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

Higher Education Updates

UPI: Judge bars University of California from using SAT, ACT in admissions https://t.co/LUG0uYUeek[…]

Reuters: Indiana University at Bloomington urged students living in fraternity and sorority houses to move out, citing an 'alarming' rate of positive COVID-19 tests that marked the latest outbreak in the U.S. Midwest and at a college campus https://t.co/JTgjF3jBz5[…]

Friday, September 4, 2020

Surface Pro X weakness — it's not just the ARM processor

I have had two technology crises this summer, one mid-summer, another this week.

Sprint no longer requires a phone plan to have a tablet data-only plan on your account, and it's only $15/month. It's well worth the savings compared to most other internet connections over the long term even if an up-front investment is necessary.

I used my iPad mini and its 10 GB at hotspot on that plan as my primary internet connection for more than a year. Using the connection as metered, I only used about 2 GB of hotspot per month, and the rest on the tablet itself. Later I was getting closer to using a full 10 GB per month.

Then everything went splat this summer. My Sprint iPad's reliability tanked, and I was on the phone with support a lot. I started looking for other options.

I heard the Surface Go 2 was out, but being mid-pandemic with lots of stores closed, inventory was not very available. Best Buy didn't carry the LTE version, but they had the Surface Pro X and all models of that device are LTE-capable.

Everyone talking about the Surface Pro X mentions the high price point and low app compatibility as being the downfall of the device. I'm neither editing media nor gaming, so I don't notice those limitations, and it has done much of what I needed. It's been nice to effectively have a home internet connection again for my other devices.

I've discovered another Surface Pro X limitation, however, much deeper under the hood (kickstand) that seriously undermines my reason for having this device at all.

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Cultural Socialism

So far we have focused on the economic agenda of the socialists, yet any conversation with them, or visit to a socialist conference, shows that the vision of these activists is not merely economic. They are equally energized, if not more so, by cultural issues. This is especially true of socialists on campus. …


Asked by an interviewer for the website PragerU to define her brand of socialism, a female student said it would really hard to do because socialism had so many dimensions. For example, “You’re socializing with me right now. Socialism!”

If this seems laughable, it’s not. A Gallup survey, released in May 2019, found that 6 percent of respondents defined socialism as “being social, social media, talking to people.” …

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Humility gathers advocates

The Confession
Having gotten their attention by taking their money, we made our confession with a slide titled “140 Reasons Square Will Fail.” The slide listed all the potential fatal problems that our team could imagine, from predictable threats like fraud or bank regulations, to more outlandish possibilities, like a robot uprising. …

Our “140 Reasons” slide had a miraculous effect on our VC meetings.

Most VC pitches are nothing but sunshine and graphs moving up and to the right. To honestly examine all the hundreds of possible events that can kill a new company was just not done. But it showed we were thoroughly thinking through all the angles and unafraid to confront potential problems and future robot overlords.

It also had a strangely positive effect on the mood of the meetings. Normally, the company founders pitch an idea while the VCs try to find problems with that idea.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

News of the persecution

Now, instantly almost with this gift of the generous sheik's, comes the news of the persecution of the brethren in Rome. It is the opening of a new field. The light must not go out in the capital.
Source: Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace

Presidential Updates

“The Chinese Communist Party is an enemy of humanity.” Chen Guangcheng, a blind Chinese #HumanRights lawyer who fled #China and arrived in the US in 2012, has called on #Democratic countries and #Voters to support President Trump to confront the #CCP. https://t.co/n8ikgDN30l[…]

@UPI: Full text: President Donald Trump accepts GOP nomination for re-election https://t.co/xdrTIF9N3G[…]

“The Democratic party does not want black people to leave their mental plantation… I have news for Joe Biden: We are free.” Lifelong Democrat Rep. #VernonJones delivered a speech at the #RNC2020 in support of President Donald Trump's reelection. https://t.co/C8h5F9Klgz[…]

Monday, August 31, 2020

Higher Education Updates

AFP: The University of Alabama, seen as a test case for returning to in-person learning amid the pandemic, has reported close to a thousand positive coronavirus cases since reopening https://t.co/SVZX3kRER1[…]

