Einstein on Racial Bias

I was not aware of Einstein’s stance against racial bias. He was a complex guy, but I think that he came down on the right side of this issue and the issue of nuclear proliferation. A link (from “On Being”) to an essay follows.




GRAMPS Genealogy Software under Linux

Updated 1/12/2017 to include more detail that I have found (and missed). Also updated 1/15/2017 to explain how to fix Solus installation. And finally updated (3/10/2017) to describe use of GRAMPS in Elementary OS.–

This article is a summary of some recent research I have done to answer questions that I have had about the operating systems in which GRAMPS works best. I have one Windows 10 environment on a laptop that I plan to “convert” to a Linux environment. Currently, I use GRAMPS in this Windows 10 environment to build up my genealogy information. So, my goal was to find the best Linux distribution to support use of GRAMPS and the other email and web browsing software.

Here’s some high level information about my windows test environment. – The machine is an Asus N53SV laptop (not new!), 64-bit Intel i7-2630QM architecture , 8 GB of memory, and a conventional disk drive with a nominal capacity of 500 GB. I tested the Linux distributions inside of VMware Workstation 12 Player. Each VM was configured to use two processors, 2 GB of memory, and 30 GB of storage.

I tested Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, Ubuntu Mate 16.10, Solus, Antergos, and Elementary OS.  The test was simple – install GRAMPS 4.2.4 or 4.2.5 from a repository, and then import a GRAMPS backup from the windows 10 system. Here are the results.

Ubuntu 16.04: Installation succeeded without incident.  However, when the application was invoked there were numerous warnings about missing software components that would affect reports. These look like GTK library issues.  This means to me that the software dependencies were not handled properly/completely. Import worked fine. (Note added later: I have installed missing libraries, but that did not completely fix the problems found at startup.)

Solus: Everything worked as you would hope, except for trouble with one missing GTK library (gexiv2) that is reported at startup.  Import worked just fine. – I have subsequently installed the gexiv2  – 0.10.3-4 library using the software center and that eliminated the complaint at startup.

Antergos: Everything went well. Dependencies/addons were called out explicitly, and I installed each one using the interface provided.

Ubuntu Mate 16.10: Once again, everything went well.

Elementary OS (0.4): In this case I installed Elementary OS using QEMU/KVM virtual machine manager. After creating the VM, I found the GRAMPS package using the synaptic package manager, which I installed from the Elementary apps repository. Synaptics installed GRAMPS and picked up all of the dependencies. Success!

In the end I have decided to swap out Windows 10 for Ubuntu Mate – because my tests were  successful and also because I have a familiarity with this distro. My secondary choices, just based on personal preference would be  Antergos and then Solus (in that order) and then Elementary OS. I still run Ubuntu 16.04 LTS on a desktop system from System76, but this version of the operating system has been disappointing in ways mostly associated with how the “Ubuntu Software” application operates. I think that the software made available by the other distributions is better curated and made available for installation. In the end, however, the GRAMPS developers need to fix GTK issues, and I believe that they are in fact doing this.  I expect that by year’s end the problem with missing components will be fixed.  Meanwhile, GRAMPS is still usable at 4.2.4 and 4.2.5.

Perhaps this information will help someone else considering running GRAMPS in a Linux operating system environment.


  1. https://gramps-project.org/wiki/index.php?title=Main_page
  2. https://solus-project.com/
  3. https://antergos.com/
  4. https://ubuntu-mate.org/
  5. https://elementary.io/

Living in a World of Tabloid News

Recently I have felt a lot of truth in the view that we are being manipulated by many that contribute to and present the news.

D. Trump is a good example of this. He says outlandish things to get attention and describes problems (real and imaginary) and then presents himself as the solution. He clearly manipulates the news and the consumers of the news.

In a recent foray, he seems to want to bring back the cold war days of nuclear proliferation. If he is actually sincere in this (and not just grabbing attention), I think that his views must be resisted. By taking such a stance, he promotes an idea that endangers the very existence of all on the Earth. He has already threatened our climate and groups of people (based on skin color, religion, gender, etc.). His views are dangerous, and I hope that they just represent a sick attempt at gaining attention.

