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.”

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