Just Mercy

Bryan Stevenson. Just Mercy. 2014.

I just finished one of the best and most important books I’m likely to read this decade, Bryan Stevenson’s “Just Mercy”, which was first published in September 2014.

In this book, Stevenson, who is “… an American lawyer, social justice activist, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, and a clinical professor at New York University School of Law (Wikipedia)”, gives a riveting account of the American justice system which, according to him, leans towards (inhumanely) punishing the poor and disadvantaged.

It’s a memoir, really, one that in many places stays closer to true crime writing (with its peculiarities) than any autobiographical style, but his condemnation of racial injustice in American life and the legacy of slavery in today’s criminal justice system is compelling.

The numbers are there for everyone to see. No country incarcerates a larger part of its population (approximately every 15th individual born in 2001 will end up in jail). Of all black boys born this century, every third will at least be incarcerated once in his lifetime. The expenses for the prison system have risen from around 7 billion (1980) to 80 billion dollars.

What Stevenson shows is that the problems are inherent to the system and not isolated cases in which human error caused, for example, police brutality or wrongful conviction. “The true measure of our character”, he says, ” is how we treat the poor, the disfavored, the accused, the incarcerated, and the condemned.” Everyone should remember that, not only in the USA.

If you read one book this year (or this decade), make it this one.

Mitch Hedberg (1968-2005)

life / listening to / words
Mitch Hedberg.

Unfortunately, there’s nary a soul nowadays that remembers Mitch Hedberg, one of the funniest and quirkiest stand-up comedians I ever encountered (online).

Being German, Mitch Hedberg was far beyond my (live performance) reach, but as soon as the Internet became usable within my stomping grounds (around 1994), Mitch Hedberg became a regular on my PC, in whichever format I could get hold of.

His deadpan and often wildly absurd skits as well as his endless barrage of non sequiturs was just up my alley. When he died because of cocaine and heroin abuse (his heart condition might possible have been a grander exit), it did hit me, simply because a relevant voice in my life had left the scene.

Once you knew his style, Mitch Hedberg could drive you crazy with anticipation, a truckload full of wordplay, his reduced material of one- and two-liners, his spot-on (often wonderfully dramatic) delivery and his totally odd stage presence (which often reminded me of Miles Davis who, much like Hedberg, liked to turn his back towards the audience to make everyone look at his spandexed rear end).

Many people have tried to emulate Mitch, but nobody ever came close, although a ton of comedians I have seen since have soaked up huge parts of Mitch Hedbergs style and delivery … by osmosis.

Mitch Hedberg hails from a past when stand-up comedy was changing dramatically, and he was one of the (best) instigators. One of a kind. Loved the guy, the style, the delivery and … the sharp perception most of his material was based on.

If you have no idea who Mitch Hedberg was, check out the myriad of online links that pop up as a result of some random Google search.

Here’s some Mitch Hedberg, although you really need to listen/view/experience it for full impact:


