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Higgins Time

Tales of batshit political supervillainy like this are why I still subscribe to the tz mailing list.

diff --git a/asia b/asia
index 7166380..5e27d85 100644
--- a/asia
+++ b/asia
@@ -2939,15 +2939,34 @@ Link Asia/Qatar Asia/Bahrain
 # Saudi Arabia
-# From Paul Eggert (2014-07-15):
+# From Paul Eggert (2018-08-29):
 # Time in Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Arabian peninsula was not
-# standardized until relatively recently; we don't know when, and possibly it
+# standardized until 1968 or so; we don't know exactly when, and possibly it
 # has never been made official. Richard P Hunt, in "Islam city yielding to modern times", New York Times (1961-04-09), p 20, wrote that only airlines observed standard time, and that people in Jeddah mostly observed quasi-solar time, doing so by setting their watches at sunrise to 6 o'clock (or to 12 o'clock for "Arab" time).

+# Timekeeping differed depending on who you were and which part of Saudi Arabia you were in. In 1969, Elias Antar wrote that although a common practice had been to set one's watch to 12:00 (i.e., midnight) at sunset - which meant that the time on one side of a mountain could differ greatly from the time on the other side - many foreigners set their watches to 6pm instead, while airlines instead used UTC +03 (except in Dhahran, where they used UTC +04), Aramco used UTC +03 with DST, and the Trans-Arabian Pipe Line Company used Aramco time in eastern Saudi Arabia and airline time in western. (The American Military Aid Advisory Group used plain UTC.) Antar writes, "A man named Higgins, so the story goes, used to run a local power station. One day, the whole thing became too much for Higgins and he assembled his staff and laid down the law. 'I've had enough of this,' he shrieked. 'It is now 12 o'clock Higgins Time, and from now on this station is going to run on Higgins Time.' And so, until last year, it did." See: Antar E. Dinner at When? Saudi Aramco World, 1969 March/April. 2-3.
+# says a similar story about Higgins was published in the Port Angeles (WA) Evening News, 1965-03-10, page 5, but I lack access to the text.

 # The TZ database cannot represent quasi-solar time; airline time is the best we can do. The 1946 foreign air news digest of the U.S. Civil Aeronautics Board (OCLC 42299995) reported that the "... Arabian Government, inaugurated
@@ -2957,7 +2976,8 @@ Link Asia/Qatar Asia/Bahrain
 # Shanks & Pottenger also state that until 1968-05-01 Saudi Arabia had two time zones; the other zone, at UT +04, was in the far eastern part of
-# the country. Ignore this, as it's before our 1970 cutoff.
+# the country. Presumably this is documenting airline time. Ignore this, as it's before our 1970 cutoff.
 # Zone  NAME            GMTOFF  RULES   FORMAT  [UNTIL]
 Zone    Asia/Riyadh     3:06:52 -       LMT     1947 Mar 14

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The Regrettes

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Major Open Source Project Revokes Access to Companies That Work with ICE

"Apologies to any contributors who aren't employees of Palantir, but to those who are, please find jobs elsewhere and stop helping Palantir do horrible things"

On Tuesday, the developers behind a widely used open source code-management software called Lerna modified the terms and conditions of its use to prohibit any organization that collaborates with ICE from using the software. Among the companies and organizations that were specifically banned were Palantir, Microsoft, Amazon, Northeastern University, Motorola, Dell, UPS, and Johns Hopkins University. [...]

"Recently, it has come to my attention that many of these companies which are being paid millions of dollars by ICE are also using some of the open source software that I helped build," Jamie Kyle, an open source developer and one of the lead programmers on the Lerna project, wrote in a statement. "It's not news to me that people can use open source for evil, that's part of the whole deal. But it's really hard for me to sit back and ignore what these companies are doing with my code." [...]

Before he changed the license, Kyle left a comment on Palantir's Github asking the company to stop using the software. "Apologies to any contributors who aren't employees of Palantir, but to those who are, please find jobs elsewhere and stop helping Palantir do horrible things," Kyle wrote last week, linking to an article in The Intercept about the company's collaboration with ICE. "Also, stop using my tools. I don't support you and I don't want my work to benefit your awful company." [...]

