Thursday, December 31, 2020

Supreme Court pandemic perspective

Chief Justice Roberts began his 2020 Judiciary year-end report with some historical perspective.
Two hundred and thirty years ago, our first Chief Justice, John Jay, convened the Supreme Court of the United States for its inaugural sitting. With no cases yet filed, Jay and his colleagues turned promptly to circuit riding. That duty, assigned by Congress, required them to travel around the young country and preside over trials in the lower federal courts. Jay took the Eastern Circuit, covering his home state of New York, assisted by his colleague William Cushing. (Justices John Rutledge and James Iredell, who skipped the first session of the Supreme Court, were assigned to the Southern Circuit, which required 1,800 miles of travel—providing yet another lesson in what happens when you miss a meeting.)

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

177 days

Mark your calendars for June 25, 2021.

In 177 days, the government is required to disclose its declassified information about UFOs.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Apple Books' giant leap forward

iOS/iPadOS offers a very useful feature of being able to read content on the screen. It gets even more useful when its reading a book app and the “pages” turn themselves so it can keep reading without user assistance.

I've done this a lot with Amazon's Kindle app. I've also listened to some old books on Google's Play Books app (a somewhat appropriately named app for that use, if unintentional because it was only following the Play theme and not a native universal feature in that app). Apple Books could also use Apple's screen reading feature, but it also read all headers and footers on the page, too.

Old book app rankings: Amazon, Google, Apple

Apple is now well out in front as far as I'm concerned, and Google has fallen way behind.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Kindle-ready

What does God desire?

The question assumes a couple things first: (1) God exists. (2) God has desires.

Once those facts are established, people who know the Bible may think of Micah 6:8, a line from Scripture that closely resembles the question:

After asking, “Will the LORD be pleased” with sacrifice, the writer explains “He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?”

When that's not happening, what does God desire then?

Friday, December 25, 2020

The culmination of a great question

Where are you from?

It's a question I'm often asked when people who speak Spanish as a first language ask me when they find out I speak Spanish.

Senior, ¿De Donde eres?

In reading near the end of John, I realized that Pilate and the Pharisees had something in common. They were driven to ask Jesus questions related to where he was from, his origin.

What happened before Christmas and what led up to Christmas answer that question. A birth is usually thought of as a beginning, but in this case, it's the very end of a long question of origination. Once on the scene, the from question has reached its conclusion.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Christmas at trial

Jesus spoke about his birth at his trial:
Pilate therefore said to Him, “Are You a king then?”

Jesus answered, “You say rightly that I am a king. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” (John 18:37)

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Survival and Heroes

I listened to a couple books on survival today.

On the one hand, the extreme measures start to sound the same after a while.

On the other hand, a story of survival from an accident reads very different than a story of a failed mission.

After an accident, survival is about rising to the unexpected occasion and triumphing over the odds.

In the story of a failed mission, there had been lots of preparation, and yes there was an accidental loss of those preparations, but there the risk was known. The original mission was a competition for glory, of reaching the south pole first.

In neither case does the survivor think of himself as a hero, but someone lays down his life to put it at great risk to bring rescue to others, that's heroic, even if it felt like nothing more than the necessity of the moment.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

48 years ago today

If the pattern holds, a group of survivors gathered today to commemorate their rescue from the Andes mountains 48 years ago today after 72 days surviving after a plane crash.

I recently read a couple books about this. It has a way of putting difficulty in perspective.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Peanuts and chocolate

A long time ago, in a state far far away, I discovered the wonders that are peanuts and chocolate together.

One of my favorite little Hershey bars are Mr. Goodbar. Pure chocolate and peanut goodness.

Then I discovered the wonders that is buying unsalted peanuts and plain Hershey milk chocolate bars and eating them together. It's like Mr. Goodbar in all his nutty goodness multiplied several times over.

Today, I almost made this purchase again until I realized that pound-for-pound, Peanut M&Ms are a much better buy than the Hershey milk chocolate bars. They're also less work.

Friday, December 18, 2020

To delete or not to delete

If one is going to abandon the use of an internet service that includes the posting of public content, how should one leave it?

There are two schools of thought on this:

Jakob Nielsen thinks content should live forever. That is, don't delete accounts as that would delete all old content.

Then there's the delete your old accounts approach. This would delete all old public content, but that's a necessary price in this age when privacy is at a premium. Content can live forever on Archive.org instead.

What do you think?

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Three types of Christmas seasons

First, there's the reason for the season, culminating in the Gospel on Easter.

Second, there's the commercialism that stands opposite the nativity reason.

Third, there's the month of December that builds up to higher and higher expectations.

As Pastor Steve King used to say, the difference between reality and expectation (if negative) is called disappointment. It really makes for a lot of pressure that's not fun. There's no win over it all either.

In contrast, the new year is a season of anticipation. It's unknown what the new year holds, but it's a season for planning, new intentions, and clearing the decks for a fresh new adventure.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

900 Days

It's another milestone day!

I'm 90% of the way toward my goal of 1,000 days of writing.

I was thinking about this writing project this week, and I may have misinterpreted my writing collection idea that got me started on this in the first place.

I had collected a lot of thoughts and ideas for writing topics, but when I went back to them after I had exhausted my first round of primary writing ideas, a lot of them weren't really worth picking up on well after the fact.

Those thoughts saved were less useful as writing ideas, and more useful as conversation topic ideas. I don't need a place to write. I need someone to talk to—one who talks back, as Joel Hunter puts it.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Almost a national festival

The last few days have been very long with my move. Today continued with laundry, clothes organizing and more clothes purging. Yes, after the move. Less space for some things helps motivate action.

