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September 25, 2014

QuirksBlog

25% of mobile Chrome users use Samsung Chrome

For at least a year now I’ve held to the theory that the huge uptake in Chrome we’re seeing on the mobile web is mostly due to Samsung using its own version (based on Chromium 28) in its high-end smart devices from the Galaxy S4 on.

Yesterday Krijn started tweeting about mobile stats he had, and it turned out he was willing to share. He gave me data on about 100K mobile and tablet hits in Q2 on a project of his he’s worked on for ages five years. I took the data gratefully and created a table.

Conclusion: Of Chrome users, 25% uses Samsung Chrome — this amounts to about 5% of all mobile visits to the site. On the one hand this proves that Samsung Chrome is a Thing — on the other hand I had expected a much higher percentage. So my theory isn’t right, but Samsung Chrome is still important.

Samsung Chrome is not exactly the same as Google Chrome. It’s still at version 28, and there are some other differences. For instance, it supports scoped styles, something Google Chrome never did without a flag. I feel we should take more care to test specifically on Samsung Chrome and separate it from Google Chrome. So buy that Galaxy S4 or S5 and start working.

Source

The statistics come from the Royal sites, which are targeted at a Dutch audience looking for holidays, primarily on the Mediterranean coast, but also elsewhere. The first surprise was that about 45% of total hits came from mobile devices or tablets.

Snapshot: person on couch wanting to book holiday, too lazy to get up to computer, uses tablet or mobile device within reach instead. Still, 45% remains a lot.

More than 50% of these mobile/tablet hits come from Apple devices. Almost all the rest comes from various Androids, and it’s here that the stats start to become truly interesting.

Result

You can browse the full analysis here and compare it to StatCounter’s analysis of Q2.

This was the general browser make-up:

Q2 mobile/tablet browsers to the Royal sites compared to StatCounter
Browser Percentage ROYAL Percentage STATCOUNTER
Safari 59% 54%
Chrome 20% 20%
Android WebKit 19% 24%
IE 1% 1%
Others 1% 1%

That’s a pretty close match — there’s only a 5% difference that has gone from Android WebKit to Safari. It’s fun to theorise about affluent people (Apple!) booking more holidays than less affluent ones (old Androids!), but I’ll resist that lure.

However, where StatCounter gives you the bare browser numbers at best, I could dig deeper into the Royal stats. I focused on Chrome, since that browser is my biggest worry right now. So what about those 20% Chrome hits?

Q2 mobile/tablet Chrome hits to the Royal sites
Chrome Percentage Notes
Chrome iOS 42% 12.5% of all hits from Apple devices
Google Chrome latest (34/35) 31% Only 7% of this 31% (= about 2% of all Chrome hits) come from Google Nexus devices
Samsung Chrome 28 19% Default browser on Galaxy S4 and up
Samsung Chrome 18 6% Old default browser on Galaxy S4 and up
Google Chrome 33 1% These people didn’t upgrade their Chrome
Other Chromes 1%

Surprisingly, Chrome on iOS is the biggest Chrome. It accounts for 42% of Chrome hits, and 12.5% of Apple device hits. One in eight Apple device users uses Chrome, in other words. That’s WAY more than I expected.

Please remember that Chrome on iOS is NOT in fact Chrome. Apple doesn’t allow the installation of other rendering engines on iOS, so Chrome is forced to use the Apple WebView, which is essentially Safari with another JavaScript engine.

In the middle of Q2 Google Chrome was updated from 34 to 35, so I combine those two browsers as “Chrome latest.” These users use a downloaded Chrome (except the slight number of users actually surfing with a Google Nexus, where Google Chrome is the default browser). Again, this is more than I expected. I thought consumers don’t download browsers — it seems I’m not entirely right here.

Then comes 25% of Chrome users actually using Samsung’s Chrome, which was first at 18 and then got upgraded to 28. This is the hidden group that no web developer except for me pays attention to.

Finally, 2% other Chromes. These are mostly people who didn’t update their browsers, I guess.

Methodology

The stats were gathered by Google Analytics. Krijn gave me CSV files of the Q2 devices and browsers. Unfortunately these two are separate — despite more than fifteen years of experience with web stats, the first package that actually cross-references browsers with devices or OSs still has to be written. (I mean, it’s not THAT difficult to calculate that 23% of Android users use Chrome, and show that fact clearly in the reports, is it? But this seems to be a curious blind spot of analytics package creators.)

I took the devices file, which also includes a browser version number — but not a name. (Why not? I have no clue. Blind spot etc.) I removed all devices that had less than 10 hits, because I had to manually go through the file and this removed about 75% of the lines without affecting the overall stats too much. I then removed a lot of extra stuff I didn’t need, and was left with lines like this:

Samsung GT-P7310 Galaxy Tab 8.9,4.0,47

The first item is clearly a device. The second is the browser version number, the third the number of hits. My job was to match browser version numbers to browser names, and fortunately that was pretty simple most of the time. The 4.0 above clearly refers to Android WebKit; Chrome has much more complicated version numbers like 35.0.1916.141. I also added a device type: phone or tablet. So I manually expanded the line above to the following (and yes, I had to do this for every single line — more than 300 in total. I’m glad I removed the long tail.)

Samsung GT-P7310 Galaxy Tab 8.9,4.0,47,Android WebKit,tablet

In the table I ignored device types for now; I may delve into those at a later date, but right now it wasn’t my main research question.

If you’re interested, the sanitized data is here.

Granted, 100K hits is not really a lot, and I’d love to repeat the experiment with a much larger set of data. On the other hand, that much larger data set just isn’t there, and any data is better than no data.

Update: Peter Gasston tweeted he’s seeing roughly similar Samsung Chrome numbers: 32% of mobile Chrome users. Chrome iOS at 17% — distinctly lower than in the data I went through.

Update to update: I checked Peter's numbers myself, and it turns out only 10% of his Chrome mobile visitors use Samsung Chrome. Also, it seems Google Analytics can't distinguish between Chrome and Android WebKit.

by ppk (ppk@xs4all.nl) at September 25, 2014 04:09 PM

John C. Wright's JournalJohn C. Wright's Journal

Vaunting

I read this comment by one Joshua over at Vox Day’s blog:

 http://voxday.blogspot.com/2014/09/the-ignorance-of-irreligious.html#c7569555299514107814

When I was young they told me to be reasonable and negotiate and not resort to violence. I stupidly believed them, and was instantly beset upon by bullies who would push me around and torment me. I tried reason and truth, but that doesn’t work at all.

Eventually I decided to rebel against authority and decided to lift weights, become strong and meet force with even greater force. Unsurprisingly, this worked immediately, as the beaten bullies helpless retreated bloodied and humiliated from my iron fists.

These Leftists have never had to fight. They come from soft comfortable environments run by nannies and other overprotective womenfolk, who frown on masculinity and teach their boys to be sissies who act like women.

It was written on a topic unrelated to this, but by an odd process of association, I was inspired to write the following:

I believe that even a Christian gentleman is allowed, from time to time, to vault over a fallen foe, and point out if the man fault in a dastardly, low and craven fashion rather than like a fellow noble.  In the war of words called the Culture War, a similar rule applies, but obviously to a smaller degree, since this war is still in the phase where heralds exchange defiance, and no weapons have been drawn nor drawn blood.

The latest cultural warrior marching under the banner of barbarism against the cross of Christendom and civilization appeared under the ironic name Liberal Genius and came to vomit ink all across my pages, boasting and swaggering and declaring victory before the engagement had even begun. His comments were unreadable stream-of-consciousness oxbows of hysteria and halfhearted attempts at wit.

My reaction in all cases was merely to request he phrase his arguments in a logical form, so that they could be answered.

There were FOURTEEN messages from this toad, consisting of nothing but dreary self-congratulation, non-sequitur, ad hominem, insult, nonsense, and strawman-mugging kabuki theatrics, without once actually making an argument in a logical form.

Fourteen times, I allowed myself to be spat upon, and the heard of my beard plucked out, without raising a hand to defend myself or my honor. Each time, without agreeing nor disagreeing with anything said, neither returning insult nor asking to retreat from the conversation, I merely requested that he restate his argument into an answerable form.

Finally, my patience paid off. With an effort that no doubt left his red in the face, brow drenched with sweat, cross-eyed with concentration, and tongue protruding from his mouth, the man who calls himself a genius managed to cobble together a weak and sophomoric, but actually passable argument. At least, the false statements were put into a coherent order. Amazing. He finally, finally did it.

He could not restrain himself from pooping insults and self-lauds all over his pants in public, because that is an innate part of the Leftist mindset and approach, but beneath the layer of garbage, he actually almost made a coherent point: his argument was that I had defined my terms incorrectly:

http://www.scifiwright.com/2014/09/rightwing-political-correctness/comment-page-1/#comment-103830

Any dictionary will correct your mistaken ideas about what the phrase “Political Correctness” means. “politically correct (adjective): agreeing with the idea that people should be careful to not use language or behave in a way that could offend a particular group of people”

“POLITICALLY CORRECT: conforming to a belief that language and practices which could offend political sensibilities (as in matters of sex or race) should be eliminated
— political correctness (noun)”

Mirriam Webster, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/politically%20correct

I hope you can see that “Not offending people” is not the same as abolishing the very concept of truth.

Here, abolishing the very concept of truth is his characterization of what I said Political Correctness was.

I replied with two points: first, that his definitions contradicted an earlier contention he raised that both Right and Left were equally eager to use Political Correctness (which there was equated with any partisan speech) but that this contention could not fit the definitions given; second was that the definitions I had given were based on the historical use of those who had first coined the terms, a point he had yet to address:

http://www.scifiwright.com/2014/09/rightwing-political-correctness/comment-page-1/#comment-103847

You offer two definitions of Political Correctness. Neither has anything to do with the historical origins of the phrase.

One says “agreeing with the idea that people should be careful to not use language or behave in a way that could offend a particular group of people” this is the definition of courtesy, not of political correctness, and it has nothing to do with the historical origins of the phrase. It is a misleading definition, to say the least, as it does not distinguish political correctness from other forms of polite speech.

The second is “conforming to a belief that language and practices which could offend political sensibilities (as in matters of sex or race) should be eliminated” which raised the question of what constitutes ‘political sensibilities’. Note that this second definition gives an imperative to eliminate, what one assumes, from the definition, to be a current practice.

Now, you earlier made the contention that Rightwing and Leftwing equally indulge in political correctness. But, by the first definition, that would indicate that Right and Left are equally concerned with polite and inoffensive conduct. Look over your messages to me and mine to you and tell me if that is the case here?

By the second definition, your contention is that Rightwing and Leftwing equally wish to eliminate language and practices which could offend political sensibilities as in matters of sex or race.

Notice that the definition emphasizes the subjunctive, that is, language and practices that COULD offend, not ones that are. It is a subjective definition, and implies the party alleging himself to be offended gets to define the standard of what constitutes offense. While I am familiar with many, many Leftwing examples of this subjective standard, I can think of no Rightwing ones.

In either case, there is no Rightwing political correctness, even by your definitions, because Rightwing political philosophy is concerned only with matters of law and government and public policy. We don’t consider matters of personal courtesy to be political issues. It is not an issue where the government has an interest. We don’t consider language to be subject to politics. You and yours do.

And you have not answered, nor even addressed, the historical argument. Gramsci and the Frankfurt school were primarily concerned with the Marxist overthrow of existing Western economic and political structures, not with personal courtesy, and it is from them that the phrase, and the idea, and the definition of ‘political correctness’ comes.

AND I HAVE NOT HEARD FROM HIM SINCE!

Is that clear? After riding in full and blazing panoply up to my shield, and pounding on it for day after day, writing page after page of defiance, blowing his horn, challenging me to a passage of arms, finally, finally, I emerged from my pavilion, armed at all points, and spurred my charger toward him, and lowered my lance at his flimsy little targe.

And the caitiff fled into the wood, whimpering.

Because you have refused to respond in any meaningful way to anything I have written in any comment on this topic, I have no hope whatsoever that you will do so now. I am unsubscribing from notifications, deleting this site from my history, and removing past notification emails from my inbox. Instead of responding to this comment, please re-read what you wrote in the article above, and reflect on whether it embodies the values you profess.

Emphasis mine. His last word to me while in full blown, fingers-in-the-ears retreat, was his begging me not to respond to his comment. But he cannot speak without spewing nonsense:

Finally, I beg of you, please seek competent psychiatric help. You don’t have to stew in your hatred for liberals like this. All we want is to help people, even people who hate us. It’s really not so bad when the government does things for the public good. Even conservatives used to recognize that, before the Reagan Revolution.

Emphasis mine.

ADDENDUM: In the name of honor, not because of any inclination of my own, I sent a copy of this article to the self proclaimed Liberal Genius. His email is disconnected. Not only did he run off, tail between legs, whimpering, but he brushed away his footprints after.

I bring your attention to the opening paragraph above, the comment by Joshua:

These Leftists have never had to fight. They come from soft comfortable environments run by nannies and other overprotective womenfolk, who frown on masculinity and teach their boys to be sissies who act like women

And, apparently, they teach their boys to emote like schoolgirls and not to reason like men. They can neither fight literally, in war, nor fight figuratively, neither in debates with scholars, nor in the free market for customers, nor a non-totalitarian polity for the assent of voters and lawmakers. It is no wonder they hate reason, hate capitalism, love totalitarianism.

It is not because all they want is to help people.

by John C Wright at September 25, 2014 03:09 PM

Reformedish

Mere Fidelity: On Friendship

This week on Mere Fidelity Matt Anderson, Andrew Wilson, and I take up the issue of friendship, or friendship covenants, in response to Wesley Hill’s helpful and thought-provoking Christianity Today cover story “Why Can’t Men Be Friends?” Also, Matt wrote a piece on it last week too, and that came up.

It’s really good stuff. And Matt is bombastic.

Soli Deo Gloria


by Derek Rishmawy at September 25, 2014 02:58 PM

The Art of Non-Conformity

One Lifetime, 10,000 Hats: Robyn Devine’s Ambitious Project

This is a “quest” case study, a new feature focusing on quests and adventures of all kinds. (Read others or nominate yourself.)

Adventure is for everyone, and adventure looks different to each person. For Robyn Devine, she found her big adventure by making hats—and not just a few of them, but a lot of them. Her goal: to make 10,000.

Introduce yourself!

My name is Robyn. I live in Omaha with my husband and two kids. Since August 2009, I have dedicated every spare moment I have to knitting hats with the goal of giving away 10,000 hats in my lifetime.

Why did you decide to undertake your quest?

Deciding to knit 10,000 hats and give them away was almost an accident. I’d learned to knit in the late 90s for fun. In 2008, my husband Zach decided to compete in a triathlon. Watching as he trained and trained inspired me.I wanted to do something big with my life, but I wasn’t sure what.

Fast forward a few months to me reading A Brief Guide To World Domination. I had a lightbulb moment on page 11. I’ve always known that I want to get out of life is to give as much as I can, but at that moment I realized I could do that so simply: by making hats.

It was so simple, in fact, that I was sure there had to be more to it. But the more I looked inside myself at what I really wanted to do with my short time on this Earth, the more I realized it really was that simple: Make Hats. Give Them Away. Change The World.

robyn1

What are the costs associated with making the hats, and how do you cover them?

Honestly, I haven’t totaled up the numbers. I’m lucky—people give me yarn quite often, and I use that yarn exclusively on this project. Many of my hats are donated locally, but I also ship hats all over the country (and world) many times a year, so I pay something in postage. I’ve always operated with the belief that there will always be more yarn, and I can always donate hats locally if I can’t afford to ship them. So far, I’ve been right.

Have you encountered resistance or challenge in the project?

When I first started telling people I wanted to make and give away 10,000 hats in my lifetime, I think most people just thought I was a bit silly. Once my house started to fill up with yarn and it became clear to everyone around me that I was going to be knitting all the time, they took me seriously. Even then though, there wasn’t a lot of aversion from my friends.

To be honest, the biggest resistance has always been internal. I have a huge NO MORE HATS moment at least once a year. This usually means find myself thinking “Making this many hats is super crazy. Maybe I should just stop.” When I feel that way, I take a breather, knit something else, and before I know it I’m back in the game!

Have you met anyone interesting during your quest?

I’ve met amazing people. People who email me to tell me they had never considered giving their finished knits to charity until they stumbled across my blog, and now they’re obsessed with making hats and giving them away. People who have set up their own hat making challenges. People who have gotten connected with nurses at their local hospitals and started donating hats regularly to oncology centers and maternity wards. People who didn’t know that they could make a difference in our world and are now heroes in their communities, all because they make hats and give them away.

robyn2

What is it about hats that you like so much?

I think that’s how I see small acts making a big difference. When you knit one hat, it’s “just” a hat. It’s “knits and purls” made on repeat, something that takes me just about 4 hours on average to finish. One hat won’t change the world. But one hat and then another, and then another? All those hats stacked up together, packaged up and sent off to folks who need them? That can make a difference.

I’ve gotten tearful hugs from nurses who know all too well just how much a handmade hat means to the parents of a baby born 10 weeks early, or a 16 year old who has 8 more rounds of chemo and has lost all her hair. People know that a handmade hat was made with love worked into every stitch, and I think that makes a huge difference in the lives of the people who receive the hats I make.

What advice would you give to someone else considering a quest?

Do it! Looking back on when I started my quest, I definitely had no idea what I was getting into, in the best possible way. I’ve learned so much, not just about knitting, but about myself. 

I think the most important thing I’ve learned about myself is my capacity for doing great things. Initially, finishing 100 hats in a year seemed ludicrous. By the time that I hit that goal, I knew I could do so much more.

We hear you might be making hats for readers. How can they get a hat from you?

It’s true! I’ve partnered up with Joel Runyon for his 777 Project - he’s running 7 ultra-marathons on 7 continents in the next year, to raise money to build 7 schools! I’ll be listing hats in my She Makes Hats shop starting October 1st, donating all of the proceeds from each sale to the cause. My goal is to raise at least $5,000, and hopefully raising the bulk of that before the end of the year.

Hats will cost $40 each, but $30 of that will be donated to the 777 Project. In addition to donating money, I’ll also be donating a hat to someone in need for each hat purchased from the shop—so everyone who buys a hat will be doing twice as much good!

image

Keep up to date on Robyn at her website, She Makes Hats or follow her on Twitter @shemakeshats.

###

Learn more about quests and adventure in my new book, The Happiness of Pursuit. It’s available from Amazon.com and your favorite local bookstore.

by Chris Guillebeau at September 25, 2014 02:50 PM

Hack / Make

Anthologies in Scrivener →

This is pretty much the same way I went about putting together my book Coffee Shop Contemplations. It’s a great way to bring together your work in a way that’s easy for your readers to access your work and a way to make some money on your writing that isn’t ads.

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by Nick Wynja at September 25, 2014 02:31 PM

Caelum Et Terra

The Difficult Art

paul-ranson-edge-of-the-forest

Poetry is the most difficult art.

Every other art allows adequacy: the readable but forgettable prose, the landscape painting that is pleasing without being original or brilliant, the pot thrown with a modicum of skill.

Not poetry. A poem is either good or it is crap, and most often the erstwhile poet is the last to know.

I wrote poetry a lot when I was young, mostly in a sort of ecstatic utterance. I never rewrote or edited. How it came out is how it remained. I was too close to it to know if it was brilliant or crap, though it all felt brilliant when I was writing it. When I look at it now it is clear that most of it was the latter, with but a few keepers.

I write this because I have recently begun writing poetry again. Most of it is of the ‘ecstatic utterance’ persuasion, love poems to my bride, but I have been working on one poem lately, rewriting, trying to get it just right.

This is new, poetry as a process instead of an outburst. When I have finished -I am having trouble with the ending- I will post it here. I am also posting it on my so-called secret blog, the one with my name in the web address. That, I have decided, will be a place for poetry and memoirs, and anything too personal will just remain a draft, unpublished. I will post a link to that site when I post the poem.

I sincerely desire feedback, honest feedback, on my effort.

If you have ever asked me to read and critique something you have written you know that I will be honest. I will not flatter you but offer what I think about it.

I can’t tell you how many feelings I have hurt by doing this. Most often after I return an edited manuscript I never hear from the writer again.

So I can take it. And if you think I should stick to prose please tell me.

Poem to follow…

Painting by Paul Ranson

 


by Daniel Nichols at September 25, 2014 02:25 PM

Crossway Blog

Journaling in Your Bible

The discipline of journaling is as varied as the people who practice it. It ranges from recording day-to-day activities in a notebook to blogging online about current events, favorite books, or the progress of a DIY project. Perhaps most meaningfully, many Christians find journaling about their walk with God to be an important part of their Christian life.

For example, some believers journal to record their prayers, reflect on a recent sermon, or to mark a milestone in their relationship with God. The content of our journaling might be purely private, or it might be written to share with others (as Tim Keesee does, author of Dispatches from the Front).

Journaling In Your Bible

Another unique way to journal is to do so in your Bible.

The ESV Journaling Bible and the ESV Single Column Journaling Bible were designed especially for those who enjoy the discipline of journaling. The generous 2-inch ruled margins provide enough space to record notes, prayers, or artistic expression of the Bible text. We've also heard a common use for these editions is a place families can keep track of meaningful milestones and lessons they're learning together. Some parents are thinking long-term and are recording their spiritual journey to one day pass it along to their children as a meaningful gift.

Two Options

Crossway has two options available, a double-column format or a single-column format:

Size dimensions:

  • Journaling Bible: 6.25” x 7.25”
  • Single Column Journaling Bible: 6.25” x 8”

There are more than 10 cover designs available, but here are some favorites:

Tips for Journaling

Some helpful articles on this topic from around the web:

Journaling alongside your Bible:

Journaling in your Bible:

How Do You Use Your Journaling Bible?

We'd love to see how you use your ESV Journaling Bible! Take a picture of some recent journaling and post it either on the ESV Bible Facebook page, or on Twitter with the hashtag #journalingbible.

by Lizzy Jeffers at September 25, 2014 02:05 PM

Responsive.org

Ignore the MBA, Hire for ‘Soft Skills’

When it comes to hiring the right person for the right job, scientifically valid assessments that take factors such as cognitive ability, work style and work culture into account are key, says Kerr.

With that thinking in mind, employers might rethink a policy of only hiring MBAs, but they should also rethink the idea of avoiding them, too. If it’s the person’s “non-observable factors,” as Kerr calls them, that are most important, an MBA may be as likely to have the right set of characteristics as any other candidate.

There’s been a lot of debate lately about the real value of MBAs, with many business managers claiming that they will not hire any MBAs. The reasons they give are that an MBA hire is too expensive in relation to the real skills most graduates acquire from the education, and that many MBAs are overly competitive, self-serving, and brusque for a non-hierarchical, collaborative work environment.

While it’s important to consider in each case whether an MBA in itself does actually add tangible value to the position, it’s probably unfair to assume that all candidates with MBAs are unfit for hire. In any case, if your hiring criteria are this black-and-white, you’re probably not hiring as effectively as you can. Abundant research shows that it is most often the “soft skills” of a candidate that are the most important indicators of success, so focusing too much on things like GPA or years of experience is unwise.

by Kate Jenkins at September 25, 2014 02:00 PM

512 Pixels

Orson Welles of the Genre →

The most recent episode of Electric Shadow over on the ESN podcast network is a great one about Apple's events on the whole:

Apple has been using cinematic techniques in their events and ads since 1984. Horace Dediu, Jason Snell, and John Gruber discuss the story Apple has told on screens for 30 years: one of engineering thriving on dynamic creativity.

My favorite Pixar film, Wall-E, gets a shoutout as well. Go check it out.

