Welcome to another edition of The Newsletter Leaf Journal, the official newsletter of the perennially virid online writing magazine, The New Leaf Journal. As always, this newsletter comes to you from the waterproof keyboard of the editor and administrator of The New Leaf Journal, Nicholas A. Ferrell. It has been an eventful week at The New Leaf Journal with a number of new articles - including two from my site co-author, Victor V. Gurbo. We will cover our new content, recommendations from around the web, a pick from our archive, our most-read articles from the past week, and some news, notes, and anecdotes. Without further ado, let’s begin with our newest content.
Victor and I combined to publish five articles since I reported to you last. Below, I will go through our new content.
Nicholas A. Ferrell. July 18, 2021.
Elephind is a powerful search engine for old newspaper collections that have been scanned and organized online. I had used it to research and put together several articles at *The New Leaf Journal” (example).
I decided to share this useful and under-appreciated tool with you in my latest Around the Web piece.
Victor V. Gurbo. July 19, 2021.
On July 18, 2021, Bob Dylan hosted his first-ever online performance event, Shadow Kingdom. Our resident Bob Dylan historian, Victor V. Gurbo, watched the event as soon as it aired and published his detailed impressions here at The New Leaf Journal.
The article was featured on Expecting Rain, a site for the most devoted of Bob Dylan devotees. That brought the largest influx of new New Leaf Journal visitors that we have had since my article on RSS as a Facebook alternative reached the first page of Hacker News. Well done, Victor.
Nicholas A. Ferrell. July 20, 2021.
My latest Justin and Justina dialogue features the two titular protagonists overhearing a gentleman dropping the phrase “pie chart” in casual conversation. Justin fears that the man’s corporate life has taken over his personal life, vitiating his chances for future happiness. To illustrate, Justin uses a “pizza chart” - much to Justina’s exasperation.
Careful readers of last week’s newsletter will find the inspiration for this dialogue in my anecdote from the week.
Nicholas A. Ferrell. July 22, 2021.
I spent much of last weekend reinstalling my desktop operating system with a new desktop environment and also entirely switching operating systems on my laptop. In the process of the move, I tried to reinstall Ghostwriter, the markdown editor that I use to draft all of my content (including this very content), on my desktop. I ran into an unpleasant segmentation fault. Puzzled, I searched for, and eventually found, a way around the problem (which would have been fixed within 24 hours in any event). This article walks you through the strange sequence of events.
Victor V. Gurbo. July 23, 2021.
Inspired by the strong reception that his Shadow Kingdom review received from the Bob Dylan fan community, Victor followed that article up with a piece rebutting a common refrain that he has heard as a Bob Dylan fan. Victor explains that not only can Bob Dylan sing, but Bob Dylan is in fact a very talented singer.
I must add my two cents here. Victor’s argument is well-reasoned, even to someone with very little knowledge of Bob Dylan or music generally. However, did Sun Tzu not advise us to choose the high ground for a fight and ensure that our enemy is charging into the Sun? When you start your argument with, “No, really, the guy is capable of singing!” - are you not the one charging up a hill into the Sun? I have questions about Victor’s strategic direction here. Perhaps I will need to explain in more detail a post next week…
Victor and I published plenty of content for your reading pleasure this week. However, you may want to see what is lurking around the web. Fear not, below you will find six article recommendations from beyond the borders of The New Leaf Journal.
Aimee Chanthadavong. July 19, 2021.
While I never heard of iFixit, I agree with his criticism of big tech companies for making their appliances impossible to repair. One of the many things I like about using computers that I have built is that if a part breaks, I am more than capable of replacing it.
For example, I have replaced video cards on my old computer - built in 2011 - on two separate occasions.
Note this interesting point about a pro-consumer policy in France:
“Introduced at the start of the year, the French repair index was designed to encourage manufacturers to display clear information about the repairability of their product.”
A policy more than worth considering for implementation stateside.
Unixsheikh. October 10, 2020.
The author at Unixsheikh offers a guide to choosing a secure web browser (insofar as a browser can be secure). He separates browsers that he found compromise user privacy from browsers that respect user privacy. Ultimately, the author recommended a browser that does not, by default, respect user privacy - Firefox. In so doing, he advised readers to adjust Firefox’s settings to “harden” it and deactivate its telemetry to Mozilla.
It is an interesting post. I certainly cannot claim to be as much of an expert on the technical aspects of browsers as Mr. Unixsheikh. I do not use Firefox, hardened or otherwise, but I do use one of the browsers listed in the “Privacy Respecting” category - Ungoogled Chromium.
Furthermore, on my Android and LineageOS devices, I use Bromite, an Android-specific version of Chromium stripped of the Google telemetry.
I can vouch for a more niche browser in the privacy-respecting section as well. KDE’s Falkon web browser does not come packed with features, but it is snappy and works well on most sites. It is certainly worth trying for anyone running a KDE desktop environment.
Regarding his recommended extensions, I second uBlock Origin.
Toshiyuki Takeya. February 26, 2021.
A short post and video about one of nature’s most aesthetic insects - the orchid mantis. For those who are not familiar with the orchid mantis, I will preview the article and the mantis by stating that it earned its name.
Eugene Volokh. June 26, 2021.
In the article, Mr. Volokh excerpted long sections of a decision by the United States District Court for the District of Colorado. The decision is accurately described by the headline. A true comedy of errors that fortunately ended with no loss of life or limb.
Master Blaster. March 2, 2021.
You join the Yakuza and imagine yourself running a club in downtown Tokyo and breaking a few thumbs. Reality - you are arrested for illegally harvesting sea cucumbers.
