Thursday, February 28, 2019

Car insurance savings

I saved 57.7 percent by switching from my insurance agent to my insurance agent.

Data broker activity has been on full display for me this week. First, all the competitor mailers came about the same time this month, right when my six-month premium was coming due. Then, it became clear insurance companies can see anyone's complete auto insurance history once you're applying for insurance.

Once I started getting prices, not a single one was less than my current carrier. One was slightly lower, another was less than half, and another had a six-month premium that looked like a monthly price.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Four Basic Components of Weather

There are four main drivers of weather on earth.

1. The sun. This includes both how strong heat is leaving the sun, and arriving on one side of the earth. Solar activity and cycles contribute directly to whether or not temperatures are above or below average.

2. The rotation of the earth. This includes the 23° angle of the earth's axis. The tilt of the axis gives us our seasons. The rotation of the earth around this axis generates a lot of wind patterns. Land is moving fastest at the equator, and slows down to rotating in place at the poles. This speed difference explains why hurricanes rotate clockwise in the southern hemisphere and counterclockwise in the northern hemisphere.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Ruling the World from the Grave

I started reading Charles Darwin today. The full title of his book is On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.

That's a very racially charged title for a book published 505 days before the Civil War broke out.

Reading his list of chapter subheadings was interesting. He repeatedly notes “difficulties” with his theory. He also notes “the poorness” of the palaeontological collection at the time.

Scientists leave room for the possibility that their theory is not complete.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Exploring Details

Sometimes when opportunities come your way, maybe unexpectedly, it's good to explore the details of how things would, or would be expected, to work out. Today was a day of exploring details in two completely different areas.

I also toured a couple apartments. Today has elapsed before accomplishing much writing, but I have collected a few ideas for writing I hope to bring to fruition here soon.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Boiling Water Christians

“Prove what is that good, and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom. xii. 2).

There are three conditions in which the water in that engine may be. First, the boiler may be full and the water clean and clear; or, secondly, the boiler may not only be full but the water may be hot, very hot, hot enough to scald you, almost boiling; thirdly, it may be just one degree hotter and at the boiling point, giving forth its vapor in clouds of steam, pressing through the valves and driving the mighty piston which turns the wheels and propels the train of cars across the country.

So there are three kinds of Christians.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Mourning the Celebrations in New York

Last week members of the House dedicated an hour of floor time to discussing the urgent need for legislation to prohibit infanticide.

Three moments stood out to me from this discussion:

1. Mrs. Hartzler (MO-4):

A lot of people are unfamiliar of how a late-term abortion is done and what these individuals in New York were celebrating. It is graphic, but people need to know what happens.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Tax Reform Meets the 1040

In case you haven't seen the new 1040 yet, it's a lot different. No more 1040-A or 1040-EZ. It's all one form that looks quite simple on the surface.

It's a lot like the old full 1040 except various sections are now spread out over six new schedules.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

When a child screams

In my apartment building about an hour ago a small child's hand got stuck to an elevator door and it got closed into the elevator door frame. There was screaming on the part of the child, the parents, and there arose in all an instant sense of urgency to rescue this child from harm's way.

It's snowy and possibly icy outside, and yet these parents sounded like they're on the way to the hospital to ensure their small girl's hands are not damaged in any permanent way or can get needed medical attention as soon as possible.

Inherent problems with filing taxes online

Many Americans like to file their taxes online. They think it's easier, quicker, more convenient and a good investment of whatever it costs, if it costs them anything at all. Some might even argue it pays for itself if it helps them “get more money back.”

In the short term, there is little basis for arguing with this point of view. All of those things may be true.

In the longer term view, what else happens? What does this convenience enable that could be damaging?

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Reading books from 2020 candidates

It's Day 50 of 2019, and a small multitude of folks including half a dozen senators have announced their intentions to challenge President Trump for the U.S. presidency in 2020.

As much as I've found Twitter useful over the years, I'd like to get to know these candidates with a bit more depth than one will find in a Tweet or their latest reaction to whatever story or comment the news is chasing in any given day.

Most people who are serious about becoming President write a book, and the senators have. Having become a regular Kindle user, including of its free sample offering, I have downloaded several samplings from these candidates. I may see if my local library can loan a full copy if I find the reading engaging.

On the Kindle, free samples are better than library loans. Samples you can delete from your Kindle library; public library loans you cannot, even if you didn't highlight anything.

Time to see what these folks had to say, maybe even before they intended to run for President.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Meek slaves of a custom

Mark Twain on duels:
It is pathetic. There are other duels in my list, but I find in each and all of them one and the same ever-recurring defect—the principals are never present, but only their sham representatives. The real principals in any duel are not the duellists themselves, but their families. They do the mourning, the suffering, theirs is the loss and theirs the misery. They stake all that, the duellist stakes nothing but his life, and that is a trivial thing compared with what his death must cost those whom he leaves behind him. Challenges should not mention the duellist; he has nothing much at stake, and the real vengeance cannot reach him. The challenge should summon the offender's old gray mother, and his young wife and his little children,—these, or any to whom he is a dear and worshipped possession—and should say, "You have done me no harm, but I am the meek slave of a custom which requires me to crush the happiness out of your hearts and condemn you to years of pain and grief, in order that I may wash clean with your tears a stain which has been put upon me by another person."