  • You should never wave to someone you don’t know, because what if they don’t have a hand? You’ll just look cocky. “Look what I got, motherfucker! This thing is useful. I’m gonna go pick something up.”
  • Two-in-one is a bullshit term because one is not big enough to hold two. That’s why two was created.
  • I bought a doughnut and they gave me a receipt for the doughnut. I don’t need a receipt for the doughnut. I’ll just give you the money, and you give me the doughnut. End of transaction. We don’t need to bring ink and paper into this. I just can’t imagine a scenario where I would have to prove that I bought a doughnut. Some skeptical friend: “Don’t even act like I didn’t get that doughnut! I got the documentation right here. Oh, wait it’s at home. In the file. Under ‘D’.
  • Wearing a turtleneck is like being strangled by a really weak guy… all day.
  • I hate dreaming. Because when you wanna sleep, you wanna sleep. Dreaming is work, you know? Like, there I am, laying in my comfortable bed in my hotel room. It’s beautiful. Next thing you know, I have to build a go-kart with my ex landlord.
  • I saw this wino, he was eating grapes. It’s like, “Dude, you have to wait.”
  • I like when they say that a movie was “inspired by a true story” because that’s weird. It means the movie is not true, it was just inspired by a true story. “Hey Mitch, did you hear that story about that lady who drove her children into the river and they all drown?” “Yes I did. And that inspired me to write a movie about a gorilla.”
  • I used to lie in my twin bed and wonder where my brother was.
  • I like escalators, because an escalator can never break; it can only become stairs. There would never be an “Escalator Temporarily Out of Order” sign. Only an “Escalator Temporarily Stairs… Sorry for the Convenience.
  • I bought a $7 pen because I always lose pens and I got sick of not caring.
  • You should never tell people they have a nice dimple… because maybe they were shot in the face … with a BB gun.
  • I got a vest. If I had my arms cut off, it would be a jacket.
  • I like rice. Rice is great if you want to eat 2,000 of something.
  • I wrote my friend a letter using a highlighting pen, but he could not read it. He thought I was trying to show him certain parts of a piece of paper.
  • I walked by a dry cleaner at 3am, the sign said “Sorry we’re closed.” You don’t have to be sorry; it’s 3am and you’re a dry cleaner. It would be ridiculous for me to expect you to be open. I’m not gonna walk in at 10am and say “Hey, I walked by at 3, you guys were closed. Somebody owes me an apology.”
  • I like to take a toothpick and throw it in the forest and say “You’re home!
  • I was downtown in some town and they had store, store, store, and then there was an open area, then they had more stores. It said in the open area “Coming soon: The Gap” I’m like “Fuck, man. It’s coming soon and it’s already here.”


Lenovo Yoga Book

new electronics
The new Lenovo Yoga Book (August 2016).

When the Lenovo Yoga Book was launched in Berlin on August 31, 2016, it immediately shot to the #1 spot on my shopping list. Lots of items have landed there without ever being purchased, but this one might actually make it into my household.

On paper, the Lenovo Yoga Book specs sound exactly like what I have been looking for these past years:

  • General:
    • Dimensions (mm): 256.00 x 170.80 x 9.60
    • Weight (g): 690.00
    • Battery capacity (mAh): 8500
    • Removable battery: Nope
  • Display:
    • Screen size (inches): 10.10
    • Resolution: 1200×1920 pixels
  • Hardware:
    • Processor: 2.4GHz quad-core Intel Atom x5-Z8550
    • RAM: 4GB
    • Internal storage: 64GB
    • Expandable storage (microSD): up to  128 GB
  • Software:
    • Operating System(s): Android or Windows 10
  • Connectivity:
    • Wi-Fi: 802.11ac
    • Bluetooth: v 4.00
    • Headphones: 3.5mm
    • SIM: Nano (4G/ LTE)
  • Other:
    • Proximity sensor, Accelerometer, Ambient light sensor, Gyroscope

As is often the case, “hands on” reviews so far have been by people who had a few measly minutes to check it out and it remains to be seen if the Yoga Book can live up to its promise.

On first glance, the hardware specs are simply too slim to run Windows 10 on it in any satisfactory way, so the Android version (also 100 Euro cheaper) would be the one for me.

The (IPS) screen seems to be quite good (I’d want to watch lots of videos on it, so the way it renders black and colors is something I would have to check myself before forking over the money) and the virtual “Halo” keyboard seems to require some getting used to (the keyboard runs using Wacom’s Passive EMR Technology and is purely digital without any physical keys).

Unfortunately, the battery isn’t changeable and the Yoga book uses an archaic  Micro USB connection rather than USB C , which should have been a (modern) standard by now, but for my needs, it still seems to be adequate enough.

It is difficult to resist my initial buying impulse, but I will wait until it finally is widely available and the detailed reviews start rolling in. No matter what the reviews say, I’ve got to see one out in the wild and give it a spin myself, but chances are that I will be adding the Lenovo Yoga Book to my small gadget collection before Christmas rolls around.

Tyrion Lannister

currently watching / words
Tyrion Lannister.

