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Howdy, pilgrim! You're in the ^zhurnal — since 1999, a journal of musings on mind, method, metaphor, and matters miscellaneous — previous volume = 0.9940. Click headlines to browse, comment, or edit the ^zhurnalyWiki. Page-top links provide random mantras, tarots, unicorns, power thoughts, and meditative suggestions. For a lovely little mint-tin deck of mindfulness reminders see Open Mind OM Cards.

Freedom to Love or Not

From an email by Fred Rogers written on 25 Oct 1998, quoted in Tom Junod's December 2019 article "My Friend Mister Rogers" in The Atlantic:

God's nature has grown and grown and grown all through the ages. Yet at the heart of the original creation is that Word (call it Love, call it Grace, call it Peace ...), that essence which is lodged somewhere within each of us that longs for ultimate expression. If we choose to allow it to grow we'll be given help. If we choose otherwise we won't be forced. If there is such a thing as a "dark corner" of God's nature then I think it's God's refusal to go back on the promise of "the creation's freedom to love or not."

(cf 2018-09-10 - Thank You, Mr Rogers, 143 (2019-11-28), 2, 3 (2020-01-04), Love Abounds (2020-01-06), Mantra - Greater Love (2020-02-21), ...)

- Friday, February 28, 2020 at 06:33:38 (EST)

Regex vs HTML

So much fun, that philosophers and programmers (and other Picky Persons) can have quibbling over definitions and trivia ... for example, from some years ago an argument over whether (and when, and why, and why not) a regular expression ("regex") can recognize or parse HTML ("HyperText Markup Language") — from [1] in 2009:

You can't parse [X]HTML with regex. Because HTML can't be parsed by regex. Regex is not a tool that can be used to correctly parse HTML. As I have answered in HTML-and-regex questions here so many times before, the use of regex will not allow you to consume HTML. Regular expressions are a tool that is insufficiently sophisticated to understand the constructs employed by HTML. HTML is not a regular language and hence cannot be parsed by regular expressions. Regex queries are not equipped to break down HTML into its meaningful parts. so many times but it is not getting to me. Even enhanced irregular regular expressions as used by Perl are not up to the task of parsing HTML. You will never make me crack. HTML is a language of sufficient complexity that it cannot be parsed by regular expressions. Even Jon Skeet cannot parse HTML using regular expressions. Every time you attempt to parse HTML with regular expressions, the unholy child weeps the blood of virgins, and Russian hackers pwn your webapp. Parsing HTML with regex summons tainted souls into the realm of the living. HTML and regex go together like love, marriage, and ritual infanticide. The <center> cannot hold it is too late. The force of regex and HTML together in the same conceptual space will destroy your mind like so much watery putty. If you parse HTML with regex you are giving in to Them and their blasphemous ways which doom us all to inhuman toil for the One whose Name cannot be expressed in the Basic Multilingual Plane, he comes. HTML-plus-regexp will liquify the n​erves of the sentient whilst you observe, your psyche withering in the onslaught of horror. Rege̿̔̉x-based HTML parsers are the cancer that is killing StackOverflow it is too late it is too late we cannot be saved the trangession of a chi͡ld ensures regex will consume all living tissue (except for HTML which it cannot, as previously prophesied) dear lord help us how can anyone survive this scourge using regex to parse HTML has doomed humanity to an eternity of dread torture and security holes using regex as a tool to process HTML establishes a breach between this world and the dread realm of c͒ͪo͛ͫrrupt entities (like SGML entities, but more corrupt) a mere glimpse of the world of reg​ex parsers for HTML will ins​tantly transport a programmer's consciousness into a world of ceaseless screaming, he comes, the pestilent slithy regex-infection wil​l devour your HT​ML parser, application and existence for all time like Visual Basic only worse he comes he comes do not fi​ght he com̡e̶s, ̕h̵i​s un̨ho͞ly radiańc destro҉ying all enli̍̈́̂̈́ghtenment, HTML tags lea͠ki̧n͘g fr̶ǫm ̡yo​͟ur eye͢s̸ ̛l̕ik͏e liq​uid pain, the song of re̸gular exp​ression parsing will exti​nguish the voices of mor​tal man from the sp​here I can see it can you see ̲͚̖͔̙̩́t̲͎̩̱͔́̋̀ it is beautiful t​he final snuffing of the lie​s of Man ALL IS LOŚ͖̩͇̗̪̏̈́T ALL I​S LOST the pon̷y he comes he c̶̮omes he comes the ich​or permeates all MY FACE MY FACE ᵒh god no NO NOO̼O​O NΘ stop the an​*̶͑̾̾​̅ͫ͏̙̤g͇̫͛͆̾ͫ̑͆l͖͉̗̩̳̟̍ͫͥͨe̠̅s ͎a̧͈͖r̽̾̈́͒͑e n​ot ȓͧ̌aͨl̘̝̙̃ͤ͂̾̆ ZA̡͊͠͝LGΌ ISͮ̂҉̯͈͕̹̘̱ TO͇̹̺ͅƝ̴ȳ̳ TH̘͖́̉ ͠P̯͍̭O̚​N̐Y̡ H̸̡̪̯ͨ͊̽̅̾̎Ȩ̬̩̾͛ͪ̈́̀́͘ ̶̧̨̱̹̭̯ͧ̾ͬC̷̙̲̝͖ͭ̏ͥͮ͟Oͮ͏̮̪̝͍M̲̖͊̒ͪͩͬ̚̚͜Ȇ̴̟̟͙̞ͩ͌͝S̨̥̫͎̭ͯ̿̔̀ͅ

