Mark Grealish

the life and code of a crazy cat man

Clarkian Magic

in science fiction

I live in somebody’s fictional future. Science fiction writers follow a process. First, they decide where their story will be on the spectrum of happiness-utopia or dystopia? Second, they construct a narrative history which links here and there. And finally, the writer exaggerate their made-up tomorrow for dramatic effect.

The writer makes sure you know that This Is The Future. Their future. If the setting wasn’t enough by itself, the cast of larger-than-life and self-consciously future characters hammer the point home with their glittering silver jumpsuits, nutrient pills, cyber implants and fancy made-up words. They inculcate a dramatic sense of wonder, future shock, difference and Not Now.

Truth is, now is now and now is normal. Death and taxes are still inevitable. Whatever we grow up with is normal, however the fuck strange it looks in any other context. Take aliens. For the sake of the story, most science fiction describes alien life in contexts that are uncomfortably Up Close and Personal. In fiction, somebody cracks faster-than-light travel, or otherwise makes the Long Hard Journey Across Space. Either way, aliens turn up on our doorsteps in order to invade, meet, greet, teach or fuck us. Maybe all of the above.

Real alien life will be small and far away, enough that, after we find them, the story of how we found them will be “dumb blind fucking luck.” They won’t change anything either. Take Tabby’s Star, KIC 8462852.

We will find aliens and nothing will change because they are so far away. They’ll answer a philosophical question or two, sure, but, we cannot ever talk to, visit, copulate with or otherwise in any way learn more about them.

I lead with this because I live in a digitally-interconnected global society. We are more at peace now than we have ever been before in history. Most major economies have moved toward a post-industrial base. Powerful interests have begun to recognize the necessity of environmental stewardship at a planetary scale. There remain fundamental-and maybe unsolvable-problems, but let’s stop for a moment to give ourselves a pat on the back. We did this. We created an astonishing science fiction future that deserves to be pointed at wondered over.


in me

The new (and soon to be old) bedroom

The beauty of transience

in ireland

I’ll be dead some day, dead and gone and left to decompose in a hole in the ground. Everyone has their time. But what’s more beautiful than transience? You have a summer day, and then it’s gone forever. It’ll never be again.

Ruined house in Sandyford Village, Dublin

Pretty Stack Overflow-style resource URLs in Rails 5

in code

Stack Overflow uses routes with the format /:id/:title for questions like this one, which I find to be more memorable than simply a terse ID. I’ve decided that I want this for my new project, a rewrite of this blog in Ruby on Rails 5. Small changes to a model and its routes are required to permit this:


A post on Stack Overflow led me to a GitHub issue which outlined breaking changes in the to_param object method and a need to glob the route.

get '/ponies/*id', to: 'ponies#show', as: :pony


Add your custom slug:

class Pony < ApplicationRecord
  def to_param

And that’s it, simple as.

The Summer Day

in random

The Summer Day
Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
-Mary Oliver

The Summer Day

I triggered a tickle fight at 3am

in family

I find nothing to complain about in such a crazy turn of events.