While doing that I listened to the rest of A Short History of the Book of Common Prayer. At one point a concern was mentioned that “even Christmas Day … has come to be accounted almost a national festival,” meaning its celebration and recognition was no longer a matter limited to church liturgy.

As that paragraph included earlier, “all this is changing.” Indeed.

The reason for Christmas never changes.

Never reply to spam

The spammers are getting more clever to get past the spam filters and all their AI.

Lately, they've been using an algorithm that scrapes this blog, finds some reference to a Wikipedia article, makes a dumb assumption about what the article was about (not realizing I just link to Wikipedia a lot), and then send me a form email about an article they wrote that's supposedly better because it's more thorough and quotes from “more than 20 different sources” to “ensure that our article is authoritative.”

And then they don't include a link to the article they're talking about.

Monday, December 14, 2020

Middle-Aged Moving

If you're going to move after your a couple decades into working, I recommend hiring movers.

Two main reasons:

1. You have accumulated more stuff than you think.

2. Moving is more physically painful than previous times.

Friday, December 11, 2020

Boxes

Tomorrow is moving day. That means today is the last pre-move packing day. I have a few days of overlap, if needed.

Books are the easiest thing to pack for a move first. When traveling it's usually electronics. The difference in this case is books may be used least of all, and electronics the most.

Storing books may be one of the most natural uses of a box due to their similarity in shape, especially when books are stacked.

In terms of furniture, I plan to size down to only a bed, bookcases, and a couple desks. I've had large sitting furniture, but both are old and not in great shape.

I'm looking forward to the move.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Weep for yourselves

Jesus (to the people in the crowd):

Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me. 

Weep instead for yourselves and weep for your children. 

Days are coming when people will say, “Blessed are the infertile; blessed are the wombs that never bore a child; blessed are the breasts that never nursed an infant.”

People will beg the mountains, “Surround us!” They'll plead with the hills, “Cover us!”

For if they treat Me like this when I'm like green unseasoned wood, what will they do to a nation that's ready to burn like seasoned firewood?

Luke 23:28-31

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Beauty and Efficiency

I've recently had occasion to use a Mac for a period of time.

I've long been a Windows person. I know the system well, know a lot of its shortcuts, especially using the keyboard, and have built up an extended keyboard shortcut system of my own. It's become quite efficient.

Whenever I get a new Windows computer, or reset an old one, one of the first changes I make is to turn off animations. They're a waste of time. Windows appearing and disappearing is enough animation for me. I certainly don't need the operating system user interface intentionally slowing me down.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Trading hours

I've been one to stay up late, as needed in the past. In school it was procrastination. In more recent years it's probably just overcommitment.

However, now, I think it's better to go to bed early and get up early. You know, like an 80-year-old. If the sun (in DC) can get a full 8 hours of rest even during its short nights in the summer, it may be a good schedule year-round.

For me, it's simply a matter of thinking quality differences at different hours of the day. I'd take one early morning hour over three evening hours any day of the week. They're equally productive. They're not equally efficient.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Google's dull knife

Two thoughts:

1. Cutting with a dull knife can be more dangerous than cutting with a sharp knife.

2. The right tools can be a joy to use.

Right now, Blogger from Google is a very dull knife. It's no longer a joy to use.

Friday, December 4, 2020

The Great Relocation

Maybe coronavirus is the new Dust Bowl—on a bigger scale.

Americans are on the move.

Much already looks different, yet other threads remain consistent. There's encouraging precedent for this, especially as we approach the Christmas season.

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Holiday special sales aren't really ending this year

Black Friday and Cyber Monday may be passed now, but it doesn't seem to take much to get retailers to extend their offers.

I was shopping with a friend tonight, and remembered an accessory I needed to go with some newer technology purchased earlier this year.

Then I got looking at computers for my arm.

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Our nation needs prayer

Between work and moving, the writing commitment is mostly getting squeezed in than intentionally pursued lately, and probably for the next couple weeks or so.

I've had several thoughts today, but one big one that hit earlier was just the reality that roughly half of Americans are OK with abortion. And not just abortion, but millions of abortions. Hundreds of thousands in this country alone are committed every year. It happens with several variations, and none of them are OK.

Our nation needs prayer. I believe God is trying to get our attention. I don't think He has it yet, and His Word describes additional options He can pursue to get it.

We really need to pray for our nation. We need to change our minds about where we are and where we're going. We're not in an OK place. We weren't before the pandemic hit, and right now we're not on track to fundamentally change anything. Our use of images has increased, and that isn't helping.

“Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:2).

“We do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Giving Thanks Tuesday

Piggybacking on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the non-profit world got into the holiday spending momentum a while back with with Giving Tuesday.

A few weeks ago I was motivated to direct some of my giving to an organization that I thought was making a difference in a timely way. They send a lot of email, and continue to do so.

The second time I gave more than the first time. I also wasn't sure they even got the first gift.

Monday, November 30, 2020

Moving Season

Normally moving is a warm-weather, summertime activity, but this year, as with many things, is the exception to that.

Perhaps summer moving got postponed.

Perhaps there have been a lot of real estate market fluctuations since then.

Friday, November 27, 2020

The chilling effect of censorship

Social media in and from America has begun to flex its muscle that some always feared it could, but always trusted to restrain itself from excessive use of power.