The logic of it is admirable: a person has robbed me of a penny; I must beggar ten innocent persons to make good my loss. Surely nobody's "honor" is worth all that.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

National Repentance

God spoke to Israel and said, “Repent. Change your mind. Come back to the place where you used to live and walk with God. Your mind has given you over to the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life, the worship of pagan idols, and adultery. You’ve got to change how you understand life, or there is no hope for you.”

God said that to the nation of Israel, but He said it to the other nations of the world as well. Quite a number of times in the Old Testament, He addressed all the nations.

Every nation in the world, not just Israel, is under an obligation to do the will of the God who stands behind it all.
From “The Future of America—A Call to Revival, Part 1,” by Dave Breeese.

Friday, February 15, 2019

The most useful thing I taught a high school senior

It was once my privilege to mentor a young man. We studied James and then studied and memorized Philippians together. (Daily memorization gets you through a text faster than weekly study, FYI.)

Somewhere along the way he saw my system for naming files starting with the date in a particular format:

yyyy-mm-dd - description.ext

I told him if you do that, then an alphabetical list of your files is also a chronological list. Single-digit numbers must be two digits for this to work properly. For instance, today in February would be 2019-02-15.

At first he thought this was unnecessary because files already have date stamps on them.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Changes needed to avoid school shootings

It seems the debate on the right to self-defense tends to take on one of two extremes.

Some people conclude the way to get rid of shootings is to get rid of the guns used to commit them.

That proposal has multiple problems. One, we have a Second Amendment. Two, the right to self-defense or the examples of oppression that come when it is denied is long established in the Scriptures. Three, the problem with people using guns to break laws is not that we don't have enough laws against using guns for evil.

The opposite extreme is to “arm teachers” in the classroom.

You don't have to start too many conversations in an elementary school before you find teachers who object to this proposal. Many of them don't want to be armed.

There's a difference between a government policy mandating and funding the arming of every teacher and allowing those teachers that want to arms themselves to exercise their constitutional rights.

One does not need either extreme in order to make a difference when it comes to preventing a school shooting.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Until men despise patriotism

From the funeral for Matthew Fontaine Maury:
As long as the planets roll their nightly courses through the sky, his name will be inscribed on the starry firmament. As long as the ocean heaves, the winds blow, and men seek distant lands in commerce, his praise will not want a voice. Till men forget science, he will not be forgotten; and until men despise patriotism, his example will teach us to give up all at the call of our native land. And for our selves, we will be dead to the sweetness of friendship, the love of virtue, and the admiration of Christian piety, when we cease to cherish the memory of him whose death we here record.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Freedom, the goal

After having heard many good things about Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England over the years, I was quite pleased recently to discover an accessible readable version is finally available.

Apparently this work originated as a series of lectures, and after competing and potentially inaccurate transcripts were circulated, Blackstone formally published an official version of his comments.

It has not disappointed. Here's a taste, circa 1758:
…first, to demonstrate the utility of some acquaintance with the laws of the land, let us only reflect a moment on the singular frame and polity of that land, which is governed by this system of laws. A land, perhaps the only one in the universe, in which political or civil liberty is the very end and scope of the constitution.
The goal was freedom. Of course, history has taken turns since then, but the objective was clear and good.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Mark Twain would have been a podcaster

From Chapters of his autobiography:
Not even yet have I really written myself out. I have merely stopped writing because dictating is pleasanter work, and because dictating has given me a strong aversion to the pen, and because two hours of talking per day is enough, and because—But I am only damaging my mind with this digging around in it for pretexts where no pretext is needed, and where the simple truth is for this one time better than any invention, in this small emergency. I shall never finish my five or six unfinished books, for the reason that by forty years of slavery to the pen I have earned my freedom. I detest the pen and I wouldn't use it again to sign the death warrant of my dearest enemy.
Twain, Mark. Chapters from My Autobiography. Location 3429. Kindle Edition.

I take that to mean his podcast would have been two hours long and I would not have listened to it.

Then again, maybe he just needed an introduction to the ballpoint pen.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Repentance

The word used in Scripture is metanoia.” “Meta is a “change”; noia means “the mind.” So “metanoia” in its original sense means “a change of mind.” “You need to change your mind about reality” is what the Bible says to a wicked and adulterous generation.

But the warning I would like to lift is, that when many people talk about repentance, they mean a great emotional thing. They mean people who are sorry about the past, and feel bad about it. They mean people who will turn their lives into another direction. These things do have their place under certain circumstances, but that’s not what repentance means!