Have you tried using an XML parser instead?

... see [2] by the author — and for even more fun, the Chomsky Hierarchy of languages, and the fact that strictly-and-narrowly defined regular expressions aren't able to parse context-free grammars like HTML — yet extended regex's can parse HTML — and contrapositively (?!) true regex's can parse selected subsets of HTML.

So it's really all just a matter of definitions and (mis)understandings and parody ...

(cf Trolleyology (2008-02-04), ...)

- Thursday, February 27, 2020 at 06:25:18 (EST)

Mantra - Give Instead of Giving Up

Don't Give Up
    — Give!

Be positive! Rather than making a sacrifice and feeling the negative, try to see the situation from another perspective and find the plus side — the gift, the gain, the benefit. As Margaret Renkl says at the end of her essay "One Tiny Beautiful Thing":

Instead of giving up something for Lent, I'm planning to make a heartfelt offering. In times like these, it makes more sense to seek out daily causes for praise than daily reminders of lack. So here is my resolution: to find as many ordinary miracles as a waterlogged winter can put forth, as many resurrections as an eerily early springtime will allow. Tiny beautiful things are bursting forth in the darkest places, in the smallest nooks and deepest cracks of the hidden world, and I am going to keep looking every single day until I find one.

... and yes, it's so tough sometimes to make that inversion — and so wonderful when it somehow succeeds ...

(cf Om - Be Contrary, Mandatory Inversion (1999-09-02), Unselfing Again (2009-11-01), Happiness Is (2015-07-28), Mantra - The Problem is Not the Problem (2016-08-21), Mantra - It's a Blessing (2017-11-23), Mantra - Complement (2018-03-08), Mantra - No Problems (2018-03-15), ...)

- Tuesday, February 25, 2020 at 17:39:34 (EST)

Mark Jason Dominus

A thoughtful person who has been keeping an online journal (aka "blog") longer than the ZhurnalyWiki!Mark Jason Dominus wrote a book (2005) titled Higher-Order Perl, about the meta-activity of "Transforming Programs with Programs". He also composed the insightful "How Regexes Work" (cf Reg Explanations (2003-12-03)) and described the Pollyanna-like game "Advocacy" (cf Worse Is Better (2003-12-23)). And as of 2020 he's still posting with good humor and style. Bravo, Sir!

- Sunday, February 23, 2020 at 13:53:10 (EST)

Small Eyes Notation

Adapted from the preface of "Coend Calculus", a paper on category theory by Fosco Loregian:

http://zhurnaly.com/images/eyes-wide-with-fear.png"Some of the exercises are marked with a symbol <<eyes wide with fear>> — this means they are more difficult and less well-posed questions than the others. This can happen on purpose (and thus part of the exercise is understanding what the question is) or not (and thus the question and its answer are not completely clear even to the author). In this second case, it is likely that a complete answer might result in new Mathematics that we'd be happy to expand with the solvers."
http://zhurnaly.com/images/eyes-looking-up.png"Other kinds of 'small eyes' are present along the book: the paragraphs decorated with <<eyes looking up>> contain material that can be skipped at first reading, or material that deepens a prior topic in a not-so-interesting detour."
http://zhurnaly.com/images/eyes-looking-right.png"<<eyes looking right>> is used to signal key remarks and more generally important material that we ask the reader to digest properly and analyse in full detail. "

Loregian comments:

The author learned this funny notation during his freshman year, when he was handed [a text by G. De Marco] for the first time; the "small-eyes" notation accompanied me throughout all my mathematical life until today. In [De Marco] this notation has the following meaning: various facial expressions explain the different ways the reader is supposed to behave when they meet them: <<eyes looking up>>, abstract material; <<eyes looking down>>, standard exercises; <<eyes looking right>>, material that you are supposed to meditate a lot; <<eyes wide open>>, shattering exercises.

