RFCs, standards, pink bunnies and flower patterns

Cary Wagner CaryRW at usa.net
Tue Oct 17 23:31:34 CEST 2006


While your comments are whimsical and, in some case very true, the point is
HTML mail is here to stay.  You or I will not stop it.  I think the point of
this thread was simply to state that point.  This being accepted, what can
be done to ensure GPG, PGP, etc., can all work under it's construct?  We are
not going to solve the worlds (or the internets) problems with GPG not
supporting the HTML email format.  The bottom line is CAN GPG and others be
made to play nicely with HTML.

All our rants about the evil perpetrated on this world by HTML email is not
going to make it go away.  Heck, Beta was a better format then VHS, but we
all know the outcome of that one.  Either GPG and the likes begin to work
with HTML OR someone needs to step up and prevent those applications from
trying to apply digital signatures and encryption on emails formatted in
HTML.  Personally, I use HTML email in my daily work to embed images that
make the flow of my emails work better.  I'd love to be able to digitally
sign and/or encrypt my emails without the intervention of Outlook (S/MIME)
and use something generally more accepted (GPG, PGP).  But, if it just won't
work OR the complexities of making it work aren't feasible, then I will
revert to TXT and then sign.

Either way, the GPG community just needs to take a stand one way or the
other.  Make it work or make it not work...


-----Original Message-----
From: gnupg-users-bounces at gnupg.org [mailto:gnupg-users-bounces at gnupg.org]
On Behalf Of Mica Mijatovic
Sent: Tuesday, October 17, 2006 10:21
To: Nicholas Cole
Subject: Re: RFCs, standards, pink bunnies and flower patterns

Hash: SHA256

    Was Tue, 17 Oct 2006, at 15:34:39 +0100 (BST),
    when Nicholas wrote:

>> Of course that it doesn't mean that HTML should be banished 
>> completely from the 'lectronic mail world, but it has its essential 
>> limitations as for the cryptographic routines.

> Mica,

> Thank you for your email. It made me reflect. I had been ignoring this 
> discussion. HTML emails are here to stay, and may users of the 
> internet rely on them. Indeed, text only emails can look horrid on 
> many Outlook setups, a fact I was long unaware of since I haven't used 
> it in about 7 years.

> It's hard enough getting people to use encrypted email as it is - 
> telling them they can't use what is to many people a very standard 
> tool doesn't seem to me a good way forward.

> It seemed to me that PGP/MIME provides an excellent way to handle HTML 
> email. But your email did make me think about that a bit more.
> Obviously, its ability to load external images might make the 
> signature in practice meaningless (though the signature on the source 
> code would still be correct, which makes it an interesting 
> philosophical point). Is there anything else about an HTML email that 
> raises a red flag from a security point of view?

I recall now a movie with Eddie Murphy playing a somewhat irregular priest
explaining to the crowd what is evil and what is not. Whatever he says, now
this and then that, the crowd says "Yeah!"

So, it is basically a matter of anthropology (and sometimes more
specifically of neurology, when the psychedel[ir]ic kitsch element is
particularly stressed in an HTML...creation)[1].

But if we put aside the matters of aesthetics (which is not just "a matter
of taste" but indeed of the work of subtle health of undamaged neurones as
well, which is an objective category), we can see that we have at disposal
two main aspects we can observe and analyze the HTML case in the context
(and it is a model for all the other ones of the same and similar type)...

1) technical characteristics of such a document

2) the ways subjects _react_ on it, the document

...where the first aspect tells us about the essential proprieties (what it
is, does, can etc.) and the other one describes _habits_, as a conditional
behavior conditioned by various and idio...matic ways some particular group
of a given population adopts its models of behavior.[2]

Now, these models of _behavior_ can exist entirely independently of the real
value of the objects/things (in this case HTML mail), and if these models we
take to be criterions for estimation of the real value, then we get the
known mess where just mere habits are taken to be a standards.

It is an evasive finer distinction that seems rarely who is able to perceive
and to keep attention on it enough long to get a clear thought of it.

Since it is a global/general phenomenon, it encompasses the (human) mental
activities involved in creating something as the RFCs are as well.

This is generally result of the taking _habits_ to be criterion of
standards, and not the technical facts of the phenomenon that is object of
these habits.

RFCs are anyway good, generally speaking, since they have a basic intention
(to try if nothing else) to introduce an order and thus to prevent an
incredible mess, which would result in ultimate dysfunctionality.

It means thus that they, RFCs, are not gods nor priests, and that they
should be taken "with a grain of salt", not for granted thus, with a healthy
reason and not by "common sense".[3]

We have thus to think (to a certain needed degree) as well, not just to
merely react, and everything becomes better then, we get much better
solutions, and better solutions bring more enjoyment.

When the organ of pleasure disciplines itself, it produces and gives much
more pleasure.


Generally, HTMLanguage is for instance a pretty powerful language, it is not
naive at all, and with it many actions can be performed and triggered,
everywhere on your hard disk and "peripherals". These codes you can't
see/perceive on the surface, since they are not rendered by a
browser/mailer's HTML reader, although they are performed anyway. Not good
for a mail, definitely. "It's evil." (-: For now.

As for the "horrid look of text only mail", Courier is not only fixed width
font. I myself like it since it resembles the old typewriters which is quite
fine to me. Of others Lucida Console comes to mind, for Windows, and many
other ones for Linux.


[1] But again, might be that those people simply have not enough for a
better weed or simply a hammer/mazzuola, so is not nice to laugh at
someone's poverty.

We also shouldn't forget that Oscar Wild gave his life fighting against
kitschy wallpapers. His last words were: "Or they or me".

[2] See Pavlovian reflexes, how they are created and function.

[3] What is "common sense" in mental hospital for instance, or in some
collective insanity, or in an insanity in two... A "common" is not enough to
make a "standard". It resembles, it resembles it, indeed, but it is not

- --
~~~ For personal mail please use my address as it is *exactly* given
    in my "From" field, otherwise it will not reach me. ~~~ GPG
keys/docs/software at: http://blueness.port5.com/pgpkeys/
"One tartar beef steak, please" - Nietzsche -----BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE-----
Version: GnuPG v1.4.6-svn-4217 <>o<> tiger192 i686 * (Cygwin/MinGW32)


Gnupg-users mailing list
Gnupg-users at gnupg.org

More information about the Gnupg-users mailing list