in English journal poems tech

Ram Dass: Be Here Now – brightened PDF for e-readers

Download brightened version for e-readers (low res 600px pages, I’ll maybe generate higher res sometime later). As far as I know, it’s ok to distribute it, as a dozen other websites already do.

This is a PDF of Ram Dass’ book: Be Here Now. I started reading it and loved it, since it started very, honest according to my experience.

I uploaded it to my ReMarkable e-reader tablet, but it was unreadable because the scan was too dark. This superuser page got me started fixing it with ImageMagick.

My original commands used the JPEG format so if you actually do the below, you’ll likely end up with slightly better quality. If you like, you can share the result with me. :)

mkdir folder1
mkdir folder2
convert -density 600 ram\ dass\ be\ here\ now.pdf  folder1/output-%03d.png

Then, brighten the images.

There’s a problem though: The scanned images, they’re not all the same dimensions, and worse yet, sometimes width is larger than height, and sometimes the other way around.

So what happens is that when converting back to PDF in the next step, ImageMagick decides the rotation of each image on each page based on the width/height ratio of the image. So you end up some pages in portrait orientation and some in landscape. Which sucks. So we -resize all images to roughly the same ballpark size, and then use -extent to enlarge the canvas to make sure all the resulting bitmaps end up at the exact same dimensions.

If we were smarter we could probably avoid resizing altogether and somehow figure out how to make the canvas have the same aspect ratio despite differences in pixel size. Alas, we’re not that smart, and we’re a bit lazy.

It’s good though. So let’s brighten up the … umh, pages:

mogrify  -path folder2 -format png  -fill white   -brightness-contrast 10,60
 -tint 150 -resize 610x630 -extent 610x630 folder1/output-*.png

Finally, convert the images back to PDF and we’re good to go:

convert folder2/output-*.png lighten-ramdass-beherenow.pdf
in English quotations

Luzhai / A Letter to Agnes DeMille

Video: A Poem Reading with Meryl Streep and Cello with Yo-Yo Ma

There seems to be no one
on the empty mountain
and yet I
think I hear a voice
where sunlight entering a grove
shines back to me from the green moss

There is a vitality
a life force
a quickening that is translated through you into action
and because there is only one of you in all time

that expression is unique
if you block it
it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost
the world will not have it
it is not your business to determine how good it is
nor how valuable it is
nor how it compares to other expressions
it is your business to keep it yours
clearly and directly
to keep the channel open

You do not even have to
believe in yourself! Or your work!
you have to keep open
and aware, directly, of the
urges that motivate you

Keep the channel open!
No artist is ever pleased
There is no satisfaction whatever at any time
there is only a queer, divine dissatisfaction
a blessed unrest that keeps us marching
and keeps us more alive
than the others

( “Luzhai,” Wang Wei +
“A Letter to Agnes DeMille,” Martha Graham)

in English quotations

Don’t Play it Safe

Don’t stand idle
at the side of the road
don’t hold off on happiness
don’t love with half a heart
don’t play it safe now
or ever
don’t play it safe
don’t fill up with calm
don’t take cover from the world
in a quiet corner
don’t let your eyelids come down
like a weighty sentence
don’t forget you have lips
don’t sleep but to rest
don’t ignore the blood in your veins
don’t think you have no time

but if
in any case
you can’t help it
and hold off on happiness
and love with half a heart
and play it safe now
and fill up with calm
and take cover from the world
in a quiet corner
and let your eyelids come down
like a weighty sentence
and dry up without lips
and sleep not to rest
and ignore the blood in your veins
and think you have no time
and stand idle
at the side of the road
and play it safe
in that case
don’t hold on to me.

Mario Benedetti via HN

civil rights in English journal tech

On privacy, safety, openness, and growth

I propose that privacy is key to having any kind of healthy value base in society.

This was inspired by What Happens Next Will Amaze You and by The following companies just betrayed billions of people.

Privacy is not only a question of individuals being smart enough to not share anything too personal online. That was the advice often given in the end of the nineties and the beginning of the 00’s. Instead, the grand scale invasion of privacy through our technology, offends the basis of what it is to be an active, independent member of society in the first place.

I am a big believer in privacy online. I also believe openness is a core value in a functional society. Superficially openness and privacy appear to conflict; in reality, they support one another.


Roughly, the end goal for an individual in society is growing up to be an adult. A responsible, well functioning, well being, free member of society. Not an adult in a patronizing definition, where a biased authority assess your adult-ness. Be it your parents,  your political tribe, or your religion.

Real adulthood is ultimately measured by your independence in making your own decisions – carrying your own responsibility. That is what determines if you are living your life genuinely, as yourself. You define what you are, you are capable of sharing to others what your values are without being discriminated.

As an adult, you are capable of living a life of not dominating nor
subduing/submitting yourself to others. You are capable of genuine
cooperation with equals, who are (just like you) allowed to be flawed
(broken, confused or helpless) – while still being considered equals?

The possibility for both openness and privacy are painting the very same picture in society. The name of that picture is trust.

