Moves to Amazon Lightsail, A Follow-Up

One change I missed after migrating to Lightsail, was ensuring that all the posts with images in them were displaying those images on the new site the way they were on the old. A scroll backward through previous posts revealed the problem quickly enough, but life is busy so it took awhile until I had enough time fix it. The steps I expected I would need to take to resolve the missing images issue were roughly the following:

  • Start up the old EC2 instance
  • Download the old images
  • Upload the old images to the new instance on Lightsail

Because I only stopped the previous EC2 instance instead of terminating it, I was able to re-start it. To download the old images, I’d have to find them first. Having self-hosted WordPress for awhile, I knew the images would be in subfolders under wp-content/uploads, so the only real question remaining was where exactly the old Bitnami image rooted the install. Once I “sshed” into the instance, that location turned out to be ~/stack/apps/wordpress/htdocs/wp-content/uploads. Images were further organized by year and month of blog posts. To simplify the downloading of old images, I had to knock the rust off my usage of the tar command. Once I’d compressed all those years of images into a few archive files it was time to get them off the machine. I used this Medium post to figure out the right syntax for my scp commands.

Once the archive files were on my local machine, I needed to get them onto the Lightsail instance (and expand them into its uploads folder). But just as I did compressing and pulling the files down from the EC2 instance, I had to figure out where they were in the new Bitnami image. As it turned out, the path was slightly different in the Lightsail image: ~/stack/wordpress/wp-content/uploads. Once I uploaded the files with scp, I had to figure out how to move them into the years and months structure that would match my existing blog posts. Using the in-brower terminal, I was reminded that the tar command wouldn’t let me expand the files into an existing folder structure, so I created an uploads-old folder and expanded them there. Then I had to figure out how to recursively copy the files there into uploads. It took a few tries but the command that ultimately got me the result I wanted was this:

sudo cp -R ./uploads-old/<year>/* ./<year>

Now, every post with images has them back again.

Salman Rushdie Talks Writing, Democracy, History & More

I recently listened to David Remnick’s interview of Salman Rushdie–his first since barely surviving attempted murder by a young man not even born at the time Ayatollah Khomeini issued his fatwa calling for Rushdie’s assassination in 1989. He took the opportunity primarily to talk about his latest book, Victory City, but along the way talked about the attack on him, the impact of the fatwa on him, and democracy and history in India, England, and the United States. There are many places to listen to and/or watch the full interview, as well as reading Remnick’s piece in The New Yorker

Toward the end of the interview, Rushdie’s response to one of Remnick’s questions did an excellent job of summarizing the danger democracy faces in all the places he is connected to by birth, education, and citizenship. I’ve attempted to transcribe Rushdie’s spoken words below, emphasizing what stood out most to me:

The problem in India is this, that the current government, which to people of my way of thinking is alarming, is very popular. It’s the difference for example between India and Trump. Trump was only just about popular. And his level of unpopularity was at least as high as his popularity, that’s not so in India because the Modi government is very popular in India, has huge support. And that makes it possible for them to get away with it.  To create this very autocratic state which is unkind to minorities, which is fantastically oppressive of journalists, where people are very afraid. Which in a way it’s getting to be difficult to call it a democracy.

A democracy is not just who wins the election, it’s whether you feel safe in the country whether you voted for the government or not. India has a problem. The way in which this book just marginally engages with it is that it takes on the subject of sectarianism, and tries to say this is not the history of India. The history of India is much more complicated than that.  It’s not that there was an ancient culture that another culture came in and destroyed, that’s a false description of the past.

And as we know we live in a world in which false descriptions of the past are being used everywhere to justify terrible behavior in the present. England pretending there’s a golden age before any foreigners showed up, and completing ignoring the fact that they were <expletive> over foreigners in their countries in order to make possible their wealth and affluence at home.  America, talking about being great again. I want to know when was that? What was the date? It was obviously before the Civil Rights Act. Was it before women had the vote? Was it when there was still slavery? What are we hark[en]ing back to? A fantasy past becomes a way of justifying bad behavior today.

David Remnick interview with Salman Rushdie from February 6, 2023

India’s Ministry of Finance searching the offices of the BBC in New Delhi and Mumbai and accusing them of tax evasion so soon after their airing of a show critical of Prime Minister Modi is exactly the point Rushdie was making about oppression of journalists. Shireen Abu Aqla was shot in the head and killed in the West Bank, likely by a soldier in the Israeli military (according to their own investigation). Here in the U.S., police arrested, shot, and tear-gassed numerous journalists covering protests that occurred in the wake of George Floyd’s murder by Minneapolis police. Ali Velshi and his team of journalists were shot by rubber bullets from police during a live broadcast. A photojournalist named Lindo Tirado was shot by police with a non-lethal round and lost sight in one eye as a result. At least one journalist was arrested, handcuffed, and taken away while in the middle of a live broadcast. Nearly three years later, I haven’t seen any evidence of disciplinary action against the cops who did all this shooting.

