Getting to know the Buddhist idea of “No-Self”

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Me.

What is that? What makes me Me? I mean as distinct from everything which isn’t Me. That bay tree, that panda bear, You. What separates Me from everything else?

Where do I leave off and everything which isn’t Me pick up?

Maybe you’ve pondered this, maybe you’ve not. A lot of us take the self for granted. Not that we take ourselves for granted (though this does happen as well), but the fact that we are firmly distinct, unique things which have a boundary between what is “Me” and what is “Everything Else”.

Let’s challenge that preconception.


Celebrating the weirdos and the misfits of this world

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Vincent Van Gogh, a famous freak

So here we are. The day has come that my novel finally goes out to the world. Without hyperbole, I can tell you that it feels like this day would never, ever arrive.

Ever.

Five years I’ve worked on Screens. Five long years as I’ve chiseled the stone, polished it nigh endless times until the final edits were made, the last change was complete.

And yet at long last it’s done. Check it.

I feel this sense of overwhelming exhaustion, the writer’s equivalent of crossing the finish line of a marathon. …


A Brief History of the Devil

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Eugene Delacroix, “Mephistopheles Flying over the City” (1828)

Much to the chagrin of the Almighty and the Angelic Host, the Devil has never managed to go out of style.

Quite the contrary, actually. The Evil One has managed to maintain popularity as a character even in an increasingly secular world. One need not look far in terms of popular culture across the ages to see the Devil comes back again and again as a fictional character.

Some might argue this is a Bad Sign, an ill omen of the faithless…


Lovecraftian fiction is invariably the tale of someone who’s gone ‘too far’

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Vision of Terror, by Jorge Jacinto http://www.jorgejacinto.com/

On the Center and the Periphery

Joseph Campbell once said that most of us stay comfortably at the centre of human society and consciousness, with only scientists, philosophers, and artists willing to stray to the outer edge.

It’s true, of course. Most people do tend to stay closer to shore. People by and large approach anything out on the fringe with mincing, timid steps. New foods, new music, new art, new ideas: these are the things which the mainstream shuns, or at the very least, patently ignores. New is different; it’s uncomfortable and painfully unfamiliar. …


When to be scared of the maniac, and when to recoil from the maniac in you

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I’m always looking for great horror. Terror not so much.

I peruse movie sites, book stores, graphic novels, what have you. I dig into the ‘Horror’ section, and am very often left empty-handed.

Why? Is there not enough content? Oh no, there’s plenty upon plenty. Horror is a very popular genre. It hangs tough with action and romance, no doubt about that. Content-wise, there is a plethora of work in the Horror genre.

Is the stuff not scary enough for me? Well, a lot of the time — especially in movies and TV — the “scary” is the usual ghost…


Explain Tech Debt to business people in a way that they can comprehend

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Photo by Ehud Neuhaus on Unsplash

It’s funny how often tech debt gets ignored by business people. Not haha funny, but ironically so. It is ironic, because it is such a common problem in software companies that the business / sales / boss types don’t seem to care about tech debt. The responses I’ve heard run the gamut of “We need features, not perfect code,” to “We can fix that another time,” to “that’s a tech thing, not a business problem”, as if we engineers / devs were climate scientists / pandemic experts.

It is a constant source of frustration for devs and engineers that no…


Avoid the common mistake of leaping to implementation before you understand what you’re trying to build

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Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Abstract

Here’s the situation. I need to build a test harness to verify that when my software sends / receives data to some other system (a system outside my control), the data is not only received, but is in fact the data I expected to have been sent.

Pretty standard test harness stuff, right? The testers say they need this for manual and for automation testing suites. Internal customer need. Great.

So the developer starts rattling off software tools / languages we will use to build this test harness.

Wait, what?

Not so fast, cowpoke

How did we get from a high level need to…


You have a right to an opinion, but that doesn’t make it equal

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Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash

We’ve all heard it nine ways from Sunday. Someone voices a half-baked or uneducated or hyperbolic opinion (often at a family gathering), which, when backed into an intellectual corner to justify their nonsensical belief, counter with this line

“My opinion is as valid as anyone’s!”

We’ve heard it before, and we feel frustrated, stymied by this truism of democratic life. Yes, everyone is entitled to an opinion, and yes, their…


Don’t put labels on your art which you wouldn’t apply to yourself

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Photo by Jaredd Craig on Unsplash

I was seventeen when I first read Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes. The year was 1984. The 1983 film adaptation had come out the previous summer, and my advanced literature High School teacher had ingeniously added it to the curriculum in an effort to capitalise on the film’s popularity and a brief resurgence in the book’s readership.


Behind all its pseudo-intellectual jibber-jabber, Traditionalism is a political philosophy which sugarcoats a fascist / feudal nightmare for everyone but the few

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Equality, democracy and progress are ‘evil’, apparently

Thanks to tiresome rise of the Alt-Right, as well as the distasteful resurgence of totalitarian / ultra-nationalist movements around the planet, you may have heard about this political philosophy called ‘Traditionalism’. You may have seen it mentioned in news articles about Russia or Turkey, Brazil or Hungary. You may have heard it in reference to far-right religious movements. It can be referred to by any number of names, but the philosophy behind it is usually just a variation on a theme. If you don’t know what Traditionalism is, brace yourself. You are in for a rude awakening.

Christopher Laine

Author, programmer, would-be philosopher. Author of Screens https://christopherlaine.net/screens

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