Re-Thinking the JVM for GUI Applications

Published at 08:00 on 22 August 2022

I have now written two GUI applications using Kotlin and Swing, and it has left me wondering how useful the Java virtual machine (JVM) really can be for such purposes. When writing both applications, I ran into parts of Swing that simply do not work as advertised on the Mac. One thing worked for a long time, then became broken in newer versions of OpenJDK.

It’s sort of a shame. In theory at least, the JVM both insulates me from the hot mess that is the native Apple programming environment, and enables me to run my applications anywhere. The latter has been useful, since one of my applications, a clipboard manager, is enough of a productivity boost that I installed it on my Linux laptop I use for work. It just ran, no painful porting needed.

At this stage, I’m just rethinking my earlier conclusion that the JVM was the best way to write GUI applications. The Apple environment still is very much a hot mess from the programming side (always has been, probably always will be), so putting up with the JVM’s glitches may still be the preferred route. Moreover, the end result of Swing looks a lot closer to a native application than, say, GTK (which is also sometimes sold as a cross-platform GUI library) does. It’s just that the JVM is a lot glitchier than I had first imagined.

Understanding Liz Cheney

Published at 22:40 on 17 August 2022

It’s pretty obvious to me, because I have experienced it myself with Hugo Chávez, who I once (long ago) supported, until he did something that unambiguously crossed a line, then I opposed him as a dangerous authoritarian.

That line may have not seemed all that significant to a conservative or a centrist, but it was significant to me. A conservative would be likely to say something along the lines of: “Well of course he turned out to be a dangerous authoritarian, his politics inevitably led him there,” to which I would strenuously disagree.

So it is with Cheney. Of course conservative politics inevitably ended up like that, in a country where they are associated with Nixon, Reagan, and Bush the younger, all of whom broke laws and got away with it. Where else would a standard that you can get away with breaking laws in office lead? That’s all obvious to me.

For Cheney, it’s not so obvious. The line for her was obviously election denial and January 6th. She was pretty much a loyal Trumper, voting with Trump well over 90% of the time, before then. By her standards, it was OK to do all those reactionary (and even sometimes illegal) things, but if you lost an election, well game over for you, time to leave office.

So yes, she’s still a reactionary who helped get us into this mess. I agree with that.

But, she’s not a fascist like Trump. As bad as Dubya was, I never had to worry that if his team lost an election (as it eventually did, with its anointed successor), they would accept that loss. I never had to worry about being hauled off to a concentration camp for having sharply opposing views. And she is now, in her own way, and despite an imperfect appreciation for how she got us into that mess, making a good-faith effort to help us get out of it.

That part is critical, and if you cannot see it, you are pretty much doomed to babble nonsense about the current political situation.

Bourgeois democracy is hardly ideal, but it beats an authoritarian fascist state (or an authoritarian socialist one). It’s still an environment where one can fight for a better world without being in fear of one’s life. It’s still a place where one can fight for a better world without having to choose between shutting up or using violent means. That means something.

And again, that part is critical, and if you cannot see it, you are pretty much doomed to babble nonsense.

The Most Logical Explanation

Published at 07:29 on 11 August 2022

Hubris: Trump deliberately chose not to return all the documents he stole simply because he thought he could get away with it. And he did get away with it… until his hubris got to the point where he started boasting about getting away with it. Then someone who learned about this (directly or indirectly) due to the boasting chose to squeal, quite likely because the stool pigeon was himself under a cloud and cut a deal to lighten his or her likely punishment.

Given his hubris, it is conceivable that Trump allowed multiple individuals to see examples of the deliberately retained documents. This allowed the tattle-tale to be explicit and specific. This in turn allowed the authorities to verify that indeed, those particular documents were missing. Affidavits from both were then presented to a magistrate who promptly signed off on a search warrant.

This is all vintage Trump, and it does not require much speculation on anything more sinister. On the latter, I am reluctant to do that. We have seen, time and time again, anti-Trump sources being “certain” that serious dirt was about to doom Trump… only to be disappointed when it turns out that while the truth is on the sordid side, it is far less lurid than speculated.

So no, I am not at this stage expecting any of the stolen documents to contain any big bombshells.

The Worst Take of All

Published at 20:16 on 9 August 2022

“This is unwise. It will just provoke them.”

Really, now. That is what some voices are saying.

First off, this didn’t start with Trump. Trump certainly represented taking it to a whole new level, but the sickness was evident at least 20 years ago, when another president lied his way into a war and then ignored both domestic and international law and ordered suspects be tortured during interrogation. A series of crimes for which there was very little, if any, accountability.

And that happened, mind you, only after decades of the most milquetoast “opposition” to right-wing politics by the Democratic Party.

Which itself happened after another criminal Republican president got off scot-free for his crimes when his handpicked Republican successor pardoned him.

So can we shut up already about the positively moronic claim that there is nothing that can be done about the increasing lawlessness and fascism of the American Right other than continued appeasement? Get it straight: just about all that has been done is appease, appease, appease and it has not pacified them one bit.

