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.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

A part of the law never neglected

Our people have at times been heedless of some parts of the law, but never of this part. The good rector himself has followed the Books of Generations through three periods--from the promises to the opening of the Temple; thence to the Captivity; thence, again, to the present. Once only were the records disturbed, and that was at the end of the second period; but when the nation returned from the long exile, as a first duty to God, Zerubbabel restored the Books, enabling us once more to carry the lines of Jewish descent back unbroken fully two thousand years.
Source: Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace

Monday, December 30, 2019

Ship lag

Time change is easier to handle when the journey takes longer (weeks vs. hours), even if it still causes challenges for others and their timepieces:
The ship was gaining a full hour every three days …

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Distant sounds of celebration

During this season of celebration, there are many passages of Scripture typically cited for the big holidays of last week and this week.

Of course, Christmas has many from the events itself and others preceding it that foretold it.

This week, Lord willing, we celebrate another new year. New years are not typically mentioned directly in the Bible, but there are several references to the “first day” of the “first month.”

Today I came across a passage that is not particular to either time on the calendar, but speaks of a large celebration.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

A request for South Carolina

Dear South Carolina,

Please widen your section of Interstate 95 to three lanes in each direction.

If you're looking for a place to start, look at where Interstate 26 intersects I-95, and then consider the 30 miles north and south of that intersection.

That area has been a bottleneck for years, and becomes especially delayed during holiday travel seasons.

Thank you!


The entire East Cost


Friday, December 27, 2019

Digital native variation

(The) high degree of variance, both within and between Post Internet People, tends to be the hardest thing for their parents and teachers to grasp.

Social and technological savvy online were virtually the same for Old Internet People and still loosely linked for Full and Semi Internet People, but they’ve become completely decoupled for the Post cohort.

This defies predictions that digital natives would pick up technological skills as easily as speaking. Rather, “computer skills” have become as meaningless a category as “electricity skills.”

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Life decisions tend to sound like our names

One of the most bizarre demonstrations of the like-o-meter in action comes from the work of Brett Pelham, who has discovered that one’s like-o-meter is triggered by one’s own name.

Whenever you see or hear a word that resembles your name, a little flash of pleasure biases you toward thinking the thing is good.

So when a man named Dennis is considering a career, he ponders the possibilities: “Lawyer, doctor, banker, dentist . . . dentist . . . something about dentist just feels right.” And, in fact, people named Dennis or Denise are slightly more likely than people with other names to become dentists. Men named Lawrence and women named Laurie are more likely to become lawyers.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Reflections on Bethlehem

At the first sight, it seems of little consequence to know the place of Christ's nativity; for we should consider him as our Redeemer, whatever the circumstances might be which attended his mortal life.

But, seeing it has pleased God to announce, beforehand, the place where the Savior of the world should be born, it became necessary that it should happen precisely in that place; and that this should be one of the characteristics whereby Jesus Christ should be known to be the true Messiah.

It is also a matter of small importance to us where we may live, provided we find genuine happiness. There is no place on earth, however poor and despicable, but may have better and more happy inhabitants than many of those are who dwell in the largest and most celebrated cities.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Before you answer

I once heard the greatest logician in the world. His subject was Disputation. One saying I remember—‘Understand your antagonist before you answer him.’ Let me understand you.
Source: Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace

Monday, December 23, 2019

A heartless punishment upon a young person

Alas! that journals so voluminously begun should come to so lame and impotent a conclusion as most of them did! I doubt if there is a single pilgrim of all that host but can show a hundred fair pages of journal concerning the first twenty days' voyaging in the Quaker City, and I am morally certain that not ten of the party can show twenty pages of journal for the succeeding twenty thousand miles of voyaging!

At certain periods it becomes the dearest ambition of a man to keep a faithful record of his performances in a book; and he dashes at this work with an enthusiasm that imposes on him the notion that keeping a journal is the veriest pastime in the world, and the pleasantest.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

A travel hazard worse than drunk driving

You may find it surprising to learn that vehicle accidents caused by drowsy driving exceed those caused by alcohol and drugs combined.

Drowsy driving alone is worse than driving drunk.

That may seem like a controversial or irresponsible thing to say, and I do not wish to trivialize the lamentable act of drunk driving by any means. Yet my statement is true for the following simple reason: drunk drivers are often late in braking, and late in making evasive maneuvers. But when you fall asleep, or have a microsleep, you stop reacting altogether.

A person who experiences a microsleep or who has fallen asleep at the wheel does not brake at all, nor do they make any attempt to avoid the accident. As a result, car crashes caused by drowsiness tend to be far more deadly than those caused by alcohol or drugs.

Said crassly, when you fall asleep at the wheel of your car on a freeway, there is now a one-ton missile traveling at 65 miles per hour, and no one is in control.

Drivers of cars are not the only threats.

Friday, December 20, 2019

The many meanings of lol

The youth explained that you could technically say “good morning lol” as a way of ribbing someone if it was actually the afternoon (where it’s alluding to undisclosed information rather than simple small talk), but you really shouldn’t say “i love you lol”—you’d be making fun of someone in quite a mean way.

McSweeney reasoned that “lol” must be conveying a message about the phrase as a whole, a meaning that’s compatible with flirting, softening, and empathy but not with love, directness, and checking in.

The difference between flirting and saying “I love you” is plausible deniability. Likewise, using “lol” can soften what might otherwise be interpreted as a confrontation (“ what are you doing out so late lol”), but would undermine a serious direct statement (“ you hurt me so much in our relationship”).

“Lol” can subtly request empathy (“Lol I’m writing an essay :’(”) but isn’t necessary when asking a direct question (“Can you tell me your schedule so I know when to text you”). Some statements are direct; others wrap their meaning in layers.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Safely onto land

John will say in this session that I was right—that it was, in fact, okay to cry with Margo, and that instead of drowning them both in a flood of tears, it brought them safely onto land.
Source: Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

We're all in agriculture

I found something like my real innocent abroad, my real peasant among the sky-signs, in another part of the same establishment. He was a much leaner man, equally dark, with a hook nose, hungry face, and fierce black moustaches.