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by Stephen Hackett at September 25, 2014 01:04 PM

Justin Taylor

Dane Ortlund: Edwards on the Christian Life

JEDCI am so thankful for Dane Ortlund’s new book, Edwards on the Christian Life: Alive to the Beauty of God. As George Marsden notes in his foreword, “Books such as Edwards on the Christian Life are especially welcome as part of the current Edwards revival precisely because Edwards is so many-sided and complex. The essence of his theology needs to be distilled from his many writings and to be presented in practical terms for Christians today. Dane Ortlund does just that. Reading Edwards’s own works can inspire Christians today, but often it is best to start with a more accessible introduction, such as the present one.”

In Ortlund’s introduction he provides an outstanding overview of where he is going:

Our strategy will be to ask twelve questions about the Christian life and provide, from Edwards, corresponding answers. These will form the chapters of this book, with a final thirteenth chapter diagnosing four weaknesses in Edwards’s view of the Christian life. Twelve chapters identify what we can learn from Edwards; one chapter identifies what he could learn from us. In brief the twelve questions and answers are:

1. What is the overarching, integrating theme to Edwards’s theology of the Christian life?

Answer: Beauty.

2. How is this heart-sense of beauty ignited? How does it all get started? What must happen for anyone to first glimpse the beauty of God?

New birth.

3. Having begun, what then is the essence of the Christian life? What does seeing God’s beauty create in us? What’s the heart and soul of Christian living?

Love.

4. How does love fuel the Christian life? What’s the non-negotiable of all non-negotiable that will keep us loving? What does divine beauty give to us?

Joy.

5. And what uniquely marks such love and joy? What is the aroma of the Christian life? What does Edwards diagnose about the Christian life that is most important for recovery today?

Gentleness.

6. Where do I go to get this love, joy, and gentleness? How can I find it? What,
concretely, sustains this kind of life, through all our ups and downs?

The Bible.

7. But as I go to the Bible, what do I do with it as I read? How do I own it, make it mine,
turn it into this joy-fueled love?

Prayer.

8. What then is the overall flavor of the Christian life? What is the aura, the feel, of following Christ in a world of moral chaos and pain?

Pilgrimage.

9. As new birth, Bible, prayer, and all the rest go in, what comes out? What is the fruit of the Christian life?

Obedience.

10. Who is the great enemy of Christian living? Who wishes above all to prevent loving, joyful, gentle lives?

Satan.

11. What is the great concern of the Christian life? Toward what, supremely, should our
efforts be directed as we walk with God?

The soul.

12. Finally, what does all this funnel into? When will we be permanently and fully and unfailingly alive to beauty? What, above all else, is the great hope of the Christian life?

Heaven.

He closes with four criticisms—which alone (in my opinion) is worth the price of the book.

You can watch a video interview with Ortlund above, and/or listen to this podcast conversation he had with Tony Reinke.

Here are some commendations:

“In his theological concern for the beautiful and the beauty of God, Jonathan Edwards stands at the end of a long theological tradition that reaches back to Augustine and beyond, even to the Scriptures themselves. In the last two centuries, however, this area of theological inquiry seems to have dropped off the radar for Christian theologians and practitioners, which may explain why students of Edwards’s corpus of writings have not tackled the subject. Ortlund’s study nicely fills this lacuna, for he rightly shows, from a multitude of angles, that beauty is the fulcrum of Edwards’s thinking. A joy to read and to ponder!”
—Michael A. G. Haykin, Professor of Church History and Biblical Spirituality, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“Jonathan Edwards is widely known as a hellfire-and-brimstone preacher. Serious students, like Dane Ortlund, have long known he was much more. In this book Ortlund puts his careful research to good purpose as he demonstrates convincingly that the center of Edwards’s concern was always and supremely beauty—in God, from God, and for God. Grateful readers will find this book highly informative on Edwards and deeply encouraging for the Christian life today.”
—Mark A. Noll, Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History, University of Notre Dame

“No one has taught me more about the dynamics of Christian living than has Jonathan Edwards. And no one has more clearly articulated the role of beauty in Edwards’s understanding of the Christian life than has Dane Ortlund. If you’re unfamiliar with Edwards, or if you wonder how beauty could possibly have any lasting effect in your growth as a Christian, this book is for you.”
—Sam Storms, Lead Pastor for Preaching and Vision, Bridgeway Church, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

“What a delight to see a book on Edwards’s conception of the Christian life. And how beautiful it is that it depicts the Christian life as ordered by and to the beauty of God. This book will help strengthen the fertilization of today’s churches by Edwards’s vision of God’s triune beauty.”
—Gerald R. McDermott, Jordan-Trexler Professor of Religion, Roanoke College; co-author, The Theology of Jonathan Edwards

“‘The supreme value of reading Edwards is that we are ushered into a universe brimming with beauty,’ writes Ortlund. I couldn’t agree more. And one would be hard-pressed to find a more engaging introduction to this universe for the church. Even the final chapter, on ways in which we should not follow Edwards, offers crucial Christian wisdom. Ortlund’s criticisms of Edwards hit the mark—and deserve consideration by Edwards’s growing number of fans. I plan to use them with my seminary students in years to come. Please peruse this beautiful book. It’s good for the soul.”
—Douglas A. Sweeney, Professor of Church History, Director of the Jonathan Edwards Center, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

“Edwards is profound, and this book breaks down the complexity into manageable portions around the theme of beauty, thus engaging readers in a fresh vision of the importance of Edwards’s theology to contemporary living.”
—Josh Moody, Senior Pastor, College Church, Wheaton, Illinois; author, Journey to Joy: The Psalms of Ascent 

This book is the latest entry in Crossway’s Theologians on the Christian Life series, which I edit with Stephen Nichols.

TCL

Here are the other books published in the series so far:

2012

Fred Zaspel, Warfield on the Christian Life: Living in Light of the Gospel

2013

William Edgar, Schaeffer on the Christian Life: Countercultural Spirituality

Stephen J. Nichols, Bonhoeffer on the Christian Life: From the Cross, for the World

Fred Sanders, Wesley on the Christian Life: The Heart Renewed in Love 

2014

Michael Horton, Calvin on the Christian Life: Glorifying and Enjoying God Forever

And here are the volumes forthcoming:

2015

Carl Trueman, Luther on the Christian Life: Cross and Freedom (February)

Tony Reinke, Newton on the Christian Life: To Live Is Christ (May)

Sam Storms, Packer on the Christian Life: Knowing God in Christ, Walking by the Spirit (June)

John Bolt, Bavinck on the Christian Life (August)

Michael A.G. Haykin and Matthew Barrett, Owen on the Christian Life (September)

Gerald Bray, Augustine on the Christian Life (October)

2016

Jason Meyer, Lloyd-Jones on the Christian Life

2017

Michael Reeves, Spurgeon on the Christian Life

Derek Thomas, Bunyan on the Christian Life

by Justin Taylor at September 25, 2014 12:00 PM

Greg Mankiw's Blog

Responsive.org

Few Companies Are Actually Disrupting Anything — Make Yours the Exception

Still, some companies are pursuing risky innovations and disrupting established industries. Business publications are full of stories about them: Google and Uber and Amazon and Salesforce and Workday and many more. They just haven’t had a measurable impact on the overall economy yet. One group of economists says to give it a few years— the adoption of new technologies has always affected productivity in fits and starts, and the rise of smartphones and cloud computing and Big Data will show up in the numbers eventually. The other view is that today’s technological innovations pale in significance beside electricity and the internal combustion engine—they’ll have some positive impact, but growth will be slower than it used to be.

What these arguments share is the conviction that, however sick many of us may be of hearing about it, disruptive innovation is something we need more of, not less. We, in this case, means some abstract collection of current and future humans—not people with jobs that are about to get disrupted out of existence. The uneven dispersal of rewards from technological change is always a problem, and may be especially fraught this time around. But uneven progress still seems better than  no progress at all.

Here’s an interesting article about “disruption” and how, despite all the hype, it has actually measurably declined in the past few decades. Few companies are being displaced by start-ups, and even fewer are creating major innovations in product or process themselves. And this is ultimately bad news for the economy.

That said, it’s great news for those major companies that are constantly experimenting and adapting, because it means they are even more likely to find themselves on top. So while other companies shy away from risk, think about how your company can embrace uncertainty and encourage divergence.

by Kate Jenkins at September 25, 2014 09:00 AM

glandium.org

So, hum, bash…

So, I guess you heard about the latest bash hole.

What baffles me is that the following still is allowed:

env echo='() { xterm;}' bash -c "echo this is a test"

Interesting replacements for “echo“, “xterm” and “echo this is a test” are left as an exercise to the reader.

by glandium at September 25, 2014 07:43 AM

Random ASCII

A Crash of Great Opportunity

Bug warningIt was a fairly straightforward bug. A wide-character string function was called with a byte count instead of a character count, leading to a buffer overrun. After finding the problem the fix was as simple as changing sizeof to _countof. Easy.

But bugs like this waste time. A playtest was cancelled because of the crashes, and because the buffer-overrun had trashed the stack it was not trivial to find the bad code. I knew that this type of bug was avoidable, and I knew that there was a lot of work to be done.

The work that I did included:

Diagnose it earlier

If the program had crashed inside the function that had made the bad wide-character function call then finding the bug would have been trivial – code inspection would have quickly revealed it. But as soon as execution returned from that function the trashed stack obscured the location of the bug, making its investigation trickier.

imageIt turns out, there’s a VC++ compiler switch to prevent returning after trashing the stack. So, the first thing I did was to turn on that switch, /GS. This switch tells VC++ to add a canary on the stack and check it before returning. With this switch turned on the crash was caught in the buggy function and locating it took seconds.

The /GS switch is intended as a security feature, to protect against malicious buffer overruns, but it also works well as a developer productivity tool. It does have some runtime cost, but the tradeoff is usually worth it, especially on internal builds. Recommended.

Cure the bug

Once I’d turned on /GS and reproed the bug it was trivial to find the bug so the next step was to fix it, as described earlier.

Don’t destroy the evidence

When the buffer overrun trashed the stack the buggy function returned to a garbage address, which happened to be in the heap. Wiping out evidence of the bug’s location was bad enough, but it was made worse because after returning to an address in the heap the game executed the data in the heap as instructions. This scrambled the registers and the stack and generally confused things.

imageAnd also, an executable heap? Really? That is a security hole of the first order. Therefore the next order of business was to change the linker settings to add /NXCOMPAT. This tells Windows to make the heap and the stack non-executable. This significantly improves security and it can also simplify debugging. And, this option has no run-time cost. Recommended. Actually, this should be considered required.

While I was in there I also turned on the /DYNAMICBASE linker switch in our release branches to further increase security, also with no run-time cost.

Avoid crashes from the future

imageAt this point I’d fixed the bug, made future bugs of this type much easier to investigate, and improved security. But there was still much left to do. It turns out that this type of mistake is easy to make. When a developer passes a buffer and a size there are at least a half dozen different ways of passing the wrong size. The best way to avoid these bugs in the future is to avoid the need to pass the size. It is dead easy to create template functions that take an array as a parameter and infer the size with 100% accuracy. Instead of writing this:

mywprintf(buffer, _countof(buffer), …); // Verbose and dangerous

you can then write this:

mywprintf_safe(buffer, …); // Compact and safe

It’s less typing, less reading, and it’s guaranteed correct. The syntax for a templated function that takes an array reference is a bit gnarly, but you only need to get it right in a few places. I covered this technique in a previous blog post.

The template technique doesn’t work if you have a raw pointer, but for any other target you should be able to create an overload to handle it. Manually passing the size should be rare.

Therefore my next task was to add template overrides for all of our string functions, and encourage everyone to use them in all new code, thus making it trivial to avoid ever writing this type of bug again.

Avoid crashes from the past

imageWhile the safe template functions would let us avoid writing this type of bug in the future they did nothing about the millions of lines of existing code. It was safe to assume that there were more size mismatches waiting to bite us. So I added SAL annotations to our string functions, fired up Visual Studio’s /analyze, and started compiling. This was, by far, the biggest task. Any large code base that has not had static analysis run on it will have lots of detectable bugs. Buffer overruns, logic errors, format-string mismatches, use-after-free, and many more. I ended up running /analyze on five major projects, fixing thousands of bugs, and setting up build machines to report new problems. This was a few months of work spread out over several years, but time well worth spending. It’s still finding new coding errors today. I discussed this experience in a previous blog post.

Back to the future

/GS, /NXCOMPAT, /DYNAMICBASE, /analyze and all its associated labors – plus actually fixing the bug – took a lot of time, but it was definitely worth it. Most of these changes were trivial and had huge payoffs. Running /analyze was by far the biggest task but, like other smart programmers, I am convinced that it was invaluable. Entire classes of bugs – serious crashing bugs and crazy logic errors – that use to show up quite frequently are now entirely extinct. It is not often that you get to entirely eradicate dozens of types of bugs and I have no doubt that doing this increased productivity and reliability.

Of course, crashes that no longer happen are invisible and it is impossible to know whether this work prevented a serious black swan event. The invisibility of the benefits can make it difficult to get recognition for this type of preventative bug fixing, so keep that in mind.

Simple bugs shouldn’t always trigger months of work, but it’s important to recognize when they should.


by brucedawson at September 25, 2014 05:17 AM

The Gospel Coalition | Latest Articles

Three Reasons to Put the ‘Feeling’ Back into Faith

In her recent book, When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God, psychological anthropologist T. M. Luhrmann exposes the scandal of much evangelical Bible study. Luhrmann, having spent significant time collecting data in several different congregations, found her own “irrepressible scholarliness” an unwelcome guest at the Bible studies she attended. She describes one group’s discussion of Jeremiah 1:11-19, where the prophet predicts calamity for Israel. “I wanted to know about the text, its history, and its construction—scholars’ questions,” Luhrmann explains. “No one else was interested.” She concludes eerily, “People just did not worry about heresy. They worried about making God come alive for them.”

Luhrmann’s observations illustrate a troubling trend in evangelical culture: we seem to want, at all costs, for the gospel to make us feel good. We read the Bible for its powers of consolation. We go to church in search of emotional experience. So long as God makes good on his perceived promise to banish loneliness, fear, and self-doubt, we persevere, however precariously, in the faith. Yet as Jen Wilkin points out in Women of the Word, this roller-coaster ride of “sustaining our emotions can be exhausting and defeating.”

The dangers of a sentimental approach to our faith are legion. Nevertheless, there may still be valid reasons for the collaboration of the “heart” in the life of faith.

First, the Bible doesn’t neatly divide the rational and emotional parts of a human being. Whereas English readers interpret “mind” in the Scriptures to describe “thinking” and “heart” to describe “feeling,” the Bible doesn’t enforce this dichotomy. In Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary, "heart" in the New Testament is defined as that which stands for a person’s “entire mental and moral activities, both the rational and emotional elements.” "Mind" is described as “the seat of reflective consciousness, comprising the faculties of perception and understanding, and those of feeling, judging, and determining.”

We can’t superimpose our cultural understanding of "mind" and "heart" onto the Scriptures, nor can we assume that “thinking” is more reliable than “feeling.” Perhaps it is closer to the truth, biblically speaking, to say that human beings have a comprehensive set of skills for perceiving and interpreting the world and deducing truth. All of these skills—rational and emotional—are fallen, and all have redemptive potential for good. We are commanded to love God with a beautiful, congruent wholeness: heart, soul, mind, and strength.

Second, emotional reaction is clearly one divinely intended response to the revelation of God. Take, as an example, the vivid language of judgment used against Israel in the Old Testament. God doesn’t simply call his people “unfaithful” or “idolatrous.” In the book of Jeremiah, he calls the Israelites whores, comparing them to a “wild donkey used to the wilderness, in her heat sniffing the wind! Who can restrain her lust?” (Jer. 2:24). This description intentionally provokes abhorrence and disgust and moves readers beyond a “rational” understanding of sin (Sin is bad, and I shouldn’t do it) to a visceral response.

In the New Testament, Jesus relied heavily on the use of parables to teach the people. He made his points in pictures. He told stories about seeds and vineyards, estranged families and wedding feasts. Jesus could have relied exclusively on didactic teaching and alliterated sermons, but his methods were often purposefully illustrative. This seems to indicate, at least on one level, that he intended to engage "mind" and "heart," thought and feeling.

One final example (of the many I could use) is found in Luke 24, when Jesus walks alongside two befuddled believers on the day of his resurrection. On the road to Emmaus, Jesus exposits the Scriptures, revealing himself in the narrative as it travels from Moses to the Prophets. Nevertheless, these two disciples do not recognize Jesus until they arrive, invite him in, and break bread. Suddenly, their eyes are opened. “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” (Luke 24:32). Here, they are describing something more than a rational conviction they develop about Jesus’ identity. Instead, they locate their reaction in the body, illustrating the sensory effect of Jesus’ words.

Third, consider the important anthropological claim that philosopher and theologian James K. A. Smith defends in his book Desiring the Kingdom. According to Smith, we are not first and foremost “thinking” creatures—or, homo sapiens. He blames the Enlightenment, not the Scriptures, for this mistaken view of the human person, which he sees as failing to fully reflect the reality of human behavior. Instead, Smith argues that humans are primarily “worshiping” creatures—or, homo liturgicus. In this framework, humans are understood to be less cognitively driven and more “teleological” in nature. “Rather than being pushed by belief," he says, "we are pulled by a telos that we desire.” If Smith is right, spiritual formation isn’t the intellectual enterprise we may want to make of it. Though doctrine has been and will continue to be important, we must also pay attention to desire. The church must work to help believers form the best, most biblical vision of the “good life.” And that’s the job of shaping affections, not just belief.

Evangelicals are rightfully nervous about Christian faith built on the sand of feeling. We must follow and obey Christ regardless of how we feel, and our approach to the study of Scripture should not be stunted by our misguided emotional expectations. However, the three reasons above compel us to reconsider the rightful place for feelings in the life of faith. For if the ‘heart’ matters as much as I’ve suggested, than discipleship is more than a "mind" game.

by Jen Pollock Michel at September 25, 2014 05:01 AM

The Church Dropout Problem Is a Disciple-Making Problem

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 yet discovered and, as always, to encourage you to know and love Christ more in all spheres of life. 


A few years ago, I led a retreat for about 100 recent college graduates. I told them stories about some amazing people I’d discovered while researching my book, Kingdom Calling. Most of these amazing people were in their 60s or above. They didn’t wear hip clothes or listen to Bono. But the twenty-something Christians ate them up.

I told them about Perry Bigelow, a Christian real-estate developer. Perry has spent years studying what Scripture teaches about the values of the Kingdom of God so that he could create communities that offer foretastes of “the city whose architect and builder is God” (Heb. 11:10). To that end, he has sought koinonia; beauty; safe, child-friendly communities; and creation care.

I told them about Cynthia Leibrock, an interior designer who’s become a leading national expert in the field of universal design. After designing a residential facility for the physically disabled many years ago, Cynthia’s passion for her work reached new heights. For the past couple of decades, she’s been expressing her Christian faith through her vocation by creating spaces that enable maximum mobility and accessibility for the elderly and disabled.

I told them about Tom Hill, former CEO of Kimray, which manufactures valves and controls for the oil and gas industry. Given the volatile nature of his industry, Tom has pursued the “Joseph strategy” of saving up during boom years in order to have reserves on hand for the bust years. During one recession, Kimray’s orders dried up and he lacked work for some 90 employees. Instead of laying them off, Tom designed a partnership with his mayor to lend his people out. His talented workers took on jobs at public utilities, nonprofits, and other local companies—and Tom paid their salaries for 18 months—until Kimray’s orders returned to normal levels.

Five Million Young Adult Sheep

It was great fun watching how well these anecdotes landed with my audience. There they were—the generation often described as jaded, ironic, and blasé—downright enthusiastic and eager to hear more.

Their reaction reveals a hunger that David Kinnaman, President of the Barna Research Group, highlights in You Lost Me. He focuses on 18-21 year olds who have “dropped out” from their faith—by his estimate, some 5 million individuals in the U.S. Most have not completely abandoned the faith but “are putting their involvement in church on hold.” And one of the most important reasons why, he found, was that they couldn’t connect Sunday to Monday.” A recurring theme in his research with dropouts

“is the idea that [the Christianity they’ve been taught] does not have much, if anything, to say about their chosen profession or field … It is a modern tragedy. Despite years of church-based experiences and countless hours of Bible-centered teaching, millions of next generation Christians have no idea that their faith connects to their life’s work.”

Often these wanderers return to the fold once they marry and have kids. So we need not sensationalize the problem. But it’s also inappropriate to do nothing but sit back and wait until these 5 million sheep come home.

Kinnaman wants church leaders to engage these young adults in meaningful dialogue about how their callings and gifts can be deployed in the mission of God in the world. Such a renewed emphasis on what I call “vocational stewardship” could go far in wooing the dropouts back.

Work Matters and It Lasts

At its core, though, the dropout problem is a disciple-making problem. “The church is not adequately preparing the next generation to follow Christ faithfully in a rapidly changing culture,” Kinnaman suggests. Yet Tom Nelson’s book, Work Matters, can change that.

Nelson, a TGC Council Member and pastor of Christ Community Church in Leawood, Kansas, admits it has taken him years to preach and teach correctly on vocation. Work Matters starts, appropriately, in Genesis. Nelson spends considerable time on a basic theology of vocation that draws on both the cultural mandate and the implications of the Fall. Work itself is good. God is a worker, and made in his image, we enjoy the high calling of labor that enables us to be contributors to God’s society.

Idealism can come to a screeching halt, though, in the midst of the frustrations faced in the work-a-day world. Some Christians don’t just watch The Office; they live it 9-5. They face hostile co-workers, stressful schedules, backstabbing competitors, and mind-numbing monotony. Work is toilsome. But Nelson reminds us that this must not surprise us: “A perfect job or career is not only unrealistic, it is theologically untenable.”

The good news is that through Christ’s transforming power, our workplaces can be redeemed. God’s Spirit can change us so that we can proclaim and incarnate the gospel in our vocations. We can receive the Spirit’s help in navigating muddy ethical waters at work and his grace to extend to annoying customers. Moreover, our deepest Christian hopes—the full consummation of Christ’s kingdom and the new heavens coming down to earth—can fill us with wonder and zeal over the connections between our labors today and our lives in the age to come. A Biblically accurate view of our future reward, Nelson writes, shows us that we will have “joyful intimacy with God” and we will “be given greater work to do in the future. In many ways we are training now for reigning later with Jesus.” Our work matters, Nelson insists, and it lasts.

Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good

When discipleship unfolds in ways that inculcate a robust understanding of the doctrine of vocation, our faith can help us recognize and celebrate the deep meaning and purpose inherent in our work. That is certainly what I found in interviewing dozens of Christians who are practicing vocational stewardship. Nelson’s book also testifies to this reality.

King Jesus is on his mission, bringing this sort of transformation as he advances his kingdom. We get to be vital coworkers in that mission as we steward the vocational gifts and talents he has endowed us with in ways that advance foretastes of shalom.

This offers believers a deeply moving vision of vocational stewardship for the common good, which Nelson defines as “all various aspects of contemporary life that contribute positively to human flourishing both as individuals and communities.” It is an inspiring enough understanding of Christian discipleship to attract those roaming dropouts that Kinnaman describes—and the even more numerous older believers sitting in their office cubicles and wondering what the purpose of their work is.


Editors' note: This article has been adapted and updated from “Reconnecting Work and Church” by Amy L. Sherman, which appeared in Comment Magazine: www.cardus.ca/comment. Copyright © 2011. Used by permission of the author and Comment.

by Amy L. Sherman at September 25, 2014 05:01 AM

How to Destroy a Perfectly Good Theology

How can the contemporary “young, restless, Reformed” movement remain on track? What are its pitfalls? Where is it inconsistent? How must it mature?

