Weechat on OSX

This is recording how I got weechat on OSX updated to 4.0.4, and how I fixed /script to work as well, thanks to some helpful folks on IRC.

One of the slight annoyances with using weechat on OSX is that the Homebrew version is still 3.8 or so. I have multiple systems, with weechat on all of them, and OSX is the outlier in being outdated.

The #weechat channel on libera was horribly useful, and got everything straightened out, with first updating to 4.0.4, and then fixing a problem with scripts. I’m writing up what I did here, so it’s easily searchable.

First, the upgrade to 4.0.4. It’s important to know that while I did all this, I didn’t originate any of it. I can’t claim credit, and don’t. I was doing things that others suggested. (The users in question were trygveaa and R2robot; I don’t know them outside of those names.)

The first thing I did was run brew edit weechat, to edit the weechat recipe file for Homebrew. The values I needed to change were the url and hash values for the downloaded file; they’re lines 4 and 5 for me, and this is what I changed them to:

url "https://weechat.org/files/src/weechat-4.0.4.tar.xz" sha256 "ae5f4979b5ada0339b84e741d5f7e481ee91e3fecd40a09907b64751829eb6f6"

After that, it’s a simple matter of running:
brew reinstall -s weechat
… which should download weechat from source (and thus get 4.0.4) and install it from there.

Now, running weechat gives me 4.0.4; that’s one problem down!

~ > weechat -v
~ >

The other problem was that /script didn’t work; it would tell me it was trying to download the scripts from an external server, and… that’s it. No progress. No scripts window, no nothing. That’s suboptimal, because there are a few scripts I find highly useful.

I got it working by setting an environment variable. I actually tried two of them, but only one turned out to be significant:


With that set, /script downloaded the list of scripts, and I could install, autoload, et cetera. I had also tried setting WEECHAT_HOME to a different location (also a suggestion), and that worked as long as I had the fork safety disabled – and removing WEECHAT_HOME left my configuration where it was “supposed to be” (the default) and /script still worked, so the OBJC_DISABLE_INITIALIZE_FORK_SAFETY is what made the difference.

Twitter Refugees: What Do You Want?

Seriously: what did you expect? What did you want to happen? What outcome were you looking for?

One of the things that always amused me about peoples’ reactions to Donald Trump were that they were so… catastrophic in nature. (My brother used a word the other day, “catastrophated,” and while that’s not a word, I like it. But I can’t write it without snickering to myself about it.)

The thing about Trump is that he is a narcissistic simpleton. If you wanted him to do something, he has very simple levers, because… again, simpleton. Want him to raise taxes? Well, compliment him in the process of suggesting that smart people raise taxes because… and use big words for “why,” because all he’ll hear is the implicit compliment that he’d have earned once he raised taxes.

Of course, you’d have to have countered the people who also knew how to pull his levers in the other direction, because they’re saying “smart people lower taxes because [big words that he doesn’t understand and won’t think about go here],” because just like you are not an idiot, they are not idiots either, even if Donald Trump himself is an idiot despite being such a stable genius.

But instead of thinking “how do we use this situation our media has gotten us into,” people preferred to scream and shout their frustration, chose to tweet #RESIST instead of, you know, thinking about why and how Trump got elected, chose to weaken their opponents so other populists like Trump could get elected. (And then, when Biden replaced Trump, chose to screech that resistance to the government was ethically wrong, conveniently forgetting that they were themselves “resisting” when Trump was in power.)

But… has the same problem. People are fleeing Twitter, while wishing they had what Twitter had given them in terms of audience and appeal, all because Musk took over and is doing things.

Okay, fine. What is it you actually wanted? Consider that Twitter was losing money hand over fist; consider that Twitter’s usefulness was scoped to a limited base (because it was the shill of a given political base, echoing and emphasizing things acceptable to a limited audience); it was losing trust because the people who use it most wanted it to lie to them, creating an echo chamber, and even though it sold its soul to those people it was losing money.