He also was a waiter, and was in the costume of a waiter, which is a smarter edition of the costume of a lecturer.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

What the rise of satire indicates

Reverence as a quality of the Roman mind was fast breaking down, or, rather, it was becoming unfashionable. … As philosophy was taking the place of religion, satire was fast substituting reverence
Source: Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace

Monday, December 16, 2019

The Quaker City sets across the pond

Once the journey of The Innocents Abroad had formed and begun, there was the long journey in their ship, Quaker City, across the sea. (Cue the inspiring seafaring music.)
I felt a perfectly natural desire to have a good, long, unprejudiced look at the passengers at a time when they should be free from self-consciousness—which is at breakfast, when such a moment occurs in the lives of human beings at all. …

There was a tolerably fair sprinkling of young folks, and another fair sprinkling of gentlemen and ladies who were non-committal as to age, being neither actually old or absolutely young. …
At times people would gather and sing, but for Twain, “I wished to lift up my voice and sing; but I did not know anything to sing, and so I was obliged to give up the idea.”

Sunday, December 15, 2019

For the Arab

Friday I had a conversation with an Arab cab driver. I gave him a Gospel tract while we were filling up our gas tanks. He asked what it was about, and I told him it was about Jesus. He said they recognize Jesus as a prophet, and I asked him Would a prophet would claim to be God? He said, No. Jesus did.

He went down the road of objecting to the hypostatic union. To them, God cannot become a man, or be three in one for that matter.

The Arabs have a long history before Islam. I thought it would be helpful to go back to that history and show him the original plan God has had for the Arab people for a long time.

Friday, December 13, 2019

Handling context collapse

Post Internet People instead came up with a more durable strategy (for handling context collapse), organized along three principles.

First, things should disappear more, the way conversations throughout history have naturally not left records. Private messages that vanish after they’re seen, live video streaming, manual deletion of old posts, and story-style posts that only stay visible for twenty-four hours all reduce the likelihood that messages will be encountered outside their intended context.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Never comparing mortality

I'd told Wendell again that my greatest fear is leaving Zach without a mother, and Wendell said that I had two choices: • I could give Zach a mother who's constantly worried about leaving him motherless, or • I could give him a mother whose uncertain health makes her more acutely aware of the preciousness of their time together.

Which scares you less?” he'd asked rhetorically.

His question made me think of (terminally ill patient) Julie and how initially I'd hesitated when she asked if I would see her through her death. It wasn't just my inexperience that gave me pause, I realized later—it was that Julie would force me to face my own mortality, something I wasn't ready to do. Even after agreeing to her request, I'd been keeping myself safe in that relationship by never comparing my mortality to hers. After all, nobody has put a time limit on my lifespan in the same way.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Inequality is an illusion

In truth it is inequality that is the illusion. The extreme disproportion between men, that we seem to see in life, is a thing of changing lights and lengthening shadows, a twilight full of fancies and distortions.

We find a man famous and cannot live long enough to find him forgotten; we see a race dominant and cannot linger to see it decay.

It is the experience of men that always returns to the equality of men; it is the average that ultimately justifies the average man.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

When men cannot sleep

Men listening for the voice of God, or waiting a sign from Heaven, cannot sleep.
Source: Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace

Monday, December 9, 2019

The recruiting of the Innocents

Mark Twain introduced himself to the world with the account of his international travels in The Innocents Abroad. From the very beginning you can hear his excitement and fascination with the excursion: “Who could read the program of the excursion without longing to make one of the party?”

The party was to travel to “Paris, England, Scotland, Switzerland, Italy—Garibaldi! The Grecian Archipelago! Vesuvius! Constantinople! Smyrna! The Holy Land! Egypt and ‘our friends the Bermudians’!” The reader can tell he particularly enjoyed that latter reference.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Reprove without discouraging

There is no place we need such grace as in dealing with an erring one.

A lady once called on us on her way to give an erring sister a piece of her mind. We advised her to wait until she could love her a little more.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Context collapse

The true influence of Post Internet People on general internet socialization was both more subtle and more important than simply a shiny new social networking site.

By joining the social internet after their parents were already there, they faced an especially dire version of “context collapse.” This is danah boyd’s term for when people from all your overlapping friend groups see all your shared posts from different aspects of your life.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Building a professional practice

“My father was a businessman,” Wendell began quietly. At that time, I hadn't yet fessed up to my Google-binge, so I nodded, pretending this information was new.

He told me that when he was starting out, his father suggested that he make an offer to prospective patients: They could try a session, and if they chose not to continue to work with Wendell after that, the session would be free.

Since many people were nervous about starting therapy, this risk-free session would give them the opportunity to see what therapy was about and how Wendell might help them.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

The Chinese Constitution

The Chinese constitution was adopted 37 years ago today on December 4, 1982.

US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo mentioned the Constitution six months ago on the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, saying, “China’s own constitution stipulates that all power belongs to the people. History has shown that nations are stronger when governments are responsive to their citizens, respect the rule of law, and uphold human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

China has existed for centuries, long before the adoption of this Constitution (English).

Challenges to this government would not be as identity-shattering as for America would be challenges to the U.S. Constitution. In America, our Constitution marks our beginning, and it remains today. We have amended it, as needed, but the form of government is the same and the only one we've ever had.

These two governments have clashed of late. It's one thing to push and pull on economic levers to balance trade disparities and deficits. It's another when one considers deeper levels of principle such as those regarding fundamental human rights.

Since two weeks ago today, Congress has sent three major pieces of legislation to the President regarding human rights in China:

S. 1838: Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019
S. 2710: To prohibit the commercial export of covered munitions items to the Hong Kong Police Force.
S. 178: Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2019

This standing up to China on principle needs to continue because China's disrespecting of human rights must not continue.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

To begin a reform

To begin a reform, go not into the places of the great and rich; go rather to those whose cups of happiness are empty—to the poor and humble.
Source: Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace

Monday, December 2, 2019

Vulnerability ≠ weakness

It used to take me a long time to dispel the myths that surround vulnerability, especially the myth that vulnerability is weakness.

But in 2014, standing across from several hundred military special forces soldiers on a base in the Midwest, I decided to stop evangelizing, and I nailed my argument with a single question.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Grow without trying

It is said that a little fellow was found one day by his mother, standing by a tall sunflower, with his feet stuck in the ground.