Greg Dutcher, pastor of Christ Fellowship Church in Maryland and author of Killing Calvinism: How to Destroy a Perfectly Good Theology from the Inside, sat down with Mark Mellinger to explore such questions.

“The book Killing Calvinism is essentially a love letter to my Calvinist friends,” Dutcher explains in the video. “There’s an incredible resurgence of gospel-centered, God’s-glory-centered theology today. But I fear the possibility of squandering what’s been entrusted to us, of falling into the very arrogance and theological smugness that have at times characterized me.”

The doctrines of grace, properly understood, have to lead to humility. “If we truly believe the only thing we contribute to our salvation is the sin that makes it necessary,” he asks, “then how could we ever look down at anyone else?”

Watch the full 10-minute video to hear Dutcher discuss Piper for Arminians, evangelical celebrity culture, the litmus test of evangelism, and more.

Dear Arrogant Calvinist from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.

by Matt Smethurst at September 25, 2014 05:01 AM

Called to Speak ‘Freakish’ Truth

In a recent interview, Russell D. Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, said:

Christians need to start seeing that we find ourselves in a position very similar to the one the Christian church was in in the very beginning of its existence, as a minority of people speaking to the larger culture in ways which are going to sometimes seem freakish to that larger culture. I don't think that's anything that should panic us . . . but it's a realistic view of who we are.

What do you do when your beliefs start sounding "freakish" to people around you? That's the dilemma of 21st-century Christian rhetoric. Like Russell Moore, I don't think the situation is going to get easier anytime soon, so we should be thinking hard about the fundamental posture we take when presenting our convictions to the outside world.

As far as I can see, those speaking up for Christianity in the public square today usually rely on one of three approaches. The three differ from each other dramatically, and everything we say is colored by the approach we choose. Let me introduce them briefly and tell you which one seems most appropriate given the nature of the moment and our message.

1. Better By Comparison Approach

In conversations with non-Christian friends, the Better By Comparison approach suggests we should always refer to worst-case stereotypes of other kinds of Christians in the media. Then, you simply show how much more tolerable and enlightened we are than those others. The worse they are, the lower bar drops, the better and higher we must be by comparison. You can make yourself look better just by making others look worse. "I'm not that kind of Christian."

The problem with this approach is that it's based on a disdain for other Christians and thus hard to reconcile with Jesus' desire for unity. It demands that we downplay what God might be doing through other believers. So although this approach requires little expertise and offers huge payouts, Christians should keep their distance.

2. Minimalist Christian Approach

In conversations with non-Christian friends, the Minimalist Christian approach assures them that you are interested in the simple message of Jesus, not the version that causes all the controversy and divisions. Distance yourself from any Christian movements that came before yours in history. Dodge questions that probe below your sound bites, and change the subject when they want to know how it applies to touchy issues. Remember: an oversimplified message is better than no message at all.

A less manipulative version of this approach has a place inside of Christian community and evangelism. After all, there are core beliefs ("first things") that many otherwise divided people can agree on, and which make cross-confessional work possible. And it's important to emphasize these basic ideas when introducing the gospel to someone for the first time as well.

So why does the Minimalist Christian approach fall short as a universal style of communication? Because you're not really just a minimalist Christian. You probably have positions of one kind or another on almost every issue. There's a place for minimalist or mere Christianity in both evangelism and ecumenism, but mature believers will also want to apply those basic ideas to all the different spheres of their lives. And trying to hide this complexity is dishonest.

3. Conscious Dissident Approach

The third approach, the Conscious Dissident approach, offers our best hope and keeps two important aspects of our situation in mind. First, we are consciously dissident. That is to say, we knowingly subscribe to these views, and therefore don't try to disguise the ways they may conflict with the Zeitgeist. Second, we are conscious that we are dissidents. So we always make it clear—in what we say and how we say it—that we're aware many smart and respectable people disagree with us.

Consider how this posture differs from other cliché attempts at engaging unbelievers in conversation. You have probably seen people before who sit down to explain their views and settle in for a fight about them (thinking that duty demands it). And you have probably seen people who are ashamed of their Christian views and try to move on as quickly as possible (thinking they'll lose their hard-earned status otherwise). Conscious dissidents take an element of both: they are bold enough to present a robust, transparent version of their convictions, but at the same time, they don't feel compelled to monopolize every conversation with them. They have the forthrightness of the former approach and the self-effacing demeanor of the latter. 

In practice, this style of conversation stimulates as much, or more, conversation about our ideas than even the more long-winded styles. How is that possible? As Moore pointed out, the views we articulate will occasionally seem "freakish." So, even when we just put them out there casually, others will often want to circle back and cross-examine them. "Wait a minute. What did I just hear you say?" 

Here is the catch: at that point, they are now using their own time. Now a conversation about your views is being driven by someone else's interest, concern, or outrage. Of course, you have to be quick to make it work. If you can't summarize the key ideas well in a few sentences, then a provocative comment becomes an unsolicited lecture. But of course we need to be able to sum up our views succinctly anyway.

You could make a good argument that this article all amounts to sophistry, and that the gospel simply requires us to be authentic. And of course we are required to be authentic. Yet Jesus, the most authentic man who ever lived, counseled us to be "shrewd as snakes." Christians in the 21st century have to work hard both on their theology and also on their words. As followers of a great dissident, who clearly labored to give his words the most possible potency, we simply have no excuse not to do the same.

by Ben Stevens at September 25, 2014 05:01 AM

assertTrue( )

What Young People Don't Know

Young people today don't realize what has happened to the U.S. economy over the past 40 years. Their sense of what's "normal" is shaped by current reality, not the reality their parents grew up in. They don't know how things were; how prosperous America used to be.

When I think back on what my life was like in 1980, it horrifies me to see how badly the economic environment has deteriorated since then. Let me put try to put it in concrete terms.

The value of the dollar over time. In this graph, 2012 equals 1.
In 1900, a dollar was 29 times as powerful as in 2012.
Four years out of college, I was making $25,000 a year (in 1980). Which doesn't sound like a lot of money, right? Well, consider how I was living at the time. I had bought a nearly new (three years old) two-bedroom house on two acres of wooded land in North Carolina, for $30,000. I bought a new Chevy truck for $4100. I owned a 9-year-old Cessna 182, which I'd bought from a Delta pilot for $16,500. I was easily able to make the monthly payments on all these items. The combined payments came to a little over $600 a month.

Today, the new Chevy truck would cost $25,000. The average home price in the North Carolina town I lived in is now $300,000. A nine-year-old Cessna 182 can be had for $189,000. Basically, everything costs 6 to 10 times more now.

To live the same lifestyle today that I lived in 1980, four years out of college, would require an income of at least $200,000 in 2014 dollars. Few recent grads make anywhere near that amount.

Life was good in America in 1980. It was really easy to live really well on not much money.

What can I say?

Things have changed.

by Kas Thomas (noreply@blogger.com) at September 25, 2014 04:00 AM

Front Porch Republic

Archimedean Points, Above and Below

Archimedes_lever

“To the famous Archimedean boast:  ‘Give me whereon to stand and I will move the world.’.  Rabelais answers: ‘I move with my ship; and the waves of the world give way.’”    –John Cowper Powys One could choose a less fruitful…

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The post Archimedean Points, Above and Below appeared first on Front Porch Republic.

by Michael J. Sauter at September 25, 2014 03:03 AM

CrossFit Naptown

Don’t be a Dead beat, let’s Dead LIFT

Today’s Workout:

Dead Lift
3-3-3-3-3

3 Rounds
50 Double Unders
20 Single arm press with KB M(24kg/20 KG) Female (16kg/12kg) (NO push jerk today)

*10 with each arm

 

fullshoebox

 

 

 

 

by Peter at September 25, 2014 02:10 AM

The Frailest Thing

Arendt on Trial

arendtThe recent publication of an English translation of Bettina Stangneth’s Eichmann Before Jerusalem: The Unexamined Life of a Mass Murderer has yielded a handful of reviews and essays, like this one, framing the book as a devastating critique of Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil

The critics seem to assume that Arendt’s thesis amounted to a denial or diminishment of Eichmann’s wickedness. Arendt’s famous formulation, “the banality of evil,” is taken to mean that Eichmann was simply a thoughtless bureaucrat thoughtlessly following orders. Based on Stangneth’s exhaustive work, they conclude that Eichmann was anything but thoughtless in his orchestration of the death of millions of Jews. Ergo, Arendt was wrong about Eichmann.

But this casual dismissal of Arendt’s argument is built on a misunderstanding of her claims. Arendt certainly believed that Eichmann’s deeds were intentional and genuinely evil. She believed he deserved to die for his crimes. She was not taken in by his performance on the witness stand in Jerusalem. She did consider him thoughtless, but thoughtlessness as she intended the word was a more complex concept than what the critics have assumed.

At least two rejoinders have been published in an attempt to clarify and defend Arendt’s position. Both agree that Stangneth herself was not nearly as dismissive of Arendt as the second-hand critics, and both argue that Stangneth’s work does not undermine Arendt’s thesis, properly understood.

The first of these pieces, “Did Eichmann Think?” by Roger Berkowitz, appeared at The American Interest, and the second, “Who’s On Trial, Eichmann or Arendt?” by Seyla Benhabib, appeared at the NY Times’ philosophy blog, The Stone. Berkowitz’s piece is especially instructive. Here is the conclusion:

“In other words, evil originates in the neediness of lonely, alienated bourgeois people who live lives so devoid of higher meaning that they give themselves fully to movements. Such joiners are not stupid; they are not robots. But they are thoughtless in the sense that they abandon their independence, their capacity to think for themselves, and instead commit themselves absolutely to the fictional truth of the movement. It is futile to reason with them. They inhabit an echo chamber, having no interest in learning what others believe. It is this thoughtless commitment that permits idealists to imagine themselves as heroes and makes them willing to employ technological implements of violence in the name of saving the world.”

Do read the rest.


by Michael Sacasas at September 25, 2014 02:02 AM

Colin Walters

The bash vulnerability and Docker containers

In a previous post about Docker, I happened to randomly pick bash as a package shared between the host and containers. I had thought of it as a relatively innocent package, but the choice turned out to be prescient.  The bash vulnerability announced today shows just how important even those apparently innocent packages can be.

The truth is that whenever you run code, you need to have an understanding of who’s responsible for it over time. With the Project Atomic model for software delivery, we are also responsible for providing a base image from the upstream distribution, and that base image includes security updates. Are your application vendors on top of bash security updates? It will be interesting to see how rapidly public application containers are updated.

To me, a key goal of Atomic is making use of the flexibility and power of containers – while retaining the benefits of the maintenance model of trusted distributions, and this bash vulnerability shows why that’s important.


by Colin Walters at September 25, 2014 01:42 AM

sacha chua :: living an awesome life

Yay! I rocked

I’ve been working long hours over the past few weeks, getting ready for an event that wrapped up yesterday. It worked out really well. Yay!

I picked up AngularJS for this, and I’m glad I did. Angular made it really easy to update parts of the page with data and bind various events to clicks. It would’ve been pretty hard to do it without a framework like that, I think, what with all the changes.

My brain is still a little frazzled from the concentration. We did a lot of prep leading up to the event in order to prepare for stuff, and I did some quick fiddling during the event to troubleshoot. Good to make things happen!

It’s nice to downshift from the intensity of the event. We have a few things to take care of, but now I can carve out more time to cook, to write, to draw. It was great to know that even with the long days and focus, I had enough sleep and enough energy. =) W- kept things going at home, and I trimmed practically all the discretionary stuff. Now that my schedule’s loosened, I’m looking forward to picking up what I temporarily put aside.

On to more adventures!

The post Yay! I rocked appeared first on sacha chua :: living an awesome life.

by Sacha Chua at September 25, 2014 12:23 AM

September 24, 2014

512 Pixels

Review: the iPhone 6

I — like many of you — am now carrying a space grey 64 GB iPhone 6.

In many ways, this is a hard device to review. Not only is my feedback limited to one of the two new devices, but by making the difference between the two basically a physical one, Apple has introduced choice and personal preference into the equation.

Of course, that something that Jobs-era Apple did, but in small ways. The iPod nano has been sold in about two dozen different shades, but always one size. With the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus (not to mention the endlessly-customizable Apple Watch), Apple is putting more control in the consumer's hands than ever before.

(Sigh. I really tried to avoid that joke.)

The Size & Build

The 4.7-inch iPhone 6 is a bigger departure from the previous 4-inch chassis than I was expecting. Upon unboxing, I was surprised at the size. For a split second, I feared I had ordered the bigger of the pair.

My wife was unhappy when I handed it to her. She, like others, are hoping for an update to the smaller phones at some point in the future. (I think she'll be disappointed.)

I have fairly normal sized hands, but I can't use the iPhone 6 the way I did my previous devices. I can hold it as I held my old phones, cradled in my right hand, but to hit targets with my thumb, I have to let the iPhone rock forward in to my thumb, which is going to end badly for everyone when I inevitably drop it. I've been using it two handed more than I thought I would, and have moved my most-used apps down a row so they are easier to tap if I'm walking, but my thumb hasn't gotten used to stretching so far. I'm not sure where I'll end up long-term, but right now, my iPhone just feels awkward at times. I've wondered more than once if going to the 6 Plus would force the issue in such a way that I wouldn't be tempted to hold and use the new iPhone like the old ones.

Size issues aside, the screen itself looks great. The pixel density of the 6 hasn't increased over the original Retina display, but the colors and viewing angles are better this year than ever. I can't wait until all the apps I use are ready for the larger size. Fuzzy text makes me sad.

The glass is now rounded at the edges, sloping down to meet the aluminum around the edges. This helps the phone feel smaller, and reminds me of the old "it's like a river stone" claim Palm made about the original Pre. However, this means the iPhone 6 picks up weird light reflections around the edges. While these don't affect the usability of the display itself, it can be distracting at times.

Gone are the flat sides and sharp angles where they meet the glass. The 6 has rounded edges, not unlike the iPad mini and iPad Air. This makes the phone feel thinner in hand than it actually is — a trick Apple used with the original iPhone and 3G — but it makes the device slippery. If your eyes are closed, the only way you can tell where the glass ends and metal begins would be the texture. On my phone at least, the seam is flawless all the way around.

The (now pill-style) volume buttons and mute rocker feel great. They are audibly clicky; there is no doubt if a button has been engaged or not. The sleep/wake button is equally clicky, but is now on the right side of the phone. While I'm glad it's not on the top anymore, it's hard to break seven years' worth of habitual use. The one downside is that now the sleep/wake button is right across from the volume up button, and more than once, I've put my phone to sleep while trying to take a photo while using the volume button as the shutter.

While the top of the phone is now featureless, the bottom still houses the headphone jack, Lightning port, mic and speaker. The headphone jack is the thickest opening on the phone. It's not hard to imagine that in the future this is going to limit what Apple can do thickness-wise. I can see that rumor about Lightning-powered headphones coming true at some point.

The built-in speaker is noticeably louder than the one on my iPhone 5, which is a welcome change to someone who listens to a lot of podcasts around the house and often forgets to charge his Jawbone Bluetooth speaker. (Hypothetically.)

The antenna breaks on the back aren't awesome, but I don't spend a lot of time looking at the back of my device.

The iPhone 6 is actually 17 grams heavier than the 5S but it feels lighter, due to not being as dense. The glass over the screen is thinner, making taps feel more hollow than on the old phone, or even the iPad. The combination of these things makes the iPhone 6 feel cheaper than the 5S somehow.

That aside, the iPhone 6 is just as well-designed and tightly-executed as any iPhone before it.

The Camera

There's an old quote saying the best tool is the one you have with you. For me, the iPhone camera fits in to this line of thinking. I have cameras nicer than the iPhone, but it's the one that's always in my front-right pocket, not to mention the only one connected to the Internet as long as Verizon is working.

For years, I fought this, but around the time of the iPhone 4S, I started giving in to it. While the iPhone 6 can't take photos as rich or large as my Olympus 4/3 camera with its set of lenses, it's far better than the shooter on previous iPhones. Even without the optical image stabilization that the 6 Plus sports, it excels in low-light conditions. Video quality is great, and the new 240fps slow motion is just insane.

There is of course, an elephant in the room. A tiny, protruding, lens-shaped elephant.

As iPhones have gotten thinner, the iPhone camera team must be increasingly stressed; cameras need depth and the iPhone 6 has less of it than ever. Unlike some other manufacturers, Apple didn't create a bulge across the back of the phone, sloping from the main plane of the back plate to the lens cover to give the optics more space. Instead, the lens sits alone, above the rest of the back of the phone. On the space gray phone, the side of the lens is dark metal that's not used anywhere else on the phone. The lens is covered in sapphire, as it has been since the iPhone 5, so I'm not worried about it getting scratched.

While it's unattractive to my eyes, it's not the end of the world. The lens doesn't get snagged on my pocket, but it does make the iPhone rock a bit if it's placed on a flat surface.

Apple thought about this, and the iPhone 6's vibrate motor is near the bottom of the phone, helping it sound more solid than it would if it were near the top, where it could cause the phone to rock more when going off. It's a subtle design choice but one I appreciate. No one likes rattling iPhones.

I'd imagine the bump may be here to stay. Now that Apple's introduced it, they can't get rid of it just to have to re-introduce it on some super-slim future iPhone. The little bump and it's annoyances are not great, but the pictures it makes are well worth it.

The Battery

I haven't been able to give the battery a fair test. I use my iPhone less on the weekends, and thanks to our newborn son, I haven't had a chance to use it during a typical weekday.

I would like to address something I've seen in almost every review I've read but I'll pick on Casey because his site's name hurts my head:

The battery life seems better than my 5s by a comfortable margin

Apple says the 6 should get better battery life than the 5S, but there's a nice trick the company gets to play on reviewers. Since rechargeable batteries slowly lose capacity over time, any new phone should feel like an improvement over a year-old one.

That aside, the iPhone 5 I am about to ship to Gazelle was replaced by a Genius just a few weeks ago, so I should see a more fair fight. My gut says the 6 gives me more breathing room. Time will tell, but even looking at what Apple promises 6 Plus owners, I long for the iPhone that will let me go several days between charges.

Wrap-up

I like the iPhone 6. Despite the growing pains in both my thumb and iOS 8, this iPhone is the best I've owned.

The larger screen means a bigger window into the Internet and apps, and Apple's built the 6 in such a way that the phone doesn't feel any bigger than it needs to be. It's nice in the hand and lightweight.

The camera's quality is hard to believe. While the protruding lens is annoying in certain situation, I'm willing to live with it if it means I can take such nice shots with my phone.

In short, I'm glad I upgraded this year.

A Footnote on Silly People

There's a lot of talk online — and in my personal text messages from my Android-carrying friends — about how Apple's just now moving to bigger screens, and had to make an accommodation on the camera thickness like many Android OEMs have had to do.

As many have written, Apple is usually not the first to market with a feature or product. The company is content to sit back and watch other market players slug it out until a clear winner or direction takes shape.

In a weird way, Cupertino seems to acknowledge this, at least on some level. In the keynote, Apple never really explained why the iPhone has suddenly grown so dramatically. The company glosses right over it, even on its iPhone landing page:

iPhone 6 isn’t simply bigger — it’s better in every way. Larger, yet dramatically thinner. More powerful, but remarkably power efficient. With a smooth metal surface that seamlessly meets the new Retina HD display. It’s one continuous form where hardware and software function in perfect unison, creating a new generation of iPhone that’s better by any measure.

There's no reason given here. It's as if Apple's saying, "Of course the new iPhone is bigger. Why wouldn't it be?" And, for the most part, Apple fans are good with it.

I think that is what gets under the skin of Android fans; Apple just strolling into a room on their own timing and setting up shop is one thing, but to have "the sheep" suddenly singing the praises of a feature that's been available for years from non-Cupertino-based companies is just too much.

I think we all need to get a life and maybe go outside for a bit.

Editor's Note: I was hoping to include some photos in this review, but most of it was written in the middle of the night as our newborn son slept at the hospital. Sacrifices had to be made.

by Stephen Hackett at September 24, 2014 11:29 PM

The Divine Comedy of Homescreens →

I'm out with a new baby, but on this week's show, Myke and The Teech talk about the iPhone 6 Plus and the end of the year-long #cleanmyke campaign.

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by Stephen Hackett at September 24, 2014 09:04 PM

Market Urbanism

The importance of driverless trains

Vancouver's driverless Skytrain

Vancouver’s driverless Skytrain

As Honolulu is making progress on its driverless elevated rail system under construction, Washington, DC is finally beginning to return to computer operation on its red line after a 2009 crash brought an end to reliance on the computerized system. While the move in DC will facilitate smoother driving and braking, WMATA still relies on train operators in the cabs, forgoing the cost-saving opportunity that driverless systems provide. It’s difficult to overstate the importance of driverless trains in the effort to bring U.S. transit operations down to a reasonable price.

Driverless systems currently operate successfully in cities from Vancouver to Algiers, and the world’s most financially successful intracity transit systems in Hong Kong and Tokyo have embraced the technology. In spite of WMATA’s high profile accident that happened while the trains were computer-operated, a well-designed driverless system is actually safer than human operated one. Driverless systems offer a better ride quality, stay on time, and face a lower marginal cost of extending service hours.

Labor costs make up huge shares of U.S. transit systems. In DC, for example, personnel costs make up 70% of the agency’s operating budget. In 2010, WMATA spent $38 million on the salaries of 611 train operators, and this does not include their retirement and health benefits. In New York, personnel costs make up $8.5 billion of the agency’s $11.5 billion operating costs, and in Chicago labor takes up 73% of CTA’s operating expenses. Obviously not all transit workers jobs can be automated (all of these systems have more bus drivers than train operators) and some operating costs would rise under a driverless system. But taking steps toward reducing labor — that comes at a premium in high-cost-of-living cities where transit is most important — is crucial for reducing transit’s operating costs and making transit systems financially sustainable.

In all sorts of industries automation reduces the cost of goods and services, but transit systems face particularly high returns on automation because several institutional factors inflate their high personnel costs. As Stephen and Alon have explained, union work rules play a role in driving transit costs by requiring eight-hour shifts. Transit agencies face peak demand during the morning and evening rush hours. If transit agencies were run on a for-profit basis, they would staff more bus drivers and  train operators during these times of peak demand and fewer during the work day and night time. However, transit unions’ work rules make it impossible to staff according to demand.

In addition to the premium that transit agencies guarantee their employees through relatively high wages and union work rules, their pensions and benefits make up a large part of their employment costs, and these costs are not transparent. For example, BART, with its high profile strikes this summer, reports a $187 million unfunded pension liability. This means that future operating costs will have to rise to cover benefits accrued in the past. Transit agencies’ pension liabilities are based on their discount rate assumption with 7.5% or higher being typical. If these agencies’ pension funds fail to realize compound annual returns greater than or equal to their assumed discount rates, their pension liabilities will actually be higher than what they report.

A City Lab post posits that mainland cities are unlikely to follow Honolulu’s driverless lead because converting existing trains to driverless would be prohibitively costly. But a commenter on her post points out that the change to a driverless system would be a capital cost, typically covered by the federal government. What better use for the Federal Transit Administration’s Core Capacity dollars than making the transition to driverless trains in large systems? Moving to a driverless system could create a virtuous cycle better service increasing ridership, begetting further service improvements. While making the transition to a driverless system entails short-term political and financing challenges, maintaining bloated operating expenses year after year is an unacceptable outcome.

During BART’s infamous strikes over the summer, a San Francisco tech entrepreneur quipped“Get ‘em back to work, pay them whatever they want, and then figure out how to automate their jobs so this doesn’t happen again.” His sentiment may come off as cold-hearted, but transit agencies should have one mission: providing adequate transit service at a reasonable cost. Their mission should not be to provide well-paying jobs to workers who might not be able to earn such high wages and benefits in the private sector. While the transition to driverless would be difficult for transit workers and agencies, in the long-run the advantages of substituting relatively inexpensive capital for expensive labor are too high to ignore.

