Wednesday, September 30, 2020

The assumptions of questions

Reporters like to think that any question they ask is inherently objective, but this is not how it works.

Reporters actually know quite well that it's possible to embed assumptions into how they ask a question to lead someone into a particular kind of response.

Last night, Presidential Debate Moderator Chris Wallace did exactly this. He repeated the propaganda line long-used by Democrats that Republicans “have no plan” for replacing the Affordable Care Act.

President Trump was having none of it. He didn't let that incorrect assumption stand for a minute, even if it meant interrupting the moderator.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

The day before Justice Ginsburg passed away

Given the magnitude of the change to the U.S. Supreme Court at hand, little notice seems to have been given to what happened right before Justice Ginsburg's passing.

SCOTUSblog on 9/18: “Two Supreme Court justices made public appearances on Thursday — if only virtually — and a third received a lifetime achievement award as the legal academy celebrated Constitution Day. The National Constitution Center awarded its 32nd annual Liberty Medal to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and, in lieu of an in-person ceremony, the center invited Ginsburg’s favorite opera singers and friends to pay tribute to her lifelong work in the law.”

Monday, September 28, 2020

Grand in its loneliness

The Sphynx is grand in its loneliness; it is imposing in its magnitude; it is impressive in the mystery that hangs over its story.

Friday, September 25, 2020

I don't know if Twitter is worth the effort anymore

Product leadership is about understanding a product's potential, discovering it if necessary, and then pursuing that direction to the fullest extent possible.

Twitter leadership doesn't understand the “use case” for Twitter's most valuable feature.

As an avid Twitter user since 2007, I find this utterly incomprehensible.

List search is one of the most powerful features Twitter has, at least in combination with a few other features. For me it's the most valuable way to use Twitter.

Here's how it works:

Thursday, September 24, 2020

The home technology arms race

I have not found it too difficult to keep up with changes in personal technology devices such as phones and tablets. Both of those seem to have supplanted the laptop and desktop markets. I consider the Windows desktop interface to have moved to tablets now.

Networking, on the other hand, is a bit of a different story. I remember selling Wireless-G as the new fast alternative to Wireless-B. 50 mbps was much faster than any internet connection, so it should serve people's internet needs well and leave lots of headroom for internal transfers.

This year, due to some unattended challenges with my wireless provider, and a temporary need for higher capacity, I'm back to using more home networking equipment. Seems I was more out-of-date than I thought.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Realizations about Blogger

On Saturday, I realized something about the new Blogger the encapsulates why I must reject it.

The HTML editor in the old Blogger made working with HTML fundamentally easier. When switching between compose and code view, it would change things in a way that made it more useful, and it made features more accessible. This was especially true of the
tag. There were even times I would open a Blogger editor to change some HTML that I wasn't even using for Blogger because it made things easy. Some things it didn't change for the better (like bulleted or numbered lists), but most other things were good.

The HTML editor in the new Blogger makes editing HTML fundamentally harder. It changes nothing about my code no matter which view I'm in. Instead of fixing things for me, it informs me my code is inferior. Sometimes it highlights the problem in red, sometimes not. When adding text, lines, and paragraphs in the compose window, instead of using the single
tag that doesn't require a closing tag, it uses
tags. Very yuck. Further, everything is on a single line, so it's highly inefficient to track things down, add page jumps, figure out where the other random
tag landed, etc.

What I realized is that in two primary cases for me, I was using Blogger because it was easier to do things on Blogger than by myself with the code. If that's no longer the case, then my reason for using Blogger has been eliminated.

Federal, International Updates

John MacArthur: 'I'm open for a jail ministry' https://t.co/1obqqQIzWP[…]

Attack kills World Vision worker in Congo https://t.co/mA1lwK5pQS[…]

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Why punishments should not build wealth

Once in Hartford the flies were so numerous for a time, and so troublesome, that Mrs. Clemens conceived the idea of paying George a bounty on all the flies he might kill.