When asked by her, “What in the world are you doing there?” he naively answered, “Why, I am trying to grow to be a man.”

Friday, November 29, 2019

When a tool becomes social

The divide between techie and non-techie has blurred, but it didn’t happen by converting the entire population into techies.

The buzzword in the tech skill surveys of the early 2000s was ICT: information and communications technologies. But the information and the communication parts need to be analyzed separately.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

An activity for all occasions

My favorite line from the Word of God about thankfulness is from Paul's letter to the Church at Ephasus:

“…giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20).

What I love about this is its specificity about when and how we are to give thanks.

When: Always. For anything and everything under every circumstance, good or bad. Paul also wrote, “In everything give thanks” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

How: In Jesus' name. Often we think of praying in Jesus' name when we are asking for things, so I found it striking that our prayers of thanks are also to be in Jesus' name.

This really speaks to what God wants. What do you get or do for the Man, the God-Man, or God, who already has everything? His end goal isn't our stuff.

He wants our love. He wants to be loved. He has done much to love us—first—and all He really wants in return is gratitude for His blessings on us.

This is seen throughout the Scriptures. I most recently came across this in 2 Chronicles 20:21, “Give thanks to the Eternal because His loyal love is forever!”

These things only make sense for those who have a reconciled relationship with God. That is the first matter to address, and that gives us the first thing for which to be grateful.

This is also what makes the rejection of God so strange. He is a good God Who wants to do good things for people. How hard is it to be thankful for that?

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

The thing for which to be most grateful

I listened to a message from Bill Wiese tonight. He talks about hell.

It's not a comfortable message for anyone—including him—but it is very necessary. Any discomfort we feel pales in comparison to the eternal discomfort faced by those in hell.

I was particularly impressed with how saturated his message is with Scripture.

His first reason for sharing this message is to be grateful for our salvation.

His final reason is to have a passion for the lost. I agree. Judgment Day motivates missions.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Rescued from the law

The greatness of this country rests on two anecdotes. The first one is that of Washington and his hatchet, representing the foundation of true speaking, which is the characteristic of our people. The second one is an old one, and I've been waiting to hear it to-night; but as nobody has told it yet, I will tell it.

You've heard it before, and you'll hear it many, many times more. It is an anecdote of our guest, of the time when he was engaged as a young man with a gentle Hebrew, in the process of skinning the client. The main part in that business is the collection of the bill for services in skinning the man. “Services” is the term used in that craft for the operation of that kind-diplomatic in its nature.

Choate's co-respondent made out a bill for $500 for his services, so called. But Choate told him he had better leave the matter to him, and the next day he collected the bill for the services and handed the Hebrew $5000, saying, “That's your half of the loot,” and inducing that memorable response: “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian.”

Monday, November 25, 2019

The best time to quit

New runners went to practice, took a card detailing their routine, and then ran alone. There was no Coach Armstrong to bring out your best. There were no teammates to laugh and joke with, and no one for whom you’d ever run until you vomited.

I figured the best I could do was win an Ivy League sprint title. To do that, though, I’d have to train for a lackluster coach and a team that didn’t seem to care about me.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Man of Desires

“Oh, man of desires” (Dan. x. 11).

This was the divine character given to Daniel of old. It is translated in our version, “O man, greatly beloved.” But it literally means “O man of desires!”

Friday, November 22, 2019

The last to be baffled by their own children

It is perhaps ironic that this Full Internet generation, the first to use the internet to baffle their parents collectively, is also the last to be baffled by their own children.

While Fulls can draw on their own teen years to understand chat apps in the frame of instant messaging, or Tumblr in the frame of GeoCities, they didn’t have a digital childhood.

They’re the first to reckon with unfamiliar questions like how much iPad time is too much for a toddler, what to do when a child stumbles across a disturbing parody version of a children’s cartoon, and whether to post photos and anecdotes of a child on social media when faraway relatives may enjoy them but the child may grow up to find them embarrassing.
Source: Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language by Gretchen McCulloch

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Considering the afterlife

Julie had told me that she'd begun thinking about the afterlife, a concept she insisted that she didn't completely believe in but nonetheless contemplated, “just in case.”

Would she be alone? Afraid? Everyone she loved was still alive—her husband, her parents, her grandparents, her sister, her nephew and niece. Who would keep her company there?

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

The disappearance of literature

From an address by Mark Twain 119 years ago tonight:
We have heard a discussion to-night on the disappearance of literature. That's no new thing. That's what certain kinds of literature have been doing for several years.

The fact is, my friends, that the fashion in literature changes, and the literary tailors have to change their cuts or go out of business.

Professor Winchester here, if I remember fairly correctly what he said, remarked that few, if any, of the novels produced to-day would live as long as the novels of Walter Scott. That may be his notion. Maybe he is right; but so far as I am concerned, I don't care if they don't.

Professor Winchester also said something about there being no modern epics like Paradise Lost. I guess he's right. He talked as if he was pretty familiar with that piece of literary work, and nobody would suppose that he never had read it.

I don't believe any of you have ever read Paradise Lost, and you don't want to. That's something that you just want to take on trust. It's a classic, just as Professor Winchester says, and it meets his definition of a classic—something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

The reason government pricing is toxic

There is much political rhetoric these days calling for government to “negotiate prescription drug prices.”

These words lead people to think two things: • the government is another customer, and • the government can negotiate just like another customer. Both of these assumptions are incorrect.

The free market customer negotiates for the most of amount of value for the least amount of cost. This negotiation necessarily includes inherent uncertainty over whether or not a transaction will occur.

The government is not just another customer in the economy which means those factors do not have the same affect on the government as they do on the free market customer.

Monday, November 18, 2019

A combination of spirit and strength

In 1963, we were the Pennsylvania state champions in the mile relay and invited to compete in a special event in New York City at the 168th Street Armory.

On the bus ride there, I sat, as usual, next to my best friend, Bobby Bryant, a six-foot African American superstar. Bobby was so warm and kind that it would take him forever to get through the school cafeteria because he had to stop and joke with every table. School was a struggle for him academically, but on the track, he was magic.