 

by Emily Washington at September 24, 2014 08:52 PM

Inconsolation

Bonus: A massive missive of omission

I try to claim ownership over my bad ideas as well as my good ones. My decision to dump everything in binutils, bsd-games, coreutils and util-linux back into my list of software was … not the best one. :???:

It added quite a few useful titles that were not in my original list, but it also dropped me into a flood of esoteric utilities and one-shot wonders that are really only polluting my attempts to showcase newer and stronger stuff.

My next brilliant decision :roll: is to take the opposite tack: Add the less-intriguing titles in the mix to this page, just for archive-and-or-search purposes, and retain the half-dozen that have really caught my eye.

What that means is … here’s what I have installed (in Arch) with each package, its one-line description from the man page, and any note that I can think to make about it. If you don’t see something here, that means I have either already discussed it, or it’s going to make a special appearance in the days to come. Please stay tuned. ;)

Let’s go alphabetically — here’s binutils.

  • addr2line: convert addresses into file names and line numbers.
  • ar: create, modify, and extract from archives
  • as: the portable GNU assembler.
  • c++filt: Demangle C++ and Java symbols.
  • elfedit: Update the ELF header of ELF files.
  • gprof: display call graph profile data
  • ld: The GNU linker
  • nm: list symbols from object files
  • objcopy: copy and translate object files
  • objdump: display information from object files.
  • ranlib: generate index to archive.
  • readelf: Displays information about ELF files.
  • size: list section sizes and total size.
  • strings: print the strings of printable characters in files. (The best use I can think of for this is to point it at a mystery binary file, to find out what it is. Try it with any executable you have, and you’ll see what I mean.)
  • strip: Discard symbols from object files.

I don’t have much to say about binutils. With the exception of strings, I doubt I have ever used more than two or three of these.

Here’s coreutils.

  • base64: base64 encode/decode data and print to standard output (This could be another type of “encryption,” since it’s essentially a base-64 alphabet converter, and requires some understanding of the output to recognize how to “decrypt” it. Security through obfuscation, I guess.)
  • chcon: change file security context
  • chgrp: change group ownership
  • chmod: change file mode bits
  • chown: change file owner and group
  • chroot: run command or interactive shell with special root directory (Outside of installing new systems, I rarely get a chance to use this.)
  • cksum: checksum and count the bytes in a file (This works as a primitive checksum utility, but doesn’t really vary much from md5sum or sha*sum.)
  • cp: copy files and directories
  • dircolors: color setup for ls (Sounds better than it is; just dumps your screen color codes to an editable string.)
  • dir: list directory contents
  • env: run a program in a modified environment
  • expr: evaluate expressions (Allows for some basic mathematical functions at the terminal too.)
  • false: do nothing, unsuccessfully (The most successful unsuccessful program in history.)
  • hostid: print the numeric identifier for the current host
  • install: copy files and set attributes
  • link: call the link function to create a link to a file
  • logname: print user’s login name
  • ls: list directory contents
  • mkdir: make directories
  • mknod: make block or character special files
  • mktemp: create a temporary file or directory
  • mv: move (rename) files
  • nohup: run a command immune to hangups, with output to a non-tty
  • nproc: print the number of processing units available
  • pathchk: check whether file names are valid or portable
  • pinky: lightweight finger
  • printenv: print all or part of environment
  • printf: format and print data
  • pr: convert text files for printing
  • pwd: print name of current/working directory
  • readlink: print resolved symbolic links or canonical file names
  • realpath: print the resolved path
  • rmdir: remove empty directories
  • runcon: run command with specified security context
  • sleep: delay for a specified amount of time (I don’t have much to say about a program that just sleeps.)
  • stdbuf: Run COMMAND, with modified buffering operations for its standard streams.
  • test: check file types and compare values
  • timeout: run a command with a time limit
  • touch: change file timestamps (I generally use this to show myself when I last referenced a file.)
  • true: do nothing, successfully
  • tsort: perform topological sort (I’ve never worked with this type of sorting before, so the program seems terribly obtuse. Start here if you want more information.)
  • tty: print the file name of the terminal connected to standard input
  • unexpand: convert spaces to tabs (I haven’t been able to get this one working like it seems it should.)
  • unlink: call the unlink function to remove the specified file
  • users: print the user names of users currently logged in to the current host
  • yes: output a string repeatedly until killed

Here’s the last of it: util-linux.

  • addpart: a simple wrapper around the “add partition” ioctl
  • agetty: alternative Linux getty
  • blkdiscard: discard sectors on a device
  • blkid: locate/print block device attributes
  • blockdev: call block device ioctls from the command line
  • chcpu: configure CPUs
  • chfn: change your finger information
  • chrt: manipulate the real-time attributes of a process
  • chsh: change your login shell
  • colcrt: filter nroff output for CRT previewing
  • colrm: remove columns from a file
  • col: filter reverse line feeds from input (I’m not sure why this is called “col;” the only time I have ever used it is to convert man pages into plain text, i.e., man man | col -b )
  • ctrlaltdel: set the function of the Ctrl-Alt-Del combination
  • delpart: simple wrapper around the “del partition” ioctl
  • eject: eject removable media
  • fallocate: preallocate or deallocate space to a file
  • fdformat: low-level format a floppy disk (I guess I found it.)
  • findfs: find a filesystem by label or UUID
  • findmnt: find a filesystem
  • flock: manage locks from shell scripts
  • fsck.cramfs: fsck compressed ROM file system
  • fsck.minix: check consistency of Minix filesystem
  • fsck: check and repair a Linux filesystem
  • fsfreeze: suspend access to a filesystem (Ext3/4, ReiserFS, JFS, XFS)
  • fstrim: discard unused blocks on a mounted filesystem
  • getopt: parse command options (enhanced)
  • hexdump: display file contents in hexadecimal, decimal, octal, or ascii (I have actually used this, long ago.)
  • hwclock: query or set the hardware clock (RTC) (This is useful to know about when working with very old computers, if you’re having problems where heavy processor strain causes the internal clock to lag. See this as an example.)
  • i386: change reported architecture in new program environment and set personality flags
  • ipcmk: make various IPC resources
  • ipcrm: remove certain IPC resources
  • ipcs: show information on IPC facilities
  • isosize: output the length of an iso9660 filesystem
  • lastb: show a listing of last logged in users
  • last: show a listing of last logged in users
  • ldattach: attach a line discipline to a serial line
  • linux32: change reported architecture in new program environment and set personality flags
  • linux64: change reported architecture in new program environment and set personality flags
  • logger: a shell command interface to the syslog(3) system log module
  • login: begin session on the system
  • losetup: set up and control loop devices
  • lsblk: list block devices
  • lscpu: display information about the CPU architecture
  • lslocks: list local system locks
  • lslogins: display information about known users in the system
  • mesg: display (or do not display) messages from other users (I have worked through this, and write and wall, more than once and never seen it work. :( )
  • mkfs.bfs: make an SCO bfs filesystem
  • mkfs.cramfs: make compressed ROM file system
  • mkfs.minix: make a Minix filesystem
  • mkfs: build a Linux filesystem
  • mkswap: set up a Linux swap area
  • mountpoint: see if a directory is a mountpoint
  • mount: mount a filesystem
  • namei: follow a pathname until a terminal point is found
  • newgrp: log in to a new group
  • nologin: politely refuse a login
  • nsenter: run program with namespaces of other processes
  • partx: tell the Linux kernel about the presence and numbering of on-disk partitions
  • pivot_root: change the root filesystem
  • prlimit: get and set process resource limits
  • raw: bind a Linux raw character device
  • readprofile: read kernel profiling information
  • resizepart: simple wrapper around the “resize partition” ioctl
  • runuser: run a command with substitute user and group ID
  • setarch: change reported architecture in new program environment and set personality flags
  • setsid: run a program in a new session
  • sfdisk: partition table manipulator for Linux (With both fdisk and cfdisk to consider, I rarely even hear about sfdisk.)
  • sulogin: single-user login
  • su: run a command with substitute user and group ID
  • swaplabel: print or change the label or UUID of a swap area
  • swapoff: enable/disable devices and files for paging and swapping
  • swapon: enable/disable devices and files for paging and swapping
  • switch_root: switch to another filesystem as the root of the mount tree
  • tailf: follow the growth of a log file (Not to be confused with tail‘s --follow flag. ;) )
  • taskset: retrieve or set a process’s CPU affinity
  • umount: unmount file systems
  • uname26: change reported architecture in new program environment and set personality flags
  • unshare: run program with some namespaces unshared from parent
  • utmpdump: dump UTMP and WTMP files in raw format
  • uuidd: UUID generation daemon
  • uuidgen: create a new UUID value
  • vigr: edit the password or group file
  • vipw: edit the password or group file
  • wall: write a message to all users
  • wdctl: show hardware watchdog status
  • wipefs: wipe a signature from a device
  • write: send a message to another user

A few of those look like they have similar descriptions, but that’s probably because they are preset commands linking back to setarch. If you use something like that frequently, you might want to double-check what options are already configured.

And of course, there’s nothing there from bsd-games, because I do believe everything from bsd-games is somewhere here. :)

Please feel free to chime in if you have a particular use for any of these tools and you want to share. I don’t plan on revisiting any of these titles because my own frame of reference for them is terribly narrow. That doesn’t mean they’re not useful though.

And I apologize if this seems like a massive cop-out; in some ways it is. I wanted to cruise through those four packages one more time, but a lot of what is here is just too … unique to warrant inclusion. Perhaps it is possible to be too special. :\

P.S.: No, I did not retype every line from those man pages. And no, I don’t have an intern. Let’s just say I have enough skill at the prompt to slice and dice a few HTML-ized lists of programs. … :mrgreen:

by K.Mandla at September 24, 2014 06:44 PM

Cal Newport » Blog

Deep Habits: Use Dashes to Optimize Creative Output

thinking-outside-640px

Obsessing About Selection

I’m currently trying to solve a fun problem that’s captured my attention and refuses to relent. Here’s the basic setup:

  • A collection of k devices arrive at a shared channel. Each device has a message to send.
  • Time proceeds in synchronized rounds. If more than one device tries to send a message on the channel during the same round, there’s a collision and all devices receive a collision notification instead of a message.
  • The devices do not know k.

In this setup, a classic problem (sometimes called k-selection) is devising a distributed algorithm that allows all k devices to successfully broadcast in a minimum number of rounds. The best known randomized solutions to this problem require a*k rounds (plus some lower order factors), for a small constant a > 2.

What I am trying to show is that such a constant is necessary. That is: all distributed algorithms require at least b*k rounds for some constant b bounded away from 1 (and hopefully close to 2).

The Dash Method

What I’ve noticed in my thinking about this problem over the past week or two is that at the beginning of each deep work session, I’ll typically come up with a novel approach to attempt. As I persist in the session, however, the rate of novelty decreases. After thirty minutes or so of work I tend to devolve into a cycle where I’m rehashing the same old ideas again and again.

I’m starting to wonder, therefore, if this specific type of deep work, where you’re trying to find a creative insight needed to unlock a problem, is best served by multiple small dashes of deep work as oppose to a small number of longer sessions.

That is, given five free hours during a given week, it might be better to do ten 30-minute dashes as oppose to one 5 hour slog.

My Experiment

So I’m going to try this. For the next week or so, I am going to limit my thinking on this problem to under 30 minutes at a stretch, and try to sprinkle such dashes throughout my week.

Of course, if I make a breakthrough in one of these sessions, I will then default to the more standard long stretches required to work through the tricky details of any such proof. (In other words, I want to make clear that the brevity I am pitching in the dash method is really only well-suited to this quite specific type of work.)

I must admit that I approach this technique with some trepidation. My main concern is that once the dash gets too short I’ll start to leverage the impending termination to excuse my tendency to sidestep the annoying math that is sometimes necessary to verify whether or not an idea works. (My mind much prefers “eureka solutions” in which the applicability is self-evident, to the point where it will sometimes ignore potentially good but hard solutions in hopes of a eureka lurking around the neuronal corner.)

We’ll see.

In the meantime, if you have a solution to the above problem, let me know.

(Photo by Kacper Gunia)

by Study Hacks at September 24, 2014 06:15 PM

Responsive.org

Reforming the Control Freaks in Your Company

Multitasking control freaks are individuals who will never say no to a project, but then won’t give key participants the autonomy they need to do their work independent of the multitasker.

More often than not, this characteristic emerges not with the organization’s leader, but with the operational leaders. These individuals have a strong sense of personal accountability, but when they try to keep their fingers in everything, it can become an obstacle to growth.

As we know, a dictatorial work environment will bring an otherwise promising company to ruin. But even if your company’s leaders are setting a good example by giving managers a lot of autonomy, some of those managers may be harming the holacracy by refusing to cede control of projects to others. This article has some great insight on how to identify which team members are overbearing, and how to help them move past it. This is one of the single most important duties of senior leadership at any company.

by Kate Jenkins at September 24, 2014 06:00 PM

The Urbanophile

Neighborhood Poverty Dynamics

Carol Coletta is now with the Knight Foundation, where she’s started up a podcast series called “Knight Cities.”

Her most recent episode is an interview with economist Joe Cortright about a study he did about the evolution of poor neighborhoods in America. This is an important, if depressing, study in which he looked at how poverty changed in city neighborhoods at the census tract level from 1970 to 2000.

I’ll use the cover art embed so you can put the face to the voice. If the embed doesn’t display for you, click over to Soundcloud.

By the way, Cortright also posted a rebuttal to the NYT Magazine piece on Portland.


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 September 24, 2014 05:45 PM

Feed: stratechery by Ben Thompson

Why Now for Apple Watch

The impression I get is that many people don’t really understand why I changed my mind about the Apple Watch.

  • In Apple Watch: Asking Why and Saying No I criticized the lack of an explicit “why” in the Watch presentation and questioned parts of the demo, particular those which replicated phone functionality. After all, if you are going to have your phone with you anyways, why not develop the watch accordingly? I doubled-down on this position in How Tim Cook Might Have Introduced the Apple Watch

  • Then, a week ago, I wrote What I Got Wrong About Apple Watch that laid out a much more ambitious vision for the watch that in my mind explained many of the problems I originally had. In retrospect, though, I perhaps spent too much time explaining the context for changing my mind, and not enough explaining exactly what I think Apple is up to

This post seeks to rectify that. Here, point-by-point, is why I believe Apple is launching the Watch in 2015.

  • The Watch will eventually be Digital Hub 3.0 – This is perhaps the most controversial assertion I will make, and if you disagree with me here, then the rest of my argument doesn’t really matter. I believe that in the long run – i.e. not this version of the Apple Watch, but the one several iterations down the line – the Watch will have cellular capability and the ability to interface with any number of “dumb” objects, including accessories that have larger screens and/or superior input methods,1 and will be the center of your computing existence. From Apple’s perspective, that means the Watch category is the very long-term replacement for the iPhone, at least for some segment of the population. Again, I’m not talking about 2015 or probably anytime in the next five years, but rather the very long term

  • The Apple Watch’s competition is the iPhone – This may seem a bit strange at first glance – isn’t the Apple Watch competing against Android Wear devices? – but the truth is that the number of people who will start with the premise they want a smart watch and then decide which one to buy is miniscule. Rather, the Apple Watch is competing with non-consumption: people who don’t wear watches because their smartphone is “good-enough” at telling time. For the Apple Watch to achieve the level of success that would justify it as a tentpole product for Apple, it must appeal to far wider audience than those who are already interested in smart watches; to put it another way, the Watch must be clearly superior to the iPhone in your pocket in enough ways to justify not only the additional expense of buying it but also the hassle of wearing it and charging it nightly. This means a vibrant app ecosystem that unlocks a wide array of functionality that no one company could ever come up with on its own

  • There Is no iPod market anymore – I previously argued that the Watch should be more like the iPod: explicitly dependent on the iPhone for complex functionality, with only simple essentials on the device itself. The iPod, though, arose in a world where those simple essentials were completely unique and clearly useful; you obviously weren’t going to carry a computer with you everywhere to listen to all of your music (an activity that appeals to almost everyone). In contrast (and per my previous point), everyone already carries a phone with them. A pure notifications device and health tracker would only ever be a niche device.

In sum, while I believe there is a long-term market for an even more personal computer on our wrist, I don’t believe that market will grow out of an accessory the way the iPhone grew out of the iPod. Rather, the device that makes this market must be fully formed: it must have as many of the ingredients of Digital Hub 3.0 as possible.

The question, then, is why 2015? After all, there are some key ingredients missing in the Watch, the most obvious being the lack of cellular capability. To my mind Apple had three alternatives:

  1. Release an accessory-like Watch today, then transform it into a standalone device once it had its own cellular stack
  2. Wait until the technology was ready and release a fully functional Watch in two or three years time
  3. Release a Watch in 2015 that is designed as if it is a fully functional device, even though for the next few years it needs an iPhone for full functionality

Each of these alternatives has clear tradeoffs:

  • Alternative #1: Release an accessory-like Watch – This approach has the advantage of “making sense” – since it needs an iPhone anyway, it would assume the iPhone’s presence in its design decisions, off-loading things like picture viewing and searching for movie times to the phone, and focusing on Watch-specific activities like maps, health tracking, etc.

    There are two big problems, though:

    • As I noted above, I don’t think the market for this device would be very large
    • Everything about the software – including all 3rd-party applications – would need to be completely re-thought and re-built once the constraint that the phone be present was removed. In fact, what would more likely happen is that the Watch would never fully develop into Digital Hub 3.0 because it would always in some way presume the presence of a phone. This would leave Apple open to disruption from another watch that had no such constraints (see, for example, the compromises Microsoft made with Windows 8 because they needed it to run on traditional PCs)

    Ultimately, this alternative is appealing from a perceived simplicity and elegance angle, but it would be the most detrimental to the long-term potential of the Watch by including a temporary constraint in the fundamental design of the product. I strongly believe I was wrong to so strongly call for this approach originally

  • Alternative #2: Release the Watch when cellular technology is ready – This approach avoids the dangers of designing in temporary constraints that limit the long-term potential of the device, and it ensures that the intended role and capabilities of the Watch is clear from the get-go.

    However, there are again two significant tradeoffs:

    • While Apple is better than most at iterating and fine-tuning a product internally, there are a whole host of things that can only be improved by having a device – and a user interface, especially – out in the open. The iPhone is a perfect example of this: the first several versions of iPhone OS were very limited from an interface perspective; it was only around the iPhone 4 that the user interface was fully realized and perfected. Were Apple to wait to launch the Watch, that time-consuming work would only begin in 2017 or 2018 or whenever the Watch was ready
    • Relatedly, an app ecosystem takes time to build. Sure, there were a decent number of apps when the App Store opened in 2008, but few if any of those apps are still used today. It took a few years for developers to iterate and figure out just how apps ought to work. Again, though, were Apple to wait to launch the Watch that work of building and iterating the ecosystem would also have to wait

    I can very much appreciate the argument for this alternative, but the reality is that a fully realized Watch is not just about being complete from a technical perspective, but also being complete from a UI and app ecosystem perspective. This approach would push out the year when everything is in place to 2019 or 2020 at best

  • Alternative #3: Release a Watch that is fully functional but for cellular connectivity – This approach – the one that Apple chose – allows the hard work of UI iteration and app ecosystem development to begin in 2015. Moreover, that iteration and development will happen with the clear assumption that the Watch is a standalone device, not an accessory. Then, whenever the Watch truly is standalone, it will be a complete package: cellular connectivity, polished UI, and developed app ecosystem. It will be two years closer to Digital Hub 3.0 than Alternative #1 or #2.

    The tradeoff is significant confusion in the short-term: the Watch that will be released next year is not a standalone device. It needs the iPhone for connectivity. To be clear, this is no small matter: the disconnect certainly tripped me up for a week, and if the feedback I’ve gotten is any indication, it continues to befuddle a lot of very smart people. How on earth are normal folks who don’t follow this sort of stuff for a living going to grok the idea of a standalone Watch that actually needs an iPhone?

So why did Apple choose Alternative #3? Confusing people seems so very un-Apple-like.

In fact, I think that this tradeoff is actually a lot less serious than we who approach products from a technological perspective appreciate. Put aside the technology for a second and look at how you actually live your life: how often do you go anywhere without your smartphone? I would bet almost never. Crucially, “normal” people are the exact same: no one goes anywhere without their smartphone (remember, that’s the entire reason an accessory-like device probably wouldn’t have a big market).

What I think Apple realized was that they could, in jujitsu-like fashion, use this reality to their advantage: it’s OK – not ideal, but OK – for the Watch to use the iPhone for connectivity because the iPhone is always present anyways. Apple is not asking anyone to change their behavior in order to get the full functionality of a Watch – it is entirely additive to your day-to-day experience. To put it another way, a standalone Watch that actually needs an iPhone is incongruent only from a technical perspective; from a real-life perspective it is a non-issue.

On the flip-side, in return for making technically-oriented thinkers uncomfortable, Apple gets to reap the UI and ecosystem benefits of launching today, so that when, in a few years, the cellular technology is ready, the Watch will be a fully developed product complete with a polished UI and developed app ecosystem that taken as a whole is far ahead of anything else on the market.

Then, over many years, I believe we will use and carry our smartphones less and less even as they become bigger and more capable (in this regard, the iPhone Plus may have the additional moniker, but I believe it’s the true future iPhone) because we will have an even more portable and personal device with us all of the time. And, in true Apple fashion, they will be ok with that, because we will be replacing their central product with another one from Apple that is potentially even more lucrative.


As an addendum, I am very aware that there are many points in this analysis where I may be wrong:

  • The smartphone may be the perfect device, never to be supplanted by the Watch (just as, for example, many believe that iPads will never fully supplant laptops). Still, even if this is the case, I think Apple would consider iPad-level sales a success
  • The Watch may not be technically capable of being a fully-featured device. However, I highly doubt this true; given how far ahead of the competition the A8 is, I see no reason to doubt the capabilities of the S1
  • The confusion about a standalone Watch that is technically not standalone may be too much to overcome from a marketing perspective. I definitely think this is why the presentation was so muddled: Apple wanted to convey that this was a standalone device that would one day be the only device we need all of the time, but they couldn’t actually say that

In the end, this all comes back to my first point: I believe the future of computing will always track towards more personal and more portable, and the Watch is really the perfect device. As recounted in Bloomberg Businessweek:

Ive, 47, immersed himself in horological history. Clocks first popped up on top of towers in the center of towns and over time were gradually miniaturized, appearing on belt buckles, as neck pendants, and inside trouser pockets. They eventually migrated to the wrist, first as a way for ship captains to tell time while keeping their hands firmly locked on the wheel. “What was interesting is that it took centuries to find the wrist and then it didn’t go anywhere else,” Ive says. “I would argue the wrist is the right place for the technology.”

Moreover, if this is true, this is the perfect place for Apple; in retrospect, the iPod, an accessory that was always very price-competitive, was an aberration. Apple makes ever more personal general purpose computers at a handsome premium that is justified by their superior user experience. Thinking the watch would not be in that vein was the mistake I have since rectified.

  1. I described this vision in Digital Hub 2.0

The post Why Now for Apple Watch appeared first on stratechery by Ben Thompson.

by Ben Thompson at September 24, 2014 05:16 PM

CrossFit 204

Competing for Clients

It’s been brought to my attention that there’s some questionable competition going on for members in our local fitness community, so I’m taking the opportunity here to unequivocally state my position:

CrossFit 204 has never and will never approach members of another gym.

Never. Not ever. Not even if we’re down to our last dollar. I would shut the doors and file for bankruptcy before I ever solicit another gym’s clients.