(cf Good Notation (2001-01-06), Bra Ket (2001-01-24), Stokes Theorem (2006-01-27), Useful Doodles (2019-12-10), ...)

- Saturday, February 22, 2020 at 17:17:40 (EST)

Mantra - Greater Love

    You are loved
with a greater love
than anyone could
      ever imagine

... words in an email from Fred Rogers to Tom Junod, from Junod's article "What Would Mister Rogers Do?" (The Atlantic, December 2019):

... as a correspondent he was emotionally forthcoming and intimate, closing often with the assurance that he kept me in his thoughts and his prayers—"And, I guess you know, each morning I pray for you; I really do"—and sometimes with ministerial ardor. "You are loved with a greater love than anyone could ever imagine, Tom. I trust that you'll never ever forget that. ..."

(cf 2018-09-10 - Thank You, Mr Rogers (2018-10-02), 143 (2019-11-28), Present in Every Moment (2019-11-25), Tikkun Olam (2019-12-11), Love Abounds (2020-01-06), Advocate for Good (2020-01-14), ...)

- Friday, February 21, 2020 at 06:17:54 (EST)


As defined in Wikipedia, Cryptomnesia "... occurs when a forgotten memory returns without its being recognized as such by the subject, who believes it is something new and original. It is a memory bias whereby a person may falsely recall generating a thought, an idea, a tune, a name, or a joke, not deliberately engaging in plagiarism but rather experiencing a memory as if it were a new inspiration."

The "Futility Closet" tells (29 Dec 2013)) of two famous literary examples:

Several years after publishing Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson was abashed to discover that he had drawn much of the story from Washington Irving's 1824 book Tales of a Traveller, which he had read many years earlier and forgotten.

"I believe plagiarism was rarely carried farther," he wrote later. "The book flew up and struck me: Billy Bones, his chest, the company in the parlour, the whole inner spirit, and a good deal of the material detail of my first chapters ? all were there, all were the property of Washington Irving. But I had no guess of it then as I sat writing by the fireside, in what seemed the spring-tides of a somewhat pedestrian inspiration; nor yet day by day, after lunch, as I read aloud my morning's work to the family."

This is an instance of cryptomnesia, the mistaking of a forgotten memory for an original idea. Stevenson charged himself with plagiarism, but he had honestly believed he was writing a new story: "It seemed to me original as sin; it seemed to belong to me like my right eye." In reading Nietzsche's Thus Spake Zarathustra, Carl Jung was surprised to discover "almost word for word" an incident reported in a ship's log in 1686. Jung recognized the passage from a book published around 1835, about 50 years before Nietzsche was writing. He contacted the philosopher's sister, who confirmed that the two of them had read the book when Nietzsche was 11 years old.

"I think, from the context, it is inconceivable that Nietzsche had any idea that he was plagiarizing this story," Jung wrote. "I believe that fifty years later it had unexpectedly slipped into focus in his conscious mind."

... famous company for today's inadvertent mental glitches!

(cf Antient Commons (2003-11-03), Unreliable narrators (2005-04-12), Emerson Eulogizes His Brother Charles (2007-01-07), ...)

- Thursday, February 20, 2020 at 05:45:18 (EST)


A new-ish word from comrade B-ff's "Strengthsfinder" list of pop-psych talents is Individuation. The quasi-official definition, recast as "Individualization":

Your Individualization theme leads you to be intrigued by the unique qualities of each person. You are impatient with generalizations or "types" because you don't want to obscure what is special and distinct about each person. Instead, you focus on the differences between individuals.

You instinctively observe each person's style, each person's motivation, how each thinks, and how each builds relationships. You hear the one-of-a-kind stories in each person's life. This theme explains why you pick your friends just the right birthday gift, why you know that one person prefers praise in public and another detests it, and why you tailor your teaching style to accommodate one person's need to be shown and another's desire to "figure it out as I go."

Because you are such a keen observer of other people's strengths, you can draw out the best in each person. This Individualization theme also helps you build productive teams. While some search for the perfect team "structure" or "process," you know instinctively that the secret to great teams is casting by individual strengths so that everyone can do a lot of what they do well.

