Magit 2.90 released

Magit 2.90 released:

I am excited to announce the release of Magit version 2.90, consisting of 395 commits since the last feature release five months ago.

(Via Emacsair)

Woohoo! I use about 10% of this magnificent tool and want to use it more.

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The Best People

The Best People:

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ludwig_Valenta_-_In_the_library.jpg

To read good books is like holding a conversation with the most eminent minds of past centuries and, moreover, a studied conversation in which these authors reveal to us only the best of their thoughts.

— René Descartes, Discourse on the Method, 1637

For him, books were like friends, and reading an extension of companionship — a way of expanding beyond the circumference of time and place the circle of one’s kindred acquaintances.

— Michael Holroyd, Lytton Strachey, 1971

‘There is nothing like books’; — of all things sold incomparably the cheapest, of all pleasures the least palling, they take up little room, keep quiet when they are not wanted, and, when taken up, bring us face to face with the choicest men who have ever lived, at their choicest moments.

As my walking companion in the country, I was so UnEnglish (excuse the two capitals) as on the whole, to prefer my pocket Milton which I carried for twenty years, to the not unbeloved bull terrier Trimmer, who accompanied me for five — for Milton never fidgeted, frightened horses, ran after sheep or got run over by a goods-van.

— Samuel Palmer, letter to Charles West Cape, Jan. 31, 1880

In a very real sense, then, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read. … It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish.

— S.I. Hayakawa, Language in Thought and Action, 1952

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

(Via Futility Closet)

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Pantsdrunk, the Finnish Art of Relaxation

You’ve likely heard of hygge, the Danish word for a special feeling of coziness that’s been productized on Instagram and elsewhere to within an inch of its charming life. The Finns have a slightly different take on the good life called kalsarikännit, which roughly translates to “pantsdrunk” in English. A promotional site from the Finnish government defines it as “the feeling when you are going to get drunk home alone in your underwear — with no intention of going out”. They made the emoji above to illustrate pantsdrunkenness.
Finnish journalist Miska Rantanen has written a book on kalsarikännit called Päntsdrunk (Kalsarikänni): The Finnish Path to Relaxation.

When it comes to happiness rankings, Finland always scores near the top. Many Finnish phenomena set the bar high: the best education system, gender equality, a flourishing welfare state, sisu or bull-headed pluck. Behind all of these accomplishments lies a Finnish ability to stay calm, healthy and content in a riptide of endless tasks and temptations. The ability comes from the practice of “kalsarikanni” translated as pantsdrunk.

Peel off your clothes down to your underwear. Place savory or sweet snacks within reach alongside your bed or sofa. Make sure your television remote control is nearby along with any and all devices to access social media. Open your preferred alcohol. Your journey toward inner strength, higher quality of life, and peace of mind has begun.

Kalsarikännit isn’t as photogenic as hygge but there is some evidence of it on Instagram. As Rantanen explains, this lack of performance is part of the point:

“Pantsdrunk” doesn’t demand that you deny yourself the little things that make you happy or that you spend a fortune on Instagrammable Scandi furniture and load your house with more altar candles than a Catholic church. Affordability is its hallmark, offering a realistic remedy to everyday stress. Which is why this lifestyle choice is the antithesis of posing and pretence: one does not post atmospheric images on Instagram whilst pantsdrunk. Pantsdrunk is real. It’s about letting go and being yourself, no affectation and no performance.

I have been off alcohol lately, but kalsarikännit is usually one of my favorite forms of relaxation, particularly after a hard week.
— Read on kottke.org/18/10/pantsdrunk-the-finnish-art-of-relaxation

Leave it to the Scandinavians to coin this phrase.

I wonder if there’s a Japanese analog …

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Why Reading Two or More Books at a Time is OK

Regularly I read three to four books at a time. Why? I don’t always want to read non-fiction or a biography or fiction or whatever on a given day. On a bad day, some fiction is the way to go. Feeling lost? Biographies often help. Inspiration? Any number of tomes can help that, often in unexpected ways.

If I am in the grip of a compelling read I will set the rest aside and enjoy the journey. But more often than not I like the flexibility multiple reads provide.

Also nice is time to let ideas percolate. Especially true of non-fiction, getting a fresh idea or a reminder of something languishing sometimes needs time to move from frantic acceptance to reasoned integration. Having another read in the mean time helps with that.

And reading an actual bound paper book is a bit of a luxury. Audio books work remarkably well in transit to and from work where the dead tree version or its digital print cousin would not.

I like being able to pick up an eReader or phone or tablet or book, skip back a few pages, and be able to dive back in to a book. Unfortunately when it comes to the digital, when you succumb to one commercial provider you are tied into that provider.

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Chindōgu (珍道具), A Curious Tool

The 10 Commandments of Chindogu, the Japanese Art of Creating Unusually Useless Inventions:

Back in the 1990s I’d often run across volumes of the Unuseless Japanese Inventions series at bookstores. Each one features about a hundred ostensibly real Japanese devices, photographed and described with a disarming straightforwardness, that mash up other consumer products in outwardly bizarre ways: chopsticks whose attached miniature electric fan cools ramen noodles en route to the mouth; a plastic zebra crossing to unroll and lay across a street at the walker’s convenience; an inverted umbrella attached to a portable tank for rainwater collection on the go. Such things, at once plausible and implausible, turn out to have their own word in the Japanese language: chindōgu (珍道具), or “curious tool.”