CrossFit 204 has never and will never incentivize members to switch gyms nor reward them for doing so.

CrossFit 204’s staff members will never recruit members of other gyms. If they do, they will not be retained on our staff.

If these practices are going on elsewhere, it’s my personal opinion that they are shameful, dishonest and without character.

In truth, we care not at all what any other facility does or who they do it with. We don’t care if they have more or less members. We don’t care what their prices are. We are 100 percent focused on the members inside our facility, and we compete to retain their business by being the best coaches that we can be. We care only that our current clients are satisfied. Doing so represents the totality of our marketing plan.

We tell all prospective members that there are other gyms in the city, and that they should try them, too, before committing.

When current or prospective members have come to us with needs we can’t meet, we have referred them to other gyms that can help them achieve their fitness goals. We would rather see a person work out elsewhere than not work out at all. If a client of ours believes we aren’t meeting his or her needs, we will gladly introduce them to a gym that can help. We’ve had this courtesy returned by other gyms we hold in very high regard.

If a gym owner approaches you about switching gyms, ask why he or she isn’t in the gym helping current clients achieve their goals.

Competing for clients happens one way and one only: by running a facility that stands out above others.

If there are any questions about this, I can be reached at Mike@CrossFit204.com, and I will be at the gym from 6-9 p.m. tonight.

by Mike at September 24, 2014 04:31 PM

Inconsolation

hftirc: A little IRC in C

I don’t recall when or where I learned about hftirc. I usually try to make a note of the tipster who sends in a title, so it’s possible I found this one on my own.

hftirc is, as you might have inferred by the name (or by the title of this post) a small-scale IRC client for text-based environments.

2014-09-24-6m47421-hftirc

hftirc has a lot of small features that I like. I can see that it’s written in C (yes, I wrote that on purpose), and ps_mem.py says it will run on about 1.25Mb of memory. It has a traditional left-to-right arrangement, with the user list as a panel on the right. It seems to follow the traditional slash-command approach to IRC navigation, making it easy to adopt if you’re coming from one of the other big names in IRC.

The configuration file gives you a few more points to consider. hftirc works with color themes, and while the default is a little taxing, a few of them — especially the “white” theme — worked quite nice in terminals with white backgrounds.

You also have the ability to colorize individual nicknames, and to set a default channel that hftirc will jump straight into, as soon as it starts and connects.

hftirc doesn’t show any newer edits than three years ago, and I know some people consider that a sign of staleness and a good reason to avoid a program. I saw no reason to discount hftirc on those grounds; in any case, I doubt IRC is such an innovative technology that three years without maintenance is going to obsolete any working IRC client. :|

As luck would have it, I can see now how and why I found hftirc: The author is also responsible for tty-clock, one of my favorite programs of the past decade. This just goes to show you, take the time to examine a whole portfolio. :)


Tagged: chat, client, instant, irc, messenger

by K.Mandla at September 24, 2014 03:15 PM

John C. Wright's JournalJohn C. Wright's Journal

Unnatural and Perverse

This same thing happened to my stepmother. My stepbrother and sister were ages seven and four when the Dad up and left. She did not have her children taken from her, however.

 

Breaking the Silence: Redefining Marriage Hurts Women Like Me – and Our Children

http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2014/09/13692/

Every time a new state redefines marriage, the news is full of happy stories of gay and lesbian couples and their new families. But behind those big smiles and sunny photographs are other, more painful stories. These are left to secret, dark places. They are suppressed, and those who would tell them are silenced in the name of “marriage equality.”

But I refuse to be silent.

I represent one of those real life stories that are kept in the shadows. I have personally felt the pain and devastation wrought by the propaganda that destroys natural families.

The Divorce

In the fall of 2007, my husband of almost ten years told me that he was gay and that he wanted a divorce. In an instant, the world that I had known and loved—the life we had built together—was shattered.

I tried to convince him to stay, to stick it out and fight to save our marriage. But my voice, my desires, my needs—and those of our two young children—no longer mattered to him. We had become disposable, because he had embraced one tiny word that had become his entire identity. Being gay trumped commitment, vows, responsibility, faith, fatherhood, marriage, friendships, and community. All of this was thrown away for the sake of his new identity.

Try as I might to save our marriage, there was no stopping my husband. Our divorce was not settled in mediation or with lawyers. No, it went all the way to trial. My husband wanted primary custody of our children. His entire case can be summed up in one sentence: “I am gay, and I deserve my rights.” It worked: the judge gave him practically everything he wanted. At one point, he even told my husband, “If you had asked for more, I would have given it to you.”

I truly believe that judge was legislating from the bench, disregarding the facts of our particular case and simply using us—using our children— to help influence future cases. In our society, LGBT citizens are seen as marginalized victims who must be protected at all costs, even if it means stripping rights from others. By ignoring the injustice committed against me and my children, the judge seemed to think that he was correcting a larger injustice.

My husband had left us for his gay lover. They make more money than I do. There are two of them and only one of me. Even so, the judge believed that they were the victims. No matter what I said or did, I didn’t have a chance of saving our children from being bounced around like so many pieces of luggage.

A New Same-Sex Family—Built On the Ruins of Mine

My ex-husband and his partner went on to marry. Their first ceremony took place before our state redefined marriage. After it created same-sex marriage, they chose to have a repeat performance. In both cases, my children were forced—against my will and theirs—to participate. At the second ceremony, which included more than twenty couples, local news stations and papers were there to document the first gay weddings officiated in our state. USA Today did a photo journal shoot on my ex and his partner, my children, and even the grandparents. I was not notified that this was taking place, nor was I given a voice to object to our children being used as props to promote same-sex marriage in the media.

At the time of the first ceremony, the marriage was not recognized by our state, our nation, or our church. And my ex-husband’s new marriage, like the majority of male-male relationships, is an “open,” non-exclusive relationship. This sends a clear message to our children: what you feel trumps all laws, promises, and higher authorities. You can do whatever you want, whenever you want—and it doesn’t matter who you hurt along the way.

After our children’s pictures were publicized, a flood of comments and posts appeared. Commenters exclaimed at how beautiful this gay family was and congratulated my ex-husband and his new partner on the family that they “created.” But there is a significant person missing from those pictures: the mother and abandoned wife. That “gay family” could not exist without me.

There is not one gay family that exists in this world that was created naturally.

Every same-sex family can only exist by manipulating nature. Behind the happy façade of many families headed by same-sex couples, we see relationships that are built from brokenness. They represent covenants broken, love abandoned, and responsibilities crushed. They are built on betrayal, lies, and deep wounds.

Read the whole thing: http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2014/09/13692/

Need I make a comment? Our culture has sanctified selfishness to the point where two men performing acts of masturbation on each other is indistinguishable in law from the sex act.

A person who used simply and obvious logic, see the truth for what it is, and calls these unnatural passions and unnatural acts what they are, and uses a polite and neutral term like ‘unnatural’ or, more clearly and concisely, a polite and neutral term like ‘perverse’ is regarded as shockingly rude among the Right and as a pariah and a devil among the Left.

If a passion that drives a man to divorce his wife and abandon his children, or, worse, steal those children from their mother, in order to erect a pretend marriage with a pretend wife, who, instead of a womb uses the anus as a makeshift or ersatz womb, a pretend womb, with whom to perform a pretend copulation, and then to prop the catamite before his own children and tell them this is their new mother, or new second father, or new family head who will love and lead and instruct them in morality — if such a passion is not properly called unnatural and perverse, then those words have no meaning.

However, the word unnatural means no more than the passion that deviates from an innate norm, or a practice that is diverted from its innate end toward an artificial end. The word ‘perverted’ which is regarded as so insulting is a merely a synonym for diverted. It means something bent aside from its natural course or path from means to end.

The idea that sexual organs and sexual passions are not innately directed toward the ends of sexual reproduction but instead can licitly be directed to the end maximizing  pleasure of the sex act while minimizing the sexual union of the act, the spiritual product, and the sexual reproduction of the act, the physical product, is an idea so patently and obviously paradoxical, logically absurd, ugly and false, that is would not be discussed nor proposed except in a world where moral relativism, the idea that all things are unnatural, all things are manmade, nothing has innate meaning, was the default assumption.

Perversion is nihilism. Nihilism is perversion.

This is a quote from a talk by philosopher and theologian Peter Kreeft, from his talk, Christ’s Concept of Happiness Versus the World’s which can be found here.

Sex is, quite simply, our society’s new god; our new Absolute. Anything is done, tolerated, sacrificed, justified, sanctified, glorified for this god.

A third of our mothers murder their unborn babies in sacrifice to this god. Of course abortion is about sex. The only reason for abortion is to have sex without babies. Abortion is backup contraception.

Or, look at the acceptance of divorce. Families, the one absolutely necessary building block of all societies are destroyed for this god. Half of American citizens commit suicide for this god; for Divorce is suicide of the ‘one flesh’ that love has created.

No one justifies lying, cheating, betraying, promise-breaking, devastating and harming strangers; but we justify, we expect, we tolerating doing this to the one person we promised most seriously to be faithful to forever. We justify divorce.

No one justifies child abuse, except for sex. Divorce is child abuse for the sake of sex.

Even all the churches justify divorce, except one: the one that does not claim the authority to correct Christ–and she is accused of being authoritarian.

And also, his Refutation of Moral Relativism found here:

Already, the demand for sexual freedom has overridden one of nature’s strongest instincts: motherhood. A million mothers a year in America alone pay hired killers, who are called healers or physicians, to kill their own unborn daughters and sons.

How could this happen? Only because abortion is driven by sexual motives. For abortion is backup birth control, and birth control is the demand to have sex without having babies. If the stork brought babies, there’d be no Planned Parenthood.

by John C Wright at September 24, 2014 03:03 PM

The Art of Non-Conformity

Being a Tourist During Political Unrest: Notes from Kiev, Ukraine

This is a reader story. (Read others or tell us yours.)

Even in the best of times, traveling can be tricky. But throw in a full-scale, riot-police infused demonstration, and things get exponentially harder. Ashlea Wheeler of A Globe Well Travelled brings us her story from Kiev:

In December 2013, my partner and I spent four days as tourists in Kiev, Ukraine. Our trip had been planned for a while, but a few days prior we discovered we were about to journey to a city in political turmoil. At the time the protest was fairly peaceful, so we decided to continue our visit. The idea that being a tourist would be cumbersome wasn’t on our radar.

1Kiev-19

From the moment we stepped off the train, calm protesters were everywhere. We walked through ankle-deep snow and throngs of protester camps to get to our hostel, 50 meters from Maidan Square, the heart of the demonstration. There were more Ukrainian flags than you can imagine, all hanging from statues, cars, tents, and buildings. Standing among these people with such passion for the future of their country was an invigorating feeling.

Each time we left the hostel, we’d walk through the protest and into the city full of soviet era buildings, marvelous pastel churches, quaint parks and friendly people. At first, it was actually a little exciting to feel part of this extraordinary event. Our goal in Kiev was to visit the soviet townships of Pripyat and Chernobyl, abandoned in 1986 due to the infamous Chernobyl nuclear power plant explosion.

The tour departed just beside the square, taking us two hours through the Ukrainian countryside to get to the forgotten townships, where we wandered through neglected buildings and empty streets. It was an incredible and eerie experience. On our return, though, we couldn’t go back to our departure point as some of the streets had since been closed. We were dropped off about a 20 minute walk from Maidan Square.

1Kiev-20

On our third day, the riot police arrived. The atmosphere went from “friendly protest” to “intense protest” in the space of a few hours. Multiple metro stations in the city were closed by the government in an effort to deter people from joining the protest. We had caught the metro to the war memorial in the morning, and by the time we started back in the afternoon the stations had been shut off from the public. We ended up walking two hours through heavy snowfall to get back to our hostel. The protest crowds felt much more serious now.

Come the next morning, metro stations were still closed, but we needed to get to the airport. With the streets blocked, our only option was to trek for half an hour to the nearest operating station on icy streets and with our heavy backpacks.

1Kiev-35

When we finally arrived at the airport minutes before our flight to Warsaw was departing. Frankly, we were ready to move on to a country where getting from point A to point B  (regardless of what those points were) wasn’t stressful, or such a struggle.

That said, our visit to a city in the midst of a developing political protest was certainly not an everyday experience. It was uncomfortable, frustrating, and even a little scary. We had to exercise patience, follow the news continually to make sure things weren’t getting out of hand, and wonder what we would do if they did. But when we look back on the experience now, these memories are some of the strongest from all our travels.

Would we visit Kiev again once the political unrest is over? Absolutely.

Follow Ashlea Wheeler at her website,  A Globe Well Travelled or via Instagram  @globetravelled

###

by Alicia at September 24, 2014 02:35 PM

Bible Design Blog

Childproofing an ESV Reader’s Bible

Todd Paoletti, a big fan of Bible Design Blog, has two young kids in the house and figured, in the battle between them and his new ESV Readers Bible, the kids were bound to win. So he armored up the hardcover edition,with interesting results. Here’s Todd’s story:

“Big fan of the blog. I just wanted to share with you a little mod I did to my ESV Readers Bible that I purchased based on your review(s). I love the hardcover version but could immediately see the cloth over board binding to be a problem in my house. With two young kids there is always a puddle of liquid hiding somewhere on a surface and I didn’t want to worry about setting the Book down and having the cover soak through anytime. I also didn’t want to worry about food or condensation from a plate or cup that was set on top of the book. So, after carefully taping off the front and the back I sprayed several coats of Plastidip that I picked up from Home Depot. The covers are now waterproof and super durable. It has a nice textured grip on it now too. Anyhow, was an easy modification to add durability to this wonderful ESV Layout. Useful for anyone with kids.”
And here’s the result:
ChildproofESV3 ChildproofESV2 ChildproofESV1
Until now I had no idea such a thing as Plastidip existed in the world. What I’ll do with this knowledge, I’m not sure. When I discovered the existence of silver spray paint, I spent a day begging my wife to let me paint everything (Monkey bookends? Yes. Lamp? Hmm, okay. Fabric lampshade? I’m taking that paint away!) Todd might get me into a lot of domestic trouble.
This cover hack reminds me of my first grade school field trip to the library, where for craft time we were taught to make brown paper dust jackets to protect our books. It’s not a practice I’ve continued into adulthood, and frankly there’s a part of me that would be thrilled to think there are people out there using, say, $200 goatskin Bibles as coasters on the coffee table (talk about patina). Ordinarily I would advise you not to baby your Bible, to let it take some damage. That’s what the cover is for. But if spray-on plastic is an option, well, that’s pretty neat.
What do you do, if anything, to protect your books from mishaps? I’d love to know more of your methods, especially if they involve out-of-the-box ideas like this!

The post Childproofing an ESV Reader’s Bible appeared first on Bible Design Blog.

by J. Mark Bertrand at September 24, 2014 02:30 PM

The Outlaw Way

New Power Program (Begins 140929)

The template for our next Power Program will be based off of a 24 week peaking deadlift cycle developed by Scott Yard. The program will have four phases: a pull from the top section, a deadlift from the floor section, a block pull section and a deload section, and will be based off of basic periodization. We will continue to Squat, Bench, and work on the Olympic lifts as well. Each Phase of the cycle is meant to compliment the next and build to a PR Deadlift at the end of the 24 weeks so make sure you have the time to commit to this program for the entire 24 weeks before you begin.

The post New Power Program (Begins 140929) appeared first on The Outlaw Way.

by John Dill at September 24, 2014 02:25 PM

The Urbanophile

Paris When It Drizzles

Paris continues its run as the city people most love to shoot time lapses of. Here’s one called “Paris When It Drizzles” by Hal Bergman. If the video doesn’t display for you, click over to Vimeo. h/t Likecool


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 September 24, 2014 02:00 PM

Responsive.org

E-Commerce Still Has Room to Grow

We’ve created a slideshow highlighting the retail categories where e-commerce is having the most impact, and where there is still opportunity for disruption.

Here’s an informative look at which industries are being dominated by e-commerce and which are lagging behind. It stands to reason that some kinds of goods are unlikely to ever see a high percentage of sales take place online — for example, there is likely to continue to be a place in the market for retail furniture stores, since many customers will want to sit on a couch, see it in person, and perhaps arrange for delivery instead of shipment through the mail. But for other industries, like food and beverage, there’s still plenty of room for innovation in online sales. It’s worth considering whether your company has a stake in that sort of growth, and how it might participate moving forward.

by Kate Jenkins at September 24, 2014 02:00 PM

Inconsolation

echo: And an inescapable fragment of history

After much internal debate, I decided to include echo in this august parade. echo hardly does anything, but I use it so much that it would be a glaring omission if I didn’t include it.

You probably already know what echo is for: It outputs a string of text. That’s the first line of the man page, after all.

kmandla@6m47421: ~$ echo Hello world.
Hello world.

And now you’ve seen all that echo does … mostly. ;)

Like any good tool, it has a few things you can customize. For starters there is an -n flag, which prevents echo from breaking to a new line when it finishes. In other words:

kmandla@6m47421: ~$ echo -n Hello world.
Hello world.kmandla@6m47421: ~$ 

echo can also do some funny things, if you allow it with the -e flag. The man page has a full list, but for example, line feeds are possible. A line feed is not a newline, as this should show:

kmandla@6m47421: ~$ echo -e "Hello \fworld."
Hello 
      world.

And line feeds are not carriage returns, as this should show:

kmandla@6m47421: ~$ echo -e "Hello there, \rworld."
world.there,

If you remember computers from way, waaay back, you probably already knew the difference. If you don’t it might help to imagine a printer head moving across a page. Line feeds advance the paper without moving the head, and carriage returns bring the printer head back to the starting edge without advancing the paper. Put both of them together and you have a newline. And of course, all of this evolved from the days of manual typewriters, when your printer was 168cm tall and took coffee breaks twice a day.

I’ll leave it to you to explore all the subtleties of echo; there aren’t many, but it is a utility that you can use on a daily basis and still not see every option. And of course, echo is part of the world-famous coreutils suite. :)


Tagged: display, manage, output, text

by K.Mandla at September 24, 2014 02:00 PM

CrossFit 204

Workout: Sept. 25, 2014

During your run, remember the phrase "heels to butt," even when you're fatigued.

During your run, remember the phrase “heels to butt,” even when you’re fatigued.

Benchmark: RUN 5 km (last done May 23)

If you dislike this workout, we’d suggest it’s exactly the workout you need to get fitter.

by Mike at September 24, 2014 01:18 PM

Justin Taylor

Jared Wilson: A Novel Every Christian Should Consider Reading

jaredwilson This is the final entry in a blog series on Novels Every Christian Should Consider Reading.

Jared Wilson is the pastor of Middletown Springs Community Church in Middletown Springs, Vermont.

He is the author of several books, the latest two of which are The Storytelling God: Seeing the Glory of Jesus in His Parables and The Wonder-Working God: Seeing the Glory of Jesus in His Miracles.

He blogs at Gospel-Driven Church and you can follow him on Twitter, @JaredCWilson.


 

greeneMy first encounter with Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair was in reviewing the Neil Jordan film adaptation with Ralph Fiennes and Julianne Moore for my college newspaper. I hated it. There was a spirit of something intriguing there about faith and disbelief, but the whole thing seemed muted, hazy, smeared over with the maudlin romanticism so common in Hollywood period pieces. Someone later convinced me to pick up the source material, however, and I discovered in Greene’s work, the fourth of his more explicitly Christian novels, what could not be captured on screen—the often maddening complexities of belief and disbelief, and the thin line between raging against God and fearing him.

“A story has no beginning or end,” Greene’s story begins. There is something else that has no beginning or end—or Someone else, rather, and his shadow looms large over each page of the novel, which chronicles the adulterous affair between writer Maurice Bendrix and Sarah Miles, the wife of a British officer.

The illicit romance seems routine enough: passionate artist type woos the bored wife of a boring man. But during one of their encounters a bomb blast during the German blitzkrieg of London destroys their room, nearly killing Bendrix. After this traumatic event, the romance mysteriously sours, and Bendrix is sent into a tailspin of jealousy and lust.

He believes he’s been traded in for a new lover, so he hires a private investigator who discovers that indeed Bendrix has been. But Sarah’s new lover turns out to be the source of all love himself. When Bendrix nearly died, she prayed for his safety and made a commitment to God that if his life was spared, she would not see him any longer. As painful as it was to give up her illicit dalliance, the alternative was more painful. She feared not for body first, but for soul. And here we find something rather strange and rather unique in the great midst of literary exploration of sexual sin. Where so many romantic works treat adultery as “natural,” totally legitimized by Romance, the great theoretical justifier of all things, here is a little book where the woman loves her lover by not “loving” him.

This of course infuriates the worldly Bendrix, who comes to see religion as another boring husband dampening all his romantic fury, frustrating the artistic expression of his very appetites. And when Sarah later catches tuberculosis and dies, he sees her God not just as an interloper, but a villain.

And there is where the tale deepens. In her withholding, in her painful disengagement, and now in her cruel death, Sarah has taught Bendrix more about love than she ever could have in the immoral passion of their previous life together. And Bendrix is now forced for the first time to reckon with the great Enemy of his fleshly appetites, the great unbounded Author who had so unfairly deleted his story.

I am reminded of C. S. Lewis’s line about his youthful atheism: “I did not believe that God existed,” he said, “and I was very angry with him for not existing.” Indeed, in the end, as Bendrix shakes his fist at Sarah’s God, rejecting the object of her prayers on his behalf, proclaiming defiantly even his hatred for God—“I wanted Sarah for a lifetime and You took her away. With Your great schemes You ruin our happiness like a harvester ruins a mouse’s nest: I hate You, God, I hate You as though You existed”—we think he doth protest too much. He doesn’t even seem to realize he’s praying.

No, being angry with God is not right or just. But it’s a start. When The End of the Affair‘s story ends, Bendrix’s Jacobean wrestling is just beginning. We are sure, by the last lines, gleaming with a sliver of hope, like a light through a cracked door—“I said to Sarah, all right, have it your way. I believe you live and that He exists”—that Bendrix will not walk away from his wrestling unchanged. The reader walks away, in fact, with the great hope that hatred may have a peculiar advantage over ambivalence in that it is at least a kind of caring, a passion that is simply waiting for the redirection of the transforming gospel.

by Justin Taylor at September 24, 2014 12:00 PM

Crossway Blog

An Overview of Our Blog’s New Features

Today, we’d love to quickly familiarize you with our updated blog design. The goal for the fresh look and organization was making it easier for you to find, read, and interact with the content we post.

Streams

Along the top of this page you’ll see four separate content “streams”:

  • Home - The full stream of Crossway’s recent blog posts
  • Life/Doctrine - Content-rich posts written by Crossway authors and staff designed to encourage living and thinking in light of the gospel
  • Crossway News - Information related to our authors and resources (books, Bibles, mobile apps, etc.), as well as broader updates about our publishing ministry
  • Impact Specials - Exclusive sales, discounts, and giveaways for members of Crossway Impact

You can subscribe to each stream via RSS or email. Furthermore, each stream is made up of a number of substreams, accessible via the Topic Index located in the right sidebar.

The Sidebar

In addition to the Topic Index, the sidebar also includes links to all of our video content, a form to sign up for the blog newsletter, and our social media accounts.

Finally, we’re introducing a new section in the sidebar called “Best of the Blog.” Here we’ll feature posts (and series of posts) that readers have found particularly helpful.

by Matt Tully at September 24, 2014 11:45 AM

Video: Justin Taylor (Sorta) Interviews Dane Ortlund

In the video below, Justin Taylor asks Dane Ortlund about two common objections related to Jonathan Edwards.

Dane’s answer is concise and to the point.

A Brief Interview with Dane Ortlund from Crossway on Vimeo.