His family never had much money, so I bought him a pair of Adidas spikes with the money I made working. It was a gesture of friendship, but also more than that: Bobby running in a great pair of spikes made all of us look good.

Six teams lined up in the final. I always ran the first leg, and I never passed the baton in second place.

When the gun went off, I broke out in front. But coming around the first curve, I felt my right hamstring rip. The pain was sudden and excruciating.

I had a choice: I could pull over and stop, the sensible choice for my body. Or I could continue and find a way to keep us as close as I could and give us a chance to win.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Who will dare to prove?

He is not wanting great men, but He is wanting men that will dare to prove the greatness of their God.
SourceSimpson, A. B. (Albert B.). Days of Heaven Upon Earth (November 10). Kindle Edition.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Jargon File

The very next year, between March and April 1977, we see the beginning of the social acronyms.

This version describes them as “a special set of jargon words, used to save typing” in Talk mode, an early kind of chat. These acronyms include the now unremarkable R U THERE? but also the now obscure BCNU (be seeing you), T and NIL for “yes” and “no,” and CUL, “see you later.”

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Tasks of mourning

Many people don't know that Elisabeth Kübler-Ross's familiar stages of grieving—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance—were conceived in the context of terminally ill patients learning to accept their own deaths. It wasn't until decades later that the model came to be used for the grieving process more generally.

It's one thing to “accept” the end of your own life… But for those who keep on living, the idea that they should be getting to acceptance might make them feel worse (“I should be past this by now”; “I don't know why I still cry at random times all these years later”).

Besides, how can there be an endpoint to love and loss? Do we even want there to be?

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The reason prices work in a free market

A price is an agreed-upon amount of money for a buy to pay a seller in exchange for goods and/or services.

The definition is not as exciting as reality.

• Sometimes they don't agree.
• Sometimes the price fails, and there's no transaction.
• Sometimes prices exclude some people and not others.
• Sometimes the seller reinvests from what was paid at a high price to enable more product delivery at a lower price.

A potential transaction starts an interaction. Mutual exchange of value is sought. For the seller, the price must be high enough; for the buyer, the value must be high enough and the price low enough. If buyer and seller can agree, then begins the great mystery and intrigue of negotiating over how much overlap there is in the price range for agreement: How much can the buyer pay? Will the seller go lower? If they agree to meet on a price, the transaction can proceed. If not, the transaction fails. In a free market, there is no guarantee, and that uncertainty is exactly why it works so well.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

500 Days

I'm half way toward my goal of 1,000 days of writing.

Since I last posted a 100-day update, I realized I do have a single way to see stats on my last 100 days of posting. My two most popular posts in that time were:

• What makes students thrive or flounder

When I first undertook this commitment, I had a lot of writing ideas I wanted to force myself to develop. Once I started, I found many of them I had saved were not as useful as originally thought, mostly due to their now-stale nature. They would have been more useful the time.

Another thing I've noticed in this first half is a daily commitment is a commitment to a very specific length of writing. Some of my posts are more drawn out, and with the nature of blogging it's acceptable to have some be quite short, too. If a point can be made very succinctly, why draw it out further?

What is not as conducive to a daily commitment is longer-form writing. I've had some ideas for longer writing projects, and they've had to take a back seat to the daily writing. I can think of two ways to free myself up for the longer writing.

Monday, November 11, 2019

'We knew we were in the hands of a genius'

Jack Armstrong, my track coach at Abington, was medium height, medium build, with gray hair swept back behind his ears. Every day, he wore the same maroon sweatshirt and windbreaker, the same stopwatch on a lanyard around his neck. And every day, he brought the same positive, cheerful demeanor to work. He never shouted or got angry, just raised or lowered his voice within a narrow range, the slightest change in cadence to get his point across.

“Look at what those guys have just done. And you’re making pretend you’re working out!”

There wasn’t a day I didn’t throw up after practice, sick from the effort.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

An alternative to being judgmental

It's easy to hear something about someone and think nothing but condemnation for them. This helps no one.

Instead, pray for them. Do you believe God can change a person, can deal with whatever is messed up in a person's life?

“The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16).

Friday, November 8, 2019

Old early adopters

Some Old Internet People eventually became early adopters of blogs or Twitter, and their facility with internet-mediated social interaction often made them highly visible, influential users.

Some became the first generation of internet researchers, writing up the practices of their own communities.

Others just kept puttering along in their familiar internet byways, and now find themselves having to explain to young whippersnappers that just because they’re older doesn’t mean they don’t know technology—they were programming computers and dialing in via phone lines before said whippersnappers were even born.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

8 life stages

In the mid-1900s, Erikson came up with eight stages of psychosocial development that still guide therapists in their thinking today. … Erikson's psychosocial stages focus on personality development in a social context (such as how infants develop a sense of trust in others).

Most important, Erikson's stages continue throughout the entire lifespan, and each interrelated stage involves a crisis that we need to get through to move on to the next.

They look like this:

Infant (hope)—trust versus mistrust
Toddler (will)—autonomy versus shame
Preschooler (purpose)—initiative versus guilt
School-age child (competence)—industry versus inferiority

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

The filthiest language of all

Some people reject the idea of dirty language in the first place. “Who has a right to declare some words dirtier than others,” they ask?

Just like we know we have rights because there are commands against violating those rights, so we know there is unclean language because we are instructed not to use it.

“Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers” (Ephesians 4:29).

Corrupt words are either words that become corrupted or represent corruption. There are things that are clean and holy, and there are things that are—or become—unclean and profane. Words associated with the latter can become profanity.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Why wireless carriers need to allow independent eSIM activation

The Apple Watch is like a mini iPod touch strapped to your wrist.

That was the analogy used by an Apple Store employee in a conversation I had with her last week.

Except an iPod touch doesn't require an iPhone to operate. In fact, an iPod touch has long been known as being like an iPhone without the phone part. It includes everything else such as the ability to use most apps an iPhone can use.

The Apple Watch with just standard GPS has required a phone to operate. It can also then provide a remote control interface to the phone part of the iPhone, along with its own variety of apps, watch faces, etc.