It seems the era of President Donald Trump has pushed them over the edge. The dam broke, and now it's an all-out battle over information and the truth.

If Twitter can slap a label on your Tweet, or make you disappear altogether, then that will make people think twice before invoking the wrath of the supposedly unbiased algorithm.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

The gratitude that followed the plague

I would be glad if I could close the account of this melancholy year with some particular examples historically; I mean of the thankfulness to God, our preserver, for our being delivered from this dreadful calamity.

Certainly the circumstance of the deliverance, as well as the terrible enemy we were delivered from, called upon the whole nation for it. The circumstances of the deliverance were indeed very remarkable, as I have in part mentioned already, and particularly the dreadful condition which we were all in when we were to the surprise of the whole town made joyful with the hope of a stop of the infection.

Nothing but the immediate finger of God, nothing but omnipotent power, could have done it. The contagion despised all medicine; death raged in every corner; and had it gone on as it did then, a few weeks more would have cleared the town of all, and everything that had a soul.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

The Plague drove away astrology

In his account of the Plague in London, Daniel Defoe wrote, “One thing I cannot omit here, and indeed I thought it was extraordinary, at least it seemed a remarkable hand of Divine justice: viz., that all the predictors, astrologers, fortune-tellers, and what they called cunning-men, conjurers, and the like: calculators of nativities and dreamers of dream, and such people, were gone and vanished; not one of them was to be found.”

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

5 marks of false religion

“There is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9), and false religions are no exception. Many have come and gone over the years.

The broadcasting era increased awareness and emotional response to false teachers and some of the more extreme examples came to be known as cults. Jim Jones was one of the more prominent examples of the 1970s, but he was not unique. New religious teachings were proliferated at the grassroots level to the point where one might be handed a tract while heading to a wedding.

That's exactly what happened to my great-uncle, Dave Breese. He was a well-known Bible teacher, and in reading a pamphlet someone gave him at a wedding got him thinking. What is it were possible to identify some of the common characteristics of these cults, of these false religions, false teachings?

Monday, November 23, 2020

Forever dying without release

I once heard a story from a young English evangelist. He told me about the day Charlie Peace, a well-known criminal in London, was hanged—February 25, 1879. The Anglican Church, which had a ceremony for nearly everything, even had a ceremony for hangings.

So, when Charlie Peace was marched to the gallows, a priest walked behind him and read these words from a prayer book: “Those who die without Christ experience Hell, which is the pain of forever dying without the release which death itself can bring.”

When these chilling words were read, Charlie Peace stopped in his tracks, turned to the priest, and shouted in his face, “Do you believe that? Do you believe that?”

Friday, November 20, 2020

Pray for Africa


A week to prepare

One week from today is when retailers in the American economy have traditionally made their annual transition from red to black in their bookkeeping. That is, they finally turn a profit for the year.

They do this by luring customers into their stores and into buying now and paying now or later.

It's that later part that can be especially tempting and damaging to one's personal finances. Debt is based on lies and is to be avoided.

Take a good hard look at your finances and outlook for the next year now before the spending temptation hits in earnest next week. Make sure you're leaving room for existing commitments before spending money that may be needed later.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Titanic Church

Full day today and evening, so this will be short.


I read the book sample, and it was better than expected. It starts with spiritual things happening a couple decades before the RMS Titanic sunk in 1912.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

It's not really soul-searching if there's no searching

It's always fascinating to watch the soul-searching of the other side.

The Hill has a report today on the venting of Senate Democrats over this year's election results.

Three things stand out.

1. Democrats rarely think their policies are the problem, only bad messaging explaining those policies. They think they're there in office to do good, and think people must not understand that or they would support them. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Access vs. Ownership

In his book on long-term tech trends, Kevin Kelly claims that “Access is so superior to ownership in many ways that it is driving the frontiers of the economy.”

What he reads as a benefit to commerce, some of us read the same way we do a warning about government power.

Conservatives warn against voting for benefits from the government because any government powerful enough to give you those benefits is also powerful enough to take them away. (And in more partisan terms, it's a power-building technique in that one political party can—exceeding the purposes of government—give things and then threaten that another political party will take them away.)

The same warning could apply to commerce. Anyone who does not own their own property and is dependent on access to the property of others is also susceptible to the other party withdrawing that access.

Right now we're seeing this play out on a large scale with the Section 230 debate.

Monday, November 16, 2020

Where are we?

It's easy to say the coronavirus changed everything, but what if it hasn't?

What about all the things it hasn't changed?

What if that very visible change we've seen this year was part of a process of seeing differently so many things that have actually stayed the same?

We're all still people.

We all have desires.

Friday, November 13, 2020

Pence Speaks

Vice President Pence spoke at the Young America's Foundation Fall Retreat today:
I know you get a little tired — even all these bright young people get a little tired after election season, and I know you all worked very hard. The truth is, I’m headed down to Georgia next week, and I’ll be going down again and again, and we have got to roll our sleeves up. And just as earnestly as we are working to reelect President Trump for four more years, we got to make sure that we reelect a Republican majority in the United States Senate and the majority path goes straight through Georgia. (Applause.)

So get ready. I mean, it’s great to be here at this Young America’s Foundation Retreat, but I hope you get a little retreat, you get a little refreshed, and then, if you can, hit the road. (Laughs.) All roads point south, okay? Go find a place to get involved and knock on the door because it — their — you know, our agenda is about American greatness, and I really do believe their agenda will lead to American decline. I believe it with all my heart.

