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October 30, 2014

Table Titans

Tales: The Chocker Wears You!


My group of seven mighty adventurers was questing for a holy relic in a 4e game. They had fought their way through an infested guard tower and a band of Goblins intent on escaping . . . something, when they ran into a couple Chokers and yet more Goblins, in the stairwell of the Cleric's Tower.

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October 30, 2014 07:00 AM

The Gospel Coalition | Latest Articles

Is It Wrong to Compete and Want to Win?

Editors' Note: TBT (Throwback Thursday) with Every Square Inch: Reading the Classics is a new weekly column that publishes some of the best writings on vocation from the past. Our hope is to introduce you to thoughtful literature that you may not have discovered yet and, as always, to encourage you to know and love Christ more in all spheres of your life.

As with other aspects of business, so it is with competition: the evils and distortions that have sometimes accompanied competition have led people to conclude that competition is evil in itself. But this is not true.

We can think of some good examples of competition in other areas of life. To take one example, most people think competition in sports is a good thing, whether in children’s soccer leagues or Little League baseball or in professional sports. Although we can all think of bad examples of overly competitive coaches, for the most part we think competition in sports is a good system, and we think it fair that the best teams receive some prize or award at the end. (See 1 Corinthians 9:25-26 and 2 Timothy 2:5 for some metaphors of athletic competition that Paul uses in a positive way.)

Similarly, in our school system, assigning grades is a competitive activity in which the best math students and the best English students and the best art and music students receive higher marks. The grading system provides guidance to help students find something they can do well. When I fly in an airplane, I am glad that it has been designed by someone who got straight A's in mathematics and engineering. The grading system is “competitive,” and it guides society in assigning jobs to those who are best suited to those jobs.

Opportunity to Test Our Abilities

In the business world, competition does that as well. We hired a careless painter once for our house, and he lasted only a day. But then we found a good painter, and we were willing to pay more for his high-quality work. The bad painter needed to find another occupation, and we were helping him do that by asking him not to come back the next day. The world is so diverse, and the economic system has so many needs, that I am sure there is some area in which he can fulfill a need and do well. But it wasn’t painting.

We must recognize, of course, that in every society there will be some people who because of physical or mental disability are unable to find productive work without help from others, either from charitable organizations or from government agencies. Surely we should support such efforts to provide a “safety net” for those unable to care for themselves. But in American society at least (with which I am most familiar), and in many other countries as well, there is productive work available for the vast majority of the population, and competition is the mechanism that helps workers find the jobs for which their interests and abilities best suit them.

So a competitive system is one in which we test our abilities and find if we can do something better than others, and so be paid for it. The system works well when we reward better work and greater quantity of work with greater reward.

In fact, if you have ever shopped around for the lowest price on a shirt or a computer or a car, your actions show that you approve of competition in the economy, because you are making competition work. You are buying from the person who can produce and distribute a computer cheaper than someone else, and you are encouraging that more efficient manufacturer to stay in business, and you are discouraging the less efficient, more expensive computer manufacturers from staying in business. This happens every day, and we take it for granted. But if we are going to be good stewards of our possessions we need to have competition in the marketplace.

Means for Product Improvement

Another benefit of competition is that people keep getting better at making things, and as a result the (inflation-adjusted) prices of consumer goods keep falling over the course of decades. This means that over time an economically competitive society will enjoy an increasingly higher standard of living.

The audio player I bought last week cost me $89, but a year ago it would have cost me $120. Similarly, computers keep getting better and prices keep falling, so more and more people can afford a computer, and everyone who buys one has more money left over than he or she would have had a year ago. The first pocket calculators cost around $100, but today I can buy one at the checkout counter at the drug store for $1. These are examples of how competition brings economic benefit to the society as a whole.

Striving for Excellence

There is still another benefit to competition. God has created us with a desire to do well, and to improve what we are able to do. Competition spurs us on to do better, because we see others doing better and we decide we can do that too. An executive from a company that made mail-sorting machines once told me that his engineers thought they had made the fastest, quietest mail sorting machine possible—until he took them to watch a machine manufactured by a German company that was even faster and quieter. Then the engineers went back to work, determined to do even better. I think that God has made us with such a desire to strive for excellence in our work so that we would imitate his excellence more fully.

A kind of competition to try to do as well as or better than someone else seems to be what Solomon had in mind when he wrote, "Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from a man’s envy of his neighbor" (Eccles. 4:4). The term translated “envy” (in most translations) or “rivalry” (NASB) is the Hebrew word qin’åh, which can have either negative or positive moral connotations, depending on the context (much like our terms “jealousy” and “zeal”). Here it seems to have the sense “competitive spirit.” The verse does not say this is good or bad, only that it happens. (A different word, chåmad, is used in Exodus 20:17 when God says, “You shall not covet.”) People see what someone else has, and they decide to work harder themselves, or to gain better skills. In this way, competition spurs people on to better work, and they themselves prosper, and society prospers.

There is in fact a sort of mild “competition” implied in the testing of men before they become deacons: "And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless" (1 Tim. 3:10). If they do well in the time of testing (“if they prove themselves blameless”), then they can become deacons. If not, then they should find some other area of service within the church.

Competition seems to be the system God intended when he gave people greater talents in one area and gave other people greater talents in another area, and when he established a world where justice and fairness would require giving greater reward for better work.

Competition brings many opportunities to glorify God, as we try to use our talents to their full potential and thus manifest the God-like abilities that he has granted to us, with thankfulness in our hearts to him. Competition enables each person to find a role in which he or she can make a positive contribution to society and thus a role in which people can work in a way that serves others by doing good for them. Competition is thus a sort of societal functioning of God’s attributes of wisdom and kindness, and it is a way society helps people discover God’s will for their lives. Competition also enables us individually to demonstrate fairness and kindness toward others, even those with whom we compete.

Temptations to Sin

On the other hand, competition brings many temptations to sin. There is a difference between trying to do a job better than others, on the one hand, and trying to harm others and prevent them from earning a living on the other hand. There is nothing wrong with trying to run a better car repair shop than the one down the street, but there is a lot wrong with lying about the other mechanic, or stealing his tools, or in my heart seeking to do him harm.

Competition also brings temptations to pride, and to excessive work that allows no rest or time with family or with God. There is also the temptation to so distort life values that we become unable even to enjoy the fruits of our labor.

But the distortions of something good must not cause us to think that the thing itself is evil. These temptations to sin should not obscure the fact that competition in itself, within appropriate limits (some of which should be established by government), is good and pleasing to God, and provides many opportunities to glorify him.

This excerpt is adapted from Business for the Glory of God. Copyright © 2003. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187,

by Wayne Grudem at October 30, 2014 05:01 AM

How the Gospel Unites Two Very Different College Ministries

How much can college ministry really differ from campus to campus when you're dealing with 18- to 22-year-olds? Quite a bit, actually, depending on your region of the country, the priviate or public nature of the school, and the religious foundation or ongoing commitment of the school. 

Jon Nielson and Solomon Rexius (follow on Twitter) minister in two very different campus contexts (see their previous article, "Seven Questions for Two College Pastors"). College Church in Wheaton, Illinois, where Nielson works, stands next to Wheaton College, a private Christian school with about 2,400 undergraduate students. Rexius serves as college pastor at University Fellowship Church in Eugene, Oregon, one of the most liberal and unchurched regions of North America. He graduated from the University of Oregon, and most of the students in his ministry attend this public school of 24,000 students. So these two men lead college ministries in areas that appear to share little in common. But as you'll hear from them, the gospel unites believers across geography, age, experience, and vocation.

I brought Jon and Solomon together to discuss the privilege of discipling college students in such varied settings. We explored how the gospel of Jesus Christ makes the goals and methods of their respective ministries quite similar. And we dove into the details of evangelism, social media, and retreats, along with the relationship between Christian campus ministries and colleges. Don't miss their wisdom on how to encourage college students to serve in the local church and put them in contact with adult mentors.

Resources recommended by Solomon and Jon for students or college ministers included:

You can stream the full interview below, download the mp3, or subscribe to TGC's podcast on iTunes.

by Collin Hansen at October 30, 2014 05:01 AM

God Has Changed You and Is Changing You

Would you be more likely to say “God is changing me" or “God has changed me”?

Many Christians are comfortable saying the former, but some of us might hesitate to say the latter: “God has changed me.” We are much more likely to say, “I have a lot more changing to do. I’m a work in progress. I haven’t yet arrived.”

There is indeed a continuing process of sanctification happening within the believer, but the completed work of regeneration is of equal importance. Regeneration is the complete transformation that begins the continuing process of sanctification.

It seems that many Christians have a good grasp on the continuing process, but perhaps a more tenuous grasp of the completed work. So here are seven Scriptures that speak clearly of Christ’s completed work in you as a believer.

You Are a New Creation

"If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" (2 Cor. 5:17, NIV)

Paul does not say, “If anyone is in Christ, he is becoming a new creation.” He does not say, “The old is going away.” Nor does he say, “The new is gradually forming.” He says, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.” There is no process here. This is something that has happened in its entirety, and it’s true of you if you are in Christ.

You Have Been Crucified

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me." (Gal. 2:20, NIV)

Regeneration didn’t just happen to Paul; it’s true of every believer. It’s a done deal. 

You Have Been Raised

"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God." (Col. 3:1-3, NIV)

Notice it’s not, “If you hope one day to be” but, “Since you have been . . .” If you are a believer, you have been raised with Christ. You died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. There is something for us to do (as there are in all these passages) in setting our hearts on things above, but you do that by taking in the first part of the verse.

Your Body Is a Temple of the Holy Spirit

"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?" (1 Cor. 6:19, NIV)

Some Corinthians also struggled with regeneration. “Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit,” not “is becoming a temple of the Holy Spirit.” You have received him from God. If you are in Christ, the Holy Spirit lives with you and in you. His presence gives you power, and that makes the Christian life possible for you. That’s why it’s important to know.

You Are Light

"For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light." (Eph. 5:8, NIV)

He doesn’t say, “You have light,” he says, “You are light.” Your very nature was darkness. You were darkness, now you are light. Your nature has changed. Notice how Paul brings regeneration and sanctification together: “You are light.” That’s regeneration. “Live as . . . light.” That’s sanctification. You can’t live as light, unless you are light.

You Have Been Set Free from Sin

"You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life." (Rom. 6:22, NIV)

Many Christians don’t grasp this point. They would say, “You don’t understand; I sin and fail in many ways. I’m not yet free from sin.” Paul says, “Wait a minute! You have been set free from sin.” He’s writing to ordinary Christians like us. Sin is still your enemy, but it is no longer your master. You are no longer sin’s prisoner. You are no longer in chains. You are no longer under your old master. You can fight against temptation by God's grace. That’s why there is hope for you.

You Have Been Born Again

"You have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God." (1 Pet. 1:23, NIV)

You can’t be a little born or half born. Either you are born or you are not born. The language connotes completed transaction. This is what has happened to you in Christ. Regeneration is God’s completed work in you. It is not a process. It does not happen in stages. That’s what makes it different from sanctification. You can be a little in love, but you cannot be a little married. Sanctification is like being a little in love. Regeneration is like being married. Either you are or you aren’t. You cannot be a little regenerated.

Regeneration is the complete transformation that begins a continuing process called sanctification. The great truth of sanctification is that “God is changing me.” The great truth of regeneration is that “God has changed me.” We need both.

by Colin Smith at October 30, 2014 05:01 AM

Justin Taylor

Calvin on Why God Raised Up Luther to Reform the Church

calvin-and-lutherTomorrow is Reformation Day.

Here is John Calvin, writing in 1543 (26 years after Luther nailed the Ninety-five Theses to the Wittenberg Door), explaining why the Reformation needed to happen:

At the time when divine truth lay buried under this vast and dense cloud of darkness;

when religion was sullied by so many impious superstitions;

when by horrid blasphemies the worship of God was corrupted, and his glory laid prostrate;

when by a multitude of perverse opinions, the benefit of redemption was frustrated, and men, intoxicated with a fatal confidence in works, sought salvation anywhere rather than in Christ;

when the administration of the sacraments was partly maimed and torn asunder, partly adulterated by the admixture of numerous fictions, and partly profaned by traffickings for gain;

when the government of the church had degenerated into mere confusion and devastation; when those who sat in the seat of pastors first did most vital injury to the church by the dissoluteness of their lives, and, secondly, exercised a cruel and most noxious tyranny over souls, by every kind of error, leading men like sheep to the slaughter;

then Luther arose, and after him others, who with united counsels sought out means and methods by which religion might be purged from all these defilements, the doctrine of godliness restored to its integrity, and the church raised out of its calamitous into somewhat of a tolerable condition.

The same course we are still pursuing in the present day.

—John Calvin, “The Necessity of Reforming the Church.”

by Justin Taylor at October 30, 2014 05:00 AM

sacha chua :: living an awesome life

Emacs hangout notes

Prompted by Michael Fogleman’s tweet that he’d like to see a bunch of us Emacs geeks get together in one room for a hackathon, Nic Ferrier and I tried out a casual Emacs hangout. Tinychat didn’t work, but Google Hangouts worked fine. A bunch of people saw our tweets about it too and dropped by, yay! Here are some things we talked about (mostly nifty tweaks from Nic):

  • shadchen is great for pattern matching, especially within trees
  • Alec wanted to know about Emacs and Git, so Nic demonstrated basic Magit
  • after-init-hook – load things there instead of in your ~/.emacs.d/init.el, so that your init.el does not break and you can test things easily from within Emacs
  • I shared isearch-describe-bindings, which had a number of goodies that I hadn’t known about before
  • Recognizing the opportunity to share what you’re working on (ex: nicferrier’s working on an Emacs Lisp to Javascript compiler)

Google Hangouts screensharing worked well for us, giving multiple people the opportunity to share their screen and allowing people to choose what they wanted to focus on. Nic also started up a tmux session and a repository of public keys, but that’s a bit more involved and requires more trust/coordination, so screen-sharing will likely be the way to go unless people have more of a pairing thing set up. This kind of informal hangout might be a good way for people to share what they’re working on just in case other people want to drop by and help out or ask questions (which people can optionally answer, or postpone if they want to stay focused on their work). Something a little more focused than this might be to pick one bug or task and work on it together, maybe starting with a “ridealong” (one person screenshares, thinking out loud as he or she works, and taking the occasional question) and moving towards full pairing (people working on things together). Some of my short-term Emacs goals are:

  • Improve my web development workflow and environment (including getting the hang of Magit, Smart Parens, Skewer, AutoComplete / Company Mode, and other good things)
  • Learn how to write proper tests for Emacs-related things
  • Get back into contributing to the Emacs community, perhaps starting to work on code/tests
  • Look up my Org agenda on my phone, probably with Org Mobile or some kind of batch process

Let’s give this a try. =) I set up a public calendar and added an event on Nov 5, 9-11PM Toronto time. If folks want to drop by, we’ll see how that works out!

The post Emacs hangout notes appeared first on sacha chua :: living an awesome life.

by Sacha Chua at October 30, 2014 03:44 AM

CrossFit Naptown

Fit Workout 10/30/14

3 rounds

50 Sit ups

:50 Plank Hold

5 wall walks

15 Front Squats F (95/65/33) M (135/95/65)

by Peter at October 30, 2014 02:02 AM

October 29, 2014

Jon Udell

There was no pumpkin riot in Keene

Recently, in a store in Santa Rosa, my wife Luann was waiting behind another customer whose surname, the clerk was thrilled to learn, is Parrish. “That’s the name of the guy in Jumanji,” the clerk said. “I’ve seen that movie fifty times!”

“I’m from Keene, New Hampshire,” Luann said, “the town where that movie was filmed.”

It was a big deal when Robin Williams came to town. You can still see the sign for Parrish Shoes painted on a brick wall downtown. Recently it became the local Robin Williams memorial:

Then the penny dropped. The customer turned to Luann and said: “Keene? Really? Isn’t that where the pumpkin riot happened?”

The Pumpkin Festival began in 1991. In 2005 I made a short documentary film about the event.

It’s a montage of marching bands, face painting, music, kettle corn, folk dancing, juggling, and of course endless ranks of jack-o-lanterns by day and especially by night. We weren’t around this year to see it, but our friends in Keene assure us that if we had been, we’d have seen a Pumpkin Festival just like the one I filmed in 2005. The 2014 Pumpkin Festival was the same family event it’s always been. Many attendees had no idea that, at the other end of Main Street, in the neighborhood around Keene State College, the now-infamous riot was in progress.

No pumpkins were harmed in the riot. Bottles, cans, and rocks were thrown, a car was flipped, fires were set, but — strange as it sounds — none of these activities intersected with the normal course of the festival. Two very different and quite unrelated events occurred in the same town on the same day.

The riot had precursors. Things had been getting out of control in the college’s neighborhood for the past few years. College and town officials were expecting trouble again, and thought they were prepared to contain it. But things got so crazy this year that SWAT teams from around the state were called in to help.

In the aftermath there was an important discussion of white privilege, and of the double standard applied to media coverage of the Keene riot versus the Ferguson protests. Here’s The Daily Kos:

Black folks who are protesting with righteous rage and anger in response to the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson have been called “thugs”, “animals”, and cited by the Right-wing media as examples of the “bad culture” and “cultural pathologies” supposedly common to the African-American community.

Privileged white college students who riot at a pumpkin festival are “spirited partiers”, “unruly”, or “rowdy”.

Unfortunately the title of that article, White Privilege and the ‘Pumpkin Fest’ Riot of 2014, helped perpetuate the false notion that the Pumpkin Festival turned into a riot. When I mentioned that to a friend he said: “Of course, the media always get things wrong.”

It would be easy to blame the media. In fact, the misconception about what happened in Keene is a collective error. On Twitter, for example, #pumpkinfest became the hashtag that gathered riot-related messages, photos, and videos, and that focused the comparison to Ferguson. Who made that choice? Not the media. Not anyone in particular. It was the network’s choice. And the network got it wrong. Our friends in Keene saw it happening and tried to flood the social media with messages and photos documenting a 2014 Pumpkin Festival that was as happy and peaceful as every other Pumpkin Festival. But once the world had decided there’d been a pumpkin riot it was impossible to reverse that decision.

Is Keene’s signature event now ruined? We’ll see. I don’t think anybody yet knows whether it will continue. Meanwhile it’s worth reflecting on how conventional and social media converged on the same error. There’s nothing magical about the network. It’s just us, and sometimes we get things wrong.

by Jon Udell at October 29, 2014 09:35 PM

Feed: » stratechery by Ben Thompson

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by Ben Thompson at October 29, 2014 04:26 PM

John C. Wright's Journal » John C. Wright's Journal

First They Came for the Girls Scouts, But I Said Nothing…

An article too rich not to share from Big Government (

The Girl Scouts USA has just ended its 53rd Convention amid sharply declining membership numbers, serious financial problems, cookie boycotts due to the organization’s known ties to Planned Parenthood, and now, the threat that those who want the group to retain its former, traditional values will split off to get the Girl Scouts back on track.

As CBS News reports, for the second straight year, both youth and adult membership in the Girl Scouts has dropped dramatically. Over the past year, the total youth members and adult volunteers declined by six percent, from 2,994,844 to 2,813,997. The past two years have seen total membership down 11.6 percent, and since 2003, when membership peaked at more than 3.8 million, total membership has plummeted 27 percent.

Girl Scouts CEO Anna Maria Chavez attributes the falling numbers to overarching societal factors, such as less financial stability among parents and families, leading to the need for parents to work several jobs with little time to take children to activities or to volunteer themselves.

Chavez said the dearth of volunteer adults has forced some Girl Scout councils to turn away girls who want to join. She added there are approximately 30,000 girls on waiting lists around the country.

“The need for what Girl Scouts has to offer is not decreasing – more than ever girls need our time and our commitment,” Chavez said. “Our challenge is to meet them where they are with enough caring adults to serve them.”

However, as Will Doig at The Daily Beast observes, the Girl Scouts is facing a split between those who believe the organization should return to its traditional values and principles and those who want the group to focus on more “global” concerns and issues, such as “female body image” and how to reduce one’s carbon footprint.

“We’ve got a group of people organized,” says Marty Woelfel, a volunteer with Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana. “I won’t tell you how many.”

According to the Beast, Woelfel and others are prepared to return the Girl Scouts organization to its traditional core principles and activities such as canoeing, archery, fire building, and other wilderness skill building.

Nowadays, girls work toward merit badges for analysis of how fashion blogs portray women, developing a plan to reduce one’s carbon footprint, or how to commit to an “eat local” diet plan that is “sustainable.”

“We listen to and move at the speed of girls, and research shows that today’s girls not only love camping and being outdoors, they also enjoy technology and helping the world while having fun, all of which can be found in Girl Scouts,” says Kelly Parisi, chief communications executive for Girl Scouts USA.

However, as Breitbart News has extensively reported, not all is “fun” at Girl Scouts USA, and Parisi, formerly vice president of Marketing and Communications at the Ms. Foundation, had joined a national campaign during her tenure there to punish the Susan G. Komen Foundation for trying to defund Planned Parenthood.

The Girl Scouts’ ties to Planned Parenthood, abortion, and other “non-traditional” activities include the fact that Josh Ackley – its main media spokesman – also happened to be the lead singer of a “homopunk” band that filmed several controversial videos, including one in which a woman is strangled, and another in which a young man writhes naked on the ground and appears to be masturbating. As Breitbart News’ Austin Ruse reported in January, when Ackley’s extracurricular activities were exposed, the Girl Scouts merely scrubbed him from its media page but still tweeted that “not only is Josh Ackley still employed, no one has been demoted.”

In May of 2013, a Girl Scout-sponsored event in New York City, billed as one to “celebrate women and girls” featured a live screening and panel discussion of the documentary MAKERS, a feminist, pro-abortion video account of prominent women described as “trailblazers.”

The Girl Scouts organization even stepped into designating pro-abortion Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis an “incredible woman” who deserved to be on the list of the 2013 “Women of the Year.” Additionally, on its Facebook page, the organization promoted former HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius as a woman of “courage.”

The non-traditional, “modern” Girl Scouts organization also hired a “Girl Experience Officer” named Krista Kokjohn-Poehler, who is a lesbian married to Ashley Kokjohn.

Among the internal issues that have led to expressions of public resentment among alumnae and regional councils of the Girl Scouts have been an unfunded pension plan, revenue deficits that have led to the elimination of about one-fourth of the staff at national headquarters, and the closure of some Girl Scout camps and what has been perceived as a shift away from camping and other outdoor activities that were once synonymous with scouting itself.

As CBS News observes, as the Girl Scouts’ membership has plummeted, the American Heritage Girls, formed in 1995 as a Christian-oriented alternative, now has over 35,000 members.

Read the whole thing:

For those of you too impatient to read: whenever the Leftist take over, they ruin.

No exceptions, no, not one. That cannot be a coincidence. If their behavior was purely random, purely insane, one would think that by the law of averages they would occasionally get something right, do something right, improve someone’s life, bring joy somewhere.

But, no, their behavior is not random. It is deliberately a rebellion against reality, against logic, against free will and in favor of mind control. It can make no one happy because of a simple and obvious rule of human nature: (1) slaves are unhappy when forced to do what their master, but not they themselves, ought to make them happy; (2) and the master, despite his pomp and high position, grows bitter, cynical, lonesome, loathsome and sad, because he must treat the slaves as subhuman, and by dehumanizing his victims, he loses his own humanity himself, and degrades himself into being a monster.  An unhappy monster.

The parallel to what has happened to Science Fiction is clear. Once upon a time, science fiction was about fiction stories depicting the wonder and terror of the science and the universe. Now it is about gay wereseals and nonbinary gender and exposing Mike Resnick and Barry N. Malzberg held up to the two minute hate, damaging their careers and getting them fired, for being polite to ladies  in a fashion deemed retroactively doubleplus ungood for no reason in particular, merely as an example for the others. Likewise, Girl Scouts used to be about scouting. Now it is about antichristianity, lesbianism, eco-Marxism, Gyno-Nazism, and blithering inane ritual behaviors called for by the Death Cult known as … well, it changes its name every fashion season, so who knows what they are calling themselves now. Political Correctness is the most accurate label they ever put on themselves, but them they immediately repudiated it.

The whatever-they-are-calling themselves this season, the death-cultists I call the Morlocks, have but one goal: they yearn for The Worship of Evil to replace all other religions. Abortion is their Eucharist, sodomy is their marriage, and euthanasia their extreme unction.

shuma gorath triumphant

by John C Wright at October 29, 2014 04:23 PM

A Few Thoughts on Cryptographic Engineering

Attack of the Week: Unpicking PLAID

A few years ago I came across an amusing Slashdot story: 'Australian Gov't offers $560k Cryptographic Protocol for Free'. The story concerned a protocol developed by Australia's Centrelink, the equivalent of our Health and Human Services department, that was wonderfully named the Protocol for Lightweight Authentication of ID, or (I kid you not), 'PLAID'.

Now to me this headline did not inspire a lot of confidence. I'm a great believer in TANSTAAFL -- in cryptographic protocol design and in life. I figure if someone has to use 'free' to lure you in the door, there's a good chance they're waiting in the other side with a hammer and a bottle of chloroform, or whatever the cryptographic equivalent might be.

A quick look at PLAID didn't disappoint. The designers used ECB like it was going out of style; did unadvisable things with RSA encryption, and that was only the beginning.

What PLAID was not, I thought at the time, was bad to the point of being exploitable. Moreover, I got the idea that nobody would use the thing. It appears I was badly wrong on both counts.

This is apropos of a new paper authored by Degabriele, Fehr, Fischlin, Gagliardoni, Günther, Marson, Mittelbach and Paterson entitled 'Unpicking Plaid: A Cryptographic Analysis of an ISO-standards-track Authentication Protocol'. Not to be cute about it, but this paper shows that PLAID is, well, bad.

As is typical for this kind of post, I'm going to tackle the rest of the content in a 'fun' question and answer format.
What is PLAID?
In researching this blog post I was somewhat amazed to find that Australians not only have universal healthcare, but that they even occasionally require healthcare. That this surprised me is likely due to the fact that my knowledge of Australia mainly comes from the first two Crocodile Dundee movies.

It seems that not only do Australians have healthcare, but they also have access to a 'smart' ID card that allows them to authenticate themselves. These contactless smartcards run the proprietary PLAID protocol, which handles all of the ugly steps in authenticating the bearer, while also providing some very complicated protections to prevent user tracking.

This protocol has been standardized as Australian standard AS-5185-2010 and is currently "in the fast track standardization process for ISO/IEC 25185-1.2". You can obtain your own copy of the standard for a mere 118 Swiss Francs, which my currency converter tells me is entirely too much money. So I'll do my best to provide the essential details in this post -- and many others are in the research paper.
How does PLAID work?
Accompanying tinfoil hat
not pictured.
PLAID is primarily an identification and authentication protocol, but it also attempts to offer its users a strong form of privacy. Specifically, it attempts to ensure that only authorized readers can scan your card and determine who you are.

This is a laudable goal, since contactless smartcards are 'promiscuous', meaning that they can be scanned by anyone with the right equipment. Countless research papers have been written on tracking RFID devices, so the PLAID designers had to think hard about how they were going to prevent this sort of issue.

Before we get to what steps the PLAID designers took, let's talk about what one shouldn't do in building such systems.

Let's imagine you have a smartcard talking to a reader where anyone can query the card. The primary goal of an authentication protocol is to perform some sort of mutual authentication handshake and derive a session key that the card can use to exchange sensitive data. The naive protocol might look like this:

Naive approach to an authentication protocol. The card identifies itself
  before the key agreement protocol is run, so the reader can look up a card-specific key.
The obvious problem with this protocol is that it reveals the card ID number to anyone who asks. Yet such identification appears necessary, since each card will have its own secret key material -- and the reader must know the card's key in order to run an authenticated key agreement protocol.

PLAID solves this problem by storing a set of RSA public keys corresponding to various authorized applications. When the reader says "Hi, I'm a hospital", a PLAID card determines which public key it use to talk to hospitals, then encrypts data under the key and sends it over. Only a legitimate hospital should know the corresponding RSA secret key to decrypt this value.
So what's the problem here?
PLAID's approach would be peachy if there were only one public key to deal with. However PLAID cards can be provisioned to support many applications (called 'capabilities'). For example, a citizen who routinely finds himself wrestling crocodiles might possess a capability unique to the Reptile Wound Treatment unit of a local hospital.* If the card responds to this capability, it potentially leaks information about the bearer.

To solve this problem, PLAID cards do some truly funny stuff.

Specifically, when a reader queries the card, the reader initially transmits a set of capabilities that it will support (e.g., 'hospital', 'bank', 'social security center'). If the PLAID card has been provisioned with a matching public key, it goes ahead and uses it. If no matching key is found, however, the card does not send an error -- since this would reveal user-specific information. Instead, it fakes a response by encrypting junk under a special 'dummy' RSA public key (called a 'shill key') that's stored within the card. And herein lies the problem.

You see, the 'shill key' is unique to each card, which presents a completely new avenue for tracking individual cards. If an attacker can induce an error and subsequently fingerprint the resulting RSA ciphertext -- that is, figure out which shill key was used to encipher it -- they can potentially identify your card the next time they encounter you.

A portion of the PLAID protocol (source). The reader (IFD) is on the left, the card (ICC) is on the right.
Thus the problem of tracking PLAID cards devolves to one of matching RSA ciphertexts to unknown public keys. The PLAID designers assumed this would not be possible. What Degabriele et al. show is that they were wrong.
What do German Tanks have to do with RSA encryption?

To distinguish the RSA moduli of two different cards, the researchers employed of an old solution to a problem called the German Tank Problem. As the name implies, this is a real statistical problem that the allies ran up against during WWII.

The problem can be described as follows:

Imagine that a factory is producing tanks, where each tank is printed with a sequential serial number in the ordered sequence 1, 2, ..., N. Through battlefield captures you then obtain a small and (presumably) random subset of k tanks. From the recovered serial numbers, your job is to estimate N, the total number of tanks produced by the factory.

Happily, this is the rare statistical problem with a beautifully simple solution.** Let m be the maximum serial number in the set of k tanks you've observed. To obtain a rough guess Ñ for the total number of tanks produced, you can simply compute the following formula:

So what's this got to do with guessing an unknown RSA key?

Well, this turns out to be another instance of exactly the same problem. Imagine that I can repeatedly query your card with bogus 'capabilities' and thus cause it to enter its error state. To foil tracking, the card will send me a random RSA ciphertext encrypted with its (card-specific) "shill key". I don't know the public modulus corresponding to your key, but I do know that the ciphertext was computed using the standard RSA encryption formula m^e mod N.

My goal, as it was with the tanks, is to make a guess for N.

It's worth pointing out that RSA is a permutation, which means that, provided the plaintext messages are randomly distributed, the ciphertexts will be randomly distributed as well. So all I need to do is collect a number of ciphertexts and apply the equation above. The resulting guess Ñ should then serve as a (fuzzy) identifier for any given card.

Results for identifying a given card in a batch of (up to) 100 cards. Each card was initially 'fingerprinted' by collecting k1=1000 RSA ciphertexts. Arbitrary cards were later identified by collecting varying number of ciphertexts (k2).
Now obviously this isn't the whole story -- the value Ñ isn't exact, and you'll get different levels of error depending on how many ciphertexts you get, and how many cards you have to distinguish amongst. But as the chart above shows, it's possible to identify a specific card within in a real system (containing 100 cards) with reasonable probability.
But that's not realistic at all. What if there are other cards in play?
It's important to note that real life is nothing like a laboratory experiment. The experiment above considered a 'universe' consisting of only 100 cards, required an initial 'training period' of 1000 scans for a given card, and subsequent recognition demanded anywhere from 50 to 1000 scans of the card.

Since the authentication time for the cards is about 300 milliseconds per scan, this means that even the minimal number (50) of scans still requires about 15 seconds, and only produces the correct result with about 12% probability. This probability goes up dramatically the more scans you get to make.

Nonetheless, even the 50-scan result is significantly better than guessing, and with more concerted scans can be greatly improved. What this attack primarily serves to prove is that homebrew solutions are your enemy. Cooking up a clever approach to foiling tracking might seem like the right way to tackle a problem, but sometimes it can make you even more vulnerable than you were before.
How should one do this right?
The basic property that the PLAID designers were trying to achieve with this protocol is something called key privacy. Roughly speaking, a key private cryptosystem ensures that an attacker cannot link a given ciphertext (or collection of ciphertexts) to the public key that created them -- even if the attacker knows the public key itself.

There are many excellent cryptosystems that provide strong key privacy. Ironically, most are more efficient than RSA; one solution to the PLAID problem is simply to switch to one of these. For example, many elliptic-curve (Diffie-Hellman or Elgamal) solutions will generally provide strong key privacy, provided that all public keys in the system are set in the same group.

A smartcard encryption scheme based on, say, Curve25519 would likely avoid most of the problems presented above, and might also be significantly faster to boot.
What else should I know about PLAID?
There are a few other flaws in the PLAID protocol that make the paper worthy of a careful read -- if only to scare you away from designing your own protocols.

In addition to the shill key fingerprinting attacks, the authors also show how to identify the set of capabilities that a card supports, using a relatively efficient binary search approach. Beyond this, there are also many significantly more mundane flaws due to improper use of cryptography. 

By far the ugliest of these are the protocol's lack of proper RSA-OAEP padding, which may present potential (but implementation specific) vulnerabilities to Bleichenbacher's attack. There's also some almost de rigueur misuse of CBC mode encryption, and a handful of other flaws that should serve as audit flags if you ever run into them in the wild.

At the end of the day, bugs in protocols like PLAID mainly help to illustrate the difficulty of designing secure protocols from scratch. They also keep cryptographers busy with publications, so perhaps I shouldn't complain too much.
You should probably read up a bit on Australia before you post again.
I would note that this really isn't a question. But it's absolutely true. And to this end: I would sincerely like to apologize to any Australian citizens who may have been offended by this post.


* This capability is not explicitly described in the PLAID specification.

** The solution presented here -- and used in the paper -- is the frequentist approach to the problem. There is also a Bayesian approach, but it isn't required for this application.

by Matthew Green ( at October 29, 2014 04:17 PM

John C. Wright's Journal » John C. Wright's Journal

A Tale of Two Comments

Please take note of the following two comments:

This one was left here on my journal ( by someone who tags himself DaveOn.

He is aggressively defending the beating and robbery of Bristol Palin, or, which is the same thing, smirking at those who say there is nothing funny about a young woman being beaten and robbed. His argument, such as it is, is that it is wrong to criticize Leftists for their sadism on the grounds that, uh, LOOK! SQUIRREL! Or something to that effect.

Actually, and I know bringing facts into these discussions is annoying, if the police witness a criminal act being perpetrated they actually are (at least in the variety of locales I checked via Google) obliged to intervene.

You are correct that they can’t act if a crime hasn’t taken place which makes dealing with stalkers and threats tricky legally speaking, but if they see a fight start they will get involved and break it up.

And, again, facts before I depart, Bristol appears to have been telling porkies. I am sure that in your 20 years as an officer a drunk who committed an assault never ever did that eh?

And this on Vox Day’s website ( Written by one calling himself Tacitus:

The aggressive condescension and derision of the social justice warriors isn’t meant to produce belief directly; rather it rewards the in-group with the pleasures of malice, punishes the out-group, and gets members of the out-group and potential dissenters in the in-group to shut up, creating an illusion of consensus to which intimidated people who feel outnumbered and outmatched accommodate their opinions.

Please compare the two comments, dear reader. Not only does Mr. Tacitus have Mr. On’s number, he describes him to a ‘T’.

Mr. On seems to have no ability to understand nor answer an honest argument. If he is typical of the Progressive Left of Morlockland (and I have no reason to believe he is not) then we can make some tentative conclusions about tactical approach to life, based on his philosophy:

To him, words are weapons, meant to wound, not to carry information, and certainly not meant to convey the truth from one rational and honest mind to the next.

We have seen in this case that his speech has no content, or rather, it has the same content as a cowboy whistling and shouting at a herd, so that by trained response to stimulus, the cows might move hither or thither, move or halt, as commanded.

It is all meta-message. He is not talking about the facts of the Carol Costello case, he is talking about himself. He is telling us he is our superior in intellect and moral stature.

He is not meeting any challenger in the lists of debate. He is counting coup. For those of you unfamiliar with American Indian lore, the braves of the Northeastern Tribes, in order to win bragging rights, rather than striking an enemy in battle, would sneak up and touch them. The touch did not harm the enemy, but it inflated the status of the brave who accomplished the feat. It was a meaningless ritual behavior.

The Morlocks are nowhere near as civilized and bold as the Iroquois, but they do impersonate this one cultural habit. The Morlock does not present his arguments and evidence to convince the jury of the truth of his case, and win the case. There are no winners and no losers in their mental universe, because winning and losing is unfair. There are, instead, the Elect and the Reprobate, the Saved and the Damned, and the Morlock demonstrates that he is of the Elect by going onto enemy blogs and grunting and strutting and counting coup. DaveOn can now boast to himself, if only inside his own mind, that he bearded the lion in his lair by anonymously writing gibberish and eructing scorn onto a hated Conservative thinker.

He cannot be criticized for falling to carry a debate, or make a point, or make sense, because sense and debate is no part of his worldview.

It is like recycling. These are things Morlocks do because they are Morlocks, the way a Boy Scout salutes a flag because he is a Scout.

The snarling sneers from this barbarian with flies infesting his armpits and pretense of superiority when talking to civilized and educated men is not bravado.

The barbarian merely assumes this pose, merely pretends to be intelligent and self aware, as part of the parrot call he was trained to recite. HE was convinced by these means. Some barbarian by grunting and strutting and throwing out his chest convinced Mr. On that he must conform to the tribal faith, the tribal cult, and so Mr. On grunts and struts. He is not deliberately trying to be illogical: he knows nothing else.

The idea of an equal conversation between equals is alien to the Progressive mind: it is not part of their worldview. There are little brothers to dominated and abuse and trample, there is Emmanuel Goldstein to hate, and there is Big Brother to obey and from whose hand comes down dominion and abuse, and from whose  jackbooted foot, trampling.

A boot grinding a human face forever.  That is DaveOn’s world. That is the world produced by a belief that all things are relative, all things based on a power struggle between weak and strong, that the ends justify the means.

by John C Wright at October 29, 2014 04:14 PM


Mere Fidelity: On Denominations (Ask Us Anything Vol. 1)

We recorded an “Ask Us Anything” edition of Mere Fidelity based on listener questions. This is the first episode. In it the full crew tackles the issue of theological diversity and the role that denominations may play in the plan of God for the Church. Enjoy.

Soli Deo Gloria

by Derek Rishmawy at October 29, 2014 03:39 PM

CrossFit Naptown

Hoodie Orders due tomorrow, 7pm!

Today’s Workout

Pause Back Squats
3 second pause at bottom


12min cap
Knees To Elbow
American KBs (1.5/1)

How to order CFNT Sweat Shirts

Its sweater weather! More accurately at CrossFit NapTown sweatshirt weather. If you read the NapTown newsletter like I know you do, you saw that we held a design contest for this year’s autumn/winter CFNT collection. The winner was JR Linne with what I am calling the CrossFit NapTown coat of arms. There are two options to pick from. Option A is the hooded sweat shirt for $40 and Option B is the newly back in style 3 quarters baseball tee for $30. You have to preorder to get your hands on these hot items for the cold. All sizes are unisex, which is slang for male sizes. Send your order to

What to include in your email.

  1. What shirt you want A or B
  2. What size S,M,L,XL
  3. How you want to pay Cash, Check, or Account. If account make sure you have current CC on file.
  4. Last day for pre orders is 10/31, we will order a few extras, but the cost will go up on those. So order now! 

Option A



Option B


by Peter at October 29, 2014 02:57 PM

confused of calcutta

Thinking about curry: and a paean to goats

Photo from Tumblr dedicated to climbing goats When I moved to the UK in 1980, the curry enthusiast in me quietly died. “Indian” restaurants weren’t Indian. I’m not trying to be pedantic and distinguishing between Indian and Bangladeshi: in fact, as someone who was born in Calcutta and lived there for 23 years, Bangladeshi food […]

by JP Rangaswami at October 29, 2014 02:16 PM

Crossway Blog

Keep It Simple Stupid: Martin Luther on the Christian Life

This is a guest post by Carl Trueman, Paul Woolley Professor of Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary and pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church. He is the author of Luther on the Christian Life: Cross and Freedom (February 2015).

Christianity for Everyone

One of the striking things about Martin Luther’s vision of the Christian life is its utter simplicity. Against the background of medieval piety, with its myriad holy orders, its penances, and its pilgrimages, Luther presented a Christianity for everyone. And against the backdrop of his own complicated and scrupulous psychology, he discovered the straightforward peace that comes from the sufficiency of God’s saving action in the crucified Christ. If Augustine freed the church from the back-breaking self-martyring piety of Pelagius, Luther freed her from centuries of obfuscating complication.

Take his understanding of the sources of salvation, for example: Christ offered in the Word preached, and Christ offered in baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Hearing, washing, and eating: three of the most basic, everyday human activities which require no special talent. They also transcend any human categories we might care to create in order to make things more complicated, whether based on age, class, ethnicity, etc.

One Simple Question

A Christian life rooted in the simple tools set forth in Scripture may well strike against the aesthetic of a world in thrall to the spectacular and the innovative but it nonetheless arises out of one of the most powerfully gracious aspects of the biblical teaching on salvation: God is no respecter of persons. Luther saw this clearly: God regards human beings as either outside of Christ and subject to the penalties of the Law or in Christ and therefore the beneficiaries of his person and work. The key question for Christians—and thus the key question for those in pastoral ministry—was simply that of how one is united to Christ.

For Luther, the answer was simple: by grasping through faith the promise of Christ as offered in his Word and sacraments. Thus, the calling of the ministry was shaped in a most profound way by the fact that it was these tools that need to be used; and individual Christians lives were shaped in a similarly significant way by the fact that it is these things to which we must pay attention. To use Occam’s razor at this point, everything else is revealed as mere clutter—a clutter that obscures or distracts from the real thing.

Freed from Unbiblical Complexity

Reading Luther can be very liberating. Many a person struggling under the weight of their own sin and their own attempts to reach God has been freed by his insight that the gospel is good news of what God has done for us, not that he demands we do.

Yet there is another liberating aspect to Luther’s thinking: it makes both the ministry and the focal points of the Christian life much simpler. I have read articles and blogs over the last few years which seem to imply that the "successful" [sic] minister must embody a remarkable combination of physical fitness, tattoos, advanced level knowledge of sociology, the management skills of an Apple CEO, and the rhetorical skills wit of a top entertainer.

Those demands, apart from being remarkable only for their absence from Paul’s list of overseer qualifications, are onerous and likely to serve only to depress any ordinary minister working in an ordinary church. For such a one, the message of Luther is a liberation: give the people Christ in Word and sacrament and you have done the greatest thing for your people which you could ever imagine. You have given them the means of eternal life.

Modern life is complicated. Luther saw clearly that the Christian life is actually distinguished not by elaborate complexity but by its beautiful, simple, accessible Christ.

Carl R. Trueman (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is the Paul Woolley Professor of Church History at Westminster Theological Seminary and pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church (OPC) in Ambler, Pennsylvania. He was editor of Themelios for nine years, has authored or edited more than a dozen books, and has contributed to multiple publications including the Dictionary of Historical Theology and The Cambridge Companion to Reformation Theology. His most recent book is Luther on the Christian Life: Cross and Freedom (February 2015).

by Matt Tully at October 29, 2014 01:02 PM

512 Pixels

More on SugarString →

T.C. Sottek at The Verge:

For now, it's easy to shrug off Sugarstring as just another hilariously dumb attempt to make a corporate brand look cool. Its format is somewhere between Digg, BuzzFeed, and Verizon's corporate blog. It appears to gather much of its content from Reddit. It's powered by Wordpress. It inexplicably has 74,000 Twitter followers. It publishes headlines like "Can you survive without chatting at work?" and "Three reasons Neil DeGrasse Tyson is wrong about innovation."

But in the broader context, Sugarstring is frightening. It resembles a future where enormous corporations that own the pipes through which speech travels also own that speech. Hell, that's not even a vision of the future; Comcast already owns NBC, and its promises for good behavior as a vertically integrated superpower have an expiration date.

So far we've been worried about the subtle effects of corporate control of the internet — stuff like data caps, and throttling, and "fast lanes." Sugarstring is something entirely different. It's brazen, disrespectful, and deeply cynical. There can only be two possibilities for its existence: Verizon thinks people aren't paying attention, or they're just too stupid to get it.


by Stephen Hackett at October 29, 2014 01:02 PM

Crossway Blog

Midweek Roundup - 10/29/14

Each Wednesday we share recent links we found insightful and helpful. These are often related to Crossway books, Bibles, or authors—but not always. We hope this list is an interesting and encouraging break for the middle of your week.

1. Desiring God on their Theological Famine Relief efforts

Our Theological Famine Relief projects involving ESV Global Study Bibles have been some of the most exciting we’ve ever been involved with. And as I remark in this article, I’m constantly surprised by the far-flung corners of the earth to which they go. I love the letters we received from local pastors after this distribution in Cameroon. Marshall told us he badly needed a study Bible; he’s now digging in to explore it both for his own understanding and for lesson preparations for his ministry to youth and children.

2. David Mathis on being on mission this Halloween

And what if that led us to move beyond our squabbles about whether or not we’re free to celebrate All Hallows’ Eve, and the main issue became whether our enjoyment of Jesus and his victory over Satan and the powers of darkness might incline us to think less about our private enjoyments and more about how we might love others? What if we took Halloween captive — along with “every thought” (2 Corinthians 10:5) — as an opportunity for gospel advance and bringing true joy to the unbelieving?

And what if those of us taking this fresh approach to Halloween recognized that Christians hold a variety of views about Halloween, and we gave grace to those who see the day differently than we do?

3. Justin Holcomb on why we should study the book of Acts

Acts is the story of God’s grace flooding out to the world. Nothing is more prominent in Acts than the spread of the gospel. Jesus promises a geographic expansion at the outset (1:8), and Acts follows the news of his death and resurrection as it spreads from Jerusalem to Judea, Samaria, and the faraway capital of Rome.

This is why Acts 1:8 is a key verse to understanding all of Acts: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

4. The Gospel Coalition reviews Churches Partnering Together

I believe Bruno and Dirks are touching on a timelier issue than we might at first appreciate when we sit down to read their book. There is an appetite today among many churches and pastors for cooperation. The emergence of cooperative efforts such as The Gospel Coalition, Acts 29, Together for the Gospel, the development of gospel partnerships in Europe, and the resurgence of gospel cooperation among young Southern Baptists in the United States provide anecdotal support for the view that there is a growing and prevailing desire for partnership among this generation of church leaders. Churches Partnering Together provides helpful advice and guidance for church leaders to do just that. After all, its aim is to help church leaders satisfy, in a constructive way, that growing appetite for cooperation.

5. Stephen Altrogge offers three suggestions for blessing your pastor

One of the things that constantly haunts pastors is the sense that there is always more to be done and not enough time to do it. There is more evangelism to be done, more Bible studies to be started, more homebound folks to visit, more community outreach to initiate. Most pastors are burdened by all they are leaving undone.

If you want to bless the socks off of your pastor, take the initiative in ministry. Instead of asking your pastor to start more Bible studies, ask your pastor if you can start a Bible study. Instead of asking your pastor to create a prayer team, ask your pastor if you can start a prayer team. Instead of asking your pastor for more women’s ministry, ask your pastor if you can start a women’s ministry.

by Nick Rynerson at October 29, 2014 01:01 PM

CrossFit 204: Winnipeg, Canada

Workout: Oct. 30, 2014

You will get another run at double-unders in a class sooner rather than later.

Many people who struggle with double-unders jump too soon. Today, jump only when the rope moves below your knee.

In 20 minutes: work up to a hang power clean + power clean

9-7-5 reps of

Hang power cleans (185/135 lb.)

Bar muscle-ups

100 double-unders

by Mike at October 29, 2014 12:28 PM

Zondervan Academic Blog

My Advice to Students — John Byron Gives 3 Solid Pieces of Advice for Mid-Semester

(Can’t see the video? Watch it here)

9780310327264 (1)By now we’re nearing the middle of the semester, so it’s a good thing we’ve got some timely advice from John Byron, author of 1 & 2 Thessalonians. He has three things to share:

  1. Don’t be in such a rush. Students often see school as a hinderance to fulfilling their calling. Here’s what he tells them: “You only have this opportunity once in your life.” So take advantage of it.
  2. The habits you form now will follow you later. Some of these habits include: rushing; frustrating professors; skimping on writing papers.  “These habits will most likely follow you in the pulpit, and you may find you’re frustrating the very people you’re trying to minister to.”
  3. Take control of your education. While your institution has required courses, Byron says “Don’t just simply ride through your time at seminary or Bible college and think you’ve got everything you need.”

Watch our video and share it with your friends—because Byron’s advice is definitely worth it!

by Jeremy Bouma at October 29, 2014 12:27 PM


streamripper: Keeping local copies

It’s been a while since I’ve seen an audio stream ripper — in fact, I think the last one was fIcy, way back when this site was just starting up. :|

So here’s streamripper, which does something similar to what fIcy does, but seems a little better prepared for the task.


What I remember most about fIcy is that without an -o flag, it would dump its output to the screen, and with an -o flag … it didn’t quite work right.

So seeing streamripper effortlessly pull down a stream, dissect the individual files at their correct start and stop points, nest them in a neat tree of folders, and set aside tracks that are incomplete … well, it’s very pleasant to watch.

streamripper is not new. In fact, it looks like it faded away (I need a better term than that for software that stalls) around 2008. That’s the bad news.

The good news is, I don’t imagine much has really changed in the past six years in the way streaming music is broadcast, or for that matter, how mp3s work. Both technologies are pretty much solid at this point.

So if you can deal with the awful public shame of using six-year-old software, streamripper appears to be a viable option for capturing your favorite online audio. And if you can’t deal with that big a lag in software development … well, you’ve come to the wrong place, bub. :\

Tagged: audio, rip, ripping, stream, streaming

by K.Mandla at October 29, 2014 12:15 PM

CrossFit 204: Winnipeg, Canada

The New Colossus of Fitness

Barb and a very large support crew.

Focus on the elite and you’ll miss beautiful moments like this.

The far end of the bell curve is sexy.

This statement is true for just about anything—fitness, vehicles, sports, housing, etc. If it wasn’t true, “Good Will Hunting” would have featured a troubled janitor who was very mediocre at solving math problems. Hunting would have stood at the chalkboard, perplexed, scraping out pedestrian attempts to solve equations. The professor would come in the next morning, see the incorrect work and erase it, thinking nothing of it.

But that doesn’t make for a good movie, even though it’s exactly what would happen 9,999 times out of 10,000.

It’s the rare cases that hold our attention, the outliers, the “special,” and the gifted. Those people, usually through genetic luck, have abilities most of us do not. Some of them amplify these abilities through hard work, while others squander them through laziness. Either way, they are members of the minority who sit on a thin sliver of the bell curve.

In fitness right now, I’m disappointed to see a fixation with the right side of the bell curve and the few Gretzkys, Jeters and Mannings who can be found there. I think placing undue attention on the so-called elite is a mistake.

There are perhaps 120-240 elite CrossFit athletes in the world. I’d suggest that number is actually closer to 50 of each sex, or 100 total. I’m talking the cream of the crop: Games-level athletes. Many, many people believe they are at this level, and almost all are mistaken. I’d suggest there are about a total of eight to 12 elite CrossFitters in Canada. Think about how rare these athletes actually are.

From there, I think you have about 2,000-3,000 athletes who are at or around the regional level, or about one for every three or four CrossFit gyms in the world. I’d guess there are about 200 of these athletes in Canada. These guys are more common but still very rare. Again, many, many people think they are at this level, and a great many are again mistaken. With a trained eye, a good coach can spot a potential regional-level athlete pretty easily—and there aren’t many of them.

From there, the bell curve fattens up relatively quickly and includes everyone from above-average athletes to those who are perhaps not genetically gifted but have worked and continue to work to achieve solid levels of fitness. The far left side of the bell curve is populated by beginners who are just starting a fitness program. We’ll leave the large sedentary population out of the curve lest they ruin the example.

Our new offerings are designed to help all our members achieve their goals.

Our focus: making everyone fitter.

Focusing on changing the shape of the far right side of the curve is pointless. It requires a titanic amount of effort to improve the performance of an elite athlete by even 5 percent. Good coaches can and should do it, and they should do the same thing for athletes at the regional level as well. Good coaches help all athletes improve and accomplish their goals, but they’ll never really change the shape of the curve because there will always be only a precious few truly elite athletes. Canada has produced but one Gretzky, and not because we didn’t try to find another.

Last year, our gym produced four of 96 regional athletes in Canada West—4.2 percent. Producing a fifth would have required luck and spectacular effort over a period of at least a year, and it would have bumped the percentage only to 5.2. If we had produced one more, someone obviously would have produced one less. That math can be done in any CrossFit population.

Don’t misunderstand me: I’m not saying we shouldn’t give our all to each and every athlete who wants to get to regionals or the Games. We should and do.

That said, a focus on producing only top athletes is a shortsighted and foolish view taken by those who have no understanding of fitness, sport, long-term athletic development and CrossFit.

Elite CrossFit athletes are the tip of the spear, and a spear is useless without a shaft, just as the top block of a pyramid is but a pointy lawn ornament without a broad foundation beneath it. Elite athletes exist because of the huge masses of other athletes who train beside them. This was suggested to me by CrossFit founder Greg Glassman, and he is, of course, dead on.

I don’t believe CrossFit gyms should seek to produce elite athletes. I believe they should seek to produce athletes, and a select few will turn out to be elite. The difference in approach is monumental.

Go back to the bell curve. With a laser focus on making everyone fitter—every single person in your gym—you can actually push the large part of the bell curve a little to the right and make its descent less steep. Basic improvements come so quickly in the early stages of training, and human potential is so great, that you can invest in beginner athletes and suddenly have a large pack of very good, very healthy athletes in 12 or 18 months.

Family time.

Ask this father-son duo what they’re lifting these days.

These athletes might go from a 175-lb. back squat to 300 in 15 months, as one person did at our gym. Others might go from pressing an empty bar to pressing 100 lb. in a period of six months—also common at our gym. They might never get to a 260-lb. snatch or 315 jerk, but who really cares? Most of them don’t. They just want to get fit and be healthy. And if that’s happening and they’re constantly improving their performance, they’re right where they need to be.

This actually happened with CrossFit as a whole. Back in the day, we all marveled at sub-five Fran and Diane times. Then larger numbers of CrossFitters used hard training to narrow the point of the bell curve as many of us got fitter, and those 4-minute Fran times got absorbed by the bulk of the curve. I’d suggest a greater percentage of CrossFit athletes can do a sub-five Fran now than in 2009, and elite Fran and Diane times are now in the 2-minute range. CrossFit created a huge mass of very fit people, and one of them turned out to be Rich Froning.

The best part of all? Millions of people can be moved from beginner levels to intermediate levels. Literally millions. They provide the reason for our existence as gyms, and they are most definitely our target market. They are the key to fulfilling our purpose. The elite? We’ll find more than a few of them in those millions.

But we’re not searching for the elite. We’re looking for the desk jockeys who want to start taking the stairs to their 12th-floor office, the university students who want to be fitter than they were in high school, the former athletes who want to come out and play again, the soccer moms who want to inspire their children, the dads who want to turn back the clock a few years, and the grandmothers who want to dig the garden like bosses. We’ll improve the fitness of all those people, and we’ll probably find some top athletes in the mix.

Congrats to Josh on body weight for 5 reps and 9 months without smoking

Nine months after he quit smoking, this friend squatted body weight for 5 reps, and we were thrilled to be there.

When we find an athlete with great competition potential, we’ve proven we can do great things with them, too. But it really just comes down to improving fitness for anyone who walks through our doors.

With all that in mind, I’m reminded of “The New Colossus,” that poem inscribed on the Statue of Liberty. With apologies to Emma Lazarus:

Give us your tired, your inexperienced,
Your weak and your unfit,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe fire,

The forgotten and the lost of globo gyms and misguided coaches,

Send these, and their limitless potential, tempest-tost to us,

And we will make an athlete of every one.

Whatever your level of fitness, we can make you fitter. To find out more, click here.

by Mike at October 29, 2014 12:03 PM


shed: A simple hex editor

Is it time for a hex editor? It’s time for a hex editor. Here’s a simple one: shed.


shed takes a different approach to the time-worn display model that has huge blocks hex code on the left, and a semi-readable display on the right. Just about any hex editor, from hexedit to hexdump to hexer, has some variation on that style.

Instead, shed gives you a vertical stream taken from the file, and its corresponding values in hex, decimal, octal and binary to the right. Press p and shed shows a line preview that moves up and down, as you navigate or edit the file.

It’s a nice touch — not necessarily better, but very different.

The shed home page also suggests shed will take up a lot less space in memory, because the “file is not loaded into memory.” I … can’t necessarily corroborate that, since just hexedit, opening the same file, seemed to be about 100Kb lighter than shed, according to And aphex was considerably smaller.

Be that as it may, shed also boasts of a pico-esque (nano-esque?) display, which I can vouch for. If you’re one of the enlightened ones who doesn’t subscribe to one side or the other of the age-old editor war, you’ll step right into shed with no difficulty.