Eurasianet. July 23, 2021.
Central Asia does not receive much coverage in U.S. media. Here is an interesting article about Tajikistan’s military readiness in anticipation of a full Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.
Let is look back into our archive.
Victor V. Gurbo. July 21, 2020.
One year ago, our own Victor V. Gurbo published an article about his brush with stardom on TikTok. He was informed by many TikTok viewers that he was pronouncing “capo” incorrectly.
Victor investigated and concluded that his pronunciation of capo was perhaps not the original pronunciation. Nevertheless, he explained in his post why he declined to change his pronunciation of “capo.”
We list our most-read articles from Saturday to Friday in every newsletter. We call this our “newsletter week.” July 17-23 was the 28th newsletter week of 2021. Below, you will find our most-read articles from the 29th newsletter week along with information about their change in rank from the previous week, their author and date of publication, and their newsletter week rank statistics for 2021.
“Reviewing Bob Dylan’s ‘Shadow Kingdom’ Stream” (NEW)
Victor V. Gurbo. July 19, 2021.
Weeks in top five: NEW (1 in first place)
“The Mystery of Sōseki and Tsuki ga Kirei” (Change -1)
Nicholas A. Ferrell. March 14, 2021.
Weeks in top five: 13 (8 in first place)
“Installing Ubuntu Touch on an Asus Nexus 7 (2013)” (Change +1)
Nicholas A. Ferrell. July 5, 2021.
Weeks in top five: NEW
“Persona 4 Golden Digital Artbook Review (Steam)” (Change -1)
Nicholas A. Ferrell. November 15, 2020.
Weeks in top five: 25 (6 in first place)
“The Last Stand of Constantine XI” (Change +3)
Nicholas A. Ferrell. May 30, 2020.
Weeks in top five: 15
The story of the week at The New Leaf Journal was Victor’s new review of Bob Dylan’s Shadow Kingdom stream - which had the strongest single week of any article since early March. That post became the first article to debut in first place in its first week (noting that my Pixelfed review had been the top article throughout most of December).
Also making its first appearance in our top five was my early July article on installing UBports’ Ubuntu Touch on a 2013 Nexus 7 tablet. That article had been knocking on the door for several weeks - and finally broke into the newsletter week top five. I suspect that it may have had to do with UBports releasing a significant operating system update last weekend.
The other three entries on the list were old standbys. My Tsuki ga Kirei post had one of its strongest weeks in notching its 13th consecutive appearance in the weekly top five. Although the summer Persona 4 Golden sale is no more, my artbook review made its 25th appearance in the top five in 29 weeks. Finally, my May 2020 piece on Constantine XI returned to the top five with its 15th appearance.
Some news, notes, and anecdotes - with all the expected leaf puns.
After a flurry of work on the site last week, I focused on writing and publishing content after I had solved my own computer issues. I have noticed some display issues with the table of contents in certain articles. It is possible that it has to do with my strict browser configuration settings, but I will investigate. If you notice something odd in an article, feel free to contact me from our Contact Page.
There is a chance that we may need to change how we handle local fonts on July 27 due to an alteration in the plugin that we employ for the task. If so, we may be using external fonts for a few days until I resolve the issue manually. However, my understanding is that there will likely be no change. In any event, I plan to implement a more efficient way of serving local fonts in August or September (the schedule will be expedited if our plugin solution stops working).
Finally, I plan to add a new submission form for people who are interested in guest posting before our next newsletter. I will also clean up the remnants of our now-defunct estimated reading time shortcodes - but for that I may wait until the surge of traffic from Victor’s new Bob Dylan articles subsides a bit.
I noted in my Ghostwriter article that I performed a fresh install of the Manjaro Linux operating system on my desktop - this time with the XFCE desktop environment instead of KDE. One reason I decided to make the switch was that I liked using Manjaro XFCE on my laptop.
I do not use my laptop too often, primarily because I work at home and it is much easier to work on my dual-monitor desktop than it is on my single-monitor laptop. Since I do not use my laptop much, I figured I may as well try a different operating system on it.
What to try?
I first considered EndeavorOS. Like Manjaro, EndeavorOS is based on Arch. However, it is much closer to vanilla Arch than Manjaro is, meaning that it requires a greater knowledge of terminal commands out of the box than does Manjaro. While I think that I can figure it out, I decided to look for something that presented more of a middle ground - that is, an opportunity to use Linux in a different way than I usually do, but without forcing me to documentation for minor tasks.
I discovered a distribution called MaboxLinux, Mabox is based on Manjaro, meaning it uses a familiar package manager and other familiar elements. However, what sets it apart is that it has its own desktop environment. Mabox combines the OpenBox window manager. Window managers are usually used by coders, but I was curious to try one to see if it helps me use my single monitor laptop more effectively. Moreover, Mabox incorporates some elements from traditional desktop environments - XFCE and LDXE - in its presentation.
While I have only used Mabox a little so far, I am enjoying it. I may write about it at The New Leaf Journal after I become more familiar with how it functions.
Victor took some time out of being a Bob Dylan-fan-community celebrity to bring me three vintage golf balls. This prompted me to dust off my office golf set. That reminded me that I said in a much earlier newsletter that I would have some office golf equipment reviews. Now that I have the office golf equipment out and clear paths in my room/office to golf, I will get on that project.
It was an exciting week at The New Leaf Journal as we made important inroads with the Bob Dylan fan community. Do you suppose that any Dylan fans were also interested in my overcoming a segmentation fault to install a markdown editor? I hope so.
I look forward to reporting back to you with more news and updates next week as we bring an eventful July at The New Leaf Journal to a close, and look forward to the apex of summer in August.