The children saw an opportunity here for the acquisition of sudden wealth. They supposed that their mother merely wanted to accumulate dead flies, for some æsthetic or scientific reason or other, and they judged that the more flies she could get the happier she would be; so they went into business with George on a commission.

Straightway the dead flies began to arrive in such quantities that Mrs. Clemens was pleased beyond words with the success of her idea.

Next, she was astonished that one house could furnish so many. She was paying an extravagantly high bounty, and it presently began to look as if by this addition to our expenses we were now probably living beyond our income.

After a few days there was peace and comfort; not a fly was discoverable in the house: there wasn't a straggler left.

Still, to Mrs. Clement's surprise, the dead flies continued to arrive by the plateful, and the bounty expense was as crushing as ever.

Monday, September 21, 2020

The omnibuses of Egypt

When we reached the pier we found an army of Egyptian boys with donkeys no larger than themselves, waiting for passengers—for donkeys are the omnibuses of Egypt.

We preferred to walk, but we could not have our own way. The boys crowded about us, clamored around us, and slewed their donkeys exactly across our path, no matter which way we turned. They were good-natured rascals, and so were the donkeys.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Weekly Updates

GovTop Report
Pray for Congress

Her 'most fervent wish'

Last night, news broke that U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has passed away.

While this kind of news spreads quickly, and immediately inserts itself into the national discussion, Congressional agenda, and election, it's worth pausing to first reflect on one of the last things she said.

NPR reported, “Just days before her death, as her strength waned, Ginsburg dictated this statement to her granddaughter Clara Spera: ‘My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.’”

Even if the ideological and political roles were completely reversed, this is one of the saddest final statements one could make.

Friday, September 18, 2020

More online dominoes could fall

The world is not ready for an IPv6-only environment. My employer confirmed as much today.

So, I signed up for Xfinity. Comcast is notorious for making it difficult for people to leave. Even after they leave, and your account is no longer active, it still lingers in their system. You can't just “sign up for new service,” because you're not entirely new. Their phone system gets particularly confused by inactive customers. Eventually you hit 0 repeatedly and wait for it to say, “Let me get someone to help you,” which is what you wanted in the first place.

You're new enough to get new customer pricing, but then once you sign back up, any contact information you had on your old account is held hostage until you call to get it released. Such calls seem to defeat the point of having online promotions for people to sign up online.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

A teachable moment on government

I listened to a conversation between Senator Tim Kaine and students this afternoon, and he never used the term, but he very directly promoted identity politics with them.

He talked about how it's important to see people in government that “look like you.”

The irony was he reserved terms like “division” for when he wanted to talk bad about Republicans, but in actuality, he himself was planting seeds of division in that very conversation.

Another line of thought stood out, too. I don't remember if it was a student or the Senator, but someone talked about having a government “that works for them.”

That's not the purpose of government. That's not the nature of government.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

A summer of things breaking

Today, my biological Dad would have been 70 years old. He was into electronics back in the 1970s, so I'm sure he would have been engaged in a lot of the developments we've seen over the decades since then. He was also into God's Word, and he would have known that none of these things change the sinful heart of man or the struggles that we face.

As the pandemic and its effects have continued into the fall, this summer has seen a lot of things break. Relief assistance has run out, and people are turning to other ways to make ends meet. With everyone under pressure and a lot of things a stake, it's easy to make a misstep and make things worse instead of better. I've seen this with both my internet connection, and also with services I use like IFTTT and Twitter. I've spent hours on refining how I use both, only to have them throw massive amounts of that away by disabling key features of their products.

I don't like relying on and waiting for GPO and Congress.gov for things either, but at least there, the institutions pre-date the latest dot-com hype and have a record of longevity.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

For Mark Twain, writing was a family activity

The children always helped their mother to edit my books in manuscript.

