How I envy thee

A few months ago, I was at a friend’s party. As the evening progressed, an old colleague arrived with his girlfriend. And not only did she have the most magnificent breasts, she was also blessed with the mind of a fourteen-year-old, as well as the eloquence of the younger sister of said fourteen-year-old.

When they arrived, he already was of the drunken persuasion and she, as stupid she seemed, was kind-eyed enough, to see more in him then the drunkard we all felt he were.

As the party progressed, our drunken friend seemed determined to getting to a state of not knowing how he will have gotten home. While his company was sure to, as she always does, safely deliver him home, wherever he may end up in the course of a – at least to them – usual saturday evening.

And after an amount of beer that drinking seemed like a superhuman feat, he slipped into the bed of one of the hosts and fell asleep at the spot. As I wasn’t nearly as content with my human company as he was with his bottle-shaped companions, I sat idly on the sofa at the far side of the room, soon being joined by another guest who, as I, didn’t like the sound of uncalled for live guitar music.

And as we sat there, him staring through the bottom of his glass, me contemplating suicide, I thought about how happy life could be, if we were just drunk and sound asleep. Ignorance is bliss and how blissful we could live, if we could just shed this bad habit of thinking about the consequences of our actions. How easy it would be, how life could be lived to the fullest, if we stopped considering other people and what they would call „their feelings“. How I envied him, not knowing and more importantly, not caring how angry the bed-owner was soon about to be about his intoxicated intruder.

And now I am stuck here with my glass of remedy, deciding whether I should tell of me, probably being in the right and maybe even having it my way and possibly hurting somebody, or shut my mouth and look the fool, chances are I am.

Why do actions always have consequences? And more importantly, why do I have to weigh those actions by them?

„Standing behind Shit: The Game“ – Two days of Path of Exile

My short summary of about two days of Path of Exile:
You’re always standing behind shit.

Using sass with html5 boilerplate

This article is about how easy it is to use Sass with the html5 boilerplate.

So you installed Sass, which, on Fedora, was as easy as

sudo yum install rubygem-sass

but you will find your way in Sass’s documentation.

Then you downloaded html5boilerplate (from initializr.com) and the ant buildscript. Unpack your html5 boilerplate into a folder and unpack the buildscript in the subdirectory „build“ so that your directory structure looks something like this:

.
|-- build
|-- css
|-- img
|-- index.html
|-- js
`-- robots.txt

now you edit the file „build/config/project.properties“ and uncomment the line „build.css.scss            = true“ (which was line 42 on my system) and you are done.

Now you can use Sass in your main.css wherever you want and the build script will compile it to valid css. Your browser does not understand Sass so you can no longer test your site without building it. You should use the basics buildtarget for ant to generate your css code for testing (and not optimizing images and such):

cd build
ant basics

You’ll find the compiled version in your „publish“ subfolder where you can look at your changes.

Taking more of the same too

There are more films coming where a bad actor’s daughter gets taken.

But this one seems like it might be fun. I think Stalone is way too bad an actor to take himself very seriously and I like the idea that he does what needs to be done and the cop with him can do nothing because he needs it done as well.

I see lots of comedic potential. Will make for an average but lighthearted movie. I approve.

Taking more of the same

There’s a new movie with Nicolas Cage.

I think Nicolas Cage might have a particular set of skills. For example: having only two facial expressions which sets this film up to be hilariously bad. But the craziest thing about this trailer must be the ridiculous 90s-style narrator telling us the story of how Liam Neeson’s daugther gets taken (or that is what you could easily assume, if you weren’t watching the incredibly bad performance Cage displays – even in this cut-together piece of cinematic non-history).

This might turn out to be worse than Wicker Man.

What I consider a romantic death

Last weekend I sat with some friends and we talked about death – as you do. We talked about in which ways we didn’t want to succumb to death. Burning and drowning were the top „contenders“. But this discussion left me thinking about how I would like to die.
Not entertaining the obvious choices, like dying sound asleep or during intercourse, I thought about what I considered romantic.

Certainly not this:
O happy dagger! / This is thy sheath; / there rest, and let me die.

What I consider possibly the culmination of romantic death comes in the form of the fictional spacefarer by the name of Major Tom (David Bowie – Space Oddity, Peter Schilling – Major Tom, Bill Shatner’s interpretations could be considered more romantic renditions).

