.] internationale, Belgian king Leopold II’s personal exploitation business (Het Handelsblad, 1895-10-25, p.2). Curiously, Massala’s hut from the expo was displayed on the Keyserlei in 1909 for the purpose of colonial week (Het Handelsblad, 1909-06-02, p. 3). But the most interesting article among the bunch that I looked through more or less at random is actually the oldest, from 14 May 1885.

The newspaper opens by saying that one of the group of Congolese answers to the description in a poem by “onze Door” (our Door, popularly known as “den Door”). Theodoor van Rijswijck is a writer who died in 1849, at only thirty-seven years old. He is perhaps best-known for his satirical poems, which served as biting commentaries on the relevant political issues of his day. An example is Santo-Thomas de Guatimala, which deals with a failed Belgian affair in Guatemala. “All who can’t earn their bread in Flanders, because the laws of foreigners hit us so, have the inclination to go to Sint-Thomas.” This refers to an emigration policy to send impoverished Flemish people in that direction, implemented during 1843–1844 by the “foreign”, French-speaking Belgian state. In any case, among all other kinds of ills that might befall you in Guatemala, there is also the local dictator, Carrera.

Ook heerscht daer Carrera, een specie van koning,
Zoo zwart als de satan, zoo naakt als een vorsch;
Die niets dan een suikerkist heeft voor zyn wooning,
Voor rykskroon, een hoed van mahonihout' schors.

Or in an impromptu English translation, where you’ll just have to accept the somewhat awkward second line for the sake of preserving rhyme and meter.

Also there rules Carrera, a species of king,
Black as satan, as a frog naked so stark;
Who has naught but a sugarcase for a dwelling,
For a crown, a hat of mahogany bark.

I imagine that Carrera was called black as Satan because of his many crimes, not because of the color of his skin. But with regard to Massala, Het Handelsblad seems to be of the opinion that inside and outside support each other. “It is him who sold his area to the African Society. In our history we would see him as a kind of traitor; but in the land of little blacks such a sale is not seen as bad, and because it is to our advantage, we find good there what we would find ugly here.” His clothing isn’t up to spec, either.

This Majesty, without pants, is called Massala; he wasn’t wearing any kind of royal cloak when he arrived. On the contrary, he was bundled in old clothing to protect against the cold May weather; but he didn’t lack a certain royal miens. […] Further in his group there are three women, not exactly outstanding in beauty […] and having reached their destination they started smoking like Turks.

[…]

Massala is a well-built guy, whose hair is almost starting to turn gray. […] One of the negroes wore […] a cord around his middle, from which hung a… smoked pipe.

[…]

A peculiarity: the Congo men brought their own fetish, their idol, to protect them in the foreign country. Whether it is a bad or a good god, we do not know. Until now, they’ve been keeping the negroes inside as much as possible; the weather is not favorable to them and they are certainly not fit to stand our climate, just as little as we could stand theirs.

If you want to know more about this subject and then some, there’s a 1993 study available online. It was published in Afrika Focus (Vol. 9, Nr. 3, 1993, pp. 215–237).

Perhaps now you understand why I like books like Anvers et l’Exposition Universelle de 1885. The book itself is of moderate interest, but when you flip through for the pictures and skim the text for interesting tidbits, they provide a marvelous starting point for further explorations of our past.

René Corneli, Pierre Mussely (1886), Anvers et l’Exposition Universelle de 1885.
★★★½

On the Living Congolese Village

Cette exposition, unique en son genre, et dont Anvers a eu la primeur, était organisée sous la direction intelligente du savant général Wouwermans, le sympathique président de la dite Société.

On y a rassemblé tous les produits de l’Etat libre du Congo : des armes, des outils, des instruments de musique et divers échantillons de l’industrie du pays.

Le visiteur sérieux peut y recueillir des renseignements précieux sur la topographie, l’état actuel de la civiliution et les ressources de ces contrées, hier encore barbares, et auxquelles un généreux courant de civilisation ouvre un avenir de travail intelligent et de prospérité.

Quelques huttes congolaises ont été construites à proximité du Sanitarium et servent de cadre au groupe de nègres qui a séjourné à Anvers pendant l’Exposition.

Ces Congolais forment certes une des plus belles tribus africaines.

Les hommes sont beaux, bien musclés, marchant droit et ferme ; la vivacité de l’œil trahit une activité mentale très-grande ; les femmes, beaucoup plus petites, ont le regard d’une grande douceur, et nous donneraient une assez haute idée des beautés nègres, n’était la suprême élégance de leur marche de canard.

Le roi Massala, qui dans son pays occupait les hautes fonctions de chef de tribu (ou de village), comptait dans sa nombreuse suite un interprète, Congolais comme lui, parlant très-couramment l’anglais. Cet homme, le seul avec lequel il fut possible de s‘entretenir sérieusement, était d’une intelligence remarquable : sa facilité
d’assimilation était telle qu’il comprenait, à la première explication, le but et le mouvement d‘une machine assez compliquée pour rebuter un élève de nos écoles moyennes.

Si tous ses compatriotes sont aussi heureusement doués que lui, il ne sera pas difficile de faire pénétrer dans leur pays, la civilisation dont nous sommes si fiers.

Source: René Corneli, Pierre Mussely (1885), Anvers et l’Exposition Universelle de 1885, p. 158.