But then again, shed is simple enough that everyone should step into it with no difficulty. Bonus points for that, and bonus points for an unusual way of arranging the screen. Bonus points for everybody! :mrgreen:

Tagged: editor, hex

by K.Mandla at October 29, 2014 12:00 PM

sacha chua :: living an awesome life

Hacklab Cooking: Thai curry from scratch, and coconut tapioca pudding too

It feels a little odd to post two cooking-related entries in a row, but I wanted to take notes on this (and share it with y’all!). =) Yesterday at Hacklab, Eric, Abtin, and I made Thai curry from scratch, and I made coconut tapioca pudding too. We (mostly) followed this recipe for the Thai curry, tripling the proportions:

Paste (we prepared this in a blender instead of a food processor, and we thinned it with a little coconut milk to make it blendable)

  • 3 Thai chilies
  • 1 stalk lemongrass
  • 3 shallots
  • 1/2 red pepper, deseeded
  • zest of 1 lime
  • stalks from a third of a bunch of coriander
  • thumb-size piece of ginger – we didn’t grate this, we just blended it
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tsp ground coriander


  • Tofu, marinated in soy sauce, chopped chili, and the juice of 1 lime
  • 400ml coconut milk
  • eggplant
  • zucchini
  • green beans
  • mushrooms
  • half a red pepper, deseeded
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • basil

Coconut tapioca pudding

  • Tapioca
  • Coconut milk
  • Sugar
  • Maple syrup

The near Hacklab didn’t carry the kind of tapioca I wanted for the coconut tapioca pudding, so I made do with the minute tapioca that they sell in the instant snacks area (along with Jello and custard powder). I couldn’t figure out how to translate either the coconut tapioca recipe (which specifically tells you to avoid minute tapioca) or the instructions on the back of the tapioca package, so I made something up instead. I used the entire package of minute tapioca, added the remainder of the carton of coconut milk, whisked it to dissolve the tapioca, and cooked it over medium heat (constantly stirring) until the tapioca was no longer crunchy. I added sugar to taste, and I followed the original recipe’s suggestion to top it with maple syrup (… which happened to be the maple syrup that had boiled over during last week’s icing experiment). You’re supposed to let it cool down, but it was yummy while warm anyway. =)

So, more experience points earned and achievements unlocked!

  • First time to make Thai curry from scratch instead of using the canned curry paste
  • First time to cook something with lemongrass
  • First time to make tapioca pudding
  • First time to make up dessert as I went along
  • … First time I’d gone through that much coconut milk

Also, Monday, I made chicken pot pie with a biscuit crust. Technically, I made most of it on Sunday, and then I made a quick biscuit crust after we came back from the polling station (I voted in Canada for the first time, yay!). It was wonderfully chicken-y, not at all like the frozen pot pies you can get at the supermarket. Mmm.

I really like this cooking thing. It’s fun to be able to turn simple ingredients into good tastes, decent food, and shared experiences, even though there’s a lot of figuring things out and adjusting and occasionally making the wrong decisions. =) So far, things have been working out really well.

The post Hacklab Cooking: Thai curry from scratch, and coconut tapioca pudding too appeared first on sacha chua :: living an awesome life.

by Sacha Chua at October 29, 2014 12:00 PM

The Frailest Thing

Reading Frankenstein: Chapters 1 and 2

When I began writing the first Reading Frankenstein post, I did not anticipate putting down nearly 2,000 words. I’m pretty sure that’s not the optimal length for this sort of exercise. My goal moving forward will be to take on two chapters per post and keep each post as close to 1,000 words as possible. We’ll see how that that goes. Now on to chapter one.

With the first chapter the role of the narrator is handed over to Victor Frankenstein, who begins his story by telling of his charmed childhood. We learn that both his father and mother were saintly human beings of outstanding virtue. Frankenstein’s mother, Caroline, was the daughter of a man named Beaufort, whom Frankenstein’s father loved “with the truest friendship.” Unfortunately, Beaufort sank into poverty, and, despite his daughter’s best efforts, died destitute and despairing. Frankenstein’s father tracked the family down and rescued Caroline from her impoverished life. Two years later they married.

This little vignette, one of many such personal histories scattered throughout the novel, touches again on the theme of friendship already introduced in Walton’s letters. The vignette is also a fall narrative, i.e., it describes someone’s fall from a position of prestige or wealth or honor and the ensuing consequences. It’s a pattern that recurs throughout the story establishing a Fall motif that resonates with the significance of Paradise Lost to the story. As of yet, I’m not sure what more to make of it.

Frankenstein then goes on to describe the doting love his parents lavish upon him: “I was their plaything and their idol, and something better–their child, the innocent and helpless creature bestowed upon them by Heaven, whom to bring up to good, and whose future lot it was in their hands to direct to happiness or misery, according as they fulfilled their duties towards me.” Of course, this amounts to a painful indictment of Frankenstein’s own dereliction of duty toward his own creation, but it is not at all clear that Frankenstein himself registers this fact. It’s thus poignantly ironic when Frankenstein speaks of his parents’ “deep consciousness of what they owed towards the being to which they had given life.” This all prepares us to later hear with sympathy the Monster’s justification of his actions on the grounds of his abandonment and rejection by Frankenstein. Frankenstein here appears to be testifying as a witness against himself.

This first chapter concludes with the introduction of Elizabeth Lavenza. Like Caroline Beaufort, Elizabeth’s father, an Italian solider, experiences a fall; he is either dead or languishing away in an Austrian prison. She was entrusted to the care of a family who themselves had fallen on hard times. Frankenstein’s mother entered the home of this poor family in an act of charity, and she was immediately captivated by Elizabeth’s radiant beauty. Shelley’s characters are consistently described rather lavishly, some might say melodramatically. Perhaps this reflects a certain writerly immaturity, Shelley was not yet twenty when the novel was complete. Or it may by a conscious effort to cast her characters as ideal types; more on that in a moment. With the family’s blessing, Caroline takes Elizabeth home with her, and she becomes little Victor’s “beautiful and adored companion.”

In the second chapter, Frankenstein goes on to describe the deep bond he forms with Elizabeth as the two, about a year apart in age, grow up together. “Harmony was the soul of our companionship,” he explains. As he tells us of the nature of their relationship, it’s clear that “harmony” was a precise and apt word choice. They two complemented one another. Although, more to the point, it was to Elizabeth that Frankenstein ascribed a kind of controlling influence. It doesn’t appear that Elizabeth derived a similar effect from Victor. This dynamic was anticipated in Walton’s desire, expressed in a letter to his sister, to find a friend who would “regulate” his mind.

Victor confesses that, for his part, he was “more deeply smitten with the thirst for knowledge.” By contrast, “She busied herself with following the aerial creations of the poets.” And she also found “ample scope for admiration and delight” in the “wondrous scenes that surrounded our Swiss home.” “While my companion contemplated with a serious and satisfied spirit the magnificent appearance of things,” Frankenstein notes, “I delighted in investigating their causes.” Shelley is here setting up a rather conventional dichotomy and trading on a venerable, though minor, motif in Western literature. But that is not say that it is wholly without merit. We might say that the difference is between perceiving the world as a gift to be delighted in, on the one hand, or, as Frankenstein puts it, “a secret which I desired to divine.”

Later on, a second son is born, and the family settles down in Geneva. Then we are introduced to Henry Clerval, a classmate of Victor’s, who becomes a great friend to both he and Elizabeth. As with Walton, we first learn about Henry’s disposition by learning of the books that shaped his imagination as a child. In Henry’s case, these were “books of chivalry and romance.” We learn as well that Henry “composed heroic songs” and wrote “many a tale of enchantment and knightly adventure.” Etc.

Victor, however, returns to the course of his own interests. He confesses that “neither the structure of languages nor the code of governments, nor the politics of various states, possessed attraction for [him].” It was, rather, “the secrets of heaven and earth that I desired to learn.”

He happily acknowledges that the influence of Elizabeth moderated the more unhealthy tendencies of his temperament, and not only his. Clerval, who “occupied himself … with the moral relation of things” also benefited from Elizabeth’s influence. It was she who “unfolded to him the real loveliness of beneficence, and made the doing good the end and aim of his soaring ambition.”

It would seem, then, that in the characters of Victor, Elizabeth, and Henry, Shelley is offering us ideal types. Victor clearly represents the spirit of the natural sciences, as Shelley understood them, and the pursuit of knowledge more generally. Henry appears to represent what we might call the political sphere. I’m not entirely sure how I would characterize Elizabeth: we may say that she represents the poetic, or simply art perhaps; maybe Nature; beauty or love also come to mind.

In fact, as I think about it, it would seem that the most obvious correspondence is to the three parts of the soul in ancient Greek philosophy: thumos, eros, and logos. Victor corresponds to the logos–roughly speaking, the rational component of the soul that is attuned to Truth. Henry corresponds to thumos, often translated “spiritedness”–the passionate, courageous aspect of the soul attuned to Goodness. And, finally, Elizabeth corresponds to eros–the varied capacity of the soul to love, which is attuned to Beauty. In Plato’s famous formulation, logos or reason, steers the chariot hitched to the unwieldy horses thumos and eros. Through the relationship of these three characters, Shelley seems to be suggesting that it is eros, the soul’s attunement to Beauty as represented by Elizabeth, that ought to be steering the soul. On this reading, the novel can’t be read simplistically as a critique of the natural sciences or the pursuit of knowledge as such. It suggests that the pursuit of knowledge has it’s place but it must be in harmony with thumos and eros, and the primacy of the latter might be the key to achieving that harmony.

Finally, and I’ll try to make this brief, the chapter concludes with a discussion of the sources of Victor’s fascination (or fixation) with the natural sciences, and particularly with the natural sciences conceived as a quest for esoteric knowledge and power. Again, books are to blame, as they were with Walton and Henry. In this case, it is a chance encounter with the writings of the famous Renaissance alchemist and magician, Cornelius Agrippa, that sets the tragic trajectory of Victor’s life. Agrippa leads Victor to the writing of other notables such as Paracelsus and Albertus Magnus. He is captivated by their attempts to peer into the deep secrets of the universe, and he has no idea that their work has been roundly discredited. As a result of his reading, Victor “entered with the greatest diligence into the search for the philosopher’s stone and the elixir of life,” especially the latter. Echoing Bacon and anticipating the Transhumanists, he declares, “what glory would attend the discovery, if I could banish disease from the human frame and render man invulnerable to any but a violent death!”

With childish vigor and innocence he pursues his studies despite a rebuff from his father, who, taking one look at Agrippa’s book, casually dismisses it as rubbish. Later, when he is about fifteen years old, after watching lightning obliterate an oak tree, he is captivated by a “man of great research in natural philosophy” who, luck would have it, was visiting his family. This man was well-versed in the latest theories of electricity and galvanism, and his ensuing discussion makes Victor question all that he had learned from the alchemists. This leads him to despair of the possibility of scientific knowledge, and he turns to mathematics believing it to be “built upon secure foundations, and so worthy of my consideration.”

Despite the joy and tranquility that ensued, Victor’s turn away from the pursuit of the secrets of life would not last. He describes this temporary sobriety as “the last effort made by the spirit of preservation to avert the storm that was even then hanging in the stars, and ready to envelope me.” There’s more than a hint of fatalism in the way that Victor narrates his own story. “Destiny was too potent,” he says, “and her immutable laws had decreed my utter and terrible destruction.”

That destiny begins to unfold in the next chapter, which we’ll look at in the next day or two.

by Michael Sacasas at October 29, 2014 11:53 AM

The Finance Buff

Schwab Intelligent Portfolios: Game Over For Betterment and Wealthfront?

Reuters broke the news a few weeks ago that Charles Schwab was going to unveil a free online investment advisory service within weeks. Now it’s official. Charles Schwab announced it in a press release on Tuesday.

It’s called Schwab Intelligent Portfolios. Like the other so-called robo-advisors such as Betterment and Wealthfront, Schwab’s computer algorithm is going to suggest and manage a portfolio of ETFs for you. The minimum is only $5,000. You can have IRA and taxable accounts. You can fund the account with recurring deposits. It’s going to be automatically rebalanced. Once you have $50,000 or more, you also get automated tax loss harvesting.

The big difference is that Schwab’s service is going to be FREE: no trading commission, no advisory fee, no service fee. You just pay the normal expense ratios on the underlying ETFs. And it comes with Schwab’s brand name and its customer service.

Vanguard’s Personal Advisor Service has a $100k minimum and a 0.3% advisory fee. Even though it’s been in the news for months, it’s still not formally announced. It’s nowhere to be found on Vanguard’s website unless you happen to know the secret link.

Betterment and Wealthfront are leaders in this software-based investment management space. They have low fees (0.15% – 0.35% on top of ETF expenses) but they are not free. When an 800-pound gorilla such as Schwab comes in with a free service, does it mean game-over for Betterment and Wealthfront?

Not necessarily.

The market is big enough for multiple players. Betterment and Wealthfront have proven there is great demand for this type of service. Wealthfront grew from nothing to $1 billion in 2-1/2 years, whereas a traditional investment advisor such as Rick Ferri’s Portfolio Solutions manages $1.3 billion after 15 years in business.

It will also depend on how seriously Schwab markets the competing service. If Schwab does it like Vanguard, by just putting up a secret web page that few people see, then it’s not going to have much effect. If Schwab goes all out with its marketing assets in multiple channels, potential investors will be attracted to its lower cost and brand name.

No doubt Schwab will feature its own ETFs in the Schwab Intelligent Portfolios service. The Schwab market-cap index ETFs have low expenses, which often even beat the comparable Vanguard ETFs. I would be more comfortable with holding my account at Schwab than at Betterment’s or Wealthfront’s partner Apex Clearing. Schwab’s press release said the service will also include non-Schwab ETFs. I doubt they will include Vanguard ETFs though.

It’s not about Schwab versus Vanguard versus Betterment versus Wealthfront. It’s about low cost indexing versus speculating versus active management versus high sales commissions and management fees. Whether investors choose the service by Schwab, Vanguard, Betterment, or Wealthfront, they ultimately benefit from low cost indexing. Rather than trying to pick hot stocks, timing the market, or being sold expensive load mutual funds, they just send money over to the service of their choice. All the rest will be taken care of at a very minimal fee, or in Schwab’s case, free.

For a closer look at what these online advisors offer, please read my previous article Online Investment Management: Wealthfront, Betterment, Personal Capital.

See All Your Accounts In One Place

Track your net worth, asset allocation, and portfolio performance with FREE financial tools from Personal Capital.

Schwab Intelligent Portfolios: Game Over For Betterment and Wealthfront? is copyrighted material from The Finance Buff. All rights reserved. ( b87e8215d24496480249d6aaf20c77ea )

by Harry Sit at October 29, 2014 11:53 AM

Greg Mankiw's Blog

Front Porch Republic

Gestures: A Meeting of Body and Soul


“Imitations practiced from youth become part of nature and settle into habits of gesture, voice, and thought.” Plato, Republic III

Plato showed great concern about how people move and use their bodies. Bodily gestures have significance; and they are connected to deeper realities, especially the dispositions of our soul.

His immediate prescription here was that youth not act parts in plays that are compromising or base. But the point clearly has a broader significance. He connects three things: bodily gestures, ways of speaking, and ways of thinking. The habits of the upright person in all three of these areas are of a piece with one another.

One can wonder what Plato would think of bodily gestures now commonly performed; or those not commonly performed. We might conjecture that he would find them consistent with our ways of speaking, and ways of thinking.

Gestures of respect and deference were once common. And they went hand in hand with ways of speaking, and thinking. Lifting of the hat, bowing of the head; even bending of the knee. Erect stature; hands out of pockets; looking directly at a person. Or when modesty demands, not looking directly.

Once upon a time people were trained in posture. Not simply because it matches a certain kind of speech. Posture itself speaks, sometimes volumes—that I’m listening, that I care, that I know my place, that I respect myself, that I respect you.

Such training was rooted in the conviction not only that gestures are signs of already formed interior dispositions, but also that they can actually cultivate the very dispositions they signify. This is a truth both bracing and encouraging for us.

Young people need to be formed in the manifold ways of goodness. Perhaps we adults need to be re-formed. Yet our re-formation might indeed give the young something they can imitate, that will settle into habits of gesture, voice, and thought.

Plato (427-347 B.C.), a student of Socrates, and teacher of Aristotle, is considered one of the greatest philosophers of all time. The Republic is one of the most widely read and influential of all books.

Image: Norman Rockwell’s Saying Grace

Originally posted at Bacon from Acorns

The post Gestures: A Meeting of Body and Soul appeared first on Front Porch Republic.

by John Cuddeback at October 29, 2014 11:02 AM

John C. Wright's Journal » John C. Wright's Journal

The New Inquisition

From Handle’s Haus

Haus in December of 2013 was collecting a list of person harassed, fired, bullied or badgered for expressing opinions and making jokes. He is trying to keep the list neutral and evenhanded, but anyone can see where the vast, vast majority of cases are. There is one group that, as a matter of core dogma, is willing to tolerate differences of opinion in others, and live and let live, and there is another that, as a matter of core dogma, is not.

He is too cautious to call it an Inquisition, but he knows and cannot quite say it. An Inquisition, by the way, as a mechanism for expelling members who do not conform to Church dogma is something I regard as a necessity, even noble, if your denomination is not to end up in the flaccid and misty situation of the Unitarians or the Anglicans. (What made the Spanish Inquisition evil was not the Inquisition but the Spanish, that is, the Spanish king, the secular power, enforced a matter of Church discipline. One the other hand Spain was never taken over by Protestants, whose Inquisitions has as many victims or more, but without the benefit of formal and legal checks on abuses of the power.) If you recall your history, the Inquisition had no authority over non-Christians.

In this case, the Progressives are trying to enforce as much as their Inquisition as they can over non-Progressives, and they are inching ever closer to achieving the secular power to make policing your thoughts a matter of law.

Mark my words, call it a law of sociology: any institution without an Inquisition to maintain the purity of its beliefs and principles, eventually becomes Progressive, and institutes an Inquisition to maintain the purity and Progressive beliefs and principles, regardless of any damage to the integrity or existence of the original institution.

As a public service, hoping it does not offend net etiquette, I reprint his whole list to day here, with links:

This is a placeholder website for the chronicling of … an inchoate abstraction that will, eventually, adequately describe the agglomeration.  ‘Inquisition’ isn’t too far off.

It is a list of prominent (mostly) leftist/progressive intimidation incidents, or profiles in preemptive cowardice in anticipation thereof, or firings because of ludicrous and exaggerated PC claims of ‘offensiveness’ (usually concerning mere jokes) that I wish had been deterred or handled differently.  Also taboo-witch-hunts (is there a good word for a person who is a ‘taboo-truth-witch’ that is better than ‘heretic’, ‘apostate’, or ‘blasphemer’?)

We are all Galileo now.  Bleg from all of you to help me expand it via crowd-sourcing.  The dates are not consistent, sometimes it is from the ‘offending event’, other times it is from the purging or just the publication dates of the news stories.  To keep the list short, I won’t include descriptions, so follow the links and google it if you want to learn more about these sad sagas.

(UPDATE: It looks like some comment thread over at Reason is referring a bunch of people over here.)

(UPDATE2: Welcome visitors from Chateau Heartiste , Vox‘s, Steve Sailer’s., and don’t forget Derbyshire’s analysis (since then I’ve added over 50 more).  As of 19-JAN-2014, this post has now been read by over 11,000 people.)

  1. 10-OCT-1959: Revilo Oliver purged from National Review.  A complex personality – the sixth generation in his family to bear the burden of a purposefully palindromic name.  Archive at
  2. 20-APR-1968: Enoch Powell purged from British Conservative Party.
  3. 1969-1973: The ‘original’ race and intelligence ‘controversy’ hysteria over Jensen, Herrnstein, Draper, Wilson, and Shockley, et al. (see also Sociobiology)
  4. 19-OCT-1974: Sir Keith Joseph deemed ineligible for Chancellor of the Exchequer for this notorious speech.
  5. JAN-1984: Ray Honeyford forced into early retirement as headmaster of Drummond Middle School.
  6. 17-MAR-1984: Geoffrey Blainey silenced by University of Melbourne.
  7. 12-MAR-1985: Murray Dolfman suspended from lecturing at the University of Pennsylvania for talking to black students about the 13th Amendment.
  8. 06-APR-1987: Al Campanis ‘ignites controversy’ over remarks about black baseball team managers.
  9. 19-JAN-1988: Jimmy ‘The Greek’ Snyder purged from CBS.
  10. 1989-1991 (and continuing): Related to the above, Linda Gottfredson’s torturous path.
  11. NOV-1990: John Strugnell purged from the Dead Sea Scrolls project.
  12. 22-APR-1991: William F. Buckley devotes an entire issue of National Review to “In Search of Anti-Semitism: What Christians Provoke What Jews? Why? By Doing What? — And Vice Versa.” focused greatly on Pat Buchanan (and timed to coincide with his big for Presidential candidacy).  Later, collected with responses, into a book.
  13. 1993 – Jospeh Sobran purged from National Review.
  14. 13-JAN-1993: Eden Jacobowitz charged by University of Pennsylvania with violating racial harassment policy by shouting ‘Water Buffalo’ at some large, rowdy black women.  (He should have just said ‘Behemoth‘ like he was thinking in Hebrew).  There was even a Doonesbury comic on it.
  15. 27-JUN-1995: Sam Francis purged from the Washington Times.
  16. 23-APR-1995: Frank Urban “Fuzzy” Zoeller loses his sponsors after Tiger Woods joke.
  17. 1997: Peter Brimelow and John O’Sullivan (and many others) purged from National Review.
  18. 09-AUG-1997: Chris Brand purged from Edinburgh University purportedly for discussing sexuality amongst minors, but mostly for his IQ heresy.
  19. 15-JAN-1999: David Howard purged for his vocabulary.
  20. 01-FEB-1999: Glenn Hoddle purged as England’s soccer coach
  21. 20-APR-1999: Marge Schott finally gives up being “Baseball’s Big Red Headache
  22. 27-DEC-1999: John Rocker forced into Psychiatric testing after expressing some opinions, but judging by his later behavior, he somehow didn’t get the message.
  23. 17-SEP-2001: Bill Maher purged from ABC (well, ok, just reassigned to HBO, he’s doing great)
  24. 02-OCT-2001: Ann Coulter purged from National Review (NR’s version here).
  25. 2001: Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Two Hundred Years Together goes unpublished in the U.S.
  26. 21-FEB-2002: Bjorn Lomborg investigated and found ‘guilty’ by the Danish Committees on Scientific Dishonesty for complaints related to the publication of his book, The Skeptical Environmentalist.
  27. 09-MAR-2002: Danny Nalliah and Daniel Scot convicted of intolerance by Canada’s Victorian and Civil Administrative Tribunal.
  28. 27-APR-2002: Scott Phelps suspended from teaching at Muir High.  (note: none of the links to the news stories seem to work anymore).
  29. MAY-2002: Geoffrey Sampson purged by the UK Conservatives.
  30. 06-MAY-2002: Pim Fortuyn assassinated by multicultural leftist Volkert van der Graaf for opposing mass immigration into Holland.  His murdered has been released from prison less than 12 years after the fact.
  31. 17-JUN-2002: Rev. Stephen Boissoin persecuted by Canadian Human Rights Commission.
  32. NOV-2002: Oriana Fallaci becomes the subject of arrest warrants in Switzerland related to her excellently passionate book The Rage and The Pride.  (See also her trial in Italy on 12-JUN-2006 for The Force of Reason.)
  33. 05-DEC-2002: Senator Trent Lott resigns his Senate leadership by having to gall to flatter Strom Thurmond on his 100th birthday.
  34. 2003: J. Michael Bailey two-minutes-hated and investigated for ethics after publishing ‘The Man Who Would Be Queen‘.
  35. 10-MAR-2003: The Dixie Chicks intensely criticized and forced into apology for opposing Iraq War while overseas.
  36. 01-OCT-2003: Rush Limbaugh pressured to resign from ESPN after comments related to Donovan McNabb.
  37. 17-OCT-2003: Greg Easterbrook purged from ESPN (and his content memory-holed)
    1. 15-MAR-2004: Ted Rall purged from New York Times. (it’s a thing with him, see below)
  38. 30-JUN-2004: Rachel Ehrenfeld found liable by default judgment by British Court after successful libel-tourism suit brought by the Bin Mahfouz family (it’s kind of a patten with them).  The case is important for illustrating not just the legal controversy, but the willingness of certain nations to extent to private parties the ability to commandeer the judicial apparatus on mere pretext for speech-suppressive ends.
  39. 12-AUG-2004: Tatu Vanhanen investigated by Finnish NBI at the behest of the Ombudsman for Minorities.
  40. SEP-2004: Thomas Klocek suspended from teaching at DePaul.
  41. JAN-2005: Kevin Lamb purged from Human Events.
  42. 19-JAN-2005: Lawrence Summers purged from Harvard
  43. 25-JULY-2005: Michael Graham purged from WMAL.
  44. 26-OCT-2005: Fisher DeBerry probably purged from U.S. Air Force Academy (left a year after controversy over his comments)
  45. 15-NOV-2005: Alain Finkielkraut two minutes hated for making comments about the 2005 French Riots and is forced to apologize.  Interestingly, Le Nouvel Observateur writes about him in an article called, “The Neo-Reactionaries“.
  46. JAN-2006: Fr. Alphonse de Valk persecuted by Canadian Human Rights Commission.
  47. 11-FEB-2006: Ezra Levant investigated after publishing Mohammad photos in Western Standard.
  48. 25-FEB-2006: Michael Regan pressured into resignation from Allegany County, Maryland DA’s office.
  49. 23-MAR-2006: Frank Ellis forced into early retirement from Leeds University for views on race and intelligence.  He has earlier decried British ‘racial hysteria’ and notably gave a talk on Liberal Totalitarianism.
  50. 16-JUN-2006: Dr. Bruce Lahn pressured out of IQ / brain-size / recent human evolution genetic research. (10Q from GNXP) – Take note of answer #3.
  51. 14-JUL-2006: Jeneane Garofalo purged from The Majority Report for comments on the relative status of statements about Scientology and Judaism. I think.
  52. 09-AUG-2006: Dr. Rod Lea two minutes hated for statements related to Maoris and the monoamine oxidase-A gene.
  53. 20-OCT-2006: Mark Steyn investigated after writing about islam in MacLean’s..
  54. 20-NOV-2006: Michael Richards (“Kramer”) purged from the biz.
  55. 04-APR-2007: Don Imus purged from CBS and NBC.
  56. 04-MAY-2007: Larry Auster purged from FrontPage Magazine.
  57. 22-MAY-2007: Comedian Guy Earle fined for mocking a lesbian heckler.
  58. 07-JUN-2007: Isaiah Washington purged from Grey’s Anatomy and ABC.
  59. 11-JUN-2007: Norman Finkelstein denied tenure at DePaul.
  60. 11-SEP-2007: Doug Christie fined by the Law Society of British Columbia for advocating a little too vigorously for the wrong kind of people.
  61. 16-OCT-2007: James Watson investigated and purged.
  62. NOV-2007: Keith John Sampson found guilty of racial harassment by Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis Affirmative Action Officers for reading Todd Tucker’s book, Notre Dame Vs. the Klan: How the Fighting Irish Defeated the Ku Klux Klan in, er, impolite company.  The chancellor eventually apologized.
  63. 22-MAR-2008: Randi Rhodes purged from Air America.
  64. 15-APR-2008: Brigitte Bardot goes on trial for Muslim comments (and hardly for the first time)
  65. 31-OCT-2008: Everybody goes berserk on the Mormons because of proposition-8 support. (google for more).
  66. 20-APR-2009: Carrie Prejean two minutes hated for expressing views on gay marriage at Miss USA contest.
  67. 24-APR-2009: Ted Rall purged from United Media.  (see below, again)
  68. 06-MAY-2009: Michael Savage banned from Britain.
  69. 15-JUL-2009: Dr. Kathy Albain  two minutes hated for accusations of ethnicity-based medical profiling.
  70. 13-OCT-2009: Thilo Sarrazin purged from Bundesbank
  71. 16-NOV-2009: Lou Dobbs purged by CNN over immigration reporting.
  72. 28-APR-2010: Gillian Duffy publicly declared ‘that bigoted woman’ by Gordon Brown.
  73. 30-APR-2010: Stephanie Grace and the case of her infamous Harvard email.
  74. 01-MAY-2010: Peter Duesberg investigated by UC Berkeley.  (later dropped, though I think his clinging to his AIDS stuff over all the years of contrary evidence is pure derp, but still if shouldn’t have had the effect on Charlton below.)
  75. 11-MAY-2010: Bruce Charlton purged from Medical Hypothesis.
  76. 19-MAY-2010: Physics Professor Jonathan Katz purged from BP-Oil-Spill Brain Trust.
  77. 04-JUN-2010: Steve Blair purged by KYCA radio.
  78. 10-AUG-2010: Dr. Laura Schlessinger eased off the air for discussing whether the use of the word ‘nigger’ could ever be appropriate.  Here’s some Chris Rock, “The correct answer is, ‘Not really’.”
  79. 01-OCT-2010: Rick Sanchez purged from CNN.
  80. 08-OCT-2010: Juan Williams purged from NPR.
  81. 02-FEB-2011: John Casteel purged from Arkansas Republican Party.
  82. 07-MAR-2011: Cathy and Fred ‘Gopher’ Grandy purged from WMAL.
  83. 11-MAR-2011: Alexandra Wallace purged from UCLA for her ‘ching-chong ling-long’ ‘Asians in the Library‘ viral youtube clip.
  84. 30-MAR-2011: Andrew Bolt sued (and later found guilty) for some crimethink blog posts he made in April 2009, including ‘It’s so hip to be black.”
  85. 27-APR-2011: Simon Ledger arrested for singing ‘Kung-Fu Fighting’.
  86. 16-MAY-2011: Satoshi Kanazawa purged from Psychology Today.
  87. 03-JUN-2011: Tracy Morgan forced to apologize by NBC after gay comments.
  88. JUL-2011: Jared Taylor removed from State Department translation referral website at the behest of the $PLC.
  89. 01-AUG-2011:  Principal Frank Borzellieri purged from Archdiocese of NY Schools.
  90. 03-NOV-2011: Brett Ratner purged from Oscars.
  91. 18-NOV-2011: Sepp Blater pressured within FIFA.
  92. 29-NOV-2011: Emma West arrested for snakes on a plane racism on a train.
  93. 09-JAN-2012: Principal Ted Horrell two minutes hated for talking honesty about test scores.
  94. 17-FEB-2012: Patrick Buchanan purged from MSNBC.
  95. 19-FEB-2012: Anthony Federico purged from ESPN for ‘Linsane’ ‘Chink in the Armor’ headline.
  96. 01-MAR-2012: Rush Limbaugh advertisers pressured to bail after Fluke slut comment.
  97. 05-APR-2012: John Derbyshire purged from National Review.
  98. 10-APR-2012: Robert Weissberg purged from National Review.
  99. 30-APR-2012: Naomi Riley purged from The Chronicle of Higher Education.
  100. 16-MAY-2012: Manny Pacquiao ‘on defensive’ on same-sex marriage
  101. 22-MAY-2012: Andy Gipson threatened for quoting Bible on gays.
  102. 22-MAY-2012: Mark Traina purged from New Orleans Public Schools.
  103. 02-JUL-2012: Dan Cathy and Chick-fil-A pressured.
  104. 15-JUL-2012: Mark Steyn published column that got him sued by Michael Mann. (ongoing!)
  105. 25-JUL-2012: Paraskevi “Voula” Papachristou purged from 2012 Olympics for making light of matters involving sacred objects.
  106. 08-AUG-2012: Bret Easton Ellis two minutes hated for thoughts on proper casting.
  107. 27-SEP-2012: Nakoula Basseley Nakoula arrested for violating parole by producing that ‘Innocence of Muslims’ movie, or something.  A strange case all around, I’ll admit.
  108. 02-OCT-2012: Lewiston, Maine Mayor Robert MacDonald scolded for comments related to Somali immigrants.
  109. 17-MAR-2013: ‘Dongle-Gate’, dongle-joker-geeks purged.
  110. 20-MAR-2013: Steven Landsburg gets two-minutes-hated for a thought experiment.
  111. 17-APR-2013: Rick Ross dumped by Reebok for some dope lyrics (HT: Taki), which are totally shocking, because, as we all well know, rappers never talk about drugs.
  112. 03-APR-2013: Terri Proud purged from Arizona Veterans Administration
  113. 10-MAY-2013: Jason Richwine purged from Heritage
  114. 17-MAY-2013: Paula Deen purged.
  115. 22-MAY-2013, Julia (a 13-year-old, name withheld) forced to apologize for taunting the shattered, fragile ego of allegedly full grown man athlete, Adam Goodes.
  116. 30-MAY-2013: Gordon Gee purged from Ohio State University (he’s going to West Virginia now)
  117. 04-JUN-2013: Geoffrey Miller two-minutes-hated for ‘fat shaming’.
  118. 05-JUN-2013: Nissim Yeshaya purged from Israel Court.
  119. 07-JUN-2013: April Sims purged from Dallas Police Dept.
  120. 20-JUN-2013: Mike Krahulik gets two-minutes-hated for ‘transphobia’.
  121. 25-JUN-2013: Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer banned from Britain.
  122. 03-JUL-2013: Aaryn Gries purged from Zephyr Talent.
  123. 12-JULY-2013: Orson Scott Card threatened with Ender’s Game boycott.  (See also his mothballed Superman project)
  124. 20-JULY-2013: Ron Unz purged from The American Conservative for this
  125. AUG-2013: Paul Gottfried purged from the Intercollegiate Studies Institute for having friends who had opinions about ethnic disparities like Charles Murray’s.
  126. 08-AUG-2013: Richard Dawkins gets a taste of the Zeitgeist.
  127. 14-AUG-2013: Vox Day purged from Science Fiction Writers of America.
  128. 27-AUG-2013: Tuffy Gessling purged from Rodeo Clowning.
  129. 04-SEP-2013: Yelena Isinbayeva almost purged as Russian Olympic Ambassador.
  130. 08-SEP-2013: Craig James purged from Fox Sports, because, “We just asked ourselves how Craig’s statements would play in our human resources department.”
  131. 10-SEP-2013: Pax Dickinson purged from Business Insider.
  132. 25-SEP-2013: Barilla CEO, Guido Barilla pressured on gay marriage.
  133. 25-SEP-2013: David Gilmour two-minutes-hated for literature judgment.
  134. 26-OCT-2013: Don Yelton purged from local GOP because of Daily Show.
  135. 14-NOV-2013: Helmuth Nyborg investigated for ‘scientific dishonesty’ (he was also purged in 2006)
  136. 26-NOV-2013: Alec Baldwin purged from MSNBC not for vulgarity, ha!, but for swearing in that impermissiable way.
  137. 28-NOV-2013: Ted Rall purged from Daily Kos.
  138. 03-DEC-2013: Bob Dylan threatened by French prosecutor.
  139. 09-DEC-2013: Tila Tequila gets erased by Facebook for trying her hand at being a classless provocateuse.  No word yet on Miley Cyrus’ account.
  140. 10-DEC-2013: Chip Wilson purged from Lululemon.
  141. 10-DEC-2013: Researchgruppen (an antifa organization), in collaboration with the newspaper Expressen cracks blog-commenting service Discus in order to expose their politically incorrect enemies to the Brown Scare, and enable Marxist bombers.  (See also, The Journal News publishes map of gun owners)
  142. 12-DEC-2013: Bob Newhart intimidated.
  143. 19-DEC-2013: Phil Robertson purged from A&E.
  144. 20-DEC-2013: Justine Sacco purged from IAC.
  145. 20-DEC-2013: Dawn Barnett found guilty and sent to diversity training over a Golliwogg comment (HT: Derb)
  146. 29-DEC-2013: Ani DiFranco concert cancelled in protest over venue choice.
  147. 02-JAN-2014: Heartiste threatened with blog memory-holing via WordPress malicious prosecution (Kevin Conboy)?  It wouldn’t be the first time a blog was suddenly disappeared.
  148. Senator Cory Bernardi two minutes hated by Australians in general for the content of his new book, The Conservative Revolution (note the ‘reviews’), with preference for traditional nuclear families seeming to be the key irritation.
  149. 07-JAN-2014: Prof. Mary Willingham threatened and her research disowned by UNC for exposing the ‘special talent’ program.
  150. 17-JAN-2014: Juan Pablo Galavis, Conquistador-American Hispanic, two minutes hated for preferring heterosexuals for roles on a dating showGroveling here.
  151. 18-JAN-2014: Maria Conchita Alonso purged from a Spanish-language version of “The Vagina Monologues” for appearing in a political ad for – gasp – a Republican!
  152. 20-JAN-2014: Bill Simmons forced to apologize for ‘Dr. V‘ story.
  153. 22-JAN-2014: (Note: Merely Cautionary, So Far), IRS goes after Friends of Abe Hollywood Conservatives, with particular interest in outing the membership list.
  154. 18-MAR-2014: Hempstead (IVO Houston, Texas) Middle School Principal Amy Lacey purged (other coverage links) for strongly encouraging students and teachers to speak English in the classroom.
  155. 24-MAR-2014: Brendan Eich experiences purging campaign to get him fired at CEO of Mozilla due to $1,000 donation in 2008 in support of California Proposition 8, which succeeded at the polls, if not in the courts.  OkCupid goes all in on full, guilt-by-association excommunication .  The flipside of campaign funding transparency is the the risk of being on the receiving end of the politics of personal destruction.  Talk about a chilling effect.  But, naturally, the same people would publicly lose their minds with maximum mouth foaming if they heard of a company firing someone because they contributed to the campaign to oppose proposition 8.  UPDATE: Sigh, purged.  Depressing and predictable.  Only missing the ‘to spend more time with his family’ line.
  156. 28-MAR-2014: Stephen Colbert feels the rage of #CancelColbert inquisitors who relish being purposefully obtuse and can’t take an obvious joke.
  157. 02-APR-2014: Michael Mann takes aim and demands that David Koch be purged from the board of Boston PBS station WGBH.
  158. 08-APR-2014: Ayaan Hirsi Ali spiked from Bradeis U. graduation ceremony / honorary degree.  Fox takes a look behind the scenes.
  159. 17-APR-2014: They’ll be asking for your expulsion too, soon enough, Julius Kairey of Cornell.  That’s the real ‘rape culture’.
  160. 21-APR-2014: Tom Preston-Werner purged from GitHub.  Some facts were conveniently withheld, not like they will do Tom any good, even though, “… the investigation found no evidence of illegal practices.” (HT: Sailer)
  161. 22-APR-2014: Charles Murray spiked from Azusa Pacific University. (HT: Sailer)
  162. 26-ARP-2014: Donald J. Sterling playing defense after ‘racist’ comments. (HT: Sailer) (UPDATE: fined, purged.)  Look, by all accounts, this guy was an awful sleezeball and deserved what he got.  Fine. Nevertheless, this was also obviously a baited setup (100 hours of secretly and illegally recorded conversations with the floozy?), and no one but Sailer’s been covering the real story behind the ouster instead of leveraging the media hysteria-catnip of the race-opera to cover it up.  No One.  That should trouble you.  And no one’s been making the obvious, prospective point, which is that today, Big Brother Is Everyone.  Hell is other people.  With smartphones, everybody’s carrying their own personal wire all the time.  If the adventuress isn’t convicted, then the signal to everyone else is that there is zero cost to extracting something juicy from the right person, and the deterrence effect is destroyed.  Imagine a future where everyone is their own Stasi, keeping an option-for-extortion retirement fund archive, and incentivized to get people to trust them and reveal their un-PC opinions in private.  People, it’s all going downhill.
  163. 26-APR-2014: Paul Weston arrested for Quoting Churchill. (HT: Steyn) and do check out the photos at Liberty GB.
  164. 01-MAY-2014: Eric Walsh purged from Pasadena Health Dept.
  165. 01-MAY-2014: Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson almost purged from the BBC over a very rude original version of a children’s rhyme.
  166. 01-MAY-2014: Josh Olin purged from Turtle Rock for tweeting the following about #161 to his 142K followers, “Here’s an unpopular opinion: Donald Sterling has the right as an American to be an old bigot in the security of his own home. He’s a victim.”  He’s not the only one now, Josh!  (HT: Ace) Pro-tip #1: If you start a tweet under your own name with, “Here’s an unpopular opinion,” and you rely even indirectly on popularity, then you’re doing it wrong in the #hashtag advocacy world.  Pro-tip #2: Never side with, or stand up for, losers, because that just makes you a loser too, and guilty by association, even if you signal condemnation, and even if you’re just arguing about ‘rights’.  You have to understand this most of all : error has no rights, and any defense of error is just more error.  So, watch your mouth.  Or else.
  167. 03-MAY-2014: Condoleeza Rice spiked from Rutgers Commencement following pressure from leftist student groups.  To his credit, Rutgers President Robert Barchi attempted to resist the pressure on principle, but for naught.  Rice can go back to filming more ‘Ban Bossy‘ PR-stunts for Facebook now, and maybe be President Sandberg’s Secretary of State or National Security Adviser one day.
  168. 07-MAY-2014: David and Jason Benham’s show spiked from HGTV.  UPDATE: SunTrust Bank closes their bank account, then relents after uproar.  I’m beginning to think that these ‘capitulate, excommunicate, then rehabilitate’ actions are the way that corporations try to please everyone, and have their cake and eat it too.   That might be understandable, but it’s not a good result, so the only appropriate policy if you care about this issue is to close your SunTrust account right now and never look back.
  169. 07-MAY-2014: Dr. Caleb Rossiter purged from the Institute for Policy Studies for writing an Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal arguing that poor Africa needs an exemption to climate change emissions control policies (HT: Powerline)
  170. 11-MAY-2014: Don Jones noted for being controversial.  Stay tuned for developments.  UPDATE: Fined and suspended.
  171. 12-MAY-2014: David Lowe fired from BBC Radio after playing a song from 1932.
  172. 13-MAY-2014: YEAR OF THE SPIKED SPEAKER.  Now comes Robert J. Birgeneau and Christine Lagarde.  “between 1987 and 2008, there were … 21 incidents of an invited guest not speaking. Since 2009 there … 39 cancellations…”  Rate of increase? 550%
  173. 14-MAY-2014: Lennart Bengtsson hounded out of his membership in the GWPF.
  174. 22-MAY-2014: Mark Cuban under fire for the following ‘comments about race’, “If I see a black kid in a hoodie and it’s late at night, I’m walking to the other side of the street. And if on that side of the street, there’s a guy that has tattoos all over his face – white guy, bald head, tattoos everywhere – I’m walking back to the other side of the street.”
  175. 27-MAY-2014: Ru Paul gets in hot water for defending use of the word ‘Tranny’.
  176. 28-MAY-2014: Evan Spiegel, Snapchat CEO, has to apologize for some offensive youthful indiscretion, er, completely standard fraternity communication.  Then again, you can never tell what atrocities frat-culture will be held accountable for next week.
  177. 04-JUN-2014: And Dan Savage gets in the same hot water for using the ‘transphobic slur’.
  178. 09-JUL-2014: Anthony Cumia fired by Sirius XM for some tweets.
  179. 11-JUL-2014:  Ashutosh Jogalekar fired from Scientific American for failing to be sufficiently critical of Richard Feynman, and perhaps in addition to his heresies within his review of Nicholas Wade’s book. (HT: Sailer)  He responds here.
  180. 12-JUL-2014: Now that she’s going to be on The View, Rosie O’Donnell is still taking heat for a legal shark fishing expedition she went on two years ago.  Don Surber ‘defends’ the act here.
  181. 06-AUG-214: Steven G. Salaita had his academic job offer rescinded by the University of Illinois for tweeting some very uncivil things about Israel during the latest outbreak of hostilities.  NB:  I have received a few emails, thankfully civil in tone, but which have accused me of bias and favoritism in the composition of this list.  I plead innocent, and assert that [the] reality [of ideological pressure] has a liberal bias, and that instead of a one-sided list, I have tried to be fair, and that the severe asymmetry and disproportion in representation (and in the very selective cases of a broad class of similar injustices for which liberals collectively demand redress) is a social phenomenon and not an artifact of my construction.  As corroboration for my claim, I move for the admission into evidence of this particular item, of an individual’s purging for which I would be sympathetic were it not for my much stronger commitment to the higher principle of freedom of expression and robust, disciplined tolerance for diverse viewpoints.  That being said, I have to say, given the pattern of these incidents, I predict Mr. Salaita will land firmly on his feet.  Stay tuned.
  182. 18-AUG-2014: Gavin McInnes purged from Rooster (a company he co-founded along with VICE) (HT: The Advocate, and thanks guys for all the traffic to this list – actually, that should be thanks for Justine Tunney), for a “Transphobic Essay“, that you can’t even read yourself because ThoughtCatalog says it’s “been reported [by folks like the ones at Salon] as hateful or abusive content.”
  183. 07-SEP-2017: Bruce Levenson purged from owning the Atlanta Hawks (or is that ‘Sterlinged‘ (see Brendan’s comment), or ‘Derbyshired‘) for a single email expressing some hatefacts about sport event spectator demographic attendance dynamics.

by John C Wright at October 29, 2014 10:00 AM

Josh Haberman

The Speed of Python, Ruby, and Lua's Parsers

I've run into some cases lately where loading a lot of generated code in Python takes a lot of time. When I profiled my test case the hotspot seemed to be the parser itself -- that is, Python's parser that parses .py source files.

I realized that I had no idea how fast the parsers for some of these languages are. As someone who is interested in parsers, this piqued my interest. I was particularly interested to see how much precompiling would help.

To satisfy my curiosity, I wrote a quick little benchmark that tries to get some rough numbers on this. Source code is here: vm-parser-benchmark on GitHub. It's extremely quick and easy to run.

These are the results I got on my machine:
python               real 0m1.521s user 0m1.184s sys 0m0.328s
ruby real 0m0.523s user 0m0.441s sys 0m0.076s
lua real 0m0.131s user 0m0.124s sys 0m0.005s
python (precompiled) real 0m0.022s user 0m0.012s sys 0m0.009s
lua (precompiled) real 0m0.005s user 0m0.002s sys 0m0.003s

Version Information:
Python 2.7.5
ruby 2.1.3p242 (2014-09-19 revision 47630) [x86_64-darwin13.0]
Lua 5.2.3 Copyright (C) 1994-2013, PUC-Rio
More details on how I set this up are in the GitHub README. If anyone has interesting variants of my benchmark that show a different dimension of the problem space, I'd be interested to see them.

My takeaways from this are:
  1. There is a surprising amount of variation here. Python's parser probably has a lot of room for optimization. But the fact that precompiling is available probably reduces the demand for this considerably.
  2. Precompiling helps a lot.
  3. Lua continues to impress.

by Josh Haberman ( at October 29, 2014 07:57 AM

Table Titans

Tales: Boss Fail


Our party had climbed aboard a pulley elevator to lower us down into a long, dark, vertical mine shaft. After moving hundreds of feet down, we heard a terrible shrill cry as a flying brain covered in tentacles and hatred rose from below. We could all hear the boss battle theme music in our heads.…

Read more

October 29, 2014 07:00 AM

The Gospel Coalition | Latest Articles

Zondervan Reformation Week eBook Sale Ends Sunday

I have five copies of Tim Keller's Center Church behind my desk. A seminary student at Beeson Divinity School once exclaimed, "Wow, you must really like that book." Yes, I do, but I have five copies because I'm always looking to give one away. At a time when young ministers in training look for church models that guarantee success, I'm thankful that Keller avoids this error and focuses on the principles of gospel-centered ministry. That way we can trust God to tease them our for our particular contexts around the world.

If you haven't already, don't waste any time and pick up an eBook copy of Center Church while it's discounted by Zondervan to just $7.99 for Reformation Week. Check out the complete list for many other excellent titles at steep discounts. PROOF by Daniel Montgomery and Timothy Paul Jones is one of the newest titles in the sale (just $3.99). Whether you hate Calvinism, wear the label proudly, or don’t even know who or what I’m talking about, you will learn a great deal from this important book. I haven't yet read The Crucified King by Jeremy Treat, but this enthusistic review of the new book we ran at TGC this summer convinced me to make the time. It's just $7.99, less than half of the list price of $17.99. Among the other new releases in this sale are the Practical Shepherding Series by Brian Croft, including Conduct Gospel-Centered Funerals, Visit the Sick, and Prepare Them to Shepherd (each $2.99).

I'll link the entire list of eBooks for sale below. Zondervan's Reformation Week eBook Sale ends Sunday at 11:59 p.m. ET.

Gregg R. Allison, Historical Theology. Sale: $6.99. Original: $34.99 

D. A. Carson, Gagging of God. Sale: $6.99. Original: $19.99

D. A. Carson (General Editor), Telling the Truth. Sale: $2.99. Original: $6.99 

D. A. Carson (Editor), Worship by the Book. Sale: $2.99. Original: $6.99 

Bryan Chapell (Editor), Hardest Sermons You'll Ever Have to Preach. Sale: $2.99. Original: $6.99 

Brian Croft, Conduct Gospel-Centered Funerals (Practical Shepherding Series). Sale: $2.99. Original: $7.99 

Brian Croft, Visit the Sick (Practical Shepherding Series). Sale: $2.99. Original: $7.99 

Brian Croft, Prepare Them to Shepherd (Practical Shepherding Series). Sale: $2.99. Original: $7.99 

Brian Croft and Cara Croft, The Pastor's Family. Sale: $3.99. Original: $9.99 

Everett Ferguson, Church History, Vol. One: From Christ to Pre-Reformation. Sale: $7.99. Original: $25.99 

Ajith Fernando, Reclaiming Love. Sale: $3.99. Original: $9.99 

Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology. Sale: $19.99. Original: $32.99 

Wayne Grudem, Politics: According to the Bible. Sale: $7.99. Original: $26.99 

Wayne Grudem, Christian Beliefs. Sale: $3.99. Original: $7.99 

Collin Hansen and John D. Woodbridge, A God-Sized Vision. Sale: $2.99. Original: $10.99 

Michael Horton, Pilgrim Theology. Sale: $7.99. Original: $22.99 

Michael Horton, The Christian Faith. Sale: $19.99, Original: $38.99. 

Michael Horton, For Calvinism. Sale: $2.99. Original: $6.99 

Michael Horton, A Place for Weakness. Sale: $2.99. Original: $6.99 

Timothy Keller, Center Church. Sale: $7.99. Original: $19.99 

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Preaching and Preachers. Sale: $3.99. Original: $10.99 

Daniel Montgomery and Timothy Paul Jones, PROOF. Sale: $3.99. Original: $9.99 

Christopher W. Morgan and Robert A. Peterson (General Editors), Is Hell for Real or Does Everyone Go to Heaven? Sale: $3.99. Original: $5.99 

Randy Pope with Kitti Murray, Insourcing. Sale: $3.99. Original: $9.99

Scott Thomas and Tom Wood, Gospel Coach. Sale: $2.99. Original: $6.99 

Sebastian Traeger and Greg Gilbert, The Gospel at Work. Sale: $3.99. Original: $9.99 

Jeremy Treat, The Crucified King. Sale: $7.99. Original: $17.99. 

Michael Williams, How to Read the Bible through the Jesus Lens. Sale: $2.99. Original: $11.99

Michael E. Wittmer, Heaven Is a Place on Earth. Sale: $2.99. Original: $6.99 

Michael E. Wittmer, Don't Stop Believing. Sale: $2.99. Original: $6.99 

John D. Woodbridge and Frank James III, Church History, Vol. Two: From Pre-Reformation to the Present Day. Sale: $7.99. Original: $30.99

by Collin Hansen at October 29, 2014 05:02 AM

The Butcher, the Baker, and the Biotech Maker

Over a cup of coffee, Wendell—an entrepreneur with a PhD in biomedical engineering—told me that he was thinking about making a career change. “I don’t want to waste my life,” he said. “I want to do something that has real significance, where I can glorify God and actually love people.” He went on to ask me if I thought he should become a pastor, a missionary, or a nonprofit leader—jobs he thought really mattered in God’s economy.

Wendell is a member of Redemption Tempe, the church where I serve as pastor of communities and cultural engagement. At our church, we preach the lordship of Christ over all aspects of life, offer classes about the theology of work, and repeat our favorite phrase every Sunday: “All of life is all for Jesus.” In spite of his intelligence and our initiatives, however, Wendell still didn’t see that his work as a biomedical engineer was as significant as my work as a pastor.

To my shame, I had never asked Wendell about the specifics of his work. We mostly talked about how he could serve at church. Over coffee, though, as he explained how his company develops devices that help doctors detect cancer at early stages, his eyes were full of excitement. In this conversation, I realized that I had failed him as a pastor. He was clearly skilled and passionate about his work, but he didn’t see how it applied to Jesus’s command to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mk. 12:31).

So we talked about how we love our neighbors through our work—even if we don’t personally interact with them—by providing goods and services that help them flourish. We talked about how Martin Luther said, “God milks the cows through the vocation of the milkmaids,” and how God cares for cancer patients through his biotech work. He walked away from the conversation encouraged, but I walked away perplexed.

We Value What We Publicly Celebrate

As I wondered why Wendell didn’t understand our church's message about the broad scope of the gospel and its implications for all of life, I realized that the issue wasn’t with what he heard, but with what he saw. He frequently heard teaching about the importance of vocation and all-of-life discipleship, but he never saw anyone’s work—apart from pastoral, missionary, and nonprofit work—publicly celebrated.

When I mentioned this observation to Riccardo Stewart, our lead pastor who wrote a paper in seminary about commissioning people in all kinds of vocations, we decided to figure out some ways to celebrate the work of our congregants. Thus, the “All-of-Life Interview” was born. For the past year and a half, we have devoted five minutes before the sermon to interview people from various occupations so that we might celebrate their work, pray for others in their field, and affirm the goodness of a broad range of vocations as opportunities to glorify God and love our neighbors.

All-of-Life Interview Questions

While there is some room for customization, we ask four basic questions in each interview. We repeat the same questions, because they give our congregants a weekly reminder and opportunity to reflect on their own work.

Question #1: How would you describe your work?

We want a snapshot of the daily life of the interviewee. This answer often builds common ground between the interviewee and others within the congregation, even if they don't work in the same field.

Question #2: As an image-bearer of God, how does your work reflect some aspect of God’s work? (Gen, 1:26-28, 1 Cor. 10:31, Eph. 5:1, Col. 3:17)

We want to ground the intrinsic value of work in the character of God and frame our work as an act of “image-bearing” (Gen. 1:16-28, 2:15). Therefore, we ask the interviewees to connect their work to some specific aspect of God’s work. In Kingdom Calling, Amy Sherman offers six categories of God’s work that give us a helpful framework for our vocations:

  • creative work (artists, designers, architects, etc.)
  • providential work (entrepreneurs, janitors, civil servants, bankers, etc.)
  • justice work (lawyers, paralegals, diplomats, supervisors, etc.)
  • compassionate work (nurses, nonprofit directors, social workers, EMTs, etc.)
  • revelatory work (scientists, journalists, educators, etc.)
  • redemptive work (pastors, authors, counselors, etc.)

Question #3: How does your work give you a unique vantage point into the brokenness of the world? (Gen. 3; Rom. 3:10-20)

Some people subconsciously think their work should always be fun and fulfilling, often assuming that the presence of pain and struggle invalidates the goodness of their work. We want them to see that, in a fallen world that is filled with sin and its effects, each occupation has unique hardships and comes with its own thorns and thistles.

Question #4: Jesus commands us to "love our neighbors as ourselves." How does your work function as an opportunity to love and serve others? (Mk. 10:35-45; Eph. 5:1; Rom. 12:14-21; Col. 1:24-27)

We want to broaden the application of Jesus’s command to love our neighbors. Many people assume this command is mostly applied as interpersonal acts of kindness, but we try to demonstrate that love can also be indirect and systemic.

Fruit of the Interviews

Apart from the direct effect of the interview on the interviewee, we’ve a witnessed a cumulative effect in our congregation over time. These interviews have slowly helped all of us to understand that “vocational is integral, not incidental, to the mission of God in the world,” as Steve Garber says. We have noticed increased theological depth and gospel intentionality in our congregants and their work. This is the work of the Spirit, but we are delighted that he is using the interviews as an instrument of his grace.

The interviews also give us a glimpse of God’s brilliant attributes and actions. An artist at our church points to God’s creativity, an accountant talks about God’s order, a pediatric oncologist reminds us that God will one day heal all wounds, and a handyman reflects God’s restoration. The one thing that really matters, of course, is the gospel—but because of the gospel, all things matter (Col. 1:15-23), including the work of the butcher, the baker, and the biotech maker.

by Jim Mullins at October 29, 2014 05:01 AM

For the Glory of God

Daniel Block. For the Glory of God: Recovering a Biblical Theology of Worship. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2014. 432 pp. $34.99.

Do you get frustrated at the shallowness of some contemporary evangelical worship? Do you need help understanding a full-orbed biblical view of worship and communicating such a view to the people to whom you minister? If so, Daniel Block’s For the Glory of God: Recovering a Biblical Theology of Worship is a book you should read.

As the subtitle suggests, Block wants to “recover” a biblical theology of worship. Why does a biblical theology of worship need to be recovered? First, he doesn’t like the pragmatism of much of today’s evangelical worship and believes the pragmatic approach can be remedied with deep biblical reflection on the subject. Second, he observes that many Christians tend to skip over the Old Testament (OT) when thinking about worship. Block, professor of Old Testament at Wheaton College outside Chicago, believes a true biblical theology of worship must incorporate all of Scripture, including extensive interaction with OT worship forms and principles. In other words, he wants to give people a biblical theology of worship, not just a New Testament theology of worship.

How Is It Different?

Block compares his book (xiii–xiv, 3–4) to other contemporary biblical theologies of worship such as David Peterson’s Engaging with God: A Biblical Theology of Worship (IVP Academic, 2002) and Allen Ross’s Recalling the Hope of Glory: Biblical Worship from the Garden to the New Creation (Kregel, 2006). For the Glory of God, however, is slightly different from both. Instead of surveying the canon of Scripture from beginning to end (like Peterson and Ross), Block organizes the biblical data from the standpoint of various worship-related themes—hence chapter titles like “The Object of Worship,” “The Subject of Worship,” “Daily Life as Worship,” “The Ordinances as Worship,” “Prayer as Worship,” and “Music as Worship.”