From the second he appeared on screen for the first time, Game of Throne’s Tyrion Lannister, excellently portrayed by Peter Dinklage, has been very close to my cynical heart. His observations are always spot-on and his world view is often bitterly negative. Despite that, he’s one of the most perceptive and downright human characters in a series overflowing with everything else that often makes humanity deplorable. From a boatload of worthy quotes, quips and hilarious repartees, here are a few tidbits, chosen at random …

Tyrion Lannister: Keep up!
Podrick Payne: I don’t think I can, my lord.
Tyrion Lannister: It’s not easy being drunk all the time. Everyone would do it if it were easy.


Tyrion Lannister: The powerful have always preyed on the powerless, that’s how they became powerful in the first place.


Lord Varys: You have a choice, my friend. You can stay here at Illyrio’s palace and drink yourself to death or you can ride with me to Meereen, meet Daenerys Targaryen and decide if the world is worth fighting for
Tyrion Lannister: Can I drink myself to death on the road to Meereen?


Tyrion Lannister: When you tear out a man’s tongue, you are not proving him a liar, you’re only telling the world that you fear what he might say.


[sips a cup of wine before starting to vomit]
Tyrion Lannister: The future is shit. Just like the past.


Tyrion Lannister: Why is it that when one man builds a wall, the next man immediately needs to know what’s on the other side?


Tywin Lannister: You seem rather drunk.
Tyrion Lannister: Rather less than I planned to be. Isn’t it a man’s duty to be drunk at his own wedding?
Tywin Lannister: This isn’t about your wedding. Renly Baratheon had a wedding. Your wife needs a child, a Lannister child, as soon as possible.
Tyrion Lannister: And?
Tywin Lannister: If you’re going to give her one, you need to perform.
Tyrion Lannister: What did you once call me? “A drunken little lust-filled beast.”
Tywin Lannister: More than once.
Tyrion Lannister: [slurs his words] There you have it. Nothing to worry about. Drinking and lust. No man can match me in these things. I am the god of tits and wine… I shall build a shrine to myself at the next brothel I visit.


Tyrion Lannister: It’s hard to put a leash on a dog once you’ve put a crown on its head.


Tyrion Lannister: Dragons do not do well in captivity.
Missandei: How do you know this?
Tyrion Lannister: That’s what I do. I drink and I know things.


Sansa Stark: So, how should we punish them?
Tyrion Lannister: Who? Whom?
Sansa Stark: Ser Eldrick Sarsfield and Lord Desmond Crakehall.
Tyrion Lannister: Ah. I could speak to Lord Varys and learn their perversions. Anyone named Desmond Crakehall must be a pervert.
Sansa Stark: I hear that you’re a pervert.
Tyrion Lannister: I am the Imp; I have certain standards to maintain.


Lord Varys: You have your father’s instincts for politics and you have compassion.
Tyrion Lannister: Compassion. Yes. I killed my lover with my bare hands and I shot my own father with a crossbow.
Lord Varys: I never said you were perfect.


Joffrey Baratheon: Hound, tell the Hand that his King has asked him a question.
Sandor Clegane: The King has asked you a question.
Tyrion Lannister: Sir Lancel, tell the Hound to tell the King that the Hand is extremely busy.
Lancel Lannister: The Hand of the King would like me to tell you to tell the King that…
Joffrey Baratheon: If I tell the Hound to cut you in half, he’ll do it without a second thought.
Tyrion Lannister: That would make me the quarter-man. Just doesn’t have the same ring to it.


Cersei Lannister: [referring to Tyrion’s new quarters] A bit of a comedown from chamber of the Hand. But then I don’t suppose you need much room.
Tyrion Lannister: Grand Maester Pycelle made the same joke. You must be proud to be as funny as a man whose balls brush his knees.


Tyrion Lannister: I remember reading an old sailor’s proverb. Piss on wildfire and your cock burns off.
Hallyne: Oh, I have not conducted this experiment. It could well be true.


Tyrion Lannister: [talking to the two dragons] I’m friends with your mother. I’m here to help. Don’t eat the help.


Tyrion Lannister: Oh get on with it, you son of a whore!
Jaime Lannister: Is that any way to speak about our mother?


Lord Varys: Where are you going?
Tyrion Lannister: I need to speak to someone with hair.


Missandei: We do not drink.
Tyrion Lannister: Until you do.


