Screen Scrollback Buffer

I end up using GNU “screen” a lot.  It lets me SSH into my laptop, run something, then close the SSH connection with the task still running in the background.  Later I can SSH in and regain control of the task.  It’s helpful for Counter-Strike server admin, compiling stuff, or building a test corpus…

Anyway, screen interferes with the regular terminal’s ability to scroll back and view previous program output.  Today I found a description of how to fix that problem.  To set the scrollback buffer size:

Hit C-a (Ctrl-A) : to go to the Screen command line and type scrollback num, where num is the number of scrollback lines.

That’s Ctrl+A followed by a colon.  Or add a command to your ~/.screenrc file.  To view that scrollback buffer, go into screen’s “copy mode”:

To enter scrollback hit C-a [. A status line will indicate that you’ve entered copy mode. To exit scrollback mode, hit the escape button.

He also lists some navigation commands for copy mode, but the arrow keys work fine for me (call me a philistine if you wish).

Apocalypse Not

Wired has a great article up right now.

When the sun rises on December 22, as it surely will, do not expect apologies or even a rethink. No matter how often apocalyptic predictions fail to come true, another one soon arrives.

They chronicle some of the apocalyptic predictions of the past 50 years or so, including acid rain, CFCs, famine, and oil shortage.  I think the folks who make these predictions often want to focus humanity’s attention on some important issue.  The method works for a short while, but mistrust brews when apocalypse fails to materialize.  I think this is what has happened with environmental concerns.  We’ve heard apocalyptic predictions regarding nature for so long that a substantial group of people are now convinced that anybody who even mentions “climate change” cannot be correct.  We’ve got to stop turning climate change into an imminent apocalypse.

The Wired article barely touches religious apocalypses, and skips the Y2K apocalypse predictions.  I’d love to see something that discusses apocalyptic thinking from earlier history – I’ve heard that the scare around the year 1000 was similar to Y2K scare (minus the nuclear-armed computers).  This kind of thinking has always been a part of humanity, and I think folks like Glenn Beck understand and exploit this very basic human fear.

Recently Fox News has been playing scare ads stating that a UN arms treaty would give the President a way to take away our second amendment rights.  This is completely untrue, and is just another way of playing on that basic apocalypse-type fear.  No UN treaty can circumvent our constitutional rights, that’s just not how the process works.  Here’s an example of the scare mongering.  The Forbes article says that the treaty “will almost certainly force the U.S. to” do a bunch of things, “setting the stage for full-scale gun confiscation”.  Then it goes on to some classic conspiracy theory thinking, and the typical emotional appeal of, “if someone breaks into your home when you are there, which would you prefer” blah blah blah.  I’d prefer a gun, yes, but the emotional argument only serves to fill space and detract from any rational discussion of the treaty’s contents and scope.

Snopes has some info which puts this whole thing in a historical context.  Shortly after Obama’s election (2008/2009) gun and ammunition sales shot through the roof on rumors that the President would limit gun sales.  Bass Pro in San Antonio was sold out of 9mm ammo for months.  Snopes points out that there was a similar UN treaty back in 2010.  Gun ownership and sales are still legal.

I hope that people will get tired of this constant apocalyptic thinking the same way that they got tired of climate change.

Orwell Quote

I just finished reading Animal Farm and found a great quote attributed to Orwell by Wikipedia.

The sinister fact about literary censorship in England is that it is largely voluntary. … Things are kept right out of the British press, not because the Government intervenes but because of a general tacit agreement that ‘it wouldn’t do’ to mention that particular fact.

He was speaking sometime around World War II.  Someone on Slashdot the other day said that only governments censor, because only they may do so by force.  They suggested that other people simply make choices about what they wish to publish.  Apparently the author of 1984 thought about it a little differently.