Another key difference Block is quick to point out is his extensive treatment of the OT data. He believes Peterson’s book, for example, is unbalanced in primarily dealing with the New Testament (NT). Block, on the other hand, wishes to recapture the OT’s full significance for a Christian understanding of worship.

Several Strengths

Each chapter of Block's book begins its biblical theology of the theme under discussion by starting with the OT, and rightly so. In most chapters, Block’s treatment of the OT is much more extensive than his treatment of the NT. As he turns his attention to the NT, each chapter attempts to show the continuities and discontinuities that determine how principles of worship should apply to the church today.

Another strength is the way the material is arranged. Since each chapter tackles a specific element of worship, the book is almost a collection of biblical theologies of worship that helps us think biblically-theologically about each worship theme. This makes it a great reference resource for those needing to think carefully about a certain aspect of worship, such as the ordinances and music. I can envision myself going back and re-reading certain portions to get a quick, chapter-length biblical theology of a particular element of worship.

Only Real Weakness

The only real weakness I see in For the Glory of God is that I don’t believe Block always connects the OT and NT appropriately. I think he sometimes flattens out the Bible by not giving the NT the hermeneutical priority it deserves. His basic principle for connecting the OT and NT, stated more than once, is this: “unless the New Testament expressly declares First Testament notions obsolete, they continue” (7, 25). Block defends this approach by pointing out that the NT authors are relatively silent on many of the specifics of worship, and that the OT contains one hundred times as much information on worship as the NT. For him, this seems to imply that where the NT is silent on the specifics of worship, we should just let the OT principles fill in the gaps, so to speak.

Specifically, I disagreed with some of the ways Block brought OT data into the NT era and applied them to the church today. Take, for instance, his statement that families should use the liturgical year to develop a sense of spiritual community, based on the fact that Israel did so in their observance of the Passover (138, 287ff). The problem is that, seen through the Jesus-lens of the NT, the Lord’s Supper seems to fulfill this function for new covenant believers. Observing a liturgical calendar might be beneficial, but to say that Christians should do this based on the OT doesn’t seem warranted. Another example of wrongly carrying over OT worship themes into the NT is Block’s discussion of sacred worship space (chapter 12). He does a good job of showing how Jesus (John 2:19), the Christian individual (1 Cor. 6:19–20), and the corporate Christian community (1 Cor. 3:16–17) all fulfill the theme of tabernacle and temple in the new covenant. But then he jumps into a discussion of how these principles should affect contemporary church design and architecture, which I think is unwarranted given the way the NT itself lays out the fulfillment of these themes.

I believe this approach to relating the OT and NT is a bit too simplistic. Perhaps the NT authors have less to say about the particular forms of worship because they’re spending their time on something far more fundamental. They’re trying to help new covenant believers develop a Christ-centered lens through which they can understand all of life, including what God had been doing under the old covenant. Once this Christ-centered lens is in place, new covenant believers can figure out many of the specifics regarding worship forms on their own. Even where the NT doesn’t explicitly terminate OT forms, we must still take into consideration the Christ and kingdom dynamics that alter the way we read and interpret the entire OT and understand its fulfillment. Block uses this fuller principle in several places, but in my opinion doesn’t do so consistently throughout the book.

This said, this particular weakness only shows up in a few places. The book on the whole is a superb resource for helping the church think biblically about worship in light of the entire canon of Scripture, and I highly recommend it. I also recommend watching these video interviews with Block.

by Grant Gaines at October 29, 2014 05:01 AM

Bringing Order Out of Chaos, One Dirty Job at a Time

Zachary Tarter has been serving as a window cleaner and power washer with Distinctive Window Cleaning since 2009. He is also working to earn a Master of Divinity at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando. He lives in North Port, Florida, along with his wife, Emily, and their three children.

How do you describe your work?

The nature of my work stays the same every day; I do both power cleaning and window cleaning of commercial and residential properties. How that plays out each day, though, varies widely. I might begin a day doing a restaurant job, where I am cleaning grease off concrete in the dumpster, and end it by cleaning the windows of a multi-million dollar house on the beach.

As an image-bearer of God, how does your work reflect some aspect of God’s work?

I haven't always intuitively classified my work as image-bearing, but as I've thought about it, I've seen that bringing order out of chaos reflects the image of God. When I get to a job, it can be filthy everywhere. By the time I leave it, though, it's clean. I make clean what is filthy. We see God doing that all over the place in Scripture. In creation, he creates order out of chaos by speaking creation into existence. As sinners, he takes the chaos of our lives and makes order through Christ. At the end of a job, there's a great deal of satisfaction knowing that God has used the work of my hands to make clean and new what was once dirty.

How does your work give you a unique vantage point into the brokenness of the world?

Sin is everywhere, and I see that most clearly in my work. There are times where I am power cleaning something that simply will not get as clean as I would like it to be. Because some of my jobs require me to clean them before they open for business, I get up at hours when I would never naturally want to get up. More specifically, if a sprinkler has been hitting a window for years, the water hardens and is next to impossible to remove. I’ve been stung by wasps and hornets. But I’ve also seen the brokenness of this world in my own heart. My response to the difficulties of my day often show me that the curse is alive and well in my work and my heart.

Jesus commands us to “love our neighbors as ourselves.” How does your work function as an opportunity to love and serve others?

I have the opportunity every day to care for my customers. In particular, a lot of the details of my job will be seen by no one other than me, so that is something I want to keep in mind. I want to make the job look like the customer would want it to. On another note, with my co-workers and my boss, when we work together on particular jobs and someone has to leave early for a reason, I’m given the chance to love them and their needs more than my own. We don’t want to take away money from each other. We want to make sure each other is getting home at a decent time. When we work jobs together we want to keep the other person in mind.

Editors' note: The weekly TGCvocations column asks practitioners about their jobs and how they integrate their faith and work. Interviews are condensed.

by Courtney Reissig at October 29, 2014 05:01 AM

Front Porch Republic

Redeeming Time at Dumb-Ass Acres


What fate would befall an adulterous man bound to her by the bonds of holy matrimony is almost unthinkable.

Read Full Article...

The post Redeeming Time at Dumb-Ass Acres appeared first on Front Porch Republic.

by Jason Peters at October 29, 2014 04:59 AM

512 Pixels


Patrick Howell O’Neill:

Verizon is getting into the news business. What could go wrong?

The most-valuable, second-richest telecommunications company in the world is bankrolling a technology news site called The publication, which is now hiring its first full-time editors and reporters, is meant to rival major tech websites like Wired and the Verge while bringing in a potentially giant mainstream audience to beat those competitors at their own game.

I have no problem whatsoever with publications having advertisers. If you’re reading this on my site, you’ll see both a graphic ad and a text ad. Once a week, I post sponsored content in my RSS feed.

The difference between what I — and countless others — do and what Verizon is doing with SugarString is a clear divide between content and advertising. SugarString screams Verizon, from the red colors to the bold text. Oh, and the Verizon logo. And the “PRESENTED BY VERIZON” graphic at the bottom of the page.

Then there’s this:

There’s just one catch: In exchange for the major corporate backing, tech reporters at SugarString are expressly forbidden from writing about American spying or net neutrality around the world, two of the biggest issues in tech and politics today.

Verizon is one of the worst offenders at trying to limit net neutrality and has taken a major hit in the press over this year’s shocking news about programs like the NSA’s Prism. To help counter this, SugarString editors are allowed to cover these issues outside the US, but not inside. Just check out this article on Hungary’s plan to tax Internet traffic:

It’s every government’s responsibility to keep internet charges as low as possible, so access to high-quality information isn’t limited to the rich. By artificially increasing the price of internet access, Hungary’s government would punish users who were trying to contribute to the world’s knowledge and economy. If they managed to force providers to bear the costs, they’d be punishing those companies any time they grew, discouraging them from increasing bandwidth or improving their services. An internet traffic tax is an innovation tax, and any such tax, no matter how small, would be philosophically devastating.

All that about advertising and content being intermixed is small in my eyes compared to this. SugarString is condemning Hungary for doing what its parent company Verizon has been lobbying for — sometimes in terrible ways — for years.

SugarString isn’t bad journalism; it’s not journalism at all. It’s just plain, old-fashioned PR bullshit that is brazen even for a company as tone deaf as Verizon.

by Stephen Hackett at October 29, 2014 03:50 AM

CrossFit Naptown

StrongMan/Woman Class Cancelled

Due to low attendance and the weather getting colder, we will be canceling Strongman class until the spring. Fear NOT, we will still be putting many of these movements into Saturday workouts. So the FUN will go on. 

Today’s Workout:

Lurong WOD 2

9 Min AMRAP:

Ground to Overhead (G2OH)-ladder
Bar Facing Burpees

Link to the first time we did this:

Full WOD Details Below

Movement Details – Men

Level III (3)
20 G2OH- 95 lbs
7 Bar Facing Burpees
15 G2OH- 135 lbs
7 Bar Facing Burpees
10 G2OH- 155 lbs
7 Bar Facing Burpees
5 G2OH- 185 lbs
7 Bar Facing Burpees
AMRAP G2OH- 225 lbs
Level II (2)
20 G2OH- 65 lbs
7 Bar Facing Burpees
15 G2OH- 75 lbs
7 Bar Facing Burpees
10 G2OH- 95 lbs
7 Bar Facing Burpees
5 G2OH- 135 lbs
7 Bar Facing Burpees
AMRAP G2OH- 155 lbs
Level I (1)
20 G2OH (Med Ball)- 20 lbs
7 Bar Facing Burpees
15 G2OH (Barbell)- 45 lbs
7 Bar Facing Burpees
10 G2OH- 65 lbs
7 Bar Facing Burpees
5 G2OH- 95 lbs
7 Bar Facing Burpees
AMRAP G2OH- 115 lbs

Movement Details – Women

Level III (3)
20 G2OH- 65 lbs
7 Bar Facing Burpees
15 G2OH- 85 lbs
7 Bar Facing Burpees
10 G2OH- 105 lbs
7 Bar Facing Burpees
5 G2OH- 135 lbs
7 Bar Facing Burpees
AMRAP G2OH- 155 lbs
Level II (2)
20 G2OH- 45 lbs
7 Bar Facing Burpees
15 G2OH- 55 lbs
7 Bar Facing Burpees
10 G2OH- 65 lbs
7 Bar Facing Burpees
5 G2OH- 95 lbs
7 Bar Facing Burpees
AMRAP G2OH- 105 lbs
Level I (1)
20 G2OH (Med Ball)- 14 lbs
7 Bar Facing Burpees
15 G2OH (Barbell)- 35 lbs
7 Bar Facing Burpees
10 G2OH- 45 lbs
7 Bar Facing Burpees
5 G2OH- 65 lbs
7 Bar Facing Burpees
AMRAP G2OH- 85 lbs

Movement Standards

G2OH – Barbell
The Ground to Overhead (G2OH) movement is about getting the bar from the floor to overhead “anyway”. The key point is the range of motion between the start and end points. The barbell begins on the ground. The barbell must come to full lockout overhead with the hips, knees and arms fully extended, and the bar directly over the middle of the body. Allowable variations include: power snatch, squat snatch, split snatch, clean and jerk, squat clean and jerk, squat clean thruster, or any variation. Touch-and-go is permitted. No bouncing. If you begin with an empty barbell, or a barbell that only has plates smaller than standard bumper plates, each repetition must begin with the barbell clearly below the knees.
G2OH – Med Ball
Med Ball Ground to Overhead (G2OH) starts with the athlete standing and the medicine ball on the floor. The movement is complete when the athlete is standing with the ball overhead with the hips, knees, and elbows fully locked out. Any variation to get to the finishing position is allowed. Touch and go at the bottom is allowed but bouncing the ball on the ground is not permitted.
Bar Facing Burpees
Each burpee must be performed perpendicular to and facing the barbell. Your head cannot be over the barbell. The chest and thighs touch the ground at the bottom. You must jump over the barbell from both feet and land on both feet. One-footed jumping or stepping over is not permitted. The next rep will then begin on the opposite side facing the barbell. One footed jumping or stepping over the bar is permitted for Level 1 only.

Scoring and Details

  • The athlete’s total score is the sum of all reps completed within the 9 minutes time allowance.
  • The athlete may preload the barbell with the first set weight. Then that athlete is responsible to changing weights under their own power during the workout. It is recommended to set up the needed weight in a way that transitions are quick with the weights easily accessible.
  • The submission page for the workout will automatically calculate the athlete’s total number of reps based on how far he/she progressed through the workout.
  • Video Submissions are required in order to be eligible for performance prizes.
  • The submission page for the workout will automatically calculate your final time. you will simply need to enter in your completion time or how far you progressed before time ran out.
  • You many complete the 3 benchmark workouts at whatever skill level you want, but the benchmark performance prize will be awarded to the top man and woman in each division, skill level, and region based on the total number of reps completing in all 3 benchmark workouts. In order to be eligible the athlete must perform all 3 benchmark WODs at the same skill level.


At the “3,2,1, go” the athlete begins 20 G2OH with the barbell preloaded to the appropriate weight. Once the 20 reps are completed the athlete must perform 7 Bar Facing Burpees.

After the 7 Bar Facing Burpees have been completed the athlete will then perform 15 G2OH at the heavier weight. At this point everyone will be using a barbell. The barbell is to be loaded by the athlete after the burpees are complete. The athlete will then perform 7 Bar Facing Burpees.,

Next round there will be 10 reps of G2OH to complete at a heavier weight and another 7 Bar Facing Burpees to complete.

The next round is 5 G2OH at the heavier weight then into 7 Bar Facing Burpees. If you make it to the final heaviest round you will use the remaining time to complete as many reps as possible of G2OH. There will be no burpees in this round.

by Coach Jared at October 29, 2014 02:34 AM

Mr. Money Mustache

MMM Challenge: Can You go Car-Free This Weekend?

local haul

local haulThere’s a subtle yet powerful difference between the Standard Consumer, who manages to spend all of his income regardless of how much is coming in, and the Mustachian for whom saving is an effortless activity. For the first type of person, saving money means deprivation, struggle, and painful budgets. For the second, saving consists of living a rewarding life, then casually sweeping the few thousand dollars of leftover cash into investments at the end of each month.

The difference seems to lie in the design of the underlying lifestyle. If you get this part right, success comes almost automatically.

At a party recently, I met yet another Prototypical Modern Successful Family, a rather common occurrence in my area. The guy was a doctor. The woman was a professor. They had appropriately hip Colorado-style clothing, muscular calves, cool rectangular glasses, and rode bikes to the party along with their two cute young children. Everything looked stellar on the surface until my new friend and I got to talking after a few drinks.

“It’s a bit of a mess these days”, he said, “These kids are so precious, but they’re growing up fast and I hardly ever see them. I took a job at a practice in the city because it pays better, but it means I get up at 5AM. The kids do competitive swimming and ski racing on the weekends, so we’re never home to recharge.”

This seemed like a pretty simple set of White People Problems to me, so I decided to throw in a bit of advice disguised as self-effacement: “Oh yeah”, I said, “We solve that problem in my family by making our lives much less exciting than yours. We just hang around Longmont most of the time, and because of that we have a lot more recharge time and were able to cut back on the two-career thing f0r a while.”

“Man”, he said, “That would be nice. I’ve been in medicine for 16 years now, and to be honest I’ve had enough of it. But we could never live on just her income. Professors just don’t make that much, even tenured ones at a good university.”

And therein lies the trap that ensnares so many otherwise-fortunate people. It is called the Poisonous Pitfall of Piss-Poor Lifestyle Planning.

Fortunately there is an antidote, which is quite literally Simplicity itself. If the situation above sounds even remotely familiar to you, I am excited to deliver this bit of good news, because it is very easy to solve. You can very quickly give yourself the gift of a much better life, just by chopping out a good chunk of the unnecessary activities that currently distract you from living.

We could go on and on about the detailed benefits including greater happiness, lower stress, better health, better relationships with your significant other, family, and children. More money, lower needs, deeper wisdom and even a longer life*.

But instead, I thought it would be helpful to just start with one giant baby step. An instantaneous taste of the good life, at no cost to you and with the chance of starting a massive life transformation. Are you ready? Your assignment is as follows:

Give the damned car a break for the entirety of this coming weekend. Instead, try living two days of non-motorized life.

That’s right. This weekend, there will be no errands, shopping trips, drives to the mountains or the beach, horseback riding lessons or Harley cruises. Just you and your actual body, doing things that it is actually meant to do.

You’ll want to prepare in advance. If you live far from a grocery store, make sure the house is stocked with food. Get your library books ready, make sure the television is unplugged, tune your guitar if applicable, dust off the bicycle, walking shoes, recipe books and board games, invite some local friends over if desired, and let’s make a weekend of this.

What you’ll be doing, although it may sound somewhat novel to my new doctor friend, is living approximately like the Mustache family has always done. Although I’m not a hermit or a homebody, I often feel just a bit of anxious terror when I hear about how much activity most of my fellow wealthy Americans pack into their weekends. And I’m simultaneously filled with Pure Joy every time I wake up on a Saturday morning, walk with bare feet through my back yard and into the park beyond to watch the sun rise, and only then decide what I  might want to do that day. If he’s awake that early, my little son often comes along for the event.

On weekends, we simply chill together. It is my idea of living, and it is the foundation of our relationship together as a family. We sit on couches and read and write books and comics. The boy and I ride down to the creek and carve channels and dams in the rocks and sand. Then we’ll climb some trees, max out the swingsets at the park, and maybe do some urban planning in the sandbox. We get home tired and nicely sunned out, and he’ll disappear to his room and make songs with Ableton while the lady and I will make some dinner. At this time of year it tends to cool down and get dark outside pretty quickly, so we’ll start a fire in the woodburning stove I built into the new house. Some wine may be poured. All of that, and it’s still only Saturday night.

A key to successful chilling is the complete removal of television as one of the options. As much as you like your favorite shows or sports events, the experience deprives you of what you would have done if the TV hadn’t been there. It is in the void left behind when TV disappears that real life can start to occur.

Living a Local Life

The headline of this article sounds like just another meaningless personal finance tip. Sure, you can save fifty dollars if you cut out the 100 miles of driving that gets packed into the typical weekend. Maybe a couple hundred more on the restaurants and shopping trips you forego. All told, changes like these would increase your wealth by about $200,000 per decade.

But the transformation of attitude and lifestyle that you can learn from it is much greater. What I’m really hoping we can all learn about is living a local lifeYou can become friends with the people who live right around you. There are trees and hills and features of your environment that you miss completely if you never slow down to actually live where you live.

Once you give it a try, you will find it quickly becomes very natural to live this way, because it is really how we were meant to spend our days. If an event pops up in another city, my own family usually considers it briefly, then politely declines. Because we realize we don’t live in that city, we live in this one.

The world gets more exciting every day. There are more activities, opportunities, and bits of entertainment packed into the atmosphere than ever before. The modern culture dictates that we take every chance to pack our days with exciting things, limited only by our need to sleep. If you don’t do this, you are “missing out.” But I propose that the opposite is true: the Good Life is found in between those times when you are engaged in travel, being “entertained” and participating in too many organized activities.

So by living a life driving around afraid of missing out, you are in fact missing out on your entire life. Let’s fix that this weekend.



* In a sad coincidence, on October 27th, the day this anti-car-culture article was originally scheduled to publish, Mrs. MM’s childhood best friend died in a car crash back in Canada. Rest in peace Janet.

Further Reading: In this Article, researchers found that kids who are allowed to spend more of their time in unstructured play develop greater independence and judgement. Could this be related to why some adults are hopelessly sucked in by the consumer/debt/industrial complex and others are able to step out and make their own choices? 

I like to imagine this all as an evolutionary response – you can adapt to a regimented life or society if that’s what you are born into, but given a more freeform existence, you are better off becoming more experimental or creative. I feel that the second option is now much more productive: both for early retirees, and for dealing with a rapidly changing world. But this is pure La-Z-Boy scientist chatter – real scientists are welcome to make fun of me for throwing out such a speculation without any testing :-)


by Mr. Money Mustache at October 29, 2014 01:32 AM

CrossFit Naptown

Fit Workout 10/29


Single arm Kettle Bell Overhead Squat (sub goblet squats)

Single Arm Shoulder to Overhead


by Peter at October 29, 2014 12:34 AM

ASCII by Jason Scott

The Software Library

It’s been time to make vintage software accessible. That’s about to take a great leap forward.


Last year, it was the Console Living Room, where running versions of 21 different game consoles were put up. That’s been up for basically a year (although it started at around 11 consoles, which were added to over time). In that year, hundreds of thousands of people have played the games at least a million times. (The Internet Archive absolutely does not keep user logs, so you have to run estimates and do some arithmetic.) I find people stumble on it, or get linked to it, and they flip out. I’m all for that. The point was to turn the vast majority of console history into a clickable, instant experience, and this does that.

As I’ve said before and will say again, the nice piece with JSMESS is that general or specific improvements to its porting of MESS/MAME, as well as improvements to MESS/MAME, are cascaded down into all the programs and platforms that JSMESS deals with. In other words, get ye to github and browse the repositories for JSMESS and MAME/MESS.

Anyway, preamble aside, it’s time for the next round, the next level. And as always, I need your help.

I’ve been working for most of this year on something called, simply, The Software Library.

Not the current Software Library Curator

Not the current Software Library Curator

It’s meant to be for home computers of the 1970s and 1980s what the Console Living Room is for game consoles. This is a huge, huge leap forward in software preservation, and the experience of accessing this software.

I was originally going to do a large amount of home computers, but I quickly realized this was spreading things too thin. So I instead went for three that JSMESS does pretty well: The Apple II, the Atari 800, the ZX Spectrum.

Between these three platforms, the Software Library has 24,000 items in it. So it’s already coming out into the pre-test gate with 10 times the items as the console living room has gotten in a year.

This is obviously too much for one person to curate. That’s why I co-created the Screen Shotgun – how else could you slam through all this stuff and even begin to get an idea of what you’re looking at?

And at this moment, there are keys that are hard to hit, especially on the Atari 800 and ZX Spectrum. I’m blasting through a prototype virtual keyboard that will pop up on the screen and allow you to hit crazy keys directly.

Anyway, these are the first few halting steps towards the full intended goal, which is to put up all microcomputer software. All of it.

All of it.

It’s ambitious and potentially insane, but that’s worked out for me so far.

So, what can you do?

Well, imagine a major museum going online all at once. Imagine an empty warehouse booting into National Museum in a week. (Imagine the sound that would make. Probably something like this.)

There’s just no way for me to track down the historical relevance of all these items. I can’t concoct the paragraphs of description, the clarification of what the software is, the context, the tags… I can do a little, but one person isn’t enough. It just needs an army.

I’ll be frank. Attempts to crowdsource metadata entry, even with a personality at the helm burning with the force of a thousand suns, is pretty variant. It usually comes down to a very small handful of folks who just kind of like it. It’s a very specific personality type – I don’t think there’s many people like that.

I believed strongly, and continue to, that is now the largest downloadable library of software in the world. What we’re now becoming, with the addition of this new material, is the largest instantly-runnable vintage software in the world. And that’s quite a feat, and something to be proud of.

But as emulation fades out of Miracletown and wanders into What-you-got-next-ville, it’s going to be metadata, curation and context that turns it into something other than the world’s largest floppy case. So I’m asking you to write me or contact me about helping as this library grows and refines itself. As we try experiments with crowd-assisted classification, try to be there. And if you see something playable on this library, write about it, cite it, link to it. That’s when it comes alive.

So let’s see what happens.

by Jason Scott at October 29, 2014 12:16 AM

October 28, 2014

Beeminder Blog

Beeminder Turns Three!

Three kinds of bees, beecause we're three!

Yo Yo Yo and a buckle of gold, Beeminder just turned three years old!

This time last year we were sitting in a hotel in San Francisco during the Quantified Self global conference, excited about our year of autodata integrations, exponential revenue growth, and being featured in the Wall Street Journal.

So what has this year held? For starters, another 365 User-Visible Improvements (funny story there though). Some of those are major new features, like arbitrary deadlines and new autodata integrations. We’ve also tried some big experiments, scientific and otherwise. And of course plenty of crazy commitment schemes…

$810 Pre-commitment Pre-anniversary Month

Technically our birthday is October 11. As that date approached we were lamenting that we weren’t quite ready with some big announcements that we really wanted to be part of our anniversary fanfare. So we picked a date that was close enough and hard-committed to have all those things announced on the blog by then. How did we do that? By promising $810 to our daily beemail subscribers if we didn’t:

We have a bunch of mostly-finished things like arbitrary deadlines, new freebees world order, a forum, and new integrations. We really want to wrap them up so we can brag about them for our 3rd launch anniversary later this month. So, if we haven’t announced all those things on the blog by Oct 28 (at 5pm pacific) then we will owe one of you $810. Reply to this email then to claim it!

Things got more than a little hectic scrambling to make good on all that, but as the (retroactively added) links there attest, we pulled it off [1] and are ridiculously pleased with ourselves.

New Autodata Integrations

Autodata is awesome, especially if you want to beemind All The Things. And it’s a perfect symbiosis. People who use Beeminder to sting themselves if they fall off the wagon on their Duolingo practice are going to keep coming back to Duolingo. It’s win-win! Plus when we pull the data into Beeminder automatically it’s less work and harder to weasel. So part of our business plan is getting as many services hooked up to Beeminder as possible. On the fitness tracker front we added Jawbone UP support, with Epson’s new Runsense GPS about to be officially announced.

It’s been a much bigger year for beeminding productivity. In fact weight loss goals have dropped from 20% of new goals created in year two to 12% of goals created in year three. We’ve got 7 new productivity integrations, to the 2 fitness ones.

New since last year are Draft for writing online, Codeschool for learning to code, and HabitRPG for winning at life. A bit higher level are Twitter integration, and Tasker + Beedroid, as well as a Zapier trigger (to be officially announced soon!). These last three can all serve as glue to make up your own autodata goals. Zapier has hundreds of apps and services they already integrate with that you can now use to trigger new data in Beeminder. Tasker on Android lets you do the same kind of thing except with any event on your phone, and Twitter is kind of in a limbo space in between. Maybe you would like to actually beemind tweeting more often, for brand building or marketing purposes or something, but it’s also possible to use hashtags to track a particular sort of tweet, and use Twitter to beemind a gratitude journal of sorts.

And even more abstract than those last three, was our OAuth post, where we released a template app and an omniauth strategy for anyone wanting to build stuff with the Beeminder API to use a starting point.

Moar Sociallier

We’ve experimented with making beeminding more sociable, with a supporters feature, a Facebook share button, and a weight loss competition. Perhaps most social of all is our new discussion forum.

And in the physical(ish) world, Danny and I have had more human interaction this year with several new faces around the beehive. Andy Brett got distracted cofounding a Ycombinator startup, but we’ve had Erica, two high school interns, several new worker bees helping out with support (Hi Nick, Ben, Denis, Tarn, and Chelsea!), and, most importantly, Alice Monday. Alice joined us earlier this year and you’ve probably talked to her if you’ve interacted with support as she’s our official Support Czar. She’s also monstrously clever and in addition to implementing pledge caps, and the HabitRPG integration, among other things, has mounted a fierce campaign against our technical debt. Tangentially related, she’s working on an implementation of TagTime that isn’t terrible!

So Many Other Things: Features, Buzz, Mania, Guest Posts!

We’ve spent a good deal of time on server infrastructure and technical debt this year (though man do we still have mountains of it), and Bee even started a UVI-like goal for making improvements to behind-the-scenes stuff that’s strictly not user-visible.

But we’ve also made new features in Beeminderland: pledge caps, freebees, and, most exciting, arbitrary deadlines, are all things we’ve blogged about. (And mouse over those links for summaries.)

In the web interface we give a limited ability for making changes to the yellow brick road, since you can only change it starting a week from now. The Beeminder API now lets you make arbitrary changes to your yellow brick road, subject only to the constraint that you can’t make it easier on yourself between today and a week from today. This means you can clean up ugly jumps in the road, remove flat spots retroactively to see if you could’ve maintained a given rate all along, or anything else you can imagine. Including, of course, retroratcheting and scheduling breaks, or the oft-requested flat weekends. If any of you have ideas for a UI for all this power, we’d love to discuss (we have our own ideas).

Finally, since we’re being quite exhaustive in this recap post, here’s everything else worth reading that we’ve blogged this last year. We’ve done two press roundups. We introduced the GTBee app for iOS.

We’ve done a series of so-called Maniac Weeks, and documented them on the blog as well.

And we just have to mention these two stellar guest posts from Eric Kidd, talking about beeminding language acquisition, and Jess Whittlestone, about beeminding your way out of your comfort zone. Really well written and practical pieces that we’re proud to have published.

Plateau of Doom, or at least Mild Inconvenience

So all of those things happened. There was some less glamorous stuff too. And since we’re into radical transparency (this year we even signed on to the Open Company Initiative) we’re not holding anything back!

Beeminder revenue graph For one our revenue growth has hit a bit of what Amy Hoy calls the Plateau of Doom. Fortunately holding steady at a bit under $20k/month is sustainable. And more importantly, we’re as ridiculously excited about Beeminder as ever. We just need to follow the advice in Amy’s article.

Next, trying to turn the Beekeeper Program into a pillar of Beeminder was one of our perhaps less well-advised endeavors this year. Lifecoaching is a wonderfully complementary product to Beeminder, but the key word is ‘complementary’. Beeminder is much too young to try to diversify. We should have heeded the standard startup advice to keep all your eggs in one basket. Be laser-focused on the one thing you’re best at. Distractions are fatal and we feel like we dodged a bullet there.

Luckily we’ve found the best of both worlds by outsourcing the beekeeping to Malcolm Ocean of Complice.

We had some more server fires, more than once possibly literally, and did at least two major server migrations/upgrades. If you want to follow our ineptitude in real time, we have a special Twitter account, the archives of which are always a fun trip down memory lane for us. Or check out the collection of blog posts about our screw-ups.


So as not to end on a downer note, last year in the comments of our second anniversary post, Nick Winter asked if we had any predictions for the coming year. Predictions are hard (especially about the future), and we sort of side-stepped the question. But making public predictions of this sort is also a type of commitment device. So after this crazy mad dash to the finish, with our $810 commitment (torture) device, I’m kind of keen to pre-commit to something now for next year!

Here goes! $810 says next year’s anniversary post will include the following:

  1. A dramatic improvement to new user experience, along the lines of a new user walkthrough (like HabitRPG does!) or changes to goal creation (with data that backs it up as better)
  2. Client-side graphs (panning and zooming and mousing over datapoints!)
  3. Revamped reminder and notification settings



[1] “I believe you said integrations plural,” one of you will say. You are clearly a person after our own hearts. We did say plural and we meant it! Besides HabitRPG we’ve launched Zapier integration and Epson Runsense integration. “Yes, but you said you’d announce them on the blog,” you say, pedantically. Is this footnote not on the blog? “Touche,” you say.

(We take commitment contracts super seriously and might’ve called this too weaselly but the spirit of the original commitment was to launch all these things. Epson and Zapier are temporarily relegated to this footnote because we’re coordinating a bunch of marketing buzz with those companies in coming days and weeks when we’ll make splashier announcements.)

by bsoule at October 28, 2014 11:59 PM

Zondervan Academic Blog

Reformation Week eBook Sale — Deals Starting at $2.99

Nearly five hundred years ago, on October 31, 1517, Martin Luther wrote to the Archbishop of Mainz and Magdeburg protesting the sale of indulgences. In his letter he enclosed a copy of what later became known as The 95 Theses, a sort of scholarly essay disputing certain church practices, called “Disputation of Martin Luther on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences.”

This week we’re honoring and celebrating that legacy of transformation and reformation. We’ve put steep discounts on some of our most useful and insightful resources, to help you sharpen your thinking and aid your ministry.

Below lists a small selection of the deals. Click here for the deals, and act fast, because this sale ends on November 2, 2014.

1. Gagging of God by D. A. Carson: $20.99 $6.99

2. The Christian Faith by Michael Horton: $35.99 $19.99

3. For Calvinism by Michael Horton: $6.99 $2.99

4. Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem: $35.99 $19.99

5. PROOF by Daniel Montgomery and Timothy Paul Jones: $9.99 $3.99

6. Historical Theology by Gregg R. Allison: $31.99 $6.99

7. The Crucified King by Jeremy R. Treat: $26.99 $7.99

8. Worship by the Book, Edited by D. A. Carson: $6.99 $2.99

9. Center Church by Timothy Keller: $20.99 $7.99

10. Conduct Gospel-Centered Funerals: 7.99 $2.99

Plus a lot more. Click here to shop today before the sale ends on November 2!

by Jeremy Bouma at October 28, 2014 09:57 PM

512 Pixels

Why the iPod classic died →

Benedict Evans:

Tim Cook: iPod Classic was discontinued because they couldn't get the parts. And not worth designing a whole new one.

Clearly if Apple had wanted to keep the iconic music player alive, it could have, but I believe Cook when he said the demand just wasn't there. RIP, little spinning disk buddy.


by Stephen Hackett at October 28, 2014 09:29 PM

Apple’s Greg Joswiak addresses iOS 8.0.1 issue →

Dawn Chmielewski:

Joswiak acknowledged the mistake in the initial update of Apple’s iOS 8 mobile operating system — but said the problem resided in how the software was “wrapped,” not with the update itself.

“It had to do with the way the software was being sent over servers,” Joswiak told Re/code on Tuesday at the Code/Mobile conference in Half Moon Bay, Calif. “It was the way software was being distributed.”

Joswiak said the company reacted within an hour of discovering the problem, and it swiftly offered a software fix. But he brushed off questions about whether Apple has a larger issue with quality assurance.


by Stephen Hackett at October 28, 2014 08:56 PM

Zondervan Academic Blog

Are You Anchoring Your Soul-Care in God’s Word and His Gospel?

In college I minored in psychology along with majoring in political science, because I’ve always been fascinated with the human soul and considered a vocation in soul-care.

One of the things that bugged me about our program was how little it seemed to be anchored in Scripture and in a robust theology, even at the Christian college I attended. Rather than Scripture and the gospel guiding our answers to life’s ultimate questions, it seemed the “discoveries” and theories of sociology and psychoanalysis were the captains of our soul-care ship.

Robert Kellemen and Jeff Forrey understand my concerns, which is why they’ve written and edited two new insightful books on the subject of biblical counseling.

In Gospel-Centered Counseling, Kellemen builds on the foundation of the written Word and provides a gospel-centered resource for understanding people, diagnosing problems, and prescribing biblically-based solutions.

In Scripture and Counseling, Kellemen and Forrey have brought together twenty pastoral and counseling practitioners to give insights into developing a robust biblical view of Scripture’s sufficiency for “life and godliness” and learning how to use Scripture in the counseling process.

Rather than letting culture drive life’s ultimate questions and answers, Gospel-Centered Counseling and Scripture and Counseling fill a crucial gap by helping those who perform soul-care root their efforts firmly in God’s Word and His gospel.

Are you anchoring your soul-care in God’s Word and His gospel? These two books will guide you to ensure all aspects of our counseling are anchored in the gospel and Bible.


Gospel-Centered Counseling: How Christ Changes Lives

As Kellemen explains, “Gospel-centered counseling promotes personal change centered on the Person of Christ through the personal ministry of the Word.” (GCC, 16)

Why do we need such a counseling method? Because we often teach theology in a way that separates truth from life. Kellemen argues, however, that “theology is practical and relevant, that truth is for life, that God’s Word is robust, real, raw, relevant, and relational.” (GCC, 17)

Consider how Kellemen organizes and engages life’s eight ultimate questions in light of the gospel and for the sake of soul-care (18-19):

  1. The Word: “What is truth?” “Where can we find answers?”
  2. The Trinity: “Who is God?” “How can we know him personally?”
  3. Creation/Understanding People: “Who are we?” “What makes people tick?”
  4. Fall/Diagnosing Problems: “What went wrong?” “Why do we do the things we do?”
  5. Redemption/Prescribing God’s Soul-u-tion: “How do we find peace with God?” “How do people change?”
  6. Sanctification: “How does the change process occur?” “How does change happen?”
  7. The Church: “What is God doing in the world today through his people?” “How can we help one another to change?”
  8. Consummation: “Where are we headed?” “How does our future destiny impact our present reality?”

What drives Kellemen’s answers to those big eight questions and his counseling methodology is the Creation, Fall, Redemption narrative. Because for him, we must “build our answer to the question, ‘How do we become like Jesus?’ upon God’s answers to all the preceding questions — upon God’s grand redemptive narrative.” (GCC, 19)

If you are a Christian counselor or pastor who regularly engages in soul-care, you would do yourself and your people well to plant both feet in this book and let it guide your counseling sessions.


Scripture and Counseling: God’s Word For Life In A Broken World

Kellemen and Forrey want to help counselors develop a robust biblical view of Scripture for life and godliness. The introductory essay sets this tone by demonstrating the conviction that “confidence and competence in God’s Word can and should saturate every aspect of ministry.” (SC, 17)

In it, pastor Kevin DeYoung and counselor Pat Quinn, both of University Reformed Church. In it, they provide four important convictions that shape their understanding of counseling ministry.

The Word of God is Necessary. DeYoung and Quinn begin with the assumption “We cannot truly know God or know ourselves unless God speaks.” (SC, 20) Practically, this means “the care of souls requires revelation from the Maker of souls.” (SC, 21)

The Word of God is Sufficient. Not only is the Bible necessary, it is sufficient: “All we need for life and godliness, for salvation and sanctification has been given to us in the Bible.” (SC. 21) While not exhaustive, the Bible is enough—especially when it comes to caring for the dark places of the human heart.

The Word of God is Authoritative. “The Word gives definitive claims, issues obligatory commands, and makes life-changing promises.” (SC, 21) They implore counselors to announce all three with authority, an authority built not on a personality or one’s position, but God’s Word. “[T]he counselor…must bring this authority to bear on all those encountered, especially on those who swear allegiance to Christ.” (SC, 21)

God’s Word is Relevant. Finally, Scripture is relevant to all of life. Our human predicament doesn’t change, God’s solution doesn’t change, and truth doesn’t change, which is why they argue the Bible is “eternally relevant.” (SC, 21) As counselors, we must rely on God’s unchanging Word.

DeYoung and Quinn’s essay is a perfect way to launch a discussion on how Scripture integrates with and undergirds the counseling endeavor, which shapes this entire book.


If you regularly counsel people, either vocationally or voluntarily, I would encourage you to carefully engage both Gospel-Centered Counseling and Scripture and Counseling.

Both books will help you explore how God’s Word and His gospel is sufficient, necessary, and relevant to equip you to address the complex issues of life in a broken world and bring healing to those who’ve been broken by it.

by Jeremy Bouma at October 28, 2014 08:16 PM

Roads from Emmaus

The Soldier, the Athlete and the Farmer

St. Demetrios the Myrrh-streaming / Sixth Sunday of Luke, October 26, 2014 Rev. Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, one God. Amen. In today’s epistle reading from Second Timothy, which is designated for the feast today of St. Demetrios, St. Paul gives […]

The post The Soldier, the Athlete and the Farmer appeared first on Roads from Emmaus.

by Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick at October 28, 2014 07:51 PM

Feed: » stratechery by Ben Thompson

Publishers and the Smiling Curve

One would not normally draw a connection from a company like Largan Precision (TPE:3008), a small Taiwanese component supplier, to the publishing industry. But it was a very insightful observation from another Taiwanese company’s CEO – Acer founder Stan Stih – about what he called the “Smiling Curve” that created the analogy in my mind. From Wikipedia:

A smiling curve is an illustration of value-adding potentials of different components of the value chain in an IT-related manufacturing industry…According to Shih’s observation, in the personal computer industry, both ends of the value chain command higher values added to the product than the middle part of the value chain. If this phenomenon is presented in a graph with a Y-axis for value-added and an X-axis for value chain (stage of production), the resulting curve appears like a “smile”.

Created by Rico Shen for Wikipedia

Created by Rico Shen for Wikipedia

What makes this observation particularly ironic is that Acer is the epitomical company at the bottom of the curve. They put PCs together, but it was the critical component makers like Intel and Windows that captured most of the value on the left, and systems integrators and value-added resellers like IBM or Accenture that captured the rest of the value on the right. Acer and its merry band of 8 OEMs1 competed themselves to single digit margins and ultimately stagnant growth; there simply isn’t any money in the undifferentiated middle.

Fortunately for Acer, their smartphone efforts have largely failed, so they are being spared the same cycle in mobile: Nokia is gone, Sony is bleeding money, and even mighty Samsung is getting hammered (and is in fact retreating to their component business (members-only)). We all know about how Apple and Google are benefitting, as well as other services like Facebook or WeChat, but life is also good on the left side of the curve, and that is where Largan Precision comes in.

While the iPhone got less attention than usual at its launch event (due to the Apple Watch), by far the greatest amount of time was spent on its camera. And for good reason: review after review has lauded the iPhone 6 camera as possibly the best phone camera ever. It turns out, though, that there are only a couple of companies in the world that are capable of producing such a camera, and Largan Precision is one of them.2 That is why they provide the camera for the iPhone 6 (as they have for several models now) and that is why their stock performance looks like this:

Largan Precision Co. all-time stock performance

Largan Precision Co. all-time stock performance

True, their $9.6 billion market cap barely registers when compared to Apple’s $623.6 billion number,3 but when you consider that Largan Precision is a relatively tiny company that’s pretty darn impressive, and I can assure you the founders are living much more comfortably than all but the most senior Apple managers. Moreover, it’s not that far off from Foxconn, who actually builds the iPhone; their market cap is only 5x greater than the maker of a single component.

There simply isn’t that much money in the middle.

I was reminded of the smiling curve while reading this excellent piece by David Carr in the New York Times about Facebook and publishers:

For traditional publishers, the home page may soon become akin to the print edition — nice to have, but not the primary attraction. In the last few months, more than half the visitors to The New York Times have come via mobile — the figure increases with each passing month — and that percentage is higher for many other publishers.

Enter Facebook’s popular mobile app, which has captured greater amounts of time and, more remarkably, managed to fit a business model onto the small screen by providing extremely relevant advertising…the company has become the No. 1 source of traffic for many digital publishers. Yes, search from Google still creates inbound interest, and Twitter can spark attention, especially among media types, but when it comes to sheer tonnage of eyeballs, nothing rivals Facebook.

“The traffic they send is astounding and it’s been great that they have made an effort to reach out and boost quality content,” said one digital publishing executive, who declined to be identified so as not to ruffle the feathers of the golden goose. “But all any of us are talking about is when the other shoe might drop.”

Here’s the thing: the shoe has in many respects already dropped. When people follow a link on Facebook (or Google or Twitter or even in an email), the page view that results is not generated because the viewer has any particular affinity for the publication that is hosting the link, and it is uncertain at best whether or not their affinity will increase once they’ve read the article. If anything, the reader is likely to ascribe any positive feelings to the author, perhaps taking a peek at their archives or Twitter feed.

Over time, as this cycle repeats itself and as people grow increasingly accustomed to getting most of their “news” from Facebook (or Google or Twitter), value moves to the ends, just like it did in the IT manufacturing industry or smartphone industry:

The Smiling Curve for publishing

The Smiling Curve for publishing

On the right you have the content aggregators, names everyone is familiar with: Google ($369.7 billion), Facebook ($209.0 billion), Twitter ($26.4 billion), Pinterest (private). They are worth by far the most of anyone in this discussion.

Traditional publishers, meanwhile, are stuck in the middle. The New York Times, the most august publisher of all, is worth a mere $2.03 billion.4 Gannett Company, the largest publisher in the United States, is worth $7.14 billion, but the vast majority of that value lies in their broadcast and digital advertising holdings; most of the newspapers are worthless. I recounted the problem for newspapers in Economic Power in the Age of Abundance:

One of the great paradoxes for newspapers today is that their financial prospects are inversely correlated to their addressable market. Even as advertising revenues have fallen off a cliff – adjusted for inflation, ad revenues are at the same level as the 1950s – newspapers are able to reach audiences not just in their hometowns but literally all over the world.

The problem for publishers, though, is that the free distribution provided by the Internet is not an exclusive. It’s available to every other newspaper as well. Moreover, it’s also available to publishers of any type, even bloggers like myself.

In short, publishers (all of them, not just newspapers) don’t really have an exclusive on anything anymore. They are Acer, offering the same PC as the next guy, and watching as the lion’s share of the value goes to the folks who are actually putting the content in front of readers.

That Stratechery article, by the way, was about how German publishers were taking Google to court to demand compensation for article snippets that appeared on Google News. Instead Google simply removed the snippets, which resulted in such a drop in traffic that the publishers this week came crawling back asking Google to re-add the snippets, no compensation required. The general takeaway is that Google proved it was adding value to the publishers, but I have a different angle: the publisher’s demonstrated that they provide no value to their writers.

See, Largan Precision doesn’t really care if their camera phone modules end up in iPhones or Galaxys or Lumias, or if they’re physically integrated by Foxconn or Quanta or Compal. They survive – and survive quite profitably – based solely on their ability to manufacture the best miniature cameras in the world. I remain convinced that the most successful writers and publications will pursue a similar strategy: do what they do best and accrue outsized value relative to publishers that are rapidly shifting from platform to obstacle.

This trend isn’t limited to publishing, either. Last week HBO announced that it was finally going direct to customers; while I think declarations that this decision will lead to cord-cutting are massively overstated, it is certainly a devaluing of the cable middle person. You can also view AT&T’s decision to lock the Apple SIM to their network in a similar light: they are trying to stave off their inevitable future as a dumb pipe between valuable content and valuable devices. Apple Pay will, in the long run, have a similar effect on banks (which is one reason it’s so fascinating to see banks embrace it while some merchants – who will benefit from more and faster transaction – be opposed).

All of this is because of the Internet: by removing friction it removes the need for folks in the middle, and the result is that value will flow to the edges. In the case of publishing that is aggregators on one side, and focused, responsive, and differentiated5 writers and publications on the other.

  1. HP, Dell, Acer, Asus, Sony, Toshiba, Lenovo and Samsung are the Big 8 Windows OEMs. Well, were. Sony has left, and Samsung has a foot out the door
  2. For what it’s worth, Largan Precision is yet another company suing Samsung, as well as fellow Apple supplier Genius Electronic Optical Co., for patent infringement
  3. All numbers as of October 28, 2014
  4. Which, to the Times’ credit, is more than double their nadir in 2012
  5. My canonical examples: focused – Daring Fireball, responsive – BuzzFeed, differentiated – Vox

The post Publishers and the Smiling Curve appeared first on stratechery by Ben Thompson.

by Ben Thompson at October 28, 2014 07:00 PM

Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy

Orthodoxy and the Problem of Choice: Converting Out of Postmodern Pluralism

C. S. Lewis once famously remarked that “mere” Christianity, as he conceived of it, …is… like a hall out of which doors open into several rooms…[and] it is in the rooms, not in the hall, that there are fires and chairs and meals. The hall is a place to wait in, a place from which ... More ›

by Richard Barrett at October 28, 2014 06:14 PM

CrossFit 204: Winnipeg, Canada

Workout: Oct. 29, 2014

Nice job, Rob!

Got a message from Rob the other day. He’s doing well and staying fit in his new home, and he isn’t missing winter.

Thruster 1 rep

Push press 8-8-8

1 minute rest between sets

Ring/bar/box dips 3 max sets

1 minute rest between sets


5 2:30 rounds of:

Row 300 m

10 burpees

Max kettlebell swings in remaining time (70/55 lb.)

Rest 1 minute between rounds

by Mike at October 28, 2014 06:04 PM

John C. Wright's Journal » John C. Wright's Journal

assertTrue( )

Making Money from Twitter

A few days ago, I blogged about how I made money from the recent sharp drop in Amazon's stock price. Well, I repeated the trick (to the tune of a 62% overnight net gain) with Twitter. Except this time, it wasn't a hedge but an all-out bare-naked bearish bet. I sold what few Twitter shares I owned a few hours prior to the earnings announcement, then doubled up on December $50-strike put options. The options were up very sharply today, of course. (Twitter stock went down 11% overnight.)

Things always look clear in retrospect. But I must say, in retrospect, it was, in fact, a pretty safe bet (going into last night's announcement) that Twitter stock would go down. The only question was by how much.

I had studied the previous quarter's results. What I learned is that Twitter is pretty far from turning a profit. Had Twitter announced a $400M quarterly top line, last night, with expenses held to the same as last quarter's expenses, the company would have broken even. I think we all knew they were not going to turn in a $400M top-line number. The critical question would turn out to be: How are enrollment numbers looking? Is the user base growing? And: With advertising starting to appear in timelines, are people still as engaged as ever?

On the latter question, the answer seems to be no. Monthly timeline views (on a per-user basis) are actually down 7%.

Twitter has a big problem, which is that its user numbers are inflated and most users are not active. Twitter claims to have something like 284 million monthly active users, but a recent report by an independent analyst firm (Twopcharts) shows that only 126 million Twitter users have tweeted in the last 30 days.

Twitter's CEO was on CNBC last night trying to defend the large number of "non-logged-in" users on Twitter (lurkers who come just to view World Series news or whatever). He actually maintained that such users are valuable to advertisers. Which is kind of like saying people who dig old magazines out of barber-shop trash bins are valuable to advertisers. It was hilarious.

I don't want to rehash Twitter's numbers endlessly. For the best article on the recent earnings report, I recommend this top-notch Forbes piece by Chuck Jones.

Bottom line, what prompted me to buy puts ahead of yesterday's earnings announcement were these factors:

1. Twitter user numbers are inflated.
2. Twitter is very far from break-even on its financials.
3. The potential for an upside surprise in the earnings report had to be considered extremely small.
4. The $50 early-October valuation for the stock was/is based on hype, not solid financials.

The fourth factor finally convinced me to get rid of all Twitter shares and buy naked puts. That decision turned out to be correct.

by Kas Thomas ( at October 28, 2014 03:51 PM

Justin Taylor

Introducing “The Stories We Tell”

The video above was made to introduce cosperMike Cosper’s new book, The Stories We Tell: How TV and Movies Long for and Echo the Truth (Crossway, 2014), in the Cultural Renewal series edited by Tim Keller and Collin Hansen,

Keller writes in the foreword, “Mike’s book will help readers learn to put the gospel on like a pair of glasses in order to see the good, the bad, and the ugly in our culture more clearly. This book will be especially helpful, I think, for Christians who preach, teach, and communicate the gospel. And, in the end, learning this discipline—of seeing God’s story in the stories we tell today—will be a way for us to deepen our own understanding of and joy in the gospel we believe.”

Here is what others are saying about the book:

“Mike helps us make sense of what is true and good in the stories our culture consumes, and he does it without leading us toward syncretism. With the amount of TV and movies our culture devours, this book is a must read.”
—Matt Chandler, Lead Pastor, The Village Church, Dallas, Texas; President, Acts 29 Church Planting Network

“Like Paul at the Areopagus, Mike Cosper walks through the cultural artifacts of our entertainment industry and effectively says, ‘I can tell by your sitcoms and dramas and even your romantic comedies that you are a storytelling people who long for more. Let me introduce you to the Storyteller you don’t even realize you long to know.’ The result is a book that will change how you watch TV and movies. But more importantly, this might change the conversations you have with your neighbors.”
—James K. A. Smith, Professor of Philosophy, Calvin College; author, Imagining the Kingdom and How (Not) to Be Secular

“Cultural engagement is a delicate but necessary balance for all who claim Christ. Mike Cosper insightfully examines narratives in pop culture to reveal the larger story of God at work in the human heart. This book is a must read for pastors and all those who seek to engage the culture with the powerful story of the gospel.”
—Ed Stetzer, President, LifeWay Research; author, Subversive Kingdom

“Drawing upon a dazzling breadth of stories told through film, television, and literature, Mike Cosper examines—critically and charitably, wisely and generously—the culture-shaping power of stories and how all reflect in some way the grand story of creation, fall, and redemption. Skillfully and compellingly written, The Stories We Tell is essential reading for anyone consuming, engaging, or shaping the culture.”
—Karen Prior, author, Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me and Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More—Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist

“There is no one I would rather read on issues of popular culture than Mike Cosper. This book is not another ‘here’s how you find the gospel in Superman’ project. Cosper analyzes popular culture with depth and with wisdom, seeing both the common grace of conscience all around us and the depths of human sin. As Cosper interacts with popular culture, he models for us how to listen to the voices around us in order that we might engage them with the mission of Christ. This book is about more than the media he analyzes. It is also a training ground for how to pay attention to our neighbors.”
—Russell D. Moore, President, The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission; author, Tempted and Tried

“The stories we tell rattle around in our minds, capture our imaginations, and give shape to our living as they echo the themes of God’s grand redemptive story—creation, fall, and redemption. These are not only the themes of film, literature, and television, but are also the inescapable passages of every person’s life. Cosper gives us new eyes to see and new ears to hear the stories we tell and in so doing invites us to celebrate our inclusion in the one story with a happy ending that actually never ever ends. I love this book and I think you will too.”
—Paul David Tripp, President, Paul Tripp Ministries; author, What Did You Expect? Redeeming the Realities of Marriage

“Mike has showed us the way of participating in culture and discerning where God is in it. It is easy to simply reject cultural creations in the name of purity. Or to receive them uncritically. The Stories We Tell will inspire a new generation of missionaries who seek to live in the world but not of it.”
—Darrin Patrick, Lead Pastor, The Journey, St. Louis, Missouri; Vice President, Acts 29; Chaplain to the St. Louis Cardinals; author, The Dude’s Guide to Manhood

“Evangelicals are notorious for consuming mass quantities of pop culture behind closed doors and sanctimoniously railing against the culture in public. It’s time to stop the hypocrisy and get serious about thinking theologically about the TV shows and films that stir our imaginations. In The Stories We Tell, Mike Cosper plays the role of the Interpreter in The Pilgrim’s Progress by clarifying our favorite episodes and movies in light of both law and gospel, and urges us, ‘Stay until I have showed thee a little more!'”
—Gregory Alan Thornbury, President, The King’s College; author, Recovering Classic Evangelicalism

“Cosper presents a thoughtful, gospel-centered analysis of culture that will resonate with the current generation. Whether you love TV and movies or hate them, they are indeed the central sounds and images of our culture, and they call for discerning theological critique. And this book delivers. Mike Cosper tells us the story about the stories we tell, and does so wisely and well.”
—Grant Horner, Associate Professor of Renaissance and Reformation, The Master’s College; author, Meaning at the Movies

You can download an excerpt from the book here.

You can also read an interview with Cosper here.

by Justin Taylor at October 28, 2014 03:27 PM

John C. Wright's Journal » John C. Wright's Journal

Master of the Mystic Arts

Time for Some good news for a change.

It looks like there will be a Doctor Strange movie. This is the first comic I ever picked up, and I happened to read it in the 1970’s when the magazine was in the hands of Steve Englehart, Frank Brunner, Marshall Rogers, Jim Starlin, Paul Smith, Sal Buscema, Gene Colan, and especially Rudy Nebres of Conan fame.


Hollywood Reporter reports that Benedict Cumberbatch (whose name sounds like a Doctor Strange character anyway) is being asked to play the role: Scott Derrickson is slated to direct.

StrangeIf they do even half the good job they did with GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, with AVENGERS, with THOR, with CAPTAIN AMERICA, and with basically everything they’ve touched, then this will be my personal comicgeekmoviedom dream come true.


And yes, I know about DR MORDRED and yes, I saw the made-for-TV movie version where the Ancient One was turned into Merlin, and Baron Mardo into Morgan le Fay. I am hoping these will be better than that.


by John C Wright at October 28, 2014 02:23 PM

Crossway Blog

What’s All This ‘Gospel-Centered’ Talk About?

"Gospel-centered preaching." "Gospel-centered parenting." "Gospel-centered discipleship." The back of my business card says "gospel-centered publishing." This descriptive mantra is tagged on to just about anything and everything in the Christian world these days.

What's it all about?

Before articulating what it might mean to be gospel-centered, we better be on the same page as to the actual message of the gospel.
I don't mean Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

What I mean by "gospel" in this article is the outrageous news of what has been done for us by God in Jesus. The gospel is the front page of the newspaper, not the back-page advice column; news of what has happened, not advice on how to live.

Specifically, the gospel is the startling news that what God demands from us, he provides for us. How? In his own Son. The gospel is the message that Jesus Christ delights to switch places with guilty rebels. The one person who walked this earth who deserved heaven endured the wrath of hell so that those who deserve the wrath of hell can have heaven.

And the gospel is not only personal, but cosmic. Christ's death and resurrection doesn't only provide forgiveness for me. It also means that in the middle of history, God has begun to undo death, ruin, decay, and darkness. The universe itself is going to be washed clean and made new. Eden will be restored.

But to be part of this movement, we too must die. Grace requires death. We must die to our bookkeeping existence that builds our identity on anything other than Jesus. We must relinquish, give up on ourselves, throw in the towel. And out of this death—letting God love us in, not after getting over, our messiness—resurrection life quietly blossoms.

Gospel-Centered Worldview

What does it mean, then, to be "gospel-centered"?
As far as I can tell the phrase is used in two basic ways. One way is to view all of life in light of the gospel. We'll call this a gospel-centered worldview. The other is to view Christian progress as dependent on the gospel. We'll call this gospel-centered growth. The first looks out; the second looks in. Take gospel-centered worldview first.

Think about what we mean when we call people "self-centered." We don't mean that all they think about directly is themselves. They also think about what to eat, what to wear, how to conclude an email, and a thousand other things each day. But self informs all these other decisions. A self-centered person passes all he does and thinks through the filter of self. Self trumps everything else and orders all other loves accordingly.

In a similar way, to be gospel-centered does not mean that social action, marital and sexual matters, ethical issues, political agendas, our jobs, our diet, and all the rest of daily life are irrelevant. Rather, it means all of life is viewed in light of the gospel. Everything passes through the filter of the gospel. What Jesus has done and is doing to restore the universe trumps everything else and orders all other loves accordingly.