(Via Open Culture)

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Internal Monologues

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Instant Pot Turkey breast – Roger Stringer

Instant Pot Turkey breast – Roger Stringer
— Read on rogerstringer.com/2018/10/07/instant-pot-turkey-breast/

I like the concept of this, and the recipe looks pretty good. This is the kind of Thanksgiving I could do in my tiny Tokyo kitchen with my imported Instant Pot. I would get rid of the coconut oil, replacing it with maybe sesame oil.

I’m not sure what a turkey gravy packet is. I think it’s one of those instant jobs in the supermarket spice isle. It would make things a bit more “instant pot” but I would probably do up a roux in my cast iron skillet, separate the drippings, and build the gravy in a more traditional way. My tiny Tokyo kitchen wouldn’t have the capacity for that and side dishes, so in the packets go!

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The history of a Zorklike programming interpreter is a tale of language, art, code and literature – Boing Boing

The heroic age of text adventure games was dominated by Zork and Zorkalikes, many from the games studio Infocom; the text adventures’ fortunes sagged when improvements in computer graphics lowered the average gamer’s age, and then rose again when BBSes carved new spaces for text-based play.

The legacy of those games is the “interactive fiction” artform, which is largely practiced by programming in “Inform,” a highly idiosyncratic programming language whose principal maintainer, Graham Nelson, is a deep thinker on the intersection of computing and art, and whose delightful essay (the transcript of a speech) on the history of Inform is an utterly captivating meditation on the way that code can be literature, and the role that artistic and technical choices have in the literary form of software.
— Read on boingboing.net/2018/10/01/code-is-text.html/amp

If this is a duplicate post, it only demonstrates my joy playing these games. I don’t limit myself to the classics.

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Hokkaido Festival

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The history of a Zorklike programming interpreter is a tale of language, art, code and literature

The history of a Zorklike programming interpreter is a tale of language, art, code and literature:

The heroic age of text adventure games was dominated by Zork and Zorkalikes, many from the games studio Infocom; the text adventures’ fortunes sagged when improvements in computer graphics lowered the average gamer’s age, and then rose again when BBSes carved new spaces for text-based play.

The legacy of those games is the “interactive fiction” artform, which is largely practiced by programming in “Inform,” a highly idiosyncratic programming language whose principal maintainer, Graham Nelson, is a deep thinker on the intersection of computing and art, and whose delightful essay (the transcript of a speech) on the history of Inform is an utterly captivating meditation on the way that code can be literature, and the role that artistic and technical choices have in the literary form of software.

One important characteristic of Inform is its ability to tolerate ambiguity in the categories it relies on: the edge-cases and corner-cases in seemingly obvious categories can quickly grow to eclipse the category itself (date, time, addresses, names, obscenity, gender, etc). This makes it especially good for storytelling and other forms of narrative art.

Also fascinating is Nelson’s professed embarrassment over the state of his source code, a mess that he blames for the closed source status of Inform (though there are lots of programmers who have this problem, Nelson is the one who has devoted his career to promoting code as a literary form intended to be consumed by other humans!).

Nelson closes with the roadmap for improvements to Inform, which he would like see forming a backend for apps and websites, which is something I would find absolutely delightful.

To compare programming languages with natural languages is a little heretical in computer science, but I’m not sure why that is. The development of the theory of programming languages was, after all, spurred on by the early work of Noam Chomsky.

Thus, for example, Donald Knuth took Chomsky’s book on structural linguistics with him on his honeymoon. In spite of this Don is still married to Jill, 45 years later: when you have dinner with the Knuths you talk more about quilting and printing Lutheran bibles than programming, but it all seems of a piece.

I mention Knuth because, of all the Old Masters of computer science, he is the one most interested in the relationship between computer programs and texts. Could we even suggest that a program is a text? It is, after all, a written expression of creativity. Certainly, when running, a computer game can be an artistic experience in the same way that a film, or a play can. But my concern here is not whether the program is art when it runs. I’m talking about whether its source code is a text. We could go down a bit of a rabbit-hole here about playful literary theories. Umberto Eco once reviewed a new Italian banknote as a work of art, describing it as a numbered, limited edition of engravings. But let’s concede that a functional document like a shopping list or a spreadsheet of student names is not a literary text. On the other hand, a recipe by a literary cook like Elizabeth David might be art, even though it also has function. Perhaps the relevant question is: can we experience a program as a text? Can we, in the fullest sense of the word, read it?

A cynical answer might be that if program source codes are texts, why can’t you buy them in a bookshop?

Inform: Past, Present, Future [Graham Nelson/Emshort]

(via Four Short Links)

(Via Boing Boing)

Delightful! I still play these games, both the classic Infocom releases as well as the modern gems. Well, I play them when I can. They have (mostly) infinite patience.

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