There's also an Apple Watch with LTE. Sprint has a very nice plan that allows for use of the Apple Watch with LTE that includes unlimited talk, text, and data, for $10/month (after $5 autopay discount). Pair that up with some AirPods, and my phone bill would drop yet again.

Last week I was seriously considering porting my number to an Apple Watch. Then I found out that's not allowed.

Monday, November 4, 2019

A cost of ambition

If you want something badly enough, you can find a way. You can create it out of nothing. And before you know it, there it is.

But wanting something isn’t enough.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

The Unforgivable Sin

A few years back I had the privilege to be part of the teaching rotation for a high school Sunday School class. One week a topic came up that reminded me of a conversation I had in college with a professor. He made the point that not believing in Jesus is the unforgivable sin.

I mentioned that same point in class, and a young man promptly raised his hand, and then said, “Excuse me, isn't blaspheming the Holy Spirit the unforgivable sin?” According to Matthew 3:29 and Luke 12:10, he is correct. It wasn't a primary point I had prepared to address in detail, so I acknowledged he was correct and moved on in the lesson.

My professor had argued that the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is when one rejects the Holy Spirit as He is drawing someone to salvation (John 16:8-11). If you reject salvation in Jesus, then one is “subject to eternal condemnation” (Matthew 3:29).

Friday, November 1, 2019

Old Internet People

As a group, Old Internet People have the highest level of average technological skill, generally knowing a decent inventory of keyboard shortcuts, the basics in a programming language or two, and how to look at the inner workings of a computer behind its graphical user interface.

They’re often skilled in some other specific area, such as computer hardware assembly, browser encryption, Wikipedia editing, or forum moderating.

They’ve got a lot of browser extensions or other custom configuration tools on their computer and can’t imagine living without them.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

The speed of light is outdated

People wanted a speedy solution to their problems, but what if their moods had been driven down in the first place by the hurried pace of their lives? They imagined that they were rushing now in order to savor their lives later, but so often, later never came.

The psychoanalyst Erich Fromm had made this point more than fifty years earlier: “Modern man thinks he loses something—time—when he does not do things quickly; yet he does not know what to do with the time he gains except kill it.”

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

The public sector is not just another sector

Today the Bureau of Economic Analysis releases the advance estimate of the 2019 third quarter Gross Domestic Product.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is a measure of all activity within an economy. Every transaction, no matter its nature, is included. The numbers may be divided into sectors, but the underlying assumption is everything is fundamentally economic. This incorrectly reduces the different natures of various activities to a sense of sameness.

Where the risk of misperception is particularly elevated is with respect to the public sector, that is, government spending.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

The Nationals' color is red; blue when visiting

The Nationals decided to go with their Navy Blue uniforms for the duration of the World Series. They felt it served them well during the post-season, and decided to continue that all the way through.

I think this made more sense as the visiting team than as the home team.

Traditionally, baseball teams wear a shaded gray version of their uniform when they're out of town and playing in someone else's ballpark. It's a subordinated color. There's something about what we wear that shapes are thinking about who we are.

Monday, October 28, 2019

How Stephen Schwarzman succeeds

For me, the greatest rewards in life have come from creating something new, unexpected, and impactful. I am constantly in pursuit of excellence.

When people ask me how I succeed, my basic answer is always the same:

Sunday, October 27, 2019

The ignorance of the dead

A few years ago I asked someone if he thought America needed spiritual revival. He said “No.”

Do dead people—that is, spiritually dead—know they are dead?

I read in 2 Kings 22 tonight, and it contains the story of Josiah. They found a book, read it, and then read it to the king. His heart was broken. Only a few lines later, in the message from God himself, did it explain why: because of the warnings.

Friday, October 25, 2019

How men and women blog

Several internet studies have highlighted the importance of differentiating between gender and social context.

One study, by linguists Susan Herring and John Paolillo, looked at how people write blogs. At first, it seemed like there was a significant gender difference in the language of blogs.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

You won't get today back

One day I was in the break room with some fellow interns, and we once again started counting our required number of hours and calculating how old we'd be when we finally got licensed. The higher the number, the worse we felt.

A supervisor in her sixties walked by and overheard the conversation. "You'll turn thirty or forty or fifty anyway, whether your hours are finished or not," she said. "What does it matter what age you are when that happens? Either way, you won't get today back."

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

War + Veterans = Nones

Last week I was handing out a few Gospel tracts, and one guy wasn't interested in the tract, but was willing to have a conversation. I had some time left in my parking space, so I sat down and we talked for a while.

He has had his share of rough experiences in life. One type of those was experiences in war and things done to defend our country. He has seen some terrible things, and consequently does not see God having an active role in the world today, to say the least.

The conversation did not finish where it started, and he's interested in talking more some other time. (Please feel free to keep that in prayer.) For my purposes here, I want to note a connection made between veterans of the War on Terror, and its offshoots, and the rise of The Nones, those who indicate no religious affiliation or belief.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Section 230, a free-speech essential

An important principle of free speech is that a person's speech is his responsibility.

We don't hold the paper manufacturer or the printer responsible for how people use those tools.

The internet equivalent of this principle is called Section 230. It's the part of the law that gives the online version of paper manufacturer's legal immunity from how other's may use their platforms to say things.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Blackstone culture

Blackstone is a remarkable success because of our culture. We believe in meritocracy and excellence, openness and integrity. And we work hard to hire only people who share those beliefs.

We are fixated on managing risk and never losing money. We are strong believers in innovation and growth—constantly asking questions in order to anticipate events so that we can evolve and change before we are forced to.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

With a meaning you cannot understand now

Some day, even you, trembling, faltering one, shall stand upon those heights and look back upon all you have passed through, all you have narrowly escaped, all the perils through which He guided you, the stumblings through which He guarded you, and the sins from which He saved you; and you shall shout, with a meaning you cannot understand now, “Salvation unto Him who sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.”
SourceSimpson, A. B. (Albert B.). Days of Heaven Upon Earth (October 8). Kindle Edition.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Language disruptors

The role that young women play as language disruptors is so clearly established at this point it’s practically boring to linguists who study this topic: well-known sociolinguist William Labov estimated that women lead 90 percent of linguistic change in a paper he wrote in 1990.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Moving both slowly and quickly

Therapists are always weighing the balance between forming a trusting alliance and getting to the real work so the patient doesn't have to continue suffering.