Gospel-Centered Growth

There's another, more common way that the phrase gospel-centered is used. Here we narrow in to issues such as Bible-reading, book-writing, preaching, and teaching. Generally when we speak of "gospel-centered discipleship" or "gospel-centered preaching" we mean that such activities are done in the light of two core realities: our ongoing struggle with sin and our ongoing need for grace.

The twisted fallenness of the human heart manifests itself in our constant self-atonement strategies. The natural, default mode of the human heart (including the Christian heart) is restless heart-wandering, looking for something to latch on to for significance, to know we matter, to feel okay about ourselves. This tendency is often profoundly subtle and extremely difficult to root out. We are sinners. We are sick.

However, the far-reaching grace of the gospel calms our hearts and nestles us into the freedom of not needing to constantly measure up since Jesus measured up on our behalf. In Christ, we matter. Clothed in his righteousness, we are okay. This sweet calm is the soil in which true godliness flourishes.

Gospel-centeredness, then, funnels the gospel out to unbelievers and also into our own hearts. It acknowledges that the good news about God's grace in Christ is the supreme resource—for believers just as much for unbelievers. In other words, the gospel is a home, not a hotel. It is not only the gateway into the Christian life, but the pathway of the Christian life.

This is why Paul constantly reminds people—reminds Christian people—of the gospel (for example, Rom. 1:16–17; 1 Cor. 1:18; 15:3–4; Gal. 1:6). We move forward in discipleship not mainly through pep talks and stern warnings. We move forward when we hear afresh the strangeness of grace, relaxing our hearts and loosening our clenched hold on a litany of lesser things—financial security, the perfect spouse, career advancement, sexual pleasure, human approval, and so on.

Example: Gospel-Centered Dating

Given this context, what might be meant by "gospel-centered dating"?

Such an approach to dating remembers the fierce works-righteousness orientation of the human heart and the way we tend to build our identity on anything other than Jesus.

Gospel-centered dating wouldn't be dating that tries to share the gospel with as many dates as possible. It would be dating that refuses to build a sense of worth on whom we're dating, what they think of us, and the happiness they can provide if the relationship works out long-term. It would be letting Jesus be the one who saves us—not only from judgment before God in the future, but judgment before our dates in the present.

Dating can be truly enjoyed if we go into every evening out with a heart-sense of the gospel. If we know we are accepted and approved in Jesus, acceptance and approval by the person sitting across the table loses its ominous significance. If we know God delights in us with invincible favor and love, dates that go poorly will disappoint but not crush us. If we know that no matter what happens in a relationship we will always have Christ, and he is everything, then we are freed from having our mood dictated by dating success. And even if dates go well with someone early on, it's only a matter of time before a boyfriend or girlfriend (or spouse) will disappoint us and let us down. There's only one who never lets us down.

A gospel-centered life, in other words, is the only life that can truly be enjoyed, no matter your circumstances. Nothing can threaten our sense of worth and identity. Christ himself is our mighty and radiant friend.

Keep the Reality

There's one more thing to be said. The label "gospel-centered" is neither here nor there. There's nothing sacred about it. But the heart of what is being recovered, both in terms of worldview and in terms of growth, is vital for calm and sanity amid the ups and downs of life in a fallen world.

Every generation must rediscover the gospel for itself. "Gospel-centered" happens to be the label attached to this generation's recovery of grace. When we tire of the label, get a new one. But keep the reality.

We will be broken, messy sinners until Jesus comes again and gives us final cleansing. Until then, true shalom and fruitfulness can only be found through waking up each day, shoving back the clamoring anxieties, and defibrillating our hearts with a love that comes only to those—but to all of those—who open themselves up to it.

Editors' Note: This article originally appeared in Boundless.

Dane C. Ortlund (PhD, Wheaton College) is Senior Vice President for Bible Publishing at Crossway. He is the author of several books, including Edwards on the Christian Life: Alive to the Beauty of God, and serves as an editor for the Knowing the Bible study series. He lives with his wife, Stacey, and their four kids in Wheaton.

by Matt Tully at October 28, 2014 01:21 PM

Video: The Stories We Tell

The Stories We Tell: How TV and Movies Long for and Echo the Truth from Crossway on Vimeo.

Poking at the Human Condition

It’s often said that we tell stories to know who we are—to understand ourselves and our place in the world. It’s as though all of our stories are a way for the imagination to poke at the human condition, testing its borders and depths, looking for ways to understand the why behind the what of our lives. In his memoir, author Salman Rushdie describes how his father told him old folk tales and legends, teaching him that “man was the storytelling animal, the only creature on earth that told stories to understand what kind of creature it was.”

Stories help give us a sense of place. They stir our imaginations and help us to experience love, betrayal, hatred, and compassion that might be otherwise foreign. They prepare us for experiences like love, or help us process things like sorrow and suffering.

The way that we understand our lives, our relationships, our past and future is all tied up in story. Your past is not only a set of facts. It’s also a story you tell. “I was born here, I grew up here, I married there, we had our children then, and we watched them grow up.”

Your future, too, is a story, but it isn’t built upon memory. It’s a story of anticipation—hopes or fears that seem imminent and likely. “I’ll go here, I’ll do this, I’ll try that.”

Even your fantasy life, the daydreams into which you wander, is a story you tell. We drift off, playing out visions of winning the lottery, telling off our boss, fulfilling our loves or lusts, making things right with broken relationships, or escaping from the circumstances of the much less glamorous reality in which we live.

Stories both entertain and educate, occupying the mind and forming it at the same time. Uncle Tom’s Cabin stirred the compassion of a populace, turning its conscience against the institution of slavery. It was also a gripping narrative, pulling the reader along in a story that one felt desperate to resolve.

Evolutionary theorists have tried to make sense of the brain’s capacity for (and gravity toward) storytelling and fiction. Possessing a worldview that understands life through the lenses of natural selection and biological purpose, they wonder why so much human energy goes toward making up and retelling stories. Why imagination? Why fiction? Why day-dreams and oral traditions? Why is so much biological energy dedicated to the storytelling organ in our heads?

Some theorize that we evolved a capacity to imagine in order to plan for feeding, hunting, and mating, and that once the capacity evolved, we started using imagination for stories as a side effect. Others theorize that storytelling is like the feathers of a peacock—something developed to help attract mates.

It seems to me that the answer is much more simple: we were made in the image of a storytelling God.

Storytelling in the Image of God

All human creativity is an echo of God’s creativity. When God makes man, he forms him in the dirt, breathes life into him, and sends him out in the world (Genesis 2). We’ve been playing in the dirt ever since. Just as God took something he’d made, shaped it, breathed life and meaning into it, and transformed it into something new, so we set about our own business, taking creation, shaping it, and giving it new meaning and purpose. Clay becomes sculpture. Trees become houses. Sounds are arranged in time to become music. Oils, pigments, and canvas are arranged to become paintings. Various metals, glass, and petroleum products become iPhones.

The same is true of stories. There is nothing new under the sun, and our stories—no matter how fresh and new they might feel—are all a way of “playing in the dirt,” wrestling with creation, reimagining it, working with it, and making it new. Our stories have a way of fitting into the bigger story of redemption that overshadows all of life and all of history. Because that bigger story is the dirt box in which all the other stories play.

The storyteller’s raw material is the stuff of ordinary, everyday life: relationships, conflicts, love, loss, and suffering. Behind that raw material is the bigger picture of which we’re participants. We live in a world that was meant for glory, but is now tragically broken. We hunger for redemption, and we seek it in a myriad of ways.

And so we tell stories that reveal the deep longing of the human heart for redemption from sin, for a life that’s meaningful, for love that lasts. We tell stories about warriors overcoming impossible odds to save the world. Stories about how true love can make the soul feel complete. Stories about horrific, prowling villains carrying out a reign of terror, only to be vanquished by an unexpected hero. Stories about friendships that don’t fall apart. Stories about marriages that last. Stories about life, death, and resurrection.

We tell other stories, too. The world is like a faded beauty who looks in the mirror remembering her youth, mourning the long-gone glory of Eden. She is now battered and scarred, not merely by age, but by tragedy, war, and defeat. She feels all too heavily how far she’s fallen, and in her sadness she tells mournful tales of glory lost. Of heroes who fail and unravel. Of sin and consequences. Of evil that triumphs and prowls. Of darkness that swallows all who draw near.

This excerpt was adapted from The Stories We Tell: How TV and Movies Long for and Echo the Truth by Mike Cosper.

Mike Cosper is one of the founding pastors of Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, Kentucky, where he serves as the pastor of worship and arts. He is the founder of Sojourn Music and contributes regularly to the Gospel Coalition blog, where he writes about worship and culture. He is the author of Rhythms of Grace and The Stories We Tell and coauthor of Faithmapping.

by Matt Tully at October 28, 2014 01:16 PM

ESV Mobile Apps Updated for iOS

NOTE: We've heard reports that some users are experiencing crashes with the ESV Study Bible + app. We're currently looking into the issue and will release an updated version as soon as possible. If you are experiencing crashes, please DO NOT delete the app from your iOS device as this may result in a loss of your personal data (notes, highlights, etc.). Finally, we'd love to take a look at your crash log, which will help us pinpoint the problem more quickly.

ESV Mobile App Updates Now Available for iOS

Today we’re pleased to announce updates for the ESV Bible and ESV Study Bible + mobile apps for iOS. Now fully compatible with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, these apps feature the most recent design for iPad users and support syncing with your free account.

Android Users: Please know we’re currently beta testing updates to our ESV Bible Android app and expect to release a new version soon. We appreciate your continued patience and support.

ESV Study Bible +

iOS, $14.99

What’s New

  • All new design for iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad
  • Updated app icons
  • Syncing of My Notes, Highlights, and Favorites with
  • Updated for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus
  • Various bug fixes and improvements

Learn More

ESV Bible

iOS, Free

What’s New

  • Updated for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus
  • All new design for iPad

Bug Fixes

  • Miscellaneous content fixes and audio feedback fixes (
  • Minor fixes to audio playback w/omitted verses (e.g. Mark 7:16)
  • Minor fix related to highlighting
  • Clicking on any menu button (ESV, Bible, or Search) fades in and out at consistent speeds

Learn More

by Lizzy Jeffers at October 28, 2014 01:13 PM

The Art of Non-Conformity

Moving Your Family to Central America for 18 Months : On the Road with Annabel Candy

This is a traveler case study. (Read others or nominate yourself.)

A popular travel blogger, Annabel Candy’s talents extend far beyond putting text to screen. When I heard about some of her adventures with her family, I wanted to share some of her tales of living abroad with three kids.

Tell us about yourself.  

I sometimes describe myself a slow nomad because I’ve lived and worked in eight different countries. When you speak with me you can tell I’m from the UK because I still have a British accent. However for the last few decades, I’ve lived in England, France, Laos, Zimbabwe, the USA (twice), New Zealand, Costa Rica and now I’m in Australia.


What inspired you to leave home and travel?

My twin passions have always been writing and traveling, so I devoted my life to them. Now I have two passports (British and New Zealand) which comes in handy for travel.

Simple things about travel give me great pleasure: meeting new people and visiting naturally beautiful spots is all it takes for me to be happy.  I’m also mad about wildlife and bird spotting although I have three children so when we go on a bush walk most animals run away a mile before we show up – we’re not exactly a quiet bunch!

Can you tell us a story about living abroad with your kids?

When our children were aged two, five and eight, my husband and I sold our business, home and most of our other belongings and moved to Central America. The kid weren’t very impressed when we sold their toys in a series of garage sales and it was scary for them – and us! – moving somewhere we’d never been before, with a language we didn’t speak, and no work lined up. But we ended up having an amazing 18 month family adventure and living in Costa Rica.

Our idea in choosing Central America was that our kids would become bilingual,  and we wanted to enjoy the wildlife with them. We imagined seeing toucans and monkeys now and then on jungle walks…but it turned out to be way wilder than that.

We literally were living in the jungle and the wildlife was everywhere. There were toucans in our garden every day along with monkeys, pizote and goanna. Over the course of that year we dealt with a huge tarantula on our patio, a sloth that needed help crossing the road, a highly venomous fer-de-lance snake in our swimming pool and more. We even had wildlife inside our house including scorpions nesting under the fridge, hummingbirds which got stuck in our bedroom and a bat which got stuck a lot of places.

One morning my son came into my room and said:

“Mommy, there are two bats in my bedroom!”

“Don’t be silly!” I said confidently and went to inspect. Sure enough there were two fruit bats swooping around in his room.

I went outside to look for a way to chase them out and when I came back in one of them had flown away and the other was somehow stuck down the toilet. It couldn’t get out because the edge of the toilet bowl was too slippery for it to grip!  I got a flipper from by the pool and dunked that in the toilet. The bat climbed on to the flipper, hung on tight and then I carried it outside to a tree. It was soon hanging upside down drip drying and recovering from its little escapade. So now I can add bat rescue to my skill-set.

Seriously though, when you don’t have a TV, Internet or a phone, your family really makes their own fun and you can find things of interest and learning opportunities all around you, or even inside you.


How do you save for your trips?

Well this is boring, but the truth is that we work hard and save every penny for travel. We don’t drive flashy cars or spend much on eating out, clothes and day-to-day expenses because we want to be able to travel as much as we can.

The great debate: aisle or window:

Window of course!

Have you learned anything from your time abroad?

When you travel you see the best and worst of people but I’m still constantly amazed by how far the best goes.

In Panama we visited Bocas del Toro, a small island on the Caribbean coast, and decided we wanted to stay there for a month. Finding a house to rent was hard, but eventually word spread about the gringo family looking for a temporary home (that was us!) and we were soon holed up in an amazing over-the-water-pole-house totally surrounded by water, wildlife and locals who invited us to parties, on boat trips, and into their homes.


Have you met anyone interesting?

Have I ever! I met my own husband when travelling too and I think he’s quite interesting. He was brought up in Kenya but we met in Egypt after I’d run away from a kibbutz in Israel. I was living on a shoestring, weaving friendship bands on the beach by the Red Sea. They must have been pretty powerful friendship bands because we’ve been together 23 years now.

Best travel tips. Go:

1. Meet the locals – and hang out with them.

Talk to everyone including shopkeepers, taxi drivers and waiters. If you’re not in a hurry and you ask for travel tips, it’s amazing what invitations they’ll throw your way.

2. Make an effort to learn how to say a few basic phrases.

Even if you don’t speak the language, people will love you for it. It’s amazing how you can form bonds with people and how much you can share and learn about people through sign language, gestures, and body language

3. Eat the street food  - wisely.

Always choose the place with the longest line to make sure you get the best quality—and tasting!—food. You might even make some new friends while you’re standing in line

Where are you headed next?

Our family is planning a trip to Tasmania over our long summer holidays because we want to see a wombat, a quoll and maybe even a Tasmanian devil in the wild!

Follow Annabel and her family’s journey on her site, Get in the Hot Spot, or via Twitter @AnnabelCandy.  


by Chris Guillebeau at October 28, 2014 12:18 PM


WiFiScanner: Wonderfully geeky

I know this is foolish, but I love tools that have a lot of glitter and dash, even if I haven’t a single clue how to use them.

WiFiScanner is a program that apparently last saw updates way back in 2008, but still compiled for me in Arch, and with a little prodding, worked well:


The trick for me was to use the -C flag to specify the driver for my card, and to make sure the terminal was large enough. WiFiScanner wants plenty of space. :roll:

But I’m willing to coddle it this time, because the results were wonderfully geeky. Lots of flashing numbers, lots of data readouts spinning past in a blaze, little animated graphs, tons of statistics all ticking upward more and more. …

Of course, I haven’t a clue what it all means, but it’s great fun to watch.

I shouldn’t act so naive; I can read enough from the home page to know that WiFiScanner is a tool for … ahem, testing the security of wireless networks, and perhaps if I was more of a security geek, I’d know exactly what to do with all that information.

I can only think of one complaint about WiFiScanner, and that’s because I don’t know enough of how to use it that I might have real suggestions. Here’s my one complaint: The H key shows a help menu, but it’s interspersed with the flow of data in the lower half of the screen. So it zips off the display within seconds. That’s hardly helpful. :(

If you really want to get your hands dirty with WiFiScanner, poke around in the doc folder of the the source package. There are complete instructions on how to build this in Debian and control it once it’s up and running. Provided you know what you’re doing with it, of course.

As it is, I’m just a babe in the woods, enjoying all the flickering lights and thinking how this would freak out the technophobes in my office, and make them think I was some sort of computer genius. :D

Either that, or they’d have me arrested on some made-up hacker charge. :\

Tagged: information, network, scanner, security, wireless

by K.Mandla at October 28, 2014 12:15 PM

Zondervan Academic Blog

New Releases Today—Studies on the Go for Youth Workers

A new series for youth workers and small group leaders launched today, Studies on the Go, with two new volumes.

The purpose of the series is to give small group leaders ready-made, creative, and engaging Bible studies that will challenge people to think deeply, talk openly, and apply what they are learning to their lives. It also provides small group leaders with creative and engaging Bible study questions. Here’s a quick overview:

1) JAMES, 1-2 PETER, and 1-3 JOHN

Without skimping on depth and substance, author David Olshine has designed James, 1 & 2 Peter, and 1-3 John for the busy youth worker who lacks either the time or the information to lead a quality Bible study. Olshine has also constructed down-to-earth questions that get kids into the text and so they can hear God’s Word on a practical level. Author David Olshine is a professor and Director of the Youth Ministry, Family and Culture Department at Columbia International University. He speaks across the United States annually to thousands of youth, youth workers, and parents, which makes him ideally suited for crafting this engaging, helpful guide to the books James, 1 & 2 Peter, and 1-3 John.

James, 1-2 Peter, and 1-3 John

By David Olshine

Buy it Today:
Barnes & Noble
Buy Direct from Zondervan


Matthew will help leaders equip, push, encourage, and challenge their students to live lives devoted to our loving King—all with the goal that they would be changed. Author Laurie Polich-Short is a speaker, writer and associate pastor of Ocean Hills Covenant Church. She speaks at youth conferences, women’s conferences, colleges and churches around the country, which makes her ideal for writing a volume of the first Gospel aimed at youth workers. Her passion for helping equip small group leaders to bring life change shines through her volume of Matthew.


By Laurie Polich-Short

Buy it Today:
Barnes & Noble
Buy Direct from Zondervan

by Jeremy Bouma at October 28, 2014 12:07 PM

sacha chua :: living an awesome life

Cupcake challenge: accepted!


For the Hacklab grand re-opening party, I made 58 vegan chocolate cupcakes using about four batches of this Basic Vegan Chocolate Cupcake. Each batch called for:

  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt

mixed and baked in a 350F oven for 18-20 minutes (20 minutes at Hacklab). Once cooled, we decorated them with this Vegan Fluffy Buttercream Frosting, which called for:

  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup vegan margarine
  • 3.5 cups icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup soy milk

Fortunately, Eric had donated an electric mixer (hand), so whipping up the frosting was easy. The cupcakes were not too sweet, so the frosting was a nice balance.

I also made 12 non-chocolate, non-vegan, gluten-free cupcakes from a boxed mix, since some Hacklab members have those dietary restrictions. Eric iced those with a different recipe.

It was actually pretty fun making dozens of cupcakes. Because they’re in liners, it’s easy to make large batches of them and set them cooling on whatever surfaces are handy. I started at 4ish and spent the whole afternoon cooking. I also had fun using the simple cake decoration kit to pipe letters and icing on it, although my hands were a smidge shaky. I actually forgot to add the soy milk and extract the first time around, but I caught it after icing the first ten cupcakes with something that was mostly sugar. After I beat in the soy milk, icing was a lot easier.

We don’t really make a lot of desserts at home because we’d like to eat more healthily, but since J-‘s friends are often over, maybe I should look into making more snacks to keep around the house. Probably not chocolate cupcakes – maybe something healthier? – but it’s definitely baking season, so some kind of baked good. Then again, W- reminds me that a box of cookies on sale is pretty cheap, so we might as well use the time for other things.

I don’t quite remember making cupcakes before the party. Maybe I’ve made cupcakes before, but just forgot about it? Anyway, they’re not intimidating after all. =) And with vegan recipes, I can taste the batter a little to see if I’m on the right track!

The post Cupcake challenge: accepted! appeared first on sacha chua :: living an awesome life.

by Sacha Chua at October 28, 2014 12:00 PM


tmsu: Guten Tag!

I got an e-mail from Paul a month or so ago, asking politely if I’d look over his tmsu program. I’m glad I did; it’s one of the niftier things I’ve come across for file management in the past year or so.

tmsu is a tagging tool, and a lot more. That might not sound too impressive at first (it didn’t to me), but I’ve had it installed for the past week or so, and I’m quickly becoming addicted to it.

What’s that mean — a tagging tool? Well, no doubt you’ve seen posts on this site that have tags at the bottom; I try to add tags that are vaguely related to the content, so you (or I) can search on topic very easily. You can even enter it from the address bar, and get a list of posts on that tag.

tmsu does much the same for files, plus more. Here’s an example. I have a folder of files that are all jazz music files, in ogg format. I can tag a file with “jazz” and “music” like this.

kmandla@6m47421: ~/downloads/Revolution Void/Increase the Dosage$ ls
01 Invisible Walls.ogg       05 The Modern Divide.ogg      09 Accelerated Lifestyle.ogg
02 Factum par Fictio.ogg     06 Double the Daily Dose.ogg  10 Headphonetic.ogg
03 Habitual Ritual.ogg       07 Weekend Amnesia.ogg        11 Nebulous Notions.ogg
04 Effects of Elevation.ogg  08 Obscure Terrain.ogg

kmandla@6m47421: ~/downloads/Revolution Void/Increase the Dosage$ tmsu tag "01 Invisible Walls.ogg" music jazz

No reply from tmsu, but that just means all went well. Now I can find exact files that have that tag, just by asking tmsu.

kmandla@6m47421: ~/downloads/Revolution Void/Increase the Dosage$ tmsu files jazz
./01 Invisible Walls.ogg

tmsu knows where I am in the folder tree, and shows the location relative to that. If I move elsewhere, tmsu’s reply changes to reflect it.

tmsu can also tell me what tags are applied to a file.

kmandla@6m47421: ~$ tmsu tags downloads/Revolution\ Void/Increase\ the\ Dosage/01\ Invisible\ Walls.ogg 
excellent  jazz  music

kmandla@6m47421: ~$ 

So, what’s so great about that? Well, it means I can tag a file with anything — dates, genres, contributing artists, release date, operating system, file format, program version, codebase, first initial, creator, download site, language, subtitles, video quality, personal ratings, prices, origin — you name it. And not just music files — anything. Plus, you’re not beholden to a rating system, application or specific mark as a tag. Tag it with whatever you like, not just what id3v9.1a says is a legitimate category for an mp3 file. :roll:

Here’s a rough example, using personal ratings of excellent, very-good, good, and poor, which is just arbitrary. I’ve abbreviated the lists considerably, of course.

kmandla@6m47421: ~$ tmsu files excellent
./downloads/Revolution Void/Increase the Dosage/01 Invisible Walls.ogg
./downloads/Revolution Void/Increase the Dosage/11 Nebulous Notions.ogg

kmandla@6m47421: ~$ tmsu files poor
./downloads/Revolution Void/Let 1,000 Flowers Bloom/01 Sympathy for Mr Vertigo.ogg
./downloads/Revolution Void/Let 1,000 Flowers Bloom/28 Ye Ye Ye.ogg

Those would all show up if I asked for “jazz” or “music” too, because I added those tags as well.

Now, if that didn’t grab you, here’s where tmsu suddenly changes from mild-mannered scientist into a giant green unstoppable mountain of muscle.

tmsu can mount a folder as a virtual filesystem, and create symbolic links that point back to the original file. Take a look.

kmandla@6m47421: ~$ tmsu mount temp/

kmandla@6m47421: ~$ ls temp/
queries  tags

The tags folder is probably the most obvious one: Inside that folder are all the tags you’ve created, and links back to their target files.

kmandla@6m47421: ~$ ls temp/tags/
alternative  excellent  good  hip-hop  jazz  music  poor  rap  rock  soul  very-good

kmandla@6m47421: ~$ ls temp/tags/excellent/
01 Invisible Walls.410.ogg       05 The Modern Divide.413.ogg      09 Accelerated Lifestyle.405.ogg  music
02 Factum par Fictio.404.ogg     06 Double the Daily Dose.412.ogg  10 Headphonetic.414.ogg
03 Habitual Ritual.406.ogg       07 Weekend Amnesia.408.ogg        11 Nebulous Notions.407.ogg
04 Effects of Elevation.409.ogg  08 Obscure Terrain.411.ogg        jazz

The numbers are file IDs, and the additional tag folders — “jazz” and “music” — point back to still more links. So I can sift even further into specific sequences of tags by following the folders, and for example, find “excellent/jazz/music”. ;)

That’s pretty cool, and if you have a massive collection of music or photos to manage, it will save you gobs of time and effort. But wait, there’s more. …

That other folder, queries … what about that? Let me show you first, and then we’ll try to puzzle it through.

kmandla@6m47421: ~$ ls temp/queries

kmandla@6m47421: ~$ ls temp/queries/excellent
01 Invisible Walls.410.ogg       05 The Modern Divide.413.ogg      09 Accelerated Lifestyle.405.ogg
04 Effects of Elevation.409.ogg  08 Obscure Terrain.411.ogg

kmandla@6m47421: ~$ ls temp/queries/

I abbreviated again, as you can see. My ls command created a folder inside queries, and inside there are links to everything that matches my request. Magical, on-the-fly searching and linking.

I haven’t tried using tmsu in conjunction with many graphical programs, but I believe you could create a folder inside queries from within a file selection dialog, and get the same results. I’d be interested to see how that works.

I haven’t found many shortcomings with tmsu; it appears to be very well thought out, and behaves in a very Unixy way. My biggest stumbling block was a way to tag an entire folder of files with spaces in their names; the spaces were confusing tmsu and my use of quotes wasn’t helping matters.

In the end I solved it in a similarly Unixy way, by drafting find into service:

find downloads/Revolution\ Void/ -type f -exec tmsu tag "{}" music jazz \;

And that was more than enough to get the job done.

I only have about 8Gb of music that I keep, and I don’t have much in the way of photos except for family snapshots. tmsu has made me think about how I store those though, and made me wonder if the endless branches of folders are really helping.

I would strongly recommend experimenting with tmsu if you have large masses of files that need quicker access than through a file tree, or even just as a way of managing a flat folder of files without resorting things into subfolders. Check it out for a few minutes at least, and see if it can make things easier for you. :)

Tagged: database, file, information, search, tag

by K.Mandla at October 28, 2014 12:00 PM

Table Titans

Tales: Beginners Luck


It was our first ever home D&D campaign. My friends and I were asked by a few veteran players to join in on a 4e adventure and we were ecstatic. Just because we were happy to play, it didn't mean we were any good at it.

Our first quest was to find the nephew of the city’s King. The King…

Read more

October 28, 2014 07:00 AM

Beeminder Blog

New Feature and Veritable Paradigm Shift: Arbitrary Deadlines

A series of alarm clocks

A simple-seeming feature is now live: You can set custom deadlines on goals! Until now, you’ve had till midnight every day to make sure you’re safely on Beeminder’s yellow brick road. (Or for non-autodata goals you’ve had a grace period till 3am to get your data entered.)

As fanatic and highly akratic Beeminder users, typical evenings for us have, until now, involved scrambling to dispatch beemergencies and getting to bed much too late. Worse — and a problem that’s resistant to our usual solution of more beeminding! — is that with all the day’s deadlines at the end of the day, you can squander most of your working hours before you really hit your panic threshold.

We realized it would make a noticeable quality of life difference for us personally if we were scrambling every day to get on our roads by 5pm instead of by midnight. Even better, by picking each goal’s daily deadline you can get a pretty huge productivity boost: Get some things done before lunch, others by 5pm. Maybe fitness goals have to be done by sunset, for those of us who kept finding ourselves running around the block at 11:30 at night. Early birds may even want some things due early in the morning (though noon is the earliest for now; see Known Issues below). And of course there are many night owls who want to define their day to end at, say, 6am the next morning so they have the option to pull beemergency all-nighters as needed.

xkcd #1425

Now you may be wondering what took us so long to implement this. The reason is much less like this xkcd and more like a smallish mountain of technical debt. Though, it is more involved than it seems, as a quick glance at our technical spec may convince you.

Nitty Gritty

Night Owls vs Earlybirds

We know lots of you have been excited for this feature. Interestingly it’s for two distinct reasons: Some of you want to define your end-of-day to be the wee hours of the following morning so you can pull beemergency all-nighters. Some of you want your deadlines earlier to save your sleep schedule and/or social life.

The key thing to understand is that whatever deadline you set, Beeminder considers it to be tomorrow as soon as the deadline hits. You can still enter retroactive data, though if it’s an emergency day and the graph has already derailed then it’s too late. The data’s accepted but won’t undo the derailment. Regardless, any data timestamped after the deadline is displayed and plotted for the following day.

Akrasia-Proofing, aka, No Snooze Button

A tricky thing about choosing your deadline is preventing you from pushing the deadline back as it approaches, defeating the whole point. For now we’ve simply akrasia-proofed the field, meaning you can change your deadline but it takes a week to take effect.

Caret Confusion

Because of the 3am grace period that we’d provided for getting your manually-entered data in to your goal, there’s been a long-standing confusion about adding data after midnight and before 3am. As part of the new arbitrary deadlines feature we made all goals default to 3am for their actual deadline. That means that if you add data after midnight, you should no longer run the risk of derailing the goal. You can use a “^” to mean “today” or “right now” and it will do the correct thing (instead of remembering to use a “^^” for “yesterday”). In other words, for night owls, it’s not tomorrow until the deadline hits.

That also means that when the deadline passes it’s passed and there’s no longer gonna be a big hazy period where you maybe have time to get it done still. In short, no more loophole!

Bonus: Timestamps from the API no longer bizarrely offset

For people consuming the API, we’ve had a longstanding issue where the timestamps returned with datapoints were rather unfathomable, and often, if you’re in a timezone other then US/Eastern, completely different from what you passed in. We’ve got two improvements to offer: if you pass in a timestamp to the API, we use it as is (rather than contorting it as we previously did). We also return a daystamp — basically just the date, but taking into account the deadline and timezone of the datapoint — since from Beeminder’s perspective all we care about is the day that the datapoint counts for.

At the moment we haven’t converted timestamps from previously created datapoints — if that’s a thing you’re interested in, let us know! For the sake of tidiness we may run some updates in the coming the weeks to correct timestamps on old datapoints, or maybe that is something that should wait for a V2 of the API. And if these changes do break code you’ve already written, please let us know! We took a straw poll before releasing this and the consensus seemed to be “omg for the love of all that is holy just fix the timestamp business!” But if it does negatively affect you we’ll fix things.

Veritable Paradigm Shift?

I know, can we get over ourselves? The reason we’re so excited about this though, is that we view it as a big step closer to the holy grail of Beeminder as nannybot that tells you minute-by-minute what you should be doing. You can have deadlines staggered throughout the day so you’re satisfying the beest hour by hour all day long instead of screwing around all day and flying into a frenzy of productivity as midnight bears down. It’s the same problem Beeminder solves so beautifully at a larger timescale — forcing you to make progress day by day on long-term goals — now on a smaller timescale.

Known Issues

We came down to the wire on getting this deployed. We made an $810 bet with the daily beemail subscribers that we’d announce this in time for our big third anniversary post tomorrow, and we decided arbitrary deadlines needed its own post before that. So, here it is in the nick of time, but there are warts. That’s also why it’s tucked away in Terrifyingly Advanced Settings for now. (But by all means, put it through its paces and let us know of any other issues you find!)

Here’s what we know of at this point:

  1. You can’t currently have a deadline before noon. We’ll be changing this but for now the interface isn’t good enough to make clear the distinction between, say, a 6am earlybird deadline and a 6am night-owl deadline. I.e. all morning deadlines are of the night-owl variety.
  2. The smartphone apps may be confused about time to derailment and graph color (red, orange, blue, green) until we push new versions of them. UPDATE: Good news and bad news: we deployed a fix for the Android app which should hit Google Play in a matter of hours. (And done.) There may be a more severe bug with the iPhone app that causes crashes. Let us know if you see that! UPDATE: We’re back to just the iPhone app being confused about deadlines.
  3. Some autodata sources make this difficult by only giving us data at day granularity, which means we have to honor their notion of what the day boundary is. Or maybe we can work around it by adjusting the timezone in the external account. For now, you can only customize deadlines for non-autodata goals.
  4. Some of us are very used to the midnight/3am deadlines and we’re worried that people (including ourselves) may change deadlines and forget they’ve done so and accidentally derail. So we’re working on various ways to make the deadlines more in your face. And if you do accidentally derail because of this, definitely reply to the legit check to let us know!

by dreeves at October 28, 2014 06:50 AM

John C. Wright's Journal » John C. Wright's Journal

Who is John Galt?

I came across this statement, made blandly by an Ayn Randian:

“The essence of religion as the term is normally used is belief in the supernatural–without any proof and even despite proof to the contrary”

Unfortunately, the statement is simply and flatly wrong. It is the kind of thing a man who has never once had a serious conversation with a serious and well-read Christian would say.

I used to be an atheist for 43 years, all my adult life and most of my childhood. A day came when the supernatural intruded into my life so obviously, so vehemently, and so undeniably, that I was overwhelmed. All attempts, then or later, to explain the events in naturalistic terms, such as by positing a series of coincidences somehow coincidentally timed with various hallucinations, illnesses, recovery, prayers, internal and external sensations, prognostications, and on and on are so far fetched as to be beyond absurdity.

I believe in the supernatural for precisely the same reason I believe in the oxygen atom, even though I have never seen an oxygen atom: all alternate models of the universe are incomplete, inexact, and do not explain the facts on the ground.

Naturalistic explanations explain neither where we come from, nor what meaning life here on earth has, nor where we are going, nor why the conscience has authority to bind the will, nor how life should be lived, nor how death should be faced. They explain nothing about the human condition, not even the obvious point of why we suffer or why we love. Naturalistic explanation either end in stark absurdity, such as that men are meat robots and mind is an illusion, or end in stark inhumanity, such as that one must live and die a perfect Stoic, unflinching, unyielding, and as tearless as Buddha.

All naturalist philosophies aside from nihilism and stoicism do not end there because they are abortive, that is, the halt the philosophical process in fear of where it leads, of which Ayn Rand is a prime example. She praises all virtues as springing from reason, and reason as necessary for life, and life as the source and sole measure of value: but this admittedly elegant and admirable pagan system cannot answer the question of why one should live at all, if it is not to one’s liking? Nor does it answer what to do in situations where reason and virtue do not lead to longer or better life, such as when one soldier must decide whether to throw himself on a hand grenade and save his mates in his squad, or push a weaker squad mate atop the grenade and claim the weaker man bravely volunteered.

But let us not get too far afield. It is obvious that supernaturalism is needed to explain man, for he is not a natural beast. What is less obvious, but nonetheless a logical deduction, that supernaturalism is needed to explain nature.

Consider: the Big Bang is the starting point of time and space, matter and energy, and all the patterns of motion of matter which we call the laws of nature. There was no nature before the Big Bang. Indeed, in one sense of the word, there was no ‘before’ before the Big Bang, since to speak of what event causes time is like asking what is more north than the north pole.

However, the Big Bang was defined by something, the same way a triangle, or a law of logic, or a law of morality is defined.  A is A was not caused by the internal behavior of a star, they way oxygen atoms were created. In that sense, ‘A is A’ is not created at all. But something defines it, sets its nature, sets the boundaries on what it is and what it is not.

Likewise, here. The Big Bang was the moment before which nature was not  defined, and after which nature was defined. So, then, what defines nature?  Nature cannot define itself. It must be defined by something. That something must exist and cannot exist in nor because of nature or any natural law or natural process. By process of elimination, nature must be defined by the supernatural.

Now then,  one may disagree with this line of reasoning or not, depending on how reasonable one is willing to be. That is not my point. My point is that for an Ayn Rand acolyte, the man dismissing all religion just BLANKED OUT this line of reasoning.

He is saying I have no proof, whereas I have abundant proof. Now, a reasonable man might examine my proof and conclude that I have made an error in judgment, but he cannot say I have made an error in logic nor in legal procedure, for the simple reason that I have not.

But this man has to believe in that error of logic — that I (and all Christians) entertain believe without proof — like a child has to believe in Santa Claus. It is part of his worldview, a matter of party loyalty, not of deduction: A matter of being faithful to his dogma.

In a rather unrandian way — in direct contradiction to her stated highest value, reason — the writer simply  suspended his mode of thinking, blanked it out, and pretended that Christian belief in the supernatural came from nowhere for no reason, whereas, on the other hand, in really, any catechized Christian can give clear and even forceful reasons to explain his faith.

The word faith means trust. It means remaining true to your oaths, true to your beliefs. It means remaining true to what reason has shown you, even during moments of deep and irrational emotion that threaten to introduce doubt where doubt is not logical.

The Ayn Randian is simply pretending that the intellectual history of the West from AD a onward just does not exist, that the thinkers and philosophers and theologians and wise men, poets and prophets and sages merely did not exist, did not write, did not think thoughts.

In other words, the Ayn Randian is committing the one and only sin Ayn Rand condemns: self-deception. The writer here is falsifying reality. Indeed, he is entertaining a false to facts belief for what is fundamentally a reason of self deception.

Nor is he alone in this. John Galt is the paradigm and hero of the Ayn Randian philosophy: the allegedly perfect and perfectly rational man, the one to be imitated. In one rather telling scene, he defines himself as the man who is innocent of original sin. Conveniently for her plot, he has no weaknesses, no pity, no sins, and yields to no temptations.

Who is John Galt? He is a Houyhnhnm, a creature of pure reason.

In a perfect man, self-esteem, self-regard, egotism and selfishness are not sins, because he never places himself out of proper rational and honest relation with his fellow man, never defrauds them, never is ungrateful, never is craven, never is violent. He also has no children and suffers no disease, sickness, loss, need, loneliness, nor want, so he need never ask nor beg any man for anything, but all his human interaction, including his love life, are a fair and equal and evenhanded exchange moderated by such perfect justice that no cause for complaint exists, not even when one man alienates the affections of a desirable woman from her lover. The two men just shake hands like gentlemen after a chessgame.

Unfortunately, prelapsarian man is an much a figment of speculation and imagination as the Houyhnhnm. Self-imposed sinlessness, which is the prime axiom of the Ayn Randian system, is false to facts.

As she would put it, when asked how in her system, or her personal life, she deals with sins such as pride and adultery and betrays of loved ones  — BLANK OUT — there is no such thing.

by John C Wright at October 28, 2014 05:26 AM

The Gospel Coalition | Latest Articles

3 Reasons You Should Care About Election Day

It's the last Tuesday in October, just one week away from Election Day. I've noticed in some (not all) American Christian corners a silence about issues in the political realm. This may have to do with a few possibilities: the rejection of old-school Moral Majority hypocrisy and overreach, the rejection of Obama-as-Messiah liberalism, a distaste for corrupt government and flawed candidates, some kind of notion that secular nations like ours aren't our Christian business, or ignorance about self-rule in our country. As believers, we know that the purpose of government is not to save souls, but to "punish those who do evil and praise those who do good" (1 Pet. 2:14).

Whatever the cause of the silence, here are three reasons American Christians should be politically principled, informed, opinionated, and involved.

1. You are a ruler, and God calls kings to rule well.

There is no one king in America. You and I are kings, for we hire and fire our elected representatives. While you may not have asked for this burden, when you are an American citizen you live in country that has given its people self-rule. It follows that, as kings, Christians would seek the advice given to rulers in Scripture.

Some guidance in Scripture for rulers is direct. God has direct guidance for King Lemuel in Proverbs (Prov. 31:1–9). Lemuel is to rule soberly, justly, and fairly, looking out for those who are oppressed and those whose rights are being stolen. The proverbs have many statements about kings: they take pleasure in honesty, they appreciate skilled labor, they mete out justice.

Some guidance in Scripture is by example. The king of Ninevah (a non-Jewish king of a non-Jewish people) was a king who did well. He repents of his moral sins, and he legislates that his people repent as well, thereby saving them from destruction. Again, these were not Israelites (Jonah 3:7–10). For another example, in the New Testament Paul calls on believers to pray for rulers, that they would help us live peaceful and quiet lives, that we might be "godly and dignified in every way" (1 Tim. 2:1–4). It would follow that Christians would wish to rule in such a way that those prayers are answered.

2. You are a Christian, and God calls you to love well.

Christ calls us to love our neighbor. It is the second half of his summation of all the law and the prophets (Matt. 22:34–40). Christian, do you love your neighbor? If you do, you will care about the types of laws he lives under. You will care about the just, merciful, and sensible implementation of such laws, too, for these things affect your neighbor. You will keenly study and deduce the things your elected officials wish to reward and encourage, and that which they wish to punish or discourage, and you will vote accordingly. These things affect your neighbor.

You will keenly study and deduce which policies work, and which are well-intentioned yet bound to fail. They affect your neighbor, and you love her. You will weigh a flawed candidate with sensible policies that achieve good things for your country and culture—against another flawed candidate with well-intentioned but foolish or destructive policies.

You will need to think philosophically about the human condition, and weigh the two parties and their approach to legislation, and you will decide which party has more sensible and upright policies. You will need to be shrewd about propaganda, false narratives, cover-ups, and the like, and you will need to learn from history. Because you love your neighbor.

You will do this because in your city, county, state, and country the crime rate, education, educational freedom, corruption, defense, and how the international community treats your countrymen—to name a few issues—matter to your neighbors. And you love them.

Christian, you love your neighbor, even—especially—the tiniest ones. I am speaking of our neighbors in utero who deserve the right to live. May I submit that you consider these—your smallest, weakest neighbors—when you weigh candidates and legislation?

3. You have the Word, and you already know 'it's complicated.'

As a child of God, you hold in your hands the book that thoroughly explains the human condition. Again, whether you like it or not, to whom much is given much shall be required. By describing life, humanity, family, community, and kingdoms, the Bible is relevant to people living in every possible "-archy" and "-ism." Its message is eminently applicable to image-bearers living in monarchies, oligarchies, aristocracies, kleptocracies, and democracies, and under fascism, communism, and socialism. It's relevant because government is about people, and the Bible is the definitive, inerrant story of God and humanity.

And it's yours. It's in your hands.

The Bible teaches us about human nature and experience, how we thrive, and what brings out the best and the worst in us. It describes how true oppression looks and what true human rights and duties we ought to pursue. Of course human candidates, parties, and platforms are not perfect. Far be it from any believer to be surprised by sin, corruption, or imperfection. But somehow we still scorn and turn away from a system made up of flawed people. What did we expect? As Americans, we can turn away from brokenness in our culture, government, and systems. We can reject "those people and their government" and God's call on us as rulers and Christians, because we cannot find the flawless candidate or party or legislation. We can hunker down in our "Christian ghetto.” 

As Christians, however, we are called to turn toward our neighbors. We are called to live in this world and engage our communities and love those around us. We can do this by exercising the gift of self-rule wisely, shrewdly. As Christ's regents, we can support sensible candidates and policies to help bring about freedom and quiet living rather than oppression, here in our little 21st-century kingdom called America.

by Anne Chamberlin at October 28, 2014 05:01 AM

Your Most Ordinary Life Now

Epic. Crazy. Radical. Extreme.

Much of what we read these days summons us to The Next Big Thing. If nothing else, observes Michael Horton, one thing is obvious: no one wants to be ordinary.

In his new book, Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World (Zondervan), Horton calls Christians back to the simplicity of walking with Christ, in the fellowship of his church, for the good of the world. Rather than constantly seeking out the next world-changing craze—#hashtags and all—he urges us to be content with quiet, habitual, step-by-step faithfulness. 

I recently corresponded with Horton, professor of systematic theology and apologetics at Westminster Theological Seminary in California, about fear of boredom, whether it’s wrong to want to do big things for God, and more.

In what ways does fear of boredom drive the appeal of “radical faith”?
 Why are we so terrified of ordinary, day-to-day life?

A lot of the goals of “radical faith” are right and well-motivated. But they can burn us out and distract us from long-term faithfulness.

In many ways, American revivalism helped to create our culture’s obsession with “The Next Big Thing.” It’s the “Big Bang” approach that starts with the expectation that every conversion will be huge, immediate, and measurable. And if the ordinary means of grace invented by Christ are too slow and unimpressive, we’ll come up with some of our own. Every few years now there seems to be a new bandwagon for changing ourselves, our churches, or our world. “Everything must change.” Let’s “reboot Christianity.” It’s the vision of “a new kind of Christian.” It can happen in Reformed circles, too, when being “restless” keeps us from putting down roots, listening patiently to each other—and to the saints who have gone before us.

When I’m rebooting and revolutionizing, I’m in charge. I don’t have to submit myself to the triune God and his church, in the week-in and week-out duties of becoming a disciple. Like the gospel, a duty is something that comes to me from outside of myself: the stranger who needs a jacket or my wife needing to be truly heard on a point. I don’t choose my duties; they choose me. So I run from this threat to my autonomy, to freely chosen movements and causes that I can join and unjoin, people I can “friend” or “unfriend” as I please. 

“In many ways, it’s more fun to be part of movements than churches,” you write. “We can be anonymous. Yet this movement mentality keeps us restless and makes ordinary life in and submission to an actual church seem intolerably confining. And terribly ordinary.” I love that observation. Why should believers do what feels counterintuitive, perhaps even counterproductive, by prioritizing what can seem routine and confining above what seems remarkable and exhilarating?

As we saw with the Arab Spring, it’s easier to be a revolutionary in the square than it is to help build a stable government. It’s easy to be young and restless; it’s the “Reformed” part that’s hard. As sheep and shepherds, it can be hard to leave an exhilarating conference and go back to belonging to the regular gathering of the saints for the Word, the sacraments, confession of sin and of faith, the prayers, and psalms and hymns that over time “make the word of Christ dwell in [us] richly” (Col. 3:16). 

In Ordinary I invite folks to divide a sheet of paper, placing the things that they value most on right side and the more trivial things on the left. Notice how many things on the right side take time, growth, expertise, and a lot of help from others. Becoming a maturing disciple of Christ is going to be rough. It’s not being revolutionary, but ordinary, that is truly countercultural.   

In what ways does evangelical subculture promote a “Next Big Thing” mentality? Is there something unhealthy or unChristian about seeking to do big things for God?

Jonathan Edwards thought that revivals were seasons of God’s surprising blessing of his ordinary means of grace. Stick to the ordinary means of grace and God may send a revival if he chooses, but he’ll work through these means regardless. That view was short-lived. Placing salvation in the hands of the rugged individual—and clever evangelist—American revivalism came increasingly to pit the ordinary means of grace in ordinary churches against whatever “new measures” deemed most likely “to induce sinners to repentance” (Finney). Instead of growing like a garden, we wanted to grow like a forest fire. A revival could be planned for a specific date, advertised, and staged. The ordinary means of grace are “churchianity” over against the spontaneous ecstasy of the extraordinary event.

Nobody should feel ashamed of doing big things! But God has done the big thing for us and will perfect it when Christ returns in glory. He’s the giver, we’re on the receiving end: I will build my church. . . . Fear not, little flock, for it is the Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. . . . Since we are receiving a kingdom, let us worship with reverence and awe—on and on we could go with Bible verses. God may choose to do big things for others through us. Regardless, he gives us a bunch of little things to do. Daily faithfulness in those callings may turn out to have big results, but are we still engaged if we don’t see them? Is it about us after all? 

How can we work to prevent calls to “embrace the ordinary” from becoming covers for mediocrity or passivity?

This is very, very important—which is why I give so much space to it. It’s the caring that counts; restless striving for the next adrenaline rush makes us sloppy. Ask anyone proficient in something—a sport, a hobby, business, medicine, making violins, raising children—how they went from good to great, and what will they tell you? It was caring about the countless (seemingly insignificant) details. It was going to the gym when you didn’t want to, keeping the eye on the prize; it was saying no to something you really wanted to do so you could be there for the kids’ soccer game. Patience, attentiveness—basically, caring. That’s what it takes. We do in fact care about a lot of things—that we just so happen to be sort of good at doing. It’s okay to be a little bored by the routine. And what’s more, it’s about what God is doing through these routines over the years.

What’s wrong with the common question, “How was church today?"

Belonging to the body of Christ, being exposed regularly to the means of grace and to the communion of saints, is radically life-changing. But that process can’t usually be measured in days, weeks, and months. We have to simply believe God’s promise. It’s easy to burn out when we expect every public service or daily time with the Lord to be earth-shattering. And just when it becomes ordinary, we back off because we don’t want it to become “routine.” But that’s just the point: it’s good to have routines that we stick to regardless of the fireworks. Again, I think of analogies: “How was your marriage today?” “How was your workout?” Most of the time, it’s “fine.” You can’t have revolutions every day or there wouldn’t be steady growth. Pastors, too, can burn out when every “worship experience” has to be phenomenal. All of this frenetic activity is, ironically, weakening sanctification, keeping our roots shallow, and making us dependent on “super apostles”—the ministers and their gifts instead of Christ’s gift-giving through his ministry.

It’s certainly true that the ordinary means of grace are the ordinary way God works. But if we’re going to reach every unreached people group with the gospel, won’t it require radical sacrifices as some pursue a very non-ordinary path to reach the nations for Christ, even as they still employ the ordinary means of grace while doing so?

All of us are called to be faithful in our many callings, to put God’s glory and the good of others before our own comfort. Changing diapers may not be as exciting as changing the world, but marriage and raising children require a lot of personal sacrifices. We need millions of Christians around the world dedicated to the routines of family and public worship—and to all of the others in between. But if you look at the stats, we’re losing the reached more than we’re reaching the lost. 

Some are called to be foreign missionaries. Some never married, not because they wanted to be revolutionaries, but because their missionary calling took precedence and God used them remarkably. Others accomplished truly extraordinary feats on the field, but neglected their calling to their family. William Carey, the father of modern missions, didn’t know how to care for a wife with depression who couldn’t take being uprooted so many times. He neglected his children’s spiritual and temporal welfare. We all know similar stories of missionary kids and pastor’s kids. I’ve experienced those powerful tensions in my own heart. We have different callings to juggle every day—and it’s in those everyday decisions where it’s easy to use the ministry—“doing great things for God”—as a way to escape our callings to our closest neighbors.

Bottom line: many of those who made the biggest difference did so over a long period of time, with a mix of successes and disappointments. The great majority of missionary heroes are those whose names we’ll never know. And even with those whose name we remember, the common ingredient was caring for daily tasks and routines. They all add up!

by Matt Smethurst at October 28, 2014 05:01 AM

One Trait that Set Apart the Earliest Christians

In the first century, while Christianity was still in its infancy, the Greco-Roman world paid little attention. For the most part, the early Christian movement was seen as something still underneath the Jewish umbrella.

But in the second century, as Christianity emerged with a distinctive religious identity, the surrounding pagan culture began to take notice. And it didn’t like what it saw. Christians were seen as strange and superstitious—a peculiar religious movement that undermined the norms of decent society. Christians were, well, different.

So what was so different about Christians compared to the surrounding Greco-Roman culture? One distinctive trait was that Christians would not pay homage to the other “gods” (see my earlier article on this subject). This was a constant irritant to those governing officials who preferred to see the pagan temples filled with loyal worshipers (temples earned a good deal of money from the tributes they collected).

But there was a second trait that separated Christians from the pagan culture: their sexual ethic. While it was not unusual for Roman citizens to have multiple sexual partners, homosexual encounters, and engagement with temple prostitutes, Christians stood out precisely because they refused to engage in these practices.

For instance, Tertullian went to great lengths to defend the legitimacy of Christianity by pointing out that Christians are generous and share their resources with all those in need. But then he said, “One in mind and soul, we do not hesitate to share our earthly goods with one another. All things are common among us but our wives” (Apol. 39). Why did he say this? Because, in the Greco-Roman world, people sometimes shared their spouses with each other.

In the second-century Epistle to Diognetus, the author went out of his way to declare that Christians are normal in regard to what they wear, what they eat, and how they participate in society.  However, he then said, “[Christians] share their meals, but not their sexual partners” (Diogn. 5.7). Again, this trait made Christians different.

We see this dictinction play out again in the second-century Apology of Aristides. Aristides defended the legitimacy of the Christian faith to the emperor Hadrian by pointing out how Christians “do not commit adultery nor fornication” and “their men keep themselves from every unlawful union.”

A final example comes from the second-century apology of Minucius Felix. In his defense to Octavius, he contrasted the sexual ethic of the pagan world with that of Christians:

Among the Persians, a promiscuous association between sons and mothers is allowed. Marriages with sisters are legitimate among the Egyptians and in Athens. Your records and your tragedies, which you both read and hear with pleasure, glory in incests: thus also you worship incestuous gods, who have intercourse with mothers, with daughters, with sisters. With reason, therefore, is incest frequently detected among you, and is continually permitted. Miserable men, you may even, without knowing it, rush into what is unlawful: since you scatter your lusts promiscuously, since you everywhere beget children, since you frequently expose even those who are born at home to the mercy of others, it is inevitable that you must come back to your own children, and stray to your own offspring. Thus you continue the story of incest, even although you have no consciousness of your crime. But we maintain our modesty not in appearance, but in our heart we gladly abide by the bond of a single marriage; in the desire of procreating, we know either one wife, or none at all.

This sampling of texts from the second century demonstrates that one of the main ways that Christians stood out from their surrounding culture was their distinctive sexual behavior. Of course, this doesn’t mean Christians were perfect in this regard. No doubt, many Christians committed sexual sins. But Christianity as a whole was still committed to striving towards the sexual ethic laid out in Scripture–and the world took notice.

Needless to say, this history has tremendous implications for Christians in the modern day. We are reminded again that what we are experiencing in the present is not new—Christians battled an over-sexed culture as early as the first and second century. But it is also a reminder why Christians must not go along with the ever-changing sexual norms of our world. To do so would not only violate the clear teachings of Scripture, but it would also rob us of one of our greatest witnessing opportunities. In as much as marriage reflects Christ’s love for the church, Christians’ commitment to marriage is a means of proclaiming that love.

In the end, Christianity triumphed in its early Greco-Roman context not because it was the same as the surrounding pagan culture, but because it was different.

Michael Krueger will address the topic "How Do We Know the Bible Is God’s Word? Recovering the Doctrine of a Self-Authenticating Scripture" at The Gospel Coalition 2015 National Conference, April 13 to 15 in Orlando. Register today!

by Michael J. Kruger at October 28, 2014 05:01 AM

CrossFit Naptown

FIT Class

at NapTown Fitness 10/28

1 mile run
5 minutes rest
800 m run
4 minutes rest
500 m run
3 minutes rest
250 m sprint
2 minutes rest
50 m sprint

by Peter at October 28, 2014 03:03 AM


Lurong People Remember you may want to rest today to prepare for Lurong tomorrow.
Reminder the Yoga schedule and FIT class schedule at the new space has been updated.

@PracticeIndie Yoga is now at 6am, Noon, and 6:15pm
@NapTowFitness Fit is now at 7:15am, 11:45am, 4:15pm, 5:15pm, 6:15pm

Today’s Workout

Diane (11min cap) 

Dead lift (225/155)

5 min to establish a max set of unbroken double unders <—Gym record is around 314 reps.

old Diane links:

Rest vs Recovery




Dan Bailey World Record Diane, I am not saying these are all great reps, but fun to watch.

by Coach Jared at October 28, 2014 03:00 AM

John C. Wright's Journal » John C. Wright's Journal

Beating Golden Compass Like A Dirty Rug

My beautiful and talented wife and accomplice is outselling Pullman’s rotted book. Hoo-hah!

I vaunt. I jig with unseemly glee, making antic gyrations of my knees as I do so.



by John C Wright at October 28, 2014 02:16 AM

The Frailest Thing

Reading Frankenstein: Walton’s Letters

The first thing to note about Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is the full title: Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus. The second thing to note is the line from Paradise Lost that Shelley chose as the epigraph for her story:

“Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay
To mould Me man? Did I solicit thee
From darkness to promote me?–
(X. 743-5)

Together they tell us a good bit about what to expect in what follows and what we should make of it. The allusion to Prometheus seems rather straightforward. The Greek Titan is remembered chiefly for stealing fire from the heavens and sharing it earthbound mortals. For this he was later punished by Zeus by being bound to a mountain while an eagle perpetually fed upon his liver. This story suggests the modern usage of the adjective promethean, a brash transgression of limits and boundaries, often by technical means. For some, the adjective is a compliment. It signals the daring ambition of the human spirit that refuses to accept seemingly arbitrary natural limitations. To others, it is synonym for hubris, a blinding arrogance that leads to disaster. It’s my sense from previous readings that Shelley wants us to feel the compelling force of both attitudes. We’ll see if this reading bears out that sense.

Interestingly, there is a lesser known storyline associated with Prometheus that became more prominent in late antiquity, perhaps for its affinity with the biblical account of the creation of Adam. In this account, Prometheus brings human beings to life by animating figures of clay. Later still, the two storylines are blended so that it is by the fire he steals from the gods that Prometheus animates humanity. And all of this fit rather nicely with contemporary theories that suggested that electricity was, quite literally, the spark of life.

Milton’s Paradise Lost is the biblical story of the Creation and Fall recast in epic scale. As we’ll see, the book plays a pivotal role in the Monster’s coming to self-consciousness, and, formed by Frankenstein and cast out by the same, he identifies with both Adam and Satan. The relationship between Frankenstein and his creature, of course, invites us to consider the relationship between Frankenstein and his Maker. In one sense, it will be the Monster who strikes a promethean note in his indignation against the injustice of his creator.