@WESH: Online school means online tests, along with computerized surveillance https://t.co/TKs7m6L1gE[…]

AFP: Australia's parliament is set to probe alleged foreign interference at public universities, as concerns grow about Chinese influence https://t.co/6BYlkDgyhb[…]

Friday, August 28, 2020

Nature and Resources Updates

@HowardSlutsken: Next week, Transport Canada will be the first non-US regulator to flight test the 737 Max. Via @Reuters https://t.co/6K4q4nLdG2[…]

@AgitatedCu: Classic polygonal eyewall (wavenumber-5 pattern superimposed on a wavenumber-1 asymmetry) seen in both radar and visible satellite imagery of Category-4 Laura at the moment. Theory behind the wavenumber-5 phenomenon here: https://t.co/zpjS35PRB4 https://t.co/uyJp8nNHZ8[…]

@breakingweather: #BREAKING: #Laura has made landfall near Cameron, Louisiana, as a Category 4 hurricane with winds of 150 mph: https://t.co/5olhgvDqg2 https://t.co/0Y53fiMcXm[…]

@ABC: LATEST on #HurricaneLaura: https://t.co/pDCLiMFYwE - 306,499 without power in Louisiana - 75,571 without power in Texas — […]

@MikeTFox5: Anatomy of a weakening storm...Dry air on the western flank of #HurricaneLaura is being pulled into the storm, disrupting it's structure. Eastern side of #Laura continuing to pull moisture off the Gulf though, and this is where the tornado threat will be. Winds down to 100mph. https://t.co/NWa9LBK47q[…]

Thursday, August 27, 2020

The broader ends of the Green New Deal

Much of this seems suspiciously unrelated to climate change. Something else seems to be going on, and something else is.

A conversation recently surfaced between Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti—who has since resigned—and the environmental policy advisers of Governor Jay Inslee of the state of Washington.

In the meeting, Chakrabarti frankly admitted that from the beginning the Green New Deal was conceived with broader ends.

“Do you think of it as a climate thing?” he chuckled. “Because we really think of it as a how-do-you-change-the-entire-economy thing.”

In short, climate change is the ruse to get the public to go for full socialism.
Source: United States of Socialism: Who's Behind It. Why It's Evil. How to Stop It. by Dinesh D'Souza

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

When innovation was outcast

When the word entrepreneur first puttered across the Atlantic by steamship in the late nineteenth century, it described a special type of person: a risk taker who reshaped an industry through innovation.

Joseph Schumpeter, the economist who popularized its use, described entrepreneurs as revolutionaries and “wild spirits.”

They were outcasts living on the edge of civilization, doing things that hadn’t been done.
Source: The Innovation Stack: Building an Unbeatable Business One Crazy Idea at a Time by Jim McKelvey

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Waiting upon an uncommon Man

Caiaphas! I have seen him,” Simonides replied, adding, after a pause during which he thoughtfully watched the haughty pontiff, “And now am I convinced.

“With such assurance as proceeds from clear enlightenment of the spirit—with absolute assurance—now know I that he who first goes yonder with the inscription about his neck is what the inscription proclaims him—KING OF THE JEWS.

“A common man, an impostor, a felon, was never thus waited upon. For look! Here are the nations—Jerusalem, Israel. Here is the ephod, here the blue robe with its fringe, and purple pomegranates, and golden bells, not seen in the street since the day Jaddua went out to meet the Macedonian—proofs all that this Nazarene is King.

“Would I could rise and go after him!”
Source: Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace

Presidential Updates

The independent HHS Ethics Advisory Board released a report on its thorough review of 14 external research proposals involving the use of fetal tissue. https://t.co/sFQLj9EOE8 @HHSGov continues its efforts to end federal research using fetal tissue from abortions. — […]

@StateDept released a report on the “Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance Policy,” which ensures taxpayers do not fund abortions. https://t.co/EIE2Uo14oo @POTUS expanded the Mexico City Policy to protect the unborn while promoting women’s health around the world. — […]

Monday, August 24, 2020

A prime and unoccupied location

Ancient Jericho is not very picturesque as a ruin.