Former presidents and people like Hans Bethe, who actually worked to bring nuclear weapons to the world in order to stop the Fascists of the 30s and 40s, have previously concluded that nuclear proliferation is a dangerous and undesirable path to walk. (More about Bethe – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hans_Bethe )

I have been quiet about this, but I feel that D. Trump has stepped over a line. So, I believe that I must in my own small way publicly call him out as a dangerous man with dangerous ideas.

You might be interested in the views of some thoughtful people on the subject of the manipulation of news. Here are some references for you.

Relevant books by Tim Wu. The Attention Merchants and The Master Switch

A recent interview of Tim Wu by Leo Laporte. https://twit.tv/shows/triangulation/episodes/278


Special Bindings

If you ever encounter an old book or other bound thing that needs repair, here’s a reference to a guy that can do the repair. His name is Steve and he operates Special Bindings.

He is a a very pleasant guy and does good work.  I have had a 19th century bible and an early 20th century prayer book repaired there. He can handle leather and cloth bindings, and he is careful to do repairs so as to make them very inconspicuous.

Here’s a link. His contact information is there.


Norwegians in the Dakotas

If you have ever had contact with the farming culture in the Dakotas prior to say 1970, I think that you might enjoy the following book.  This is especially true if you have Norwegian ancestors, whose homes you lived in or visited. It is a quick read and more descriptive than nostalgic.

Nothing to Do but Stay – My Pioneer Mother, by Carrie Young, c. 1991, University of Iowa Press.

A Good Explanation of ACA Health Plan Prices

It is easy to find the hype about the rising cost of health insurance for those having to buy it outside of their workplaces. The following article, however, paints the most complete picture that I have found of what is really going on.


It seems to me that people that are able to use the exchanges should see little impact. Those that do not use an exchange, for whatever reason (including high income), will in fact see cost increases. Complicating this is the fact that some exchanges have been poorly executed. (See for example Minnesota’s exchange implementation.) So, I think that we should not lose sight of the fact that this is NOT another issue painted in black and white. Discussion and analysis are needed, not diatribe.

Computer Solutions that Work!

I volunteer every week to help people deal with their computer problems – laptops, tablets, phones, etc. I am struck by how poorly much of the standard commercial off the shelf stuff performs for normal, not very technical people. Based on personal experience, I wish that more people knew of the option of buying a laptop or desktop machine that just works and is well supported. That option is buying a machine from System76. These devices come loaded with Ubuntu Linux.  I have recently bought one and am quite pleased. There are other sources for such devices, and I am not paid to promote System76 products. I just wish that more people knew that they have an option other than the type of stuff seen in typical big box stores.


Genealogy Notes: a recent Minnesota Genealogy Society Conference

On 10/1/2016, I attended the North Star Conference hosted by the Minnesota Genealogical Society. Here are some notes from sessions that I attended. Text in quotes shows excerpts that I drew directly from the handouts at the MNGS conference only to identify the topic and the speaker/author. My bulleted notes follow each section of quoted text.


Michael D. Lacopo, D.V.M.





Wikipedia: “Social history… is a branch of history that includes history of ordinary people and their strategies of coping with life.” Knowing the social history of our ancestors includes how they dealt with disease, a life and death issue of which they had little knowledge and even less control. As genealogists, we seek out death records of all sorts, but do we understand them? A basic understanding of historical epidemics and disease helps put our ancestors into a broader framework of history.”


Finnish, Swedish, Norwegian, and Saami Research

Gregory S. Isola, Minneapolis MN

independent Finnish researcher

President/CCO, Finnesota LLC

Pursuing CG®

certification in 2016

Email gsisola@finnesota.com or greg@isola.mn

Presenting at MGS 9th annual North Star Conference, 01 Oct 2016”

  • many records are in Swedish because Sweden controlled much of the area for periods of time
  • Saami= northern Nordic natives; “Lapp” derogatory
  • in old records in Swedish can see “Lappar” to indicate Saami
  • Norwegian records can indicate “Finn”.
  • Name structure(s):
    • first/given/Christian
    • sometimes there is a second given name
    • patronym (*dotter/datter, *son/sen)
    • family name (surname – location, farm name, town name, occupation, etc.!)
  • sometimes you see matronym used in the case of an illegitimate child
  • handwritten docs sometimes show date as day/mo (day on top and month on bottom in form of “fraction”
  • notes on the Gregorian Calendar:
    • 1582 – pope declares the change
    • many Protestant areas ignored this and only later came to grips with physical reality
    • 1752 – England made the change
    • 1700-1753 – Sweden made the change in fits and starts
  • author’s website: genealogy.mn