So change had to come. There was no alternative, if Twitter was going to survive, and given the grief people are experiencing, it’s clear that they wanted Twitter to survive.

So: let’s go back to Trump for a second. (I know, I bounce around. I see things in terms of patterns and parallels, and Trump’s a good one for Twitter, as he is for a lot of things.)

When I was watching close friends undergo Trump Derangement Syndrome, I asked some of them what Honest Donal- – ha, no, I can’t write that without laughing.

I asked what Trump could do such that he wouldn’t receive the vitriol they were hurling at him. I said to go blue sky, people! There’s no limit! Tell me what Trump could do to earn their at least silent approval, with rationality no barrier.

I got solidarity in response: “There is literally nothing he could do to earn our approval in any way.” He couldn’t dance naked in the streets, shouting that Hitler was the devil; he couldn’t raise taxes on the rich; he couldn’t release his own taxes; he couldn’t enforce the progressive agenda. If he’d have done everything on their list of what they wanted government to do – and I asked about this, specifically – he’d still have earned their hatred and resentment.

Okay, then. That’s true Trump Derangement. I get it, but it’s stupid and irrational.

Now let’s flip back to Twitter. Play the same game: what could Musk do to earn the Twitter exiteers’ approval? Anything?

The way I see it, Musk has two overriding mandates: one is to make Twitter profitable (and thus ensure its survival) and the other is to make it what it should have been all along: a melting pot of discussion.

The latter point – the melting pot – is easier, because you can get there by simply letting people discuss, instead of filtering based on bias and whether stuff is “acceptable” to the FBI or whoever is pulling strings. That’s not an easy thing to do, because when you first remove the yoke, people are going to careen past polite discussion – they’ll post actively hateful things to try to see where the lines are, you know, or they’ll do so because they’re simply hateful people – and you’ll also have people doing actively dangerous things.

Figuring out those limits isn’t easy, and Twitter’s struggling with it. But it’s doable, I think, given patience and time, as long as people recognize that it takes patience and time and tuning.

Profitability is a lot harder, especially when people have learned to expect that social media is free, free, free. It’s doable, but not painless.

But when people decide that the alternative is to flee to other social networks en masse… what do they want?

Those other social networks cannot be Twitter-ish without gaining the same negative aspects of Twitter. They’re going from the frying pan (Twitter) to … another frying pan. That’s it. The brand of the frying pan is different. And the new frying pan is going to be less experienced at being Twitter-ish than Twitter is.

Want examples? Parler is one, and if Parler’s not dead already, I’d be surprised. The Fediverse is a lot stronger than Parler, but the Fediverse is also not the same as Twitter… and it’s already showing evidence of commercial centralization, and where individual instances aren’t being commercialized, well, you’re relying on the largesse of individuals who’re hosting instances, just like you used to rely on the largesse of Twitter.

So, I ask again: consider that Twitter has no choice but to change, and tell me where the lines are that you’d find Twitter acceptable. I’m vastly interested, not because I have Twitter stock or anything (I don’t) and not because I love Twitter (I don’t care about Twitter, barely using it outside of posting links to my blog content for the most part, or trying to support some friends on the site).

I’m interested because I like understanding psychology, and the derangement syndrome that we saw with Trump and we’re seeing again with Twitter is beyond my ability to process. People aren’t as stupid as they seem, right? There has to be reason somewhere.

I want to understand, and I don’t.

Mastodon Vs Twitter

I don’t like Twitter all that much. I find that I struggle massively to write in 250-character bites; I simply hate the idea of boiling my thought patterns down to such tiny blocks, and it’s just unpleasant to me. I don’t think reality is so simple that it can be compressed like that.

But the hatred and resentment Twitter gets these days, now that Elon Musk is affecting it, is ridiculous.

Twitter’s problem was that it was popular… and manipulatable. And it was manipulated, and used to manipulate its users. I may not like writing in tiny chunks like Twitter requires, but my fellow humans seem to appreciate reading in tiny chunks like you’d find on Twitter.