I mean, where we’re opening up again, they got people on their team that are already talking about locking down America again. Where we cut taxes, rolled back regulation, we advanced more freedom — they’re talking about literally raising taxes right out of the gate, growing government, and returning to an activist court, defense cuts that — the likes of which we inherited when we came into office.

We know what their agenda is, and if they — if they find a way to gain control of the White House and the United States Senate, as they hold the House of Representatives even by a narrow majority, their agenda is higher taxes, open borders, socialized medicine, a Green New Deal, abortion on demand, defunding the police, and packing the courts. But we’re not going to let it happen, right? (Applause.)

Healing for America

In his speech on Saturday, Vice President Biden quoted Ecclesiastes 3 saying, “The Bible tells us, ‘to everything there is a season: a time to build, a time to reap, and a time to sow and a time to heal’ This is the time to heal in America.” It's easy to assume he meant healing from the Presidency of Donald Trump.

What needs healing in America?

What if our healing needs precede President Donald Trump by decades?

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Will we ever see freedom a cause of the left?

Some Democrats with whom I've spoken think liberals already are champions of personal liberty. Speaker Pelosi thinks mandating health insurance sets people free. Senator Bernie Sanders sees bread lines as a form of freedom.

Answering the question requires first understanding the meaning of two terms: freedom, and the left.

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

A world without ACA is nothing to fear

The U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments this week in California v. Texas. This is the second major case over the 2010 Affordable Care Act. The first case was in 2012, NFIB v. Sebelius. (Repeated words in the oral argument transcript are removed in quotes here for readability.)

Chief Justice Roberts began his second questioning of counsel, “Mr. Verrilli, eight years ago, those defending the mandate emphasized that it was the key to the whole Act. Everything turned on getting money from people forced to buy insurance to cover all the other shortfalls in the expansion of healthcare. And the briefs here on the other side go over all that. But now the representation is that, oh, no, everything's fine without it. Why the bait and switch? Was Congress wrong when it said that the mandate was the key to the whole thing, that we spent all that time talking about broccoli for nothing?”

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Does inclusion include the living?

For the last several years, students have been taught inclusion is one of the highest values to hold.

Medical schools are reaping these seeds sown, and this fall the results have been on display at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Incoming students wrote and took an updated version of the Hippocratic Oath.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Selfie Nation

A POLITICO report included an anecdote about a voter who reported beginning Election Day intending to vote for President Trump, and changed his mind in the voting booth.

His reason: “I just want my Instagram to be about me again, and how good I look.”

Friday, November 6, 2020

The fundamental challenge for pollsters

Of the House election results this week, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairwoman said, “Something went wrong here across the entire political world. Our polls, Senate polls, gov polls, presidential polls, Republican polls, public polls, turnout modeling, and prognosticators all pointed to one political environment—that environment never materialized.”

At first glance, this comment could sound like the problem was a matter of a projection bias or a feedback loop that got everyone thinking the same thing (“all pointed to one political environment”). While that may have been an issue, if that is the only conclusion reached, I think that will have missed a much deeper transformation that fundamentally undermines the very possibility of accurate polling.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Noteworthy moments from the oral argument in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia

I listened to the oral argument from the Fulton case this week, and two moments stand out.

The second was when an attorney arguing against religious freedom said, “I don't think there's any way to draw a line between what the government can and can't take over” (pp. 98-99 of the oral argument transcript). This reflects a lack of understanding of the purposes of government.

The first was when Justice Sotomayor asked, “Counsel, I've always thought that a compelling state interest that motivated our holdings in racial discrimination cases was not merely that race was important but that the burden on the people who are rejected because of race is an interest that the state could seek to protect, that a rejection on the basis of race or any protected category creates a stigma on that person and that it's a compelling state interest for the state to have an anti-discrimination law on the basis of protected classes” (p. 42).

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

What money didn't buy

Remember when Hillary outraised Trump on funds and still lost? This year had a similar result in Congressional races. Democrats raised $125 million more than Republicans, and the results were barely any different than 6 years ago.

Some are more blunt saying Democrats might as well have lit $73 million on fire in Kentucky. Both Arizona and Kentucky have strong libertarian streaks, but Kentucky has a stronger bent toward rooting its political philosophies in the Scriptures, and that foundation held firm. Free speech is more powerful than money.

One wonders if continued defeat in the battle of ideas would drive Democrats to turn to idea suppression instead. If outspending and speaking louder doesn't guarantee results, would they attempt to cut off the ability of the other side to speak? Yes, and they already have been for a while.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Unsafe people

Today, the book, Safe People, is on sale at Amazon. I read the free sample. One sentence sums it up rather well: “While there are many different kinds of unsafe people, many of them fall under three categories: the abandoners, the critics, and the irresponsibles.”

This morning my Bible reading was Matthew 25. This made for some interesting parallels.

Chapter 25 opens with the story of the 10 virgins awaiting the bridesmaid. Five of them were prepared with extra oil, and the other five were not. Perhaps one could say the latter five would fit into the “irresponsibles” category.

People who set standards for others to meet in relationships have some inherent challenges. I've heard someone recommend judging people by how much they talk about themselves vs. how much they talk about others.

While these man-made principles may sound like good advice, I still have a question: Would the people we read about in the Bible pass these tests?

Monday, November 2, 2020

Living with the trends

There comes a time when a person must take action and incur expense, not just to save money, but to not live in denial of cultural trends or at the hands of those who deny them.

Reports abound about how rent prices are dropping in major cities all over the country.

