First Graf(s): The New Hacker’s Dictionary

THE DEFINITION OF “HACKER” HEREIN is “a person who enjoys exploring the details of programmable systems and how to stretch their capabilities, as opposed to most users, who prefer to learn only the minimum necessary.” In 2019, we have all sorts of hackers — computer hackers, life hackers, biohackers, mindhackers — all trying to understand, implement, and twiddle with hidden qualities and little-known or -understood features of whatever it is they’re hacking.

The New Hacker’s Dictionary, adapted from and AKA “The Jargon File,” got its start in 1975 as a text file (accessible by what your Grandpa used to call “FTP“) shared over networks by the original (computer) hackers.

Minute Mitzvah: Put It Back

Today: Return lost items.

Explanation: The Talmud tells us that an item is only and truly “lost” when its owner despairs of its return. Your job is to not let that happen. Granted, this is one of those mitzvot which depends for its fulfillment on specific circumstances — but to a certain degree, don’t they all?

Exercise: If you find someone’s missing property, and there’s no identifying name or address, place it conspicuously near where you found it; the person it’s attached to may come looking for it. If this is not feasible, take it to your local police station.

365 Names of God: “The Light of Eternal Mind”

THE LIGHT OF ETERNAL MIND is how Moses (Charlton Heston) described G?d to Zipporah (Yvonne DeCarlo) and Joshua (John Derek) after seeing the Burning Bush in Cecil B. DeMille’s at-times unintentionally amusing but classic The Ten Commandments. It’s a potent descriptor not taught in Sunday School (my childhood one, anyway) but perhaps ought to have been — G?d as endless, boundaryless consciousness: omniscient, non-dual, mystical, essential. The screenwriters could have taken a more anthropomorphic route and had Moses say “All-Father,” “King of Kings,” “Eternal Our God” or the like. But instead, they went for the genderless, formless mystery. Well done, C. B.

Why I Love: Books

IT’S THEIR SMELL. IT’S THE way they feel in my hand(s). It’s the inner voices of different fonts. It’s that they’re a direct link from somebody else’s mind to mine. It’s the varied and variegated subject matter. It’s the endless fun of categorizing and re-categorizing a home library. It’s the way they look on the bookshelf. It’s the impression they make on guests. It’s the way they illustrate my thinking and interests. It’s the way they bend their shelves. It’s the painstaking search for new, used, and relevant titles. It’s browsing their indices, their bibliographies, and their tables of contents.

Words To Bring Back: “Redolent”

– Definition: adj. 1. strongly reminiscent or suggestive of 2. fragrant or sweet-smelling

– Used in a sentence: This halvah is redolent of faded rose-petals.

– Why: One can never have too many adjectives for describing the senses.

Unless you are at home in the metaphor, you are not safe anywhere.”
— Robert Frost