“Ports and Ships of the Immigration Age: How Our European Ancestors Traveled to America

Jerome Biedny, Jr., past President

Polish Genealogical Society on Minnesota

6909 West 82nd Street

Bloomington, MN 55438

Our modes of transportation have changed over the ages to reflect their times. Until the late 1800’s people came to America on sailing ships from the main European seaports to those on the Atlantic coast of North America. This presentation focuses on the peak US immigration years 1870-1915. This was a time of transition from fragmented packet lines, using sailing ships, to sophisticated passenger lines, using ocean liners, connected to a web of railroads on both sides of the Atlantic.”

  • there was a coordination of rail and ship transportation through agents that sold tickets
  • examples: $18 from Bremen to NY per person, then $13 to Chicago, half price for people under 13 years of age and free for children under 5 years. (note: this can account for some age discrepancies due to lies about age in order to save money)
  • 1884 passage typically took 2 weeks
  • German Lines
    • HAPAG (1847): Hamburg to Hoboken
    • early ships would hold about 800 people and 120 crew, 300 ft. long and 40 ft. wide
    • North German Lloyd (1857): Bremerhaven to Hoboken (and South America)
    • ships were large (e.g., Barbarosa and Kaiser Wilhelm II) – 2000-2700 people, 500 crew, 540 ft. long, 60 ft. wide.
  • Other Lines: Red Star Line (1871) (JP Morgan), later became White Star; Austro-American Line small ships from Trieste to the US.
  • British Lines – Cuinard & White Star
  • Ports
    • early: first calls disembarked in Hobeken, then rest went to Castle Garden in NY (1855-1890)
    • Ellis Island (1892 – 1954)
    • Baltimore (1706 – ?) served by B&O RR and North German lloyd.
  • Quotas: in 1924 set at 150,000 people

“Online Tools to Organize and Collaborate with Your Cousins

Kelli Bergheimer


Mess on the Desk

P.O. Box 1028

Powell, OH 43065



  • ancestry.com: surname message boards
  • aggregators: www.feedly.com (to assemble info from roostweb, ancestry message boards, blogs, other favorite websites)
  • Google alerts: trigger on names, locations, topics, etc.
  • misc tools and techniques
    • photobucket.com
    • deadfred.com
    • legal genealogist (Judy Russell)
    • shared docs and calendars


Michael D. Lacopo, D.V.M.





Wikipedia: “Social history… is a branch of history that includes history of ordinary people and their strategies of coping with life.” As genealogists, we study our ancestors, which were likely “ordinary people,” so genealogy IS social history! Aspects of social history can include the study of race, ethnicity, labor, sex, gender, education, immigration, rural/urban life, religion, and more.”

  • Europe
    • marriage records not kept prior to reformation
    • social stratification
    • arranged marriages within class
  • US
    • marriage possibilities loosened up in the US
    • marriages occurred at earlier ages since people could become economically independent earlier in life
  • References to help enrich the history of your ancestors

Pointless Jobs!

A friend recently alerted me to this article. It points out something that I fear to be true.  That is, that capitalism in its current form is not serving us well. I hope that you enjoy it.

Why Capitalism Creates Pointless Jobs

Changing Technology

I like to try to keep up with developments in areas that might affect use of computing technology by individuals. Here are two items that I found interesting.  From “PC World” there is a link to an article about Google adding Android app availability to Chromebooks. I think that this is important since the Chromebook/Chrome OS option seems like a useful and inexpensive one for quite a lot of people. Then there is a link to an article about the current work of Tim Berners-Lee. His work is aimed at changing the way that personal data is managed. His direction is quite different from that of Google in terms of use of personal data. This exemplifies the struggle between big organizations that want access to data about you in order to monetize it and others like Berners-Lee, who is more interested in the rights and controls available to individuals. So, the two links actually pertains to opposing factions in the struggle.