Learn more about what Dane has to say about Jonathan Edwards in his new book, Edwards on the Christian Life: Alive to the Beauty of God.

by Matt Tully at September 24, 2014 11:35 AM

Download a Free E-Book Sampler on the Church

Wisdom from the Past

Crossway’s Theologians on the Christian Life series was designed to help Christians learn from the great teachers of church history—bringing modern readers wisdom from the past for life in the present.

Few things are more important for the Christian life than participation in the larger Body of Christ—the church. In this digital sampler, we’ve pulled together an assortment of chapters on the church from volumes in the Theologians on the Christian Life series.

We hope this sampler spurs you to reflect more deeply on the nature and importance of Christ’s church, “which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all” (Eph. 1:23).

Download Options

by Matt Tully at September 24, 2014 11:30 AM

Midweek Roundup - 9/24/14

Each Wednesday we share some recent links that we found informative, insightful, or 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. Jonathan Dodson on 2 big reasons evangelism isn't working

One in five Americans don’t believe in a deity. Less than half of the population attends religious services on a regular basis.

People simply find our evangelism unbelievable.

Why?

While a person’s response to Christ is ultimately a matter that rests in God’s sovereign hands — something we have no control over — a person’s hearing of the gospel is a matter we do have control over and responsibility for.

2. Vern Poythress on the real problem with gambling

Gamblers who hope to beat the odds do not really accept the God of the Bible. He does not match their desires for the way that they want the world to be and what they hope the world will be, for the sake of achieving prosperity in their lives. Their desires are twisted, as are the desires of all sinful people. Gamblers may look foolish to those of us who see through the foolishness of gambling. But we all fall captive, each in our own way, to substitutes and idols of one kind or another, because desire resides within us to make ourselves gods. Gamblers just have one particular form of the desire, where their desire to be rich and to boast in their luck is a desire that makes them serve false gods. They serve the god of self. At the same time they make Lady Luck into a goddess to serve, in order to serve the deeper god of self.

3. Jen Wilkin on why the church needs men and women to be friends

Part of the problem with asking the question, “Can men and women be friends?” is nailing down which men and which women (married? single?) and what kind of friendship is in view. The question often leads us to assume intimate friendship is what is being suggested – hanging out alone together, sharing your deepest hopes and fears. And no, that’s not a good idea. If you’re single it leads to a lot of weirdness about where the relationship is headed, and if you’re married, you should reserve intimate friendship for your spouse. But we need not rule out male-female friendship built on mutual respect and affinity, cultivated within appropriate boundaries. If we do, we set a course charted by fear rather than by trust.

4. Tim Keller on making sense of the stories we tell

In his new book, The Stories We Tell: How TV and Movies Long for and Echo the Truth, Mike Cosper, like Babbage two generations ago, turns to the main storytellers of our time—but in the case of late modern culture, they are more often filmmakers than writers. Mike also rightly assumes that human beings cannot escape being in the image of God. He quotes postmodern writer David Foster Wallace saying, “We’re absolutely dying to give ourselves away to something.” Indeed we are, and in the cinema of our time, we also see the filmmakers bearing witness to the inveteracy of evil, the impotence of human nature, the need for pardon and love—and redemption.

5. Fred Sanders on the strange legacy of Wolfhart Pannenberg

On September 5, an important voice in academic theology was lost. Wolfhart Pannenberg, one of the most significant theologians of the 20th century, died peacefully at 85 at his home near Munich, Germany.

Born 1928 in Stettin, Germany, Pannenberg was raised as an atheist under the Nazi regime, more fluent in modern criticisms of Christianity than in Christian doctrine itself. “I was nourished on Nietzsche’s philosophy,” he said.

by Matt Tully at September 24, 2014 11:25 AM

Front Porch Republic

Discipline and Silence

trireme2

“And when it comes to action, put your trust in discipline and silence; in every kind of warfare they count a lot, and particularly in naval engagement.”
Phormio, Athenian naval commander,
in Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War.

The parallels between warfare and life are many. In this speech Phormio seeks to encourage his men, whose spirits are low in the face of superior numbers of the Spartan fleet.

Soldiers spend much time training, trying to achieve ‘discipline,’ so that finally ‘when it comes to action’ they’ll be ready to go into battle. Is there a parallel between battle and daily life? It seems that the whole day is action-time for me. It is hard to be training when you’re already in the middle of things. Somehow we have to figure out how to become disciplined, through daily practices, so that our daily life—which may well have more significance than the battle of Naupactus—bears the fruit that it should.

Then there’s silence. It seems that Phormio counseled silence in battle so that the men would be able to hear the commands of their officers. I wonder what commands—or other important words—I’m not hearing because I don’t maintain enough silence, daily.

Phormio’s men had been trained, and were now reminded, of what they need to do—‘when it comes to action.’ And they won that battle.

Thucydides (460-395 B.C.) was a great Athenian historian and general. Phormio, victor in several battles of the Peloponnesian War, is considered one of the first great naval commanders.

Originally posted at Bacon from Acorns.

The post Discipline and Silence appeared first on Front Porch Republic.

by John Cuddeback at September 24, 2014 11:03 AM

Greg Mankiw's Blog

Grading in Ec 10

An instructor in introductory economics asks:
I have a question that may be of interest to the students and faculty who read your blog. In searching the archives of your blog, I did not see a blog post on the following: 
How do you assess and evaluate those students? 
I have a colleague who administers only one assessment - a final. Most of the rest of my department uses a variety of activities, assessments and evaluations - homework sets, reading quizzes, writing, midterm and final.
 
Here is the weighting we use to grade each semester in ec 10 at Harvard: 40 percent on the final exam, 20 percent on each of two midterm exams, and 20 percent on work done with section leader (mostly grades on problem sets done as homework, though class participation may be given some weight as well).  In addition, we have an optional "unit test program" in which students can take practice tests throughout the semester and, if they pass, earn extra credit.

by Greg Mankiw (noreply@blogger.com) at September 24, 2014 10:16 AM

John C. Wright's JournalJohn C. Wright's Journal

Ayn Rand as Author

Let it be said at the outset that I have never been an Objectivist nor am I now a Libertarian, albeit, obviously, I share many of their aims. There is much in Ayn Rand’s philosophy I admire, and much I despise. She has the odd ability to write pages and pages of very insightful wisdom argued with almost Thomistic rigor and logic, and then to stagger like a screaming drunk into page after page of vituperation and nonsense based on an apparently inability to distinguish radically unalike concepts, such as selfishness versus self-interest, or altruism versus communism.

But this is neither here nor there when it comes to judging her as an artist. I am continually flabbergasted by those who say they either admire, or at least do not find offense with, her philosophy, but who think her novel writing trite or cardboard or boring or hectoring.

With all such condemnations, I disagree in the strongest terms. Ayn Rand is — and I say this without qualification — among the best novelists of the Twentieth Century. Those who surpass her in skill and craftsmanship perhaps can be counted on the fingers of one hand.

Ayn Rand was a better novelist than she was a philosopher, and she was the only philosopher worthy of that name since Kant, the only one to my knowledge who used logic to deduce moral truths, logic which she carried out with remorseless precision.

In terms of her novel writing, hers is the most exactly structured book I have ever read, with the sole exception of Dante. Every paragraph, every metaphor, practically every sentence and word puts forth and re-emphasizes her moral point and dramatic point.

She has the clean economy of simile that reminds me of Art Deco, that is, classic themes such as Atlas and Atlantis, reinterpreted into her modern pro-individualist moral code.

The characters were chosen with a delicate care of balancing themes: each heroic individualist character has his opposite among the collectivists: Hugh Akston was the antithesis of Robert Stadler in philosophy; Richard Halley the antithesis of Mort Liddy in the arts; Orren Boyle is the head of Associated Steel, antithesis of Hank Rearden; Dagny is the antithesis of her brother, and so on, and on.

The book was written as a detective story, which might lack action and adventure, but certainly was not boring.

This was also the best love story I had ever read, except for its regrettable climax (the heroine picks the wrong fellow). Her characterization of what women want out of men is the only one unblinkingly honest enough to say it, and her decision to cast the love story as a choice based on the philosophy and values of the men involved, giving it both a romantic and a symbolic subtext, was simply brilliant. (I am, of course, disgusted that it is a love story like that of Lancelot and Guinevere, an adultery, but this should be no bar to anyone corrupted by modern theories on the matter.)

The characters are perfectly well realized, and you undermine your credibility to call them flat or cardboard. Ayn Rand has greater insight into the motivations of the despicable people allured to Leftist and Collectivist projects more than anyone else I know. The ambitious and entrepreneurial folk I know act EXACTLY as she depicts, even down to little matters. They only cannot make striking and strikingly logical speeches justifying and explaining their behavior.

And, more to the point, Ayn Rand is the only author who moves with grace and perfect mastery between the genres and tropes of science fiction, detective story, pulp romance, adventure, railroad stories, philosophy, and morality play. In three places, stories are told of John Galt which have the flavor and substance of ancient myth: the most difficult of all genres, which Rand carries to perfection.

There is even a scene where the cigarette collector announces that this brand does not exist on earth, or where a typewriter repairman unwittingly prophecies the downfall of the city whose days are numbered. At that moment the mood and tone become one of Gothic horror, or the supernatural, and even that Ayn Rand carries off perfectly and with perfect aplomb.

The only thing the book does not have in it is humor. She is Russian, so the author is somber.

I am aghast that even those who disliked the book would dismiss its craftsmanship. There is no one who has even ATTEMPTED anything this ambitious and universal since Milton tried to marry Moses and Homer in his PARADISE LOST.

Ayn Rand is the only novelist I have ever heard of who invented her own theory of aesthetic principles and then wrote a huge and hugely successful novel according to those principles without any smallest deviation from them.

There is an old saying. “Even Homer nods” which means even the greatest of poets makes lapses in craftsmanship. The saying is not true in this case. She makes no lapses, that is, not a single page has a word she does not intend to be there for a reason she could no doubt articulate. This reader or that may not care for what she is trying to articulate, but even a bored or hostile reader, is he is honest must be astonished at the precision of a book like a vast garden of many acres without a leaf or a grass blade out of place.

by John C Wright at September 24, 2014 10:00 AM

Responsive.org

Authentic Companies, Authentic People Will Create a Successful Business

“Building a network is about building relationships that are both authentic and generous,” says author Keith Ferrazzi. The old days, the term “networking” conjured up what he calls, “the networking jerk,” he says. “More about quantity than quantity, who was more usury than generous. I don’t believe that works today.”

“The only way is to build genuine authenticity,” says Scott Gerber, founder of theYoung Entrepreneur Council. “It’s very difficult to be a nongenuine person and fool very smart people into thinking that you can provide value to the world and really care.”

This finding — that authenticity and generosity are what makes a skilled networker — is essentially reflective of what we believe makes a successful business, but on a personal level. People, like businesses, need to know what their purpose is and where their values lie in order to be not only trustworthy, but also effective. Greedy people or businesses might sometimes win short-term gains, but they aren’t in touch with what they have to offer, and that’s dangerous in the longer term.

It’s worth a look at the 5 different types of effective networkers profiled in this article, because they are likely going to be the sorts of personalities you’ll want to hire. But it’s also definitely a good exercise to think about how you personally might fit in to this picture.

by Kate Jenkins at September 24, 2014 09:00 AM

Table Titans

Tales: The Fortitude to Cast

News
My group was playing our second D&D game with an all new party, and I was having a rough time of it. We’d just come out of a rather bad campaign with a terrible first attempt at building our own characters, so I was looking forward to my new brand new Shugenja. The Shugenja was an old 3.5 edition…
Read more

September 24, 2014 07:00 AM

Beeminder Blog

New Feature: Pledge Caps

A person wearing a literal cap that says 'pledge'

The exponential pledge schedule is a key part of the, dare we say it, genius of Beeminder. It means you quickly reach a pledge that’s highly motivating and keeps you on track for a long time. But one more exponential step beyond “highly motivating” was often “OMG too scary I quit”.

That outcome is not good for us nor you. So now you can set a pledge cap for each goal! You could do this before by unchecking the “auto-increase pledges” checkbox when you reached the right pledge, but that required too much vigilance. Now you can directly choose, in the goal settings, any of the possible pledges as a pledge cap:

 

Screenshot of the pledge cap UI in goal settings Each time you derail the pledge amount automatically increases, but only up to this amount. Set it to something scary enough that you’re motivated to never let it actually get that high! [1]

 

A premium plan — specifically Plan Bee or higher — is required if you want to set your pledge cap to $0, which of course removes the whole commitment device aspect altogether. [2] And what if your pledge is already, say, $90? Then you’ll see something like this:

Screenshot of the pledge cap UI in goal settings (with current pledge at the pledge cap)

As the hovertext explains, you have to first drop the current pledge down to select a lower pledge cap.

Did you know you can drop the current pledge back down? It turns out most people don’t notice that so let us show you:

Screenshot of the buttons to change the pledge amount

If you click that “$30” button then a countdown starts and your pledge will drop to $30 with a week delay. What about the arrow going to $270? Only premium users can skip ahead in the pledge schedule, or drop the pledge all the way back to $0. [2]

 

Footnotes

[1] But not so scary that you’d rather quit Beeminder than have that amount at risk. (The pledge schedule is steeply exponential so that you quickly get to a motivating pledge with minimal wasted money on amounts that aren’t motivating enough.)

[2] New users get a certain number of freebees, which are goals that have an initial pledge of $0, but still progress up the pledge schedule as usual, at least to $5, depending on what the pledge cap is. If you want to start at $0 and stay at $0 (or go back to $0) then you need a Plan Bee premium subscription. Or possibly you don’t want Beeminder at all in that case, and would prefer a tool that focuses just on tracking.

 

Thanks to Alice Monday for building and shipping this feature!

Image credit: zazzle.com

by dreeves at September 24, 2014 06:40 AM

Nicholas Nethercote

You should use WebRTC for your 1-on-1 video meetings

Did you know that Firefox 33 (currently in Beta) lets you make a Skype-like video call directly from one running Firefox instance to another without requiring an account with a central service (such as Skype or Vidyo)?

This feature is built on top of Firefox’s WebRTC support, and it’s kind of amazing.

It’s pretty easy to use: just click on the toolbar button that looks like a phone handset or a speech bubble (which one you see depends which version of Firefox you have) and you’ll be given a URL with a call.mozilla.com domain name. [Update: depending on which beta version you have, you might need to set the loop.enabled preference in about:config, and possibly customize your toolbar to make the handset/bubble icon visible.] Send that URL to somebody else — via email, or IRC, or some other means — and when they visit that URL in Firefox 33 (or later) it will initiate a video call with you.

I’ve started using it for 1-on-1 meetings with other Mozilla employees and it works well. It’s nice to finally have an open source implementation of video calling. Give it a try!

by Nicholas Nethercote at September 24, 2014 05:15 AM

The Gospel Coalition | Latest Articles

Same-Sex Marriage

Sean McDowell and John Stonestreet. Same-Sex Marriage: A Thoughtful Approach to God’s Design for Marriage. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2014. 176 pp. $10.00.

Although the American and French Revolutions occurred only 13 years apart, and made use of similar terminology (“freedom,” “liberty,” “equality”), they could not have been more different. In breaking from England, our founding fathers did not seek to remake society or to abandon the traditional, Judeo-Christian understanding of God, man, virtue, duty, and justice. True, they chose to move away from the national churches and entrenched aristocracies of Europe; however, in doing so, they strengthened respect for both civil and ecclesiastical authority and founded a family-centered, church-going nation.

Not so France. The French revolutionaries, like the Soviets and Maoists of the 20th century, sought nothing less than an overhaul of existing social, economic, and religious structures. Rather then secure justice for all, they redefined the whole notion of justice, calling for a radical kind of equality that tore down all distinctions. In France, Russia, and China, human nature became malleable, something to be remade by social engineering.

In a disturbingly similar way, though the proponents of same-sex marriage have consciously borrowed their terminology from the civil rights movement of the 1960s, the two movements are, on a foundational level, worlds apart. In his 1963 “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” Martin Luther King demonstrated that the collective witness of our Greco-Roman, Judeo-Christian heritage calls for civil rights. Far from opposing our nation’s founding documents, King showed they provide the best grounds for establishing the inherent value and dignity of each person.

Not so same-sex marriage. For those seeking to secure the rights of two men or two women to marry, the ultimate goal isn’t to extend political, legal, medical, and hereditary rights to homosexuals (civil unions would accomplish that), but the radical redefinition of marriage itself. Social engineering, not justice, is the endgame, and that is why those who refuse to acknowledge or participate in the redefinition have been increasingly silenced, subjected to ridicule, even threatened with legal action.

Real Question

In their well-argued, irenic book, Same-Sex Marriage: A Thoughtful Approach to God’s Design for Marriage, Sean McDowell and John Stonestreet wisely keep their readers’ attention fixed on the real question behind the debate: what is marriage? Engaging directly the false analogy between civil rights and same-sex marriage, McDowell and Stonestreet maintain that while the color of a person’s skin is irrelevant to the nature and function of marriage, the sexes of the partners is not:

A male of one ethnicity and a female of another can become one in every sense that a couple of the same ethnicity can. And an interracial sexual union is ordered toward procreation and can abide by the same standards of exclusivity and permanence. . . . But same-sex couples cannot procreate nor can they become “one” in the same sense opposite-sex couples can. (61)

Given the main audience of their book, McDowell, an apologetics professor at Biola University, and Stonestreet, executive director of the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview, naturally shape their arguments around the Bible’s definition of marriage. Nevertheless, they make it clear that the biblical understanding of marriage as the lifelong union of one man and one woman geared toward the birthing and rearing of children is hardly confined to Christianity. Quoting a 2004 article by Maggie Gallagher, the authors explain that “there are three obviously true facts about the world that make the institution of marriage necessary: ‘Sex makes babies. Society needs babies. Babies deserve mothers and fathers’” (44).

Purely Personal

In addition to flouting the clear moral and sexual teachings of the Bible, same-sex marriage advocates cut the conjugal tie loose from its essential social function, reducing it to a purely personal concern. Not only do they separate marriage from its universal, cross-cultural link to procreation and parenting, they redefine its purpose to that of serving the emotional and sexual needs of the partners. Many moderns, especially young people, who read the previous two sentences will likely throw up their hands and exclaim, Of course marriage is all about love. McDowell and Stonestreet observe that such a notion marks a shift in the historical view of marriage. After all, when a couple fills out a marriage form, they are never asked to affirm that they love each other.

According to McDowell and Stonestreet, this shift in the definition of marriage is, in great part, the result of a shift in the definition of human identity. Whereas traditionally man was viewed as an essentially religious being, today “people are seen as fundamentally sexual creatures, not metaphysical ones” (69). One of the fruits of this shift—which the authors trace in the theories and writings of Charles Darwin, Sigmund Freud, Alfred Kinsey, and Hugh Hefner—was the passing of no-fault divorce laws: laws that enshrined the “soul-mate model” of marriage (73).

Practical Matters

After devoting the first half of their book to clarifying and accounting for the revisionist view of marriage that sparked and continues to fuel the same-sex agenda, the authors turn to more practical matters: what should Christians do in the face of the sudden and unprecedented triumph of same-sex marriage? The one thing we cannot do is remain silent and crawl back into an escapist subculture. Our Lord’s teachings and example do not leave us that option; we are not to be of the world, but we are to be in it.

We also cannot satisfy ourselves with casting stones from the sidelines. It’s up to the church to provide society with a compelling counter-vision of true, godly, lasting marriage. We need to tell stories of faithful couples who have struggled against temptation to form strong families, and we need to model such stories in our own lives. But before we do that, we must first repent of our own failure to support the marriages of our fellow church members. And we must repent as well for those times we’ve ridiculed or mistreated gay people inside and outside the church. While standing firm on the Bible’s (and history’s) definition of marriage, we must ever seek reconciliation, remembering that we are all sinners saved by grace.

Wake-Up Call

Same-Sex Marriage offers a needed wake-up call to churches who’ve failed to equip their congregations with a strong and clear understanding of what marriage is, but it overlooks a vital dimension of the issue. The authors do a thorough job exposing the “revisionist view” that “marriage is malleable,” that it is “whatever societies make (or remake) it to be” and must therefore adjust “to ever-evolving moral and sexual norms” (59). But they do little to expose the revisionist view of gender that has accompanied and justified that malleability. In schools and colleges across the county, including many “Christian” ones, students are taught that there are no essential differences between men and women, that masculinity and femininity are merely social constructs.

McDowell and Stonestreet are correct to discern the seeds of gay marriage in the separation between sex and procreation fostered by the success of Paul Ehrlich’s 1970 book The Population Bomb, the dissemination of Margaret Sanger’s eugenic theories through Planned Parenthood, and the wide availability of contraception, sterilization, and abortion. But those seeds would likely not have taken root and sprouted without the more recent separation between sex and gender. What good is it to say marriage is the union of one man and one woman when our society no longer recognizes male and female as essential, God-created categories?

Over the last several decades, this postmodern deconstruction of masculinity and femininity has, I believe, been fostered by the widespread acceptance of gender-neutral language. Many recent Bible translations (NRSV, NLT, CEV, NIV 2011) have adopted such language, despite the fact that God himself (Gen. 5:1–2) refers to the human race by the name of the first man, Adam. McDowell and Stonestreet do not use one of these translations (they use the ESV); still, I think their own use of gender-neutral language has the unintended consequence of downplaying the sexual complementarity on which strong and fruitful biblical marriages rest.

Despite these misgivings, however, I believe Same-Sex Marriage offers a welcome contribution and helpful guide to one of the most pressing issues of our day.

by Louis Markos at September 24, 2014 05:01 AM

Perseverance of the Saints: Tertiary or Foundational?

I grew skeptical when he called it “an offer you can’t refuse.” Either this man was hiding something about the house he was trying to sell me, or his sales technique was deeply influenced by the Godfather movies. The “deal” was a dirt-cheap price on a house in one of the best part of town in Louisville, Kentucky. It didn’t make sense. Deals like this one never find me.

Soon, I learned why he had stamped a giveaway price on the house: the foundation was cracked. In a matter of time, the structure would be compromised, and the house would crumble like my son’s Lincoln Log creations. Needless to say, I said no to this house with a hidden but fatal flaw.

Christian theology is similar: if we remove any of the foundational doctrines—the Trinity, the incarnation, the authority of Scripture, the person and work of Christ, and so on—then the entire building of our faith comes tumbling down. The cardinal doctrines of Christianity stand or fall together.

I want to suggest that one crucial doctrine is sometimes relegated to the “good men disagree” category that should sit closer to the heart of Christianity: the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. Why do I say so? Is it really heresy to reject the doctrine of perseverance, a doctrine often referred to as “eternal security”? I’m not ready to call it heresy to reject perseverance of the saints and embrace the possibility of apostasy by genuine Christians. But I think it is far more dangerous to reject this doctrine than perhaps first meets the eye. Like the rickety house I once nearly bought, rejection of perseverance renders unstable many other critical doctrines that rely on it as a solid foundation.

If genuine believers can lose their salvation and be cast away forever, consider the collateral damage to the following biblical teachings.

Election/predestination. If God chose his people in Christ before the foundation of the world, is it possible for those same people to then “unchoose” themselves? No matter one’s view of election, final apostasy seems to render meaningless Scripture’s teaching on God’s eternal predestining of a people. 

Atonement. According to Mark 10:45, Christ gave his life as a ransom for many. Jesus bore God’s wrath we deserved so he could buy us back from the curse of the law. If a ransomed one can be finally lost, doesn’t that then mean that the ransom price paid was not enough to actually purchase its intended product—the eternal salvation of God’s people? Final apostasy also seems to undermine the substitutionary nature of the atonement, since Christ was condemned in the place of his people. This view would seem to indicate that due to an exercise of their free will some of God’s people have once again fallen under condemnation with their sins no longer covered by the sacrifice of the substitute—even though they were once covered through the blood of Christ.

