News and commentary from the cross-platform scripting community.
Mail Starting 8/5/97
I watched part of one of the old 'Herbie the Love Bug' movies a few days ago.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Chris Chapman);
Sent at 8/5/97; 11:20:34 PM;
Re: Dead Man Walking
Herbie was sick and not able to race. All the team members were stunned and sad for having to quit the race. At times, their frustration became anger at the little car that took them places -- wonderful places. In the face of the disappointment and anger, a gentleman says to the driver (paraphrase), "When you've read the last page, it's time to close the book."
I couldn't help but compare this scene to the atrocity that is the Mac platform right now.
All I want to do as a web designer is BE in the race. I have no interest in winning or losing, as the field is too great. All I can do is drive my best and see what happens. Yes, I have my preferred race car, just as a carpenter has a favorite hammer or a musician has a favorite guitar.
But dammit, my mechanic keeps trying to change the transmission, changing engines, and replacing fenders. He wants me to spend more time in the pits than out on the track. That seems the wrong way to go. But he won't listen.
I'm hoping to at least finish this race. This may be the last one with this car. My sponsors are urging me to use a different model that has better chances of winning. Yes, it will be awkward for a while but, I guess I'll adjust. Because when it comes down to it, tools don't equal talent.
I still continue to use a Mac for creating and serving websites because the tools there are superior. But I do know that there are alternatives. Not ones that I'm fond of, but ones that exist. If I'm forced, I'll switch-- having fond memories of what could have been. Maybe I'll win someday.
But for now, I just want to race. Let's get on with it.
P.S. Have you ever thought about people using the Mac just purely because it's the underdog? A drive against the grain. If roles were reversed--Apple ruled the market and Windows was started by a couple guys in a lean-to behind Radio Shack, would the same people still act as they do about the Mac? I bet not.
P.P.S. You gotta get up to get down! To Hell with the Melrose Place drama. Let's concentrate on the task at hand -- creating the web. Let them bitch and moan. I've got better things to do, with or without their help.
In understanding the phenomenon of Mac zealotry, you must realize that it has been the prevailing opinion of the press, and especially the PC press, that the Macintosh has been doomed since 1983, or perhaps before. We've heard "it's not compatible", "it's too expensive", and "Apple is going away" so many times that the words no longer hold any real power over us, but annoy us with their stupidity like when folks said those 4 cylinder cars with front wheel drive will never catch on; after all, rear wheel drive, caburetors, and drum brakes are the standard. We drove the Hondas, Saabs, and Toyotas, in spite of the fact that parts were a bit more expensive. Rear wheel drive didn't make any sense to us, any more than that unruly maze of .dll's, or that nonsense about interrupts. The Mac is doomed, just like it's always been...
From: email@example.com (James C Hart);
Sent at 8/5/97; 9:27:14 PM;
doomed since '83
Capital punishment. The phrase has a cold clinical feel. I oppose capital punishment, which should be called by its true name. Capital punishment is state-sanctioned murder. It's not punishment. Anguished revenge is more accurate. But revenge never carries away pain, never evens the score, never brings back one who is gone. It merely adds another sorry burden to carry.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Rich Santalesa);
Sent at 8/6/97; 12:57:11 AM;
Re:Dead Man Walking
Our country is filled with anger, pain, doubt and fear. Being "tough on crime" is demanded from our elected officials, as though crime is a grass stain that enough scrubbling will wash clean. Funny thing, though, we love to attack symptoms, not the underlying problem. The U.S. shamefully leads the world in having the highest percentage of its citizens behind bars.
Dead Man Walking is a moving, evocative and painful examination of state-sanctioned murder, centering on the cases of Patrick Sonnier and Robert Willie, two death row prisioners executed in Louisiana. Throughout Sister Prejean details how capricious and arbitrary capital punishment is, how the system is arranged to allow everyone involved to disavow personal responsibility for the execution and how capital punishment dehumanizes all it touches.
A society is ultimately measured not by the means of its production, but by the quality of its compassion, or as Dostevesky noted, by how it treats its criminals, rather than its highest citizens.
By this measure America fails. Without doubt many heinous, near beastly criminals are locked away, as they should be. But its all too easy for people to be abstractly "for" something without thinking through either their convictions or the results of their actions.
