Category Archives: other

On URLs

People don’t pay any attention to URLs. Recently, a highly intelligent friend of mine inadverently posted the following link on Facebook: https://www.givingwhatwecan.org/get-involved/how-rich-am-i/?country=NLD&income=56000&adults=1&children=0

URLs are the building blocks of the world wide web. When a website changes its URLs, you get those nasty 404 errors. It would be good if website maintainers paid a little more attention to that.

As a website user, when you’re sharing a URL, look at it briefly. Does it actually contain the information you want it to contain? Can other people view this URL? Pro tip: use incognito mode to find out. Does it include superfluous information you were not intending to share? E.g. when searching google, you can easily end up with URLs such as https://www.google.com/search?q=previous+search#q=current+search

Keep URLs simple & working. Look at them briefly when sharing. It’s no rocket science.

The Acer confusion

Not knowing the following table can result in rather pointless arguments.

Latin Czech Polish
Acer Javor Klon
Acer platanoides Javor mléč Klon zwyczajny
Acer pseudoplatanus Javor klen Klon jawor

One day I’ll make a compendium of Polish-Czech insanities.
Nůžky ~ nożyczki, nožičky ~ nóżki.

Desiderata

I first read Desiderata in Polish, at Letnia Szkoła Go. There’s a path that leads through woods. As you walk down, every few dozen of meters you encounter a slab with one verse on it. I found it hard to understand as my Polish wasn’t as great back then, but from what I understood I knew this was something special.

I thought it was just local folklore and so was surprised to find out that Desiderata was originally written in English almost one hundred years ago by Max Ehrmann.

Desiderata is a short prose poem, possibly the most powerful text I’ve ever read. Everytime I’m feeling down, angry, hurt, upset or desperate it brings instant calmness. Here’s a quote, one of my favourites:

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
–Desiderata

I felt an urgent need to print out Desiderata and cover the walls with it. As I haven’t used TeX for quite a while (a year or more?), this was a good opportunity to recall it a bit. You can download Desiderata (pdf) for printing.

Schindler’s List

I recently watched Schindler’s List and it was a very intense experience. You can read the movie reviews elsewhere, so I will just share transcripts (shamelessly stolen from wikiquote) of two dialogs that I really liked:

Goeth: You know, I look at you. I watch you. You’re not a drunk. That’s, that’s real control. Control is power. That’s power.
Schindler: Is that why they fear us?
Goeth: We have the fucking power to kill, that’s why they fear us.
Schindler: They fear us because we have the power to kill arbitrarily. A man commits a crime, he should know better. We have him killed and we feel pretty good about it. Or we kill him ourselves and we feel even better. That’s not power, though, that’s justice. That’s different than power. Power is when we have every justification to kill – and we don’t.
Goeth: You think that’s power.
Schindler: That’s what the emperors had. A man stole something, he’s brought in before the emperor, he throws himself down on the ground, he begs for mercy, he knows he’s going to die. And the emperor pardons him. This worthless man, he lets him go.
Goeth: I think you are drunk.
Schindler: That’s power, Amon. That is power. [gestures toward Goeth as a merciful emperor] Amon, the Good.
Goeth: [He smiles and laughs] I pardon you.

You can watch “control is power” on youtube.

Stern: We’ve received an angry complaint from the Armaments Board. The artillery shells, tank shells, rocket casings, apparently all of them have failed quality-control tests.
Schindler: Well, that’s to be expected – start-up problems. This isn’t pots and pans. This is a precise business. I’ll write them a letter.
Stern: They’re withholding payment.
Schindler: Sure. So would I. So would you. I wouldn’t worry about it. We’ll get it right one of these days.
Stern: There’s a rumor you’ve been going around miscalibrating the machines. They could shut us down, send us back to Auschwitz.
Schindler: I’ll call around, find out where we can buy shells, pass them off as ours.
Stern: I don’t see the difference. Whether they’re made here or somewhere else.
Schindler: You don’t see a difference? I see a difference.
Stern: You’ll lose a lot of money, that’s the difference.
Schindler: Fewer shells will be made. Stern, if this factory ever produces a shell that can actually be fired, I’ll be very unhappy.

How I Met Your Mother

I’ve never really watched any television series. Sure, I saw an episode or two of many various series, but it never quite felt worth spending more time on them. This summer I was shown 4 episodes of HIMYM.

I tried to resist for a while, because I consider television series to be a waste of time (and time is the most precious for me). But after few weeks I just gave up and started watching the series from the start. And even though I “wasted” about 24 hours of my life, I don’t regret it.