Justification by faith. Justification is a legal declaration that because of faith in Christ’s work on the cross, one is no longer guilty before God positionally. Final apostasy seems to undermine God’s verdict and re-establish guilty charges against those who were previously exonerated by faith in Christ. This view mangles the foundational Reformation truth of sola fide.

Indwelling (or sealing) of the Holy Spirit. In Ephesians 1:13-14, Paul describes believers as those who have been “sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” It seems that a doctrine of final apostasy undermines Paul’s teaching of the Spirit given as a down payment guaranteeing salvation. If salvation can be lost, then the guarantee is meaningless, as is the down payment.

Promises of God. In John 10, Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish and no one will snatch them out of my hand . . . and no one is able to snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” Also, Philippians 1:6 promises that God will complete the work he begins in his people, and the glorious passage in Romans 8:31-39 promises that nothing can separate the believer from the love of God. But how comforting are these promises if we can, as some argue, remove ourselves from Christ’s hand or circumvent the work God has begun in us? In what way to they remain as promises? If these promises are not true, doesn’t that undermine the very Word of God? Can we trust a God who is impotent to keep his promises from being undone by the power of human choice?

Intercessory work of Christ. If Christ lives to intercede for us as Hebrews and Romans 8 contend and as John 17 and Luke 22 demonstrate, then in what meaningful way can we trust his prayers if he does not get what he prays for? If Christ prays for us that we will be kept as he does in John 17 and those prayers are frustrated, then it would seem to undermine both his intercessory work and his infallibility—Christ prays and then hopes his prayers will be answered and that we will remain in the faith.

Preservation of the saints. Inextricably linked to perseverance is preservation. First Peter 1:3-5 contains a beautiful promise of God’s preserving grace for his redeemed people: “He has caused us to be born again . . . to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation to be revealed in the last time.” If God is guarding our inheritance in heaven, then to assert that free will can lead one to lose his salvation seems to exalt the power of man and denigrate the power of God, not to mention what it means for Peter’s language describing the inheritance as “imperishable, undefiled, and unfading.” Those words seem to ring with an empty note if it is possible for human beings to undermine them.

I realize there are many additional implications for the denial of this doctrine, but I have provided a few of the most devastating consequences in an effort to show how crucial the doctrine of final perseverance is for Christian theology. If my reasoning is fully biblical, then it would seem that perseverance of the saints is anything but a tertiary matter. If the foundation crumbles, how can the building stand?

by Jeff Robinson at September 24, 2014 05:01 AM

Mutual Confession: A Holy Experiment

Our secrets are usually secret for good reason. Our secrets are the worst of ourselves. Our secrets are foibles, faults, and harmful follies that have pierced the hearts of others, and far worse, the heart of God himself. Many times, our greatest secrets conceal our gravest sins.

As Christians, what do we do with our gravest sins, our greatest secrets? We tell them.

I have been telling my secrets to my friend Cale for about a year. Every couple of weeks, we sit down across from one another and expose the sins burdening our souls. It has been a holy experiment of experiencing the forgiveness of God in a new way.

I grew up in a Southern Baptist congregation, where I was involved in our youth ministry. One of the top five most frequent applications I heard was the need for an accountability partner who would hear about my struggles and encourage me to follow Christ more devoutly. My friends and I picked accountability partners over the years, but these relationships unintentionally soured. Conversations deteriorated from hopeful improvement plans to shameful reports, then to “Be better; do better” speeches to one another. It is difficult confessing sin, but it becomes almost impossible when you anticipate a tongue lashing—even worse, when you are expected to dole out a scolding as well.

Paradigm Shift

Eventually inconsistency turned to avoidance. I would omit confession for months and even years. I needed an accountability partner to make sure I met with my accountability partner. Thankfully, 20th-century German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer helped me shift my accountability paradigm in a slight, yet significant, way.

In Life TogetherBonhoeffer discusses the spiritual discipline I had learned and called “accountability partners” in fresh language, calling it “mutual confession.”

Anchored by James 5:16, “Confess your sins one to another,” Bonhoeffer advocates for men and women in Christian community to confess their sin to a brother or sister in Christ. He writes:

Christ became our Brother in order to help us. Through him our brother has become Christ for us in the power and authority of the commission Christ has given to him. Our brother stands before us as the sign of the truth and the grace of God. He has been given to us to help us. He hears the confession of our sins in Christ’s stead, and he forgives our sins in Christ’s name. He keeps the secret of our confessions as God keeps it. When I go to my brother to confess, I am going to God.

With mutual confession, the response to confession is emphatic forgiveness. In my experience with accountability partners, the response was always correction. The law of God was more prominent than the grace of God. Mutual confession allows for an appropriate interplay of sin and forgiveness, of law and grace, of our failure and Christ’s ultimate triumph.

Wave of Freedom

Having a fellow brother in Christ pronounce forgiveness over me feels like a wave of freedom. It feels like rest for my soul. Being the one to pronounce forgiveness over a fellow believer reminds me of spiritual transformation. God’s grace does not leave me as I am. I have been changed so that I may do the Lord’s work, proclaiming the forgiveness of sin (John 20:23). This is an opportunity for active obedience to God.

Mutual confession becomes the chiropractor for the tension of law and grace for a Christian, at least for this Christian. It properly aligns grace as the basis for obedience.

When I sit down on those early Friday mornings to confess my sins with my friend Cale, my cup is full of coffee. My heart is full of shame. Sometimes I can barely eke out my secrets. But my confession does not pour into an empty room. Two blue eyes stare back into mine. A set of ears listen to my most dreadful secrets. I have been masquerading and moonlighting as a sinner when I am in fact a saint. And I am about to reveal my secrets to my brother in Christ. And naturally, I brace myself for judgment.

Then all of the sudden, Cale reminds me, “Because of Christ’s work on the cross, because of his resurrection, you are forgiven and free from sin.” Through Christ’s death and resurrection, God says, “You are forgiven!” Cale echoes the Word of God, and I am flabbergasted by the grace of Christ every time these words roll off his tongue.

Mutual confession has been a holy experiment. Over and over, it has been an opportunity to dynamically experience the forgivingness of God. The kind of mutual confession I commend via Bonhoeffer is not a new kind of pious law bound up in unbiblical notions of penance and priestly intercession. Rather it is an old kind of blessing. So I ask you brothers and sisters, are you willing to try a holy experiment of your own? Are you ready to look a fellow Christian in the eyes and confess your gravest secrets and sins? Are you ready to hear “You are forgiven”?

by Dane Deatherage at September 24, 2014 05:01 AM

Hospitality on Tap at Roots Coffeehouse

Jay and Melanie McWhorter own Roots Coffeehouse in Highland Village, Texas (a suburb of Dallas). As innovators and entrepreneurs, they're always creating something or making it better. They're covenant members at The Village Church, just down the road, and graduates of Texas A&M.

How do you describe your work, what you do every day?

We serve coffee and foster community. In everyday terms, that means we attempt to create better ideas, coffee, and processes, and we run around problem-solving and trying to “fix” all those ideas and creations when they go terribly wrong. We also manage things, getting behind the bar when needed and providing a never-ending supply of communication and vision.

As image-bearers of God, how does your work reflect some aspect of God's work?

In addition to serving coffee and employing people—both of which image forth his work of provision—we also bear God's image in our work through hospitality. Roots has become a collaborative meeting ground for some of the most talented artists and professionals in the Dallas area. It is humbling to be a part of something that provides a landscape for these artists—who themselves, in turn, are image-bearers reflecting the creative work of God—to gather, grow, and work. The gifts and potential that we see in them energizes and excites us.

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

As entrepreneurs, we care and create. Unfortunately, that often means we also want to control, which inevitably leads to brokenness. We have tried to control everything from resources and people to expectations and results. For us, those struggles have had roots of pride and a lack of trust in God. We have had to learn the hard way that this controlling nature—no matter how noble the intentions and motives—can crush our employees, stripping life and joy from them and from us. But we have seen the frustration and hurt that comes with closing hands around processes and people.

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

One of our goals is to do things locally that honor things globally. This means handling our hand-picked coffee with the same high standards and care as our farmers-at-origin and our local roaster do. If the details of the processes on our end are done well, we honor the Lord, our suppliers, and our customers with the product and experience.

We also see the coffee as a vehicle of opportunity that gives us interactions that we might never have had otherwise. We see hundreds of souls every day. This gives us unique opportunities to provide experiences that stir hearts with affections for the Lord beyond what we put into each customer's cup.


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

by Lore Ferguson at September 24, 2014 05:01 AM

Who-T

libinput - a common input stack for Wayland compositors and X.Org drivers

Last November, Jonas Ådahl sent an RFC to the wayland-devel list about a common library to handle input devices in Wayland compositors called libinput. Fast-forward and we are now at libinput 0.6, with a broad support of devices and features. In this post I'll give an overview on libinput and why it is necessary in the first place. Unsuprisingly I'll be focusing on Linux, for other systems please mentally add the required asterisks, footnotes and handwaving.

The input stack in X.org

The input stack as it currently works in X.org is a bit of a mess. I'm not even talking about the different protocol versions that we need to support and that are partially incompatible with each other (core, XI 1.x, XI2, XKB, etc.), I'm talking about the backend infrastructure. Let's have a look:

The graph above is a simplification of the input stack, focusing on the various high-level functionalities. The X server uses some device discovery mechanism (udev now, previously hal) and matches each device with an input driver (evdev, synaptics, wacom, ...) based on the configuration snippets (see your local /usr/share/X11/xorg.conf.d/ directory).

The idea of having multiple drivers for different hardware was great when hardware still mattered, but these days we only speak evdev and the drivers that are hardware-specific are racing the dodos to the finishing line.

The drivers can communicate with the server through the very limited xf86 DDX API, but there is no good mechanism to communicate between the drivers. It's possible, just not doable in a sane manner. Most drivers support multiple X server releases so any communication between drivers would need to take version number mixes into account. Only the server knows the drivers that are loaded, through a couple of structs. Knowledge of things like "which device is running synaptics" is obtainable, but not sensibly. Likewise, drivers can get to the drivers of other devices, but not reasonably so (the API is non-opaque, so you can get to anything if you find the matching header).

Some features are provided by the X server: pointer acceleration, disabling a device, mapping a device to monitor, etc. Most other features such as tapping, two-finger scrolling, etc. are provided by the driver. That leads to an interesting feature support matrix: synaptics and wacom both provide two-finger scrolling, but only synaptics has edge-scrolling. evdev and wacom have calibration support but they're incompatible configuration options, etc. The server in general has no idea what feature is being used, all it sees is button, motion and key events.

The general result of this separation is that of a big family gathering. It looks like a big happy family at first, but then you see that synaptics won't talk to evdev because of the tapping incident a couple of years back, mouse and keyboard are have no idea what forks and knives are for, wacom is the hippy GPL cousin that doesn't even live in the same state and no-one quite knows why elographics keeps getting invited. The X server tries to keep the peace by just generally getting in the way of everyone so no-one can argue for too long. You step back, shrug apologetically and say "well, that's just how these things are, right?"

To give you one example, and I really wish this was a joke: The server is responsible for button mappings, tapping is implemented in synaptics. In order to support left-handed touchpads, gnome-settings-daemon sets the button mappings on the device in the server. Then it has to swap the tapping actions from left/right/middle for 1/2/3-finger tap to right/left/middle. That way synaptics submits right button clicks for a one-finger tap, which is then swapped back by the server to a left click.

The X.org input drivers are almost impossible to test. synaptics has (quick guesstimate done with grep and wc) around 70 user-configurable options. Testing all combinations would be something around the order of 10101 combinations, not accounting for HW differences. Testing the driver on it's own is not doable, you need to fire up an X server and then run various tests against that (see XIT). But now you're not testing the driver, you're testing the whole stack. And you can only get to the driver through the X protocol, and that is 2 APIs away from the driver core. Plus, test results get hard to evaluate as different modules update separately.

So in summary, in the current stack features are distributed across modules that don't communicate with each other. The stack is impossible to test, partially thanks to the vast array of user-exposed options. These are largely technical issues, we control the xf86 DDX API and can break it when needed to, but at this point you're looking at something that resembles a rewrite anyway. And of course, don't you dare change my workflow!

The input stack in Wayland

From the input stack's POV, Wayland simply merges the X server and the input modules into one item. See the architecture diagram from the wayland docs:

evdev gets fed into the compositor and wayland comes out the other end. If life were so simple... Due to the X.org input modules being inseparable from the X server, Weston and other compositors started implementing their own input stack, separately. Let me introduce a game called feature bingo: guess which feature is currently not working in $COMPOSITOR. If you collect all five in a row, you get to shout "FFS!" and win the price of staying up all night fixing your touchpad. As much fun as that can be, maybe let's not do that.

libinput

libinput provides a full input stack to compositors. It does device discovery over udev and event processing and simply provides the compositor with the pre-processed events. If one of the devices is a touchpad, libinput will handle tapping, two-finger scrolling, etc. All the compositor needs to worry about is moving the visible cursor, selecting the client and converting the events into wayland protocol. The stack thus looks something like this:

Almost everything has moved into libinput, including device discovery and pointer acceleration. libinput has internal backends for pointers, touchpads, tablets, etc. but they are not exposed to the compositor. More importantly, libinput knows about all devices (within a seat), so cross-device communication is possible but invisible to the compositor. The compositor still does configuration parsing, but only for user-specific options such as whether to enable tapping or not. And it doesn't handle the actual feature, it simply tells libinput to enable or disable it.

The graph above also shows another important thing: libinput provides an API to the compositor. libinput is not "wayland-y", it doesn't care about the Wayland protocol, it's simply an input stack. Which means it can be used as base for an X.org input driver or even Canonical's MIR.

libinput is very much a black box, at least compared to X input drivers (remember those 70 options in synaptics?). The X mantra of "mechanism, not policy" allows for interesting use-cases, but it makes the default 90% use-case extremely painful from a maintainer's and integrator's point of view. libinput, much like wayland itself, is a lot more restrictive in what it allows, specifically in the requirement it places on the compositor. At the same time aims for a better out-of-the-box experience.

To give you an example, the X.org synaptics driver lets you arrange the software buttons more-or-less freely on the touchpad. The default placement is simply a config snippet. In libinput, the software buttons are always at the bottom of the touchpad and also at the top of the touchpad on some models (Lenovo *40 series, mainly). The buttons are of a fixed size (which we decided on after analysing usage data), and you only get a left and right button. The top software buttons have left/middle/right matching the markings on the touchpad. The whole configuration is decided based on the hardware. The compositor/user don't have to enable them, they are simply there when needed.

That may sound restrictive, but we have a number of features on top that we can enable where required. Pressing both left and right software buttons simultaneously gives you a middle button click; the middle button in the top software button row provides wheel emulation for the trackstick. When the touchpad is disabled, the top buttons continue to work and they even grow larger to make them easier to hit. The touchpad can be set to auto-disable whenever an external mouse is plugged in.

And the advantage of having libinput as a generic stack also results in us having tests. So we know what the interactions are between software buttons and tapping, we don't have to wait for a user to trip over a bug to tell us what's broken.

Summary

We need a new input stack for Wayland, simply because the design of compositors in a Wayland world is different. We can't use the current modules of X.org for a number of technical reasons, and the amount of work it would require to get those up to scratch and usable is equivalent to a rewrite.

libinput now provides that input stack. It's the default in Weston at the time of this writing and used in other compositors or in the process of being used. It abstracts most of input away and more importantly makes input consistent across all compositors.

by Peter Hutterer (noreply@blogger.com) at September 24, 2014 03:56 AM

Caelum Et Terra

Two Whys

Skipping Stones 48x31.5x2 oil-wood panel-Carver

My Sam

Our baby Sam went to the hospital for a check-up today. The doctor says that he is doing great, and they removed most of his bandages, so he no longer looks like a little mummy. He only has three bandages, and the doc says he will not need surgery. So I thank God, as it could have been much worse. On the other hand, I also ask God why the hell this happened to an innocent baby, one who has already suffered so much. God does not answer. I think of St Teresa of Avila, who was thrown from a wagon into a stream, when she had a fever. And I think it was raining. She said “If this is how You treat Your friends no wonder You have so few.” And she was not watching her baby suffer or anything. Me, I have been insisting that God is not an asshole, defending Him against His enemies, and even more importantly, against His erstwhile friends. And then this?

I still believe He is a loving Father, full of mercy, because Jesus tells me this is true, and the alternative is unthinkable and unbearable.

Sam, by the way, has become my Most Admired Person. He has suffered more in his first year than I did in my first forty, but he is so resilient. HE is not bitter or pissed at God or anyone else. He is as smiley and sweet and funny as ever, my big fat happy baby.

Meanwhile, a Koan

My almost-four year old Will said to me yesterday “Why did God make us so stupid?”

 

 


by Daniel Nichols at September 24, 2014 03:32 AM

Front Porch Republic

Life in the Kolache Belt: Reflections from the Intersection of Food, Faith, Farming, and Fracking

kolache fest

In some ways, the little farming community of Hallettsville where I have spent a writing sabbatical still resides in a simpler time. Czechs and Germans came in the 1800s and brought a culture that remains surprisingly stable. My Dworsky forebears,…

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The post Life in the Kolache Belt: Reflections from the Intersection of Food, Faith, Farming, and Fracking appeared first on Front Porch Republic.

by John Murdock at September 24, 2014 02:11 AM

CrossFit Naptown

FAQ’s for this weekend

Today’s Workout:

Strict Press 3-3-3-3-3

Tier 1: 12 Min AMRAP Ladder going up by 1: (1,2,3,4..7…10…)

1 Muscle Up
1 Squat Snatch (155/105)

Tier 2 (intermediate) 12 min ladder going up by 2: (2,4,6,…10…14..)

2 Chest to Bar Pull Ups/(may scale to regular or banded pull ups)
2 Hollow Rocks
2 Over Head Squats (115/85)

Tier 3 (beginner/intermediate) (2,4,6,8,10)

2 Pull Ups/ Ring Rows/assistance as needed
2 Hollow Rocks
2 Front Squats (115/85)

 

FAQs for this weekend:

Q: What time is registration and what time does the competition start?

Saturday:

Athlete Registration- 7:30am – 8:30am
Opening / WOD 1 Review- 8:40am
WOD 1 — Heat 1 – “EMOTM”: 9:00am
Test #1 — 2 Rep Max Deadlift: 9am-Noon
WOD 2 — Heat 1 – N/A 11:00am
Test #2 — N/A: Noon – 3pm
WOD 3 — Heat 1 – N/A 1:00pm

(At the end of Day 1 all teams will earn a rank and then be seeded into the Sunday Bracket in which all teams will have AT LEAST one WOD Sunday Morning)

(Tests: It is your responsibility to find time during the day to complete both Tests. There will be one station set up to do so for each test during the noted time periods)

Sunday:
WOD 4 Review- 8:40am
WOD 4 — Heat 1 – “Grid League” 9:00am
WOD 5 — Heat 1 – N/A 10:15am
WOD 6 — Heat 1 – N/A 11:45am
WOD 7 — Heat 1 – N/A 1:00pm
WOD 8 — Heat 1 – N/A 2:00pm
WOD 9 — Inter. Championship 2:45pm
– Adv. Championship 3:10pm

(Intermediate Division is a Single Elimination Tournament)
(Advanced Division is a Double Elimination Tournament)

Q: Where should I park?
A: Please see the map below for designated parking areas. Red = GOOD, park here. Black = BAD, do not park here. Getting dropped off or carpooling is recommended and highly encouraged. Street parking is also an option but is based on availability.

Q: Where is the athlete area?
A: Please see the above map and feel free to set up your tent/chairs/blanket in an organized fashion in the side parking lot labeled, “ATHLETE TENT CITY.”

Q: Will there be food available?
A: YES! Artie will be slinging his famous Paleo grub Saturday and Sunday. The Caveman Truck is also rumored to make an appearance.

Q: When will the rest of the WODs be announced?
A: Stay tuned to our Facebook page to see if we will release any more before this weekend!

by Peter at September 24, 2014 01:43 AM

The Outlaw Way

140924

Power

3X5 Split Jerk (no drops) @ 75% of 5rm – rest 2:00

Strength/Skill

1a) 3X5 Pause Front Squats @ 100% of last week’s 8rm – (STRICT 3 second pause in the bottom at absolute bottom depth), rest 2:00

1b) 3X5 Clean Grip Behind the Neck Push Press @ 100% of last week’s 8rm – rest 2:00

Conditioning

For time:

Run 800m
20 Hang Clean to Thrusters 135/95#
Run 400m
10 Hang Clean to Thrusters 185/125#
Run 800m

The post 140924 appeared first on The Outlaw Way.

by John Dill at September 24, 2014 01:40 AM

CrossFit 204

Workout: Sept. 24, 2014

Glenda: out standing in her field. Or perhaps outstanding.

Glenda: out standing in her field. And also outstanding.

EVERY MINUTE ON THE MINUTE FOR 8 MINUTES: 3 BACK SQUATS

Rest 4 minutes

EVERY MINUTE ON THE MINUTE FOR 6 MINUTES: 10 Kettlebell swings (70/55 lb.) + 10 BOX JUMPS (24/20 inches)

Skills

Part 1

3 sets of max strict HSPU or deficit HSPU

Rest 2 minutes between sets

Try to maintain the same number of reps in all sets.

Part 2

3 sets of paced shoulder taps

Instead of tapping quickly, find a steady pace the would be similar to the pace of a handstand walk. Strive to find balance and control as you move through the reps methodically.

Placing the chest toward the wall makes the movement easier, and you can scale up back facing away from the wall.

Part 3

5 rounds of 2 rope climbs–L-sit, legless, from seated, etc.

Rest 2 minutes between sets.

Choose the most challenging variation of rope climb and hit 5 doubles.

by Mike at September 24, 2014 12:48 AM

The Outlaw Way

140924

Flexibility
Handstand Hamstring Stretch 4×0:20
Handstand Hamstrings

Static Shaping
2×1:00 Chin to Toes Handstand
photo 1

Skills and Drills
3×8 Pull-Up Levers DEMO

The post 140924 appeared first on The Outlaw Way.

by Kaitlin at September 24, 2014 12:48 AM

September 23, 2014

Reformedish

When Can We Stop Conversing and Believe Some Stuff? A Ramble on Intellectual Narcissism

landingI’ve written before about current failure of intellectual imagination that plagues our current, cultural conversations, especially around conversion narratives. If you used to believe something for stupid, sinful reasons, then that’s the only reason anybody could hold the position you used to hold. If people haven’t updated their beliefs along the lines you have, it’s because they haven’t read the arguments you have, so they simply need to be enlightened.

What follows is a ramble on another, related angle on the same problem.

Of late I’ve noticed that there’s a tendency to assume people are in our same intellectual position with respect to an issue that’s up for debate. For instance, if you’ve never really struggled with doubt, it’s very hard to put yourself in the position of someone who is wrestling with issues that just seem obvious and intuitive to you. In theological circles, it may be tempting to write it off as pure perversity and rebellion, rather than real intellectual and moral tension.

On the flipside, if you’ve got doubts, then it’s hard to deal with someone who doesn’t currently seem to be sharing them. Their certainty on the issue can be off-putting, or, even more, unthinkable. It’s difficult to imagine that someone has wrestled as hard as you have and then come out on the other side and still holds the beliefs you used to hold, or different beliefs, or indeed, any strong beliefs on this at all. This actually seems to be more than case nowadays, especially because our culture puts a premium on heroic doubt. I don’t remember where he said this, but Matthew Lee Anderson has pointed out that in the current intellectual climate, beliefs aren’t as valid, or true, unless we’ve passed through some period of angst, or torment over them, otherwise they appear as inauthentic expressions of bad faith.

