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The Plaintext Journal: An open project created by Geffrey van der Bos about the importance of plain text for digital communication. Articles can be contributed and edited by anyone by making pull requests on a GitHub Repository. As the website states: We believe in the timeless essence of plain text. Yes, we do!

Can little actions bring big joy? Researchers find 'micro-acts' can boost well-being (via

I first became aware of Johann Sebastian Bach’s genius when I read Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter, one of my favorite non-fiction books of all time, more than two decades ago. The question posed by Tyler Cowen, Is Bach the greatest achiever of all time?, therefore seems fully reasonable to me.

Simple way to rename a hash key in Ruby:

hash[new_key] = hash.delete(old_key)

This employs the fact that the delete method returns the value associated with the key to be deleted. Therefore, it is equivalent to:

hash[new_key] = hash[old_key]

Note: If old_key is not guaranteed to exist, the case that it does not exist needs to be handled.

Nice article about Turing machines: The Most Important Machine That Was Never Built.

The best science images of 2022: Stunning!

Space Elevator: Really fun, not just for kids.

Thoughts on journaling: Answering common questions by Michael Eaton.

Avoid unnecessary amplifiers by Seth Godin.

A set of guidelines for designing command-line programs based on Unix principles: Command Line Interface Guidelines

The Unpredictable Abilities Emerging From Large AI Models: At the same time startling, intriguing, and uncanny.

Good article by Bradley Taunt: Stop Using Custom Web Fonts (also good: A rant on web font licenses by Manu Moreale, referenced in Bradley’s article).

I’ll admit it: I usually have way too many browser tabs open. Every now and then, I lose my open tabs upon restarting the browser (because it could not fully recover from a previous crash or for whatever other reason). And each and every time, I somehow feel relieved when that happens. I don’t miss any of the tabs I previously considered too valuable to close; usually, I cannot even remember most of them.

Which reminds me that I should really adjust my browser preferences such that tabs will not be reopened upon starting...

3 good things:

  1. Meditated for 20 minutes – first time in a rather long time.

  2. Played two rounds of the fantastic game “Ganz schön clever” with my son.

  3. Got some fresh air in the afternoon.

Ashtanga Yoga is not about progress. It’s about perseverance.

Simply beautiful: BEING by Michael Torke. Found it via

New article: Derek Sivers: “How to Live”.

There are few things which are as humbling as practicing Ashtanga Yoga regularly.

New article: Running Anki inside Xephyr.

We have lost the ability to just be. We know how to do, but not how to be.

The importance of editing texts and refactoring code can hardly be overestimated.

“Gibs auf” (“Give it up!”): Fascinating (and, well, very Kafkaesque) very short story by Franz Kafka.

New text: The Melancholy of the Day.

New note: A Simple E-Mail Reminder System Based on cron and at.

A great example of seeing things from a different point of view: The short story “The House of Asterion” by Jorge Luis Borges.

Since yesterday was Friday, the 13th, I was wondering how often the 13th day of a month is a Friday. Instead of trying to come up with a proper derivation, I approached the question by employing brute force (i.e. by writing a small script on the computer which counts such occurrences).

The result: On average, there are approximately 1.72 occurrences of Friday, the 13th, per year.

(Of course, if one were less lazy than me, one could also just do the math, or if one were even more lazy than me, one could just look it up.)

The Minimalism Life Manifesto.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is certainly one of the great achievements of mankind (in spite of the – in many cases entirely insufficient – degree to which human rights are respected throughout the world). Yet, with rights also come responsibilities. A Universal Declaration of Human Responsibilities is a proposal by the InterAction Council for human responsibilities that come along with the human rights.

The digital collection of the Städel Museum contains more than 24,000 images of artworks in the public domain.

Population density world map by NASA Earth Obervations (NEO) (contains various other interesting maps of the world).

103 Bits of Advice I Wish I Had Known by Kevin Kelly: Full of insights and invaluable advice.

Note to myself: Reread at least once per month.

Turning off my phone improved my science – insightful article by PhD student Adam Weiss. How much would our all lives be improved if we stopped using our phones all the time?

Just rediscovered this impressive depiction of depths: xkcd: Lakes and Oceans.

The Tyranny of Convenience by Tim Wu – an important article to which I was pointed by the article Harder, easier and more convenient by Seth Godin. Both articles emphasize the importance of doing things which are not convenient, in the face of the general trend towards ever more convenience in practically all areas of life. The last paragraph of Tim Wu's article provides a good summary:

So let’s reflect on the tyranny of convenience, try more often to resist its stupefying power, and see what happens. We must never forget the joy of doing something slow and something difficult, the satisfaction of not doing what is easiest. The constellation of inconvenient choices may be all that stands between us and a life of total, efficient conformity.

As the title of Ridgeline: 139 – Walk for the Boredom of it All by Craig Mod implies, the topic of this newsletter article is boredom, and since it is Craig Mod, specifically the boredom while walking. Actually, it mostly references a recent interview with him, citing some passages from it and featuring his comments to them. In particular, he further stresses the importance of boredom in his remarks.

Boredom is an issue I also find highly interesting, and I am convinced – as Craig is – that it is really important to experience boredom and to be able to stand it and cope with it, and that we currently live in an age where we are trying very hard to do everything we can to not be bored, mostly by resorting to various kinds of ever more intricate and sophisticated (and not so sophisticated) distractions and diversions.

Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
T.S. Eliot, The Rock

Base64-encode a string from the command line using uuencode(1):

$ echo -n <string> | b64encode '' | sed '1d;$d' | tr -d '\n'

I have never really seen coding the way described in The Healing Power of Code by Craig Mod, but I can definitely relate to much of what is being said in the article.