When Joshua marched around it seven times, some three thousand years ago, and blew it down with his trumpet, he did the work so well and so completely that he hardly left enough of the city to cast a shadow.

The curse pronounced against the rebuilding of it, has never been removed.

Higher Education Updates

Reuters: University of Southern California in Los Angeles is now welcoming students online https://t.co/YxdIqa040L[…]

Reuters: The University of Notre Dame suspended in-person classes and moved them online for at least two weeks after seeing a surge in coronavirus cases, the latest university to roll back campus reopenings https://t.co/UAFnm6zN8w[…]

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Guarding our nation

This morning, I listened to Reston Bible Church which I attended for five years when I moved to the Northern Virginia. Mike Meyers gave the message about guarding your heart.

Having previously worked in the technology industry, he talked about how getting saved is like downloading a new operating system for our lives. Guarding our heart is like running anti-virus software that can remove and keep out viruses, malware, and guard against corrupted files (sin, provision for the flesh, etc.).

I got to thinking about it, and God gives nations operating systems, too. Nations, too, can become corrupt, and they need an anti-virus mechanism to guard against corruption. Nations can become corrupted, not just through bribery and abuse of power, but also if its founding principles are undermined and eroded away.

God has provided nations with an anti-virus mechanism: it is the Church. He has provided people to proclaim from His Word the purpose of government and rights to be protected including freedom to speak and build our lives on the Word of God.

Friday, August 21, 2020

The First Amendment and the Gospel

A headline out of the Democratic National Convention caught my attention:
Democrats push to revamp political money system…
‘Dark money’ is funding half of spending on House, Senate ads
This is a free speech issue. Democrats say, “Money isn't speech.” Judges disagree. When money is controlled by the law, speech can always be assigned a monetary value, and as soon as it is (such as in court), it's controlled by any law that controls money. The Supreme Court defended free speech against such unconstitutional infringement in Citizens United v. FEC.

Truth is not determined by money or by vote. The answer to 10 people saying something false is 1 person speaking the truth. That is why free speech is more powerful than money. This is also why liars pretend to control money.

Nature and Resources Updates

@WTOP: Watchstanders had received an alert from a personal locator beacon. A helicopter crew found four people on the hull of an overturned, 24-foot fishing boat. https://t.co/3VZrQuh865[…]

@markknoller: In Iowa, @IAGovernor Kim Reynolds tells Pres Trump that the derecho that hit Iowa last week was "basically a 40-mile wide tornado," that "took out" entire counties and half the state's crops. Pres pledged "we'll help you recover from the storm." https://t.co/aFb7seTB6d[…]

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Signature institutions of democratic socialism

I have my own lived experience to draw on to compare socialism and capitalism, both of which have been tried in my lifetime in my native country of India.

The Indian leaders, some of whom studied Fabian socialism in England, adopted socialism complete with Soviet-style five-year plans when India became independent in 1947.

I grew up under Indian socialism—which I remind you was democratic socialism—and experienced its signature institutions.

One was everyday corruption; literally nothing could be done without paying some petty bureaucrat under the table.

Another was the ration card, which specified the paltry amount of sugar or cooking oil that a family was permitted to purchase each month.

A third was a seven-year waiting period to get a phone.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Building blocks of purpose, happiness, success

To be successful in life, I have learned that you have to put first things first, but today’s popular culture has it backwards.

You can’t find your passion until you develop your work ethic.

You can’t find your purpose until you discover who you are.

You can’t find your happiness until you find your talent and help others.

And you can’t find success until you earn it.
Source: Solid Ground: A Foundation for Winning in Work and in Life by T.W. Lewis

Federal, International Updates

@IndependentInst: As in 1945, millions of workers were suddenly released from their jobs. Yet the economy prospered. The postwar recovery showed that the corrective powers of markets (freedom) worked to sustain America’s economic advance. @WSJ #VJDay https://t.co/dfYLnSkfDh[…]

With mutual debt between countries, it seems it would be easier to have a mutual cancellation than mutual payment. https://t.co/bt2F91wI3O[…]

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

The master over death surrendered to death

Ben-Hur's confidence rested most certainly upon the miraculous power of the Christ.

