Caveat: rootless

Sometimes I work on my server. I have been trying to automate the map-rendering job for the geofiction site I built, that until now I’ve had to run manually. The problem I ran into comes down to permissions. Who knew that even the infamous Linux ‘root’ user is sometimes not the right person for the job? Emphasis added to the excerpt of the log file, below.

INFO: Total execution time: 16621 milliseconds.
Stopping renderd (via systemctl): renderd.service.
osm2pgsql version 0.95.0-dev (64 bit id space)

Using lua based tag processing pipeline with script ~/src/openstreetmap-carto/openstreetmap-carto.lua
Using projection SRS 3857 (Spherical Mercator)
Osm2pgsql failed due to ERROR: Connection to database failed: FATAL:  role "root" does not exist

It took me all day to figure this out. Not that I was working on it, exactly. Art and I went to town, did our shopping, came home, ate dinner. All the while, I was cogitating on this problem, and how it matched up with the results I was(n’t) seeing. And then, sitting there, it clicked.

These are the more pleasing moments of computer work – when a seemingly intractable problem presents itself and you work it through in your mind and you solve it. After it clicked, I came and opened the log file and saw the error, above, and it was an easy fix to the bash script.

Caveat: 입살이 바살이라

Here is an aphorism from my book of Korean aphorisms.

입살이 바살이라
ip.sal.i bo.sal.i.ra
mouth-SUBJ bodhisattva-BE-QUOT
“[As if your] mouth were a bodhisattva.”

A bodhisattva is a Buddhist saint. One would normally pray to a saint for help in some difficult thing, using certain types of Buddhist prayers. This is about uttering such prayers but devoid of target – just speaking as if the words themselves would make it true. That is, to speak as if words had the power to make something true. “If words were magic…”. “If wishes were fishes…”


Caveat: dinosaurs eating people

What I’m listening to right now.

Fenn Rosenthal, “Dinosaurs In Love.” Rosenthal is not quite 4 years old. She had help from her dad in production, but the composition is hers.


dinosaurs eating people
dinosaurs in love
dinosaurs having a party
they eat fruit
and cucumber
fall in love
they say ‘thank you’
a big bang came
and they died
dinosaurs fell in love
but they didn’t say good bye
but they didn’t
say good bye


Caveat: an infinity of worlds or creatures

Below is an early, European effort at conceptualizing the bigness of the universe. Though there are passages in the Buddhist scripture (the Pali Canon) that are somewhat similar – without reference to the unitary God – that date to a much earlier era, of course. Anne Conway is an interesting character from the history of philosophy. It’s argued that she had a profound influence on e.g. Leibniz. But she’s somewhat erased from the standard histories – possibly in part because of her gender.

Since [God] could have created worlds or creatures from time immemorial, before 6,000 – before 60,000 – before 600,000 – years ago, he has done this. God can do anything that doesn’t imply a contradiction. ‘Worlds or creatures will exist continuously through an infinite time in the future’ – there’s nothing contradictory about that; so there’s no contradiction, either, in ‘Worlds or creatures have existed continuously through an infinite past time’.

From these divine attributes, properly understood, it follows that God has made an infinity of worlds or creatures. He is infinitely powerful, so there can’t be any number n of creatures such that God couldn’t create more than n creatures. And, as we have seen, he does as much as he can. His will, goodness, and kindness certainly extend… as far as his power does. Thus it clearly follows that he has infinitely many creatures of infinitely many different types, so that they can’t be counted or measured, either of which would set a limit to them. Suppose that the universe of creatures is spherical and is this big: ‘Its radius is n times the diameter of the earth, where n is the number of grains of dust in the entire world.’

And suppose that its ultimate parts, its atoms, are this small: ‘A single poppy seed contains 100,000 atoms.’

That yields an immensely large finite number of very small atoms; but it can’t be denied that God with his infinite power could make this number greater and greater by multiplying to infinity…. And since (as I have said) God is a necessary agent who does everything he can do, it follows that he did and always does multiply and increase the essences of creatures to infinity. – Anne Conway, from The Principles of the most Ancient and Modern Philosophy, 1690

Caveat: Tree #401

Actually, this is a picture of snow. The snow is along the road, melted into a strange shape by rain. There is a tree, out of focus, in the background.


picture[daily log: walking, 2km]

Caveat: Tree #400

I wanted to do something special for tree number four hundred.

But I failed to take a picture of a tree today.

So I had an idea. I’m a linguist (by college training). Linguists draw “trees” – diagrams of sentences. And I thought of a great sentence that benefits from having a tree drawn of it.

The sentence is: “Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.”

This sentence is hard to understand. Bear in mind that there are three groups of buffalo in this sentence, but they are all from the town of Buffalo – probably Buffalo, Minnesota, rather than the better known Buffalo, New York. And these buffalo from Buffalo like to buffalo (which is to say, “annoy”) other buffalo. It starts to come clear.

Here is a tree diagram.

Have a nice day.

picture[daily log: walking, 3km]

Caveat: life is more than who we are

Arthur and I were in town, for our weekly Thursday shopping trip. This song came on the radio at Zat’s Pizza, where we almost always stop for lunch on our Thursday trips. Art doesn’t think much of the music there – he just tunes out and listens to his audiobooks. But I sometimes end up a bit nostalgic, as the music is often set to some “oldies” station. Music from particular eras in my life can end up being quite evocative.

I don’t know that I necessarily liked this song in any deep sense. But it was part of my “soundtrack” in 1995, when I was working nights at the UPS Package Sorting facility in Northeast Minneapolis and doing some graduate coursework (non-degree program, at that time) during the days. It was when Michelle and I were already married but still keeping it to ourselves, and living together in south Minneapolis, just off Franklin Avenue.

My commute up I-35W (across the bridge across the Mississippi that later famously collapsed from poor maintenance killing many people) to the UPS facility took about 30 minutes. So I would play the radio. And this was one of those songs on high rotation at that time. Since I was working the late shift, I would end up coming home during very low traffic at around 3 or 4 AM. The freeway was often completely empty.

So I ended up feeling nostalgic when I heard this song. It’s a very 90s song.

What I’m listening to right now.

Goo Goo Dolls, “Name.”


And even though the moment passed me by
I still can’t turn away
‘Cause all the dreams you never thought you’d lose
Got tossed along the way
And letters that you never meant to send
Get lost or thrown away
And now we’re grown up orphans
That never knew their names
We don’t belong to no one
That’s a shame
If you could hide beside me
Maybe for a while
And I won’t tell no one your name
And I won’t tell ’em your name
And scars are souvenirs you never lose
The past is never far
Did you lose yourself somewhere out there
Did you get to be a star
And don’t it make you sad to know that life
Is more than who we are
We grew up way too fast
And now there’s nothing to believe
And reruns all become our history
A tired song keeps playing on a tired radio
And I won’t tell no one your name
And I won’t tell ’em your name
I won’t tell ’em your name
Mmm, mmm, mmm
I won’t tell ’em your name, ow
I think about you all the time
But I don’t need the same
It’s lonely where you are, come back down
And I won’t tell ’em your name