Within a 3-mile radius of Amazon's new HQ2 in “National Landing,” rent prices are apparently doing no such thing. My building was in denial about this a couple months ago and demanded either another lease or a rent increase.

Friday, October 30, 2020

Hillary had it backwards

THE LATEST: All Topics. All Sides. One Place.

Remember when in her shock after the 2016 election Hillary Clinton attributed her loss of the woman vote to women following the leads of their husbands?

Yeah, that didn't go over well at all with the women who didn't vote for her. I remember one conservative woman coworker of mine who felt highly insulted that Hillary thought conservative women had no intelligence or initiative of her own and only did what their husbands told them to do. As if husbands were doing the telling.

It turns out the exact opposite happened in some cases. Take, for instance, Joel Rosenberg. He voted for President Donald Trump at the urging of his wife.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Whoever pays has control

To paraphrase Ecclesiastes 4:4, everything man does is one man striving against another man. Not content to live their own lives, men seek to control others or wrestle off the control of others.

My second preference is to wrestle off the control of others; my first preference is to keep it off in the first place.

One of the most common forms of non-violent, non-coercive control is through money. It's one of the easiest ways to exchange value from one person to another. Anyone willing to part with their money can invariably bend the actions of the person willing to do something to receive it.

This is universally true. This is true of honorable transactions and dishonorable transactions. This is true of direct financial relationships and indirect financial relationships.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

There is no escape

The final days before an election tend to increasingly dominate all of the public attention. Relatively few people are still involved in shaping the message at large (not counting everyone on social media), and everyone else plans to vote, contact a few friends and family, and await the results.

For some, that can feel like waiting out a hurricane. Assuming one still has electricity, its best and easiest to tune out the storm, about which one can only seek the Lord in prayer, and turn attention to other things. One of the best ways to do this is with a book, preferably one about another time.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

What communism does

To say that “communism doesn’t work” is to pay it too high of a complement.

It implies that communism is a complete system. It is not.

Communism is a way of taking away personal motivation.

If you take away people's personal motivation to be productive, they have no reason to be productive.

Monday, October 26, 2020

The most pro-life U.S. President in history

President Trump is very competitive.

One has no difficulty identifying this streak in his dealings in the past, and the books he's written about them.

I found this tendency of his most striking when he acknowledged a record he could not beat. When President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara Bush passed away in 2018, there was honor for their 73 years of marriage. President Trump recognized his own mortality limits his ability to break that record. His marriage begun in 2005 would have to last until 2078 to match that. He would have to live to 132, and that's not going to happen.

Not winning everything has not stopped him from aiming for things he can win. As President, Donald Trump has worked with advisors to maximize opportunities to put in place pro-life policy and judicial restraint more than any of his predecessors.

Friday, October 23, 2020

BidenCare

Americans still believe in freedom in the marketplace.

When leftists feel the need to use the language of “competition” to talk about their health care policies, you know they recognize a government takeover of health care is not palatable to the American people.

This is exactly what Joe Biden did last night when it comes to health care. Twice he used the word “competition” to talk about his health care policies.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Imposters Among Us

AOC is getting praise in some circles for playing Among Us.

One wonders if she realizes the implications for the optics of participating in a game in which at least one of the players is knowingly an imposter seeking to corrupt the mission of others.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

The Piranha Theory

Sometimes it's interesting how people remember things, or in some cases, don't quite fully remember things.

I heard someone ask about “The Piranha Theory” yesterday. That was a bit of a head-scratcher at first.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Election reminders

Election Day is two weeks from today.

You don't get things by voting for them.

You get things by working for them.

You get rid of things by voting for people who will stand against them.

The whole point of having a law is for there to be a law against something.

If you want to be for something, you don't need a law to do that—at least not in a free country.

Monday, October 19, 2020

How to know when the Gospel is relevant

Where is there sin?

Where is it possible to sin?

Is it possible to sin with money? with power? with relationships?

There, the Good News of Jesus Christ, the Gospel, is relevant.

“Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).

Sunday, October 18, 2020

The church's turn to deceit

In the 1970's, the Church in America had a sense of mission and purpose. We had the light of God's Word and we wanted to take it to the regions beyond and the uttermost parts of the earth where people lived in spiritual darkness and needed to know the Truth.

I was born to a couple that understood this and dedicated their lives to exactly this mission. Through their organization they were headed to the tribal regions of Venezuela and the Yanomamo people.

Fast-forward 50 years and the roles are reversing. Yanomamo people have come to know Jesus and the American church is turning to spiritual darkness, even while still claiming to be “Gospel-centered,” having the Bible as their “final authority,” and giving money to support mission work.

Friday, October 16, 2020

TNX

I didn't mean to double-post yesterday, and I want to go see if I can see if T-Mobile deems me eligible for TNX. Phone customer service told me this is new in the stores as of October 7.

If I encounter drama, maybe I'll live-blog the experience.

Update: The store staff did not deem me eligible. I only have tablets on my Sprint account and TNX is only for phone plans.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Why Work for Religious Liberty

Yesterday, Daniel Darling highlighted a recent article of his about why we should work to legally protect religious liberty.

His four main points were:

1. Jesus addressed religious liberty.

2. Paul addressed religious liberty.

3. Paul asserted his rights as a Roman citizen.

4. Romans 13 Reminds Us That We Will Be Accountable for Our Voice in a Democracy.

What happens with a 'right' to health care

Democrats are running election ads framing the choice on November 3, 2020, as “giving health care to everyone” or “taking health care away” from everyone. As if.