Pondering the subject in the purely human view, that the master of such authority over life and death, used so frequently for the good of others, would not exert it in care of himself was simply as much past belief as it was past understanding.
Source: Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace

Presidential Updates

“I would move quickly… The Democrats would if they were in this position.” President Trump said he would fill a vacancy on the #SupremeCourt should the opportunity present itself before the #2020Election. https://t.co/uTOTBQMLRv[…]

@ChadPergram: Mnuchin: The Admin is willing to move forward with legislation that allows for substantial funds for schools, child care, food, vaccines, hospitals, PPP for small businesses, rental assistance, broadband, airports, state and local government assistance and liability protection — […]

“A truly historic moment. Not since the Israel-Jordan peace treaty…has so much progress been made towards peace in the Middle East.” #Israel and the #UnitedArabEmirates agreed to the full normalization of relations in a deal brokered by President Trump. https://t.co/0q7Wl7uJeq[…]

Monday, August 17, 2020

No larger than an American village

At last, away in the middle of the day, ancient bite of wall and crumbling arches began to line the way--we toiled up one more hill, and every pilgrim and every sinner swung his hat on high! Jerusalem!

Perched on its eternal hills, white and domed and solid, massed together and hooped with high gray walls, the venerable city gleamed in the sun.

So small! Why, it was no larger than an American village of four thousand inhabitants, and no larger than an ordinary Syrian city of thirty thousand. Jerusalem numbers only fourteen thousand people.

Higher Education Updates

Reuters: Many U.S. universities are revamping campuses to resume in-person classes despite COVID-19, requiring students to be tested, wear masks and socially distance https://t.co/VI4vcXPLDU[…]

AP: The iconic summer job for high school and college students has been on the wane for nearly 20 years. But the pandemic is squeezing even more young people out of the workforce. https://t.co/MczjZJI1Zg[…]

AP: That most American of pursuits - college football - has either shut down or is trying desperately to hang on in the age of COVID-19. Story by @pnewberry1963 https://t.co/OelHPSaoN3[…]

Friday, August 14, 2020

Defining Identity Socialism

To understand identity socialism, we must begin with socialism itself, socialism in its original or classic sense. Here the most helpful definition does not come from Marx but from economist Joseph Schumpeter.

In his classic work Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, Schumpeter defined socialism as a system in which, “as a matter of principle, the economic affairs of society belong to the public and not to the private sphere.”

This strikes me as an excellent definition because it creates a spectrum.

At one end is the free market society, which generates wealth and earnings in the private sphere, requiring little more to function than laws protecting property rights and enforcing contracts.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Blogger vs. WordPress

A moment of decision is arriving. I neither requested nor anticipated this would come.

Blogger is launching a new editor. A few months ago using it was voluntary. In July it became the default with an option to revert to the previous editor. Now Blogger is saying the previous editor goes away in September.

The new editor is inferior. It's focus is not on text editing which is significantly worse in the new editor.

It's hard to convince myself Google is listening to its users. The only good sign of such is their threat to remove the old editor by August 24 appears to have been delayed to September.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Federal, International Updates

Remarks by @VP @Mike_Pence on the Importance of Life https://t.co/4awei1PvxP via @WhiteHouse #ProLife — […]

• India hits 2 million virus cases, deaths pass 41,000.
• Grief turns to fury, protests in wake of Beirut blast.
• Trump bans dealings with owners of TikTok, WeChat.
https://t.co/op6uOnAAPK https://t.co/4dNr9xXAF9[…]

— Rescuers in Lebanon recover more bodies days after blast;
— Russia’s race for virus vaccine raises concerns in the West.
https://t.co/izIGgW4fh1[…]

EpochTimes: “Under the direction of President Donald J. Trump, the United States is delivering critical emergency aid to Lebanon” The US is sending food, water, and #MedicalSupplies to #Beirut after a massive blast at a port killed 154 people and injured 5,000.
https://t.co/H9xwvwb24L[…]

Amazon's 14 leadership principles

Bezos drives Amazon’s inventive culture through fourteen leadership principles, adhered to by most Amazonians more closely than their own religions, which can sometimes make Amazon feel like a cult. These principles guide decision making within the company, they’re hammered home during its interview process, and they come up casually in conversation between Amazonians when they’re off the clock.