Moving on to the story itself, we are first greeted with a series of four letters written by an intrepid explorer named R. Walton to his sister Margaret. The first letter is written from St. Petersburgh, where Walton is preparing to embark upon a journey to North Pole, and aims chiefly to dispel his sister’s fears. But it also tells us a good bit about Walton’s motives. “I try in vain,” he writes, “to be persuaded that the pole is the seat of frost and desolation; it ever presents itself to my imagination as the region of beauty and delight.” Later on he asks rhetorically and ecstatically, “What may not be expected in a country of eternal light?” Shelley’s characters are nothing if not passionate.

A little further on we encounter the first mention of an important motive force in the novel: curiosity. “I shall satiate my ardent curiosity,” Walton declares, “with the sight of a part of the world never before visited, and may tread a land never before imprinted by the foot of man.” We would be right, of course, already to suspect that Shelley intends for us to pick up an obvious affinity between Walton and Frankenstein. The connection is made explicit by Frankenstein himself in the Walton’s fourth letter.

Curiosity is not the only important theme introduced in this first letter, however. Walton is the first of several characters to tell us about the books that, read in childhood, constituted their education and thereby set the trajectory of their life. In Walton’s case, they were books found in his uncle’s house telling heroic stories of nautical exploration. These inspired his childhood dreams, but for a time these dreams were superseded by a flirtation with poetry. But failing at that, and having inherited a fortune, Walton returns to his childhood ambition. At the end of the first letter, he is preparing to depart for his next stop, Archangel, from where he will put his expedition together.

The second letter sounds the theme of loneliness and friendship. Three months have elapsed and Walton complains, “I have no friend, Margaret: when I am glowing with the enthusiasm of success, there will be none to participate my joy; if I am assailed by disappointment, no one will endeavor to sustain me in dejection.” This dual theme of loneliness and friendship will recur throughout the novel, most pronouncedly in the Monster’s narrative. The Monster, we will see, is troubled principally by a profound loneliness that animates his actions and engenders our sympathies.

It’s also worth noting this line from Walton: “I greatly need a friend who would have sense enough not to despise me as romantic, and affection enough for me to endeavor to regulate my mind.” This introduces, vaguely, the idea that we need others to somehow reign in the more developed tendencies in our own nature. Or, alternatively, that there are certain tendencies which can come to dominate a personality that somehow need to be checked. We’ll come back to this in the next post.

After telling his sister about his lieutenant, Walton tells of another crew member who fell in love with and was engaged to be married to a woman who later admitted that she loved another man. This man, however, was too poor to meet with her father’s approval. The man proceeded to purchase an estate for the would-be couple and convinced the father to allow the marriage. Interestingly, Walton notes that this man of heroic virtue and selflessness is also “wholly uneducated: he is as silent as a Turk, and a kind of ignorant carelessness attends him.” I’m curious to see this time around if Shelley intends some sort of association between virtue and the absence of certain kinds of education.

On a similar note, the second letter also alludes to Coleridge’s “Rime of the Ancient Mariner.” To it Walton attributes his “attachment” and “passionate enthusiasm” for the “dangerous mysteries” of the ocean. This leads Walton to the following acknowledgement: “There is something at work in my soul, which I do not understand.” He is a practical man, but there is another force, a love for the “marvelous,” that also drives him. The influence of poets and scientists strive against one another in Shelley’s characters.

The third letter, written four months later, is brief and it serves chiefly to assure Margaret that all is well. Not only this, but Walton promises that he will not act rashly. Rather, he will be “cool, persevering, and prudent.” But he is certain of triumph: “What can stop the determined heart and resolved will of man?” What indeed?

The fourth letter is written over the course of three separate days within the span of a week. It is here that we are first meet the Monster and Frankenstein. Walton’s ship had sailed and found itself trapped by sheets of ice. One morning, after the fog cleared, the crew spots a gargantuan man-like figure driving a sled across the ice. The next morning Walton comes up to the deck of the ship to witness his crew talking to someone outside the ship. It is Frankenstein and he is a shell of man. He is searching for the Monster, although the crew doesn’t know it as such, and he agrees to come aboard only when Walton informs him that the ship is intending to proceed northward.

Quickly, Walton perceives in Frankenstein a kindred spirit: “For my own part, I begin to love him as a brother; and his constant and deep grief fills me with sympathy and compassion.” As Frankenstein recuperates, the two talk at greater length and depth. Walton tells Frankenstein of the ambition that drives his expedition. “One man’s life or death were but a small price to pay,” Walton declares, “fort he acquirement of the knowledge which I sought; for the dominion I should acquire and transmit over the elemental foes of our race.” Here was a man sold on the Baconian vision of knowledge as power for the relief of the human condition of subjection to nature and its forces.

But this declaration elicits a strong response from Frankenstein: “Unhappy man! Do you share my madness? Have you drank also of the intoxicating draught? Hear me,–let me reveal my tale, and you will dash the cup from your lips!” Frankenstein sees something of himself in Walton, and this eventually convinces him to lay aside his scruples about sharing his story.

First, however, Frankenstein asks Walton to share his own life story, which Walton tells us he proceeded to do. But Walton sums up what he relayed simply by expressing his “desire of finding a friend.” Frankenstein agrees with Walton. “We are unfashioned creatures,” he explains, “but half made up, if one wiser, better, dearer than ourselves [...] do not lend his aid to perfectionate our weak and faulty natures.” Frankenstein tells Walton that he once had such a friend, but now he “has lost everything.”

Wrapping up the second entry of the fourth letter, Walton comments on Frankenstein’s love of nature: “no one can feel more deeply than he does the beauties of nature.” We’ll want to remember that comment later on in the book. It seems pretty clear that Shelley is interested in distinguishing a romantic sensibility that is content to appreciate the beauties of nature from the curiosity and pursuit of knowledge expressed by Walton.

In the last entry of the fourth letter, Walton relates Frankenstein’s decision to convey his story to Walton in the hope that Walton will “deduce an apt moral ” from it. “You seek for knowledge and wisdom as I once did,” Frankenstein begins, “and I ardently hope that gratification of your wishes may not be a serpent to sting you, as mine has been.” Interestingly, he goes on to characterize the “apt moral” as one that will “direct” Walton if he succeeds and “console” him if he should fail. Interesting because we might have expected that Frankenstein would wish to turn Walton back from his endeavor, but this seems not to be the case.

Frankenstein goes on to explain that he waits “but for one event, and then I shall repose in peace,” and he assures Walton that nothing can alter his destiny, it is “irrevocably determined.” Walton concludes the letter by telling his sister that he will make a careful record of Frankenstein’s story. With that the letters conclude and we enter upon the first chapter in which Frankenstein assumes the role of narrator.

Framing her story with Walton’s letters and later handing off the role of the narrator to Frankenstein and the Monster in turn allows the reader to experience the events under consideration from competing vantage points. It invites us to inhabit the world of the story through the subjectivity of both Frankenstein and the Monster, and including Walton’s perspective invites us to relativize both of their perspectives.

The letters also suggest the multiplicity of threads that Shelley weaves together. This is not simply the story of a mad scientist, nor is it simply a story about technology turning against its maker. It is a story about the various competing motives forces that together animate individuals and, more generally, human culture. It is a story about virtue and education and friendship and more. And this broader perspective matters because if we are to understand technology, we must not see it as an independent force in human affairs. Rather, we should recognize its entanglement in the shifting manifestations of perennial human desire.

Stay tuned for the next round.

by Michael Sacasas at October 28, 2014 01:20 AM

October 27, 2014

The Art of Non-Conformity

6 Discoveries from Near and Far: Volume XVII


I. Around the World

Things I found on long walks in foreign cities, or perhaps when someone posted them on Twitter.

II. On the Blog

A few posts you may have missed on the blog this week.

III. A Blast from the Past

Something from the AONC archives.


Image: The Atlantic

by Chris Guillebeau at October 27, 2014 09:49 PM

The Brooks Review

iOS Bugs

Add these iCloud bugs, which I see with Twitterrific to the “it takes 15 seconds to delete an app” bug and iOS 8.1 can be very annoying.

Please consider becoming a member to support my writing. All writing is 100% member funded.

by Ben Brooks at October 27, 2014 07:31 PM

CrossFit 204: Winnipeg, Canada

Workout: Oct. 28, 2014

Nice lockout, Wanda!

Nice lockout, Wanda!

In 15 minutes, work up to a heavy hang power snatch single

Every minute on the minute for 9 sets:

2 power snatches, and 1 overhead squat

3 rounds of:

12 strict t2b

12 V-ups

rest 1 minute


by Mike at October 27, 2014 05:38 PM

CCLA urges restraint from Canadian Parliament

There’s a great letter from the Canadian Civil Liberties Association to Canadian MPs, urging them not to overreact to the attacks in Ottawa and Quebec last week:

We currently await the legislation, which is due to be tabled at 3pm on Monday…

Filed under: surveillance

by David at October 27, 2014 05:29 PM

Front Porch Republic

Social Media Request

Most of us who post here are, to say the least, neither conversant with nor adept at social media. I discovered this summer, however, in conversation with some very smart “younger” people who liked FPR, that they access our content primarily through social media and rarely visit the website itself directly.

So … if you have a facebook page, or if you have twitter, please invite your friends who you think would be so inclined to “like” FPR so they might enjoy our fine writers as well.

The post Social Media Request appeared first on Front Porch Republic.

by Jeffrey Polet at October 27, 2014 04:32 PM

The Monday Morning Brass Spittoon: Roundtable on The Synod on the Family

chairs on porch

The idea of the family has, since our inception, been one Porchers are particularly keen to defend. The family is a natural, integral, and inviolable unit whose very existence points to the centrality of place and, as much as any social entity, suggests the limits of state power. That the idea of the family needs defense is one of the central issues, one might say crises, of our day. One of the larger debates of the contemporary west involves disagreement over what a family is.

While the entertainment industry has been the main driver for an alternative version to the traditional, conjugal one, other social institutions have not been far behind in promoting the idea of family life as affective. Of particular interest in this regard is the role of churches, for the formation of families has typically taken place within churches. Regardless of whether one sees marriage as a sacrament, it was long thought that marriage itself was a religious ceremony which received public sanction and was thought to advance a public good. While the ceremonies took place in church, they typically involved the signing of legal documents. As a result, the interrelationship of ecclesial and civic authority has been especially pronounced as regards marriage.

The strongest defender of the conjugal view of marital and familial life, most would agree, has been the Roman Catholic Church. The recently held Synod on the Family has many observers wondering if the Church is wavering in its defense. Our first roundtable brings together Elias Crim, a non-profit organizer and editor at Solidarity Hall; C.C. Pecknold, Associate Professor of Theology at The Catholic University of America; and James Matthew Wilson, Associate Professor in the Department of Humanities at Villanova University, to discuss this issue.

What was the main emphasis, or take-away of/from the Synod?

Elias Crim: We can’t truly say what the Synod’s main emphasis will be until its work is finished, of course. In the meanwhile, the question of how best to defend the family clearly elicited a wider range of contributions and opinions than ever before. So possibly the main takeaway is the perceived extremity of the family crisis, as demonstrated by these wide-ranging and controversial proposals.

Chad Pecknold: It’s important that we not simply call this last meeting in Rome “the Synod.” The Council Fathers at Vatican II desired to have a synodal process which could inform the teaching of the Holy Father on pressing matters. This last meeting was the “Extraordinary Synod” which is really a preparatory meeting for the main event, the “Ordinary Synod” which will meet next Fall. Most people have not even read the final report of the Extraordinary Synod, and we have another year before we will know the outcome of the discussions of the Ordinary Synod. The Council Fathers designed this process to allow the bishops of the Church to think together over a longer period of time, and to present that thinking to the Holy Father as collegial counsel for his teaching office. Since the pressing matter is the nature of the family in the context of the new evangelization, I would say that this first phase of the synodal process sought to expose the most controversial proposals concerning irregular unions first, so that the Ordinary Synod could focus on the traditional family, and to assist families to become “domestic churches” that participate in the new evangelization wherever they are planted.

James Wilson: Marriage requires the kind of discussion one finds in the Relatio. Catholics know, and the rest of the world senses, that marriage is a natural, pre-political institution that makes society possible and that has taken many forms in history. We know that along the way of the groping development of every human thing towards its perfection, the grace of God has come into the world and lifted this natural institution up to the Sacramental fullness that it had also possessed, before the advent of sin, in the beginning of the world. It is a natural and a supernatural reality. Marriage is an icon of the love of God—and an icon everyone can read because it was first written into our natures. The Relatio helpfully notes that because of its natural reality, the romantic love whose end is marriage can be a pathway through sin for some into full communion with the Church. It also notes that many times such features of modernity as serial cohabitation instance a deadening, a withdrawing, of love, rather than a mere partial failure to fulfill love’s conditions.

Indeed, from the outset, the Relatio indicates how disordered is the eros of our age: we direct it toward a buffered, individualistic, unleashing of the will in search of its own pleasures, rather than discerning in the hunger with which we are born a goad to move in an orderly fashion toward sacramental union with a spouse and, ultimately, into union with God. The Relatio takes account of social and economic conditions to explain the fragmentation, individualism, and loneliness of our age, but it insists that these conditions ultimately depend upon Christian faith. Where faith is strong, all else will be reordered to conform to it; for, the form of every society is an expression of what it most loves.

A lot of Catholics are concerned that the Synod is taking the Church in a dangerous new direction. Is it being taken in a new direction, and if so, what is it and how dangerous is it?

Elias Crim: Again, the Synod has taken no clear direction at this early stage but surely something new is likely to emerge from its conclusion. This new thing will indeed seem dangerous to some, especially those who view evangelism as an activity best conducted from a comfortable suburban couch, you might say. This new direction will and should prick their consciences as it reminds them of, for example, the strains of poverty on marriage, even its very possibility of occurring except for the more well to do.

Chad Pecknold: Everyone compares this synodal process to the one which led up to Humanae Vitae, a process which created a great deal of disruption, and permitted people to think about a possible change in discipline on the question of contraception.  This was rightly seen as a dangerous new direction, but then Pope Paul VI surprised everyone with Humanae Vitae which essentially confirmed the traditional teaching, and made natural family planning the norm.  For years following, we saw many Catholics confused about the Church’s teaching because the headlines had been about the Church changing her teaching on contraception — when in fact, the teaching was not changed, but bolstered. The same danger exists today. There are differences though: (1) Humanae Vitae followed a period of post-conciliar confusion around the implementation of the Council, whereas this synodal process follows two papacies that sought and largely achieved stability, and a healthy implementation of the teaching of Vatican II; (2) Though they have different governing styles, Pope Paul VI and Pope Francis were and are both deliberative and decisive, and both were popes capable of real surprises.  But Francis seems crystal clear that he wants reforms, and is unlikely to produce a status quo ante exhortation. Other differences can be noted, but these give the sense that this Synodal deliberation on the family will be about as dangerous as the process leading to Humanae Vitae. A third difference, however, makes me think that (3) the dangers and risks could be lower this time round: the divorced and remarried seeking communion, and those who struggle with same-sex desires, represent a very small percentage of Catholics.  Contraception was an issue which made a practical difference for a much greater percentage of Catholics, and the sacrifices required were at least as personal as the ones being discussed today. Of course, the only thing that will really matter in the long run will be the apostolic exhortation (or encyclical) and that’s well over a year down the road. So buckle up!

James Wilson: Like everyone who depends upon the Church for instruction in the way of Christ and who recognizes its majesty and beauty are founded in its apostolic authority to proclaim the Gospel and its sacramental prolongation of Christ among his people, I read the news reports of the Synod with apprehension. The news did not sound good. Quotations from the Relatio sounded, indeed, preposterous. I heard of political gamesmanship, insincerity, and contempt among the bishops of the Church.

Ours are trying times, and when one hears stories like those to which I refer, one begins to see the world as divided among those who have no hope, but a craven lust to tear down everything in the path of their own self-creation and the extension of their will, and those who despair even as they hope, fearing by what new machine man will find occasion to crucify Christ once again, and wondering if they have the strength within them to pass their hope onto their children. What darkness lies ahead, they ask? In reading the early and final drafts of the Relatio as well as Pope Francis’ homily at the conclusion of the Synod, I found hope springs eternal in the breast of the Christian. I set aside the context of the Synod’s procedures and how it was reported in the press, and I look at the work of the Synod, and I see our Bishops and our Pope preaching with joy, seriousness, and mercy the truths they have received from our ancestors in faith.

I see, in Pope Francis’ final homily in particular, a consciousness of how the world wishes to interpret him, to harness his preaching of a Church of mercy for the use of what we might call the antinomial dispensation of therapy required for our culture of “atomic eros” (as I have called it elsewhere). His response? It is the Holy Spirit who guides us, and the Pope who is the “guarantor of it all”—of obedience “to the Will of God, to the Gospel of Christ, and to the Tradition of the Church.” The Pope tells us we must be willing to be “surprised by God, by the God of surprises.”

That has been my experience throughout my life: discovering with surprise that a little boy who hated sitting through Mass would crave it like nothing else before he reached manhood; a man who thought his faith could only be maintained through the aesthetic, discovering that the Church alone had a tenable account of reason; an often broken man who was welcomed by his pastor one winter night with the words, “You know the name of the Church: the Refuge of Sinners.” The wisdom of the Pope’s words and of the final Relatio, which modifies very little of the controversial first draft, is a surprise and consolation to me. I see no dangerous new direction in the Church, certainly not one coming out of Rome—though I see dangers on every side and dangers within the Church, dangers which mount daily. The Synod is not their cause, but their antidote.

Is the Synod an important correction to the pastoral function of the Church, or is it elevating pastoral concerns over more fundamental things?

Elias Crim: Let us hope the Synod is an inspired development of (rather than merely a correction to) the Church’s pastoral function. I think Dr. Jeff Mirus has done a fine job here explaining why the Synod is considering new interpretations of sacramental discipline, as the Church has done in regard to the sacraments of communion or penance at various times, as opposed to any changes whatsoever in doctrine.

Chad Pecknold: I am not sure I would frame the question quite this way.  Doctrine and discipline can be distinguished, but they cannot really be separated.  Similarly with the pastoral.  It is an application of the teaching of the Church.  If the question is whether the Extraordinary and Ordinary Synods on the Family will detach discipline from doctrine, or detach the pastoral from the deposit of faith, or as Pope Francis has cautioned, bandage wounds without healing them, then I think the answer must be No. Again, it is important to appreciate the status of the Synod of Bishops. It’s purpose is pastoral.  It is possible that the Synod of Bishops itself is an institution in need of reform, so as to build in more safeguards for the unity of doctrine and discipline – but it is not as if the synodal process does not have many of these safeguards built-in. The working document is designed to make this connection explicit, and the working groups constantly debate the implications of disciplinary reform as a reflection of the Church’s teaching.  It is certainly possible that this Synod could be different from all previous ones, and unhinge the intrinsic connection between “pastoral concerns” and more fundamental things,” but if it did so it would simply amount to a failed Synod.

James Wilson: This is an important question and leads me to speak of what I see most important in the Relatio.  I know more about how individual Catholic parishes actually work than I do about the specific canons that formally govern them.  In every parish where I have heard Mass in my life (and that’s quite a few, since unlike many conservative Catholics, I was born this way!), there has been formal outreach to the divorced and separated; the pews have been full of the demented, deformed, hungry, homeless, aged, and sick.  So, also, have they been filled with every manner of sinner, including those weak-willed pietists shacking up together and coming to Mass together, unsure of how to work out the contradiction.

Every parish I have known has been manned by pastors who want all these people in the Church, because they want everyone in Church, because everyone needs the Church, because the Mass is the center of human life.  And with discernment, those men have not only welcomed sinners to Mass, but gone out and found them as they could, if less than they would, if they were not the few serving the many and often overwhelmed just by the demands of the day.  Because so few people have homosexual desires, I can say much less about the efforts of parishes to reach these people, and I know of instances where the pastoral care of such persons has been troubling because complacent and sentimental.  But, there is the Courage Ministry as one public instance, and I am conscious of other individual missions to such people—the more quietly undertaken, on the whole, the better.

The Church in its hierarchy and in its parish priests bears a very poor witness in our day, and some of this has to do with the heresies and abuses of power of some of its personnel.  There have been—for decades—instances of sentimentally heterodox priests opting in preference for the “pastoral” over the “doctrinal” as if the two were in tension rather than—as they must be—inseparable.

The Church will be better able to ensure a soundness of doctrine in its teaching and public witness if the dependence of the pastoral work of the Church upon that teaching is formalized.  The Relatio moves us a good deal in that direction.  This needs to be formalized precisely because, too often, members of the Church have made a preference for the pastoral over the doctrinal; that is, they have perceived themselves, rightly or wrongly, as sacrificing the truths of the Church for the sake of their roles as care givers, healers, and models of accompaniment and mercy.  In doing this, they confuse the pastoral with the modern understanding of the therapeutic.  They diminish the reordering of our ourselves to conform to Christ until it become the mere acceptance of ourselves as we are.

The contemporary world interprets everything through therapeutic lenses.  As such, it greets the concern and needful condescension of pastoral care as if it were a vindication of the sinner—not as a human being, but as a sinner.  I see no way around this, though of course we have to answer it with force, when we can.  In the meantime, the Church needs to formalize and theorize its pastoral work in light of its doctrinal authority.

Everything must be theorized, including the individual pastoral practices of God’s priests.  These documents attend with care to the architecture of the faith that must be accepted and understood if the Church is to continue its outreach to individuals with disordered sexual desires (which includes all of us to different degrees) and also to continue welcoming those whose families have been broken or wounded by that great superstition of our time, divorce.

How do the results of the Synod reflect on the leadership of Pope Francis?

Elias Crim: Many of those who adhere most closely to what they imagine are the Church’s traditions seem to have little interest in sending out signals to what you might call the less adhesive out there. So Pope Francis’ Synod strikes them as excessively Jesuitical, what with all this discernment stuff going on. It’s only halftime but this lobby keeps insisting the game is over.

Chad Pecknold: The synodal process is meant to be deliberative.  The fact that he has called for this Synodal process shows you that he is a deliberative and collegial pope.  He wants to hear from everyone.  He wants to show that the Petrine Office is receptive, that the pope is a listener, and one who — as the vicar of Christ — discerns the mind of the Church through such listening.

James Wilson: Pope Francis warns the “traditionalist” and the “intellectual” against a “hostile inflexibility” that refuses to be surprised by God and so may reject God in favor of “the letter.”  Catholics’ ears should perk up at such language, because of course the advocates of the “Spirit of Vatican II” used it and continue to use it to reinterpret the essentially pastoral documents of the Council as fundamental transformations of doctrine—contrary to the express purpose of the Council.  Many times during this pontificate, I have feared this sort of abandonment, and with good reason I think: regardless of the Pope’s intentions, his language has on several occasions made it harder to bear witness to the fundamental teachings of the Church on life, marriage, and the good of our sexual lives.

But, these are bad times.  Everything that is not unambiguously good seems to presage defeat, and everything in history is ambiguous.  The Pope’s homily does not highlight traditionalists as the enemy, but addresses them along with the “progressives and liberals” whose “destructive tendency” is much more severely criticized: “in the name of a deceptive mercy [they would] bind the wounds without first curing them and treating them.”  Are these not the same people who would “come down off the Cross to please the people”?  Are these not the ones who—in the “Spirit of Vatican II”—would make themselves “owners and masters” rather than “guardians” of the depositum fidei?

How deep are the apparent divisions within the College of Cardinals? What are we to make of Cardinal Kasper’s comments?

Elias Crim: A friend who once worked for the Archdiocese of Chicago reported to me an aside that came from Cardinal George on the subject of the American bishops: “Some of these guys are just crazy, you know,” he supposedly said. Since cardinals were once mere bishops, presumably they may count a few erratic types amidst their number also. As far how to understand the agenda of Cardinal Kasper, I defer again to Dr. Mirus who suggests the Kasper proposal, while not intrinsically unorthodox (now do read the article before swooning at the latter suggestion), got voted down simply as a cure worse than the disease.

Chad Pecknold: The divisions within the College of Cardinals are about how to apply the mercy of the Church to the wounds of human nature. That is, it is important to keep in mind that none of the Synod Fathers think, for example, that Jesus did not teach the indissolubility of marriage.  All the Synod Fathers believe that marriage is between one man and one woman.  So their divisions are not about these fundamental truths concerning human nature, but about how the Church is to apply the mercy of Christ who told us not only that his yoke was easy, but also that we should pick up our cross to follow him.  Many people talk about Cardinal Kasper because it appears that his controversial proposals have the support of the Holy Father.  It is possible that Kasper is a proxy for the pope, but it is also possible that the pope finds it useful to encourage a controversial proposal so that he might hear the best arguments. Since Kasper’s proposals only enjoyed the support of 3 out of the 10 working groups at the Extraordinary Synod, the weakness of Kasper’s proposals should now be clear to the Holy Father.

James Wilson: The Relatio is especially informative regarding the challenges to marriage around the world; they are very various.  Cardinal Kasper faces a particular problem about which it is hard not to become cynical, but regarding which I am not sure cynicism is appropriate.  Germany is a frightfully secularized country in most respects; it does not wish to live beyond a century, as Remi Brague would put it.  But the Church in Germany plays a public role that far exceeds that of, say, the Church in America.  It does so in part because the State transfers tax dollars of all self-selected nominal Catholics to the Church as a tithe.  In return, the Church plays a problematic but in some ways impressive institutional role in Germany: for instance, the Church tells every woman considering an abortion precisely what an abortion will do—kill the child—before the woman may proceed to abort.

Whether Cardinal Kasper is driven by pastoral concern or greed for those taxes-cum-tithes, I do not know.  I do understand, however, that he wants to find an accommodation for nominal Catholics who are materially supporting the Church’s work by their own free will.  His proposals were greeted coolly even in the first draft of the Relatio.  I am no prognosticator, but I do not see much movement here, though I do see a continued, and now a renewed formal, emphasis on the care of broken families and those who have put their families in nearly impossible situations through their failure to embrace what this document encourages: to nourish one’s brokenness on the Eucharist and to seek no substitution for that food.

In his closing comments, Pope Francis inveighed against both the “hostile rigidity” of the “traditionalists” and the imprudence of “progressives” who “would bandage a wound before treating it.” What are we to make of these comments? Is the Pope taking sides, or is he steering a path between the fractures within The Church?

Elias Crim: I’ll go right out on a limb here. Pope Francis is fomenting, one may hope, a kind of second Franciscan revolution in understanding and sentiment, one which is arriving providentially (as did his two predecessors’ own unique contributions) at just the right moment. As a convert from evangelical Protestantism, I believe the Church is greatly in need of this new sense of mission, one which is radical and Gospel-based. It’s an important dimension of the Marian Church which St. John Paul II hoped to see replace the Petrine Church of early modern history. So we may have a Synod—and a papacy–moving toward something historic. While such things have always seemed “dangerous” to some, we citizens of the Empire of Fear should continually recall St. John Paul II’s admonition to “Be not afraid.” The next Berlin Wall to come down must be the one of the spirit, the one which we have erected internally.

Chad Pecknold: Pope Francis did receive a standing ovation after his closing comments, and that tells us something important. It is tempting to see these internal debates in schismatic terms, but I think this would be a misplaced fear and a fundamental misunderstanding.  My hope is that the Synodal process, for all its messiness, displays something of what Alasdair MacIntyre called tradition-based rational inquiry over a long period of time. That is to say, my hope is that the Synodal process displays a Church that is a Tradition that thinks, and thinks in a Tradition. The Catholic Church is bigger than the conservative-progressive poles of political liberalism.  Pope Francis inveighed principally against an overly politicized account of the Church’s process of thinking. My own hope is that this Extraordinary Synod has established an important principle for the work of the Ordinary Synod next Fall, namely that since charity cannot be separated from knowledge of the truth, so mercy cannot be given without confession of sin and the commitment to amend one’s life and sin no more.

James Wilson: That the Pope risked creating an equivalence is clear, but I don’t think there’s an equivalence, and I do not think he does either, based on the remainder of his homily. Those of us inclined to worry about such a direction are also those best in a position to drink deeply of the Church’s teaching. I am as vulnerable to the striking and scandalous tales of mass media as anyone, but we have to work through that vulnerability and—oh, say—read all four pages of a homily, before declaring that the Holy Spirit has wavered in its guidance of the Church.

The post The Monday Morning Brass Spittoon: Roundtable on The Synod on the Family appeared first on Front Porch Republic.

by Jeffrey Polet at October 27, 2014 04:05 PM

Software Carpentry

Shuttleworth Foundation Fellowship Application

I just submitted an application for a Shuttleworth Foundation fellowship, and as a believer in openness, I figure it's only right to post it here as well. If you're interested, you can watch the five-minute video, or get more details from the Q&A below it.

Describe the world as it is.

Scientists spend an increasing amount of time building and using software. However, most of them are never actually taught how to do this - they pick up bits and pieces by osmosis and good luck. As a result, it takes them weeks or months to do things they could in hours or days, and when they're done, they often don't know how trustworthy their results are, how to reproduce them, or how to share them.

And there's something else scientists don't share: their lessons and how they teach them. Millions of people have contributed to Wikipedia, and tens of thousands will submit patches to open source software projects today alone, but even open educational resources are almost always still written by one or two people. People routinely "borrow" PowerPoint slides they find on the Internet, but even those who contribute to Wikipedia and open source almost never send patches back to improve the original. The "mend and extend" ethos that is the basis of truly open collaboration simply isn't part of how most people think about teaching.

What change do you want to make?

I want every scientist to learn the equivalent of basic lab skills for scientific computing, but that is just a step toward a larger goal. What I really want is for massive, open collaboration to be a normal part of scientists' lives. Software Carpentry is giving them some of the skills they need to do that in their research; the next step is to see if we can do it in their teaching.

I believe that if we can make open collaboration the new normal, it will encourage scientists (and others) to adopt modern evidence-based teaching techniques as well, just as the spread of open software development in the 1990s and early 2000s led to broader uptake of practices like code review, which in turn allowed programmers to learn better technique from one another. I think the same can happen with teaching once people are used to working out in the open, and that we'll all be better off for it.

What do you want to explore?

I want to try using off-the-shelf package managers to manage teaching materials, so that "lesson install calculus-trig-derivatives" will get the lesson, the code and data it uses, and whatever it depends on. Once this is in place, I then want to build an aggregator - a "CPAN for lessons" that will encourage people to mend and share rather than just upload and download.

(I also believe that if we can make this work, we could use it to "install" scientific papers for reading, review, and re-analysis, which would be an interesting new approach to the scientific reproducibility crisis.)

But this is just a means to an end. Open education shouldn't mean "I can use your slides", but rather, "We can all work together to make those slides (and exercises, and videos) better for everyone." The technical tools for doing this have been around for years; I think they can help educators just as much as they've helped programmers, but somebody has to get the ball rolling.

And if people start collaborating on material, they'll be more likely to share good practices with each other. Educational researchers know a lot about teaching and learning that isn't yet part of mainstream practice; equally, a lot of good ideas are stuck in the classroom of the teacher who invented them because there's no way for her to share them. I think open collaboration could help us fix both problems at once.

What are you going to do to get there?

  1. I will train at least 200 new Software Carpentry instructors during the first year of this fellowship, both as a good in its own right, and to create a pool of people willing and able to try the ideas described below.

  2. I will build prototypes to remix open version control repositories and existing package managers in order to experiment with ways of using and extending them to collaborate on, distribute, and remix teaching materials. (As noted above, these tools are a means to an end: the real goal is to see if we can get people to adopt better collaborative teaching practices by lowering barriers to entry.

  3. I will create a short course on evidence-based best practices in teaching and learning (tentatively titled "What Everyone in Science and Technology Absolutely, Positively Must Know About Education"), and make it freely available under the Creative Commons - Attribution license.

How does your idea relate to openness?

Matthew Crawford once wrote, "Too often, the defenders of free markets forget that what we really want is free men." Similarly, I think that many advocates of open science, open data, and open source development sometimes forget that they just a means to an end. The real goal is to allow everyone, everywhere, to work together without hindrance. Openness is necessary for that, but not sufficient: people must have the skills to actually do it in order for it to be meaningful.

Software Carpentry fosters openness by giving people what they need to be open. And by explaining the ideas behind those tools, it helps people understand why and how open is better. Once these ideas take hold, and once people see that they apply not just to research but also to teaching, I believe they will find ways to apply them in domains we haven't thought of and ways we can't yet imagine.

7. Have you started implementation of the idea?

Yes. Software Carpentry ran its first class at Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1998. Since 2010, it has grown into a volunteer organization with over 165 instructors in 19 countries, who have taught more than 100 two-day workshops for more than 5000 people in the last year alone. In October 2014, we set up a non-profit Software Carpentry Foundation (see Its interim board is currently drafting bylaws for review, and will replace itself with a permanent board early in 2015.

As well as running workshops, Software Carpentry also runs an instructor training course to teach scientists (many of them workshop alumni) the basics of educational psychology and instructional design, and how to apply ideas from both to teach other scientists how to program. More than 60 people are currently taking part in the eleventh online offering of this training, and we are now also offering intensive two- and three-day compressed versions on site in Europe, North America, and Australia.

Software Carpentry's teaching materials are all freely available under the Creative Commons - Attribution license. They are hosted on GitHub, and are proof that open collaboration on lessons can work: the most recent versions have had over a hundred contributors in the last two years.

How have you funded your initiative in the past?

Software Carpentry has been supported by a wide range of organizations over the years, from universities and national laboratories through philanthropic foundations and private companies - please see for a complete list.

Since January 2012, Software Carpentry has used a hybrid funding model: workshop hosts (typically universities) cover the travel and accommodation costs of instructors, but central costs (such as curriculum development and instructor training) are covered from grants and donations. This has allowed us to scale our workshops to the point where instructor training is now our biggest bottleneck.

13. Do you have an online presence?


Does the idea/project have an online presence?


by Greg Wilson ( at October 27, 2014 04:00 PM

Vivek Haldar

IDEs in the cage

I’m making my way through Nicholas Carr’s latest book, The Glass Cage—slowly, because life. I was pleasantly surprised to see him quote one of my blog posts about how IDEs are “automating” programming.

Some software writers worry that their profession’s push to ease the strain of thinking is taking a toll on their own skills. Programmers today often use… IDEs to aid them in composing code… they typically incorporate auto-complete, error-correction and debugging routines and… refactoring. But as the applications take over the work of coding, programmers lose opportunities to practice their craft and sharpen their challenge. “Modern IDEs are getting ‘helpful’ enough that at times I feel like an IDE operator rather than a programmer,” writes Vivek Haldar, a veteran software developer with Google. “The behavior all these tools encourage is not ‘think deeply about your code and write it carefully,’ but ‘just write a crappy first draft of your code, and then the tools will tell you not just what’s wrong with it, but also how to make it better.’” His verdict: “Sharp tools, dull minds.”

Thanks for the citation!

Lest that makes me sound like I’m advocating going back to not using IDEs, my position is a little more complicated than that. Later in that post:

Am I arguing for primitive tools? No. What I’ve described in the previous paragraph are my personal feelings while writing code. The tools (at least, the good ones) encode the knowledge and hard-won lessons of an entire army of programmers. They often point me to issues I’m blind to while writing code because I’m in such a rush to just make the damn thing work. In aggregate, they lead to a cleaner codebase.

So what am I saying then? I’m saying that we should let the tools help us without becoming crutches, to let us write sharp code without dulling our minds. That sounds paradoxical. It is a subtle mental stance one takes towards one’s work, tools, and output.

At some level the basic lesson of Carr’s book is the same: to not let automation make you complacent and loose the basic understanding of the thing being automated. It’s just hard to do.

October 27, 2014 03:30 PM

Feed: » stratechery by Ben Thompson

Podcast: This Week in Tech – Good Touch, Bad Touch

I joined Leo Laporte, Philip Elmer-DeWitt and Dave Hamilton on This Week in Tech. We talked about Apple in China, Apple Pay, Peak Google, and more.

You can download the show here.

The post Podcast: This Week in Tech – Good Touch, Bad Touch appeared first on stratechery by Ben Thompson.

by Ben Thompson at October 27, 2014 03:18 PM

512 Pixels

On iOS 8.1 and iCloud issues →

Federico Viticci:

For the past week, apps like MindNode, Twitterrific, Pixelmator, and (before the latest update) Drafts have been hanging or crashing at launch on my devices, forcing me to force-quit them, reboot (with a hard reset), or manually copy data because iCloud wasn't syncing. Each app was tested with existing document libraries as well as an empty database.

In short, apps using iCloud data will freeze or just crash at launch for many users. I'm seeing it all over the place in my iPhone 6, and like Fraser Speirs, can't use apps like Keynote. Infuriating and pathetic.


by Stephen Hackett at October 27, 2014 02:59 PM

The Art of Non-Conformity

Lessons from the Journey: Some Adventures Should Be Shared


From my own 193-country journey to the stories of many other people who were kindly willing to share, The Happiness of Pursuit attempts to extract and convey the lessons of modern-day quests. This series explores some of these lessons.

Lesson: Some adventures should be shared.

In studying quests, I heard from people who chose to pursue a big goal as a couple, a family, or just as a group of friends. These joint attempts had mixed results.

In some cases, like John and Nancy Vogel, tackling a dream together was a great success. John and Nancy took their two sons on an epic 17,000 mile bicycle journey from Alaska to Argentina. There were numerous hardships and struggles along the way, of course, but the “family on bikes” made it to the end and were better off because of it.

In other cases, people who attempted an epic journey together ended up peeling off as one person realized that they wanted something different. These separations were hard.

“In this world, there are things you can only do alone, and things you can only do with somebody else. It’s important to combine the two in just the right amount.” -Haruki Murakami

Tom Allen began his own bicycle quest with friends, who later said goodbye and returned to England as he continued. But then Tom met a girl and fell in love—what would he do?

It was a tough decision (the whole story is in the book), and at one point he said that “a dream can have only one owner.”

Is that true? Perhaps it depends on the dream.

Regardless, some challenges can be conquered jointly, and even if your quest isn’t a tag-team effort, chances are that a number of people will participate in your dream as you move toward completion.


Other lessons:

The Happiness of Pursuit is available from or your favorite local bookseller. You can also join me on tour in your choice of more than 40 cities.

Image: Don

by Chris Guillebeau at October 27, 2014 02:59 PM

512 Pixels

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Buy Ansible for DevOps on LeanPub, DRM-free, and get every future edition of the book for free. Readers of 512px get 20% off from now until December!


by Stephen Hackett at October 27, 2014 02:41 PM


stat: Simple file information, and more

I have stat on my list as a remnant of the indomitable coreutils package, and looking back I’m not sure why I held it out of the massive missive I posted a month ago. :???:

stat has a few gimmicks worth showing. Here’s its basic effort.


Just stat by itself reveals a lot of information about a physical file. Its size, the number of blocks, the device ID, inode and access and modification dates are all listed there, along with ownership and access privileges. Not bad.

The -f flag tells stat to supply information about the filesystem, and not just the file. So in the second readout, you’ll see the type, the free and total blocks, free and total inodes, etc.

Of course stat has a few other flags that will allow you to fine-tune its display or even customize the arrangement, sort of like the date command. It’s worth checking out what stat can show, mostly because it’s flexible in its output.

Which, now that I think about it, is probably why I didn’t just dump it into that big list. … :\ :)

Tagged: file, filesystem, information

by K.Mandla at October 27, 2014 01:45 PM

Crossway Blog

Win a Set of Preaching the Word Commentaries

October is Pastor Appreciation Month—a time to thank God for our church leaders and to think through practical ways we can love and serve our pastors. In honor of this special month, we’re hosting a series of exclusive drawings, giveaways, and sales featuring resources pastors might find helpful.

During this final week of Pastor Appreciation Month, we’re hosting a drawing to give away two sets of Crossway’s Preaching the Word commentary series (26 volumes).* Under the editorial oversight of R. Kent Hughes, the Preaching the Word commentary series was written by pastors for pastors, and is known for its down-to-earth tone, theological depth, and consistent commitment to biblical authority.

Please enter the giveaway by Friday, October 31!**

* Set includes 26 Preaching the Word commentaries currently in print featuring the most recent cover design and ESV Scripture references.

** While our Pastor Appreciation Month special offers are open to anyone, we encourage winners to bless their own pastor(s) with their winnings. No purchase necessary to enter. Only one entry per person. All entries must be received by midnight on October 31, 2014. Winners will be contacted the week of November 3, 2014. Must have a valid U. S. mailing address to enter.

by Nick Rynerson at October 27, 2014 01:25 PM


muzikq: With some small improvements

I promised yesterday that I would show ksmp3play‘s heir apparent, and I’m glad I tackled them in chronological order, because it makes things a little bit easier.

muzikq is a good looking audio player, with a similar-yet-different arrangement it obviously inherited from ksmp3play.


Green is a good step for a music player; it’s not often I see an audio tool done over in green and black. And the addition of the info panel on the left is a strong point for me, just be cause I like details at a glance.

Aside from the aesthetic, muzikq picks up on a lot of the strong points that ksmp3play had: Most of the fine-tuning options can be triggered from the command line. File size is shown at the bottom. The scroll bar on the right is animated; as you move through your playlist, the bar highlight shows your relative distance from the top or bottom. Software volume is shown at the upper right, across from a file name display and with timers. It’s a good arrangement and I like it.

But (and you probably know where I’m going with this) muzikq also inherits some of the quirks of its forefather. I can’t start the interface without first selecting a file, although muzikq at least offers a selection dialog as a gesture of goodwill.

You can select multiple files to add, but you still can’t recursively add a folder — which is a huge shortcoming to me. If you don’t add a file, or if you try to just add a folder, muzikq collapses and sends you back to the prompt.

The add dialog has a provision for entering a path, but it’s limited to a specific number of characters, and doesn’t seem to add files from there, or move your selection prompt to that folder. I’m not sure if that feature is actually complete yet. I also had some corruption of longer lists, where paging through the folders skipped over some names by virtue of the size of the screen. That’s a little difficult to imagine, but if you see it happen, you’ll know what I mean.

Once you have a list of files added, muzikq lets you sort them on several points, but also has a provision for a rating system, which is a nice touch. How those ratings are used, or if you can sort with them, or if they’re figured into randomized play … I’m not sure.

My only other notes were on occasional screen corruption, where resizing the terminal might cause labels or data (particularly in the info box) to spill over and make a mess. Even at 80×24 the file size display was consistently broken. And there are some other places where the otherwise clean lines and enjoyable interface gets polluted.

I should also note that, like ksmp3play, muzikQ relies on SDL mixer (in the AUR version) and a couple other packages that might (I’ll just say might, since I can’t be sure) imply an X environment. So if you’re not keen on dragging in everything that X involves, be careful when installing this one.

I’ll let muzikq go now. It’s certainly not a bad program and does play music, like it promises. It has a lot of features I like but there are some parts of it I can’t get past, like the lack of an add-folder options. So, does the rest of the world just keep all their music in one flat folder … ?! :???:

Tagged: audio, client, music, player

by K.Mandla at October 27, 2014 01:15 PM

Crossway Blog

Christ in All of Scripture – Hebrews 4:14-16

Hebrews 4:14-16

"Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."

This passage summarizes much that has gone before and anticipates much that will follow. Our Great High Priest is a human being who identifies with us. This is communicated through the human name, “Jesus,” given him at birth (Matt. 1:25; Luke 2:21) and through the noteworthy statement of Hebrews 4:15: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” Our Great High Priest is also divine—God himself. This is communicated through the author’s saying that Jesus “has passed through the heavens”; no earthly high priest ever ascended to God’s heavenly throne! Jesus’ deity is also communicated through the divine title “the Son of God.”

Consequently, our priest is both God and man. As a genuine human being he is able to sympathize with us in our weaknesses, since he shared them, including knowing temptation. But as the second Adam he never sinned. Therefore, as God himself who became the perfect man, he is able to give us mercy and grace when we come to God through him. We are to come boldly before God’s awesome heavenly throne—which through Christ has become for us “the throne of grace”! And we do so assured that Jesus as a man understands our struggles and as God is able and willing to help us in our distress. This is a great incentive to prayer and praise.

This series of posts pairs a brief passage of Scripture with associated study notes drawn from the Gospel Transformation Bible. For more information about the Gospel Transformation Bible, please visit

by Lizzy Jeffers at October 27, 2014 01:11 PM

Justin Taylor

Free Livestream of the ERLC National Conference on “The Gospel, Homosexuality, and the Future of Marriage”

ERLCnatconferenceLOGOThe ERLC National Conference, starting today (Monday, October 27), will address “The Gospel, Homosexuality, and the Future of Marriage,” designed to equip Christians to apply the gospel on these issues with convictional kindness in their communities, their families and their churches.

They will address issues like:

  • How do we effectively minister to those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender?
  • How has the divorce culture impacted marriage in our communities and our churches?
  • What does sexual faithfulness look like for a same-sex attracted Christian?
  • Why did God create marriage and why did he design it for the common good?
  • How should a pastor counsel a same-sex couple that wants to join his church?
  • How can churches minister to those who are single, dating, divorced or celibate?
  • How can Christians show the love of Christ to gay family members or neighbors?


The sessions will be livestreamed (free, but brief registration required) and liveblogged.

It begins today at 1:20 PM, Central Time.

The schedule of 20 talks and 5 panels—many of them relatively short in length—are listed below.


1:20-2:00 PM

Albert Mohler, “Aftermath: Ministering in a Post-Marriage Culture”

2:05-2:40 PM

Panel: Russell Moore, Albert Mohler, D. A. Horton, Robert Sloan (Phillip Bethancourt, moderator), “The State of Marriage in American Culture: Divorce, Cohabitation, Same-Sex Marriage, and Other Trends”

3:05-3:25 PM

Greg Smalley, “Building Healthy Marriages”

3:25-3:40 PM

Kristen Waggoner and Erik Stanley, “The Price of Citizenship: Can the State Compel the Church to Embrace Homosexual Relationships?”

3:55-4:10 PM

Glenn Stanton, “Loving My (LGBT) Neighbor”

4:15-5:00 PM

Panel: John Stonestreet, Trevin Wax, Lindsay Swartz, Eric Teetsel (Andrew Walker, moderator), “Millennials and Marriage: Evaluating the Young Generation’s Views on Sexuality and Marriage”

7:15-7:30 PM

Jennifer Marshall, “Now and Not Yet: Making Sense of Single Life in the Twenty-First Century”

7:35-8:00 PM

Danny Akin, “God on Sex: The Creator’s Ideas about Love, Intimacy, and Marriage”

8:10-8:40 PM

Sherif Girgis, “Better Together: Marriage and the Common Good”

8:45-9:30 PM

Panel: Kevin Ezell, Dennis Rainey, Carmen Fowler Laberge, and Heath Lambert (Daniel Darling, moderator)


8:50-9:30 AM

Russell Moore and Rosaria Butterfield, “Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert”

9:35-10:15 AM

Russell Moore, “Questions and Ethics Live”

10:40-10:55 AM

Christopher Yuan, “Out of a Far Country: A Gay Son’s Journey to God”

11:00-11:15 AM

Jackie Hill-Perry, “How Does the Gospel Equip Christians Who Struggle with Same-Sex Attraction?”

11:20 AM-12:00 PM

Panel: Christopher Yuan, Sam Allberry, Rosaria Butterfield, and Jackie Hill-Perry (Russell Moore, moderator), “Is It Okay to Be Gay? A Candid Conversation on Christians and Same-Sex Attraction”

2:30-3:15 PM

Denny Burk, “Is There Really a Slippery Slope? A Gospel-Centered Assessment of Gender Identity, Transgender, and Polygamy”

3:30-4:30 PM

Sam Allberry, “Is God Anti-Gay? Answering Tough Questions about Same-Sex Marriage”

6:50-7:30 PM

David Platt, “Marriage and Missions: How Singleness and Marriage Connect to the Great Commission”

7:35-7:45 PM

Lizette Beard, “Why I Love and Hate Being Single”

7:50-8:20 PM

Jim Daly, “Reconcilable Differences: Building Bridges with Those Who Disagree about Marriage”

8:45-9:25 PM

Russell Moore, “Slow-Motion Sexual Revolutionaries? Culture Wars, Christian Witness, and the Future of Marriage”



 8:45-9:05 AM

Dennis Rainey, “Growing Great Commission Marriages”

9:10-9:50 AM

Panel: Steven Smith, Jason Allen, Thomas White, Randy Stinson (Phillip Bethancourt, moderator), “Preparing Next Generation Leaders for a Post-Marriage Culture”

9:55-10:10 AM

Ryan Anderson, “Marriage in Crisis: The Conflict between Sexual Freedom and Religious Liberty”

10:15-10:55 AM

J.D. Greear, “Preaching Like Jesus to the LGBT Community and Its Supporters”

by Justin Taylor at October 27, 2014 12:54 PM

sacha chua :: living an awesome life

Upgrading from Rails 3 to Rails 4; thank goodness for Emacs and rspec

I spent some time working on upgrading Quantified Awesome from Rails 3 to Rails 4. I was so glad that I had invested the time into writing enough RSpec and Cucumber tests to cover all the code, since that flushed out a lot of the differences between versions: deprecated methods, strong parameters, and so on.

rspec-mode was really helpful while testing upgrade-related changes. I quickly got into the habit of using C-c , m (rspec-verify-matching) to run the spec file related to the current file. If I needed to test specific things, I headed over to the spec file and used C-c , s (rspec-verify-single). Because RSpec had also changed a little bit, I needed to change the way rspec-verify-single worked.

(defun sacha/rspec-verify-single ()
  "Runs the specified example at the point of the current buffer."
     (rspec-spec-file-for (buffer-file-name))
               (number-to-string (line-number-at-pos))))

(sacha/package-install 'rspec-mode)
(use-package rspec-mode
    (setq rspec-command-options "--fail-fast --color")
    (fset 'rspec-verify-single 'sacha/rspec-verify-single)))

C-c , c (rspec-verify-continue) was also a handy function, especially with an .rspec containing the --color --fail-fast options. rspec-verify-continue starts from the current test and runs other tests following it, so you don’t have to re-run the tests that worked until you’re ready for everything.

I should probably get back to setting up Guard so that the tests are automatically re-run whenever I save files, but this is a good start. Also, yay, I’m back to all the tests working!

Test coverage didn’t mean I could avoid all the problems, though. I hadn’t properly frozen the versions in my Gemfile or checked the asset pipeline. When I deployed to my webserver, I ran into problems with incompatible changes between Rails 4.0 and 4.1, and Bootstrap 2 and Bootstrap 3. Whoops! Now I’m trying to figure out how to get formtastic-bootstrap to play nicely with Bootstrap 3 and Rails 4 and the latest Formtastic… There are some git repositories that claim to do this correctly, but they don’t seem to work.


Fine, I’ll switch to simple_form, since that seems to be sort of okay with Bootstrap 3. I ended up using this simple_form_bootstrap3 initializer along with

# You can wrap a collection of radio/check boxes in a pre-defined tag, defaulting to none.
config.collection_wrapper_tag = :div

# You can define the class to use on all collection wrappers. Defaulting to none.
config.collection_wrapper_class = 'collection'

and this in my style.css.sass:

    @extend .form-group
    @extend .col-sm-2
  .control-group > .form-control, .form-group > .form-control, .form-group > .collection
    @extend .col-sm-10
    @extend .col-sm-offset-2
    text-align: left
    font-weight: normal
    @extend .col-sm-offset-2
    font-weight: normal

which is totally a hack, but it sort-of-semi-works for now.

More changes to come, since I’ve got to get it sorted out for Rails 4.1 too! Mrph.

The post Upgrading from Rails 3 to Rails 4; thank goodness for Emacs and rspec appeared first on sacha chua :: living an awesome life.

by Sacha Chua at October 27, 2014 12:00 PM

Table Titans

Tales: Sound Advice


Tarl, Dain, and Korob were the most powerful heroes of their time. Tarl was a mighty Cleric, Dain was a cunning Dwarvish Warrior, and Korob was a stalwart and clever Ranger. All evil beings on the Prime Material Plane feared them and their band of followers. One day they decided they should begin…

Read more

October 27, 2014 07:00 AM

The Gospel Coalition | Latest Articles

Pastor, Why Not Visit Their Workplace?

Tom Nelson once preached a sermon series from a cubicle. I don’t mean he preached it in an office building. He set up a cubicle on the platform at the front of his church and preached a whole series on how to follow God in the workplace while sitting in it. The message sent by that cubicle was, “I’m a worker, just like you. This pulpit is my workplace. And my job is to equip you for godliness in your workplace!”

If you’re a pastor, every week congregants visit you in your workplace and watch you do your job. Part of your job is to prepare them to take what they learn from you in your workplace and carry it back to their own workplaces. Wherever they do their work—on the job or in the home—they need your support to persevere in honesty, diligence, self-control, and generosity, in the midst of terrible brokenness.

One of the most important things you can do for them is return the favor. They visit you in your workplace regularly. Why not visit them in theirs?

Jesus Visited Workplaces

Theologian R. Paul Stevens reports in his book Work Matters that 122 out of 132 public appearances of Jesus were in the marketplace. And think about what Jesus was doing his whole life before he started his public ministry. For more than 15 years, he was working in an ordinary job, doing exactly the same kind of work his sheep do.

Jesus got to know the workplace by experience. That’s important because it allowed him to contextualize his teaching to the workplace. Out of 52 parables, 45 are set in the marketplace: fields, sheepfolds, vineyards, kitchens, palaces, courts, fisheries, and more.

Jesus wanted people to understand how his teaching related to their ordinary, everyday experiences in their work. He couldn’t have done that if he hadn’t educated himself in that context. All those “silent years” were not wasted and empty. They were a time of preparation. And what did he do to prepare? Study the Word, of course—but he also made a lot of tables and wagons.

Shaping Workplace Perceptions

That’s why, when I talk to pastors about connecting the gospel to working life, I mention the value of visiting workplaces. Pastors are constantly visiting people in homes, hospitals, prisons—almost anywhere except the places where we actually spend most of our waking hours. To be sure, those other kinds of visits are important. But on a typical day I spend six waking hours at home and nine in my workplace—and I’m one of the relatively fortunate people in that regard.

Rest assured, your perceptions of the workplace have been shaped by depictions of it in popular culture. To what extent are those depictions accurate, and to what extent are they distorting your understanding of your congregants’ daily lives? And the world of the workplace is constantly changing, especially these days. Are your perceptions of the workplace outdated?

Expectations of Workplace Visits

Obviously you won’t become an expert in the work your people do. That’s not the point. It’s not your job to tell everyone in detail how to do all their different jobs. The point is to become conversant enough with the workplace context to apply your teaching and pastoral care to it.

Maybe you don’t know where to start. After all, you can’t visit every workplace in your congregation. Don’t let that fact paralyze you. As the saying goes, you can’t steer the car while it’s parked. Why not start with one or two of your elders, and then branch out? Over time you can be intentional about visiting workers in diverse kinds of jobs, economic sectors, levels of authority, and so on. 

Maybe you don’t know what to ask or say during such a visit. That point is itself a perfect place to start. "There’s so much I don’t know about your world," you might begin. "I don’t know where to start. What would you most want me to know?" Then you can ask them to tell you about their experiences of achievement, discouragement, ethical uncertainty, and so on. Most churchgoers are eager to share their "real world" with their pastors and won’t need much prompting.

And of course your schedule’s packed. Being a pastor is a full-time job! But a lunch hour visit is more than enough to be fruitful. You probably get a bunch of spiritual fruit out of home and hospital visits that don't even last that long.

'Ministry' Workplaces

Ephesians 4:12 says God gave us pastors "to equip the saints for the work of ministry." The Greek word for "ministry" does not refer only to the work done by pastors and other religious professionals. It simply means "service." It applies to all the work we all do in all our various callings as we serve God by serving our neighbors.

When congregants visit you in your arena of service each week, are you equipping them for the work of ministry in their arenas of service? Why not return the favor and find out?

by Greg Forster at October 27, 2014 05:01 AM

Churches Partnering Together

Chris Bruno and Matt Dirks. Churches Partnering Together: Biblical Strategies for Fellowship, Evangelism, and Compassion. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2014. 176 pp. $15.99.

I am a twin. Growing up as a twin meant that just about everything I owned my brother also claimed. My parents insisted on uniformity. We had the same pairs of shoes, the same kind of bicycle, and for the most part the same friends. We literally held everything in common. So I guess partnership has always felt normal to me. 

Therefore, my immediate thought when reading Churches Partnering Together: Biblical Strategies for Fellowship, Evangelism, and Compassion was, What is the big deal? The idea of churches partnering together seems obvious. But who am I kidding? I know just as well as any other pastor that this is a big deal. In fact, the very conversation about churches partnering together can cause churches to drift apart. There is a deep-seated (albeit veiled) bias within the psyche of many congregations that distrusts the one down the street. We view them as inferior or less “pure” or “healthy” than our own church. Sure, partnership sounds great, so long as those we associate with look like us and do things the same way we do. 

Beyond Squishy Ecumenism

This pervasive attitude flies against the picture Chris Bruno and Matt Dirks thoughtfully and positively present to us in Churches Partnering Together. Let’s be clear up front: these men are not advocating an ecumenism that erodes gospel truths. Far from it. They are simply stating that churches who know the gospel, love the gospel, and preach the gospel with a view to seeing conversions have a compelling motivation to link arms together.

Churches with different personalities, perhaps even from different denominations, who often reach out to different geographic or demographic spheres would do well to consider that their most immediate priority in boosting the gospel’s witness in their community should be to strengthen their relationship with other gospel ministries in that community. 