Health care is a service. It costs money. People providing it need to be paid. Health care is 1/6 of the American economy. It's not 100% of the economy.

The supply of health care providers—everyone practicing medicine—exceeds the possible demands on the health care system—everyone else.

No matter the policy or law in place, these limits are built-in. There's no way around the fact that the general population is larger than the health care provider population.

Paying for health care, like paying for anything else, helps match supply to demand.

If there's no financial friction to accessing health care, everyone would feel more free to access the health care system and that increased demand would exceed the capacity of available health care providers. Demand must be held down to levels that can be met by available supply. No one can provide unlimited health care to everyone. Prices change to make these adjust to ever-changing demands.

If Democrats want to “get money out of medicine” (to borrow a phrase), and ban people from paying for health care, then after having increased demand by reducing financial friction, they must then find other ways to artificially reduce demand. They're claiming to solve a problem they're creating.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Uncharted territory for Democrats

I wrote about this a couple weeks ago, but the story is now getting even better.

Republicans are not giving in to demands from Democrats to spend ourselves into oblivion with another round of trillions, plural, in spending.

This is uncharted territory for Democrats. They're used to getting their way, and they have no idea who to blame anymore now that they're not.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Rights are not something for courts to 'announce'

SCOTUSblog reported on yesterday's first day of confirmation hearings on the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court.

There was a line that caught my attention and the form of it drew attention. Twice it read as:

“the constitutional right to [issue] announced in [Supreme Court case]”

If something is a right, then it should not take a Supreme Court case to make an appearance.

Monday, October 12, 2020

POTUS in Sanford

10 days ago President Trump was scheduled to speak in home town in Florida.

That plan was postponed by a coronavirus diagnosis.

Now, 10 days later, the President is able to resume holding campaign events.

Friday, October 9, 2020

The kind of jobs we don't want to create

Some people's jobs exist because other people don't do their job well.

The software world is no exception to this.

Thursday, October 8, 2020

How to make content mobile-friendly

If you want your main online content to be mobile-friendly, never use more than one column.

Two columns or more are for paper, not screens.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Justice Thomas Questions

In hearing Supreme Court telephone oral arguments again this week, I'm reminded again of the newsworthiness of Justice Clarence Thomas asking questions. When this first happened in the spring, the legal world was alight with delight at his questions.

On the one hand I found it less noteworthy for a few reasons. I once heard an interview with Justice Thomas wherein he was asked about his propensity not to ask questions, and he had a simple explanation: He liked to hear what people had to say. I think that's true. I get the impression that to him it’s not really that big of a deal.

The change in format from an open session in the courtroom to a telephone teleconference has had significant effects on oral arguments including who asks questions and when. Having a designated time to ask questions in order of seniority changes the dynamic. Justice Thomas is now first, and he indeed uses his time for questions to ask questions.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Why do companies make it hard for customers to increase the value of their services?

I've never understood why software companies make it hard for users to suggest features.

Software is nothing but language. The bar for competition is generally quite low. Some things like internal Web sites, intranets, etc. get less usage so competition is reduced, but still.

It's a rare user that takes the time to (a) think about the software and how it could be better, and (b) actually bothers to put those ideas into words and suggestions and actually send them to the company.

Software, by its nature, is going to be used in unexpected ways, and no developer or company can predict all those ways, nor the pain points or inefficiencies users will notice along the way. Therefore, to have people voluntarily offer ways for them to increase the value of their product is something that should be highly valued.

Monday, October 5, 2020

First October Monday

Supreme Court oral arguments began for the new term today.

Would that I had time to listen to them and study each case.

Google v. Oracle is on Wednesday.

Questions:
• Does copyright protection extend to a software interface?
• What counts as fair use of code?

A fascinating backdrop to that question is the open embrace by Microsoft of open source code.

Friday, October 2, 2020

Better to be overlooked

I've been reading Proverbs recently, and this week I came across 12:9:
It is better to be overlooked and have a servant than to be pretentious and have nothing to eat.
While the “have a servant” part raises a lot of questions for us today, especially in 2020, there's another way to understand this.

I've been an avid user of technology all my life. Among my very first words were those about light switches, and my tools have gotten more advanced since then.

I frequently rearrange my work space to fit my needs, and lately that has meant having a dashboard of several screens to be able to keep track of people and material. It's like my own little throne surrounded by silicon servants.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

What happens when Republicans take a stand

Republicans good ideas about restraining government spending, and they also have difficulty enforcing them under pressure.

The Congressional response to the coronavirus has presented Republicans with an easier than usual opportunity to stand by principles of restraint. After passing a $2 trillion spending bill, Republicans have been more than ready to let that spending have its full effects first before proceeding further.

Both House Speaker Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Schumer both expected Republicans to cave on spending and consent to trillions more in spending. They pretended to suffer cuts to their demands by shortening how long they would demand spending.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

The assumptions of questions

Reporters like to think that any question they ask is inherently objective, but this is not how it works.

Reporters actually know quite well that it's possible to embed assumptions into how they ask a question to lead someone into a particular kind of response.

Last night, Presidential Debate Moderator Chris Wallace did exactly this. He repeated the propaganda line long-used by Democrats that Republicans “have no plan” for replacing the Affordable Care Act.

President Trump was having none of it. He didn't let that incorrect assumption stand for a minute, even if it meant interrupting the moderator.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

The day before Justice Ginsburg passed away

Given the magnitude of the change to the U.S. Supreme Court at hand, little notice seems to have been given to what happened right before Justice Ginsburg's passing.

