All content on this blog from Tim McGhee has moved to the Tim McGhee Substack, and soon, Lord willing, will be found only on that Substack.

Friday, February 28, 2020

What storytellers do

Embodiment and projecting a virtual body may sound dangerously space-age—holograms!—but in many ways, embodiment is very old. Older than writing, as old as stories, perhaps as old as language itself.

What does a storyteller do other than use their voice and body to project characters and feelings into the minds of their listeners?

What is language other than a tool for transmitting new mental representations of the world into the minds of other people?
Source: Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language by Gretchen McCulloch

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Three approaches to work

More recent research finds that most people approach their work in one of three ways: as a job, a career, or a calling.

If you see your work as a job, you do it only for the money, you look at the clock frequently while dreaming about the weekend ahead, and you probably pursue hobbies, which satisfy your effectance needs more thoroughly than does your work.

If you see your work as a career, you have larger goals of advancement, promotion, and prestige. The pursuit of these goals often energizes you, and you sometimes take work home with you because you want to get the job done properly.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

The first mark of a childlike spirit

The devil can quote Scripture for his purpose; and the text of Scripture which he now most commonly quotes is, 'The kingdom of heaven is within you.'

That text has been the stay and support of more Pharisees and prigs and self-righteous spiritual bullies than all the dogmas in creation; it has served to identify self-satisfaction with the peace that passes all understanding.

And the text to be quoted in answer to it is that which declares that no man can receive the kingdom except as a little child.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

The servants of hope

Hope deals with the future; now and the past are but servants that wait on her with impulse and suggestive circumstance.
Source: Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace

Monday, February 24, 2020

The main charm of life in Europe

Afterward we walked up and down one of the most popular streets for some time, enjoying other people's comfort and wishing we could export some of it to our restless, driving, vitality-consuming marts at home. Just in this one matter lies the main charm of life in Europe—comfort.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Billy Graham’s greatest surprise in life

“The greatest surprise in life to me is the brevity of life.”
Billy Graham

Billy Graham died on the birthday of one of my brothers 2 years ago.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

600 Days; new personal time paradigm

I'm 60% of the way toward my goal of 1,000 days of writing.

Popular posts from the last 100 days:
Thoroughly and uncompromisingly foreign
Safely onto land
A great love of measurement
For the Arab

Given the milestone, it's fitting to write about time today.

I've used a number of time tracking apps off and on over the years. The first one I used consistently was Eternity. I later switched to Now Then. It was simpler to start and stop. Reporting data out is a little harder, but it works. I still use Now Then for logging billable hours.

For general use, I've recently started using BlockyTime. It follows a principle I used when keeping up my own system of time management: only keeping time to the nearest 0.5 or 0.25 hours. Through it's difficult translation it earnestly tries to make the case that over time, things average out and more granular detail of time intervals is not needed. Based on my prior experience, I was already convinced the moment I saw how it operated.

It didn't take much time of using the free version to be sold on the paid version. It's another feature, however, that I really find compelling that sets this app apart from others.

Two kinds of diversity

The word “diversity” took on its current role in American discourse only after a 1978 Supreme Court ruling (U.C. Regents v. Bakke) that the use of racial preferences to achieve racial quotas at universities was unconstitutional, but that it was permissible to use racial preferences to increase diversity in the student body.

Since then, diversity has been widely celebrated, on bumper stickers, in campus diversity days, and in advertisements. For many liberals, diversity has become an unquestioned good—like justice, freedom, and happiness, the more diversity, the better.

My research on morality, however, spurred me to question it. Given how easy it is to divide people into hostile groups based on trivial differences, I wondered whether celebrating diversity might also encourage division, whereas celebrating commonality would help people form cohesive groups and communities.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Reaching admiration

If I were asked for a single symbolic figure summing up the whole of what seems eccentric and interesting about America to an Englishman, I should be satisfied to select that one lady who complained of Mrs. Asquith's lecture and wanted her money back.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

The hidden comfort in direction

People, generally, are not aware of the ease of mind there is in knowing where they are, and where they are going.
Source: Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace

Monday, February 17, 2020

Brave where all others were cowards

Now we will descend into the crypt, under the grand altar of Milan Cathedral, and receive an impressive sermon from lips that have been silent and hands that have been gestureless for three hundred years.

The priest stopped in a small dungeon and held up his candle. This was the last resting-place of a good man, a warm-hearted, unselfish man; a man whose whole life was given to succoring the poor, encouraging the faint-hearted, visiting the sick; in relieving distress, whenever and wherever he found it. His heart, his hand, and his purse were always open.

With his story in one's mind he can almost see his benignant countenance moving calmly among the haggard faces of Milan in the days when the plague swept the city, brave where all others were cowards, full of compassion where pity had been crushed out of all other breasts by the instinct of self-preservation gone mad with terror, cheering all, praying with all, helping all, with hand and brain and purse, at a time when parents forsook their children, the friend deserted the friend, and the brother turned away from the sister while her pleadings were still wailing in his ears.

This was good St. Charles Borromeo, Bishop of Milan.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Digitally hanging out

Beyond single responses, sending messages back and forth can be a way of digitally hanging out: even when your messages have barely any textual meaning, they convey an important subtext: “I want to be talking with you.”

Thursday, February 13, 2020

From character to personality

In his provocative book The Death of Character, Hunter traces out how America lost its older ideas about virtue and character.

Before the Industrial Revolution, Americans honored the virtues of “producers”—hard work, self-restraint, sacrifice for the future, and sacrifice for the common good.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Loving characters

It is often said that we learn to love the characters in romances as if they were characters in real life.

I wish we could sometimes love the characters in real life as we love the characters in romances.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

What Rome defended

What Rome seized with strong hand she always defended: in return for their taxes, she gave them safety.
Source: Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace

Monday, February 10, 2020

Beauty no painter could represent

VERSAILLES! It is wonderfully beautiful! …

The scene thrills one like military music! …

I used to think the pictures exaggerated these distances and these dimensions beyond all reason, and that they made Versailles more beautiful than it was possible for any place in the world to be.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Emoji is fake

There’s a deeper question about the appeal of digital embodiment, though, regardless of whether it surfaces as emoji, emoticons, gifs, or another form. The facial expressions are by far the most popular, and yet there’s an important way in which they’re not like our ordinary kinds of facial expressions.

When we’re interacting with other people, we find the most trustworthy kind of facial expression to be the kind that’s given off involuntarily: the burst of laughter or sob in the throat that’s difficult to fake.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

When overcoming adversity is most useful

When people older than thirty are asked to remember the most important or vivid events of their lives, they are disproportionately likely to recall events that occurred between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five.

This is the age when a person’s life blooms—first love, college and intellectual growth, living and perhaps traveling independently—and it is the time when young people (at least in Western countries) make many of the choices that will define their lives.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Mastering the imagination and not the reason

The heathen in his blindness bows down to wood and stone; especially to a wood-cut or a lithographic stone.

Modern people put their trust in pictures, especially scientific pictures, as much as the most superstitious ever put it in religious pictures.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Miles of worship

We visited the Louvre, at a time when we had no silk purchases in view, and looked at its miles of paintings by the old masters.

Some of them were beautiful, but at the same time they carried such evidences about them of the cringing spirit of those great men that we found small pleasure in examining them.

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