[upon seeing the Eyrie for the first time]
Tyrion Lannister: The Eyrie. They say it’s impregnable.
Bronn: Give me ten good men and some climbing spikes. I’ll impregnate the bitch.
Tyrion Lannister: I like you.


Tyrion Lannister: What’s the punishment for regicide? Drawing and quartering? Hanging? Breaking at the wheel?
Jaime Lannister: Beheading.
Tyrion Lannister: Seems rather ordinary. And he was my nephew as well, so what is that? Fratricide is brothers. Filicide is sons. Nepoticide. That’s the one. Matricide, patricide, infanticide, suicide. There’s no kind of killing that doesn’t have its own word.
Jaime Lannister: [referring to Alton Lannister] Cousins.
Tyrion Lannister: Cousins, you’re right. There is no word for cousin killing. Well done.


Tyrion Lannister: In my experience, eloquent men are right. Every bit as often as imbeciles.


Tywin Lannister: I always thought you were a stunted fool. Perhaps I was wrong.
Tyrion Lannister: Half wrong.


Tyrion Lannister: Wait. WAIT! Wait, wait! Wait, you can’t just hand a dried cock to a merchant and expect him to pay for it! He has to know it came from a dwarf! And how could he know unless he sees the dwarf?
Slaver: It will be a dwarf-sized cock.
Tyrion Lannister: Guess again!


Tyrion Lannister: Laughing at another person’s misery was the only thing that made me feel like everyone else.


Tyrion Lannister: Every time we deal with an enemy, we create two more.


Tyrion Lannister: It’s easy to confuse ‘what is’ with ‘what ought to be’, especially when ‘what is’ has worked out …

[to be continued]

Winter Is Coming …

currently watching / life / out and about / thoughts / websites
Game of Thrones (emblems).

In Germany, one currently only seems to have two choices, either sub-tropical temperatures for weeks on end or grey skies and endless rain. We used to have normal days in between (ages ago), but they have all disappeared in what does seem a lot like the great slush pile of global warming taking its toll.

Having just returned from Lanzarote with its desert winds and blistering heat, I was roasted on a spit inside of my rooftop apartment by temperatures driven to an unbearable maximum by the sun mercilessly beating down on an otherwise well-isolated roof for about 10 hours straight, day in and bloody day out. Then, suddenly, the skies turned into a depressing grey and the rain started to drizzle down. Altogether, I spent nearly four (otherwise very busy) weeks holed up in complete darkness with the shades pulled down, concentrating on other things far away from my website(s). You know, those things you can do for which it doesn’t matter if you sweat all over whatever it is you happen do be doing.

It is typical though, in the first period of time for nearly two years in which I did not update this site regularly, that elmastudio.de (if you don’t know them, they are the [one] lady and [one] guy who make the best WordPress themes around) featured me along with many other websites in their revamped theme showcase.

So, instead of posting stuff here, I spent the little spare time I had on my first real binge-watching session, ever. I’m not the type to really get caught up in TV series no matter how good they are, but Game of Thrones did it for me, although I never thought it would … or could. All these fantasy novels weighing down countless shelves in a myriad of dusty book stores around the globe usually give me the creeps and, sorry George, I haven’t  read a single paragraph of any of the novels the TV series is based on (although I read much of George R.R. Martin’s excellent other fiction and short fiction years ago), but Game of Thrones is just fabulously scripted … and acted.

Peter Dinklage, a.k.a. Tyrion Lannister, is the one who got me hooked and I would never have guessed that he is about as un-British as they come.
From New Jersey?

In other news, and that is the one thing that has kept me away for all too long from my website(s), my reliable host of more than a decade has decided to abandon the solid ground of German legal security after it was sold, uprooting its servers and moving them across the border to France. That move has cost “DomainFactory” countless customers whose published content is bound to staying within the borders German law provides, and I might nearly have been one of them. After much contemplation, I decided to hang around.


To cut rising expenses, I have once again decided to merge deus62.de with deus62.com (plus some other small websites) in order to condense all online efforts into one online presence. Easier said than done. Script limits and other technical difficulties have prevented me from doing so easily and, in the above-mentioned heat, I simply didn’t feel at all like tinkering with this stuff that is much harder to actually do than it should be.

