The Beauty of Irony

I needed to look up something within a XHTML specification over at the W3 Consortium website. So I went to the XHTML2 Working Group Home Page. I was greeted with various encoding issues. Trademarks showing up as â„¢ character sequences. Now, normally when you see a page with an  or â at the start of a strange sequence you can be fairly certain it is a Unicode encoding, typically UTF-8. So at first I thought my auto-detect within Firefox was not turned on, checked it, no, it was definitely on. Selected unicode as encoding myself and, indeed, the page displayed normally. So I checked the page’s source. I was lovingly greeted by the following:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="iso-8859-1"?>

I am sure most of you can appreciate the delightful irony that the organization that has a multitude of XML-based standards and specifications, which almost always use UTF-8 as default encoding, encode a page wrongly. Yes, mistakes are human, but to see something like this on the W3C site…

Edit: for some reason WordPress keeps converting my greater and lesser than signs into HTML entities, even when using Unicode entities.

Science Fiction and Space Battles

Something I never understand between various science fiction movies and series is the difference in how space battles are conducted. Take for example Star Trek, you see all kinds of ships in fights, but contrast this to Battlestar Galactica, Space: Above and Beyond or Star Wars and there’s one striking difference: the absence of fighter and bomber ships fighting alongside capital ships. In Star Trek you will see, for example, the Enterprise in direct battle with various other ships, but aside from some shuttles they have no fighter ships or otherwise. In Star Wars next to the Imperial Star Destroyers, Corellian Corvettes and Dreadnaughts, Mon Calamari cruisers, and Nebulon-B frigates you have a multitude of TIE fighters, TIE interceptors, TIE bombers, X-Wings, Y-Wings, A-Wings, B-Wings, and YT-1300 like the Millennium Falcon. Battlestar Galactica had its Vipers and other ships. I wonder what this, in my opinion, fundamental difference signifies and where it comes from.

Laughter amidst the Stillness

One of the reasons why I enjoy buddhism so much is the occasional (and sometimes even frequent) making fun of being too serious.

いざさらば
雪見に転ぶ(ゆきみにころぶ)
所まで(ところまで)

A typical 俳諧の連歌 consisting of a 5, 7, 5 metre by Matsuo Bashō (松尾 芭蕉).

This could be translated as such:

Now then, lets go out / to enjoy the snow… until / I slip and fall!

On god and gods

Therefore, God and the gods are only convenient means–themselves of the nature of the world of names and form, though eloquent of, and ultimately conducive to, the ineffable. They are mere symbols to move and awaken the mind, and to call it past themselves. This recognition of the secondary nature of the personality of whatever deity is worshiped is characteristic of most of the traditions of the world. In Christianity, Mohammedanism, and Judaism, however, the personality of the divinity is taught to be final–which makes it comparatively difficult for the members of these communions to understand how one may go beyond the limitations of their own anthropomorphic divinity. The result has been, on the one hand, a general obfuscation of the symbols, and on the other, a god-ridden bigotry such as is unmatched elsewhere in the history of religion. For a discussion of the possible origin of this aberration, see Sigmund Freud, Moses and Monotheism (translated by James Strachey; Standard Edn. XXIII, 1964).

Joseph Campbell, The Hero With a Thousand Faces, Fontana Press, 1993; pg. 258