And that made it a fine candidate for our upstanding law enforcement agencies (sarcasm intended) to weigh in on what was allowable discourse, so things that might have “undesirable outcomes” could be filtered out at the behest of our government, and voices that said “unpleasant things” could finally be silenced.

Twitter had become an echo chamber.

Echo chambers are bad.

When Elon Musk bought Twitter, in my opinion he not only rocked the boat (a bad thing, and a stupid thing) but he also took steps to right the ship, by removing a lot of the limits that made it an explicit and deliberate echo chamber for a … not a particular view, but I think it’s safe to say that Twitter was canted “Democrat.”

So removing the bans had a natural effect of restoring more “red tribe” voices than “blue tribe” voices, because that’s how math works. If you eliminate 50 voices from one side and five voices from the other, and restore ninety percent of the voices that were banned, you get 45 red tribe voices restored, and four (or five) blue tribe voices – the red tribe gets forty more voices restored, how COULD they be so fascist?

And if you’re of the opinion that this is somehow unfair, that’s fine, you do you, but when I was watching from the fence, that’s the impression I got, and I’ve seen no credible claims that suggest that those numbers weren’t representative. (They are made up, and the ratio may be better or worse. If you want to quibble about details, go for it, but the important claim is “more red tribe voices were quelled than blue tribe voices, so any restoration is going to look more red than blue.”)

Then you have the “but all the fascists!” claims, which are … well… look, I’m Jewish. My family history with fascists is “unpleasant” at best. I’m also a libertarian – not by party, I’m an Independent, but I lean heavily to libertarian ideals, and fascists hold ideals that I very much oppose on political grounds.

The people I see who are acting like fascists are the ones who insist on only their views being propagated, the ones who want state control of public discourse and the engines of the economy. From where I sit, if I’m being perfectly honest, the ones who told Twitter what was allowed in the common forum, and the ones protesting the most about non-approved voices on Twitter, and the ones who insist that everyone obey, obey, obey before they can enter the common forum… those are acting a lot more like fascists than the people being restored on Twitter now.

I’m not suggesting that there aren’t literal Nazis or literal fascists being restored. Honestly, they probably are. I haven’t seen them or encountered them, for some strange reason… I mean, if they were infecting everything like the claims have made it sound, I’d have seen more from them, because I’m a natural target for them.

But I’ve seen nothing from them. I’ve seen a lot of crying about them, but the volume of the protest far outweighs the threat of the subject of those protests.

And finally we get to Mastodon.

I actually am enjoying Mastodon, on the whole; I still resent the 500 character limit on posts (I refuse to call them “toots”) and I understand there’s a way to change that limit, but I don’t know it. (And honestly, I wouldn’t apply it the way I’d like to, because the Mastodon convention is 500, and to go outside the lines overmuch is frowned upon and should be.)

But Mastodon is not better than Twitter in any way except in that you have a possibility of running your own server, should you choose.

That’s it. There’s the benefit. You can control your own data more with Mastodon than you can with Twitter.

You’re not protected from fascists – after all, they can run their own Mastodon instances and join the Fediverse just like you can. You can filter them out, just like you always could on Twitter. But unlike Twitter, there’s no authority that can potentially filter out illegal or threatening speech, because if you own your own voice on Mastodon, they own their own voices on Mastodon, and while they can do nothing about your voice, you can do nothing about their voices besides, you know, not listen.

Which is a feature Twitter offered you all along, and still does.

Are you “better off” on Mastodon? Well, it depends on whether owning your own voice and data is important to you or not. If you’re on Mastodon and you use one of the “big instances,” well, no, you’re not “better off” at all. You’re just in a different forum. You’re relying on someone else’s data processing power and moderation effort, and they control the voices, and you’re trusting them just like you used to trust Twitter, except chances are strong that your admins are some poor schlubs (like me) who just decided to run the ActivityPub host software.

