About Civility and Truth

Civility and Truth is a blog for people who

  • live or work in Howard County, Maryland
  • are interested in in-depth, data-based, non-partisan commentary and analysis of issues relevant to Howard County and the world beyond
  • are willing to put up with periodic posts on other stuff that interests me

About the name

The name of this blog comes from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. When her heroine Elizabeth Bennett was subjected to the pompous bloviations of Mr. Collins, her former would-be suitor, in response she “tried to unite civility and truth in a few short sentences.”

My task is much easier. The people I know in Howard County are nothing like Mr. Collins, and I have space to use as many sentences as I please. However I found the notion of trying to unite civility and truth a congenial one—even though I will inevitably fall short of doing so completely successfully—and the shout-out to the Howard County Library System’s “Choose Civility” campaign was too good to resist.

A guide to past posts

Posts on Howard County include my “Creating the Chrysalis” series on the design and construction of the Chrysalis amphitheater in Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods in Columbia, Maryland, as well as additional posts on the overall Inner Arbor plan for the park.

Posts on politics include my “Seven Answers” series, in which—though not a candidate myself—I respond to a candidate questionnaire from fellow Howard County blogger Jason Booms; this series also serves as a survey of my political views on various topics. In a lighter vein, I did critiques of Howard County campaign signs in the 2010 and 2014 primary elections. I’m also author of the book Dividing Howard: A History of County Council Redistricting in Howard County, Maryland.

Past topics on previous incarnations of this blog have included Mozilla and open source, life as an eMusic subscriber, and my thoughts about music and the music business in general. (The music-related posts were formerly on my Swindleeeee!!!!! blog, which I’ve since discontinued and merged with this blog.) I also have a set of posts about my past experiences running the Blosxom blog software which may still be of interest to any remaining Blosxom users.

The fine print

Unless otherwise noted all Civility and Truth content is created by me (Frank Hecker) and is freely available for commercial and non-commercial use under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. For uses beyond the scope of “fair use” you must give appropriate credit, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests that I endorse you or your use. For detailed terms of use please see the full license.

All Civility and Truth posts are my own opinions as an individual and do not necessarily represent the official positions of any of my employers past, present, or future, or of any other organization.

The Civility and Truth site does not host advertisements, use Google Analytics or any other third-party user tracking service, or collect user information other than client IP address and browser versions. However third-party content such as YouTube videos embedded within certain Civility and Truth posts may display ads and do additional user tracking; see the terms of service for such content where applicable.

How it works

Civility and Truth is built using the Jekyll static site generator and Michael Rose’s Minimal Mistakes responsive Jekyll theme, designed to look good and load quickly on smartphones, tablets, and desktop PCs. It uses Toshimaru’s jekyll-tagging-related_posts plugin to list posts related to a given post based on tags they have in common.

Civility and Truth is self-hosted using a Linux-based virtual server provided by Digital Ocean. It is designed to be accessed via HTTPS only, with all web traffic to and from the site encrypted using strong cryptographic algorithms.1 (Connections made via HTTP will be automatically redirected to the HTTPS URL, and modern browsers told to never use HTTP for the site again.) The site is accessible via both IPv4 and IPv6 addresses.

The Civility and Truth site contains all blog posts previously posted to the sites blog.hecker.org and frankhecker.com. URLs for posts originally posted to blog.hecker.org and frankhecker.com will automatically be redirected to this blog, so that existing links will continue to work. If you find any links that produce errors please notify me by email.

I deliberately did not implement a commenting system for Civility and Truth. (I got very few comments on my older blog and most of the ones I did get were spam.) I typically publish notices of new posts on Twitter and Facebook; you can make comments in either place if you wish, or just send them to me via email.


  1. Although the Civility and Truth web site hosts only public content, and does not request entry of any personally identifying information (PII), I thought it was better security practice to make the site HTTPS-only.