 Though I’m past one hundred thousand miles, I’m feeling very still
And I think my spaceship knows which way to go
Tell my wife I love her very much, she knows
Ground control to major Tom, your circuits dead, there’s something wrong
Can you hear me, major Tom?
Can you hear me, major Tom?
Can you hear me, major Tom?
Can you…
Here am I sitting in my tin can far above the Moon
Planet Earth is blue and there’s nothing I can do
(David Bowie)

 

 „Go to rockets full“
No responding
„Hello Major Tom are you receiving?
Turn the thrusters on we are standing by“
No reply

Across the strathosphere
A final message:“Give my wife my love“
Then nothing more

Far beneath the ship
The world is mourning
They don’t realize He’s alive
No one understands but Major Tom sees
„Now the lights commands
This is my home
I’m coming home
(Peter Schilling)

Something like this never happened. There was never any astronaut who found his death stranded in the icy depths of space. But still, there is a less fictional part to this story. Richard Nixon addressed the nation and the world after the successful landing of the Apollo 11 on the moon. This speech was pre-written, alongside another speech depicting a different outcome of this mission:

Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace.
These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope for their recovery. But they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice.
These two men are laying down their lives in mankind’s most noble goal: the search for truth and understanding.
(A speech Richard Nixon never gave)

When mission control was convinced that there would be no way to recover the first men on the moon, they were to record their last words before cutting communication.

It is not the heroism, I guess. But if I know I would not see this world ever again, I know how I would spend my last minutes, hours or days. Thinking about what I’d left behind and who I’d never see again.

Tell my wife I love her very much, she knows

What is a book but the letters it contains?

Tim Parks wrote a piece in The New York Review of Books titled „E-books Can’t Burn„. It took me more than two weeks to overcome my own laziness to bring a response to this piece to the proverbial paper. I cannot and will not let this chance, to tell you what you ought to think about this topic, go by.

If you haven’t read the article and have low blood pressure, I highly recommend you read the article. If you are easily enraged, you are far better off just reading my comment.

Because I don’t really want to comment on the main part of his article I give you a short summary:
Parks talks about how the ebook is exactly like a real book but more convenient. It lets you focus more on the text because it is a continuous stream of lines and paragraphs and not distracting pages. Therefore, he claims, by adapting fonts and text size to your needs, one could focus more on the content of a book than its layout. Even though, he admits, this robs us of the ability to skim the book for clues as to how many pages are left in a chapter, so we can go to bed, or weigh in our hands, when the end of a book is near (because, obviously, as the end of an e-Book draws nearer, you don’t feel the imbalance of the open book in your hands).
Writing in the margins, he explains, is possible on some e-Book readers today and will become easier. But most importantly, he says, e-Books could never be burned. Just the devices they are read on.

And here is me calling absolute bullshit on the idea that this could ever be considered a good thing. Don’t get me wrong, I will never throw away a book even less so burn it but I still consider its, let’s say „burnability“, that comes with real, physical paper a good thing.

A book can be taken to an author’s reading and you can get it signed. Good luck doing that with an e-book. But you can also write in a dedication of your own and make it a gift to a special someone or you leave out your little love note and make it a gift to a not so special someone else. Or just die and pass your books on to your kids. These are three things you will probably not be able to do with an e-book.

Books can be placed on a bookshelf and they withstand the passage of time. But still those books are marked by time and the age of a book is visible and feelable on every turn. Because of your emotions, your thoughts and feelings, every time you read a book, it changes because in your head it plays differently. But it also changes physically with every time you push it open, take it to the beach or let lose a tear on one of its many pages.

But in a way, once printed, the physical book is also forever unchanging. In January 2011, a new edition of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn was to be published, excluding the – deemed as offensive – word „nigger“. It did not change every book previously printed. 18 Months earlier, Amazon.com remotely removed all copies of George Orwell’s „1984“ and „Animal Farm“ from Kindle devices (which certainly brings back memories of having always been at war with Eastasia). You can not burn an e-book but they don’t even have to come to your door to delete or alter an e-book if it was to be considered thoughtcrime. Let them try to find every last copy of a real paper-made book.

So this is what a book is for me. On the one hand the fragile nature of the medium, burning so easily but on the other hand it shows the resilience of ideas because they can stand the test of time, even if a corrupt government tries to censor and kill them. You may be able to remotely alter or delete an e-book but you can not kill an idea and you can not kill a book, as long as there is one single copy left.

I love books and I plan to inherit my father’s books and I plan to pass my books on to my children for they can read of the ideas my father read of and I read of so they can create the future they want to live in without being told which ideas are right, which are wrong and which are deemed decent enough to be allowed in a citizen’s library.

Prof. Strangelove: How Worrying that I and the Bomb Loved to Stop to Learn

 

To my astonishment I was informed on leaving college that I had studied navigation!- why, if I had taken one turn down the harbor I should have known more about it. – Henry David Thoreau, Walden

During this semester I had a module called „English for Computer Science“. Not only did we have speaking practice in the university, we also had to finish a „WebCourse“ which had the task to get us to a high level grammar and vocabulary-wise. I just finished the course and as you can see: over the course of this semester, regularily participating in English lectures, I actually got dumber.