I fully agree with practically everything stated in Write plain text files by Derek Sivers as I have come to the same conclusions myself. Another one of Derek's articles which can hardly be cited too often.

xkcd: ISO 8601 – Exactly.

Apparently, there was an inscription on the temple of the Oracle of Delphi which read:

Know thyself
Nothing to excess

Maxims to be taken to heart.

Jeder Mensch – Initiative for six new fundamental rights for Europe which take the major developments and problems of the recent decades into account.

Finished reading How to Live by Derek Sivers. A definite must-read: Extremely dense and to the point, packed with wisdom – in a word: stunning!

New note: Multiple-Click Selections in xterm.

I didn't know that carrot greens are edible and so delicious when stir-fried!

I had long been looking for a keyboard alternative to clicking the middle mouse button for pasting the primary selection. Recently I learned that pressing Shift+Insert will do it – very convenient!

New note: Taking Screenshots on OpenBSD.

“Just in case” – One of the most common justifications for letting clutter accrue.

A worthy prompt: Just For A Moment, Let's Be Still.

Just finished reading Hell Yeah or No by Derek Sivers and enjoyed it at least as much as Your Music and People. Great collection of articles, including some of my favorites by Derek, like Actions, not words, reveal our real values, Subtract, Disconnect, Everything is my fault, My favorite fable, Parenting : Who is it really for?, and I'm a very slow thinker, among others.

Harder, easier and more convenient by Seth Godin – the aspiration to ever more convenience is often faulty. Knowledge database containing lots of interesting data in the form of lists organized into different categories (German only).

I hate Ashtanga Yoga. And I love it.

Rediscovered two good posts by Zach Holman (and, well, Zach Holman himself): Keeping a Journal and My Favorite Tweet. Also, Text Snippets. Boom.

Finished reading Your Music and People by Derek Sivers and loved it, though I am not even a musician myself!

I love beautiful hand-crafted web sites. Examples:,

“...which components of what aspects of the many things making up our lives at any point are worth noting in some external fashion, and which can be left undocumented?” – The question Colin Wright is asking in his newsletter article Documentation, and a question I am pondering as well.

High school and university students have designed and built a LEGO model of the detector of the ALICE experiment at CERN, consisting of about 16,000 LEGO bricks – highly impressive!

Roden 059 – Stupid Life Tricks by Craig Mod contains a thoughtful piece on the ever-present distractions of our phones and their consequences – a pressing and, in my opinion, still underrated issue of our time. In particular, it cites an expressive passage from the recent article Picturing the Humanity and Dread of the Infinite Scroll by Jia Tolentino, and refers to an interesting Aziz Ansari interview, Aziz Ansari on Quitting the Internet, Loneliness, and Season 3 of Master of None. Finally, it mentions two great articles by Craig himself, The Glorious, Almost-Disconnected Boredom of My Walk in Japan and How I Got My Attention Back – both must-reads.

My advice (for what it's worth) for success and happiness: Compete with yourself and root for everybody else.
Candice Millard, Tweet on 2021-04-17

Wise advice: Make Sure You Write Down Everything Interesting That You Find.

Beautiful article: Long, Boring Walks by Craig Mod.

Can we please establish a universal code of conduct stating that no smartphones are to be used at the dining table?

Instead by Seth Godin. A few additions:

Instead of overeating, stop when still feeling slightly hungry.

Instead of exclaiming “I knew it!”, remain silent.

Instead of rushing to the next to-do, sit still for a few moments.

Man alone measures time. Man alone chimes the hour. And, because of this, man alone suffers a paralyzing fear that no other creature endures. A fear of time running out.
Mitch Albom, The Time Keeper

(Related recent article by Chris Guillebeau: Time Anxiety Is the Most Pressing Problem of Our Age)

Life is not lost by dying; life is lost minute by minute, day by dragging day, in all the thousand small uncaring ways.
Stephen Vincent Benét

Rediscovering the joy of cycling.

Two very convenient shell aliases for copying the primary X selection to the system clipboard and vice versa:

alias primary2clip='xsel -p | xsel -i -b'
alias clip2primary='xsel -b | xsel -i -p'

Alternatively, using xclip instead of xsel:

alias primary2clip='xclip -o -selection primary | xclip -i -selection clipboard'
alias clip2primary='xclip -o -selection clipboard | xclip -i -selection primary'

See X is for the X Selection: Copy and Paste on Linux (Shallow Thoughts) for more information.

Once again, I find myself fascinated by the miracles and history of the Laocoon Group.

In recent years, I have become increasingly aware of the profound effects of walking. Many ideas occur to me while walking, and to me, walking – especially in solitude in nature – is a very calming and contemplative activity. How Walking Fosters Creativity: Stanford Researchers Confirm What Philosophers and Writers Have Always Known is another interesting article on this subject, focusing on the connection between walking and creativity. In particular, it cites the wonderful book “A Philosophy of Walking” by Frédéric Gros.

The renovated Twin Gable House, designed by Ryan Leidner, is truly amazing with its light-flooded, minimalist interior and beautiful inner courtyard.

Every completed Ashtanga practice is a little victory.

What does it mean to be a leader? Leaders make people better. Applies to leading yourself as well.

Installed OpenBSD 6.9. A big thanks to the developers for what so far looks like another great release!

Acting yourself into motivation is much more effective than thinking yourself into motivation or waiting for motivation to occur.

Slowly getting used to using the Spleen font in the terminal.

New website is live! Here's why.

A good habit to form: Reading in A Calendar of Wisdom by Leo Tolstoy every day.

How to Write: why jotting things into notebooks improves your writing – I fully agree.

Yes – This is the Mindset For Life.

Switched from Vim to nvi. Vim started to feel too bloated.

OpenBSD 6.9 released – the 50th OpenBSD release!