Biblical Model

Bruno (director of the Antioch School Hawai‘i and pastor for discipleship and training at Harbor Church in Honolulu) and Dirks (pastor for teaching and leadership at Harbor Church) have set out a thoughtful examination of the New Testament picture of partnership. They suggest that Paul’s collection of the Jerusalem offering was not only an act of partnership but is in fact a model for partnership. The determination with which the apostle worked to collect that offering implies that churches have a duty to partner for the glory of God. The churches in Corinth, Rome, Ephesus, and Philippi were bound to one another as they identified with a common concern for the church in Jerusalem. It was Paul’s concern that these individual congregations recognize that as gospel churches they are a part of something bigger than themselves. Paul pleaded with the churches, then, to consider their less fortunate brothers and sisters, and he commended those who did so as “partners in the gospel.” Even though there was no formal denominational apparatus holding these first churches together, there was certainly a strong sense that the early church understood both the burden and the joys of working in partnership.  

With that helpful framework in mind, Bruno and Dirks cast a vision for church partnerships birthed out of a commitment to friendly and voluntary cooperation that is motivated by a desire to glorify God. More than just telling the stories of fruitful partnerships, Bruno and Dirk persuasively implore us to pursue the potential that exists when churches start working together to accomplish a common and clear goal. 

More than Denominational Agreement

Churches Partnering Together goes much further than simply exhorting denominational engagement. The book has little to say about denominationalism, in fact. Instead, Bruno and Dirks challenge their readers to look beyond the horizon of denominationalism to think strategically with other gospel-centered churches. For the sake of the witness of the church and the display of Christ’s glory, churches should seek faithful partners to enable them to do more to make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:18–20) than they could alone.

Start by gathering a fellowship of pastors and, when you do, begin implementing missional goals together. This book drives us to excitement about the potential that partnership brings—starting a biblical counseling center; reaching an unreached neighborhood; planting a new church; sending and supporting a missionary. 

Timely and Needed

I believe Bruno and Dirks are touching on a timelier issue than we might at first appreciate when we sit down to read their book. There is an appetite today among many churches and pastors for cooperation. The emergence of cooperative efforts such as The Gospel Coalition, Acts 29, Together for the Gospel, the development of gospel partnerships in Europe, and the resurgence of gospel cooperation among young Southern Baptists in the United States provide anecdotal support for the view that there is a growing and prevailing desire for partnership among this generation of church leaders. Churches Partnering Together provides helpful advice and guidance for church leaders to do just that. After all, its aim is to help church leaders satisfy, in a constructive way, that growing appetite for cooperation.

Whether you are leading a small congregation in a rural setting or a large church in a big city, read this book. I hope it stirs that appetite for cooperation among church leaders and, in doing so, helps them think wisely and creatively about how to build constructive relationships in order to put the glory of God on display and increase the capacity of any one church to make disciples.

by Matthew Spandler-Davison at October 27, 2014 05:01 AM

America’s Spiritual Founding Father at 300

George Whitefield is the greatest evangelist in American history. He is also perhaps Britain's greatest evangelist. Indeed, few figures in church history have made such a seismic impact for the gospel as Whitefield. 

Whitefield was born December 16, 1714, in Gloucester, England. God used his preaching as one of the primary human catalysts to spawn the revivals of the mid-1700s known to posterity as the First Great Awakening. In honor of Whitefield's 300th birthday, Baylor University historian Thomas Kidd has written a new biography on the famous evangelist: George Whitefield: America's Spiritual Founding Father (Yale). Kidd has researched and written extensively on the colonial period of America and revival in what would become the United States. His other works include The Great Awakening: The Roots of Evangelical Christianity in Colonial America (Yale, 2009).

Working with Kidd, The Gospel Coalition is pleased to make available to you additional resources to share with your Sunday school classes and small groups to commemorate Whitefield's birth and his vital role in building the evangelical movement. Kidd has written three short lessons suitable for distribution and aid in teaching others about Whitefield's passion for the gospel, his theology and break with John and Charles Wesley, and his tragic efforts to expand slavery in colonial America.

I asked Kidd about Whitefield as a man and a minister and what lessons modern evangelicals might glean from the great preacher's life and ministry.

What did you learn about Whitefield while writing this new book?

I was impressed again by what an influential and celebrated figure he was in the context of his time and how incredibly hard-working he was for the gospel. He made 13 transatlantic trips, any one of which could have easily resulted in his death and he knew that. He probably preached something like 18,000 or 20,000 sermons in his career, often speaking two or three times a day, every day of the week. His doctors would often advise him that he take it easy or else he was risking permanent health damage to his voice, to his body. He was driven and relentless.

We wonder what made George Whitefield the most famous evangelist of the 18th century—the most famous man in America before the American Revolution and the most famous man in Britain too, perhaps aside from King George III—what made him that way was that he was so incredibly disciplined and hard-working. I vaguely knew that, but just going through the day-to-day of his life, that is one of the things that amazed me.

Take us through the process of researching and writing the book: How long did it take from start to finish?

I probably started working on the book in 2011 or 2012. I did a book with Yale University Press in 2007 on the Great Awakening, so in a way I feel that I have been working on this book for a long time. The Whitefield book gave me an opportunity to systematically walk through all of Whitefield’s letters, his sermons, his journals. Many, many were published during his lifetime and shortly after his passing. I was able to understand the background of the Great Awakening, to understand that Whitefield was hardly the only figure of the Great Awakening. Whitefield was the great leader, but in tandem with many, many local pastors, so I think I understood the context pretty well going in, and then what I needed to do for a couple of years was to sit with Whitefield’s own writing and preaching and try to understand what made him tick.

It seems to me that Whitefield and his contemporary Jonathan Edwards were diametrically opposite personalities. Do you think that is true, and do they represent a clear illustration as to how God uses all types of people to accomplish his work?

Yes, Edwards and Whitefield were different. They meet for the first time in the fall of 1740 when Whitefield goes out of his way to make a visit to Northampton, Massachusetts. He deeply admires Edwards and is even more impressed when he meets Edwards’s family. But it’s not too long before the differences start to surface. Edwards thinks that Whitefield is a little incautious about some of his criticisms of ministers, raising the suggestion that some of them are uuncoverted. Edwards was also worried about Whitefield’s emphasis on the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the individual believer’s life, especially early on. Whitefield was very interested in the way the Holy Spirit would lead you individually through impulses in your mind and in your spirit, that the Spirit would guide you directly about what text you should preach on, what you should say in the sermon, what town should you go to next. Whitefield had a high view of that guidance, and Edwards thought that was showing some radical tendencies and showing some overly individualistic emphases.

Whitefield left feeling like Edwards was unhappy with him, so their relationship was admiring but a little distant from each other. Edwards was, of course, very very bookish and incredibly learned, where Whitefield was a bit more of a man of action. Whitefield kept an incredibly rigorous preaching schedule, where Edwards itinerated just a little bit, but mostly stayed home. So in the ministerial tactics and the philosophical bent versus action bent and their view of the Holy Spirit, there were a lot of differences.

In his 1991 biography of Whitefield, Harry Stout presented him as “the divine dramatist” due to his background in theatre and what he perceived as perhaps a bit of flamboyance and showmanship in his preaching. Do you think that is an overstatement, or was it an intentional part of his ministry to be what we might today call a “big personality”?

Harry Stout is a friend and a mentor to me, and I know a lot of evangelicals were bothered by that book. I think some of the implications that Stout made in the book were maybe a little overstated about Whitefield’s motivation and his public persona being focused on that rather than the gospel. I know that Stout didn’t really mean for it to come off that way. There seemed to be fundamentally a question about sincerity. Whitefield is, undoubtedly, the great celebrity of his era, not just religious celebrity, but celebrity period. I think a part of that was because Whitefield was enormously talented as a public speaker, and we can’t fault him for that. He did have a background as a teenager in the theater. I’m not sure I would call him the divine dramatist, but he brought his background in the theater into his preaching, so he didn't use notes, and he would take on the character of those in the biblical stories. He would act out the prodigal son, not just talking about the prodigal son, but he would take on the voice of the prodigal son in his sermons and act it out in a very dramatic, emotional way.

When you say he was theatrical, that raises the question, “Was he sincere?” I think he was entirely sincere. I think he believed that those sorts of new methods would bring maximum exposure to the gospel, and I think that is what he was trying to do fundamentally, to bring maximum exposure to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Now, did he ever struggle about this being about his own aggrandizement, his own celebrity? He said specifically that he did struggle with that. He called it “the fiery trial of popularity.” And I think that anybody who is a Christian and who becomes a celebrity is going to struggle with those temptations to arrogance, temptations to cutting ethical corners, to not being accountable the way they should. Whitefield said specifically that he struggled with that. But I think in some ways that that is the first step in being able to defeat those temptations is to admit that they are temptations. So I am on the side of believing that Whitefield, though hardly a perfect man, weathered that trial of popularity pretty well.

What lessons can we learn from Whitefield’s example, both positively and negatively, that can help us in the church today?

One of the things you can learn on the positive side is realizing that a big part of his success was his incredibly hard work. I don’t want to discount that. Sure, he was enormously talented, but he was also I think the hardest-working pastor of his time. He worked tirelessly at the risk of his health—which is not a good idea—but it’s not all just God-given talent, he had to exploit that talent through incredible devotion, discipline, and hard work. He was also not averse to trying new things. A lot of pastors have worked really hard, but they’ve tend to work in the same ministry tracks of perhaps prior generations. That’s not Whitefield; for Whitefield, “We’ve never done it that way before” is not a problem. So Whitefield becomes I think a very wonderful combination of a hard-working pastor [who is] orthodox theologically in the evangelical Calvinist realm. But he was also a master of new media and new public-speaking tactics, [that were] totally cutting edge.

This helps to explain his longtime relationship with Benjamin Franklin. Their relationship in Philadelphia begins because Whitefield asked, “Who is the best media man in town?” And the people he talked to said, “Go talk to Franklin, because he is the best publisher and publicist in town.” So their relationship starts that way even though Franklin was not a born-again believer. Whitefield believed, “I’ve got to work with the very best people in media because the gospel is that important.” I love that about him—that he was willing to be cutting edge on media communications technology for his time. So he was a wonderful combination of innovation, discipline, and orthodox theology, and a lot of that undergirds the incredibly successful and famous preacher that he became.

You have spent a lot of time these past few years with Whitefield, so what are your impressions of him as both a man and as a minister?

Anyone reading the biography will see that I like Whitefield a lot. One of the reasons I wanted to write the book was that I find him to be such an admirable person and minister and believer. There are problems with Whitefield too, and I try not to sell those short in the biography. For instance, the most obvious problem [was] his being an advocate of slavery and his personal ownership of slaves. Earlier biographers, including Arnold Dallimore, have noted this. One of the disappointments I had in writing the biography was in seeing how important Whitefield was in getting slavery introduced into Georgia. I think he was the key advocate in getting slavery into a place where it was originally banned. Whitefield thought that law was stupid and that slavery should be introduced. One of the new factual discoveries in the biography was one that I did not want to make—I think Whitefield illegally allowed the introduction of slavery into Georgia before the colony had legalized it. I didn’t want to find that letter, but I did.

So I am trying to be honest about who he was, and you can see it in 300 years of retrospect in these huge blind spots. I hope I’m not arrogant about that, wagging my finger at him and saying, “No, you should have known better,” because many, many people of the time didn’t know better, including many of America’s founding fathers. I wonder what people 300 years from now will say about us when they see our blind spots. It is a sober warning for us, I think, about how deeply influenced we are by the surrounding culture in ways we often have a hard time seeing. Whitefield was that way, but I think we are that way too. 

by Jeff Robinson at October 27, 2014 05:01 AM

CrossFit Naptown

FIT Workout 10/27

4 Rounds
1 min Row for Cals
1 min AMRAP Wall Balls
1 min Weighted Step Ups
1 min V-Ups
1 min Rest

by Peter at October 27, 2014 02:07 AM

Winter is Coming… Sweatshirt Preorders

Today’s Workout

Lurong WOD retest of WOD 1

Lurong participants, you are in the last two weeks! We will be retesting WODs 1, 2 and 3. Today, Wednesday, and next Monday so plan accordingly and take extra rest days if you need to in order to be best prepared!

The athlete’s score is the total number of reps completed.

  • 4 Minutes of Max Calorie Row
  • 1 Minute Rest
  • 3 Minutes of Chest to Bar Pull Ups
  • 1 Minute Rest
  • 2 Minutes of Back Squats M(165/115/AS) F(115/80/AS)
  • 1 Minute Rest
  • 1 Minute of Shoulder to Overhead M(135/95/65)/F(95/65/45)


How to order CFNT Sweat Shirts

Its sweater weather! More accurately at CrossFit NapTown sweatshirt weather. If you read the NapTown newsletter like I know you do, you saw that we held a design contest for this year’s autumn/winter CFNT collection. The winner was JR Linne with what I am calling the CrossFit NapTown coat of arms. There are two options to pick from. Option A is the hooded sweat shirt for $40 and Option B is the newly back in style 3 quarters baseball tee for $30. You have to preorder to get your hands on these hot items for the cold. All sizes are unisex, which is slang for male sizes. Send your order to

What to include in your email.

  1. What shirt you want A or B
  2. What size S,M,L,XL
  3. How you want to pay Cash, Check, or Account. If account make sure you have current CC on file.
  4. Last day for pre orders is 10/31, we will order a few extras, but the cost will go up on those. So order now! 

Option A



Option B


Lurong WOD more info

Movement Details – Men

Level III (3)
4 Minutes- Row for Calories
1 Minute Rest
3 Minutes- Chest to Bar Pull Ups
1 Minute Rest
2 Minutes- 165 lb Back Squat
1 Minute Rest
1 Minute- 135 lb Shoulder to Overhead
Level II (2)
4 Minutes- Row for Calories
1 Minute Rest
3 Minutes- Pull Ups
1 Minute Rest
2 Minutes- 115 lb Back Squat
1 Minute Rest
1 Minute- 95 lb Shoulder to Overhead
Level I (1)
4 Minutes- Row for Calories
1 Minute Rest
3 Minutes- Jumping Pull Ups
1 Minute Rest
2 Minutes- Air Squats
1 Minute Rest
1 Minute- 65 lb Shoulder to Overhead

Movement Details – Women

Level III (3)
4 Minutes- Row for Calories
1 Minute Rest
3 Minutes- Chest to Bar Pull Ups
1 Minute Rest
2 Minutes- 115 lb Back Squat
1 Minute Rest
1 Minute- 95 lb Shoulder to Overhead
Level II (2)
4 Minutes- Row for Calories
1 Minute Rest
3 Minutes- Pull Ups
1 Minute Rest
2 Minutes- 80 lb Back Squat
1 Minute Rest
1 Minute- 65 lb Shoulder to Overhead
Level I (1)
4 Minutes- Row for Calories
1 Minute Rest
3 Minutes- Jumping Pull Ups
1 Minute Rest
2 Minutes- Air Squats
1 Minute Rest
1 Minute- 45 lb Shoulder to Overhead

Movement Standards

Row for Calories
The athlete may begin the workout seated in the rower but may not grab the handle until the call of “go.” The athlete may preset the damper before the clock starts. The monitor must be set to zero at the beginning of the workout. Every calorie counts as one rep.
Chest to Bar Pull Ups
This is a standard chest to bar pull-up. Dead-hang, kipping or butterfly pull-ups are all allowed as long as all the requirements are met. The arms must be fully extended at the bottom. At the top, the chest must clearly come into contact with the bar.
Pull Ups
This is a standard pull-up. Dead hang, kipping or butterfly pull-ups are allowed, as long as all the requirements are met. The arms must be fully extended at the bottom. At the top chin must clearly clear the pull-up bar breaking the horizontal plane. Reverse and alternating grips are permitted.
Jumping Pull Ups
This movement start with the athlete standing directly under the pull up bar. From a standing position, the distance from the bottom of the bar to the bottom of the chin must be at least 14 inches. Use boxes or bumper plates to set the proper height. The movement starts with the athlete elbows full extended and the rep is complete when the chin finishes over the top of the bar. The athlete jumps and pulls to go from arms being extended below the bar to the chin clearing the bar.
Back Squat
This movement begins the barbell on the top of the shoulders behind the head. Using a rack is permitted. Before the athlete may start squatting he or she must start from a full upright standing position, full extension at the knees, legs and hips. At the bottom of the squat, the hip crease must pass below the top of the knees. The athlete must return to full extension of the knees, legs and hips to complete each rep before continuing on.
Air Squat
This movement is a body weight squat. Before the athlete may start squatting, he or she must start from a full upright standing position, full extension at the knees, legs, and hips. At the bottom of the squat, the hip crease must pass below the top of the knees. The Athlete must return to full extension of the knees, legs, and hips to complete each rep before moving on.
Shoulder to Overhead
Each rep begins with the barbell on the shoulders and finishes with the weight fully locked out overhead. A shoulder press, push press, push jerk or split jerk may be used as long as the elbow, shoulder, hips and knees fully extend, and the bar finishes directly over the heels with the feet together. Using a rack is not permitted.


  • The athlete’s total score is the sum of all reps completed during the 4 movements and 10 minutes of work time.
  • The athlete must rest during the 3 allotted rest periods and will not receive credit for any reps completed during those rest periods.
  • The submission page for the workout will automatically calculate the athlete’s total number of reps based on how far he/she progressed through the workout.
  • Video Submissions are required in order to be eligible for performance prizes.
  • You many complete the 3 benchmark workouts at whatever skill level you want, but the benchmark performance prize will be awarded to the top man and woman in each division, skill level, and region based on the total number of reps completing in all 3 benchmark workouts. In order to be eligible the athlete must perform all 3 benchmark WODs at the same skill level.


The athlete may begin the workout seated in the rower but may not grab the handle until the call of “go.” The athlete may preset the damper before the clock starts. The monitor must be set to zero at the beginning of the round. Every calorie counts as one rep.

At the end of the 4 minutes the athlete must rest 1 full minute. Once the clock hits 5 minutes the athlete will begin 3 minutes of Chest 2 Bar/Pull Ups/Jumping Pull Ups.

Once the clock hits 8 minutes the athlete will rest for 1 full minute. During the rest time, the athlete can get the barbell set on the rack for squats. Once the clock hits 9 minutes the athlete will begin 2 minutes of Max REP Back Squats/Air Squat.

Once the clock hits 11 minutes the athlete must rest 1 full minute. During the rest period, the athlete will change weights on the barbell and place the bar on the floor. Once the clock hits 12 minutes the athlete has 1 minute to complete as many reps of Max Shoulder to Overhead.


by Coach Jared at October 27, 2014 02:05 AM

sacha chua :: living an awesome life

Weekly review: Week ending October 24, 2014

Wow! Surprising lot of things done this week. Went to Jade’s party, helped W- go shopping for a coat, baked lots of cupcakes for Hacklab’s relaunch, and dusted off the code for Quantified Awesome. =)

Next week, I’ll be wrapping up my main consulting gig, working on more code, and voting in Canada for the first time. Yay!

Blog posts


Link round-up

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (46.6h – 27%)
    • Earn (12.2h – 26% of Business)
      • E1: Attend celebrations
      • E1: Pick up pass
      • E1: Update analytics
      • E1: Wrap up neatly
    • Build (20.7h – 44% of Business)
      • Drawing (2.9h)
      • Delegation (0.0h)
        • Interview potential accountant/bookkeeper
        • Hire accountant and assemble information
      • Packaging (0.0h)
      • Paperwork (0.0h)
    • Connect (13.8h – 29% of Business)
      • Prepare for Hacklab open house
      • Attend QS meetup
  • Relationships (22.4h – 13%)
    • Attend Jade’s party
    • Get more kitchen things
    • Go to Thanksgiving thing
    • Help look for winter coat
    • Make egg tarts
    • Repackage spices in mason jars
  • Discretionary – Productive (1.9h – 1%)
    • Emacs (0.0h – 0% of all)
    • Buy winter coat
    • Complete Swirl assignment for getting and cleaning data
    • Work on Coursera R Programming assignment 2 and 3
    • Have massage
    • Quantified Awesome
      • I can organize items by aisle/category
      • Re-set-up dev environment for Quantified Awesome
      • Start working on kitchen organizer
      • Update to Bootstrap 3
      • Upgrade Rails 3 to Rails 4
      • We can cross items off
      • Fix forms and bootstrap 3
      • Fix token authentication
      • Update to Rails 4.1
    • Bike to work
    • Get passport pictures
    • Vote!
    • Writing (1.8h)
  • Discretionary – Play (7.3h – 4%)
  • Personal routines (15.7h – 9%)
  • Unpaid work (13.6h – 8%)
  • Sleep (60.5h – 36% – average of 8.6 per day)

The post Weekly review: Week ending October 24, 2014 appeared first on sacha chua :: living an awesome life.

by Sacha Chua at October 27, 2014 01:57 AM

Hack / Make

Not Being Special →

A little story from Jason at GORUCK, who has learned a lot about simplicity the hard way:

Way back when we thought we were so special in every way. Truth be told, we’re similar to most places most of the time. We build stuff we sell stuff we write about stuff we publish pictures and words. Our culture and our values and what we do make us different in some ways, but those have nothing to do with e-commerce sites and blogging platform layouts.

Jason and team had designed and built a custom template for the blog but then a thing happened that happens to all of us. Things change, technology changes, but the old special snowflake way we do things, the things that are built on old technology, built on old dogmas, old comforts, they don’t change and then we get stuck:

So we switched instead to an existing theme. Life is easier and it lets us focus more time on content creation and less time on being special.

Less special, more simple—something we can all practice.

∞ Permalink

by Nick Wynja at October 27, 2014 01:45 AM

The Frailest Thing

Reading Frankenstein

For some time now I’ve wanted to write about Frankenstein. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s classic tale, first published in 1818, has long struck me as one of those works whose brilliance has been dulled by familiarity (and, more often than not, a familiarity stemming not from the novel itself but from its myriad pop cultural incarnations). It is, to speak anachronistically, a story that explores technology as force in human affairs, and it is typically read as a cautionary tale. It is that, to be sure, but I think that leaving it there sells the novel considerably short.

I’ve failed, however, to follow through on the impulse to write about the story mostly because the task grew larger and larger the more I thought about it, and it was, consequently, easier to put it off than to begin it. But now, as I’m reading the novel again, I’ve decided to make a go of it. Rather than write a single post on Frankenstein, however, I’ve decided (naturally) to blog through my reading of it.

What I’m envisioning is a series of posts that will each take a handful of chapters under consideration (there are 24 altogether, not counting the letters that frame the story at the outset). With each post I’m intending mostly to think with the novel as it were, chiefly by articulating my understanding of the multiple threads that Shelley weaves together throughout the story. And, of course, I invite you to think along with me and make it a conversation if your so inclined.

I’m not sure what kind of pace I’m going to be able to keep up, but I hope to wrap up the posts within three weeks or so. If you don’t own a copy of the book, Project Gutenberg offers the novel in a variety of formats. Sometime tomorrow (Monday) I’ll kick things off with the first post on the letters that frame the story of Victor Frankenstein and his creation. The letters are written by a man named Robert Walton, who is leading an expedition to the North Pole, to his sister. The narration of the story is then passed off to Victor Frankenstein, who tells his story to Walton. There is later another shift at the heart of the novel as the monster tells Frankenstein about his experience. Frankenstein then assumes control of the narrative again, and finally it passes once more to Walton.

A couple of disclaimers: First, I am not a literary critic by training, so take what ensues as the scribblings of an interested amateur. Secondly, I am not familiar, at least not in any serious way, with the secondary literature on either Shelley or her novel. If you do want a little background on Shelley’s life, you might consider the biographical essay at the Poetry Foundation. Finally, I won’t be making any serious effort to avoid spoilers as I write about the story.

More to come.

by Michael Sacasas at October 27, 2014 01:38 AM

Caelum Et Terra

Efficiency and the Satisfaction of Simple Things

megan lightell aaa

I have really come a long way from the days when I edited the print journal, Caelum et Terra, the remote predecessor to this blog. Back then, and even for most of the blog’s history, I wrote with a fountain pen in a spiral notebook and sent the pages to Maclin and Karen Horton, who typed them into the computer that they used to produce the magazine, or entered it onto the blog. I did not get onto a computer until 2002, when I did some genealogical research at the library. Eventually Maclin stopped posting here and I had to learn how to work a blog. Not too hard, even for a technological moron like me. And fortunately, I  knew how to type, as a friend and I at around fourteen years of age realized that by taking a typing class we would be surrounded by girls.

In the days of the print journal I was something of a luddite. We ran articles espousing farming with horses and organic agriculture and pieces critical of the automobile, and I wrote articles against the use of technology  in worship- microphones, electric light, polyester vestments, etc – and published the musings of a young Catholic man who was living primitively on the outskirts of a very strict Old Order Mennonite community.

The reason I favored limited technology was simple: I had in the past lived very close to the natural world, had done hard work with hand tools, drawn water from a well, lived without electricity, pooped in an outhouse.

And it was beautiful, profoundly satisfying.

This was particularly true when it came to manual labor. There is a direct relationship between how simple the tool is and how pleasurable the work is. And understand that by ‘pleasurable’ I mean a particular sort of pleasure, one that is not incompatible with sore limbs.

I have put up hay using a horse drawn wagon, forming haystacks with pitchforks, which is something of an art.

First the sweet-smelling hay is raked into rows, and the horses and men walk along, loading as much hay onto the fork as they can, then swinging the heavy forkful over their heads in a circular motion into the wagon. Then it is unloaded, the growing stack being thatched in such a way that when it is finished it will shed water, so the hay will not rot. It is quiet and clean labor, and the motion graceful, the whole thing an act of good work.

And I have put up hay using a tractor and a baling machine. It is loud and the cut hay from the machine is scratchy. The air smells like tractor fuel fumes and the movement of lifting the heavy bales and tossing them into the wagon, while not without its satisfactions, hardly rivals the graceful arc of the forkful of hay, a movement accompanied by the sound of  horses and pitchforks digging into grass.

I could cite other instances: trimming bushes with long-bladed clippers vs using electric trimmers, driving nails with a hammer into two by fours vs using a nail gun, splitting wood with an ax vs using a splitting machine.

Hand work with simple tools is contemplative and graceful. There is a deep satisfaction in simple things well done. Loud machines spewing noxious odors militate against mindfulness.

They are also, alas, very often so much more efficient and less time consuming that it is hard to argue against the technological ‘improvement’. Cutting wood with a bow saw may be a sweeter experience than using a chain saw, but the time and effort saved are certainly hard to argue with.

I may concede, even if I mourn the passing of beauty.

But not always.

I can think of no stupider tool than the leaf blower.

It is loud. It is stinky. It consumes finite resources. It is not one whit faster than using a rake. The person wielding the blower does not get much in the way of exercise at all, and this in an age of concern over obesity .

And what is lost: the graceful sweep of the rake, the lovely sound of the leaves, like the sound of waves, the health benefits of the dance of raking, the conversation and camaraderie .

Sometimes technology makes sense, at least in terms of time and effort saved.

And sometimes it is just stupid. .


Painting by Ohio artist Megan Lightell.

by Daniel Nichols at October 27, 2014 12:55 AM

Cal Newport » Blog

On the Obsessive Focus of Bill Gates


The Gates Riddle

Why was Bill Gates so successful?

In answering this question, different biographers have emphasized different traits.

Stephen Manes, in his excellent 1994 book, Gates, underscores the Microsoft founder’s fierce (sometimes bordering on sociopathic) competitive instincts.

In his 2008 bestseller, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell points out the exceptional circumstances that provided teenage Gates near unlimited access to computers on which to hone programming skills on the eve of the personal computer revolution.

I was particularly struck, however, by a quintessential Gatesian trait highlighted in Walter Isaacson’s new book, The Innovators.

Here’s a quote from the chapter where Bill Gates and Paul Allen are working on the project (a BASIC interpreter for the Intel 8080) that will give rise to Microsoft:

One trait that differentiated [Gates and Allen] was focus. Allen’s mind would flit between many ideas and passions, but Gates was a serial obsessor.

“Where I was curious to study everything in sight, Bill would focus on one task at a time with total discipline,” said Allen. “You could see it when he programmed. He would sit with a marker clenched in his mouth, tapping his feet and rocking; impervious to distraction.” [emphasis mine]

Enough said.


(The above quote comes from minute 10 of Chapter 6 of Part 2 of the Audible audio version of The Innovators.)

by Study Hacks at October 27, 2014 12:52 AM

The Sword and the Ploughshare

Time to Move On...

For those who have been following this blog for a long time, or who have just stumbled upon it via a Google search, you may want to know that this blog has found a new home,  From now on, any new posts will appear there, not here, and I am also gradually migrating the archives from this blog—or rather, the best posts that are still worth reading—to the blog there.  However, you will also find there a constantly-updated index to stuff that I'm publishing elsewhere, whether journal articles and such or online articles on other blogs.  

Thanks to all those who have faithfully followed this blog for the last 4+ years; you've been a fantastic audience!

by Brad Littlejohn at October 27, 2014 12:50 AM

October 26, 2014

Light Blue Touchpaper

Nikka – Digital Strongbox (Crypto as Service)

Imagine, somewhere in the internet that no-one trusts, there is a piece of hardware, a small computer, that works just for you. You can trust it. You can depend on it. Things may get rough but it will stay there to get you through. That is Nikka, it is the fixed point on which you can build your security and trust. [Now as a Kickstarter project]

You may remember our proof-of-concept implementation of a password protection for servers – Hardware Scrambling (published here in March). The password scrambler was a small dongle that could be plugged to a Linux computer (we used Raspberry Pi). Its only purpose was to provide a simple API for encrypting passwords (but it could be credit cards or anything else up to 32 bytes of length). The beginning of something big?

It received some attention (Ars Technica, Slashdot, LWN, …), certainly more than we expected at the time. Following discussions have also taught us a couple of lessons about how people (mostly geeks in this contexts) view security – particularly about the default distrust expressed by those who discussed articles describing our password scrambler.

We eventually decided to build a proper hardware cryptographic platform that could be used for cloud applications. Our requirements were simple. We wanted something fast, “secure” (CC EAL5+ or even FIPS140-2 certified), scalable, easy to use (no complicated API, just one function call) and to be provided as a service so no-one has to pay upfront the price of an HSM if they just want to have a go at using proper cryptography for their new or old application. That was the beginning of Nikka.


This is our concept: Nikka comprises a set of powerful servers installed in secure data centres. These servers can create clusters delivering high-availability and scalability for their clients. Secure hardware forms the backbone of each server that provides an interface for simple use. The second part of Nikka are user applications, plugins, and libraries for easy deployment and everyday “invisible” use. Operational procedures, processes, policies, and audit logs then guarantee that what we say is actually being done.

2014-07-04 08.17.35We have been building it for a few months now and the scalable cryptographic core seems to work. We have managed to run long-term tests of 150 HMAC transactions per second (HMAC & RNG for password scrambling) on a small development platform while fully utilising available secure hardware. The server is hosted at ideaSpace and we use it to run functional, configuration and load tests.

We have never before designed a system with so many independent processes – the core is completely asynchronous (starting with Netty for a TCP interface) and we have quickly started to appreciate detailed trace logging we’ve implemented from the very beginning. Each time we start digging we find something interesting. Real-time visualisation of the performance is quite nice as well.

Nikka is basically a general purpose cryptographic engine with middleware layer for easy integration. The password HMAC is this time used only as one of test applications. Users can share or reserve processing units that have Common Criteria evaluations or even FIPS140-2 certification – with possible physical hardware separation of users.

If you like what you have read so far, you can keep reading, watching, supporting at Kickstarter. It has been great fun so far and we want to turn it into something useful in 2015. If it sounds interesting – maybe you would like to test it early next year, let us know! @DanCvrcek

by Dan Cvrcek at October 26, 2014 09:06 PM

The Art of Non-Conformity

A Better Organizational Strategy: Throw Away Everything That Doesn’t Make You Happy


I love the principle presented by Japanese organizational expert Marie Kondo in her new book. The short version is: discard everything that doesn’t “spark joy.”

For all the clothes you don’t wear, pass them on. At minimum, never keep anything you haven’t worn in the past year.

Go around your house and get rid of all unnecessary papers. Papers are the worst—they rarely bring joy.

Don’t worry about organizational accoutrements or professional storage products. Forget about being super minimalist. Instead, focus on holding on to things you like while getting rid of everything else.

This is a delightful decluttering strategy. I’m doing it right now.

Hat tip: NYT


Image: Rhockens

by Chris Guillebeau at October 26, 2014 06:22 PM

Mike Ashley

Self-Hosting with Sovereign

I’ve moved the family’s Internet domain away from Google and over to Linode. I used Sovereign, a set of Ansible playbooks for maintaining a personal cloud. I’m using this post to document my initial experience with Sovereign and the server I built with it.

Sovereign provides a lot of services. I’ve chosen to implement just a few of them:

  • Email
  • Webmail via Roundcube
  • Calendars, contacts, and file sharing using OwnCloud
  • Git hosting via cgit and gitolite
  • Web hosting (e.g., this blog) via Apache

It’s a pretty basic set of services, although Sovereign does a lot more behind the scenes for backups, intrusion prevention, spam fighting, etc. It’s an enormous help for getting a practical, secure server running.

Configuring the server was traightforward, although there were a few hiccups along the way. I hope these notes are helpful for others using Sovereign.

Server reboots

The server uses an encrypted filesystem for personal data such as email and OwnCloud files. If the server is restarted, the file system must be remounted. It’s easy to do this by rerunning the encfs playbook; you just need to know that it’s necessary.

Handling multiple users

Sovereign’s setup seems to be designed for a single user, but I am also supporting my family. Out of the box, Sovereign’s configuration has to be updated and playbooks rerun to change email passwords, add accounts, or change mail forwarding. This was ok for my family of four but obviously won’t scale.

Sovereign also uses two-factor authentication in a few places. I disabled all of it for the same reasons. I like two-factor authentication, but I can’t impose it on my family.


I lost the pictures associated with my contacts when I migrated from Google to OwnCloud. I am not sure if the problem was export from Google or import into OwnCloud. I lost all pictures, but this only affected about ten contacts. It was a nuisance for me but may be a bigger problem for others.

Migrating email away from Google

The Sovereign documentation recommends larch for migrating email. Indeed, it works great. Unfortunately, it can lead to email duplication at the destination if an email message has more than one tag. As far as I know there is no way arond this. You just have to deal with it as a cost of leaving Google.


I installed on a Debian Wheezy box. Debian is stable, but it lags on package updates. Specifically, Roundcube 0.7.x gets installed, but the themes for the client side these days are all implemented for the 0.9 and 1.0 series.

I haven’t investigated what it will take to upgrade to a more recent version of Roundcube. It might be easy; I am just noting what I got out of the box.

Apple Mail

Apple Mail for OS X and Apple’s Mail app for iOS are both a pain. There are two reasons: mailbox subscription and server configuration.

The mailbox subscription problem is just a nuisance. Sovereign configures dovecot to use sieve for server-side handling of incoming mail. As configured, Roundcube does not subscribe to the sieve mailbox. Apple’s mail clients both do, and it does not appear to be possible to unsubscribe. Therefore there’s some noise in the folder list on those clients.

Configuration is a bigger problem. Sovereign sets up an autoconfigure XML file at the right place, and Thunderbird/Icedove use it correctly. Apple’s mail clients do not look for it, though. They must be manually configured. That’s not a problem for me, but it’s an ordeal for the kids. I had to resort to amateur IT support and write instructions with screenshots so that my older daughter who is away at college can get her email again. Kind of embarassing, to be honest, although I won’t through Apple under the bus without knowing why they don’t look for the autoconfigure XML.

Miscellaneous configuration problems

I made two other corrections for my setup.

  • In the autoconfigure XML, I changed the SMTP port to 465 to match what was actually used.
  • The advised SPF record was not right. I used v=spf1 mx -all. EasyDNS’s wizard was very helpful here.

Final thoughts

I’ve been running the server for over a week now, and I got the family set up this weekend. So far, so good.

Tarsnap is a great backup service. I would never host my family’s email and other data without backups. I’ve been using Tarsnap for over a year on another machine, and it’s been a rock.

October 26, 2014 04:14 PM


Is Weak Typing Strong Enough
Practical assessment of statically-typed vs. dynamically-typed languages. He uses Java and Perl as examples from the day, but the reasoning applies to C# and Scheme just as well now.
Why Inequality Matters
Great review of Captial in the Twenty-First Century by Bill Gates. This book has been on my reading list for a while. I’ll get to it some day if I can ever get through Truman.
Autumn is
Advertising-based social networks are evil, but I haven’t seen a viable, alternative revenue model yet. Ello won’t last (but I like it’s ‘zine feel). As for, I won’t participate, but it sure makes me nostalgic.
Ghost History
History of one of my favorite Phish tunes. Although not listed, the 2009 Festival 8 performance is one of my personal favorites because of Trey’s guitar setup that night for the band’s musical costume (The Rolling Stones’ Exile on Main Street).

October 26, 2014 04:14 PM

confused of calcutta

Thinking about Maccher Jhol and recipes and openness in general

I know, it’s been a while since I posted anything at all. Been busy reading, listening to people, thinking. Lots to think about. More of that later. Maccher jhol. A spicy fish stew common in eastern parts of India, principally in West Bengal and Orissa. [I suspect it's common in Bangladesh as well, I just […]

by JP Rangaswami at October 26, 2014 03:43 PM

Zondervan Academic Blog

Love Unites Us [Awakening Faith]

Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. (1 Peter 3:8)

If Christ is with me, what should I fear? The waves and the sea and the anger of powerful people might be rising against me, but they are no scarier than a spider’s web. Had you not detained me here, I would have left today to face those things at home. For I always say, “Lord, your will be done,” not what this or that person wants me to do, but what God wants me to do. That is my strong tower, my immovable rock, my staff that never breaks. If God wants something, let it be done! If he wants me to stay here, I am grateful. But wherever he wants me to be, I am no less grateful. Yet where I am, there you are too, and where you are, I am.

For we are a single body, and the body cannot be separated from the head nor the head from the body. Distance separates us, but love unites us, and death itself cannot divide us. For my body may die, but my soul will live on and be mindful of my people. You are my fellow citizens, my fathers, my mothers, my brothers, my sisters, my sons, my daughters, my limbs, my body. You are my light, sweeter to me than the visible light. What the rays of the sun give me does not compare to what I get from your love. The sun’s light is useful in my earthly life, but your love is fashioning a crown for me in the life to come.

John Chrysostom


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by ZA Blog at October 26, 2014 02:11 PM


Communion in Giving

Text: Philippians 4:10-23

As we come to the end of our study of Philippians, it is interesting to note that we come back to where we started. In these final verses, Paul returns to his very first point—communion and real unity in the Spirit. All Christians share their lives together, including ministers, laypersons, and missionaries. This doctrine of communion sits before and after the letter’s central point of submitting to others and the mind of Christ, and there’s something to learn just from that. We can only properly submit to one another when we understand our unity. But here we also see a particular expression of Christian partnership, and it is a very important one. We share even in our finances. Our money is an extension of ourselves and our service, and that means it is involved in Christian communion. Paul is calling us to communion in giving.

We are in it together

The beginning of Philippians emphasized our “partnership” in the faith. In verse 5 of chapter 1, Paul wrote about “…fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now.” The word “fellowship” is the very same word translated “partaker” in vs. 7, “you all are partakers with me of grace.” Both times it signifies partnership, unity, and communion. And that’s the same word which appears in Philippians 4:14 and 15 where Paul says that the Philippians “shared” with him. All this means that wherever Paul goes, the Philippians go too. They are united in the gospel through the Spirit. What happens to him happens to them, and what happens to them happens to him.

But this also applies to financial giving. Paul writes, “you shared in my distress.” In context this means that the Philippians gave money to Paul, however little they were able, when no one else did, and thus they were united to him when no one else was. When Paul was poor, the Philippians were also poor, because they were giving to him. Now that he abounds, the Philippians too abound because of their unity with him. He is a part of them, and when they give to Paul, they are giving themselves and joining his ministry abroad.

Here we see something very important. The giving we give to our ministers is a giving which we give to our own ministry, to the shared mission we have in Christ. We are not really subtracting from “our” money and adding to “their” money, but instead we are using “our” money for the gospel. And this giving will be given back to us, by God, according to our needs:

I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. (4:18-19)

It’s ok to talk about money

Before we go too far into this subject, however, we should clear up one common misconception. There is nothing dirty or worldly in talking about money and financial giving. Paul is cautious when he talks about money, so as not to appear self-serving or greedy, as can be seen in his qualifying comments— “not… in regard to need.” (vs. 11) “not that I seek the gift…” (vs. 17). But he still talks about it all the same. And he is asking for money in order to continue his ministry.

Paul even says that the money given to him produced fruit. If evangelism is a sort of harvest, then the financial giving of God’s people is a fertilizer that helps it to grow. But even more than this, Paul says the giving is “an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God” (vs. 18). What this means is that money can be a spiritual thing. If done in faith, the use of money is a religious exercise. Fundraising too is perfectly biblical. Giving to the church is necessary, and there’s no violation of protocol or etiquette to talk about it.

Interestingly enough, studies show that churches appreciate it when their pastors talk plainly and respectfully about money. After all, it’s a big part of the Christian life. It’s a major factor in our jobs, families, and recreation. We all know that we have to have money, and we all know that churches have to have money to work properly. We all know that the pastor knows this and is thinking about it. So why pretend otherwise? Pastors and churches can and should talk openly about finances, and they should do so, not with a “conservative” or “liberal” philosophy, but rather a Biblical one, understanding that the money is God’s to begin with and that He entrusts it to us in order for us to use it as an offering back to Him.

Of course, there is an improper use of money in ministry. Churches are not for profit, after all, and when Simon Magus thought that evangelism might be a pretty good start-up venture, he was condemned in no uncertain terms—“Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God” (Acts 8:20-21). In 2nd Corinthians, Paul is clear that the preaching of the word cannot be tailored to fit the best donors. “For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ” (2 Cor. 2:17). But the fact that the gospel is not for sale does not mean that money is out of bounds.

Financial giving is something that the Bible talks quite a bit about. Just listen to a small sampling of verses on this topic:

 He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, and He will pay back what he has given. (Prov. 19:17)

Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, “Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?” And the King will answer and say to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” (Matt. 25:37-40)

But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just. (Luke 14:13-14)

I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)

He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Cor. 9:6-7)

And so, in order to be faithful to the word of God, we have to talk about money, and we have to use money appropriately. This all means we have to think about money, and we have to think about it biblically.

Your giving is an acceptable sacrifice to God

We have to keep in mind that our communion—our partnership—in the gospel goes all the way down. It is spiritual, but that means empowered by the Holy Spirit. And so our money is “our” money in this way, not by compulsion but by the call of Christ. When we give to the church we are making a priestly offering, an acceptable sacrifice to God. It is an act of worship.

It’s important not to interpret this language of sacrifice as merely a figure of speech. After all, the Epistle to the Hebrews makes it clear that it was the Old Covenant sacrifices which were the types and shadows. They were fulfilled in the work of Christ, but now we continue to share in that work through our priestly work, namely prayer, praise, and worship, but also giving. When we give to the church, we enable it to preach the gospel and thus to offer the sacrifice of Jesus Christ himself. The priesthood of all believers does not mean that there are no longer priests. It means we are all priests. And so we have priestly work. We are the temple, and that means we have temple work.

So why don’t we use our money in this way more often? Listen to what John Calvin had to say about this verse:

Alas for our indolence!— which appears in this, that while God invites us with so much kindness to the honor of priesthood, and even puts sacrifices in our hands, we nevertheless do not sacrifice to him, and those things which were set apart for sacred oblations we not only lay out for profane uses, but squander them wickedly upon the most polluted contaminations. For the altars, on which sacrifices from our resources ought to be presented, are the poor, and the servants of Christ. To the neglect of these some squander their resources on every kind of luxury, others upon the palate, others upon immodest attire, others upon magnificent dwellings. (Commentary on Philippians 4:18)

The short answer is that we have many other things on which we would rather spend our money. We do not think of our money as a lamb or bull to be brought to the altar, but instead as “ours,” something in our possession and under our control. Charitable giving and donating to the church is seen as an “extra,” an option to be chosen or not after everything else is taken care of.

But even for those of us who acknowledge that we ought to give, we often have questions. How much should we give? What are the principles of giving, the when, where, and how? How should make these decisions in light of our budgets?

The old tithing principle is probably the best-known, and it is a good rule of thumb. Having a specific figure helps people know how to get started, and so 10% is a measuring stick. But here we should be careful. There is actually no law for tithing as we know it in the Christian church. The session cannot tell you how much you have to give either, though churches can give guideline and general expectations if they wish. But there is no “Thou shalt” when it comes to the amount of giving in the New Covenant. Perhaps more importantly, it would totally contradict the spirit of the gospel to assume that once you had paid your 10% you were then free from any further need to give. “10% and not a penny more!” is the expression of legalism, selfishness, and sin, not Christian charity.

It’s also wrong to think of Christian giving in terms of worldly budgeting. You often hear people say that they cannot afford to give to the church. But that assumes that the money is theirs and that they are in control of the profits. No, it is God who gives. If you wait until your needs are met to give, then you will never do it. You will always find more needs, and giving will always be hard. The truth is that you cannot afford to not give.

In fact, our “needs” have to be critically investigated. We make too many things into needs. Is college a necessity? What about retirement? What about an entertaining budget? If we wait until we feel like we can spare it, we will never give. And really, the whole point is to be dependent on God. All of our money is His to begin with, and when Jesus tackles this question He gets downright extreme. Do you remember the example of the widow and her two mites?

Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans. So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.” (Mark 12:41-44)

Giving out of poverty is greater and more spiritual than giving out of surplus. And since Jesus demands everything that we have, He expects us to give up our money too. Sell everything that you have and give it to the poor!

“Now, now,” you say, we all know that was hyperbole. Jesus was just trying to get at our heart. And yes, that is quite right. But are you being honest about your heart? Are your motives correct? How about giving regularly to your local church? That’s not nearly as extreme as giving all that you have, so why don’t you start there? If you’re not ready for 10%, then why don’t you try 5%? Start with something. Just give.

If you always have a ready answer as to why you don’t give, then your heart really isn’t right in this regard. Trust God and make your sacrifice. It’s your priestly duty. It’s just as important as prayer and worship. It’s an expression of your communion with fellow Christians in the church.


The basic rules of Christian giving are actually pretty simple. First, give. You have to give something. Anything. Make it practice, and start now.

Second, you should give freely, because you want to. If you don’t want to, then you have some bigger questions to ask yourself. What is important to you? What do you really love in this world?

Thirdly, you should give liberally. By this, I mean that you should be able to give generously and without worrying about it too much. Go ahead and give a little more than you might initially think and see how it feels. Your goal should be to be able to give cheerfully, no matter what, and this can only happen when you give in faith. It’s God’s money. He gave it to you. He decides what happens to it and what happens to you.

This is why Paul says that God will make sure our needs are taken care of. He doesn’t want you worrying about what happens to you. He wants you to believe. “My God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (vs. 19). And so give and believe. Have faith and make your offering to God.

Let us pray.

by Steven Wedgeworth at October 26, 2014 01:30 PM


pscpug: Nothing to do with pugs

The world needs good, accessible system monitors. It’s just a generalized rule. I can complain about an overabundance of music players or Tetris clones, but I don’t think anyone ever gets weary of seeing a new way of viewing their system information.

pscpug is a simple vertical scrolling process monitor that displays its results as a sparse bar graph.


It took me a while to get a decent screenshot, mostly because the applications I use are usually text-based, and it seems their process usage over time seems fairly flat. Pale Moon didn’t let me down though.

pscpug is terrifically simple, and terrifically useful. Feed it the pid of an application and you get a bar graph that refreshes at intervals, showing CPU drag. That’s all. There are only three flags — one for a different refresh rate, one to suppress its closing display of statistics, and one to switch to a generic data collection mode.

No color, but I’m willing to overlook that. No line-drawing characters, which may or may not be a good thing, depending on your system.

It’s very simple to control, very simple to read, and very simple to run. And it would look good on a shelf with top, tload or maybe nload.

And that’s all I can say about it. It does what it promises and doesn’t make a mess of things. Nice work. ;)

Tagged: information, monitor, process, system

by K.Mandla at October 26, 2014 12:30 PM

ksmp3play: Simple and direct, but incomplete

I have two music players that I want to show, but I have to write about them in the correct order, because one is an offshoot of the other. And I screwed up the whole roguelike evolution over the past 10 days, which was a disservice to some of the later ones.

Here’s ksmp3play, which is a little hard to find and appears to have drifted away around 2008.

2014-10-23-9brnr91-ksmp3play-01 2014-10-23-9brnr91-ksmp3play-02

ksmp3play is tagged as “beta” software on Sourceforge, and that’s obvious from using it just for a little while. It has a nice, colorful arrangement, with most of the file and playback information pinned to the top of the display, and the playlist stretching down below. It’s clever mostly because it allows you to stretch the terminal to almost any dimension without scrambling the display. Tiling window manager, here we come.

ksmp3play has a few other features that are worth note: It will play at random or circle through in a loop, and it shows individual file times at the top and a total time at the bottom, along with a file size total, which is an interesting touch.

And of course, any time a program can give me a popup help screen, I’m a fan. That, and the dialog for adding files is quite helpful. I also like onboard volume controls that adjust the application’s output, and I like tag editing commands too. :)

Those are most of the good points. Here are some bad ones …

That help screen I managed is slightly jumbled. Some of the commands listed there are off by a line, meaning “Add files to playlist” isn’t the left bracket, it’s the “a” key. And so forth. If you pay attention you can decipher it, but it’s not as “helpful” as it should be.

At the least provocation, ksmp3play comes to a screeching halt. Enter an empty filename for a playlist, and your music stops and you’re back at your prompt. Skip to an impossible point in a song with the arrow keys, and you’ll know because again, you’ll be back at your shell cursor. It also locks frequently and I get a lot of “stack smashing” errors. ksmp3play needs a lot more error trapping.

Probably irritating to me, as someone who actively looks for well drawn and well designed text-based interfaces, is ksmp3play’s refusal to just start up without a specified file to play. If I enter ksmp3play without a target, I get the help flags list. I can add files to the playlist once ksmp3play is up and running, but if I don’t give it a target to start with, it shudders and blinks like a confused pet.

There are some foggy options, too. ksmp3play offers three different options for randomised play, but nowhere can I find a description of what those three are. You can specify a delay between songs at the command line, but apparently not at the interface (unless I overlooked it). ksmp3play doesn’t bother to remember what volume level it last played at, which means it’s always going to start up at 90 percent of max (I think that’s what it is).

But the worst transgression to me is the lack of a recursive add function. I’d be satisfied to just spin up ksmp3play and feed it my master directory of music, but ksmp3play won’t have any of that. If I want to play a file I have to add it singly, one at a time, through the add dialog. (I get around that nonsense by feeding the results of find through xargs and back in to ksmp3play, which works … sometimes.)

ksmp3play is not in AUR or Debian; the author has a precompiled .deb package on the Sourceforge page, which is what you see running in Mint up there. You’ll need to install libsmpeg0 as well, which begs the question of whether ksmp3play will actually work in a nongraphical environment, if that drags in any SDL, which might drag in Xorg, and so forth.

I’m willing to give the same halfhearted recommendation to ksmp3play as I have to other incomplete projects that dwindled away in the past. It’s easy to see where software didn’t quite reach the level of “completeness” its authors probably wanted. In ksmp3play’s case, “completeness” was still a long way off. :|

Tomorrow: ksmp3play’s “progeny.”

Tagged: audio, client, music, player

by K.Mandla at October 26, 2014 12:15 PM

Bonus: A score of games after a score of games

Ten days of games makes for about 20 titles, which lets me take advantage of the word “score” as a counter, and show another 20 that didn’t make the cut.

Like I said a few days ago, there are enough rogue variants and evolutions to make an entire blog of its own, and probably have enough content to survive a few years on one-a-week, if not more.

There are a lot of sites that do that though, and I’m not going to harass their niche by pursuing the genre much further. I leave it to them to follow every title. ;)

There are some other programs here that aren’t necessarily roguelikes, but might be. Most that follow are just games that have either passed to the digital afterlife, or just passed me. :roll: (Unless otherwise specified, I relied on the Arch or AUR package to build these. Your distro’s version may work better.)

  • aliensrl: A roguelike patterned after the Aliens movie franchise. I could build and start this, and I heard background music, but nothing was displayed in my terminal.
  • asciipacman: I only have a link to a Freecode page, and from there all the links are dead.
  • asciisoccer: The idea of ASCII robot soccer sounded great, in the same way a B-movie with a snazzy title sounds great: “Attack of the Killer ASCII Soccer Robot Clones!” Unfortunately, this wouldn’t compile for me, which I kind of expected since most of the dates regarding the project stretch back to the mid-1990s. :(
  • brogue: brogue built for me from the AUR package, but segfaulted any time I tried to start a game. Interesting graphics, but I didn’t get much farther in than the title page.
  • It’s just an animated bunny. No, I won’t be evaluating it on its merit as a console application. O_o
  • connect4: Reaching back to 1988 for this one; just finding a working source link might be a challenge. Working with a “shell archive” was a new experience for me. The .Z file just needs to be gunzipped, and after that, sh connect4 was enough to start the build process. But that’s where it crashed and burned.
  • diablorl: As you might have guessed, a roguelike intended to duplicate the atmosphere of the Diablo video game. Consistently segfaulted at startup. I don’t know if I have much faith in this anyway, since the system requirements for the original Diablo game are trifling, and I always remember Diablo as an action frenzy. Perhaps one day I will see.
  • dsol: LGDB makes reference to this game, but I can’t find a source file or home page, so it might be gone. Apparently it was an ASCII solitaire game. I see references to something called “dsol” elsewhere on the Internet, but it appears to be related to Java.
  • gnusay: a lot like cowsay, but GNU-ish. Wouldn’t compile for me, GNU matter how I tried. … :lol: :P
  • goblinhack: I am consciously putting goblinhack on this list, even though there’s nothing really wrong with it. goblinhack uses SDL and OpenGL and plays as a smooth-scrolling 2D dungeon crawl, along the lines of Gauntlet. I built it in Arch from a clone of the git repo, and had no problems. As a matter of fact, it was quite fun. I definitely give it a thumbs-up. But strictly speaking, it’s a graphical application, even if it does represent something of a hybrid. Definitely give it a try. ;)
  • intricacy: Intricacy is a lock-design puzzle game and looks quite impressive. It’s written in Haskell though, and my track record for getting Haskell-based software to work — even through cabal — is about 999 failures to one success. :( Not in Arch/AUR or Debian.
  • mlrogue: A roguelike game written in Ocaml. Won’t build via AUR because it relies on camlp5, which won’t build against the newest version of Ocaml. Which is odd, because apparently the author of mlrogue is also the author of camlp5 … ?
  • moria: Or umoria, as the case may be. A roguelike that stays close to the original game. The Arch version would build but wouldn’t run. The Debian version works fine of course, but I was trapped by the key commands, which expect you to have a full-size extended keyboard and number pad for movement. I don’t have any laptops with number pads right now, which meant I would have to dance around the Fn and NumLk keys just to play. :???:
  • pacmanascii: Couldn’t compile.
  • portile: Something Portal-ish, but there doesn’t seem to be a source code file that will work with Linux (the Mac one didn’t work for me). If you have a Mac or a Windows machine, you might want to give it a spin; at first glance it reminds me of ASCIIPortal, but the home page claims it’s different.
  • pytris: Not the same as the last pytris game. I find a home page link, via Freecode, but it 404s. This seems to be a recurring theme with some of these smaller games. … :???:
  • spacezero: An RTS game for the console. Personally I think a well-built, well-designed RTS game for the console, along the lines of StarCraft or Age of Empires, is long overdue. Regardless, the source for spacezero won’t compile in Arch, and the Debian version wouldn’t run outside of X, which I thought odd. Perhaps it was never meant as a curses game.
  • steamband: angband, done over in steampunk. Not really to my liking, but wouldn’t build for me from AUR either, so no harm done.
  • vagabondo: I don’t remember where I got this one. It will build and run, but the character set is completely indecipherable and I haven’t a clue what’s happening in the game. This might just be a locale issue, but I’m at a loss. :(
  • wanderer: A Boulder-Dash-ish adventure game … I think. This would compile for me (from the BSD version, I might add), but neither that nor the prebuilt executable (in the Linux version) displayed anything when I ran it. I was just randomly tapping keys and getting nothing in the way of visual feedback. Oh well, I tried. …

As always, seeing a title here doesn’t mean it doesn’t work. Try these yourself and see if you have any more luck than I did. And if you do, please let us know about it. ;)

by K.Mandla at October 26, 2014 12:00 PM

John C. Wright's Journal » John C. Wright's Journal

Breitbart on Gamergate (with Garrulous Digression)

An article by one Noah Dulis at Breitbart’s Big Journalism too startling not to share:

Supporters of the GamerGate movement have been working tirelessly to hunt down those who would use their banner to cause personal harm—all while the media continues to claim that GamerGate members are either participating in or indifferent to the harassment of women in the gaming industry.

On Thursday, Salon published a column titled, “#Gamergate is really about terrorism: Why Bill Maher should be vilifying the gaming community, too.” In the article, the author correlates GamerGate to the actions of fundamentalist Islamist terrorists: “putting statements from your garden-variety Islamic extremist side by side with the kinds of threats Sarkeesian and others have received, it’s clear these two groups share some similar attitudes toward women.”

While the thrust of the article is focused more on what the author perceives to be a double standard in the treatment of the Muslim community as a result of the actions of jihadists, it furthers the idea that GamerGate is a hate movement with no place in any discussion of transparency and ethics in the gaming industry and press. In doing so, it shows how the media is so invested in demonizing GamerGate that it is silencing the best ally in combating online harassment: GamerGate supporters themselves.

Meet Margaret Gel.

Margaret is an avid GamerGate supporter and has been working along with others since the movement’s inception to protect both supporters and critics of GamerGate from harassment and abuse online. Margaret credits Twitter user @LetsSailHatan for coming up with the platform that has allowed anyone concerned with online threats, doxxing (the revealing of personally identifying information), and harassment to identify and shut down such trolls on Twitter: the #GamerGate Harassment Patrol.