From the outset, we move both slowly and quickly, slowing the content down, speeding up the relationship, planting seeds strategically along the way.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Baseball is family, especially for the Nationals

The Washington Nationals are in the World Series! I think it's more providential than accidental that one of the more family-friendly clubs in the MLB has advanced as far as they have this year.

Team Manager Dave Martinez's encouragement for Daniel Hudson to be with his family at the time of his child's birth instead of pitching during the postseason is highly commendable.

A can't-help-but-smile highlight of the year has been the Baby Shark song as the walk-up music for Gerardo Parra. He chose this in honor of his 2-year-old who loves the song so that she could feel like she was a part of what her dad was doing.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Car color trends and their message

I was driving home today, and took a route I haven't often taken. I just missed the light so that put me at the front of the line to see all the cross-traffic.

(I was once carpooling with some folks, and one commented to another about how they hated just missing the light. I told them, “I don't know about that because I like having a clear path in front of me for when the light turns green.” The immediate response to that was, “You are definitely someone who sees the glass as half full.” I hadn't thought about it quite like that, but it was an encouraging perspective.)

At one point, three or four black SUVs or their mid-range counterparts passed in front of me heading west. The burst of similarity got me thinking and wondering how common that color was. I started paying attention to the colors of all the vehicles passing in front of me in either direction.

I was a little bit surprised to find that many of the vehicles were on a spectrum between white and black—many white, many black, many silver, and various shades in between. Occasionally some would have a tint to them like champagne/tan. A few were red, and two out of three of those were muted. It was quite rare to see anything else.

I looked it up, and apparently this is a thing, not an anomaly from my afternoon observations or unique to the capital area.

Monday, October 14, 2019

The issues that determine the outcome

…what I lacked in basic economics, I made up for with my ability to see patterns and develop new solutions and paradigms, and with the sheer will to turn my ideas into reality.

Finance proved to be the means for me to learn about the world, form relationships, tackle significant challenges, and channel my ambition.

It also allowed me to refine my ability to simplify complex problems by focusing on only the two or three issues that will determine the outcome.
Source: What It Takes: Lessons in the Pursuit of Excellence by Stephen A. Schwarzman

Sunday, October 13, 2019

A test of character

Nothing tests a Christian character more than to have some evil thing said about him.

This is the file that soon proves whether we are electro-plate or solid gold.

If we could only know the blessings that lie hidden in our lives, we would say, like David, when Shimei cursed him, “Let him curse; it may be the Lord will requite me good for his cursing this day.”
SourceSimpson, A. B. (Albert B.). Days of Heaven Upon Earth (October 7). Kindle Edition.

Friday, October 11, 2019


Does it ever feel like your family or friend group speaks its very own dialect? This was the premise of a book called Kitchen Table Lingo, which collected examples from what the linguist David Crystal called familects: “the private and personal word-creations that are found in every household and in every social group, but which never get into the dictionary” (or onto dialect maps).
Source: Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language by Gretchen McCulloch

Thursday, October 10, 2019

We have a lot of fears

We are afraid of being hurt.

We are afraid of being humiliated.

We are afraid of failure and we are afraid of success.

We are afraid of being alone and we are afraid of connection.

We are afraid to listen to what our hearts are telling us.

We are afraid of being unhappy and we are afraid of being too happy (in these dreams, inevitably, we're punished for our joy).

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Faster > instant

We tend to drive harder and harder toward stronger, better, and faster. Speed is fun. It can be dangerous, and that can be part of what makes it fun, too.

Going faster can mean things coming faster, too. The business world knows this quite well. If you can do things as well as your competitor and faster, you have a useful advantage.

The Bible calls on leaders to lead with speed (Romans 12:8).

Does faster ultimately lead to instantaneous? Is that its logical conclusion?

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Morals and memory

It's my opinion that every one I know has morals, though I wouldn't like to ask. I know I have. But I'd rather teach them than practice them any day. “Give them to others”—that's my motto. Then you never have any use for them when you're left without.

Now, speaking of the caprices of memory in general, and of mine in particular, it's strange to think of all the tricks this little mental process plays on us. Here we're endowed with a faculty of mind that ought to be more supremely serviceable to us than them all.

And what happens?

This memory of ours stores up a perfect record of the most useless facts and anecdotes and experiences. And all the things that we ought to know—that we need to know—that we'd profit by knowing—it casts aside with the careless indifference of a girl refusing her true lover.

It's terrible to think of this phenomenon. I tremble in all my members when I consider all the really valuable things that I've forgotten in seventy years—when I meditate upon the caprices of my memory.

Monday, October 7, 2019

One personally defining effort

I’ve always believed that it’s just as hard to achieve big goals as it is small ones. The only difference is that bigger goals have much more significant consequences.

Since you can tackle only one personally defining effort at a time, it’s important to pursue a goal that is truly worthy of the focus it will require to ensure its success.
Source: What It Takes: Lessons in the Pursuit of Excellence by Stephen A. Schwarzman

Sunday, October 6, 2019

The cost of ridicule

Then (Elisha) went up from there to Bethel;

and as he was going up the road, some youths came from the city and mocked him, and said to him, “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!”

So he turned around and looked at them, and pronounced a curse on them in the name of the LORD. And two female bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths (2 Kings 2:23-24).
J. Vernon McGee commentary:
“Little children” is naar or nahar in Hebrew. … You will find this word used in many places in Scripture, and in every other place it is translated “young men.” This was a crowd of young fellows.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Influencing Washington

Vice President Mike Pence has long been known for describing himself as “a Christian, an American, and a Republican, in that order.”

There's a practical way in which that works out for voters, too. Members of Congress relate to their constituency in much the same way, theological differences notwithstanding.

We see this in how contacting one's Member of Congress can make a difference on legislation and the agenda in Washington.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Food Production ≠ Starvation

Jared Diamond argues that increasing food production leads to starvation:
Archaeologists studying the rise of farming have reconstructed a crucial stage at which we made the worst mistake in human history.