She would sit on the porch at the farm and read aloud, with her pencil in her hand, and the children would keep an alert and suspicious eye upon her right along, for the belief was well grounded in them that whenever she came across a particularly satisfactory passage she would strike it out.

Their suspicions were well founded.

Monday, September 14, 2020

The prince of dismal scenery

So ends the pilgrimage. We ought to be glad that we did not make it for the purpose of feasting our eyes upon fascinating aspects of nature, for we should have been disappointed—at least at this season of the year.

A writer in “Life in the Holy Land” observes:
“Monotonous and uninviting as much of the Holy Land will appear to persons accustomed to the almost constant verdure of flowers, ample streams and varied surface of our own country, we must remember that its aspect to the Israelites after the weary march of forty years through the desert must have been very different.”
Which all of us will freely grant. But it truly is “monotonous and uninviting,” and there is no sufficient reason for describing it as being otherwise.

Friday, September 11, 2020

September 11, 1960

Today is the 60-year anniversary of the Sharon Statement.

It contained five core principles:
  1. Individual freedom and the right of governing originate with God
  2. Political freedom is impossible without economic freedom
  3. Limited government and strict interpretation of the Constitution
  4. The free market system is preferable over all others
  5. Communism must be defeated, not contained

Full text:
In this time of moral and political crises, it is the responsibility of the youth of America to affirm certain eternal truths.

We, as young conservatives, believe:

That foremost among the transcendent values is the individual’s use of his God-given free will, whence derives his right to be free from the restrictions of arbitrary force;

Thursday, September 10, 2020

The Socialist Temptation

The socialist temptation is widely described by conservatives as the temptation to live off “free stuff.” But this is not so—the temptation is actually more complex.

It is the temptation to annihilate one’s conscience by feeling justified in living off other people’s work.

Think about it this way: most people would not dream of going into their neighbor’s house, eating from his refrigerator and helping themselves to his wallet. It’s just not right.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Everlasting Purpose

Show me where and how You want me to take steps toward my destiny every day. …

Why try to be somebody else? God already has one of them. There is only one you—and you are it. …

A fourth characteristic of a masterpiece is that it is named by its creator. The artist or sculptor ascribes a name to his or her creation that reflects its meaning and purpose.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Presidential Updates

“No. No, I don’t want them. I want to leave it to law enforcement.” President Trump said he doesn’t want #TrumpSupporters to engage or confront #BlackLivesMatter protesters, saying that #LawEnforcement should deal with them. https://t.co/weZoZ8xKRV[…]

“The left’s war on police, faith, history, and American values is tearing our country apart, which is what they want.” President Donald Trump wants to restore patriotic education in #Schools to remedy the division which has led to #Violence and #Riots. https://t.co/ZU9HYINjyM[…]

The #BlackLivesMatter movement is discriminatory and bad for black people, as well as everybody else, President Donald Trump said, describing the group as as a #Marxist organization. https://t.co/tCJ92sW4VZ[…]

Monday, September 7, 2020

800 Days

I'm 80% of the way toward my goal of 1,000 days of writing.

Today is also the birthday of my Gramma's* and a cousin. Shared birthdays are not as fun when you're a kid, but they become more cherished as a person gets older.

At my last writing milestone, I remember noticing that 700 and 800 basically bookend Summer 2020. For the first half the SpaceX mission helped out on the Space Station.

During the first half of July, while the Senate was still on a break, my internet connection became largely incapacitated. Now its only partly incapacitated. I'm still trusting the Lord to provide. While awaiting another transition, I read a book on Churchill over this holiday weekend.

In August, Blogger has been pushing it's new interface harder. They said they were going to make everyone switch over on 8/24, then September. Thankfully that still hasn't happened yet. I've stopped checking to see if they've done anything with feedback I've sent.

Tim
15,800 days

* her spelling

Higher Education Updates

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

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

Friday, September 4, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Cultural Socialism

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


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

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

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Humility gathers advocates

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

News of the persecution

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

Presidential Updates

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

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

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

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