... sounds sweet, and of course is impossible to argue with. Who could be against empathy, insight, caring?

But contrariwise it might be fun to invert and describe "Individuation" in terms of its negatives — e.g., "you don't rise above the trees to see the forest", or "you pour vast amounts of time into one-off customizations that cannot scale", or "you fail to find evidence-based statistically-sound conclusions that apply across multiple cases". Hmmmm, that way it sounds like less of an astrology reading!

(cf Director of Optimal Performance (2005-05-01), Strengthsfinder (2008-01-24), Hogan Personality Inventory (2010-04-04), Hogan Development Survey (2010-04-18), Hypomania (2012-12-28), ...)

- Tuesday, February 18, 2020 at 05:43:36 (EST)

Mantra - Let Somebody Else Be the Hero

Make Someone
  the Hero of
  Your Story

... there's more than enough selfishness, narcissism, and insecurity in the world already — so why not step aside and give another person their turn in the spotlight on center stage?

(cf Unselfing (2009-01-14), Unselfing Again (2009-11-01), Einstein on Self (2010-01-31), It is Thou (2014-09-24), I Want Happiness (2015-12-04), No Me (2016-01-18), Mantra - No Others (2016-06-27), Mantra - No Self (2016-10-25), Nobody Home (2016-11-13), Mantra - Unself Together (2018-03-30), Less I (2018-05-26), No-Self, One-Self, All-Self (2019-12-02), ...)

- Monday, February 17, 2020 at 06:48:38 (EST)

Omne Trium Perfectum

Latin for "All Threes are Perfect" — in writing, art, music (and countless other æsthetic and mnemonic endeavors) as per the Rule of Three. In Greek the "Hendiatris" is a triplet-based figure of speech, like the tricolon. And in politics/philosophy, a troika-triumvirate-tripartite arrangement seems to be an optimum combination of functionality, stability, and efficiency. Coincidence?

(should the Latin word be "Trinum" or "Trium"?; cf Toposes, Triples and Theories by Michael Barr and Charles Wells, There Are Three Points (2012-05-06), Big Ideas (2012-05-20), Think Better - Three Keys (2019-06-05), Three Things Tactic (2019-09-03), Creative Threes (2020-01-10), Clearly, Dearly, Nearly (2020-02-05), ...)

- Saturday, February 15, 2020 at 08:15:09 (EST)

Stocks and Flows and Causal Loops

Simple stuff:

"Stock and Flow" and "Causal Loop" graphs look somewhat similar and are easily confused. Key to good understanding and Systems Thinking is to distinguish them and use each in its proper place. Economist Michal Kalecki joked that "Economics is the science of confusing stocks with flows." Don't do that!

(cf Fifth Disciplinarians (2000-09-10), Systems Dynamics Advice (2017-07-12), Thinking in Systems (2017-11-03), The World We Truly Want(2018-10-13), Superpowers - Systems Thinking, Asking, and Listening (2019-01-29), Dancing with Systems (2019-06-21), Systems Thinking Icebergs (2019-06-27), Insight Modeling (2019-12-31), ...)

- Friday, February 14, 2020 at 06:34:48 (EST)

There Is Nothing Wrong with You

From the idiosyncratic book There is Nothing Wrong with You:

  We are responsible
        for being
the person we've always wanted
        to find.

We must become our own best friend.

    We must learn
  to give to ourselves
  to receive from ourselves
unconditional love and acceptance.

It is not selfish.
It is the first

(2001, by Cheri Huber with designer-illustrator June Shiver; cf Mantra - Be Your Own Best Friend (2016-02-16), Mantra - Worthy of Love (2016-07-24), Mantra - Forgiven (2016-08-02), Up Again (2016-12-04), Mantra - Love Your Self (2016-12-30), Mantra - Say Thanks, not Sorry (2017-06-21), ...)