Forced to choose between limiting population or trying to increase food production, we chose the latter and ended up with starvation, warfare, and tyranny.
In other words, man had a choice between population control (killing people) or feeding them, and the great tragedy of history is we found a way to fed ourselves.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Bucket lists

Often people think about bucket lists when somebody close to them dies.

That's what happened for Candy Chang, an artist who, in 2009, created a space on a public wall in New Orleans with the prompt Before I die _____.

Within days the wall was completely filled. People wrote things like

• Before I die, I want to straddle the international dateline.
• Before I die, I want to sing for millions.
• Before I die, I want to be completely myself.

Soon the idea spawned over a thousand such walls all over the world:

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Refusing to recognize evil

Last week Greta Thunberg stepped onto the world stage to deliver her message to national leaders.

She declared “For more than 30 years the science has been crystal clear.” Perhaps 30 years sounds like a long time to someone who is 16 years old. In the longer history of science, 30 years is not that long. We still have much to learn, and perhaps to unlearn. The environmental message in the 30 years before the most recent 30 was the climate is cooling and we are in danger of another ice age.

When science crosses over into politics, scientific uncertainty becomes scarce, especially when public research funding is on the line. While there is a steady flow of proverbial ink on this topic, I'm more interested in a non-scientific topic she raised in her comments.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Campaign finance laws protect incumbents

Last night marks the end of another big quarterly campaign finance reporting period in the 2020 presidential race. The reason we hear about this is because of laws that require the financial reporting and impose severe penalties for lack of compliance.

The idea behind these transparency laws is to first shed light on the financial happenings of campaigns. There has been a long-standing principle of following the money to trace a person's otherwise unexplained motivations for actions they take, especially if they are against interests of the public. Some want to then use this information to “get money out of politics” altogether.

There are two side-effects of campaign finance laws.

Monday, September 30, 2019

10,457 + 5,000

What would you do if you had an extra 5,000 days to live?

It's a kind of hypothetical question that rarely comes with any degree of certainty. I don't know that most people would change a thing.

Today, I am 5,000 days older than my biological dad was when he passed away. He accomplished a lot in his life, more than me so far in several cases. He was married, had a kid (me), and had clear ideas of what he wanted to do (be a missionary) and where he wanted to do it (remote Venezuela). Had this plan not been interrupted when it was, it may have met another interruption that came later.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

When to ignore others

1 Kings 13 is one of the stranger passages in the Bible, even among those who believe it. I don't normally turn to commentaries after reading the Bible, but I did in this case.

Warren Wiersbe had the most helpful comments:
If there is one lesson to be learned from 1Ki 13:11-34, it is this:
• don't let other people determine the will of God for your life.
• Obey what God's Word says to you, regardless of the cost.
Source: Wiersbe's Expository Outlines on the Old Testament

Friday, September 27, 2019

2 kinds of random

There are two kinds of random, and they are nearly opposite with respect to numbers.

random sample, such as for a poll, is one that is very ordered. For instance, if one has a population of 1,000 people and wants a random sample, one would take an alphabetical list of names, and then take every 100th name in order to get an even random sample of the population.

Every 100th name would not appear to be random mathematically as each number would easily be divisible by at least one other number, in this case 100.

A random number is a number with no discernible mathematical pattern. Nothing repeats indefinitely, nor is it evenly divisible by another number. The digits of an irrational number qualify as a random sequence.

When scientists search for life outside of earth, they are looking for signals of random sequences from radio transmissions. Thus far, all we've ever physically found or heard from beyond our solar system is very ordered signals from things like pulsar stars.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Therapy ownership

Every therapy session belongs to both patient and therapist, to the interaction between them.

It was the psychoanalyst Harry Stack Sullivan who, in the early twentieth century, developed a theory of psychiatry based on interpersonal relationships.

Breaking away from Freud's position that mental disorders were intrapsychic in origin (meaning “in one's mind”), Sullivan believed that our struggles were interactional (meaning “relational”).

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Cost increases memory

Everyone remembers what costs them something. Not every remembers details about things, but even people who have difficulty memorizing things remember when something costs them.

I used to forget my water bottle until I made myself drive several miles out of the way to return and pick it up. I have less difficulty remembering it now.

Costs can be voluntary or involuntary. Voluntary costs are when we make a purchase. Involuntary costs are by our mistake or the fault of others. Either way, costs create indelible lasting marks in our minds.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Those who can't

There's a saying among non-educators, “Those who can't do, teach.”

It's a very loaded phrase that's mostly used to denigrate teachers. Perhaps there have been some examples of this along the way that lead people to believe this. There are also examples of the inverse of this phrase. Not everyone that can do, can teach. Albert Einstein did not accept this standard saying, “If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.”

Monday, September 23, 2019

Autumn Constellations

As I've been noting at the beginning of each astronomical season this year, there are specific constellations visible during that respective season.

Northern hemisphere constellations visible during the fall include: Andromeda, Aquarius, Capricornus, Pegasus, and Pisces.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

All labor and all skill

“Again, I saw that for all toil and every skillful work a man is envied by his neighbor. This also is vanity and grasping for the wind” (Ecclesiastes 4:4).

Everything man does is one man striving against another man.

That's a humbling thought. We all get hungry. We all need to eat. “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). One primary point of working is to earn money to buy food (if one does not work his own food source). The only way to earn money is to exchange value with others. We must engage with others, and all our interpersonal activities are in some way motivated to satisfy and please our desires.

God demonstrates the opposite way. “For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, ‘The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me’” (Romans 15:3).

Friday, September 20, 2019

The sound of grief

I’ve also seen grief from afar, like the time in medical school when I was transporting blood samples in the emergency room and heard a sound so startling that I almost dropped the tubes.

It was a wail, more animal-like than human, so piercing and primal that it took me a minute to find its source.

Out in the hallway was a mother whose three-year-old had drowned after running out the back door and falling in the swimming pool during the two minutes in which the mother had gone upstairs with her infant to change his diaper.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Attachment styles

Attachment styles are formed early in childhood based on our interactions with our caregivers.

Attachment styles are significant because they play out in people's adult relationships too, influencing the kinds of partners they pick (stable or less stable), how they behave during the course of a relationship (needy, distant, or volatile), and how their relationships tend to end (wistfully, amiably, or with a huge explosion).