Openness is defined by being voluntary. (Being open involuntarily just means being spied on.) To be open, to open up to other individuals, we must first feel we are safe to do so – even as we are not perfect.

Safety rises from being able to trust you are not going to be violated.  Learning to trust that you have privacy, respected by the surrounding society, is a foundation for learning to communicate openly, to become empowered members of society.

Let’s build a society where becoming an adult remains possible.

in English quotations

About helping

suomeksi: Auttamisesta

If we wish to succeed in helping someone to reach a particular goal, we must first find out where he is now, and start from there. If we cannot do this, we merely delude ourselves into believing that we can help others.

Before we can help someone, we must know more than he does, but most of all, we must understand what he understands. If we cannot do that, our knowing more will not help. If we nonetheless wish to show how much we know, it is only because we are vain and arrogant, and our true goal is to be admired, not to help others.

All genuine helpfulness starts with humility before those we wish to help, so we must understand that helping is not a wish to dominate but a wish to serve. If we cannot do this, neither can we help anyone.

Olli’s note on Oct 4, 2011: Actually, this strangely resembles the cognitivist learning paradigm.

Søren Kierkegaard 
English quoted from How do People Learn? by Don Elkington (bottom of the page, below the heading “Poetry as summary”.) More quotations from Kierkegaard

Swedish below.

Om att hjälpa

Om jag vill lyckas att föra en människa mot ett bestämt mål, måsta jag först finna henne där hon är och börja just där. Den som inte kan det, lurar sig själv när hon tror, att hon kan hjälpa andra.

För att hjälpa någon måste jag visserligen förstå mer, än vad hon gör, men först och främst förstå vad hon förstår. Om jag inte kan det, så hjälper det inte att jag kan och vet mer. Vill jag ändå visa hur mycket jag kan, beror det på att jag är fåfäng och högmodig och egentligen vill bli beundrad av den andre istället för att hjälpa honom.

All äkta hjälpsamhet börjar med ödmjukhet inför den jag vill hjälpa och därför måste jag förstå, att detta med att hjälpa inte är att vilja härska utan att vilja tjäna. Kan jag inte detta så kan jag heller inte hjälpa någon.

Søren Kierkegaard 
(Svensk från TrollmammanMer frân Kierkegaard

in English quotations

Reveal yourself so I can be something different

suomeksi: Paljasta luonteesi, jotta voin olla jotain erilaista


Don’t impose on me what you know, I want to explore the unknown and be the source of my own discoveries. Let the known be my liberation, not my slavery. The world of your truth can be my limitation; your wisdom my negation. Don’t instruct me; let’s walk together. Let my richness begin where yours ends. Show me so that I can stand on your shoulders. Reveal yourself so I can be something different.

You believe that every human being can love and create. I understand, then, your fear when I ask you to live according to your wisdom. You will not know who I am by listening to yourself. Don’t instruct me; let me be. Your failure is that I be identical to you.

Source: Humberto Maturana quoted in Zohar and Marshall 2000: 290. SQ: Spiritual Intelligence: The Ultimate Intelligence. via Marketta Yli-Hongisto

in English poems

faith, evaluated

the thing I was
I no longer am
the faith I had
it became new
I was proud of
what was vain
I look for quiet
now any peace
will do

around 29 Dec. 2011

in English journal tech

GTD app review: ThinkingRock, Tracks, Google Notebook, Toodledo, Checkvist

I have been through several apps for Getting Things Done (excellent Google Talks presentation video). ThinkingRock, Tracks, Google Notebook, Toodledo, Checkvist each had their times during the last five to six years. And, perhaps typical for a usability practitioner, I tend to have strong opinions about their user interfaces.

ThinkingRock home screen – thanks Dragos Roua for the screenshot.

in English poems

Everything is new

This is how I see it
here is where I stand
this is who I like to be
the road lies ahead

The future owes me nothing
the past is way behind
all there is, is now
everything is new

in English journal


The last night in Metz.

I’ve been inviting people to see me during the last week for several occasions, and despite me trying to organize things, everybody came tonight. The surprise was great – I would have been stressed about it had I known beforehand. The party ended just minutes ago, and I feel I had nothing to do with organizing it. Vincent brought chairs, some drank tea, some vodka, some wine, some beer, but nobody seemed too drunk at any time (some pistachio shells flew around the room during the night though). I offered everything I had in the cabinets (pistachios, sunflower seeds, eggs, soup, …) and people brought their own stuff. Lukas made omelettes. Some French people joined in at one point of the evening.

They gave me a book with photos and writings and drawings from everybody as a gift, and I feel like I have gotten way much more attention than I ever could have deserved. I feel too glad about it all to be cynical, it was beautiful. They made me sad for the fact that I am leaving so soon. :) There was quite a mess here but people cleaned up before they left and told me they’re coming again at eight in the morning to help me clean up! (The cleaner lady will organize an inspection at ten in the morning.) Wow.

Tomorrow to Poland, at around 17 hours.