When you work at Amazon, the leadership principles become part of your being. They make it difficult to work at any other company, which is why so many ex-Amazonians “boomerang,” or come back after they’ve left. One ex-employee told me he’s teaching these principles to his kids.

The more you study Bezos’s leadership principles, the more it becomes clear that they’re a manual for invention. Taken together, they inspire new ideas, strip out the corporate muck that so often holds the best ideas back, and ensure anything with a chance to succeed gets out the door.

Think Big, for instance, encourages Amazonians to dream up the company’s next great product, process, or service. And critically, it gives them permission to do it too, a departure from stay-in-your-lane management. “Thinking small is a self-fulfilling prophecy,” the leadership principle says. “Leaders create and communicate a bold direction that inspires results. They think differently and look around corners for ways to serve customers.”

Invent and Simplify, another example, makes invention core to people’s jobs at Amazon, not peripheral. “Leaders expect and require innovation and invention,” it instructs. “They are externally aware, look for new ideas from everywhere, and are not limited by ‘not invented here.’” (A more honest reading of this principle would be: Your entire purpose at Amazon is to invent. If you’re not inventing, your job will get simplified and then automated. At Amazon, you invent or hit the road.)

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Measuring the Christ

He persisted as men do yet every day in measuring the Christ by himself. How much better if we measured ourselves by the Christ!
Source: Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace

The good news is we don't have to do either. We would never measure up to Christ. Yet, when God the Father looks at those in Christ, all He sees is Christ measuring up to his perfect standard.

Presidential Updates

President Trump announced he had fired 2 members of the the federally-owned Tennessee Valley Authority, saying that its chief executive Jeff Lyash is “ridiculously overpaid” and that the corporation is seeking to outsource US #Jobs to foreign workers. https://t.co/wLSJrfrufZ[…]

“Social media companies are not the arbiters of truth… The President was stating a fact that children are less susceptible to the coronavirus.” #Facebook and #Twitter removed posts from President Trump, citing misinformation about the #CCPVirus. https://t.co/Yzu0bQbvbx[…]

Monday, August 10, 2020

An exceedingly small portion of the earth

One of the most astonishing things that have yet fallen under our observation is the exceedingly small portion of the earth from which sprang the now flourishing plant of Christianity.

Higher Education Updates

@Medgadget: Oakland University in Michigan to require residents to wear ‘BioButton,’ to track health; students launch petition https://t.co/UInZQwogJl[…]

AP: Mid-American Conference becomes 1st major college football conference to cancel fall season. https://t.co/xwowzKup46[…]

Friday, August 7, 2020

Who the crowd forgets

Players who’ve won a championship trophy or ring often declare, “No one can ever take that away from me.”

Splashdown: The end of the beginning

@NASA: Space dads @AstroBehnken and @Astro_Doug woke up aboard @SpaceX’s Dragon Endeavour to hear a message from their sons, awaiting the #LaunchAmerica crew’s arrival back on planet Earth. https://t.co/ZhtZzpLYhu[…]

@JimBridenstine: We have SPLASHDOWN! Welcome home @AstroBehnken and @Astro_Doug! #LaunchAmerica — […]

@NASA: "Thanks for flying @SpaceX." Current Location: Planet Earth A 2:48pm ET, @AstroBehnken and @Astro_Doug splashed down, marking the first splashdown of an American crew spacecraft in 45 years. #LaunchAmerica https://t.co/zO3KlNwxU3[…]

@flightradar24: NASA’s WB-57 high-altitude research aircraft continuing to circle following the successful splash down of Crew Dragon in the Gulf of Mexico. https://t.co/W7NKEsv13m Among other things, the WB-57 was used to chase the total solar eclipse in August 2017: https://t.co/6trWnnWYYS https://t.co/91bg8hK4Na[…]

Flag capturing sequence commenced, completed.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

What AI enables

Advances in artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and collaboration technology have made it feasible to support existing businesses with much less execution work, helping companies turn new, inventive ideas into reality—and sustain them.