Rushdie’s definition of democracy was an especially interesting one to me. My parents’ native Jamaica has a long history of political violence where the party you supported could have the most serious consequences for your physical well-being. The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace has written about mob violence and vigilantism occurring w/ the knowledge and consent of political parties not just in India, but elsewhere in southern Asia ( Here in the U.S., video from some of these school board meetings, heavily-armed people protesting COVID restrictions, threats and harassment of election workers, voter intimidation, and the insurrection at the Capitol in 2021 make me worry that we’re returning to the sort of political violence which was once the stuff of history books.  

What Rushdie says about false or fantasy pasts being used to justify bad behavior in the present resonated the most strongly with me because of how much present bad behavior it explains. Putin comparing himself to Peter the Great as he rationalizes his continuing invasion of Ukraine is a present example. The MAGA movement led by Donald Trump (though leadership of that movement is being quite vigorously contested now) is certainly another. The conservative Christian groups I’ve written about previously are certainly harkening back to a pre-Civil Rights Movement point in American history as the place to which they want the entire country to return. In retrospect, even some of the rulings of the conservative majority on the Supreme Court are explained by this framing. As I wrote last year after the leak of Alito’s draft opinion which would ultimately overturn Roe vs Wade, black men and women had no rights the government was bound to respect and (white) women were scarcely better off than that. I’m old enough now to remember a culture warrior from decades earlier, Pat Buchanan, harkening back to what (in my memory at least) was probably the Revolutionary War with his “ride to the sound of the guns” catchphrase.

Beyond Rushdie’s clear-eyed views of India, England, and the United States, his life speaks volumes regarding how petty and small what we call “cancel culture” today really is. The list of detractors regarding his novel The Satanic Verses is quite long, and included Prince (now King) Charles, John le Carré, Roald Dahl, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the British Foreign Secretary, and Jimmy Carter, among others. Cat Stevens (now Yusuf Islam) agreed with the fatwa calling for Rushdie to be murdered. Remnick’s piece includes the following shameful remark from the historian Hugh Trevor-Roper:

I would not shed a tear if some British Muslims, deploring his manners, should waylay him in a dark street and seek to improve them. If that should cause him thereafter to control his pen, society would benefit, and literature would not suffer.”

The Defiance of Salman Rushdie, by David Remnick, The New Yorker, February 13 & 20, 2023 Issue

Trevor-Roper’s remark can only be seen as more gruesome in the light of attempted and successful murders of translators of the book into Italian and Japanese, the attempted murder of the book’s Norwegian publisher, and the firebombing of bookstores that carried it. In light of the rough reception his book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid would receive less than two decades later, I wonder if former president Carter ever revisited and revised his opinion of Rushdie’s book. Rushdie proves far more gracious to at least one of his critics than they were to him:

Meanwhile, the New York Times published a defense of J.K. Rowling–using Rushdie as an example of what could happen to her if she continued to be criticized–just a day after hundreds of current and former New York Times contributors published an open letter critical of the paper’s coverage of trans people. Rowling, like Rushdie, was a signatory of the Letter on Justice and Open Debate published in Harper’s Magazine a couple of years ago. The ways in which the two signatories choose to use their free speech (one to attack trans people, the other to write novels) couldn’t be more different, but the New York Times (predictably, in my view) treats them as the same. I still believe, as I wrote then, that the signatories of the Harper’s letter were asking that “controversial” speech be somehow more privileged than other speech. But Rushdie has paid a far higher price for his art–from other artists and his own government (beyond the one that actually issued the fatwa)–than Rowling has paid (or will ever pay) for using her substantial platform to punch down at a community that has been, and continues to be under siege.

Exploring Mastodon Continued: Moving to

After almost 4 months of using Mastodon, I found the community on (and its administrator, Kris Nóva) so interesting that I decided to move from the larger instance I initially joined ( The advice in my first post about sticking with a larger server unless you come across a particular server/community that really interests you still holds. The specific way I applied it is tied to a Mastodon feature I didn’t fully grasp the utility of back then: the Local timeline. I wrote about timelines later, but what only became clear after creating an account on and using Local timeline was that because the vast majority of people there are techies like me, there was a much higher volume of interesting toots there than on a large instance like

One of my Mastodon mutuals switched from to due to racist harassment being directed at his account from a domain they don’t block. Not only does proactively block that domain, they do things like give you a chance to review certain follow requests even if your account isn’t locked, as shown below:

Screenshot of follow request approval on

The actual steps I followed to migrate were a combination of this article, and this post from Eugen Rochko (in that order). Migrating doesn’t delete the old account, but it does disable the old account so it looks like this:

My disabled account on

Migrating to a new account meant updating my account metadata as well to verify that new account belongs to me.

Only the posts from my original Mastodon account can’t make the move to–but only because I don’t control the instance. If I were willing to run my own Mastodon server, it might be possible to import the archive I downloaded from my previous account and republish them there.

In addition to migrating to, I provided a small donation to the administrator through In addition to the charitable giving I’m doing this year, I’ll be putting more into these tip jars for online services that I find valuable. I contribute a bit to the main Mastodon project through Patreon.