“You show us who’s harassing, attach the words ‘#GamerGate Harassment Patrol’ to the tweet, and we in #GamerGate all report them at once,” Margaret explained. “We’ve gotten accounts suspended in less than 15 seconds this way: it’s VERY helpful for erasing dox that people post of others.”

“Anyone sending threats is not welcome in #GamerGate,” she continued. “We have random people come in and use the tag to send death threats. We don’t want them, we don’t need them, and we are watching to make sure that their crimes are reported to the proper authorities.”

“If you report harassment and include the exact words ‘#GamerGate Harassment Patrol’ in your tweet, it shows up here, and many of us see it,” Margaret explained. “As long as I’m at my desk, I keep a window showing the tag open. All it takes is one retweet and even more people see it, more people report it, and the account gets suspended.”

Margaret herself has been a victim of harassment, having received “two rape threats and two death threats.” She has also been doxxed, but she noted that when it happened on the image board 8chan, the community responded quickly to protect her: “No one else in the thread wanted anything to do with the person posting the dox: they didn’t approve of the posting of dox; they swore at the person who posted my dox.”

“The staff of /gg/, the ones who moderate it, protected me, removing the dox in record time. They deleted my dox in FIVE MINUTES,” she stressed.

Margaret’s experience is hardly unique as a GamerGate supporter. She provided me with extensive documentation of death threats, doxxing, and harassment committed against GamerGate supporters, all of which can be found in a growing catalog at the Twitter account @TheBattleAngel. The point of doing so isn’t to justify a never-ending back and forth of attacks between supporters and critics of GamerGate but to highlight the discrepancy between the media’s attempts to mischaracterize GamerGate based on the actions of extremists while ignoring critics of GamerGate engaging in the same type of behavior. “I’m more infuriated that there are so many people who keep getting death threats, and yet the media keeps on saying that THEY are the terrorists,” she said.

Read the whole thing

My comment: There is no floor to Hell. Each time you think you have hit bottom, the ground gives way and exposes another abyss below, farther down.

I was in the news business decades ago. It was crooked then, but it was nowhere near this corrupt. The news media, with very few hated and shining-bright exceptions, were solidly Leftwing, smug, arrogant, and utterly dishonest. The male members of the press lacked male members.

The sole newspaper for many a year in the county where I worked, Saint Mary’s County in the southern part of the People’s One-Party Soviet Socialist Republic of Maryland was part of the machine, was called The Enterprise. A cog. The Enterprise merely took orders from the County Commissioners, who were controlled by the Good Ol’ Boys, the old, rich, established, and founding families in the county, and printed whatever the Boys told them to print.

My editor, his mom, his photographer, and little old me, we ran the only alternate voice, and we were subject to the hatred and opposition that Rush Limbaugh and Fox News were later to receive. My boss got death threats from drug dealer and from the wife of the assistant police chief, and the SMART (Saint Mary’s Association of Rightful Thinking) was organized to call up our advertisers and drive them away. County regulations paying newspaper to publish public notices where altered only to deprive us of revenue. I was falsely accused of a crime, falsely accused of not appearing for a court date (I had received no summons, but the DA lied on an affidavit and said I had) and forced to hide from the police. My editor wore a flack jacket, and went to work, smiling, and interviewed the drug dealers who showed up to threaten him.

The cops were crooked and in bed with the drug pushers, and the County Commissioners were receiving payola from developers via a gambling ring where the developers who wanted not to run afoul of Planning and Zoning somehow always happened to bet big and lose large just before the public hearing.

And so on. The kind of bullshit pulled by the Socialist Justice Wankers who took over the SFWA is kiddie stuff compared to the way the big boys play hard ball.

Happy ending: four out of five of the County Commissioners were voted out of office, thanks to one feisty little three man and one grandma pulp newspaper. It can be done. Has the county become corrupt and fallen back into its old ways by now? I don’t know and I don’t care. The price of liberty is vigilance, and if the public won’t pay that price, to the devil with them.

But the crooked press in my day, to the best of my knowledge, did not coordinate their stories and attacks, and they did not send death threats while pinning the blame for death threats on others. In my day, it was just a meeting of minds, a similarity of outlook. It was not an actual conspiracy of slander.

The lying-ass slandermongering scum who ran the press in my day at least had standards. They stayed bribed when bribed, and when they lied, they tried to make it sound believable.

They never would have stooped to this.

Anyway, I hear that some gamers, particularly those who lean toward the live and let live libertarian side of the Nolan Chart are queasy finding the Breitbart, noted Rightwinger blogsite, and John C Wright, Author, noted Catholic Space Opera Dude in a Hat, are cheering for you.

You heard that Breitbart was like Fox News and Glen Beck rolled in a burrito and smothered in hot sauce, and that this spooky Christian godbotherer has some sort of financial dealings with his publisher, Vox Day, who once said something mean to a black woman threatening him, and he called criminals savages, which is a racist word to use in a sentence addressed to an impolite and wrath-addled negress, on account of no one should own a firearm. (Uh, yes, not to reopen old controversies, but that was what the discussion was about. The negress wanted the people disarmed, an rather odd viewpoint for any people once groaning in the bonds of slavery to take. Racial memory is short, I suppose.)

So that means if Vox Day is a racist then Wright, who fails to shun him, is a racist too, and if you fail to shun me, you will catch a case of racism. You can catch it merely by sitting next to me on the bus, if I cough.

This is not an odd opinion to entertain in the modern day, sad to say, since the common assumption is that one can be racist without knowing it. I first learned I was racist when I said that Leftists praise science but when any scientific error involves race or sex is being discussed, they never discuss the actual science, but prefer instead to call the advocate arguing the other side a racist, as has happened in discussions of brain neurochemistry of the sexes, or IQ distribution between races. For that I was called a racist. My accuser did not stop to ask whether I believe in IQ tests (I don’t. Phrenology is more reliable) nor which race I thought would have the highest median IQ if there were such a thing as IQs  (there is not; the Jews). So therefore one can catch racism merely by being White skinned. It passes genetically.

Pardon me for the digression, but to be accused of racism by racists, even after all these years, still rankles.I am working on that Christian forgiveness thing. I am. Then I am taking up juggling nine fire-axes while skydiving, which must be an easier sport and less exhausting.

Such is the modern account of racism: minorities are immune, but white men catch it by not being the loudest hypocrite accusing other white men of it. Unless they are Spaniards or Portuguese. Somehow these white Europeans of European descent with white skin who are white are not considered white, but a new and separate race called Hispanic. Which is black.  Unless they are needed as a scapegoat for a lynch mob, in which case they are white Hispanics like George Zimmerman. And Elizabeth Warren is a Red Indian.

And these neoheathens called us, the normal people, the Christians, the ones who founded and built this nation, not to mention all the empires and civilizations of Europe, superstitious. They believe in Original Sin just as much as we do, but we think the Sons of Ham and Shem are afflicted as well, and, unlike the neoheathens, we think there is a magic water called baptism that can lave the sins away. They think the only way to remove the stain of sin is to accuse, accuse, and accuse others of being sinners.

The modern Leftwing mavins are the Puritans, the Calvinists, the Cromwellians, who believe you are damned from birth, and you should not drink not even a sip of wine, nor look at an ankle. We are the Catholics, with our lavish cathedrals and operatic grand masses, and drink wine at the Eucharist, and our fasting always comes to an end and leads to a feast-day.

End of digression: there was a point hidden in that turgid wordmass somewhere, like the prize hidden in the box of Crackerjacks.

Gamers, anyone reading this, who told you Vox Day was a racist, eh? Who told you the Republicans represent the rich and powerful and hate the blacks? Who told you the Catholic Church was now run by a Progressive who favors Gay Marriage?

Same people who tirelessly called you a terrorist, eh? Same guys? Still calling you terrorists and misogynist and bigots and saying you are dead, are they?

Gotten your public apology yet?

So, gentlemen and ladies of the gaming world, wherever you are: Do you honestly think they are telling the truth about me and mine, we who oppose them, when you see how they treat you and yours, you who merely annoyed them?

by John C Wright at October 26, 2014 03:43 AM

Front Porch Republic

Papal Permissiveness via Annulment Reform

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Phoenix, Arizona. The Front Porch Republic’s theme of “limits” clearly encompasses contemporary topics about the boundaries of human marriage and the degree that a church can alter such boundaries via creative developments of its doctrine. Thus, it is appropriate to…

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by Peter Daniel Haworth at October 26, 2014 01:51 AM

October 25, 2014

The Brooks Review


John Gruber:

I don’t know that CVS and Rite Aid disabling Apple Pay out of spite is going to drive customers to switch pharmacies (Walgreens is an Apple Pay partner), but I do know that CurrentC is unlikely to ever gain any traction whatsoever.

CurrentC stores your payment information in the cloud and uses QR codes. LOL.

Please consider becoming a member to support my writing. All writing is 100% member funded.

by Ben Brooks at October 25, 2014 11:38 PM

The Art of Non-Conformity

Robert Genn’s Last Year to Live


They considered how to spend the time they had left together. There were thoughts of trips to Hawaii or the Galapagos, but Genn wanted to end his life as he had lived it: in his studio, making art, with his family close by. James fashioned a reclining chair so his father could continue to paint, lying down, as his illness took a physical toll. “He made it his mission to go as long and as far as he could with a paintbrush in his hand, and he was painting small canvases right up until the last few weeks,” James said.

“There’s a thing in the culture that says, if you’re given a year to live, what would you do differently? My dad did the exact same thing in the last year of his life as he had been doing for the first 77 years,” Sara said.

Link + Image: With a Year Left to Live, Here’s What Robert Genn Did


by Chris Guillebeau at October 25, 2014 04:31 PM

Top 5 Credit Card Signup Bonuses for Miles & Points: October

Every year I earn well over one million Frequent Flyer miles and points. About 250,000 of them come through actual travel, and the rest come through travel hacking: the art of seeing the world on a budget.

One of the easiest ways to earn a lot of miles all at once is through credit card signup bonuses. This post contains the best current card offers as of Friday, October 24. If getting every card from this post, you’d earn 165,000 points or miles and $250 in cash. Happy travels!

In this edition:

Chase Sapphire Preferred. Our longstanding, overall “best card” recommendation. The card offers a 40,000 point signup bonus, no foreign transaction fees, double points on all dining and travel expenses, and has the annual fee waived for year one. You’ll get the 40,000 bonus points after spending only $3,000 in three months.

Why it’s good: It’s the gold standard! Or maybe it’s the Sapphire standard… but it’s definitely a standard of some kind.

Learn more or get the card

On the Road

SimplyCash® Business Card from American Express. With no annual fee and a 3% rebate on the category of your choice, you can essentially get paid for shopping at your favorite merchants.

I usually value miles or points more than money, but in this case there’s an interesting signup bonus: as a limited time offer (if you apply before February 24, 2015) you’ll get a $250 statement credit after spending $5,000 on the card within the first six months of card membership.

Learn more or get the card


Chase Ink Plus. A great companion to the Sapphire Preferred. I wrote about this card a lot this month because it had a brief mega-bonus of 70,000 points. That offer is gone, but the 50,000 point offer is still on—and for that one, there’s no annual fee the first year.

Why it’s good: You’ll earn a 5x point bonus on all spending at office supply stores and telecommunications (including your cell phone bill and internet connection). Points earned with the Ink Plus can also be combined with those you earn from Sapphire, and foreign transaction fees are also waived.

Learn more or get the card


U.S. Airways Mastercard. U.S. Airways is disappearing and becoming part of the new American Airlines. However, miles earned in the U.S. Airways program will magically become AA miles at some point in the next year.

Why it’s good: It’s essentially 40,000 miles for $89. I’d buy miles at that rate any day of the week.

Learn more or get the card


Hawaiian Airlines World Elite Mastercard. The new card offers 35,000 miles with a $1,000 spend in 90 days and a 50% off companion fare for roundtrip coach travel between Hawaii and the continental U.S. You’ll also get a bonus $100 companion discount every year you have the card, and 5,000 additional miles every year that you spend $10,000 or more.

Why it’s good: well, you’ll get enough miles for a ticket to Hawaii. As winter approaches, it’s hard to top that!

Learn more or get the card


A few questions and attempted answers are below.

  • Does this really work?

Yes. I’ve been receiving regular signup bonuses for more than five years. Many of our readers have also had great success.

  • Is this bad for airlines and banks?

No. They are happy to have new customers, especially those who are responsible and trustworthy.

  • Isn’t it bad for your credit to apply for so many cards?

Not unless you don’t pay your card balances. Be diligent and you can earn signup bonuses to travel for nearly free for a long time to come.

Learn more about travel hacking in the archives. Join the list below and get regular updates!



Disclosure: Our partner site,, pays us a referral bonus for some of these cards. We always provide the links to the best possible bonus that we’re aware of, and you’re always welcome to apply directly from the card issuers if you prefer.

Images: 1, 2


by Chris Guillebeau at October 25, 2014 04:00 PM


tome: An epic in three or four books

I wanted to mention the tome series as a final nod to the roguelike genre, mostly because there are about three evolutions to the original game, and it has ties to some earlier titles. This is a conservative screenshot of tome2, ostensibly the second incarnation:

2014-10-21-6m47421-tome2-01 2014-10-21-6m47421-tome2-02

Much of the “improvements” that we’ve seen to the original rogue arrangement are in tome2 (and most likely the others in the series): wilderness travel, a heavy mix of Tolkien and Gygax (although more recent versions seem to have spread out into their own directions), multiple dungeons and a variety of quests.

So going by the information available around the Interwebs, here’s what I gather is different:

  • tome split from angband a long while back
  • tome uses skill point progression through talents
  • tome2 in particular allows you to set ranges for ability scores, and the computer will reroll ad infinitum, hoping for score ranges you set
  • tome evolved with its own repertoire of races and professions
  • tome inserts NPCs with specific quests and rewards, and uses quest logs to help you track them

And there is more, of course. This is a good place to start, if you want to learn all the fine details.

tome2 specifically defaults to an SDL environment but can be forced into ncurses, which is also something seen in other roguelikes than evolved over the past couple of decades. More recent versions also have graphical tilesets, if you’ve had enough of ASCIIventuring.

It’s also worth note that the latest version — tome4 — had its last update in June of this year. So unless you specifically stick to an early version of tome, you’re probably going to get some fresh code.

Aside from that, I won’t tell too much about the tome series, mostly because each title really should probably be investigated on its own merit. Much of the movement, control and graphical arrangement follows the roguelikes that we’ve seen over the past week (or earlier).

But at this point, the choice between tome2, tome3, tome4, omega, angband, adom or whatever is really a question of personal preference. I leave it to you to answer it. ;)

Tagged: game

by K.Mandla at October 25, 2014 12:15 PM

Zondervan Academic Blog

Extracurricular Activities 10.25.14—J.I. Packer’s Conversion, A Softer Calvinism, & The Parish’s Death

Justin Taylor Reflects on J. I. Packer’s Conversion — 70 Years Ago

On Sunday, October 22, 1944—seventy years ago today—it is doubtful that anyone noticed a soft-spoken, lanky, and decidedly bookish first-year university student leaving his dormitory room at Corpus Christi College and heading across Oxford for an evening Christian Union service at a local Anglican church.

18-year-old Jim Packer had arrived at Oxford University less than three weeks prior, a single suitcase in hand, traveling east by train from Gloucester using a free ticket available to family members of Great Western Railway employees…

Ben Myers Outlines 12 “Grammatical Rules” of Christology

I’ve just finished another semester teaching christology. This is one of my favourite classes. (My other favourite is the Trinity.) Really it’s one of the joys of my life to be able to explore such things in a classroom setting. In the tutorials we worked our way through two of the richest works on christology ever written: the third volume of Irenaeus’s Against Heresies, followed by Athanasius’s On the Incarnation

In the last class I tried to draw together some of the key points in a list of simple “grammatical rules” for talking about Jesus Christ. I’m sure I’ve missed some important points, but here are the twelve rules I came up with. Each is a negation followed by an affirmation:

Scot McKnight: How Disillusion Revived the Reformation

At the heart of European Protestant theology’s revolutionary developments in the 20th Century was the rediscovery of the transcendence of God that challenged and replaced the identification of historical processes and progressivism (liberal theology) with the ways of God. This theology challenged that mood of theology and philosophy and culture by proclaiming God over against historical processes.

This theology is often called neo-orthodoxy, dialectical theology, kerygmatic theolory (my preference) or crisis theology. Reality is found in what is known from revelation in Scripture about God in Christ, not by discerning the ways of God in the plane of modern history. Instead of accommodation and anthropocentrism we find confrontation and revelation and gospel and Word and christocentrism…

Oliver Crisp and the Softer Face of Calvinism

Few figures in church history have been so much loved or hated, admired or despised as John Calvin. Calvinism—the theological orientation bearing the French theologian’s name—has also had mixed reception. Reformed theologian Oliver Crisp, professor of systematic theology at Fuller Theological Seminary, says Calvinism and the Reformed tradition is more diverse and amiable than is often thought…

David Koyzis on the Death of the Parish and A Motor-Driven Ecclesiology

For most of the last two millennia the gathered or institutional church was organized on a territorial basis, beginning already in New Testament times when Paul’s letters and John’s Revelation were addressed to the churches in specific cities of the Roman Empire, such as Corinth, Ephesus, and Rome. By the sixteenth century, when Christians were quarrelling over ecclesiology among other things, no one thought to question the traditional parish church model. The parish church serves a local community, and its membership is as diverse as the people of that community. Young and old, rich and poor, men and women worship together. According to this model, people who work with each other or buy from and sell to each other during the week gather on Sunday in their neighborhood church to worship the God who has redeemed them in Jesus Christ.

Beginning just over a century ago, all this changed…


Extra-Curricular Activities is a weekly roundup of stories on biblical interpretation, theology, and issues where faith and culture meet. We found each story interesting, thought-provoking, challenging, or useful in some way – but we don’t necessarily agree with or endorse every point in every story.

If you have any comments on these stories, we welcome you to share them here. We hope you enjoy!

–The Editors of Zondervan Academic Blog

by Jeremy Bouma at October 25, 2014 12:09 PM


cryptrover: Get out, quick

I’ll never actually get to the bottom of the list of roguelike games, and it’s really a topic worthy of its own blog. There are a few out there that do that though, so I don’t plan on crowding their market by starting my own.

I do a have a couple more though, and one of them is cryptrover, which I like for stripping down the genre and returning it to its most basic form.


There are no complex command sequences to remember in cryptrover, and only three or four special tools. You’re only concerned with getting out of the crypt, which I believe is only ever 12 levels deep.

It’s not a race though: You’ll have to either tiptoe around spiders or fight them off (which seemed to happen to me a lot). You’re also in danger of suffocating, and to add to your problems, your flashlight might die out.

There are air pockets scattered here and there, and stray batteries that you can use to recharge. And if you can grab some gold too on your way out, you’ll have enough money at the end to afford therapy. :???:

I like cryptrover, in spite of the fact that it is clearly not in the same weight class as some of the roguelike leaders. It has almost no detail to speak of, and were it not for the ASCII-based format, it could be an arcade game of almost any caliber.

But cryptrover disposes with all the Amulets of Yendor and Orbs of Zot, avoids the four classes of canines and six variations of gnolls, leaves out the layers of inventory and wilderness mapping.

And what’s left is a simple, playable, enjoyable game with only one goal: Get out, quick.

Tagged: game

by K.Mandla at October 25, 2014 12:00 PM

John C. Wright's Journal » John C. Wright's Journal

A Parcel of Their Fortunes

Men’s judgments  are
A parcel of their fortunes; and things outward
Do draw the inward quality after them,
To suffer all alike.

–Antony and Cleopatra. Act iii. Sc. 13.

I want to draw something to your attention, my dear reader. I want you to do me a favor, and think. Think very carefully and very clearly. If you have an immediate emotional reaction, put the emotion aside and just concentrate on your facilities rationality, of judgement, of fairplay, of common sense.

The following clip was aired not on some webcast unseen by anyone, but by CNN, one of the most famed and prestigious of news media outlets. Ponder that for a moment. This does not represent the fringe, but the mainstream.

It is not unrehearsed, not ad lib. Someone wrote the lines for the newscaster, and placed them in the teleprompter. This is not one woman’s opinion, but the corporate opinion of CNN.

I have taken the trouble of finding the transcript, to make what is being said crystal clear. There is no room for evasion here, no place to hide, unless you yourself, my reader, create a hiding place in your head and use some unseemly excuse to distract yourself from the plain fact, to shift the blame, or drown out what your eyes and mind are telling you.

Look! Look at it!

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN: OK, I’m just going to come right out and say it. This is quite possibly the best minute and a half of audio we’ve ever come across. Well, come across in a long time anyway. A massive brawl in Anchorage, Alaska, reportedly involving Sarah Palin’s kids and her husband. It was sparked after someone pushed one of her daughters at a party. That’s what Bristol Palin told police in an interview after the incident. And now police have released audio of that interview. It does include some rather colorful language from Bristol. Here now is Bristol’s recollection of how that night unfolded. So sit back and enjoy.


COP: Tell me what happened.

BRISTOL PALIN: My little sister comes over to me and says some old lady just (EXPLETIVE DELETED) pushed me. She just hit me.


PALIN: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) no one’s going to touch my sister.

COP: Where was this at?

PALIN: So we were in a limo. I walked back up, did you push my sister, and some guy gets in my face, pushes me down on the grass, drags me across the grass. I’m like you (EXPLETIVE DELETED), you (EXPLETIVE DELETED), you (EXPLETIVE DELETED), you (EXPLETIVE DELETED). I get back up and he pushes me down on the grass again and pulls me by the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) feet. And he’s the one that’s leaving (ph). And I have my five-year-old. They took my $300 sunglasses. They took my (EXPLETIVE DELETED) shoes. And I’m (EXPLETIVE DELETED) just left here?

COP: OK. Where are you injured at?

PALIN: My (EXPLETIVE DELETED) knees, my face, where is my (EXPLETIVE DELETED). I have a five-year-old in the car.

COP: Where was the limo at when your sister came and got you?

PALIN: It was here.

COP: So your sister came down and got you from the limo that was parked right here?


COP: You went back up to the house.

PALIN: I was closer to the house. Yes.

COP: OK. And when you got up there, you approached the 60-year-old —

PALIN: I don’t know how old she was.

COP: OK. An older lady.

PALIN: Some lady we gray hair —


PALIN: Who wants to push my little — my 20-year-old sister.


PALIN: I’m going to defend my sister. She’s 20-years-old.

COP: And then a guy came out of nowhere and pushed you to the ground?

PALIN: A guy comes out of nowhere and pushes me on the ground, takes me by my feet and my dress, in my thong dress in front of everybody, come on you (EXPLETIVE DELETED). Come on you (EXPLETIVE DELETED) here. I don’t know this guy. I’ve never seen this guy in my life. (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

SARAH PALIN: That’s what I don’t get. Why do these bad guys get to drive right on by (INAUDIBLE).


COSTELLO: I think that long bleep was my favorite part. We should point out that no charges were filed in this incident and in a September 19th Facebook post, Sarah Palin defended her daughter, writing part — writing in part, quote, “I love my Bristol. I have to say, this is a proud mama. My kids’ defense of my family makes my heart soar.” You can thank me later.

Now, notice several things. Costello calls this the best audio clip they’ve ever aired. Why?

This comment in introduced by the remark ‘I’ll just come out and say it’ implying that is it something she expect other folk, perhaps her company, perhaps her audience, perhaps all like minded souls, to believe and to think but not be willing to say.

Costello calls the event a brawl, indeed, a massive brawl, rather than a mugging, and assault, a theft, a battery, a man beating up a woman, or a woman being dragged across the lawn, beaten and robbed before the eyes of her daughter. Again, why? Why use that phrase, “a brawl” rather than a more accurate or more neutral term? Keep in mind that this is news, or pretends to be, and so the words used to convey a certain impression are selected carefully. What is the word ‘brawl’ likely to imply to the average viewer, that the word ‘beating’ or some other, more accurate term, would not? A brawl implies two parties of equal strength in a wild and violent slugging match, perhaps while drunk. It implies something more lighthearted than a man beating down a woman and robbing her.

Costello says that someone pushed young Miss Palin, and that this started it. But the testimony on the tape does not bear that out. The sentence reads “My little sister comes over to me and says some old lady just (EXPLETIVE DELETED) pushed me. She just hit me.” So the altercation was started by someone punching the little sister.

Why would the creature introduce the tape by saying someone pushed the sister rather than, as any normal newsman would have done, someone punched the sister? There was evidently both a push and a punch. As an old newsman myself, someone pushes someone is not a story, but someone punches someone is a story. Why the misleading into?

The misleading intro is mean to mislead, that is all. It is a simple fact of psychology that when you say, “I am going to show you X” and then you see both X and Y, later your will most likely remember X, because it was emphasized, and not Y, which was not.

And why do that? The motive again is not hard to guess. Someone pushing someone so that the comical Miss Palin goes and starts a ‘brawl’ leaves the viewer with a different impression, the impression of a lighthearted schoolyard tussle, whereas calling it what it is, a sister attempting to defend her sister from assault, sounds more grave and serious, and even brave.

When she goes to confront the assaulter, Miss Palin does not swing a punch, according to the testimony on the tape, but she is instead assaulted by a stranger, a man.

She is knocked to the ground twice, dragged by her feet, has her sunglasses and necklace stolen, and the attacker walks away with none to stop him.

Finally, the creature introduces this by calling Miss Palin’s language ‘rather colorful’. This is a snide way of putting it, but I notice most of the swearwords are her quoting her attacker.

Costello says delights in the long bleep, which she describes as ‘her favorite part.’ It is her favorite part, why? For what reason? The purpose of swearwords is to blacken the character and demean both those who speak them and those who hear them. The point of foul language is to be foul. We tend to think such language excusable in emergencies or moments of high emotion, but they still are demeaning. So the creature is expressing not merely pleasure, but delight at seeing an innocent woman demeaned.

Who is this women? She is the daughter of the Vice Presidential nomination running some years ago. The press at that time did all that was humanly and diabolically possible to demean, humiliate, vilify, and demonize Sarah Palin, so much so that I once overheard Michael Swanwick and Connie Willis chortling and chuckling over slandering Mrs Palin, with the same dronelike uniformity of thought George Orwell depicted as being directed against Emmanuel Goldstein during the organized Two Minute Hate.

Now, Costello ends with ‘You can thank me later’ a cattish and personal remark, a personal insult, a personal attack, and sneer and a jibe directed at Palin. Costello is laughing at the pain and humiliation the assault inflicted on Palin’s daughter.

Costello expresses no sympathy, no concern, no mention of the five year old in the car who had no doubt witnessed all this.

Costello likes the idea of women being beaten by men. She likes the idea of mothers being beating in front of the eyes of their daughters. She like pain inflicted on the weak.

Imagine it had been Chelsey Clinton. Imagine these two had been the daughters of Barack Obama.

Imagine it was your daughter. What is it called when a national figure on the national news jibs and laughs and sneers and mocks at your daughter being hurt.

I asked you, reader, to be as honest and logical and clearminded as possible, and not to flinch from the conclusion. What is the conclusion?

What is it called when one takes not just pleasure but delight, vaunting, elevated, lingering delight, at seeing or hearing pain inflicted on the weak? Pain and humiliation?

Saddam, so it is reported, would have women raped before the husbands, or parents tortured and murdered before their children. Saddam was someone the press, with one voice, rose up to defend, to apologize for, to excuse, to justify, and they called Mr Bush, who was Commander in Chief of the war against Saddam, a criminal and they called him many worse names, and some of them fantasized openly about assassinating him.

The conclusion that Costello merely suffered a lapse of courtesy and fairness is not tenable. That cannot explain the several factors I have assiduously underlined in the evidence we have examined. Costello spoke her words to create an effect in the audience and this was done with the aid and at the direction of her superiors at CNN, and with the cooperation of other employees — there is no mention, for example, of a disgusted cameraman walking off the job, much less all of them, which is the normal thing I would have normally expected from normal men.

What effect? Obviously she fully expected the majority of her viewing audience to share in the same state of mind, and take the same pleasure she took, in the beating of Miss Palin.

What is that called? What is the name for that state of mind?

If the question does not bring an answer immediately to the forefront, allow me to remind you of the general character of the political Left. I quote here from Leftism: From de Sade and Marx to Hitler and Marcuse by Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn.

history of the Revolution is a nauseating mixture of idealistic verbiage, of treachery and intrigue, of sentimental incantations and senseless butcheries, of envy and outbursts of sadism.

The colonnes infernales of the revolutionary army under General Turreau massacred the population of entire villages in the Vendee and eastern Brittany. As during
the Soviet occupation of Eastern Germany and Austria, women and girls of all ages were raped, from three- and four-year-olds to tottering matrons.

The republican regional governor, President Cholet, wrote to Turreau that his soldiers committed horrors of which not even cannibals would be capable. Some of the worst cruelties were committed after Le Mans fell into the hands of the Republicans, who murdered all the wounded counterrevolutionaries in the military hospitals. Almost everyone who had not fled was butchered. The women and girls were undressed, raped, slain, and finally placed together with naked male corpses in obscene positions-scenes which General Turreau perhaps failed to notice in his official promenades (as he called them).

These slaughters were also designed to reduce the grande armee de bouches inutiles. The Noyades in the Loire were nauseating beyond description and had a homosexual character.

These nightmarish horrors were repeated in Arras, where the guillotine was placed in front of the theater from whose balcony the revolutionary leader Lebon and his dear wife could watch the spectacle.

After a very arduous day with a big crop, the executioners amused themselves by imitating the batteries nationales of Le Mans, they denuded the decapitated corpses of both sexes, mixing the macabre with the lascivious.

That is the character of the Left. You see it online every day in the foulness that clogs the comments section of half the pages you view, or more. You see their character in the headlines, in the lies, in the counterproductive attempts to cover over those lies. You hear it in their voices when they talk about ‘White Privilege’ and ‘Patriarchy’ and when they get their little girls to use swearwords to tell T-shirts in adds, and when they call the people killed in the World Trade Center attack ‘”little Eichmanns”. You see it when they assign Howard Zinn as reading his history class rather then creative writing, that same Zinn whose introduction to his book says that objectivity in science is neither possible nor desirable. You see it in the book by Saul Alinsky, Obama’s mentor and guide, when he dedicates his book to that first of radical rebels, Satan.

You see it when the press and the president side with a thug and a strong-arm robber over a police officer, who shot the thug in self defense, whereupon the administration, using the governmental power the people by their votes placed in his hands, to stir up violence, call for riots, and hope the riots would energize the Black Vote in the coming midterm elections. You see it when conservative speakers are driven off campuses but cop-killers invited to give the commencement address, or mad bombers given tenure.

You saw it when jackbooted thugs pointed at gun at Elian Gonzales, whose mother died bringing him across the sea to the shores of freedom, only to have the Left rise as one, smirking, and throw him back again.

You saw it when Terri Schiavo was slowly, ever so slowly, with lingering torment, starved and dehydrated to death, not even shown the mercy one would show a mad dog by a swift bullet to the brain. And her parents were allowed to do nothing.

You saw it in the film clip Silent Scream, if your stomach could stand it.

This, this horror, is what all the Left regards as so sacred that even for Catholics to say they do not want to fund mothers slaying the unborn is called a War on Women.

When you saw the heads of reporters sawed off by knives in the hands of Jihadists shrieking their war slogans to Allah, you hear the voices on the Left, one and all, saying that this did not represent real Islam, that Islam is not the problem, that Jihad means only an Inner Struggle, that Islam is the Religion of Peace.

The shooting by Major Nidal Hassan was said by the Leftists through their newspaper spokesmen to be workplace violence, and not representative of the real Islam. The beheading of a woman in a food processing plant in Oklahoma was said by the Leftists through their newspaper spokesmen to be workplace violence, not real Islam. The press routinely refers to the killer by his Christian name, Alton Nolen, and not by his Islamic name, Jah’Keem Yisrael. The Boston Marathon bombing is said not to be the real Islam. The shooter in Ottawa, Canada, who shot up the War Memorial and Parliament building was said not to be the real Islam.  The British soldier attacked and decapitated in broad daylight in the middle of the street was said to be not the real Islam. The Danish Cartoon riots were said to be not the real Islam. The murder of Theo van Gogh was said to be not the real Islam. The worldwide death threats against Salman Rushdie were said to be not the real Islam. Girls stoned to death by their fathers for having a Facebook Account, or decapitated in honor killings, or subjected to female genital mutilation are said by the Left not to be the real Islam. The Islamic State is said to be not the real Islam.

Meanwhile, the real Islam offers no condemnations, fields not protests, mounts no riots, mouths nothings but vague platitudes, and warns of the danger, not of Jihad, but of Islamophobia.

And when a security detail was assigned to Michele Bachmann, due to threats from Jihadists, comments left by readers on the Huffington Post article rejoiced in the threats, and wished her to be decapitated. So the Huffington Post readers, despite what they’ve been told, know the real character of Islam.

Can you imagine anyone, even the most ardent opponent of FDR, wishing that the wheelchair-bound cripple would be captured by Nazis and burned in an oven, during World War Two? No conservative would make such a joke. We do not have this thing, this character, which runs through the mainstream of the Left and defines their view of the world.

You know what I am talking about. You’ve see it. If you ever had a boss or coworker sent to a multiweek ‘charm school’ called sensitivity training for some innocuous courtesy to a shrewish woman, you’ve seen it, because the current Leftist laws put the boss or coworker in a position of powerlessness when it comes to certain types of accusation. And what is it called when one takes joy on inflicting pain on the powerless?

You see it when the office of the president is used to destroy the life and reputation of a young girl who committed adultery with the President in a particularly humiliating unnatural act. Or the another president uses his office to stir up a lynch mob against the community watch member who shot a crook in self defense, whereupon the president says the crook looked like his son would look, had he one. These civilians have no money, no power, no megaphone, and no crooked Justice Department at their beck and call. They are like fish in a toilet facing a man with a shotgun.

What is it? What is the state of mind which throws away law and order, honesty, objectivity, decency, and sanity, in order to hurt someone, to hurt those who cannot fight back, to hurt the weak?

Two men in a knife fight, if they are equally matched, their state of mind might be called bloodlust or battle lust.

But if you enjoy sticking the knife in the heart of someone tied helplessly to the table, tied and gagged, unable to answer, unable to reply, unable to utter a word of defense, what is that called?

And if, instead of a quick and merciful jab, you delight in twisting the knife slowly in the wounds with many shallow cuts and flourishes and lingering pauses … what is that called?

That is the core of the Democrat Party. The is the heart of Leftism.

It was at the heart of the French Revolution and their guillotines, and at the core of the Russian revolution with their gulags.

It is why they hate success, hate masculine men and feminine women, and why they hate unborn babies most of all, with a driving, blinding, passionate hatred that overpowers all other instincts and human emotions.

What is it?

I think you know the answer, reader. I think you know.

by John C Wright at October 25, 2014 10:00 AM

The ryg blog

Little-endian vs. big-endian

Additional cache coherency/lock-free posts are still in the pipe, I just haven’t gotten around to writing much lately.

In the meantime, here’s a quick post on something else: little-endian (LE) vs. big-endian (BE) and some of the trade-offs involved. The whole debate comes up periodically by proponents of LE or BE with missionary zeal, and then I get annoyed, because usually what makes either endianness superior for some applications makes it inferior for others. So for what it’s worth, here’s the trade-offs I’m aware of:

Doing math vs. indexing/sorting/searching

  • LE stores bytes in the order you do most math operations on them (if you were to do it byte by byte and not in larger chunks, that is). Additions and subtractions proceed from least-significant bit (LSB) to most-significant bit (MSB), always, because that’s the order carries (and borrows) are generated. Multiplications form partial products from smaller terms (at the limit, individual bits, though for hardware you’re more likely to use radix-4 booth recoding or similar) and add them, and the final addition likewise is LSB to MSB. Long division is the exception and works its way downwards from the most significant bits, but divisions are generally much less frequent than additions, subtractions and multiplication.

    Arbitrary-precision arithmetic (“bignum arithmetic”) thus typically chops up numbers into segments (“legs”) matching the word size of the underlying machine, and stores these words in memory ordered from least significant to most significant – on both LE and BE architectures.

    All 8-bit ISAs I’m personally familiar with (Intel 8080, Zilog Z80, MOS 6502) use LE, presumably for that reason; it’s the more natural byte order for 16-bit numbers if you only have an 8-bit ALU. (That said, Motorola’s 8-bit 6800 apparently used BE). And consequently, if you’re designing a new architecture with the explicit goal of being source-code compatible with the 8080 (yes, x86 was already constrained by backwards-compatibility considerations even for the original 8086!) it’s going to be little-endian.

  • BE stores bytes in the order you compare them (assuming a lexicographic compare).

    So if you want to do a lexicographic sort, memcmp does the right thing on BE but not on LE: encoding numbers in BE is an order-preserving bijection (if the ordering predicate is lexicographic comparison). This is a very useful property if you’re in the business of selling your customers machines that spend a large chunk of their time sorting, searching and retrieving records, and likely one of the reasons why IBM’s architectures dating back as far as the mainframe era are big-endian. (It doesn’t make sense to speak of “endianness” before the IBM 7030, since that was the machine that introduced byte-addressable memory in the first place; machines before that point had word-based memory). It’s still common to encode numbers in BE for databases and key-value stores, even on LE architectures.

Byte order vs. bit order

  • All LE architectures I’m aware of have the LSB as bit 0 and number both bits and bytes in order of increasing significance. Thus, bit and byte order agree: byte 0 of a number on a LE machine stores bits 0-7, byte 1 stores bits 8-15 and so forth. (Assuming 8-bit bytes, that is.)

  • BE has two schools. First, there’s “Motorola style”, which is bits numbered with LSB=0 and from then on in increasing order of significance; but at the same time, byte 0 is the most significant byte, and following bytes decrease in significance. So by these conventions, a 16-bit number would store bits 8-15 in byte 0, and bits 0-7 in byte 1. As you can see, there’s a mismatch between byte order and bit order.

  • Finally, there’s BE “IBM style”, which instead labels the MSB as bit 0. As the bit number increases, they decrease in significance. In this scheme, same as in LE, byte 0 stores bits 0-7 of a number, byte 1 stores bits 8-15, and so forth; these bytes are exactly reversed compared to the LE variant, but bit and byte ordering are in agreement again.

    That said, referring to the MSB as bit 0 is confusing in other ways; people normally expect bit 0 to have mask 1 << 0, and with MSB-first bit numbering that’s not the case.

Memory access

  • For LE, the 8/16/32-bit prefixes of a 64-bit number all start at the same address as the number itself. This can be viewed as either an advantage (“it’s convenient!”) or a disadvantage (“it hides bugs!”).

    A LE load of 8/16/32/64 bits will always put all source bits at the same position in the destination register; as you make the load wider, it will just zero-clear (or sign-extend) less of them. Flow of data through the load/store circuitry is thus essentially the same regardless of operand size; different AND masks corresponding to the load size, but that’s it.

  • For BE, prefixes start at different offsets. Again, can be viewed as either an advantage (“it prevents bugs!”) or a disadvantage (“I can’t transparently widen fields after the fact!”).

    A BE load of 8/16/32/64 bits puts the source bits in different locations in the destination register; instead of a width-dependent mask, we get a width-dependent shift. In a circuit, this is a Mux of differently-shifted versions of the source operand, which is (very slightly) more complicated than the masking for LE. (Not that I actually think anyone cares about HW complexity at that level today, or has in over a decade for that matter.)

That said, the difference can be slightly interesting if you don’t have a full complement of differently-sized loads; the Cell SPUs are an example. If you don’t have narrow loads, BE is hit a bit more than LE is. A synthesized LE narrow load is wide_unaligned_load(addr) & mask (where the wide unaligned load might itself consist of multiple steps, like it does on the SPUs); synthesized BE narrow load is wide_unaligned_load(addr + offs) & mask. Note the extra add of a non-zero offset, which means one more instruction. You can get rid of it in principle by just having all addresses for e.g. byte-aligned data be pre-incremented by offs, but that’s obnoxious too.

And that’s it for now, off the top of my head.

by fgiesen at October 25, 2014 07:10 AM

Beeminder Blog

Beeminder ♥ HabitRPG

An infinibee in a treasure chest, RPG-style.

HabitRPG and Beeminder have a remarkably similar history and remarkably similar users. We consider this a match made in heaven. In fact, we and the HabitRPG folks have been talking about this for literally years now, so we’re very excited to finally be shipping it, thanks to the hacking skills of our own Alice Monday, and with assistance from Alice Harris. As a welcome to HabitRPG users new to Beeminder, we’re starting with a recap. For Beeminder regulars who don’t already know about HabitRPG, we summarize that as well. If you’re already sold on Beeminder and HabitRPG separately, dive in and start using them together!

Beeminder Reprise

You’re probably here because you either know and love Beeminder, or you know and love HabitRPG. So hi there, friendly Habiteers! Since this is Beeminder turf we’ll start with a quick explanation of what Beeminder’s all about. (For the full Beeminder story, you could start with our inaugural blog post about akrasia and self-binding, a.k.a. commitment devices.)

Beeminder’s a lot like HabitRPG. The big picture is that Beeminder helps you stick to things that would otherwise get trampled underfoot by the rest of your life. That is, we get you doing those things you want to do, but never find time for, or those things you need to do but you keep putting off because UGH.

What’s special about Beeminder is that we combine Quantified Self (and goal tracking) with commitment contracts. If you don’t know anything about commitment devices, it works like this with Beeminder: We plot your progress along a Yellow Brick Road to your goal and if you go off track, we charge you money. Long-time Beeminder users find that those stings (get it?) are well worth it for all the awesomeness we induce the rest of the time. But if the thought of having to pay money is too scary, that’s perfect: you’ll be very motivated to keep all your datapoints on your yellow brick road. We don’t even ask for a credit card until the first time you go off track.


“Add a stick to HabitRPG’s carrot”

HabitRPG is all about gamifying your life. And OMG, who wouldn’t want to live in an 8-bit fantasy world where you earn gold for flossing your teeth, and reward yourself for taking out the garbage! They have quests to level up your character at habbity things, and you can spend your gold on various bling for your character and build up adorable little pixelated pets and earn bling for them too! They have a lot more in the way of community support than Beeminder as you can join up with a group to complete the quests and support each other along the way. There’s also a really nice interface for making repeating tasks that you might want to do daily, like flossing your teeth, as well as one-off to-do item tasks.

It takes a certain kind of nerd, of course, to appreciate this, but that turns out to be case for Beeminder as well. And it’s largely the same kind of nerd. If you’re a fan of Beeminder there’s a very good chance you’ll love HabitRPG as well.

HabitRPG makes habit building intuitive and so much fun that it might seem almost superfluous to beemind your progress. But of course installing new habits is hard, even if you have a cute cephalopod pet to think of feeding. Gamifying the basic building blocks of your life makes it easier to succeed. But hard-committing to progress makes it harder to fail, so we’re really excited to announce our partnership with HabitRPG!

Dive In

So far we’re just concerned with one direction: Beeminding your HabitRPG usage. And we’re starting with just To-Dos, not Habits or Dailies. We’ve implemented goals to track your total completed To-Dos or your total uncompleted To-Dos.

Which should you beemind? Well, tracking completed To-Dos is nice and straightforward, and beeminding it would add a stick to HabitRPG’s carrot. However, if you tend to let hard things languish and go stale in your To-Do list, then you might do better beeminding To-Dos remaining. The danger with minding more completed To-Dos is that you’ll drum up trivial tasks to keep yourself on track. The danger with focusing on whittling your remaining To-Dos is that you may be discouraged from adding new tasks. If both of those sound like dangers for you, beemind both!

The Future

The first obvious integration in the other direction is having a HabitRPG habit to enter Beeminder data and automtically get XP (experience points) in HabitRPG for doing so. Better yet: get XP for maintaining a 7-day safety buffer on a Beeminder goal. Alice Harris is doing all sorts of things like that already with her own wizardry with our respective APIs.

And Paul Fenwick is another HabitRPG / Beeminder crossover fan who’s already integrated Beeminder and HabitRPG. His Exobrain project links up Beeminder and HabitRPG so that he gets XP on HabitRPG for telling Beeminder he flossed his teeth, for example.

Known Issues

We’ll amend this post when these are fixed but for now, there are two known issues you’ll want to be careful of:

  1. Don’t delete any completed To-Dos in HabitRPG if you’re beeminding total To-Dos completed. We’re not yet robust to that.
  2. The error-checking is spotty in the goal creation form. Make sure you specify a sane weekly rate of To-Dos.

Got all that? Ok, go!

Create a HabitRPG Goal

by dreeves at October 25, 2014 06:52 AM

John C. Wright's Journal » John C. Wright's Journal

Feminism Sinks to a New Low

A comment by Jonah Goldberg, which represents my sentiments so exactly that I have nothing to add:

I know that sounds impossible, but I think it just may be true. I won’t embed the video, but you can find it here at Mediaite along with a fuller write-up. Someone thought it’d be really funny/bold/transgressive to dress a whole bunch of little girls as princesses and then have them shout feminist-approved slogans and lots and lots of f-bombs. I could rant for a while about the rich cocktail of stupidity and creepiness of all this, but it really speaks for itself.  And, besides, that’s what they’re going for. I will say that the parents of these little girls should be ashamed of themselves.

by John C Wright at October 25, 2014 02:21 AM

October 24, 2014

CrossFit 204: Winnipeg, Canada

Workout: Oct. 27, 2014

Nice form, Dan! We could throw a barbell on the squat with ease.

Nice form, Dan! We could throw a barbell on that squat with ease.

Back squat 5-5-5-5-5


by Mike at October 24, 2014 10:34 PM

Workout: Oct. 26, 2014

"Think I could get away with Viking hair at the office?"

“Think I could get away with Viking hair at the office?”

Strict press 3-3-3

Push press 3-3-3

3 rounds of:

10 front-rack step-ups (95/65 lb.)

10 front squats (95/65 lb.)

10 box-over burpees


Part 1

Jerk balance 3-3-3

Part 2

Jerk 2-2-2

Part 3

Amass 5 minutes in a plank

Rest as needed.

by Mike at October 24, 2014 10:32 PM

Weekend Reading






Venture Capital


by Jason Spinell at October 24, 2014 10:02 PM

Front Porch Republic

Patriotism in Little


Louisville, Kentucky.  One of the things I found on moving home to Kentucky 22 years ago is that our love of country is a very little and very local thing. Our love for our large country as a whole…

Read Full Article...

The post Patriotism in Little appeared first on Front Porch Republic.

by Katherine Dalton at October 24, 2014 08:00 PM

John C. Wright's Journal » John C. Wright's Journal

Global Warming Hoax Finally Declared Dead

If the founder of the Weather Channel has no right to say this, no one does:

John Coleman, the founder of Weather Channel, has written an open letter to UCLA, in which he claims the theory of anthropogenic climate change is no longer scientifically credible.  The full text of the letter is as follows:

Dear UCLA Hammer Forum officials,

There is no significant man-made global warming at this time, there has been none in the past and there is no reason to fear any in the future. Efforts to prove the theory that carbon dioxide is a significant “greenhouse” gas and pollutant causing significant warming or weather effects have failed. There has been no warming over 18 years. William Happer, Ph.D., Princeton University, Richard Lindzen, Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Willie Soon, Ph.D., Harvard Smithsonian Observatory, John Christy, Ph.D., University of Alabama and 9,000 other Ph.D. scientists all agree with my opening two sentences.

Yet at your October 23 Hammer Forum on Climate Change you have scheduled as your only speakers two people who continue to present the failed science as though it is the final and complete story on global warming/climate change. This is major mistake.

I urge you to re-examine your plan. It is important to have those who attend know that there is no climate crisis. The ocean is not rising significantly. The polar ice is increasing, not melting away. Polar Bears are increasing in number. Heat waves have actually diminished, not increased. There is not an uptick in the number or strength of storms (in fact storms are diminishing). I have studied this topic seriously for years. It has become a political and environment agenda item, but the science is not valid.

I am the founder of The Weather Channel and a winner of the American Meteorological Society honor as Broadcast Meteorologist of the Year. I am not a wacko flat Earther. Nor am I a “paid shill” (as has been claimed) of the Koch Brothers. I am a serious Professional. I am strongly urging you to reconsider your plan.

I can be reached at xxx-xxxx (redacted) and will be pleased the discuss this matter with you and answer questions. I will be happy to provide links to all of the points I have made in this email. As a quick scientific reference you may wish to look at the website of the Non-governmental Panel on Climate Change.

My best regards,
John Coleman

by John C Wright at October 24, 2014 07:07 PM

The Art of Non-Conformity

Do You Want to Be Right or Do You Want to Be Free?


I’ve been thinking about this question recently (thanks, Danielle).

There’s a lot of freedom in giving up on a matter of principle, so you can move on with your life.

When at an impasse in a difficult situation, the freedom comes in saying “OK, whatever. Have it your way, but let’s stop the silliness.”

Letting go is tough, though… because you’re right. And you want everyone to acknowledge it! But there’s a price to pay for being right and receiving the acknowledgment.

“Life is too short for this” is a great mantra for conflict management.

Do you need to be right all the time? Maybe it’s better to just be free.

Link: Do You Want to Be Right or Do You Want to Be Free?


Image: Gisela

by Chris Guillebeau at October 24, 2014 06:39 PM

The Attacks in Ottawa and Quebec – some thoughts

Here’s a collection of thoughts on the Ottawa and Quebec attacks this week. Let me make it clear that my first thoughts are with the families and friends of the victims, Nathan Cirillo and Patrice Vincent. This is not a coordinated and clear essay, rather it’s a series of comments that I’ve made on various social media platforms in one convenient place:

1. Media coverage of the attacks in Canada was initially measured, serious and did not exaggerate or speculate unduly. This was noted by American publications (for example, Mother Jones). The broadcast media, particularly the CBC, were much better than the papers in this regard. However, within a day, the usual narrative that accompanies these kinds of events in their aftermath started to emerge, in particular the idea that ‘everything has changed’ or must change – for example, this piece in the National Post. This is the worst possible reaction to what happened. The best way to be is not to be intimidated or afraid. To remain committed to a democratic and open society. To reject the politics of fear and of violence and aggressive intervention overseas. To perhaps rekindle that (however mythical) vision of Canada as a peace-maker and peace-builder.

2. It is quite instructive to compare the government’s reactions to these attacks with their reactions to the disappearance and deaths of hundreds of aboriginal women and girls and their complete rejection of action in the latter case. Why is pretty much everything still the same after the death of Tina Fontaine but ‘nothing will be the same again’ after the murder of Nathan Cirillo? Something to think about…

3. Of course, a lot of the reaction, including already some racist and Islamophobic attacks, have focused on the supposed religious affiliations of the attackers. But these murders were carried out by alienated young Canadian men on other Canadians, just like Justin Bourque who killed three policemen in New Brunswick back in June. Unlike Bourque, both the recent attackers claimed radical Islamic affiliation and identity. But at least one of them had been turned away from mosques for behaving strangely, and few Muslims here or anywhere else in the world would recognise either of them as fellows. Why are we still concentrating on IS / the Middle East in looking for answers and responsibility… and continuing in our aggressive (re)action there, when it is our young men who are doing this? What is it about our society that is failing our young people?

4. What about the role of the state in preventing these attacks? Why it is that Canada’s intelligence services didn’t stop the attackers this week, especially as the first was on the top priority watchlist of 90 ‘radicalized’ people; and the second was a known career criminal who had just been refused a passport because he was considered too dangerous. Well, one reason is that under Harper the priorities of the intelligence services have been clearly misdirected for political / economic ends. Take this list on CSIS’s public website: top of the list is environmentalists trying to prevent logging activities. If you can find me a single example of a Canadian environmental activist who even tried to endanger anyone’s life, I’d be very surprised. These aren’t ‘terrorists’, these are activists. The intelligence services should not be used as a political tool to benefit particular industries and target those who actually care about saving our lives and our environment, whether those are environmentalists, indigenous people or others. The intelligence services, if they are to have any ethical purpose at all, should be to prevent real and present threats to life.

5. Yet of course, for the current Canadian government, the attacks serve as evidence for existing (and probably as yet unproposed) new laws or changes to the law. But te attacks this week were not evidence of the need for new powers, they were evidence of the failure of the intelligence services and police to use their existing powers properly. There should be no fast-tracking of bills to increase security powers using these events as an excuse – instead any changes in the law should be only be proposed following a full, open and accountable inquiry into what happened and what went wrong.

6. Let’s hope that any inquiry into these attacks doesn’t exclude the possible role that the abolition of the long gun registry might have played in hindering the ability of police to prevent the second attack… I trust of course that the government will be entirely open to exploring the possibility that allowing people to have unregistered rifles and shotguns might just have been a mistake. It is also ironic that the same people who are now demanding increased government powers of surveillance and security are the ones who justified the ending of the registry on the grounds that it constituted unnecessary government interference in private lives.

7. Finally, the attacks are already being packaged and presented as if they are finished and, now, we respond. It’s convenient in many ways for the official narrative that is emerging that both attackers are dead. I’m not saying they were killed deliberately with this in mind, not at all.

NB: Some witnesses also seemed to indicate that the shooter was being driven by another attacker, and I reported this in earlier versions of this post, but this seems to have been incorrect.

Filed under: surveillance

by David at October 24, 2014 06:13 PM

Market Urbanism

The Status of Smart Growth Regulation

Image via Urban Milwaukee

Debates over land use policy often devolve into opponents arguing over how to interpret the same set of facts. For example, “market suburbanists” argue that because apartments in walkable neighborhoods tend to cost more per square foot than suburban single family homes, high densities make coastal cities expensive. Smart Growth advocates may look at the same data and argue that zoning rules that restrict the supply of high-density housing in desirable locations is what makes housing expensive.

In order to provide clarity to the debate on land use regulations, Mike Lewyn and Kip Jackson survey the zoning codes of the 24 cities with populations between 500,000 and 1,000,000 residents. In their new Mercatus Center study, they find that while some cities have in fact enacted the sorts of policies that market suburbanists fear — minimum density requirements and maximum parking rules — these regulations remain very rare relative to near-ubiquitous maximum density rules and minimum parking requirements.

Lewyn and Jackson list the mid-size cities that have adopted various types of Smart Growth regulations below. While a handful of cities have adopted the types of regulations they surveyed, every U.S. city in this sample has a maze of traditional zoning rules.

Lewyn Table

A perpetual challenge in studying the effects of both traditional and Smart Growth regulations is finding data. Municipal codes are all housed on unique websites with varying degrees of accessibility. The difficulty of achieving clear answers as to what causes high housing prices contributes to advocates of traditional zoning and Smart Growth to shout past one another.

While Smart Growth as a whole is maligned by some advocates of the free market, many Smart Growth tenets are actually deregulatory. Policy changes including upzoning, reducing parking requirements, and permitting mixed-use development are all steps toward laissez-faire land use relative to the status-quo, even though these policies are sometimes criticized by those who claim to support free markets. A clear analysis of whether and how cities are implementing Smart Growth allows us to evaluate whether Smart Growth as a whole is a step toward or away from the free market.

Lewyn and Jackson’s study shows that rather than embracing the deregulatory tenets of Smart Growth, regulators in some cities have layered Smart Growth rules on top of their traditional zoning rules, creating a complicated web of regulations. They explain:

Fort Worth imposes a variety of minimum parking requirements, adding simply that the “maximum number of parking spaces shall not exceed 125% of the minimum parking requirement.” For example, the city requires one parking space per bedroom for multifamily housing, which means the maximum parking requirement is 1.25 spaces per bedroom. Because the difference between Fort Worth’s minimum and maximum parking requirements is so small, it appears that almost all parking that is not prohibited is compulsory.

The authors show that while many Smart Growth objectives of such as permitting higher density, mixed-use neighborhoods could be achieved with deregulation, urban planners have instead chosen in some cases to replace traditional zoning rules with Smart Growth rules, in some cases requiring development that would have been prohibited under the traditional zoning regime. As Stephen has pointed out previously, some cities have gone from parking minimums directly to parking maximums without giving the market outcome a chance.

By assessing the legal environment in this sample of cities, Lewyn and Jackson have set the stage for empirical work on how Smart Growth rules are affecting prices. This empirical work is badly needed. Understanding the costs of both these new rules and traditional zoning rules is crucial for evaluating these policies, and these costs cannot be estimated without a clear understanding of which rules cities are putting on the books. This paper demonstrates that today Smart Growth policies are unusual relative to traditional zoning rules that restrict density. However Smart Growth is in some cases complicating the policy landscape rather than providing more freedom for developers to respond to consumer demand.

by Emily Washington at October 24, 2014 05:57 PM

Englewood Christian Church: We Blog! » ERB

ERB Weekly Digest – October 24, 2014 – Tim Suttle, Denise Levertov, Free Ebooks, MORE


Kindle ebook Bargain! Greg Boyd’s MYTH OF A CHRISTIAN RELIGION!
Only $2.99!!!!


Contest: Help us Pick the Worst Christian Book Covers of 2014!
Submit your candidate covers and vote for the worst ones…



Reviews, etc. posted this week on The Englewood Review of Books website:

  • Tim Suttle – Shrink [Feature Review]
    A Text for the Little Guys   A Feature Review of Shrink: Faithful Ministry in a Church Growth Culture Tim Suttle Paperback: Zondervan, 2014 Buy now: [ ] [ ]   Reviewed by Katie Savage   Last week, one sweet parishioner pulled me aside after the Sunday service and whispered in my ear, “Don’t worry—it […]

  • J.R. Briggs – FAIL [Feature Review]
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by csmith at October 24, 2014 05:33 PM

Justin Taylor

A Biblical Theology of God’s Design for Man and Woman

9781433536991Matt Smethurst interviews Andreas and Margaret Köstenberger about their new book, God’s Design for Man and Woman: A Biblical-Theological Survey (Crossway, 2014). This is one of the few books to approach the issue from the methodology and organization of biblical theology. Here are a couple of excerpts from the interview:

In what ways can evangelical Christians be in danger of confusing conservative cultural expectations with biblical complementarity?