These tools are the next evolution of a workplace software explosion that’s made companies more efficient, and AI is putting it into overdrive.

Experts say AI will free people up to do more “creative” or more “human” work.

But more precisely, AI enables them to do more inventive work.
Source: Always Day One: How the Tech Titans Plan to Stay on Top Forever by Alex Kantrowitz

Federal, International Updates

@NASAKennedy: Successful splashdown of Crew Dragon at 2:48 p.m. ET. Welcome home @AstroBehnken and @Astro_Doug: https://t.co/A9sbAYbCl3 https://t.co/fushrFAIWp[…]

@SenateNews: #SenateHearing: Hearings to examine Venezuela, focusing on security and humanitarian situation. https://t.co/NnPyLV7Ve2[…]

@WSJopinion: Elections are cancelled, protesters are arrested, and a professor is fired. Day by day, China’s Communist Party is squeezing the free breath out of Hong Kong https://t.co/Rrc7gswiMv[…]

@volqx__: The Beirut explosion was equivalent to about 240 tons of TNT, roughly 10 times as great as the US military's (MOAB) is capable of unleashing.The blast produced seismic wave equal to a magnitude 3.3 earthquake. Pray for our brothers and sisters in Beirut, Lebanon https://t.co/58gySrm8QP[…]

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Knowledge beyond understanding

The knowledge we gain from much sympathy with others passing through trials is but vaguely understood; strangely enough, it enables us, among other things, to merge our identity into theirs often so completely that their sorrows and their delights become our own.
Source: Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace

Presidential Updates

President Donald Trump welcomed 69-year-old #TerrySharpe, a @USMC #Veteran, to the @WhiteHouse as he completed his 300-mile walk to the nation’s capital to raise awareness about the problem of #VeteranSuicide. https://t.co/eSzBdyrusQ[…]

“No American should fear for their personal safety because of where they live or their political affiliation.” #Wisconsin's Republican Party has called for a federal probe into the daylight #Shooting of a known #Trump supporter. https://t.co/5Nt2t7RiCF[…]

“May cut off funding if not open!” Trump said. #Schools that don’t plan to physically reopen, or at least offer some in-person #Learning in the fall, would lose relief money set aside for K-12 #Education under Senate GOP’s #Relief bill. https://t.co/c0zy8zDFEf[…]

President Trump announced his administration is set to finalize a deal with @Kodak to transform it into a #Pharmaceutical company to produce generic active pharmaceutical ingredients, helping to reduce the reliance on other countries for critical drugs. https://t.co/nsV3Kec0hk[…]

“Many doctors think it is extremely successful” President Trump defended a video, banned by #Twitter and other platforms, featuring #Doctors making positive statements about the efficacy of #Hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for the #CCPVirus. https://t.co/tDcuiIoq4l[…]

Monday, August 3, 2020

Making the narrative tell itself

It is hard to make a choice of the most beautiful passage in a book which is so gemmed with beautiful passages as the Bible; but it is certain that not many things within its lids may take rank above the exquisite story of Joseph.