SCOTUSblog on 9/18: “Two Supreme Court justices made public appearances on Thursday — if only virtually — and a third received a lifetime achievement award as the legal academy celebrated Constitution Day. The National Constitution Center awarded its 32nd annual Liberty Medal to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and, in lieu of an in-person ceremony, the center invited Ginsburg’s favorite opera singers and friends to pay tribute to her lifelong work in the law.”

Monday, September 28, 2020

Grand in its loneliness

The Sphynx is grand in its loneliness; it is imposing in its magnitude; it is impressive in the mystery that hangs over its story.

Friday, September 25, 2020

I don't know if Twitter is worth the effort anymore

Product leadership is about understanding a product's potential, discovering it if necessary, and then pursuing that direction to the fullest extent possible.

Twitter leadership doesn't understand the “use case” for Twitter's most valuable feature.

As an avid Twitter user since 2007, I find this utterly incomprehensible.

List search is one of the most powerful features Twitter has, at least in combination with a few other features. For me it's the most valuable way to use Twitter.

Here's how it works:

Thursday, September 24, 2020

The home technology arms race

I have not found it too difficult to keep up with changes in personal technology devices such as phones and tablets. Both of those seem to have supplanted the laptop and desktop markets. I consider the Windows desktop interface to have moved to tablets now.

Networking, on the other hand, is a bit of a different story. I remember selling Wireless-G as the new fast alternative to Wireless-B. 50 mbps was much faster than any internet connection, so it should serve people's internet needs well and leave lots of headroom for internal transfers.

This year, due to some unattended challenges with my wireless provider, and a temporary need for higher capacity, I'm back to using more home networking equipment. Seems I was more out-of-date than I thought.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Realizations about Blogger

On Saturday, I realized something about the new Blogger the encapsulates why I must reject it.

The HTML editor in the old Blogger made working with HTML fundamentally easier. When switching between compose and code view, it would change things in a way that made it more useful, and it made features more accessible. This was especially true of the
tag. There were even times I would open a Blogger editor to change some HTML that I wasn't even using for Blogger because it made things easy. Some things it didn't change for the better (like bulleted or numbered lists), but most other things were good.

The HTML editor in the new Blogger makes editing HTML fundamentally harder. It changes nothing about my code no matter which view I'm in. Instead of fixing things for me, it informs me my code is inferior. Sometimes it highlights the problem in red, sometimes not. When adding text, lines, and paragraphs in the compose window, instead of using the single
tag that doesn't require a closing tag, it uses
tags. Very yuck. Further, everything is on a single line, so it's highly inefficient to track things down, add page jumps, figure out where the other random
tag landed, etc.

What I realized is that in two primary cases for me, I was using Blogger because it was easier to do things on Blogger than by myself with the code. If that's no longer the case, then my reason for using Blogger has been eliminated.

Federal, International Updates

John MacArthur: 'I'm open for a jail ministry' https://t.co/1obqqQIzWP[…]

Attack kills World Vision worker in Congo https://t.co/mA1lwK5pQS[…]

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Why punishments should not build wealth

Once in Hartford the flies were so numerous for a time, and so troublesome, that Mrs. Clemens conceived the idea of paying George a bounty on all the flies he might kill.

The children saw an opportunity here for the acquisition of sudden wealth. They supposed that their mother merely wanted to accumulate dead flies, for some æsthetic or scientific reason or other, and they judged that the more flies she could get the happier she would be; so they went into business with George on a commission.

Straightway the dead flies began to arrive in such quantities that Mrs. Clemens was pleased beyond words with the success of her idea.

Next, she was astonished that one house could furnish so many. She was paying an extravagantly high bounty, and it presently began to look as if by this addition to our expenses we were now probably living beyond our income.

After a few days there was peace and comfort; not a fly was discoverable in the house: there wasn't a straggler left.

Still, to Mrs. Clement's surprise, the dead flies continued to arrive by the plateful, and the bounty expense was as crushing as ever.

Monday, September 21, 2020

The omnibuses of Egypt

When we reached the pier we found an army of Egyptian boys with donkeys no larger than themselves, waiting for passengers—for donkeys are the omnibuses of Egypt.

We preferred to walk, but we could not have our own way. The boys crowded about us, clamored around us, and slewed their donkeys exactly across our path, no matter which way we turned. They were good-natured rascals, and so were the donkeys.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Weekly Updates

GovTop Report
Pray for Congress

Her 'most fervent wish'

Last night, news broke that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has passed away.

While this kind of news spreads quickly, and immediately inserts itself into the national discussion, Congressional agenda, and election, it's worth pausing to first reflect on one of the last things she said.

NPR reported, “Just days before her death, as her strength waned, Ginsburg dictated this statement to her granddaughter Clara Spera: ‘My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.’”

Even if the ideological and political roles were completely reversed, this is one of the saddest final statements one could make.

Friday, September 18, 2020

More online dominoes could fall

The world is not ready for an IPv6-only environment. My employer confirmed as much today.

So, I signed up for Xfinity. Comcast is notorious for making it difficult for people to leave. Even after they leave, and your account is no longer active, it still lingers in their system. You can't just “sign up for new service,” because you're not entirely new. Their phone system gets particularly confused by inactive customers. Eventually you hit 0 repeatedly and wait for it to say, “Let me get someone to help you,” which is what you wanted in the first place.