No, the lesson has been that you can get away with it (and hey, why not push the envelope a little further and see if you can get away with even more).

Of course there is a risk of more political violence. The rub is, just about everything indicates that flinching from that risk won’t ultimately avoid violence, any more than the appeasement of Hitler in 1938 avoided a war with Hitler.

There is no safe option. The situation in the USA has been allowed to degrade literally for decades, and the payments on this backsliding are now coming due with compound interest. All that remains are various sorts of dangerous options. Making a firm stand against fascism is in fact the best and least dangerous option.

The Odds of Accountability Just Went Up

Published at 19:23 on 8 August 2022

Way up, in fact. When I wrote this, the odds of Trump being prosecuted were about 60%. I would say they are now more like 80–85%, possibly even higher.

Searching a former president’s residence is a very high-profile thing. It is, so far as I know, unprecedented. This means that the disgusting precedent of considering presidents above the law is apparently now at long last dead.

The FBI and Department of Justice would not do such a thing unless they were very sure they were likely to acquire something good and incriminating in the search. Like it or not, the bar on getting this approved was almost certainly significantly higher than if you or I were accused of stealing classified government papers.

As such, the odds are high they did find some really good dirt on Trump today. Which in turn makes for high odds that charges and a prosecution are in the cards.

Getting an iPhone?

Published at 17:59 on 4 August 2022

I have long considered Apple’s phones to be ripoffs due to their high prices and lack of features (no 3.5 mm headphone jack, no FM radio, iOS can’t do something as simple as automatically sort apps by name, etc.).

But reviews like this are making me reconsider. Note that of the top-rated smartphones, the iPhone 13 mini is the smallest. (It’s still larger than desirable, of course.)

I have a non-top-rated smartphone. It’s OK, but there has been since Day One a most annoying misfeature with the audio. About 20% of the time, it is annoyingly loud, and cannot meaningfully be turned down (even turning the volume all the way down results in only a modest reduction). About 40% of the time the exact converse is true: volume too soft, cannot meaningfully be turned up. Only about 40% of the time is the volume reasonable. It’s truly annoying and I don’t want to experience such behaviour again.

A friend of mine has a nice, small, decently-sized smartphone. Since decently-sized smartphones are niche items in this world, it is not a top-rated device either. Its nemesis is positively awful battery life.

All the above strongly indicates sticking with top-rated devices.

Then I look at the prices. Yes, the Apple devices sell at a premium. But not much of one over the top-rated Android devices. Plus, Apple commits to supporting its current devices with software upgrades and patches for a minimum of six years. For Android that period of time is more like two years (my Android phone is already no longer being supported).

The rub is, I would still be giving up those features I mentioned above, and paying a premium to do so. So I’m still thinking it over. But not for too terribly much longer; the battery on my existing phone is slowly dying and I worry that if I procrastinate much longer, I will be left temporarily without a phone.

Walls Finally Closing in on Trump?

Published at 08:41 on 4 August 2022

I don’t have time at the moment to list all the reasons (this is a big part of it), but it really seems as if they might finally be. I still do not have much respect for the generally rotten state of American political culture, but I would estimate that right now signals indicate that odds are slightly in favour of Trump and his top cronies in fascism getting prosecuted.

For liberty and an open society to survive in the USA, the above must happen. It is a “this town isn’t big enough for the both of us” situation: either fascism will crush democracy, or democracy will crush fascism.

And yes, this is advocating for using the power of the State to crush a political movement. And yes, that is an incredibly dangerous thing to advocate for. The USA is in an incredibly dangerous position. Safety is simply not an immediate option. Refraining from crushing the fascists will not preserve liberty; it will merely make it inevitable that the fascists will crush democracy.

The means exist: the fascists broke a large number of existing laws in their effort to remain in power despite losing an election. Enforce those laws and you crush the fascist movement. All that needs to be done is to abandon the disgusting precedent that those high up enough in power ought to be exempt from the laws that apply to everybody else.

Trump and his cronies should get their day in court. They should be allowed to go after prosecutorial misconduct. They should be allowed to argue for their innocence. If convicted and sentenced, they should be entitled to standards of humane treatment, and should be allowed to file lawsuits against the state if those standards are violated.

Under the current rules of the game, they will be. If the fascists are not crushed and are allowed to gain power, they will extend none of these niceties to those whom they crush.

It is them or us. Crush them. It may be indelicate to say it, but it really is that simple.

Azov Brigade Terrorist Determination

Published at 07:10 on 2 August 2022

So Russia has determined that the neo-Nazi Azov Regiment is a terrorist group. Two comments:

  1. Knowing the nature of the regiment, it is hard to feel all that sorry about this.
  2. Those upset about the precedent this establishes for the treatment of prisoners of war need to realize that the horses left this particular barn over twenty years ago. Specifically, they left it the moment the USA declared those captured in Afghanistan would be neither prisoners of war (with Geneva Convention rights), nor normal criminals (with rights under the US Constitution).