Higher Education Updates

AP: The University of Notre Dame has become the second university to withdraw as the host of one of this fall’s three scheduled presidential debates amid the pandemic. https://t.co/Hol2nMcFvn[…]

Reuters: The number of Hong Kong citizens applying to study at Australian universities has hit a three-year high midway through 2020, according to government data, amid fears a new security law is ushering in a more authoritarian era https://t.co/pt3V7eAgso[…]

AFP: #UPDATE The Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, which runs its own settlements, universities and media in the region geared at China's Han majority, will have any US-based assets frozen, the Treasury Department said https://t.co/3nT0USSG7N[…]

Friday, July 31, 2020

Nature and Resources Updates

@Reuters: U.S., Russia to hold first space security talks since 2013 https://t.co/rsd65KT3Xk https://t.co/Lbd0Ic5NfR[…]

@markknoller: Pres also issues emergency declaration for Puerto Rico due to conditions resulting from "Potential Tropical Cyclone Nine." The action authorizes @fema coordination of all disaster relief efforts and assistance to "lessen or avert the threat of catastrophe." — […]

#WashingtonDC is inside the cone of uncertainty for #HurricaneIsaias. #FLwx #GAwx #SCwx #NCwx #VAwx #DCwx https://t.co/DEXaTG4UC9[…]

The need for flourishing cities

After the election, conservative intellectual Yuval Levin put his finger on it best.

“At the root of the most significant problems America faces at home is the weakening of our core institutions—family and community, church and school, business and labor associations, civic and fraternal organizations.”

To explain Trump’s core supporters, many commentators pointed to the factories that were closing, but they should have been pointing to the churches that were closing. …

Thursday, July 30, 2020

SCOTUS Updates

@CBNNews: The Supreme Court has rejected a Nevada church's request to strike down a state restriction limiting attendance at religious services as unconstitutional. https://t.co/ZgzckeRACa[…]

@GOPLeader: The Supreme just ruled against religious freedom. If casinos can open up, churches should be able to do the same—a total double standard. Justice Gorsuch is 100% right: "There is no world in which the Constitution permits Nevada to favor Caesars Palace over Calvary Chapel." — […]

@USSupremeCourt: Regarding Justice Ginsburg https://t.co/OcnymACp0b Justice Ginsburg underwent a minimally invasive non-surgical procedure today at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City to revise a bile duct stent that was originally placed at Sloan Kettering in August 2019. — […]

A benefit to college learning online

Avoiding this:
An estimated one in five American female college students say that they have been the victim of sexual assault. …

It is striking how underappreciated the power of myopia is.

In the Washington Post/Kaiser Family Foundation study, students were asked to list the measures they thought would be most effective in reducing sexual assault.

At the top of that list they put harsher punishment for aggressors, self-defense training for victims, and teaching men to respect women more.

How many thought it would be “very effective” if they drank less? Thirty-three percent.

How many thought stronger restrictions on alcohol on campus would be very effective? Fifteen percent.

These are contradictory positions.

Students think it is a good idea to be trained in self-defense, and not such a good idea to clamp down on drinking.

But what good is knowing the techniques of self-defense if you’re blind drunk?

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Federal, International Updates

• US testing labs buckle as virus cases near 4M.
• Emigrants send dollars home to Mexico – and COVID warnings.
• China launches attempt to land on Mars.
https://t.co/op6uOnAAPK https://t.co/xVtxvcFzeR[…]

— Mayor of Portland, Oregon, tear gassed by federal agents.
— In the struggle against the coronavirus pandemic, populist leaders fare poorly.
— China launches attempt to land rover on Mars.
https://t.co/4iRtU1BIF2[…]

• Trump scraps Florida part of GOP Convention.
• US agents blocked from arresting observers in Portland.
• China orders US to close Chengdu consulate.
https://t.co/op6uOnAAPK https://t.co/otPYkX1FwM[…]

— China tells US to close consulate in Chengdu in growing spat;
— Column: Baseball gets its opening day, now a season looms.
https://t.co/aOLKKTj91P[…]

Apple's Windows moment

Until recently, it seemed like Microsoft’s inventing days were over.

The company was so attached to Windows it almost let the future pass it by.

But with a leadership change from Steve Ballmer to Satya Nadella, the company returned to Day One and embraced cloud computing, a threat to desktop operating systems like Windows, and became the world’s most valuable company once again.

Apple under Steve Jobs developed the iPhone, a device that rendered desktop computers like the Mac and portable music players like the iPod less relevant but also set the company up for years of success.