Also, my opinion of Tuesdays has increased dramatically since I started watching HIMYM. Today’s episode (S04E05 as they say, or “Shelter Island”, if you prefer the full name) was simply perfect. There was a little bit of everything, silly jokes, profound jokes, back references, sad moments, life lessons, you name it.

Happy Tuesday!

The Moral Animal

The full title reads: The Moral Animal: Why We Are the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology.

The Moral Animal is a book about evolutionary psychology written by Robert Wright.

I liked the book a lot, but I am a bit unsure what to write in here… The Moral Animal shows how our behaviour is primarily affected by evolution, how cold-hearted bastards we all are (yes, not just me — even you), and how even our deepest feelings are just a tool of evolution to make sure our genes succeed.

Desperately trying to write one more paragraph shows to be rather futile. So I will write no more. Now go and read the book! :)

Neon Genesis Evangelion

I finished watching Neon Genesis Evangelion just yesterday.

I consider mecha genre childish, dull and stupid. No sane person can find a giant humanoid-looking robot suitable for fighting a war.

The way in which computers are “hacked” in Evangelion, is also rather weird. The defenders can see the progress the attacker is making in real time and in great detail (graphical representation). On the other hand, stopping the attacker is very difficult even when you know what exactly he is doing. This is like completely the opposite of how the real world works.

All in all, Evangelion is not a single bit realistic.

On the other hand – so much for the negatives.

The main characters are introduced gradually, so you are not overwhelmed. They all have dozens of psychological issues, which show in different ways (the director suffered from clinical depression, which makes it quite authentic). The story gradually shifts from action (I don’t really enjoy that much) to psychological, but still I think it’s a good idea to watch from the beginning, because otherwise you’ll be completely lost (well, in fact, you will be lost anyway…).

There are two alternate endings. I liked the original one, maybe because the end was quite optimistic although it didn’t really explain anything. The alternate ending (called The End of Evangelion) was created a year later, because the fans didn’t like the original ending. It is longer and explains much more of the details. The last scene left me puzzled though. Yes, I know that the famous last sentence “kimochi warui” is a bit unclear, but that’s probably intentional. What left me more puzzled is the scene before – this might be a bit of a spoiler – I don’t get the strangling. Why did it happen? It leaves me with a very uneasy feeling.

If you do have a clue, please leave a comment. ;-)

Animefest 2007

I’ve been to Animefest the other day. It wasn’t nearly as great as the last year’s one but I still enjoyed it. Here are my impressions:

Otaku no Video – parody of otaku (fanatic manga/anime fans), quite funny. I’ve already seen something similar and find it a bit surprising (in a good way) that these are popular.
Cosplay competition – people dress up as anime characters, some of them were really good.

Claymore – set in medieval times, half-demons fight against demons. Although this description might sound lame, I think it was very nicely done and there were some touching moments too.

Seirei no Moribito was probably my favorite one this year. It’s a fantasy adventure about a prince who is protected by a female warrior against bad guys who want to kill him (in fact these bad guys are not evil, they think they will help him by killing him — it’s complicated). I really liked the graphics and the overall atmosphere.

Kyo no Go no Ni — a school comedy. I bet that you can figure the rest out by yourself. :-)

Particularly frightening

I recently found a website called crime library. The stories there are very very disturbing. They are in fact so disturbing that I suggest you not to read it before going to sleep (or not to read it at all if you just don’t feel like it).

I will list a few stories that are particularly frightening… like Dennis Rader aka BTK, meaning bind torture kill; Ted Bundy, a well-educated and seemingly normal guy; Albert Fish, elderly man who was fascinated by eating humans; Christopher Wilder, beauty queen killer; or Pedro Lopez, who killed hundreds of young girls. There were also couples that tortured and murdered together, like Fred & Rose West or Paul Bernardo & Karla Homolka. Then there is a particularly disgusting story about necrophiles (if they don’t kill anyone I don’t think there’s anything ethically bad their actions, it’s just disgusting, but the ones mentioned usually killed).

One particularly weird story is about Issei Sagawa, who has killed and eaten a woman and is proud of it. Oh yeah, and wasn’t imprisoned… he still walks freely and enjoys a celebrity status in Japan…

Also, I never knew that there was a 10 year old girl, who killed other kids because she enjoyed it. That’s probably the scariest of all the articles. The violence in this one is relatively low, but the fact that it was all done by a 10 year old makes it particularly horrifying.

How? How is it possible that human mind can get twisted like that? Can they even be considered humans?