Blog Articles 131–135

On Rule of Law

There is a strange idea going around among some anti-immigration politicians, pundits, and lobbyists that changing the law, e.g. to open up more visas or to retroactively welcome people to the country, undermines the rule of law.

If the law is not meeting the needs of the country, if it cannot be consistently enforced, if such enforcement would be unjust, then the law undermines the rule of law. Changing the law so that it can be more practically, consistently, and justly enforced upholds the rule of law by making the law something reasonable to get behind.

Further, holding the law as immutable is not rule of law, it is tyranny of law. Those of you who know your Old Testament stories might recall a couple in which the laws of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be revoked, play a key role. One involved Daniel getting a free night’s stay at Lion’s Den Inn and Suites. Another ended with a state-sponsored bloodbath as the only legal means of stopping a genocide.

If we care about rule of law, we must seek to make the law reasonable and just. Our other options are tyranny and lawlessness.

Configuring a Fedora Media Server

I was trying to configure our file server to be a media server, specifically to play music with MPD and to make its speakers available as a PulseAudio output for laptops on the wireless network. This wound up being far harder than it seems like it should have been, and involved learning (among other things) that SELinux has failure modes I didn’t even know existed. And it let me explore the wonders of systemd some more.

So, here’s how I did it. All of this is on Fedora 17 with RPMFusion (for MPD). The goals are:

  • PulseAudio running as a system service on the server (this configuration is discouraged, but the use case of configuring a network audio appliance seems to be the sort of use case where it makes sense).
  • PulseAudio device advertised via Zeroconf, so the laptops can just find them.
  • MPD playing via PulseAudio and discoverable via Zeroconf.
  • Two laptops capable (also running Fedora 17) capable of discovering and using the server’s audio sink.