But now that winter is coming, I should have enough time to invest a weekend or two to throw it all into the giant “Kitchenaid” that is my trusted host server, hopefully coming out with a blend that hasn’t lost too much while being ground into submission. A cautious estimate has me working for about 50 to 60 hours to merge, move and polish whatever goes in, and those 60 hours I won’t have for another two weeks or so.

So bear with me. If the “White Walkers” don’t succeed in overrunning what is the southern hemisphere of human civilization, October/November will be the time in which deus62 will do another Phoenix, rising from the ashes of what was destroyed in the process, only to resurface in a much better and more -> benevolent <- world. 😀

P.S.: Here’s a special shout out to D.S.K., who thought I had abandoned the world and excluded everyone from it. That’s not the case, at all. I’ll get back to you, old pal.


life / out and about

This year’s trip to the Canary Islands was perhaps one of the most relaxing I have ever enjoyed.

Flawless weather (including hot Sahara winds for two full days and nights) with endless hours of sunshine, late-night walks along moonlit beaches, hours spent at Cafe La Ola /slash/ Dreams (with liters of Cacique), absolutely brilliant food at two of my favorite harbor restaurants, La Taberna in Puerto Calero and Taberna de Nino in Puerto del Carmen, long walks to all of my favorite (tourist-free) spots, tons of reading and … little else.

Service and everything else at my hotel of choice (for the fourth time these past years, a true first in my many years of traveling) was flawless.

This time, the soundtrack was provided almost exclusively by one of my favorite ambient albums, “World of Sleepers” by Carbon Based Lifeforms (2015).

Pure bliss.

P.S.: Photo -> Hotel pool (Hotel Las Costas, Lanzarote).

Herbert von Karajan

life / listening to / thoughts
Herbert von Karajan

For years, I’ve had discussion with music fans about the importance of Herbert von Karajan, a conductor I disliked with a serious passion. In 2008, Norman Lebrecht summed up my feelings and thoughts better than I could ever have attempted in a rather polemic summary of Karajan’s life and accomplishments. Excerpts below:

“[…] The centenary of his birth this weekend is being marked by an outpouring of product from a music industry that he raised to prosperity and propelled to near-ruin. If the mainstream of classical recording has shrivelled to a trickle in the past five years, that is the inevitable aftermath of the Karajan glut. If classical music itself is widely (if unfairly) considered to be elitist, staid and retrospective, we have Herbert von Karajan to thank for making it a safe, corporate entertainment at prohibitively priced festivals. […]

He manipulated the record industry by divide and rule, always working with two major labels while courting a third. […]

Almost everything Karajan conducted came out super-smooth, like cotton undershirts from a washing conditioner. […] If he had any kind of genius, it was for organisation and opportunity.

[…] Karajan learned from Goebbels how to play one man against another, among other black political arts. He strutted his stuff in occupied Paris and Amsterdam, to all effects the Nazi poster boy. […] After Furtwängler’s death in 1954 he became conductor for life in Berlin, using the Reich’s broken capital as his bridgehead for imperial expansion. His home town festival in Salzburg was converted into a black-tie thrice-yearly assembly of industrial plutocrats, masters of the universe. […]

Reactionary by nature, he stuck to the classical and romantic mainstream, excluding non-tonal music and ulterior styles of performance. Christoph von Dohnanyi went so far as to accuse him of destroying the German conducting tradition by imposing his narrow tastes so monumentally on the art. […]

His hegemony was autocratic, brooking no contradiction. […] He knew no loyalty except to himself. His love of music was confined to the way he made it. […]

Some, like myself, found his attitude anti-musical. I have trouble listening to Karajan on the radio with any kind of equanimity. […] For music lovers, there is not much to celebrate. Once the centenary is over, we will drop the curtain once and for all on a discreditable life that yielded no fresh thought and upheld no worthwhile human value. Karajan is dead. Music is much better off without him.”

[Link: Norman Lebrecht: The clapped-out legacy of Karajan that impoverished classical music. Independent Online, April 6, 2008]]