Scripture doesn’t give a lot of detail as to how God’s design for man and woman is to be worked out, so a traditional division of labor (women in the kitchen, changing diapers; men at work letting women do all household chores) doesn’t square with the biblical design (we’ve discussed the inadequacy of labels here). It’s true that God’s design assigns primary spheres of activity, but Scripture calls the husband not only to provide for his wife materially but, more importantly, to love her sacrificially. There is flexibility within the basic framework, and each couple has unique circumstances in which to work out God’s design and plan for them personally, both leader and partner. The biblical pattern is loving, self-sacrificial complementarity where the couple partners in conscious pursuit of God’s mission. Marriage is part of God’s larger purpose of reuniting all of humanity under one head, the Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:10).

Did working on this book together cause you to rethink any view you previously held?

A fresh and focused look at the overall teaching of Scripture on God’s design for man and woman has given us what we think is a more balanced paradigm for men and women. Succinctly put, the overarching model that many have implicitly understood in recent years has been male leadership and female submission. Though true in essence, we believe that this approach may unduly constrain the woman’s role and contribution in marriage and the church. We might rather categorize the biblical teaching in these terms: male leadership and female partnership. Holding these two patterns in tension without denying or diminishing either is vital. Many unfortunately deny male leadership, which is indisputably and pervasively taught in Scripture, while others—in practice if not in principle—diminish the real sense of male-female partnership in keeping with Scripture’s depiction of the woman as the man’s counterpart and as his fellow heir of God’s grace.

You can read the whole thing here.

Here are a few endorsements for the book:

“Models the best of Christian discernment about matters of gender, theology, justice, roles, and gifts. It is faithful in its representation both of God’s character and our own propensity to sin, pastoral in its application of faithful biblical hermeneutics, insightful in its explanation of original word usages and their application, concise in its framing of hot-button issues and the hermeneutical fallacies that often fuel them, and charitable in its handling of the motives of those who disagree.”
—Rosaria Butterfield, former tenured Professor of English at Syracuse University; author, The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert; mother, pastor’s wife, and speaker
“The brilliant and respected Andreas and Margaret Köstenberger are wise experts, guiding us through the Bible for a substantive, gospel-rich, and pastorally applied theology of masculinity, femininity, and the goodness of our differences by God’s design.”
—Russell D. Moore, President, The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission; author, Tempted and Tried
“Scriptural, thorough, scholarly, irenic, and practical, this vital resource will help any serious student of the Bible understand God’s good, wise, and wonderful design.”
—Mary A. Kassian, Professor of Women’s Studies, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; author, Girls Gone Wise in a World Gone Wild
“Moving beyond debates that discuss men’s and women’s roles in isolation from one another, Andreas and Margaret Köstenberger take a biblical-theological approach that seeks to understand God’s design for men and women from the progressively unfolding narrative of Scripture. Responding to the profound influence of feminism, the authors call on men to exercise leadership in ways that exhibit genuine care and responsibility for those they are charged to nurture and protect.”
—Daniel I. Block, Gunther H. Knoedler Professor of Old Testament, Wheaton College
“Whenever we consider our God-given design, we must do so with humble hearts. What a gift to be able to appreciate how the triune, eternal God made us! This study on God’s design will be useful in every field of Christian work all over the world.”
—Gloria Furman, Pastor’s wife, Redeemer Church of Dubai; mother of four; author, Glimpses of Grace and Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full
At the Crossway page you download some sample material and a study guide.


by Justin Taylor at October 24, 2014 03:20 PM

512 Pixels

'I pledge my allegiance to iMac Nation' →

Jason Snell:

This is the promise of the 27-inch iMac with Retina 5K Display: It’s one of the fastest Macs ever attached to the best Mac display ever. Yes, it’s an iMac, meaning you can’t attach a newer, faster computer to this thing in two or three years. But I have a feeling that these iMacs will have the processor power, and the staying power, to make the aging process much less painful.


by Stephen Hackett at October 24, 2014 02:57 PM

John C. Wright's Journal » John C. Wright's Journal

Saluting Gamergate

An exchange concerning Gamergate seen over at VoxDay’s website, I thought I must share. A comment was posted by one AESchool supporting Antigamergate:

The discussion has gone well beyond [Anita Sarkeesian] and her agenda. It’s well out of her hands. But her work is done here…just look around at the media coverage. It’s not very kind to the GG crew. She won. The reason we know is that she could bow out right now and her agenda would continue on.

Prompting this comment from cailcorishev:

And in the TV era, the media coverage is all that matters, and since you’ve owned that, you’ve always won, right?

So what happens if that chain breaks? What happens if you take on a group of people and then find out they can’t be shamed by your media?

Prompting this counter from AESchool:

It’s a case of the bubble you live in just becoming a tiny bit bigger. That’s all.

If you don’t think culture is changed by media, ask yourself why the anti-gay contingent in the U.S. is so much smaller today. Ask yourself why blatant racism is no longer casually accepted today. Ask yourself why President Obama is president today. Ask yourself society is no longer based on patriarchy. Ask yourself America is much less stridently religious today.

The tiny gang behind GamerGate is so outmatched it’s not even worth trying to measure. What I’m finding interesting is watching the dynamic play out that motivates the GamerGate people to declare they are winning. That’s the interesting part.

However, please note that the Morlock admits something Brietbart used to say, and which I repeat: the Media is the enemy.  The press and the entertainment industry is where we must carry the fight. We must supervert, if I may use that term, what they have subverted.

The above prompted this reply, adroit and clear, and the comment I wanted to emphasize and underscore was from Jack Amok:

It’s funny to read leftists like this AESchool troll. They think they are the inevitable victors, but they don’t realize how fragile the castle they’ve build really is. Their victories are those of bullies with time on their hands to harass and vandalize people who can’t spend all day defending themselves. Nobody respects them. Nobody likes them. Nobody thinks they ought to be making decisions or be given much of a voice on any substantive matter. They’re only allowed to do what they do because people with jobs and lives and responsibilities are unwilling to risk all that against the howling mob, so people duck their heads and try not to be noticed.

One crack that erodes their ability to siphon resources, and suddenly they don’t have the time to target and harass. One successful Black Knighting operation and suddenly they don’t have quite the number of vocal foot soldiers, as their side starts to ponder the costs of being visible, of being a target.

Because nobody likes them. Nobody respects them. Nobody – not even their own side – trusts them. And many hate them, despise them. They have squandered all their goodwill, they have no reserves of social capital to draw on if they suffer a reverse.

And so it’s all very fragile. One crack, one demonstration of weakness, of the inability to hurt someone who stands up to them, and it can all crumble. The whole, rotten, Potemkin façade, steam-rolled to dust in a frenzy of pissed-off retribution. Or, maybe just shrugged off and ignored as irrelevant to a society trying to feed itself and fight off the banditos and jihadis.

One crack that they can’t contain and they’re toast. Which is why they’re so afraid of #GamerGate. When you rule your empire as a Mafioso, you can’t afford to ever lose.

But sooner or later, everybody does lose. Nobody can win forever, and they’ve set themselves up to be slaughtered when they do lose.

B0uLVSsCcAA-8dF.png large

My comment: bravo, Jack Amok, whoever you are.

You are more optimistic than I, since I believe no crack and no slaughter can deter them. They are true believers and fanatics, as devout in the spiritual realm as their twin brothers, the Jihadists, are in the physical realm, and as willing to ruin their careers as Jihadists are willing to end their lives. Both are willing to make shattering self sacrifices, any sacrifices, and ignite a bomb strapped to themselves, just in the hopes that the shrapnel with hurt some of women and children standing innocently nearby. They don’t want to live; they want you to die.

The wording of the Morlock has a distinctly triumphalist note. I am reminded of Baghdad Bob announcing the glorious victory of the glorious leader, Saddam, while American tanks are in the camera view in the background.

Speaking of background, after an extensive internet search, I found nothing but a continuous stream of Leftwing agitprop articles on the point, as repetitive as the chatter of talking magpies, so I cannot even discover the basic facts to my satisfaction. But I am an old hand at the newspaper business, and I know lies when I see them.

So AESchool is entirely right about the media coverage: The electronic world has been flooded with their agitation propaganda.

I am woefully ill informed about this particular kerfuffle, but I must say, that I declare my alliance, allegiance, fealty and sacred honor to the cause of Gamergate, whoever they are, merely on the point of how dishonorable, how utterly dishonest and despicable, their opposition is.

I look with eyes of envy at the gaming world, which had the manly fortitude to resist this influx of self-righteous would-be Grand Inquisitors, Thought Police, and Hall Monitors of the Established and Imperial Church of Leftwing Pervertarianism into their midst.

My world, the SFWA, caved with nary a word into the maw of these vapid moral troglodytes, and immediately abolished science fiction from the science fiction world, replacing it with dino-porn, race-baiting, wereseals, lynch mob slogans, homosex agitprop, blasphemy, christophobia, flag-trampling, and dreary lectures supporting their particular brand of mental and moral corruption.

The spark that started it all was some harlot copulating energetically with gaming-review writers in return for favorable reviews and publicity. When the corruption and harlotry was made public, the Leftwing media immediately closed ranks, as they did with President Clinton under similar circumstances, and, unable to defend the adultery-for-favors, merely accused all and sundry of witchcraft, consorting with demons, sodomy, causing storms, and blighting crops and cattle, poisoning wells, and kidnapping children to grind their bones into their bread in their impious and dark rites to glorify Moloch.

No, I am sorry, the Left is in favor of all of those things, and, like the Witches, think they can control the weather with politics. At the moment, it is only unborn children they murder for the greater glory of Moloch.

What they accused Gamergaters of was crimethink, other crimthinks, being mean, making death threats, and making rape threats to a freakshow castrato who dresses in woman’s clothing.  There are sufficient suspicious circumstances to indicate the death threats were self-imposed, and anyone with a passing knowledge of modern journalism recalls how often Leftists have made such false threats in the past.

Odd indeed that after decades of demeaning, debasing, and undermining all standards of courtesy, decency, and politeness, the Left now objects to rude and uncouth behavior, and faints as readily as a Victorian matron. But at the same time, the Left has successfully horsewhipped all gentlemen and traces of gentle behavior out of the public square, so I do not know whom the fainting matrons expect will catch them when they faint, as opposed to stare, blank eyed, at the old crazy lady pretending to swoon, and now lying in the dirt.

* * *


Keep in mind, the antigamergate crowd are people who spend their time complaining about the lack of homosexual and transgendered characters one can play in first person shooter games, or complain about the fact that Princess Peach gets kidnapped by Donkey Kong.

Let us not assume a person making such a complaint is is sane.

He is not. He is impersonating what he knows or should know is an insane behavior, that is, he is attributing to an utterly innocent behavior (game writing) the most evil behavior he can imagine (racism, sexism, bigotry) and he is deliberately pretending to be insulted when no insult is intended nor imaginable.

Why he does this is at once both obscure and utterly clear. He clearly wants the unearned moral superiority of claiming to be a victim, despite that no one has victimized him. He cannot do this with a sane complaint, so he voices an insane complaint.

I assume that, at first, he knows it is insane, but that knowledge shrinks and dies as his conscience and his sanity dies. He pretends and pretends until his ability to tell the difference between pretend and reality. At that point, he had played make believe at being insane until the make believe becomes real.

So much is clear. What is obscure is why he adopts a set of beliefs which poison normal human relations, increase his misery, make him think the hands of all men are against him, render him unable to enjoy the games he likes.

Unless you believe in devils, I do not know how you can explain this behavior.


by John C Wright at October 24, 2014 02:55 PM

Feed: » stratechery by Ben Thompson

Podcast: Exponent Episode 022 – Peak Google, Monologue Edition

On the newest episode of Exponent, the podcast I co-host with James Allworth:

In this week’s episode Ben and James discuss Ben’s article “Peak Google” and the future of advertising.


  • Ben Thompson: Peak Google – Stratechery
  • Benedict Evans: The Irrelevance of Microsoft –
  • Peter Kriss: The Value of Customer Experience, Quantified – Harvard Business Review
  • Ben Thompson: Mobile Makes Facebook Just an App; That’s Great News – Stratechery
  • Ben Thompson: I Love the Blackberry Passport (on Generic Strategies) – Stratechery (members-only)
  • Ben Thompson: The Cord-Cutting Fantasy – Stratechery

Listen to the episode here

Podcast Information: Feed | iTunes | SoundCloud | Twitter | Feedback

The post Podcast: Exponent Episode 022 – Peak Google, Monologue Edition appeared first on stratechery by Ben Thompson.

by Ben Thompson at October 24, 2014 02:51 PM

assertTrue( )

How I Made 57% Overnight When Amazon Stock Got Crushed

DISCLAIMER: I am not an investment advisor. Before entering into any trading strategy based on anything presented here, consult a qualified professional (or better yet, half a dozen of them). This post is meant to be educational, not advisory.

With that out of the way, let me explain an investment tactic I have sometimes used with great results. None of this will be news to an experienced investor. It will be news to some.

Going into last night's Amazon earnings report, I was holding some shares of Amazon (accumulated during the big market down-move of earlier this month). Naturally, I wanted to protect those shares against a sudden price drop like the one that happened after the previoous earnings report, 90 days ago.

I bought put options (a bearish bet) late in the day yesterday, fearing that a bad report from Amazon would move the stock lower. Just to review: A put is a contract that gives you the right to sell a particular stock at a predetermined price (the so-called strike price) during a particular time frame. I bought the December AMZN put, strike price $295, yesterday afternoon when the stock was trading around $314. The $295 strike means the put was $19 "out of the money." Because it was so far out of the money, the put was relatively inexpensive, at $8.99 (times 100 shares: $899, plus commission, per contract).

Last night, after Amazon announced its $437 million loss (95 cents a share; much more than the 74 cent loss the Street was expecting), the stock price fell sharply. It opened this morning down $30, at $284. (It rebounded to $290 within a few minutes.)

My put contract went from being $19 out-of-the-money to $5 in-the-money. Its price rose from $8.99 to $14.28, a 57% overnight gain.

Taking a naked short position is risky, but in reality I was using the put to protect shares of the actual stock. (It was a hedge, in other words.)

This same hedigng tactic paid off handsomely for me three months ago, at the last Amazon earnings call, which also moved the stock down about $30 a share.

Will it happen again? No one knows. But we do know that earnings announcements often cause sudden dramatic moves in stock prices, particularly with tech stocks.

Options are not for every investor. They decay in price (quite rapidly) over time, they're subject to huge price moves, and if you're not careful you can lose part or all of your money. If you decide to look into options, educate yourself thoroughly on the risks. The risks can be substantial. But so can the rewards.

by Kas Thomas ( at October 24, 2014 01:59 PM

Crossway Blog

John Calvin on the Role of the Pastor

Calvin’s Understanding of Church Leadership

Calvin did not imagine that the New Testament gave us a precise liturgy or church order, but he was convinced that it gives us clear guidelines. From his study of the New Testament Calvin suggested that there are four offices: doctor, pastor-teacher, elder, and deacon. However, the emphasis falls on the latter three.

Pastors are trained, examined, and ordained to preach, teach, and administer the sacraments. They give their full time to the ministry of the Word and prayer. Over against Rome, the Reformers taught that baptism, not ordination, makes a priest. In their person, officers share with all the saints “one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” In their office, though, they are not mere facilitators or team leaders. Rather, they are Christ’s ambassadors through whom he builds and extends his own kingdom.

As Calvin reminds us, Christ told the apostles “that the ministers of the Gospel are porters, so to speak, of the kingdom of heaven, because they carry its keys; and, secondly, he adds that they are invested with a power of binding and losing, which is ratified in heaven.” Ministers exercise this ministerial authority “by the doctrine of the gospel” in preaching and absolution and the sacraments.

“Among us, should some ministers be found of no great learning, still none is admitted who is not at least tolerably apt to teach.” No pastor holds an office without actually executing that office in that church, Calvin argues, over against the common practice of buying and selling church positions. It was normal for noblemen to purchase a bishopric for their adolescent children. Not only parish priests but even upper clergy, even archbishops and cardinals, did not have to submit to any formal education and examination for their calling.

The Importance of Biblical Qualifications

Calvin wonders how they can boast of apostolic succession when they do not even follow the explicit prescriptions for the offices and the qualifications for holding them as set forth in the New Testament. “The ancient canons require that he who is to be admitted to the office of bishop or presbyter shall previously undergo a strict examination both as to life and doctrine,” he says.

Furthermore, the acclamation of the whole congregation was required for ordination. All bishops taught; they did not govern secular affairs. “In the ordination of a presbyter, each bishop admitted a council of his own presbyters.” Are we really to believe that these are successors of the apostles, Calvin asks regardless of how far they bury the doctrine and government laid down in the apostolic writings?

Friends of the Bridegroom, Not the Bridegroom Himself

The pastor is not a lord, and the congregation is not his fiefdom. He rules in his office, not in his person, and a good pastor attaches the sheep to the Great Shepherd, not to himself. Calvin took up his regular place in the rotation not only for preaching but also for teaching the catechism to the youth during the week. “Christ does not call his ministers to the teaching office that they may subdue the Church and dominate it,” Calvin declares, “but that he may make use of their faithful labors to unite it to himself.”

“It is a great and splendid thing for men to be put in authority over the Church to represent the person of the Son of God,” he continues. “They are like the friends attached to the bridegroom to celebrate the wedding with him, though they must observe the difference between themselves “and what belongs to the bridegroom.”

They “should not stand in the way of Christ alone having the dominion in his Church or ruling it alone by his Word. . . . Those who win the Church over to themselves rather than to Christ faithlessly violate the marriage which they ought to honor.”

This excerpt was adapted from Calvin on the Christian Life: Glorifying and Enjoying God Forever by Michael Horton.

Michael Horton (PhD, University of Coventry and Wycliffe Hall, Oxford) is the J. Gresham Machen Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics at Westminster Seminary in California. He is the author of Calvin on the Christian Life: Glorifying and Enjoying God Forever and is also the editor in chief of Modern Reformation magazine, a host of the White Horse Inn radio broadcast, and a minister in the United Reformed Churches.

by Nick Rynerson at October 24, 2014 01:55 PM

Zondervan Academic Blog

The Question Every Counselor Must Ask & Answer: “What’s My View of People?”— An Excerpt from “Gospel-Centered Counseling”

Robert W. Kellemen, author of the new book Gospel-Centered Counseling, invites readers to picture someone named Mike seated across from them, whether in their counseling or pastor office.

Imagine he begins pouring his heart out, tracing the contours of his story, his grief, his pain. In that moment, how you respond depends on several factors wrapped into one question every counselor must ask and answer:

What is my view of people, their problems, and their solutions?”

In the excerpt below, Kellermen argues those factors and this question “shape how the counselor views Mike (understanding people), how the counselor assesses the root causes of Mike’s core issue(s) (diagnosing problems), and how the counselor perceives and presents the route to change with Mike (prescribing solutions).”

Read this excerpt, share it with your colleagues, and learn from Kellemen’s resource how to conduct your counseling in a way that’s gospel-centered.

First, every counselor has a theory of knowledge. We may not all be aware of ours, or even know that we have one, but we all trust some source of insight for living. Sitting down to minister to Mike, we’re all asking ourselves the questions, “Where can I find answers for Mike? Where do I find wisdom for life in a broken world?”…Second, how we respond and relate to Mike is conditioned by our view of reality. The ultimate reality question revolves around our view of God. “Who is God? Do I even believe he exists? Is he caring and in control?” What comes into our mind when we think about God is the most important factor, not only about our counselee, but also about ourselves as counselors. In helping others, how the counselor answers this question makes a huge difference: “Whose view of God will I believe — Christ’s or Satan’s?” …

We unite our theory of knowledge and our view of reality by pondering another ultimate life question, “In what story do I find myself?” How we answer that question as Mike’s counselor is just as important as how Mike answers that question. Are we part of a story where we’re our own source of wisdom for living and where reality is the result of a chance evolutionary process? Or are we part of a grand gospel story that is sovereignly and affectionately guided by a God who has a good heart and whose Word is our loving source of wisdom for living?

There is a third factor that determines how we respond and relate to Mike. It includes three aspects wrapped into one question that every counselor must ask and answer, “What is my view of people, problems, and solutions?” We’ll explore biblical answers to this threefold question throughout chapters 6 – 12 and 15 – 16.

  • Creation: Understanding People (chapters 6 – 7) — Whose am I? Who am I? What is the nature of human nature? What is the shape/design of the soul? What does a healthy human being look like?
  • Fall: Diagnosing Problems (chapters 8 – 10) — What’s the root source of our problems? What went wrong? Why do we do the things we do?
  • Redemption/Sanctification: Prescribing God’s “Soul-u-tions” (chapters 11 – 12 and 15 – 16) — How does Christ bring us peace with God? How does Christ change people? How do we find peace with God? Why are we here? How do we become like Jesus?

A counselor’s answers to these questions shape every aspect of his or her response and relationship to Mike. They shape how the counselor views Mike (understanding people), how the counselor assesses the root causes of Mike’s core issue(s) (diagnosing problems), and how the counselor perceives and presents the route to change with Mike (prescribing solutions).

While I understand that as biblical counselors we get nervous with words like “psychology,” “psychopathology,” and “psychotherapy,” every counseling model addresses these categories. Think of it like this:

  • “Is my psychology model — my understanding of people (Creation) — biblical?”
  • “Is my psychopathology model — my diagnosis of root causes/problems (Fall) — biblical?”
  • “Is my psychotherapy model — my approach to caring and prescribing cures (Redemption/Sanctification) — biblical?”

I’m not suggesting that biblical counselors start using these terms or that we start calling what we do “psychotherapy.” I’m simply highlighting that every counselor, pastor, people-helper, and spiritual friend must examine these three ultimate life questions. In chapters 6 – 12 and 15 – 16, we’ll probe these questions scripturally by seeking to understand the nature of human nature as designed by God, marred by sin, and redeemed by grace. In chapters 6 – 7, we start with the age-old question every human being has always asked and that Mike is asking, “Who am I?” We’ll place that question into the context of God by asking it as, “Whose am I?” And we’ll place that question into the context of God’s grand narrative by asking, “In what story do I find myself?”

Pursuing God’s Target: The Image of God—God’s Design of the Soul

In developing a biblical understanding of people, we could begin at the Fall and highlight human depravity. Some biblical/Christian approaches to counseling seem to start here, which is understandable, given our desire to address the deep impact of sin. While we’ll thoroughly address sin in Gospel-Centered Counseling, we won’t start there. That would be like a medical student examining diseased cadavers before ever learning the basic anatomy of the healthy human body. We’ll begin at the beginning, where we’ll learn from the One who made us in his image as we examine the spiritual anatomy of the soul. In doing so, we’ll discover that life as we now find it is not the way it was supposed to be.

In the film Grand Canyon, an attorney attempts to bypass a traffic jam. His route takes him along streets that are progressively darker and more deserted. His expensive car stalls on a secluded street patrolled by a local gang. The attorney manages to phone for a tow truck, but before it arrives, three young thugs surround his disabled car and threaten his life. Then, just in the nick of time, the tow truck driver arrives. Savvy enough to understand what is about to go down, the driver takes the leader of the group aside to introduce him to metaphysics.

“Man,” he says, “the world ain’t supposed to work like this. Maybe you don’t know that, but this ain’t the way it’s supposed to be. I’m supposed to be able to do my job without askin’ you if I can. And that dude is supposed to be able to wait with his car without you rippin’ him off. Everything’s supposed to be different than what it is here.”

The creation narrative teaches us how things were supposed to be — including how we were meant to live life with God and with each other. It teaches us God’s original design for the soul — the nature of human nature as bearers of God’s image — the imago Dei. It enables us to answer the questions,

“What is health? What does a healthy image bearer look like?”

Gospel-Centered Counseling

By Robert W. Kellemen

Buy it Today:
Barnes & Noble
Buy Direct from Zondervan

by Jeremy Bouma at October 24, 2014 12:15 PM


omega: A poke at the genre, rendered in ASCII

One of my favorite games way back in the day of the Commodore 64 was Ultima II. Yes, I know, it was among the least of the Ultimas, but for its time it was a masterstroke.

Part of the appeal to my as-yet undeveloped brain was the snide humor it sometimes employed, whether it was a random guard reminding me to “pay your taxes,” or hotel clerks pocketing my hard-earned gold … rather than boosting my ability scores. I don’t hold a grudge though, even years later. … :evil:

A touch of that off-the-wall humor is in omega, which keeps some of the format but loses some of the seriousness of its brethren.

2014-10-19-6m47421-omega-01 2014-10-19-6m47421-omega-02

omega mixes a weird recipe of fantasy and science fiction elements, along with a few touches of contemporary culture too. So while it also adds an environment beyond the archetypal dungeon fetch quest, it also has a bank with ATM cards, a gladiator arena, a fast food joint that sells fried lizards by the bucket, and a few other oddball touches.

omega has a few high points and a few low points, from my cursory examination. The opening city offers more than enough entertainment for quite a while. Dungeons are out there, in the wilderness, but that doesn’t mean you can’t keep yourself busy in the shops, bars and arenas in the city.

omega also adopts the “play yourself” format that was popular around the late 1980s, where you answer a dialog to determine “your” character statistics and play as you.

On top of that, omega offers a number of different ways to “win,” some of which are simply to become successful in some sort of in-game organization. Look at the overview in the help pages if you are seeking an alternative ending.

Its inventory system is the right way to do things, with specific slots and carrying spaces that are occupied by objects. It’s not nearly as comprehensive as, for example, the intricacy of cataclysm (where you can actually choose how to layer your clothes, to afford yourself more pockets), but its a practical improvement over endless lists of accumulated crud.

On the downside, that inventory system is a little kludgey to navigate, in my opinion. Each slot can be filled, but if you want to move items between locations, shuffling things becomes cumbersome.

omega also seems strapped for screen space, trapping dialogs in the first three lines of the screen, plus a flashing “MORE” prompt, but occasionally has to take over the lower part of the screen — or all of the right side — to display lists or logs. Compare that with something like angband, and there’s definitely a conservation-of-space issue to be solved in omega.

A few other issues: Sometimes the game uses arrow keys, sometimes it uses the HJKL sequence. Wilderness travel will require you to carry about six or seven buckets of fried lizards to reach a dungeon. The backspace key isn’t available when naming your character, which means I have one or two personas named Km^GM^G^G^G^D^G^G^D^G. The map will display characters or items that you can’t examine because they’re out of your line of sight … but they’re on your map, so … ? O_o

The title page for omega suggests it dates back to 1987, but the version I have comes from the AUR, and links back to this Github page. Apparently though, other renditions exist. Take your pick. Perhaps some of those avoid the issues I listed above.

I admire omega for having the brass to add a little snarky humor to the genre, but also for finding new ways to handle inventories and alternative win conditions. It doesn’t have enough pull to drag me away from angband or adom, but I can see returning to it when its brethren get too serious. :)

Tagged: game

by K.Mandla at October 24, 2014 12:15 PM

unnethack: Improving the improvement

The deeper I delve (pun intended) into my list of roguelike games, the more I realize that a lot of them are simply forks of forks of forks. Someone along the line didn’t like that the capital letter K was used to signify a kobold instead of a Kirin, and so re-drew the entire game along slightly different lines.

unnethack is an example, as a fork of nethack, which I suppose could be called a duplicate of hack, which in turn was intended as a knockoff of rogue.


Regardless of its bloodline, unnethack — developer’s blog here, with updates within the past month or so — keeps to the original form (of the original form of the original form of the …) but adds just enough new ideas to be an improvement over its forefather.

Looking around the web site, some of those improvements include a vampire race, some extra monsters and items, color in the interface (which is always good), and some tweaks to levels and contents.

I certainly can’t fault any of that, but the biggest improvement for me was the addition of a tutorial. Of course, after playing so many roguelike games over the past week, I am starting to get a sixth sense on how to maneuver through the dungeons. But it’s still very helpful.

I don’t think it would be fair to downplay unnethack in light of things like crawl, adom, angband or cataclysm, because I tackled these out of evolutionary sequence. So instead I’m going to give a thumbs-up to unnethack as a definite improvement over the original nethack.

Which was an improvement over hack. Which was an improvement over rogue. Which was an improvement over … ? :???:

Tagged: game

by K.Mandla at October 24, 2014 12:00 PM

sacha chua :: living an awesome life

Coming to terms with online courses

There are lots of free online courses available on sites like Coursera, but I’ve always had a hard time sticking with them. I don’t like listening to lectures; they feel too slow. Slides and subtitles are inferior to properly-formatted tutorials or books. I sometimes sign up for courses, but then I wander off when I lose interest.

I decided to try online courses again, since one of the other Hacklab members spoke highly of the R course she was taking on Coursera. This time, I tried skipping the lectures, focusing instead on answering the quizzes and doing the programming assignments – essentially, treating it as an open-book exam. That worked out pretty well, actually. I quickly completed all the quizzes, and it took me a few more hours to get the programming assignments sorted out. Many of the programming assignments had self-checking mechanisms, so I didn’t have to wait for peer evaluation.

I like that a lot more than the old way I used to try to get through these online courses. By focusing on the assessments, I can get through the course quickly, identify anything I want to dig deeper into, and try something new with the ability to check my work. Sure, I miss out on testing my ability to retain more information and I might miss out on important points not covered by quiz questions, but at least I’m getting some value out of online courses. I’m sure I’ll get the hang of other ways to study later on!

The post Coming to terms with online courses appeared first on sacha chua :: living an awesome life.

by Sacha Chua at October 24, 2014 12:00 PM

The Urbanophile

Short Break

I’ll be taking a short break from the blog for the next week or so because I’m overloaded with other things at the moment. Will return when the schedule lightens.

The Urban State of Mind: Meditations on the City is the first Urbanophile e-book, featuring provocative essays on the key issues facing our cities, including innovation, talent attraction and brain drain, global soft power, sustainability, economic development, and localism. Included are 28 carefully curated essays out of nearly 1,200 posts in the first seven years of the Urbanophile, plus 9 original pieces. It's great for anyone who cares about our cities.

by Aaron M. Renn at October 24, 2014 11:53 AM

John C. Wright's Journal » John C. Wright's Journal

Gamer Credentials

In the interests of full disclosure regards the Gamergate scandals, I should mention that the only games I have ever played are, obsessively, the long lost and dolorously lamented City of Heroes; I played DC Universe Online briefly, as an insufficient rebound-substitute for City of Heroes when it folded; Doom and its sequels, and, very briefly, despite my bone fides as a macho misogynist, the saccharine-sweet and slyly pro-gay yet strangely obsession-inducing Long Live the Queen. Darn! I should not have eaten the chocolates! Next time I must study history and magic while in a woeful yet obedient mood!

city-of-heroes-image1DC-Universe-Online-678 doomlltq

by John C Wright at October 24, 2014 10:00 AM

The Gospel Coalition | Latest Articles

TGC Spotlight 10.24.14

TGC Spotlight highlights TGC articles from earlier in the week, previews articles coming next week, and links to items around the web that you might have missed. 

California Forces Churches to Fund Abortions Through Insurance Plans

Under a new policy in California, churches and pro-life groups dedicated to opposing abortion are required to cover elective surgical abortions in the healthcare policies provided to their employees.

In August, California’s Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) began sending notices to health insurance companies notifying them that they were required to cover the cost of abortions. The only exception allowed was that a health plan is not required to pay for abortions of a “viable fetus,” i.e., if there is a “reasonable likelihood of the fetus’ sustained survival outside the uterus without the application of extraordinary medical measures.”

DMHC had previously given approval to Anthem Blue Cross and Kaiser Permanente to offer plans that excluded abortions deemed not “medically necessary.” DMHC officials, appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown, have not explained why they overturned the exemption approvals given under the administration of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The decision also applies to health care plans purchased by churches. According to World magazine, seven churches (Skyline Church in La Mesa, Foothill Church and Foothill Christian School in Glendora, Alpine Christian Fellowship in El Cajon, The Shepherd of the Hills Church in Porter Ranch, City View Church in San Diego, Faith Baptist Church in Santa Barbara, and Calvary Chapel Chino Hills in Chino) have responded by filing a formal complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The Weldon Amendment, adopted with each Health and Human Services appropriations act since 2005, allows the federal government to withhold funding from any state that doesn’t allow conscience objections in health plans.

“Under federal law, pro-life employers have the freedom to choose health insurance plans that do not conflict with their beliefs on the dignity of human life,” says Catherine Short, legal director for Life Legal Defense Foundation Legal Direct. “Already under Obamacare’s mandates, employers and individuals are required to purchase health insurance coverage they may not need or want. California cannot be allowed to discriminate against health plans that don’t cover elective abortions and force people to purchase coverage that conflicts with their convictions.”

Around the Web

Quick Takes

• Is Calvinism the cold, rigid approach to Christianity it’s made out to be? Corrie Mitchell says no, and offers her "10 Things I Wish Everyone Knew About Reformed Theology."

• How one boy with autism became best friends with Apple’s Siri.

• Why are more and more cities are trying to stop residents and food pantries from helping people secure a hot meal?

• Since the days of the Puritans in New England, Christians have been lamenting the decline of America. Matt McCullough offers some perspective on this type of rhetoric of decline.

• In standard notation, rhythm is indicated on a musical bar line. But as John Varney notes in this illuminating animation, there are other ways to visualize rhythm that can be more intuitive and help us better understand the music of the world.

(For even more links, see the "Remainder Bin" at the end of this post.)

Featured TGC Articles

4 Things That Happen When You Study Leviticus More Than 10 Years | Jay Sklar

I studied Leviticus for more than 10 years, and it changed my life profoundly. In my experience, at least four things happen when this book begins to seep into your soul.

The Church and Women At Risk | Lindsey Holcomb

Because life can be tragic for women, it is crucial to have a biblical understanding of how the church can protect and care for women at risk.

Keller on Quiet Times, Mysticism, and Priceless Payoff of Prayer | Matt Smethurst

I asked Tim Keller about mysticism, the problem with quiet times, how he’s taught his congregation to pray, advice for the distracted, and more.

Our Neglected Practice | Gavin Ortlund

I have found, 100 percent of the time, that people who are unable to take 24 hours off a week to rest have their identity rooted in their work/performance rather than in the grace of God.

God’s School Of Waiting | Jeff Robinson

Waiting is hard, but in God's economy its effect can be deeply sanctifying.


Featured TGC Contributor Articles

70 Years Ago Today: The Conversion of J. I. Packer | Justin Taylor

On Sunday, October 22, 1944—seventy years ago today—it is doubtful that anyone noticed a soft-spoken, lanky, and decidedly bookish first-year university student leaving his dormitory room at Corpus Christi College and heading across Oxford for an evening Christian Union service at a local Anglican church.

A Few Reflections on My Trip to Brazil | Kevin DeYoung

I spent last week in Brazil speaking at the Fiel Conference in Aguas de Lindoia, a small resort town 100 miles outside of Sao Paulo, and in Salvador, a seaside city in the northeast.

3 Definitions of “Secular” and Why They Matter for Our Mission | Trevin Wax

Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age has been praised for its thorough analysis of how we arrived at the “secular” moment in which we live, a world where the biggest shift is not simply in what human beings believe or disbelieve, but what is believable.

The Healthy Elder Board Is a P.C. Elder Board | Thabiti Anyabwile

The abbreviation “P.C.” has an almost universally negative connotation. We hear “P.C.” and we think “politically correct.” Being “P.C.” is synonymous with cultural capitulation, a kind of cowardice that refuses to call things what they are.

The Presidency of the Holy Spirit | Ray Ortlund

Our forefathers used to call this “the presidency of the Holy Spirit,” when the Lord himself would preside over the gathering of his people in such a way as gently, wonderfully to take charge.

A Prayer for Days When You’re a Bit Fearful, Proud, or Forgetful | Scotty Smith

Dear heavenly Father, at least seventeen times a day I need to be reminded of how I got into your story of redemption and how I stay there—only and fully by grace.


Coming Next Week at TGC

Pastor, Why Not Visit Their Workplace? | Greg Forster

Congregants visit their pastor in his workplace. One of the most important things a pastor can do for them is return the favor. Why not visit them in theirs?

One Trait that Set Apart the Earliest Christians | Michael J. Kruger

There is an often overlooked but important trait that separated Christians from the pagan culture.

Is It Wrong to Compete and Want to Win? | Wayne Grudem

Competition provides an opportunity to test our abilities, a means for product development, and a striving for excellence.


Upcoming Events

TGC Bay Area Regional Conference (November 15th) 

The Bay Area chapter will host its third conference in Walnut Creek, CA on the theme, Revival and Reformation. Featured plenary speakers include D. A. Carson, Léonce Crump, Collin Hansen, and Jon McNeff. This team of plenary speakers will take us on a journey to explore how God works through prayer, the Word, leadership and persecution to precipitate gospel renewal and strengthen the church.

Albuquerque Regional Conference (March 20-22, 2015)

Assembled Under the Word: Preaching and Christ. Speakers include Alistair Begg, D.A. Carson, and David Helm.

2015 National Conference (April 1-15, 2015)

Heading Home: A New Heaven and a New Earth. Speakers include Tim Keller, D.A. Carson, John Piper, Mark Dever, Voddie Baucham, Philip G. Ryken, Ligon Duncan, and many others. The lowest rates for registration expire on October 31.

Remainder Bin

American Culture

Girl Scouts Debate Their Place in a Changing World
Jennifer Dobner, New York Times

For more than 100 years, the Girl Scouts have been largely known for three core attributes: camping, crafts and cookies.


Why Are So Many Midwives And Doulas Pro-Abortion?
Bethany Mandel, The Federalist

For midwives or doulas to support abortion contradicts their usual pro-woman, pro-baby attitudes.

Of Michael Landon and Brittany Maynard
Wesley J. Smith, First Things

The changing meaning of courage in the face of pending death.

China’s One-Child Policy: Massive Crimes against Women, Supported by the Obama Administration
Chris Smith, Public Discourse

Under the Obama Administration, the United States is breaking its own law by giving taxpayer money to the United Nations Population Fund, which supports the One-Child Policy. It is also failing to implement immigration and visa bans for those who have been complicit in forced abortions and sterilizations.

Christianity and Culture

The Vatican Backpedals on Support for Gays and Divorcees
Allen McDuffee, The Atlantic

A much-discussed report from the Catholic Church’s synod on the family turned out to be very different in its final form.

In evangelical nonprofits, women leaders lag behind peers in general market
Adelle M. Banks, Religion News Service

A new study by researchers at Gordon College and Wheaton College has confirmed what many have long suspected — that many evangelical institutions lag far behind the general marketplace in leadership roles for women.


Forced labor in America: Thousands of workers are being held against their will
Dara Lind, Vox

There are thousands of immigrants working in forced labor in the United States — lured into the country by false promises and then trapped or threatened by their employers so that they’re unable to leave.

Drugs and Alcohol

Colorado Proposes Edible Pot Ban, Then Retreats
Kristen Wyatt, Associated Press

Colorado health authorities suggested banning many forms of edible marijuana, including brownies and cookies, then whipsawed away from the suggestion Monday after it went public.

Marijuana-Infused Halloween Candy Is Now A Very Real Concern In Colorado
Amand Macias, Business Insider

The Denver Police Department has issued a PSA on its Facebook page warning parents about marijuana-infused trick-or-treat candy.

The New Civil Rights Division Head Wants to Decriminalize Possession of All Drugs
Cully Stimson, The Daily Signal

So who supports decriminalizing cocaine, heroin, LSD, methamphetamine, ecstasy and all dangerous drugs, including marijuana? No, it’s not your teenage nephew. It’s President Obama’s new acting head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, Vanita Gupta.

Teenagers’ heavy cannabis use ‘impairs intelligence’
Sean Coughlan, BBC

Teenagers who are regular cannabis users by the age of 15 risk “impairing” their educational ability, suggests a study of young people in the UK.


Poor Kids Are Starving for Words
Jessica Lahey, The Atlantic

According to a new initiative, launched at the White House on Thursday, the “word gap” that afflicts low-income children needs to be addressed with the same passion as child hunger.

U.S. High School Dropout Rates Fall, Especially Among Latinos
Ben Casselman, FiveThirtyEight

Elkhart’s improvement is a particularly dramatic example of a nation-wide trend: Graduation rates are improving, especially for Latinos.1 Nationally, the on-time graduation rate topped 80 percent for the first time in 2012, up from 74 percent five years earlier.

Family Issues

Let’s Synchronize the Work and School Day
Ashley McGuire, Family Studies

When 59% of families have two working parents, we should sync the work and school day to help families cope.

Health Issues

5 Facts About Depression Christians Need to Face
Andrew Arndt, On Faith

People of faith need better frames of reference for dealing with the complexity of depression.

International Issues

How Boko Haram’s Murders and Kidnappings Are Changing Nigeria’s Churches
Interview by Timothy C. Morgan, Christianity Today

Leading Nigerian evangelical says Christians won’t abandon the North.

Nigeria Says Boko Haram to Release Kidnapped Girls
Polly Mosendz, The Atlantic

Government aides say they are “cautiously optimistic” about this new ceasefire agreement

Nigeria Is Ebola-Free: Here’s What They Did Right
Alexandra Sifferlin, Time

The World Health Organization declared Nigeria free of Ebola on Monday, a containment victory in an outbreak that has stymied other countries’ response efforts.

Second massacre in days leaves 20 dead in east DR Congo

Militants have killed at least 20 people, said to be mostly women and children, in the second massacre in two days near the DR Congo town of Beni.

Hong Kong has too many poor people to allow direct elections, leader says
Heather Timmons, Quartz

Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement protesters have been demanding that the city’s top official, CY Leung, step down for weeks now. They may soon be joined by many more of the city’s 7 million residents, after a controversial interview last night in which Leung suggested that election reforms sought by the protestors would invite undue influence from the city’s poor.

This is what happens in a society where people can’t touch each other
Benno Muchler, Quartz

“Friends are all staying home,” Isaiah said. “There is no activity. We don’t socialize. We don’t go to the beach. We don’t go to the nightclub. We don’t go to school. We only go to church on a Sunday for a worship because at the church people take much precaution.”

Unicef: Violence kills child every five minutes

A child is killed by violence every five minutes in the world, a leading charity says, calling for new targets to end all forms of abuse by 2030.

Marriage Issues

President Obama Evolves on Marriage. Again.
Ryan T. Anderson, The Daily Signal

Now, just before the elections of 2014, Obama has announced that he thinks there’s a constitutional requirement to redefine marriage to include same-sex relationships.

Till Death Do Us Part? No way. Gray Divorce on the Rise
Brigid Schulte, Washington Post

More than half of all gray divorces are to couples in first marriages. Indeed, 55 percent of gray divorces are between couples who’d been married for more than 20 years.

Wyoming Becomes Latest to Legalize Gay Marriage
Bob Moen, Associated Press

State lawyers filed a legal notice Tuesday morning that said they won’t defend a recently overturned Wyoming law that defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman, meaning county clerks can begin to issue marriage licenses to gay couples and the state will recognize same-sex unions performed legally elsewhere.

Putting to Rest a Bad Argument: Marriage Law and Sex Discrimination
Sherif Girgis, Public Discourse

The Supreme Court closely scrutinizes policies involving racial, sexual, and other “suspect” classifications. But unlike almost every other classification imaginable, marriage laws use a criterion necessarily linked to an inherently good social purpose that we didn’t just invent. This criterion isn’t truly suspect and shouldn’t get heightened scrutiny.

Military Issues

Obama Authorizes National Guard To Help Fight Ebola
Lauren F. Friedman, Reuters

President Barack Obama authorized the use of American military reservists on Thursday to support humanitarian aid efforts against the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Atheists in Foxholes: The Military Chaplaincy’s Humanist Problem
Ronit Y. Stahl, Religion & Politics

Do American military chaplains need to believe in God? Or, as the Navy Times once asked, “Who supports the atheists in the military?

Poverty Issues

It’s time for Americans to stop giving their junk to the poor
Kristen Welch, Quarz

Why do we give others—often those in service to the poor or the poor themselves—something we wouldn’t keep or give ourselves?

Criminalizing the Hands That Feed the Homeless
Matt Schiavenza, The Atlantic

More cities are trying to stop residents and food pantries from helping people secure a hot meal.

Sexuality Issues

Transgenders and Theology
Judy Valente, PBS Religion and Ethics Newsweekly

We report from Chicago on how churches are responding to transgender people, especially as they become more and more visible in popular culture. At the Urban Village Church in Hyde Park, Rev. Emily McGinley’s ministry reaches out to transgender individuals.

Gender as a Consumer Choice
Phillip Cary, First Things

A key task of the church in the next generation will be to provide a lived alternative to feeling like a good consumer in this regard.

by Joe Carter at October 24, 2014 07:57 AM

Table Titans

The Gospel Coalition | Latest Articles

The Heroic Path

John Sowers. The Heroic Path: In Search of the Masculine Heart. New York, NY: Jericho Books, 2014. 224 pp. $20.00.

John Sowers’s The Heroic Path: In Search of the Masculine Heart is an Areopagus work. Let the reader be prepared: this is neither a careful exegesis of texts touching on manhood, nor a systematic theology of gender. Sowers isn’t out to write either book. The Heroic Path is an introduction and invitation to men who know little of either masculinity or Christianity.

Sowers, author of Fatherless Generation (Zondervan, 2010) and president of The Mentoring Project, begins by acknowledging that modern Americans view masculinity with something like a statue-to-the-unknown-god approach (Acts 17:23). The modern American man has a welter of desires, intuitions, fears, and confusion about what manhood means—especially if, like Sowers, he grew up without a father. Sowers tries to show how these desires, fears, and confusion find their fulfillment, relief, and resolution in Christianity.

He begins by placing himself as a fellow pilgrim among confused, fearful men. The birth of his twin daughters fills him with both joy and anxiety; how can he be a man for them when his own dad was absent? He intuits that real masculinity exists out there somewhere—“a remote ManCave with lots of bearded men, and smoke and fire and drum circles” (13). The Heroic Path, in his words, “is about getting to the ManCave” (13).

Let’s pause here. If seeing the word ManCave in a Christian book on masculinity makes you want to write it off totally, be at ease. Sowers has a lot of fun in his writing. This book is full of good will and good humor—largely at his own expense—and he stirs in some silliness even when he’s moving toward a serious point. Sometimes the style distracts from the substance: his extended riffs on The A-Team and the doomsday prepper movement are two examples. But overall, Sowers effectively uses humor to make serious points.

Roughly the first half of the book consists of meditations on somewhat related subjects. Sowers identifies some of the inadequate masculine stereotypes floating around our world—Gym Guy, Huge Pickup Truck Guy, Adultlescent Man Guy, and others (19–20). With those as counterexamples, he reflects on the value of men who depict a more meaningful picture of manhood. He discusses the importance to men of what he calls “place” (42), or rootedness in location and relationships. Sowers devotes a chapter to discussing how men must not draw their identities from women—either as mothers and mother-figures (55) or sex objects (59). Moreover, he asserts the importance of “wildness” as part of masculinity (71). This is the most tenuous chapter in the book: he doesn’t say this, but this idea appears to come from the misinterpretation of the fact that Adam was “created outside the Garden.”

But beginning in chapter seven, Sowers picks up a fascinating trail. He connects what he sees as “the heroic path”—the life God ordained for men and displayed in Jesus’s life—with the stages of the archetypal mythic journey. Building off of the famed conversation between J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis on myth, Sowers bridges traditional epic stories to the narrative of the gospel. “Our way to the wild masculine follows the one true Myth,” he writes (90).

The rest of the book is devoted to the stages of this mythic path. Severance involves leaving the comforts of our former life, stepping away from old habits and old grudges into a state of attentiveness to God. Sowers symbolizes this with the River, grounding it in Jesus’s baptism and in our own conversion: “When we surrender to the Father, our old lives are buried and gone” (143). Confrontation sets the natural/buried fighting instinct of men against the forces of spiritual evil (157), summed up in “wilderness.”

Transformation is where the use of our “mythic talisman”—the Word of God (167)—turns our lives into weapons of God’s glory (175). Return means we don’t stay on the road or in the wilderness, so to speak; we find a home and spend our lives building into it. “The men who change history are those who love well,” he observes (191).

These sections contain so much interesting content that I wish the whole book had been devoted to this idea. Sowers bridges the archetypal hero’s journey, Areopagus-style, both to the life of the Christian and to the life of Jesus. He is a vivid writer who has a gift for bringing biblical scenes to life (see, for example, pages 139–141 on Jesus’s baptism). He renders truth in a way that a non-Christian could easily understand and appreciate. As an introduction to Christianity and an invitation to start a journey to change one’s life, The Heroic Path would serve well.

That said, the book has some typical weaknesses that come from being an introduction and an invitation. For instance, it makes so much of Jesus-as-example-and-pattern that it drowns out the message of Jesus-as-Savior: the emphasis seems to be on what we are to do, not on what God has done for us. Similarly, while Sowers identifies that we’re in a spiritual battle and even that our own flesh can fight against us, he fails to emphasize the ultimate stakes (eternal life/death) or the danger of God’s own wrath against sin. Such omissions may seem understandable considering the intent of the book, but there’s danger in omitting them from any discussion of how we are to live.

And the “poetic” nature of the book means that Sowers majors on connecting to readers viscerally and minors on presenting structured or systematic truth. There’s a lot of biblical content in The Heroic Path and some definite calls to action, but it feels more like inspiration than instruction. It’s a book to get someone started.

Reservations notwithstanding, The Heroic Path would benefit men who want to develop as men and perhaps investigate Christianity. Sowers has some serious writing gifts: he’s talented with description and style. And his good humor and goodwill make the book feel like an invitation from a friend. On the whole, The Heroic Path has a warm and distinctive approach to masculinity that can get men moving in the right direction.

by Joseph Rhea at October 24, 2014 05:01 AM

It’s a Genesis-to-Revelation Issue

If you ever want to get folks lathered up, raising the issue of God’s gendered design is sure to do the trick. Such discussions can be frustrating, and they often leave us with more heat than light. This is, after all, an understandably sensitive—and therefore contentious—subject. Is the conviction that men and women are, as Tim Keller has put it, “equal but not equivalent” based solely on a few isolated (and likely misinterpreted) texts? Or is it rooted in something broader, something deeper, something more holistic?

In their thick new book, God’s Design for Man and Woman: A Biblical-Theological Survey (Crossway), Andreas and Margaret Köstenberger labor to demonstrate that, far from being a peripheral anomaly popping up here and there, male leadership and female partnership is a sustained pattern that spans the canon. It isn’t just about 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy, in other words; it’s about Genesis to Revelation.

I recently corresponded with both Andreas (senior research professor of New Testament and biblical theology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina) and Margaret (adjunct professor of women’s studies at Southeastern) about the danger of mistaking conservative culture for biblical complementarity, women as company presidents, “non-pulpit” teaching, and more.

In the book you survey the Bible’s theology of man and woman. What do you understand God’s design for man and woman to be?

In our biblical-theological survey from Genesis to Revelation we identify a pervasive pattern of male leadership as well as a pattern of male-female partnership. Far from flowing from a few isolated, debated passages, the pattern of male leadership spans from Adam to the patriarchs, kings, and priests, to Jesus (incarnated as a male, Savior of all) and the Twelve, to Paul and his circle, and to elders in the New Testament (NT) church, not to mention the 24 elders in Revelation. The pattern of male-female partnership is rooted in God’s creation of the man, and subsequently of the woman as his corresponding partner and helper; it continues throughout Scripture as women serve as prophetesses in both testaments and as witnesses to Christ and the gospel for which they are persecuted just as men are (Acts). So men and women are presented as partners, and at the same time men are given a special leadership role.

In your book you say that Jesus probably couldn’t have chosen women as apostles. Can you explain why?

Jesus, of course, can do anything he wants to that corresponds to the Father’s will! In keeping with the established pattern of God’s creation order and design, Jesus chooses 12 men (not, for example, six men and six women) as apostles; the Gospels and Acts report this in unison. Some, however, most notably the matriarch of the feminist movement, Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, posit a historical reconstruction of the “Jesus movement” as a “discipleship of equals.” However, this is a clear case of revisionist historiography, and her proposal has met with significant opposition even by feminist scholars (see Margaret’s book Jesus and the Feminists). 

Regardless of one’s views on the subject, the question arises, why did Jesus choose only male apostles? Feminists really don’t have a convincing answer. Some say it would have been inconvenient for women to travel with men; but Luke 8:2–3 indicates that some women did travel with Jesus and the Twelve. Others say Jesus accommodated himself to the culture. But Jesus typically didn’t do so when an important principle was at stake; in fact, he did just the opposite—healing on the Sabbath and engaging in public discourse with women. It’s most likely, then, that Jesus chose 12 male apostles in keeping with the biblical pattern of male leadership originating in Genesis 1–2, with the Twelve constituting the nucleus of NT church leadership analogous to the 12 tribes of Israel.

In what ways can evangelical Christians be in danger of confusing conservative cultural expectations with biblical complementarity?

Scripture doesn’t give a lot of detail as to how God’s design for man and woman is to be worked out, so a traditional division of labor (women in the kitchen, changing diapers; men at work letting women do all household chores) doesn’t square with the biblical design (we’ve discussed the inadequacy of labels here). It’s true that God’s design assigns primary spheres of activity, but Scripture calls the husband not only to provide for his wife materially but, more importantly, to love her sacrificially. There is flexibility within the basic framework, and each couple has unique circumstances in which to work out God’s design and plan for them personally, both leader and partner. The biblical pattern is loving, self-sacrificial complementarity where the couple partners in conscious pursuit of God’s mission. Marriage is part of God’s larger purpose of reuniting all of humanity under one head, the Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:10).

How should we think through questions like whether women should teach adult men in “non-pulpit” contexts (for example, parachurch gatherings, seminary classes, Sunday school, and so on)?

We would like to encourage a mindset of men and women pursuing God’s design for them—for his glory and their good. While we desire women to find a place in leadership wherever possible, questions like “Where do we draw the line before crossing God-given boundaries?” seem unduly minimalistic. Since Scripture doesn’t address parachurch ministries directly (they didn’t exist in NT times, at least not in the modern form; everything was funneled through the local church), the question arises as to their purpose in relation to the church. While parachurch ministries are not the church, ideally their function is to build up and train believers to lead and contribute to the church. Aligning goals with the church, then, would seem to be appropriate. The male pattern of leadership articulated with regard to the church in passages like 1 Timothy 2:9–15 offers principles and guidance.

Though there are no formal restrictions placed on women here regarding parachurch organizations, we believe Scripture limits public teaching and authoritative offices in the church to men. Not everyone agrees, but we believe this is by far the most plausible reading of this passage, both in its own right and in connection with the pervasive pattern of male leadership throughout Scripture (for a thorough discussion see Andreas’s and Tom Schreiner’s Women in the Church, forthcoming in a third edition). Mature women should flourish in teaching other women (Titus 2) and children, and participate in teaching men informally (especially in conjunction with their husband, as Priscilla did with Apollos), as well as engage in some administrative roles. Beyond this, we would encourage all believers to strive to honor the spirit of Paul’s words and of God’s design for man and woman in all of Scripture in general.

What do you believe about women in leadership positions outside of the family and the church (for example, a company president)? How do gender roles apply to the workplace?

With regard to women in the workplace, we’ve found that a helpful question for couples to consider is: Will the woman, if married, be able to give her best hours and energies to those God has given her to care for in the home and family? This applies to ministry involvement as well. Consider God’s creation design (Gen 1:26–28; 2:18, 20) in conjunction with the primary spheres of ministry given to the woman as highlighted in the judgment she received after the fall, which stands in direct relation to her role in childbearing and with her husband (Gen. 3:16; cf. 1 Tim. 2:15). Consider also the role model of the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31, who is portrayed as centered in her home and fully supportive of her husband. And note Paul’s references to women being workers at home (Titus 2:5), widows being honored who have been faithful wives, having brought up children and shown hospitality (1 Tim. 5:9–10), and younger widows being encouraged to marry, bear children, and manage their households (1 Tim. 5:14). Women on mission for God together with their husbands will be able to rejoice in all God has for them as they’re centered in the home and ready for all he calls them to do individually. Single women, too, unless called to permanent celibacy (1 Cor. 7:7–8), can prayerfully nurture and prepare for this and incorporate some of this in their extended and church family experience.

Regarding political office, there are no direct commands in Scripture encouraging or barring a woman from leadership roles. Again the question is: Will she be able to fulfill her primary God-given role in the home and family? Could she continue to support her husband’s leadership in the areas to which he has been called and to nurture her family if she were to take public office? This isn’t a question of giftedness or competence but relates to God’s design in making people male and female. Christians may legitimately vary in their choices in these matters because of life stage or even because of temporary (or long-term) cultural, personal, circumstantial, spiritual, or ethical factors (see our application chapter, “God’s Design Lived Out Today”). Also, since Scripture is primarily addressed to God’s people, whether Israel or the church, any application to non-Christians or to the modern workplace or political arena is necessarily indirect.

Did working on this book together cause you to rethink any view you previously held?

A fresh and focused look at the overall teaching of Scripture on God’s design for man and woman has given us what we think is a more balanced paradigm for men and women. Succinctly put, the overarching model that many have implicitly understood in recent years has been male leadership and female submission. Though true in essence, we believe that this approach may unduly constrain the woman’s role and contribution in marriage and the church. We might rather categorize the biblical teaching in these terms: male leadership and female partnership. Holding these two patterns in tension without denying or diminishing either is vital. Many unfortunately deny male leadership, which is indisputably and pervasively taught in Scripture, while others—in practice if not in principle—diminish the real sense of male-female partnership in keeping with Scripture’s depiction of the woman as the man’s counterpart and as his fellow heir of God’s grace.

by Matt Smethurst at October 24, 2014 05:01 AM