Sure, they can boot the Nazis and not federate instance data, I guess, if you’re unwilling to filter out or block specific users yourself, but … again, this is no different than Twitter, except there’s no generalized firehose of common data in the first place.

And that firehose is the value of Twitter. With Twitter, you have a chance to say something that everyone reads. (It’s unlikely, but possible.) If you can say something so succinctly and worthwhile, you have the chance to be exposed to everyone.

If you can somehow come up with the “golden rule” that outdoes the actual golden rule, Twitter’s a workable place to disseminate it.

Unlike Mastodon, where your “platinum rule” (yes, I know, such rules have already been offered, although I find them insufficient) goes to only those Mastodon instances that federate your content or to those users who follow you.

Other users can boost your wisdom, of course, which is how the propagation occurs on Mastodon, and you might indeed change the world, but it’s more effort than Twitter requires. If history’s shown us anything, it’s that low-effort wins.

Mastodon’s propagation isn’t “high effort,” but it’s “higher effort” than Twitter, and human psychology and group dynamics make it really difficult for people to boost things neutrally; if I say something that makes the world a better place, unless you agree with me politically or whatever, you’re less likely to boost what I say, regardless of the value of what I offer.

If we’re aligned and you know it, you’re going to say “ooo my tribe has wisdom, let’s boost that” – but if I say I am independent and not interested in being a slave to your tribe’s dynamics (something I said early on in this post, if you read back or remember) then your natural inclination is to refuse to boost whatever I say, because it doesn’t aid your tribe’s perception.

And if what I say helps the “other tribe” too – then you’re likely to try to mute what I say, because defeating the other tribe is more important than anything else. That’s what being part of a limited tribe does to you. It’s comforting, because you get to look at a set of people and say, well, “there’s my people” – but it also means you look at everyone else and say “there are my people’s enemies, because they’re not my people.”

I can say with great intent that I look at humanity as “my people.” There are subsets with which I have greater affinity, to be sure, but I despise the political alignments that define the tribes, and I have friends among Democrats, Republicans, socialists, even a few communists, and probably a few fascists too, although I can’t name any fascists among my friends offhand.

(I’ve tried to figure out which of my friends are fascists; the closest I’ve come are people who would consider themselves socialists and populists, and I just can’t quite decide that they’re actually fascists. The analysis just doesn’t quite work out, and they’d also be highly offended at the consideration. C’est la vie. My conclusion is that actual fascists are really rare and don’t deserve the outsized attention they get.)

So: Mastodon versus Twitter is .. the wrong battle. It’s not “Mastodon versus Twitter.”

It’s “who controls your data,” and choosing Mastodon should mean that you’re setting up your Mastodon identity among a small like-minded group that is self-funded, not joining one of the overwhelmed “big instances.”

Those big instances are no better than Twitter for you, they’re just hammering someone else’s finances and relying on someone else’s effort, and that “someone else” doesn’t owe you anything. (Actually, you should fund your instance if you’re not running your own. Be a mensch. And hopefully my use of Yiddish didn’t offend you. If it did… let me know. Guess why I’d want to know.)

I’m happier on Mastodon than on Twitter, not only because of the 500 character post limit, but because I control my own data on my instance; I’ve posted more on Mastodon than I think I’ve posted on Twitter throughout its entire history. (I have not validated this claim, but I think it’s pretty solid. My “use” of Twitter for years has been limited to WordPress posting blog links to Twitter when I post new blog entries. In fact, I think this blog post will get posted on Twitter automagically as well.)

And to complain about the changes at Twitter? Shoot, no. Long-term, I think they’re better for human discourse than worse; I may not approve of the methodology, as Elon Musk is acting very reactively, but I also suspect he’s doing that to draw lines in the sand for the bots he’s trying to remove. But the changes, overall: I want more, not less. Bring it on, Twitter.

I’ll watch from my Mastodon instance.