News and Reaction, Politics

Syria vs US Credibility

Link: http://dannyman.toldme.com/2013/09/06/syria-vs-us-credibility/

One big deal is that when Hussein used chemical weapons against Iran, we knew it was happening, and instead of raising a stink, we gave him logistical support. Our credibility with regards to international law is heavily tarnished, and that undermines our claims in present day Syria.

What I would love to see is if Congress, in authorizing military action, also passed some kind of Whistle Blower Compulsion bill: if you see something, you must say something!! If you are aware that a war crime or a crime against humanity is being perpetrated, you have to tell everyone you can think of: your boss, your mom, your blog, the New York Times, hell, even tell that douchenozzle Julian Assange! Failure to disclose knowledge of such crimes should consequently open you to charges of criminal conspiracy once they are finally disclosed.

(. . . not like we would ever prosecute Americans for War Crimes, but a boy can dream . . .)

As far as the current situation in Syria goes, I am reminded of Serbia. After a few too many abuses Clinton sent in air power to disrupt their military command and control and mess up the power grid. We basically put our thumb on the scale to expedite our preferred outcome. From what I can tell, our short-term preferred outcome in Syria is a stalemate (brutal dictator vs Al Qaeda) so I don’t reckon we’ll spend much time with our thumb on the scale.

The long-term desired outcome, which is the real reason we need to take the idea of intervention seriously, is to discourage the future use of chemical weapons. “Remember when Assad looked like he might win the civil war in Syria but then he gassed civilians and the US started bombing him? Yeah, maybe we shouldn’t be too quick to reach for the chemical weapons.” This is what I hope will be an outcome of our bombing Syria.

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JIRA, Python, Technical

Jython: Timezone Manipulation and Meeting Invitations vs Outlook

Link: http://dannyman.toldme.com/2013/09/23/jython-timezone-manipulation-and-meeting-invitations-vs-outlook/

As part of a project at work I’ve built some Jython code that builds iCalendar attachments to include meeting invitations for scheduled maintenance sessions. Jython is Python-in-Java which takes some getting used to but is damned handy when you’re working with JIRA. I will share a few anecdotes:

1) For doing date and time calculations, specifically to determine locale offset from UTC, you’re a lot happier calling the Java SimpleDateFormat stuff than you are dealing with Python. Python is a beautiful language but I burned a lot of time in an earlier version of this code figuring out how to convert between different time objects for manipulation and whatnot. This is not what you would expect from an intuitive, weakly-typed language, and it is interesting to find that the more obtuse, strongly-typed language handles time zones and it just fricking works.

Here is some sample code:

from java.text import SimpleDateFormat
from com.atlassian.jira.timezone import TimeZoneManagerImpl
tzm = TimeZoneManagerImpl(ComponentManager.getInstance().getJiraAuthenticationContext(),
# df_utc = DateFormat UTC
# df_assignee = DateFormat Assignee
df_utc = SimpleDateFormat("EEE yyyy-MM-dd HH:mm ZZZZZ (zzz)")
df_assignee = SimpleDateFormat("EEE yyyy-MM-dd HH:mm ZZZZZ (zzz)")
tz = df_utc.getTimeZone()
issue_dict['Start_Time_text'] = df_utc.format(start_time.getTime())
issue_dict['Start_Time_html'] = df_utc.format(start_time.getTime())
if df_utc != df_assignee:
    issue_dict['Start_Time_text'] += "\r\n                   "
    issue_dict['Start_Time_text'] += df_assignee.format(start_time.getTime())
    issue_dict['Start_Time_html'] += "<br />"
    issue_dict['Start_Time_html'] += df_assignee.format(start_time.getTime())
# Get TimeZone of Assignee
# Start Time in Assignee TimeZone

Since our team is global I set up our announcement emails to render the time in UTC, and, if it is different, in the time zone of the person leading the change. For example:

Start Time: Mon 2013-09-23 23:00 +0000 (UTC)
Mon 2013-09-23 16:00 -0700 (PDT)

2) I was sending meeting invitations with the host set to the assignee of the maintenance event. This seemed reasonable to me, but when Mac Outlook saw that the host was set, it would not offer to add the event to the host’s calendar. After all, all meeting invitations come from Microsoft Outlook, right?! If I am the host it must already be on my calendar!!

I tried just not setting the host. This worked fine except now people would RSVP to the event and they would get an error stuck in their outboxes.

So . . . set the host to a bogus email address? My boss was like “just change the code to send two different invitations” which sounds easy enough for him but I know how creaky and fun to debug is my code. I came upon a better solution: I set the host address to user+calendar@domain.com. This way, Outlook is naive enough to believe the email address doesn’t match, but all our software which handles mail delivery knows the old ways of address extension . . . I can send one invitation, and have that much less messy code to maintain.

from icalendar import Calendar, Event, UTC, vText, vCalAddress
# [ . . . ]
event = Event()
# [ . . . ]
# THIS trick allows organizer to add event without breaking RSVP
# decline functionality.  (Outlook and its users suck.)
organizer_a = assignee.getEmailAddress().split('@')
organizer = vCalAddress('MAILTO:' + organizer_a[0]+ '+calendar@' +
organizer.params['CN'] = vText(assignee.getDisplayName() + ' (' + assignee.getName() + ')')
event['organizer'] = organizer

You can get an idea of what fun it is to build iCalendar invitations, yes? The thing with the parentheses concatenation on the CN line is to follow our organization’s convention of rendering email addresses as “user@organization.com (Full Name)”.

3) Okay, third anecdote. You see in my first code fragment that I’m building up text objects for HTML and plaintext. I feed them into templates and craft a beautiful mime multipart/alternative with HTML and nicely-formatted plaintext . . . however, if there’s a Calendar invite also attached then Microsoft Exchange blows all that away, mangles the HTML to RTF and back again to HTML, and then renders its own text version of the RTF. My effort to make a pretty text email for the users gets chewed up and spat out, and my HTML gets mangled up, too. (And, yes, I work with SysAdmins so some users actually do look at the plain text . . .) I hate you, Microsoft Exchange!

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