Friday, February 8, 2019

How Video Changed Games

Book excerpt:
I grew up in the 1980s and ’90s, during the golden age of “cheating” in video games. I first had an Atari 2600, then an 8-bit Nintendo, and eventually I moved on to (from today’s perspective) hilariously bad PC games. I’m not much of a gamer anymore, but I can appreciate how far video games have come. In some sense, I’m lucky that I grew up in the days when they were sophisticated enough to where I could play something that looked like baseball (or football or a spaceship that for some reason needed to shoot a bunch of other spaceships) on the screen, but primitive enough that I could figure out all of the game’s weaknesses and exploit them. I didn’t even have to go to the arcade and spend all my quarters. Everything was right there on my television. I don’t think people truly appreciate the impact that bad video games had on baseball or the world in general.

Maybe the most important cultural legacy of the video game is the idea of one-player mode. Most real-world games are multi-player. They pit two (or more) people against each other within some rule structure and the players compete until there’s a winner. While you’re playing the game—assuming that your friends actually want to win—there is no space to stop the game, back up, and try something a little different to see if you can get an edge that way. Before one-player mode, most games were social experiences. There was etiquette to consider. You didn’t take every last advantage and run up the score, even if you could, especially if you still wanted to be friends with the person after the game was over.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

How to Innovate

There are two kinds of rules in business. One set includes the moral, ethical, and legal. These should be kept. The other set includes the unwritten rules of market and business operations expectations. These are where innovation opportunities lie, often hidden. It is in testing, probing, questioning, and sometimes outright breaking these unwritten rules that the most potential can be uncovered.

Take, for instance, radio. One of the most important rules in radio is not allowing a broadcast to go silent. This wasn’t the case originally, but as the business model has been optimized since the early days of radio, the most important way to retain listeners and maximize revenue is to ensure there is always something to which people can listen.

What if this rule were to be broken? What if silence in broadcasting could be turned into a competitive advantage?

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Highlights from The Art of War

That general is skillful in attack whose opponent does not know what to defend; and he is skillful in defense whose opponent does not know what to attack.

He who exercises no forethought but makes light of his opponents is sure to be captured by them.

Soldiers must be treated in the first instance with humanity, but kept under control by means of iron discipline. This is a certain road to victory.

Rapidity is the essence of war.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

How Sun Tzu Became General

Sun Tzu Wu was a native of the Ch`i State. His ART OF WAR brought him to the notice of Ho Lu, King of Wu.

Ho Lu said to him: "I have carefully perused your 13 chapters. May I submit your theory of managing soldiers to a slight test?"

Sun Tzu replied: "You may."

Ho Lu asked: "May the test be applied to women?"

Monday, February 4, 2019

The Redeemer of Israel

I recently learned that my sister's birthday, today, February 4, share's calendar significance with the days of purification for Jesus.

“When the eight days were completed for His circumcision, He was named Jesus — the name given by the angel before He was conceived. And when the days of their purification according to the law of Moses were finished, they brought Him up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord” (Luke 2:21-22). “Forty days after Jesus' birth is the time of the circumcision (eight days) plus the 33 days of Leviticus 12:3-4 counted inclusively” (ESVSB). December 25 + 8 + 33 = February 4.

Two different people made reference to this event in a way that indicated this was not your everyday purification ceremony.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

1977 Athletes

Tom Brady was born a couple months after me on August 3, 1977. He is 59 days younger than me. While he’s in the spotlight once again today, this post is about a different athlete born in 1977.

David Ross was born on March 19, 1977. He is 78 days older than me. A couple years ago he and the Chicago Cubs won the World Series. With 108 years since their previous win, this was a long time in coming. Along the way, the team had fun with his age, and shared memories of what life was like in the 1980s, a decade I also remember.

I sampled a few books about the Cubs and their win, and Teammate by David Ross stood out. A lesser known part of David’s story is how he was cut from a different MLB team, and had a reputation as being a bad teammate. He determined to correct that, and Teammate is the story of his correction and the championship results he enjoyed from those efforts.

Ross lists the good attributes of being a teammate as Humility, Honesty, Reliability, Communication, Problem Solving, Sacrifice, Dealing with Change, Engagement, Being Positive, Accountability, Being Social, Toughness, Trust, and Fun.

As I read this book, I noticed some other attributes that are not described directly in that list.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Conversation

This is not the first generation to have difficulty with converation. In a testament to how rare and difficult conversation has become, one blogger has dubbed herself a conversation agent.

Bob Wilkin describes his difficulty with conversation: “I find it hard to talk to most people. I usually have to think about it. When I first met Abby, one of the signs whereby I knew she was the girl for me was that we talked easily and freely. No effort needed. It was perfectly and utterly natural. Normally, for me, it takes effort to talk to people. Even family.”

My great-uncle Dave Breese once described intelligent conversation as a source of knowledge “more readily available than any other.”
Intelligent conversation is free, it is fascinating, it is food for the soul and fine tuning for the fertile mind. The interaction between two intelligent Christian minds going in the same direction is one of life’s most precious gifts.

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Seth Godin