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Government is not a business

There are people who correctly claim, “If I ran my business like the government, I would go out of business.” Their point is usually financial. They cannot endlessly spend more than they take in and remain solvent. The entity that prints or mints the money can do things that those who must earn money cannot.

The point is well taken and should be instructive for the government. While a government may be able to stretch financial limits more than those with more immediate accountability, it, too, can face a day of reckoning when its bill finally comes due.

Comparisons of government to business should stop here. There is an important way in which government and business are not and should not be alike.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

3 surprises in the U.S. Constitution

Happy Constitution Day!

232 years ago the United States Constitution was ratified. This is the document which describes that which constitutes the United States of America. Without this document, the states would not be united. This document effectively takes the sinful nature of man into account by separating powers into different branches of government, similar to what we see in Isaiah 33:22: “For the LORD is our Judge, The LORD is our Lawgiver, The LORD is our King; He will save us.”

The Virginia Declaration of Rights reminds us, “That no free government, or the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people but by a firm adherence to justice, moderation, temperance, frugality, and virtue and by frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.” Congress has done this in recent years by opening its new term with reading the still-active parts of the Constitution on the House floor.

As for the non-active parts, “The text we will read today reflects the changes to the document made by the 27 amendments to it. Those portions superseded by amendment will not be read.” Some people get wrapped around the axle about whether the parts not read are being ignored or suppressed. There are a few things I find interesting still in the document, one related to parts others are concerned are suppressed.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Why higher tax revenue?

Today third quarter estimated federal taxes are due. When people have to pay their taxes themselves, that makes them more likely to consider the rate and its purpose.

Conservatives, of which I am generally one, have had an interesting approach to tax policy for a few decades now. During the Reagan Administration, Arthur Laffer introduced his famous curve. The basic premise is government tax revenue would be $0.00 if the tax rate were 0% and if it were 100%. Somewhere in the middle it reaches a high point. Then, the 0% point, peak, and 100% point form a curve of expected tax revenue based on the tax rate.

This was developed at a time when the top income tax rates were well north of 50%, presumably on the far side of the curve when it was nearing 100% and revenues would be heading to $0. The conclusion, then, was if tax rates were reduced, that would move the revenue point on the graph back which would move the amount of revenue up the curve. That is, with the government taking less money, people are free to spend or invest more, the economy grows accordingly, and as the economy grows, the government tax percentage grows with it—higher revenue with lower tax rates.

Where that high point is on the curve—that is, what tax rate produces the most revenue—has been the point of much debate over the years. Democrats agree that as the economy grows, revenue goes up. The disagreement is about the cause. This post is not an argument in that debate. The purpose of this post is to ask questions about each side's assumptions and conclusions.

Conservatives tend to perpetually believe that lower tax rates will produce higher revenue. Let's assume that's true. Why do conservatives, who want smaller government, push for something that would produce bigger government revenues?

Sunday, September 15, 2019

God doesn't hammer us into place

And the temple, when it was being built, was built with stone finished at the quarry, so that no hammer or chisel or any iron tool was heard in the temple while it was being built (1 Kings 6:7).

Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit (Ephesians 2:19-22).
Construction can be loud, right? Not with God's temple.

Did you know, if you are a believer you are being built together into a holy temple?

The tools made no noise where the physical building was built. I think there's something to be said in applying this to how God builds His temple with us, too. He doesn't hammer us into place.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Limits to the size-of-government argument

Conservatives, of which I am one, like to argue in favor of smaller governmentPresident Reagan laid the foundation for popularizing this argument in his first inaugural address in 1981: “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problems; government is the problem.”

That is actually a statement more about big government than it is smaller government. To a government bureaucracy, problems become less something to be solved (which would put bureaucrats out of a job), and more something to be managed (which would keep bureaucrats employed). It is no coincidence, then, that as government has gotten bigger, society's problems have increased with it.

It is logical to conclude that reversing this trend would improve things. If big government makes things worse, smaller government would make things better. While there is truth to this argument, it also lacks a foundation. Size is entirely relative. Taking this argument to its conclusion, one would wrongly assume conservatives believe having no government at all would solve all our problems.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

How to evaluate any political argument

Start with Who.

In any policy or political debate, when considering the point a candidate is making, ask • Who are the governed? and • Who is governing?

The governed are the free—those who do good. Those governing are the ones who punish those who do evil and praise those who do good. The essence of governing, then, is to identify evil and decide how to punish it, and to identify exceptional good and decide how to praise it. What punishments for the crime? What recognition for the good would be most appropriate? That is the essence of governing. Outside of those two things, government is not there to do anything. (Distinct from evaluating public policy is the evaluation of debate about public policy.)

With that understanding, ask yourself if the candidate is proposing something that governs or something by which government participates in doing good. Doing good is a good thing, but not with the government. If you want to do good, go do it. Why use coercive government to do it? This is dangerousGood policy debate is about how government reacts to the actions of others. Bad policy debate is about making the government a participant in whatever area the candidate is focused.

If those governing are promising to use government to do good or make government “a force for good,” then ask yourself, Who will be there to govern them while their government attempts to do those supposedly good things?

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Floridian memories of September 11, 2001

Last year I wrote about my own memories of 9/11/2001. This year I asked David, my 9/11-born brother in Florida, to share his memories, and he did. Links added.
The morning of September 11th, 2001 was originally just like any other Tuesday morning. Classes went as expected, it was my birthday, my 16th no less, but being in high school, that really did not mean as much as it did when I was a kid. Little did I know that my birthday that year would end up as anything but ‘sweet.’

While I was walking on my way to my American History class, I started to hear some commotion. This was in the days before smartphones so information did not travel nearly as fast as it does today. When I arrived at the classroom there were a few students telling the teacher to turn on the TV, but at first, the teacher thought they just wanted to goof off so their requests were denied.

However, one student heard what had happened and said that a plane had flown into one of the World Trade Center buildings! We were shocked to hear that because this came from a student not known for making outrageous, false claims. So, the teacher promptly turned on the television. On the screen was a picture of one of the World Trade Center buildings, on fire! Every network was covering the news — we were witnessing American History that day!

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