After Kyle discussed his concerns with some of the other lead developers on the Lerna project, they assented to a change to the Lerna license that would effectively bar any organization that collaborates with ICE from continuing to use the software. This led to some developers calling the change illegitimate and lamenting that it technically meant the project was no longer open source. [...]

"I've been around the block enough to know how every company affected is going to respond," Kyle told me. "They're not going to try and find a loophole. I kinda hope they do try to keep using my tools though -- I'm really excited about the idea of actually getting to take Microsoft, Palantir or Amazon to court."

As for the hate he has received online about how open source projects shouldn't be politicized, Kyle said this misses the point.

"I believe that all technology is political, especially open source," he told me. "I believe that the technology industry should have a code of ethics like science or medicine. Working with ICE in any capacity is accepting money in exchange for morality. I am under no obligation to have a rigid code of ethics allowing everyone to use my open source software when the people using it follow no such code of ethics."

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U.S. Senator Bans Funding for Beerbots That Don't Exist

Senator Flake of Arizona introduced the following amendment to the U.S. Department of Defense appropriations bill currently in Congress:

None of the amounts appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be obligated or expended for the development of a beerbot or other robot bartender.

The issue here is that Senator Flake is conflating a student demonstration of how research could potentially be applied (delivering beer) with the fundamental objective of the research (in this case, multi-robot planning under uncertainty). Senator Flake also does not make any reference to what the objective of the research actually was: solving real-world logistics challenges. Instead, he seems to think that MIT was using government funding to develop a commercial robotic bartender, and his solution is to amend the DoD budget to prevent something that wasn't even happening in the first place, from happening again. [...]

"This is unlikely to actually be a 'misunderstanding'." Instead, Levitan says, Senator Flake is most likely using this research as an opportunity to take on supposedly wasteful spending, by finding perfectly reasonable government funded research projects that can, says Levitan, "be made to sound ridiculous when put a certain way. He almost certainly does it on purpose, ignoring the true value of the research and counting on the public to not be well enough informed to push back. And no fact-checking happened because that would have ruined the bit."

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Le Gardien du Temple

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"I sure am tired of typing extra backslashes in my isearches", I says to myself. "I wonder if anyone has done the unthinkable and implemented perlre in elisp?"


(rxt-pcre-to-elisp "(abc|def)\\w+\\d+")
;; => "\\(\\(?:abc\\|def\\)\\)[_[:alnum:]]+[[:digit:]]+"


PCRE has a complicated syntax and semantics, only some of which can be translated into Elisp. The following subset of PCRE should be correctly parsed and converted:

  • parenthesis grouping ( .. ), including shy matches (?: ... )
  • backreferences (various syntaxes), but only up to 9 per expression
  • alternation |
  • greedy and non-greedy quantifiers *, *?, +, +?, ? and ?? (all of which are the same in Elisp as in PCRE)
  • numerical quantifiers {M,N}
  • beginning/end of string \A, \Z
  • string quoting \Q .. \E
  • word boundaries \b, \B (these are the same in Elisp)
  • single character escapes \a, \c, \e, \f, \n, \r, \t, \x, and \octal digits (but see below about non-ASCII characters)
  • character classes [...] including Posix escapes
  • character classes \d, \D, \h, \H, \s, \S, \v, \V both within character class brackets and outside
  • word and non-word characters \w and \W (Emacs has the same syntax, but its meaning is different)
  • s (single line) and x (extended syntax) flags, in regexp literals, or set within the expression via (?xs-xs) or (?xs-xs: .... ) syntax
  • comments (?# ... )

Most of the more esoteric PCRE features can't really be supported by simple translation to Elisp regexps. These include the different lookaround assertions, conditionals, and the "backtracking control verbs" (* ...)

I am sad to report, however, that I can't get it to work in either xemacs 21.5.28 or emacs 22.1.1. (And MacPorts won't let you install emacs and xemacs simultaneously! How partisan!)

Amusing as it would have been had they tried to translate from one regexp syntax to another using regexps... they did not do that.

Also, my heart grew three sizes when I saw that the first line of the file contains -*- lexical-binding: t -*-

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A Brief History of Generative Art

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Internet Browsing

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