You're new enough to get new customer pricing, but then once you sign back up, any contact information you had on your old account is held hostage until you call to get it released. Such calls seem to defeat the point of having online promotions for people to sign up online.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

A teachable moment on government

I listened to a conversation between Senator Tim Kaine and students this afternoon, and he never used the term, but he very directly promoted identity politics with them.

He talked about how it's important to see people in government that “look like you.”

The irony was he reserved terms like “division” for when he wanted to talk bad about Republicans, but in actuality, he himself was planting seeds of division in that very conversation.

Another line of thought stood out, too. I don't remember if it was a student or the Senator, but someone talked about having a government “that works for them.”

That's not the purpose of government. That's not the nature of government.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

A summer of things breaking

Today, my biological Dad would have been 70 years old. He was into electronics back in the 1970s, so I'm sure he would have been engaged in a lot of the developments we've seen over the decades since then. He was also into God's Word, and he would have known that none of these things change the sinful heart of man or the struggles that we face.

As the pandemic and its effects have continued into the fall, this summer has seen a lot of things break. Relief assistance has run out, and people are turning to other ways to make ends meet. With everyone under pressure and a lot of things a stake, it's easy to make a misstep and make things worse instead of better. I've seen this with both my internet connection, and also with services I use like IFTTT and Twitter. I've spent hours on refining how I use both, only to have them throw massive amounts of that away by disabling key features of their products.

I don't like relying on and waiting for GPO and Congress.gov for things either, but at least there, the institutions pre-date the latest dot-com hype and have a record of longevity.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

For Mark Twain, writing was a family activity

The children always helped their mother to edit my books in manuscript.

She would sit on the porch at the farm and read aloud, with her pencil in her hand, and the children would keep an alert and suspicious eye upon her right along, for the belief was well grounded in them that whenever she came across a particularly satisfactory passage she would strike it out.

Their suspicions were well founded.

Monday, September 14, 2020

The prince of dismal scenery

So ends the pilgrimage. We ought to be glad that we did not make it for the purpose of feasting our eyes upon fascinating aspects of nature, for we should have been disappointed—at least at this season of the year.

A writer in “Life in the Holy Land” observes:
“Monotonous and uninviting as much of the Holy Land will appear to persons accustomed to the almost constant verdure of flowers, ample streams and varied surface of our own country, we must remember that its aspect to the Israelites after the weary march of forty years through the desert must have been very different.”
Which all of us will freely grant. But it truly is “monotonous and uninviting,” and there is no sufficient reason for describing it as being otherwise.

Friday, September 11, 2020

September 11, 1960

Today is the 60-year anniversary of the Sharon Statement.

It contained five core principles:
  1. Individual freedom and the right of governing originate with God
  2. Political freedom is impossible without economic freedom
  3. Limited government and strict interpretation of the Constitution
  4. The free market system is preferable over all others
  5. Communism must be defeated, not contained

Full text:
In this time of moral and political crises, it is the responsibility of the youth of America to affirm certain eternal truths.

We, as young conservatives, believe:

That foremost among the transcendent values is the individual’s use of his God-given free will, whence derives his right to be free from the restrictions of arbitrary force;

Thursday, September 10, 2020

The Socialist Temptation

The socialist temptation is widely described by conservatives as the temptation to live off “free stuff.” But this is not so—the temptation is actually more complex.

It is the temptation to annihilate one’s conscience by feeling justified in living off other people’s work.

Think about it this way: most people would not dream of going into their neighbor’s house, eating from his refrigerator and helping themselves to his wallet. It’s just not right.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Everlasting Purpose

Show me where and how You want me to take steps toward my destiny every day. …

Why try to be somebody else? God already has one of them. There is only one you—and you are it. …

A fourth characteristic of a masterpiece is that it is named by its creator. The artist or sculptor ascribes a name to his or her creation that reflects its meaning and purpose.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Presidential Updates

“No. No, I don’t want them. I want to leave it to law enforcement.” President Trump said he doesn’t want #TrumpSupporters to engage or confront #BlackLivesMatter protesters, saying that #LawEnforcement should deal with them. https://t.co/weZoZ8xKRV[…]

“The left’s war on police, faith, history, and American values is tearing our country apart, which is what they want.” President Donald Trump wants to restore patriotic education in #Schools to remedy the division which has led to #Violence and #Riots. https://t.co/ZU9HYINjyM[…]

The #BlackLivesMatter movement is discriminatory and bad for black people, as well as everybody else, President Donald Trump said, describing the group as as a #Marxist organization. https://t.co/tCJ92sW4VZ[…]

Monday, September 7, 2020

800 Days

I'm 80% of the way toward my goal of 1,000 days of writing.

Today is also the birthday of my Gramma's* and a cousin. Shared birthdays are not as fun when you're a kid, but they become more cherished as a person gets older.

At my last writing milestone, I remember noticing that 700 and 800 basically bookend Summer 2020. For the first half the SpaceX mission helped out on the Space Station.

During the first half of July, while the Senate was still on a break, my internet connection became largely incapacitated. Now its only partly incapacitated. I'm still trusting the Lord to provide. While awaiting another transition, I read a book on Churchill over this holiday weekend.

In August, Blogger has been pushing it's new interface harder. They said they were going to make everyone switch over on 8/24, then September. Thankfully that still hasn't happened yet. I've stopped checking to see if they've done anything with feedback I've sent.

Tim
15,800 days

* her spelling

Disclosure

Links to Amazon.com are affiliate links and earn commissions.

Your support is appreciated.

Blog Archive