- Thursday, February 13, 2020 at 09:35:06 (EST)

For back issues of the ^zhurnal see Volumes v.01 (April-May 1999), v.02 (May-July 1999), v.03 (July-September 1999), v.04 (September-November 1999), v.05 (November 1999 - January 2000), v.06 (January-March 2000), v.07 (March-May 2000), v.08 (May-June 2000), v.09 (June-July 2000), v.10 (August-October 2000), v.11 (October-December 2000), v.12 (December 2000 - February 2001), v.13 (February-April 2001), v.14 (April-June 2001), 0.15 (June-August 2001), 0.16 (August-September 2001), 0.17 (September-November 2001), 0.18 (November-December 2001), 0.19 (December 2001 - February 2002), 0.20 (February-April 2002), 0.21 (April-May 2002), 0.22 (May-July 2002), 0.23 (July-September 2002), 0.24 (September-October 2002), 0.25 (October-November 2002), 0.26 (November 2002 - January 2003), 0.27 (January-February 2003), 0.28 (February-April 2003), 0.29 (April-June 2003), 0.30 (June-July 2003), 0.31 (July-September 2003), 0.32 (September-October 2003), 0.33 (October-November 2003), 0.34 (November 2003 - January 2004), 0.35 (January-February 2004), 0.36 (February-March 2004), 0.37 (March-April 2004), 0.38 (April-June 2004), 0.39 (June-July 2004), 0.40 (July-August 2004), 0.41 (August-September 2004), 0.42 (September-November 2004), 0.43 (November-December 2004), 0.44 (December 2004 - February 2005), 0.45 (February-March 2005), 0.46 (March-May 2005), 0.47 (May-June 2005), 0.48 (June-August 2005), 0.49 (August-September 2005), 0.50 (September-November 2005), 0.51 (November 2005 - January 2006), 0.52 (January-February 2006), 0.53 (February-April 2006), 0.54 (April-June 2006), 0.55 (June-July 2006), 0.56 (July-September 2006), 0.57 (September-November 2006), 0.58 (November-December 2006), 0.59 (December 2006 - February 2007), 0.60 (February-May 2007), 0.61 (April-May 2007), 0.62 (May-July 2007), 0.63 (July-September 2007), 0.64 (September-November 2007), 0.65 (November 2007 - January 2008), 0.66 (January-March 2008), 0.67 (March-April 2008), 0.68 (April-June 2008), 0.69 (July-August 2008), 0.70 (August-September 2008), 0.71 (September-October 2008), 0.72 (October-November 2008), 0.73 (November 2008 - January 2009), 0.74 (January-February 2009), 0.75 (February-April 2009), 0.76 (April-June 2009), 0.77 (June-August 2009), 0.78 (August-September 2009), 0.79 (September-November 2009), 0.80 (November-December 2009), 0.81 (December 2009 - February 2010), 0.82 (February-April 2010), 0.83 (April-May 2010), 0.84 (May-July 2010), 0.85 (July-September 2010), 0.86 (September-October 2010), 0.87 (October-December 2010), 0.88 (December 2010 - February 2011), 0.89 (February-April 2011), 0.90 (April-June 2011), 0.91 (June-August 2011), 0.92 (August-October 2011), 0.93 (October-December 2011), 0.94 (December 2011-January 2012), 0.95 (January-March 2012), 0.96 (March-April 2012), 0.97 (April-June 2012), 0.98 (June-September 2012), 0.99 (September-November 2012), 0.9901 (November-December 2012), 0.9902 (December 2012-February 2013), 0.9903 (February-March 2013), 0.9904 (March-May 2013), 0.9905 (May-July 2013), 0.9906 (July-September 2013), 0.9907 (September-October 2013), 0.9908 (October-December 2013), 0.9909 (December 2013-February 2014), 0.9910 (February-May 2014), 0.9911 (May-July 2014), 0.9912 (July-August 2014), 0.9913 (August-October 2014), 0.9914 (November 2014-January 2015), 0.9915 (January-April 2015), 0.9916 (April-July 2015), 0.9917 (July-September 2015), 0.9918 (September-November 2015), 0.9919 (November 2015-January 2016), 0.9920 (January-April 2016), 0.9921 (April-June 2016), 0.9922 (June-July 2016), 0.9923 (July-September 2016), 0.9924 (October-December 2016), 0.9925 (January-February 2017), 0.9926 (March-April 2017), 0.9927 (May-June 2017), 0.9928 (June-October 2017), 0.9929 (October-December 2017), 0.9930 (December 2017-March 2018), 0.9931 (March-April 2018), 0.9932 (May-July 2018), 0.9933 (July-September 2018), 0.9934 (September-December 2018), 0.9935 (December 2018-February 2019), 0.9936 (February-April 2019), 0.9937 (April-July 2019), 0.9938 (July-August 2019), 0.9939 (August-November 2019), 0.9940 (November 2019-February 2020), ... Current Volume. Send comments and suggestions to z (at) his.com. Thank you! (Copyright © 1999-2020 by Mark Zimmermann.)