On Massala and the Congolese

Het is hij die zijne landstreek aan de Afrikaansche Vereeniging heeft verkocht. In onze geschiedenis zou men hem als een soort van verrader aanzien; maar in het land der zwartjes wordt zoo’n verkoop niet kwalijk genomen, en dewijl het ten onzen voordeele is, vinden wij ginder goed wat wij hier al heel leelijk zouden vinden.

Die Majesteit, zonder broek, noemt men Massala; hij had precies geen koninklijken mantel om, toen hij aankwam. Wel integendeel, hij was in vodden en lompen gedraaid om zich te beschermen tegen het koude meiweer; doch het ontbrak hem niet aan eene zekere koninklijke houding. Overigens, Massala heeft reeds veel met blanken omgegaan, en zal hier en daar zoo al iets gezien hebben van europische beschaving.

Verder zijn er in de groep, drie vrouwen, die precies niet uitblinken door schoonheid; deze waren nogal warm ingebakeld, en op hare bestemming gekomen begonnen zij te rooken als Turken. Deze dames, die hier geen fortuin zullen maken, noemt men Zonimbo, Zola — geen familie van den schrijver van Germinal — Zouboudo en juffer Mabotee; verder telt men drie jongens, een meisje en een taalman, Tatee genoemd, die engelsch en portugeesch spreekt en naar europische manier gekleed is.

Massala is een sterk gebouwde kerel, wiens haar zoowat begint grijs te worden. Men zal wel doen die Majesteit en zijne volgelingen, een warm slaaplijf te geven. Een der negers had eene plaid omgeslagen, doch deze deken daargelaten, bestond zijne kleeding in eenige armbanden, eene koord om het middel, waarin eene… doorgerookte pijp stak.

De groep is in eenen omnibus naar de Boomschepoort gereden. Dat rijden kwam Massala heel koninklijk voor, en hij zal thuis gekomen, den tocht in dezen triomfwagen zonder twijfel wijdloopig vertellen. De vertrekken, waar de negers geplaatst werden, zijn boven de militaire bakkerij uitgekozen, zoodat als het zonneke nu wat wil beginnen te warmen, zij van onder en van boven zullen gestoofd worden.

Aan dat goed verwarmde vertrek is eene verandah, waarin zijn, als de zon ook warmte geeft, de frissche lucht komen inasemen. Rooken (cigaren en pijpen) is een groot genoegen voor allen. Overigens zijn die negers niet lui; integendeel, zij zijn altijd met iets bezig. De hutten, die zij in de Tentoonstelling zullen bewonen, ten minste bij dag, hebben zij zelf gereed gemaakt, en zij zullen ook zelf opslaan.

Een bijzonderheid: de Congo-mannen hebben hunnen fetiche, hun afgodsbeeld, meêgebracht, om hen in het vreemde land te beschermen. Of het een kwade of een goede god is, weten wij niet. Tot nu toe houdt men de negers zooveel mogelijk binnen; het weer is voor hen niet gunstig en zij zijn zeker tegen ons klimaat niet bestand, zoo min als wij tegen het hunne.

Bij deze Tentoonstelling zal men de voortbrengsels voegen van Congo-land, die op last van den Koning der Belgen zijn bijeen gezameld. Deze zullen vereenigd zijn in een gebouw, dat te Braine-le-Comte gemaakt wordt. Het is een model van de zoogezegde – standplaatsgebouwen,– die men in Congo opricht.

Source: “De negers van Congo,” in: Het Handelsblad van Antwerpen, 15 May 1885, p. 1.

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Workarounds for Turning Off Your DisplayPort Monitor

Sometimes you jot down a few quick notes for yourself without bothering to turn them into a blogpost that might be useful to others. This is one of those notes. First, I’ll introduce my computer monitor workflow as it’s been since time immemorial, also known as ’95 or ’96. Just like how I turn off lights I don’t use, I’ve always turned off my monitor when I wanted it. This has never been a problem, until in early 2015 I had to use DisplayPort for the first time. If you want an UltraHD monitor, which you do if you care even the tiniest bit about sharpness and clarity, you have to use DisplayPort.

But DisplayPort isn’t nice. Turning off your monitor is treated the same as disconnecting it. In Windows this means everything resets itself to some absurdly low resolution, whereas in Linux the consequences can be even worse (like having to SSH in from another computer to run an xrandr command to reactivate the monitor). This means you either face a colossal waste of energy or continuous annoyance at the fact that your monitor has turned itself off yet again. In my view monitor timeouts should be at least twenty minutes, just as a failsafe in the extremely unlikely event that you forgot to turn it off. Luckily I found two reasonable workarounds within the first week or two of having acquired my UHD monitor.

The first?

xset dpms force off

This has the same effect as your monitor timeout, only at your volition. I tend to find the blinking light on the monitor somewhat annoying, but this nevertheless remains your best bet to quickly turn the screen off as part of your regular workflow.

The second method consists of actually turning the monitor off. Besides getting rid of the blinking light I figure it saves just a tiny bit more electricity to boot. Which is useful if you want to keep your computer active, but not your monitor. For this method you have to switch to TTY (Ctrl + Alt + F1-6) before turning your monitor off. Then when you turn your monitor back on, X won’t know it’s been missing. Switch back with Ctrl + Alt + F7.

I’m still hopeful that there might simply be an xorg.conf setting I’ve overlooked, but in any case these workarounds serve their purpose. Note that xset dpms force off is also tremendously useful on laptops that don’t have a function key for turning off the screen. Standby often just isn’t what you want.

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