Today, Apple is having its Windows moment.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Presidential Updates

Remarks by President Trump on Phase Four Negotiations https://t.co/kyr7nOjCko https://t.co/FvzOCp17Gq[…]

“Law abiding citizens should not have to pay for their abdication of responsibility.” The #TrumpAdministration should block taxpayer funding from going to states and cities that are allowing anarchists to run rampant, members of Congress said. https://t.co/4JFiVhJrZQ[…]

President Trump left open the possibility that more #Chinese missions would be forced to close after the #TrumpAdministration ordered #China's #HoustonConsulate to shut down. https://t.co/WKDK0xCfxc[…]

@usatodaymlb: For the first time in office, President Donald Trump will throw out the first pitch at a Major League Baseball game -- taking the mound August 15 at Yankee Stadium before a game against the Red Sox. https://t.co/LXT0I6W57m[…]

The kind of wife to avoid

The daughter who despises her father will bring her husband to grief.
Source: Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace

Monday, July 27, 2020

The talk of the nation

The ancestors of these—people precisely like them in color, dress, manners, customs, simplicity—flocked in vast multitudes after Christ, and when they saw Him make the afflicted whole with a word, it is no wonder they worshiped Him.

No wonder His deeds were the talk of the nation.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Knowing awesome

Awesome is a lot simpler than you think, because you used to know awesome quite well. Everyone did at one point. Especially when we were kids.

I was reminded of this one night as I was walking down the hall at home. My daughters were brushing their teeth, an event that usually boils over to an international crisis.

This time, though, they weren’t fighting for sink space—they were talking literature.

I heard L.E., my 9-year-old, say to her little sister, McRae, “Did you know that the guy who wrote The Twits also wrote James and the Giant Peach?”

I heard McRae respond, “I know! I love that guy. He’s got a great imagination, like me.”

Like me. What a powerful declaration.

Roald Dahl has been called the greatest storyteller of our generation. He also wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. He’s sold millions and millions of books.

And in McRae’s little 6-year-old mind, his imagination is on par with hers.

He’s her peer.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

SCOTUS Updates

Justice Ginsburg undergoing chemotherapy https://t.co/vJIwcpbnav (WORLD) — […]

Supreme Court upholds ex-felon voting restriction in Florida https://t.co/sRKOlQ1fcX (WORLD) — […]

Genuine Bezonomics

The best way to make customers happy, in Bezos’s playbook, is to make living their lives cheaper and easier. …

We are genuinely customer-centric,
we are genuinely long-term oriented,
and we genuinely like to invent. …

(Today, independent, third-party sellers account for more than half of all the products sold on Amazon. The company sells the rest directly to consumers.) …

51 percent of American households attend church,
52 percent have Amazon Prime memberships. …

Bezos embodies three characteristics that separate him from all other mere mortal entrepreneurs.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Federal, International Updates

• China firm uses workers to ‘pre-test’ vaccine.
• Police video captures distraught George Floyd: ‘I’m not a bad guy.’
• Biden, Gates, other Twitter accounts hacked. https://t.co/op6uOnAAPK https://t.co/6584k5iMgE[…]

China firm uses workers to ‘pre-test’ vaccine in global race;
• Rising virus totals force rethink of bars, schools, tourism;
https://t.co/7p0wwN2sJx[…]

US hot spots in Sunbelt set deaths, infections records.
India passes 1M cases; Brazil crosses 2M.
Russia is hacking vaccine trials, US, UK, Canada say.
• Ex-New Mexico officer facing murder charge over chokehold. https://t.co/op6uOnAAPK https://t.co/CEnLTtyT9X[…]

• Struggling India crosses 1 million coronavirus cases;
• Days grow long at nursing homes as virus lockdowns drag on;
• 'Yes we exist’ - Black fans eye NASCAR’s work to diversify. https://t.co/elUnurWCXF[…]

@JasonMillerinDC: Remarks by Vice President @Mike_Pence on the Dangers of Socialism https://t.co/DJZT45KV5S #MAGA — […]

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