I remember at one of my first jobs a co-worker placed a glue- trap in her cubicle to end a mouse's nightly wanderings. Sure enough the next morning a tiny mouse was sprawled fast to the trap, plantively peeping every now and then. I asked what she planned to do next, and she replied, "throw it in the garbage." I answered that it'd cruelly starve to death there and if she caught it, she was now responsible for properly "handling it." A mouse is a pest, but it's alive and if you're going to kill it, kill it quickly and cleanly.
She couldn't bring herself to do it, and so I took the mouse out of the garbage in front of her, and pressed down on it with my foot until it couldn't breath, but not hard enough to crush it. Less than a minute later it was dead. Picking the trap up I told my co-worker next time she should think about not only the trap, but the consequences.
Executions occur late a night, behind closed walls. If America truly supports executions it should see the results and be willing to accept the consequences of an action carried out "according to the will of the people." Every execution should be televised within the state in prime time because one can only support an action when its responsibilities and consequences are understood. Otherwise we're simply laying out glue traps without the honest will to deal with the peeping little rodents we've caught
Back in May, I was at an incredible convention full of really loony people like myself, and I had a tarot reading done. One of the first cards that came up was Death. For someone who didn't know what it meant, that could be a frightening symbol to see laid before you.
From: JHaas@cuna.com (Jason Haas);
Sent at 8/5/97; 1:37:31 PM;
Re: Dead Man Walking
As it turned out, Death usually doeis not signify literal death, cessation of life. It signifies change.
Maybe Apple is dying. Maybe it's already experienced death, and is walking again. It's certainly changed, and the Mac community is changing with it. "Seven years ago," a friend of mine joked, "we probably would have had a suicide pact if we'd said 'I wish the Mac OS had a command line interface!' ".
This was before either of us had used UNIX. Up until about a year ago, we might've said the same thing about having Intel chips power an Apple OS. Now, it makes sense. My perspective has changed. Rhapsody is coming, which apparently will have a full-blown installation of BSD as part of the package. And it will run on Intel chips. Big changes!
Death, I realized, is not always a bad thing. I've known that it's a part of life, but death can open the door for change. Who said "To die would be an awfully big adventure?"
From: email@example.com (Richard Winchell);
Sent at 8/5/97; 10:36:47 AM;
Re: Dead Man Walking
>>Then something wonderful happens (the purpose of this tale). A lone car comes thru, racing at what seems to be eighty miles per hour. He (or she) has the whole freeway to him or herself! What a trip... If only life were so easy. I would have loved to be that driver. No traffic, no need to look back or to the left or right. The highway is mine.
You just captured the feeling of riding in Critical Mass. If you've got a bike, you might want to join in August 29. Justin Herman Plaza, 5:30ish.
The first thing they should do is copy what C/Net's news.com site has done: kill the gifs on the left side and make all of those simple text links.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Dan Gillmor);
Sent at 8/5/97; 10:30:41 AM;
Slimming down the Fortune page
Here's the lyrics to Bob Dylan's song Dignity, a propos your Dead Man Walking piece: (Incidentally, I'm in the middle of producing Dylan's "official" web site, which will be at bobdylan.com in a couple of months)
From: email@example.com (Dan Levy);
Sent at 8/5/97; 12:53:34 PM;
Bob Dylan on Dignity
Words and Music by Bob Dylan Copyright 1994 Special Rider Music
Fat man lookin' in a blade of steel Thin man lookin' at his last meal Hollow man lookin' in a cottonfield For dignity
Wise man lookin' in a blade of grass Young man lookin' in the shadows that pass Poor man lookin' through painted glass For dignity
Somebody got murdered on New Year's Eve Somebody said dignity was the first to leave I went into the city, went into the town Went into the land of the midnight sun
Searchin' high, searchin' low Searchin' everywhere I know Askin' the cops wherever I go Have you seen dignity?
Blind man breakin' out of a trance Puts both his hands in the pockets of chance Hopin' to find one circumstance Of dignity
I went to the wedding of Mary-lou She said "I don't want nobody see me talkin' to you" Said she could get killed if she told me what she knew About dignity I went down where the vultures feed I would've got deeper, but there wasn't any need Heard the tongues of angels and the tongues of men Wasn't any difference to me
Chilly wind sharp as a razor blade House on fire, debts unpaid Gonna stand at the window, gonna ask the maid Have you seen dignity?