Two Quick, Flawed Updates

In the midst of horrendous catastrophes unfolding around the world, here are two little first-world fixes to help resolve issues of minor consequence. Note that both solutions are somewhat flawed, echoing our collective attempts to resolve humanity’s larger problems.

First, a solution for the would-be writers among you who have been following Writeside’s posts on running Scrivener 3 on Linux and have recently run into problems on older hardware. A small group to be sure, but if running Scrivener with Wine has recently stopped working for you and attempts to start Scrivener from the command line have resulted in this

Error of failed request: GLXBadFBConfig

there is still a workaround, courtesy of the Wine forums. Create a text file (without the .txt extension) named .pam_environment and place it in your home directory. The file should contain this line:


and nothing else. Now, log out of your Linux session and then log back in. Scrivener should now work. The catch? Electron apps, such as the Min web browser, will stop working. A klutzy “solution”: move the .pam_environment file out of your home directory (onto your desktop, for example) when you want to run Electron apps and move it back into your home directory when you want to run Scrivener.

The Scrivener logo. Source: Literature & Latte.
The Scrivener logo. Source: Literature & Latte.

Pretty half-assed, isn’t it? Welcome to the way the world works, as per Afghanistan, U. S. infrastructure and climate change.

The second update is more straightforward. Recently, a mail plugin for WordPress (which this site runs on) got a little carried away and sent multiple instances of the last Writeside post, understandably annoying a number of subscribers. To be fair, it was more my fault than the plugin’s, as I draft these posts on a number of machines, all of which are perfectly capable of using WordPress to send mail even when I don’t want that to occur. I’ve tried to resolve this with another WordPress plugin (the aptly named Disable Emails) and I now intend to outsource emails to subscribers using the ubiquitous Mailchimp. This is the free version, so you’ll see lots of Mailchimp branding. But ideally you will only receive one email for each Writeside post, a much-needed improvement. You’ll also be able to choose text- or HTML-formatted email, and you’ll find it much easier to unsubscribe (not that I want you to do that).

The Mailchimp logo. Source:
The Mailchimp logo. Source:

So there you have it: two tiny, imperfect solutions to minor problems affecting a small number of people. This is how progress takes place.

Tesla vs. the Government

The Biden administration announced a plan to promote electric vehicles today, part of its response to the world’s growing climate emergency. This is a vast improvement from the previous administration’s do-nothing stance but it is still woefully inadequate.

Part of the reason for the plan’s shortcomings is its constantly touted “bipartisan” approach. Thanks to this bipartisanship, Biden’s infrastructure plan has been substantially cut back, is running behind schedule, and is far from guaranteed Congressional passage. Its shrinkage of electric vehicle support is particularly notable—what had been the largest single portion of the infrastructure bill has been significantly reduced.

The 2021 Tesla Model Y. Photo:
The 2021 Tesla Model Y. Photo:

At today’s event, Detroit’s three major automakers were present. They say they support Biden’s modest goal of having EVs or plug-in electric hybrids constitute half of all auto sales by 2030. There are several striking things wrong with this picture:

  • Plug-in electric hybrids currently only travel 25 to 40 miles on electric alone; they depend heavily on gas. Therefore they should not count toward Biden’s 50% goal.
  • Even if the goal were 50% purely battery electric vehicles (BEVs), it would still well lag behind what is needed to address climate change today.
  • While representatives of Detroit’s “Big 3” smiled and shuffled and congratulated themselves on their forward thinking, the largest and most successful EV manufacturer on earth was conspicuously absent, having not been invited.

I am of course referring to Tesla, the company which put BEVs on the map and which still maintains a wide technological and sales lead in the sector.

Tesla, operating in less than ideal circumstances (the four years of Trump’s administration, to cite just one example) has almost single-handedly pushed electric vehicles into the public spotlight. The company has also managed to get a large number of electric vehicles onto the nation’s streets and highways, having sold more than 200,000 cars last quarter. Yet Tesla was not invited to be part of Biden’s big EV event, an event where he joked about one day driving an “electric Corvette.”

I’m sorry to say this yet again, but the Tesla omission is yet another example of the current administration’s fumbling, inadequate response to both America’s mediocre infrastructure and our accelerating climate crisis.