I was thinking about all of this as I was reading Tertullian’s Prescription Against Heretics. While he probably pushes too hard in one direction, he talked about the fact that it’s fine to search while you haven’t found the truth, but once you found it, land and be content with the truth:

But at the outset I lay down (this position) that there is some one, and therefore definite, thing taught by Christ, which the Gentiles are by all means bound to believe, and for that purpose to “seek,” in order that they may be able, when they have “found” it, to believe. However, there can be no indefinite seeking for that which has been taught as one only definite thing. You must “seek” until you “find,” and believe when you have found; nor have you anything further to do but to keep what you have believed provided you believe this besides, that nothing else is to be believed, and therefore nothing else is to be sought, after you have found and believed what has been taught by Him who charges you to seek no other thing than that which He has taught.

I take him to be saying something like this: When you go seeking for a spouse, the point is to find one, right? Now, once you find one, you’re not supposed to keep searching are you? That’s not to say you’re not still learning, or exploring–but it’s of a different character now. Before I was looking for a land to settle in, but now I’m exploring the land I have. Before I was searching to find a wife. Now I’m “exploring” my wife, looking to grow and learn in the context of an already settled relationship. This is no less stimulating, adventurous, or somehow closed-minded–it’s just the way relationships work. Depth and love are not the result of constant foundation-testing and tinkering, but in building once those things have been tinkered, tested, and settled on.

Something similar is true about theological truth. I’ve searched a bit and have already landed on the Apostles Creed. That’s not up for grabs for me anymore–at least, not in a live way, really. Now, I suppose theoretically someone could provide me with defeater beliefs for it and I’d give it up, but not for now. For now I have cast my bet, rolled the dice, and landed on a basic outline of Jesus as the Crucified and Risen Lord who reveals God as Triune, salvation by God’s grace, and so forth. The question now is learning to understand what I’ve come to believe in a deeper fashion.

Where’s all of this going? Well, I suppose it comes to a few questions. Are you okay with ever landing? Is your approach to faith one that dictates we should we continue doubting and testing the same things over and over? Or, when it comes to cultural conversations on hot-button issues, do we have to keep having the same conversation? Or rather, am I expected to constantly come into every conversation with the same level of hesitancy as you do, or be deemed inauthentic and totalitarian? Can I be confident of my beliefs even as I’m tender and understanding of yours?

In the other direction, do you enter every conversation with the expectation that people have reached the level of confidence and security that you have? In other words, is every expression of uncertainty and doubt an expression of rebellion and perversity, or do you give some space for those who are still piecing it through?

I don’t have a conclusion here other than something I try to remind myself of all of the time: when dealing with people you disagree with, try your best not to be an intellectual narcissist.

Soli Deo Gloria


by Derek Rishmawy at September 23, 2014 11:31 PM

Front Porch Republic

Localist Roundup: Future Food and Farmers

This piece notes the disappearance of young American farmers.  Meanwhile, these people are making food with data.

Lastly, this article advocates a strange combination of cosmopolitanism and local ideals to combat climate change.

The post Localist Roundup: Future Food and Farmers appeared first on Front Porch Republic.

by Josiah Duran at September 23, 2014 11:24 PM

The Outlaw Way

140924


WOD 140924:

BB Cycling

3X5 Split Jerk (no drops) @ 75% of 5rm – rest 2:00

Strength/Skill

1a) 3X5 Pause Front Squats @ 100% of last week’s 8rm – (STRICT 3 second pause in the bottom at absolute bottom depth), rest 2:00

1b) 3X5 Clean Grip Behind the Neck Push Press @ 100% of last week’s 8rm – rest 2:00

Conditioning

For time:

Run 800m
20 Hang Clean to Thrusters 135/95#
Run 400m
10 Hang Clean to Thrusters 185/125#
Run 800m

The post 140924 appeared first on The Outlaw Way.

by rudy.coach at September 23, 2014 11:22 PM

140924

WL

3X5 Split Jerk (no drops) @ 75%

Accessories

1) Tall Snatch: 3X5 @ 80%

2) 3X5 Clean Grip Behind the Neck Push Press @ 100% of last week’s 8rm – rest 2:00

Strength

1a) 3X5 Pause Front Squats @ 100% of last week’s 8rm – (STRICT 3 second pause in the bottom at absolute bottom depth), rest 2:00

1b) 3X8 Strict TTB – rest 2:00

The post 140924 appeared first on The Outlaw Way.

by J Mart at September 23, 2014 10:02 PM

A Few Thoughts on Cryptographic Engineering

Slate piece

Blogging has been slow, but only because some of it has been redirected. There's good stuff coming, including a neat post on the subject of RSA encryption and how it relates to the German army in World War II. In the meantime, please go read this (somewhat non-technical) piece I wrote for Slate on the importance of Apple's new encryption policy.

by Matthew Green (noreply@blogger.com) at September 23, 2014 07:49 PM

The Art of Non-Conformity

Top 5 Credit Card Signup Bonuses for Miles & Points: September

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 Tuesday, September 23. 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

Chase Ink Plus. A great companion to the Sapphire Preferred. Note that you can also apply for the Ink Bold, a similar card that offers the same signup bonus.

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 or Ink Bold can also be combined with those you earn from Sapphire, and foreign transaction fees are also waived.

Learn more or get the card

peaceful-points

Lufthansa Premier Miles & More. You’ll get 20,000 miles and a Companion Ticket with your first purchase, with no further obligation required.

Why it’s good: Lufthansa miles are especially useful for redemption on Lufthansa itself, which is difficult with miles from other Star Alliance carriers. The signup bonus for this card can get you a one-way flight to anywhere in Europe from anywhere in North America… in Business Class.

Learn more or get the card

First-Class-Seat

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

Hotel-View

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, CardsforTravel.com, 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 September 23, 2014 07:00 PM

Responsive.org

Taking Breaks for the Greatest Productivity

DeskTime, a productivity app that tracks employees’ computer use, peeked into its data to study the behavior of its most productive workers. The highest-performing 10 percent tended to work for 52 consecutive minutes followed by a 17-minute break. Those 17 minutes were often spent away from the computer, said Julia Gifford at The Muse, by talking a walk, doing exercises, or talking to coworkers.

Telling people to focus for 52 consecutive minutes and then to immediately abandon their desks for exactly 1,020 seconds might strike you as goofy advice. But this isn’t the first observational study to show that short breaks correlate with higher productivity. In 1999, Cornell University’s Ergonomics Research Laboratory used a computer program to remind workers to take short breaks. The project concluded that “workers receiving the alerts [reminding them to stop working] were 13 percent more accurate on average in their work than coworkers who were not reminded.

And here’s yet more evidence that flexibility at work and self-determined schedules are hugely important to company success. Responsive companies have faith in their employees to do their jobs well on their own terms, trusting them to take breaks when needed, work from home if it’s reasonable to do so, and take real, disconnected vacations.

by Kate Jenkins at September 23, 2014 06:00 PM

The Brooks Review

The Brooks Review Podcast: Episode Twelve – The One You Expected

Shawn Blanc joins me this week to talk about all sorts of stuff. iOS 8, writing, work scheduling. Pat Dryburgh lays down a poem reading for us.

Big thanks to Tom Bihn for sponsoring — makers of excellent baggage.

Please consider becoming a member to support my writing. All writing is 100% member funded.

by Ben Brooks at September 23, 2014 05:57 PM

SMBlog -- Steve Bellovin's Blog

Apple's "Warrant-Proof" Encryption

Apple has recently upgraded iOS encryption to eliminate the "back door" for warrants. That is, the new system is designed so that even if police present a valid warrant, Apple will no longer have the technical ability to decrypt the contents of an iPhone or iPad. Not surprisingly, there's been some unhappiness about it. Orin Kerr, for example, titled his first blog post on the subject "Apple's Dangerous Game" and stated that he found "Apple's new design very troubling." In a second post, he acknowledged that the buggy software problem is indeed an issue; in a third, he asked two questions that basically boil down to "where and how should the line be drawn, under two different analyses?" It's a fair question, though I'll get ahead of my analysis by stating that I still think that Apple's move was a good one.

Orin's first basis for analysis is simple to state:

So here's the question: In your view, can there ever a point when there can be too much encryption--and if so, what is that point?
He goes on to point out the many serious crimes for which a seized and decrypted iToy can yield evidence. Point conceded: there are such crimes, and there is such evidence. However, there's another side to the coin: how many serious crimes are prevented by this sort of encryption, and in particular by the new variant with no back door? I won't bother discussing whether or not encryption is good; even Orin's first post noted that "cryptography protects our data from hackers, trespassers, and all sorts of wrongdoers.... [including] rogue police officers." The question, then, is whether or not, a warrant-only back door poses a danger. There are several reasons for believing it does.

First, per Orin's second post (which drew on arguments advanced by others, notably Matt Blaze), the existence of the code to implement this back door is itself a danger. Code is often buggy and insecure; the more code a system has, the less likely it is to be secure. This is an argument that has been made many times in this very context, ranging from debates over the Clipper Chip and key escrow in the 1990s to a recent paper by myself, Matt, Susan Landau, and Sandy Clark. The number of failures in such systems has been considerable; while it is certainly possible to write more secure code, there's no reason to think that Apple has done so here. (There's a brand-new report of a serious security hole in iOS.) Writing secure code is hard. The existence of the back door, then, enables certain crimes: computer crimes. Add to that the fact that the new version of iOS will include payment mechanisms and we see the risk of financial crimes as well.

How, though, did Apple decrypt phones? To my knowledge, they've never said. A really stupid way would be to use the same unlock code for all phones. That would be horribly dangerous--one leak would expose everyone--and I doubt that Apple did it that way; if they did, the risk is obvious. More likely, there's a backup key that's somehow linked to the device serial number or IMEI. In that case, Apple needs some database of master keys--but there's no reason to think that they can protect it against high-level attackers. Certainly, RSA couldn't protect its database of keys when they were hacked. Ignoring the technical issue that this is itself a law enforcement violation, it contributes mightily to attackers' abilities to decrypt phones. (It's fair to ask if this decryption key is somehow related to the ability to unbrick a phone that's been locked by the owner after the device has been lost. I don't know, but there's some reason to think that a similar code path is involved.)

The most salient point, though, is that the US is not the only country where iToys are sold, nor is our Fourth Amendment standard universally applied. Does Apple have to comply with valid legal process in every jurisdiction where it does business? They almost certainly do, even if the crime being investigated--hate speech, for example--cannot be criminalized under US law. There are also governments that are, shall we say, not reknowned for their adherence to due process. Would Apple have to comply with a Chinese warrant (perhaps for the investigation of a dissident or an adherent to Falun Gong)? China is not only a huge market for Apple; it's where iPhones are assembled. You probably can't call compliance with such requests "crimes", but if we're talking about moral balance (and if one accepts American standards as the norm) this is certainly offensive. This sort of access is also prevented by Apple's new scheme, and has to be weighed against the crimes that might be solved.

Orin's second premise is whether the balance of power, between law enforcement's abilities and individuals' privacy rights, should now shift towards the former to compensate for Apple's change, and if so, how? I'm not sure I buy the premise; in particular, I'm not sure that I agree that this is the first shift, as opposed to the countershift to restore privacy rights.

As the Supreme Court noted in Riley, "Modern cell phones are not just another technological convenience. With all they contain and all they may reveal, they hold for many Americans 'the privacies of life.'" The ability, for the last seven or so years, for the police to access this treasure trove of information is, to me, a considerable shift of the balance, without a corresponding shift toward privacy. Arguably, phones pose even more of a challenge to the particularity requirment of the Fourth Amendment than do computers, and searches of computers are themselves controversial. (Orin, of coursee, has written a great deal on that question.)

In a more practical vein, there is little on most phones that does not exist in other places, notably Apple's iCloud and/or the computer used for iTunes backups. (Oddly enough, this came up in my class today: I explained that wiping a phone because of a lost password was a reasonable response; the legitimate owner could restore most of its contents with comparatively little effort, while the data on it was of great value to attackers.) Location history may be the exception--but that's data that police never had access to before the advent of smart phones. If everything were strongly encrypted--all hard drives, cloud backups, and so on--there might be a different balance (though I suspect not); however, we are very far from that state. In particular, I don't think that we'll ever be there for most people, precisely because of the recovery problem. (If you turn on full disk encryption (FDE) on Macs, Apple will create a "recovery key"--mine is on a piece of paper in my house--and the system offers other recovery alternatives as well. I'm very curious how many people use these other schemes, such as recovery via an AppleID.) Add to that other shifts in the balance in recent years, such as the ability to do real-time location tracking, legally hacking into computers to do surreptitious searches, analysis of the kinds of metadata that are available today, and more, and it's very hard to argue that the balance has shifted towards privacy at all. In fact, law enforcement's reluctance even to allow discussion of their newer investigative techniques--we don't know how Scarfo's password was captured, let alone how, when, and by whom IMSI catchers (``Stingrays'') are used--has made for a very scanty basis on which the courts can construct case law.

I'm probably not qualified to comment on the overall merits of Orin's philosophical point, that equilibrium-adjustment is the proper basis for understanding the evolution of Fourth Amendment law. Assuming that it's valid, though, I don't think that the facts here support his argument--quite the contrary. The only difference is that this adjustment is technical rather than legal.

The issue of the risks and benefit of unrestricted cryptography have been debated for more than 20 years, including especially the so-called "Crypto Wars" of the 1990s. The best comprehensive exploration of the issues is a National Academies study CRISIS: Cryptography's Role in Securing the Information Society. I won't try to recapitulate the whole report here, but one item is worth quoting in full:

Recommendation 1--No law should bar the manufacture, sale, or use of any form of encryption within the United States. Specifically, a legislative ban on the use of unescrowed encryption would raise both technical and legal or constitutional issues. Technically, many methods are available to circumvent such a ban; legally, constitutional issues, especially those related to free speech, would be almost certain to arise, issues that are not trivial to resolve. Recommendation 1 is made to reinforce this particular aspect of the Administration's cryptography policy.

There's a lot more, on both sides of the issue (the full report, with appendices, is over 700 pages), but the recommendation I quote is quite clear: there should be no legal restrictions on cryptography within the US.

September 23, 2014 05:44 PM

Reformedish

Book Review: The Rise of the Nones by James Emery White (9 Marks)

Let’s begin with a boring statistic: 8.1 percent. According to an American Religious Identification survey, that’s roughly how many Americans in 1990 were willing to identify themselves as having “no religious identification.” Fast-forward eighteen years to 2008 and that same ARIS study number becomes 15 percent. Give it four more years in the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life’s 2012 study it becomes 19.3 percent.  That’s one in five Americans. In other words, in a space of about 20 years, the number of Americans willing to claim no religious identity has doubled and there is no indication that trend is slowing down. This is the fastest-growing religious demographic in America. The statistics aren’t as boring anymore, now are they?

Apparently, “Nones” are on the rise. As the body commissioned to preach the gospel to and disciple all nations, the question becomes, “What is the church going to do about it?”

In The Rise of the Nones: Understanding and Reaching the Religiously Unaffiliated James Emery White steps in to provide an answer, or rather, a vision for the American church to reach those Nones with the gospel of Christ. As the former president of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and the founding pastor of Mecklenberg Community Church—one of the fastest growing churches in the nation—he seems particularly qualified for the task.

With a clear, engaging style, vivid illustrations, biblical roots, and a proper sense of history, White lays out a clear path for churches to make the changes necessary to deal with the shifting religious sands. The book breaks down into two parts. In the first, White tells us who the Nones are, and in the second, he lays out a plan to reach them.

You can go read the rest of my book review over at 9 Marks

Soli Deo Gloria. 


by Derek Rishmawy at September 23, 2014 05:08 PM

The Urbanophile

Midsize Midwest Cities — Where Do They Go Now? by Pete Saunders

[ Here's another piece of analytical insight from Pete Saunders, who originally posted it over at his site Corner Side Yard - Aaron. ]

There are some things I posted in the early days of this blog that probably enjoyed very little attention and received little followup on my part.  This piece on midsize Midwestern cities definitely fits that bill.  Since I started this blog nearly two years ago, the attention given to the Rust Belt seems to have grown exponentially — Detroit’s bankruptcy, Chicago’s crime, and Pittsburgh’s revitalization have occupied center stage at various times.  Unconventional ideas are emerging on how to turn around major Rust Belt cities, but smaller ones seem to escape inclusion.  So rather than repost my original post without further comment, I’ve decided to revisit and do some followup commentary.

First, the research.  Looking at 2010 U.S. Census data, I found there are 74 cities in the Midwest as I’ve described it with a population between 50,000 and 300,000.  I eliminated primary cities that fit the population threshold but were part of metro areas that had more than one million people (i.e., St. Paul, MN; Cincinnati, OH; Buffalo, NY), leaving me with 71 midsize Midwest cities.  The largest is Toledo, OH (287,208 residents) and the smallest is Elkhart, IN (50,949).  In between are cities that have become the icons of American Heartland – see the table below.


Midsize Midwest Cities 2010 City Population 2010 Metro Area Population
Toledo, OH 287,208 651,429
Lincoln, NE 258,379 302,157
Ft. Wayne, IN 253,691 416,257
Madison, WI 233,209 568,593
Des Moines, IA 203,433 569,633
Akron, OH 199,110 703,200
Aurora, IL 197,899 9,461,105
Grand Rapids, MI 188,040 774,160
Sioux Falls, SD 153,888 228,261
Rockford, IL 152,871 349,431
Joliet, IL 147,433 9,461,105
Kansas City, KS 145,786 2,035,334
Dayton, OH 141,527 841,502
Topeka, KS 127,473 233,870
Cedar Rapids, IA 126,326 257,940
Evansville, IN 117,429 358,676
Independence, MO 116,830 2,035,334
Springfield, IL 116,250 210,170
Peoria, IL 115,007 379,186
Lansing, MI 114,297 464,036
Ann Arbor, MI 113,934 344,791
Elgin, IL 108,188 9,461,105
Rochester, MN 160,769 186,011
Fargo, ND 105,549 208,777
Green Bay, WI 104,057 306,241
Flint, MI 102,434 425,790
Erie, PA 101,786 280,566
South Bend, IN 101,168 319,224
Davenport, IA 99,685 379,690
Kenosha, WI 99,218 9,461,105
Waukegan, IL 89,078 9,461,105
Lawrence, KS 87,643 110,826
Duluth, MN 86,265 279,771
Sioux City, IA 82,684 143,577
Champaign, IL 81,055 231,891
Bloomington, IN 80,405 192,714
Gary, IN 80,294 9,461,105
Racine, WI 78,860 195,408
Appleton, WI 78,086 225,666
St. Joseph, MO 76,780 127,379
Bloomington, IL 76,610 169,572
Decatur, IL 76,122 110,768
Kalamazoo, MI 74,262 326,589
Canton, OH 73,007 404,422
Muncie, IN 70,085 117,671
Waterloo, IA 68,426 167,819
Iowa City, IA 67,862 152,586
Lafayette, IN 67,140 201,789
Youngstown, OH 66,982 565,773
Oshkosh, WI 66,083 166,994
Eau Claire, WI 65,883 161,151
St. Cloud, MN 65,842 189,093
Lorain, OH 64,097 2,077,240
Janesville, WI 62,948 160,331
Hamilton, OH 62,477 2,130,151
Council Bluffs, IA 62,230 865,350
Bismarck, ND 61,272 108,779
Terre Haute, IN 60,785 172,425
Springfield, OH 60,608 138,333
Pontiac, MI 59,515 4,296,250
Ames, IA 58,965 89,542
Dubuque, IA 57,637 93,653
Owensboro, KY 57,265 114,752
Anderson, IN 56,129 131,636
Grand Forks, ND 52,838 98,461
Normal, IL 52,497 169,572
LaCrosse, WI 52,485 133,665
Manhattan, KS 52,281 127,081
Battle Creek, MI 52,347 136,146
Saginaw, MI 51,508 200,169
Elkhart, IN 50,949 197,559


I listed them all in a spreadsheet that included their 2010 city population and their 2010 metro area population, and started to make some early observations.  For example, metro area population is likely a better indicator of the relative “imprint” of a city, rather than primary city population.  Saginaw, MI, with a population of 51,000 but a metro area of 200,000, seems bigger than Muncie, IN, with a city population of 70,000 but a metro area population of just 118,000. And of course, cities that were relatively close to large metro areas (having a population greater than one million) seem to share more characteristics with their bigger neighbors than their smaller ones, economically and socially.

That led me to ask a few questions that could shed some light on other city characteristics:

  • Is the city a county seat or a county’s largest city, yet not the primary city of a metro area?
  • Is the city a part of or adjacent to a large metro area (with a population of more than one million)?
  • Is the city less than 60 miles from a large metro area?
  • Is the city a state capital?
  • Is the city a college town?

And that exercise led to some interesting conclusions.  Using those questions I was able to identify seven different categories of midsize Midwest cities, and the categories provide a glimpse into each city’s economic history and strengths:

  1.  Captured Satellite City: A once independent midsize city that has been pulled into the “orbit” of a larger metro area. There are eleven in this category.
  1.  Emerging Satellite City: An independent midsize city that is in the process of or on the verge of being pulled into the orbit of a larger metro area.  There are six in this group.
  1. State Capital and College Town:  A city fortunate enough to be a government center and the home of a major university.  There are just three in this category.
  1. Emerging Satellite City and College Town: A combination of points 2 and 3, they retain some measure of independence from larger metros, and benefit from having large schools.  There are only two in this group.
  1. State Capital: Self-explanatory.  There are four here.
  1. College Town: I’m defining a college town as one with a school with an enrollment greater than about 15,000 students, making the school large enough to have a significant impact on the local economy (in case you’re wondering why Notre Dame and South Bend, for example, aren’t included).  There are ten in this group.
  1.  Independent Midsize City: Ah yes, the largest group, with 35 in this category.  Too far from major metros to bask in their glory, and no state capital or university to build from.

Here’s how the cities stack up in a table:


Midsize Midwest City Categories Cities By Category
Captured Satellite City Aurora, IL; Joliet, IL; Kansas City, KS; Independence, MO; Elgin, IL; Kenosha, WI; Waukegan, IL; Gary, IN; Lorain, OH; Hamilton, OH; Pontiac, MI
Emerging Satellite City Akron, OH; Dayton, OH; Flint, MI; Racine, WI; Springfield, OH; Anderson, IN
State Capital AND College Town Lincoln, NE, Madison, WI; Lansing, MI
Emerging Satellite City AND College Town Ann Arbor, MI; Bloomington, IN
State Capital Des Moines, IA; Topeka, KS; Springfield, IL; Bismarck, ND
College Town Lawrence, KS; Champaign, IL; Bloomington, IL; Kalamazoo, MI; Muncie, IN; Iowa City, IA; Lafayette, IN; Ames, IA, Normal, IL; Manhattan, KS
Independent Midsize City Toledo, OH; Ft. Wayne, IN; Grand Rapids, MI; Sioux Falls, SD; Rockford, IL; Cedar Rapids, IA; Evansville, IN; Peoria, IL; Rochester, MN; Fargo, ND; Green Bay, WI; Erie, PA; South Bend, IN; Davenport, IA; Duluth, MN; Sioux City, IA; Appleton, WI; St. Joseph, MO; Decatur, IL; Canton, OH; Waterloo, IA; Youngstown, OH; Oshkosh, WI; Eau Claire, WI; St. Cloud, MN; Janesville, WI; Council Bluffs, IA; Terre Haute, IN; Dubuque, IA; Owensboro, KY; Grand Forks, ND; La Crosse, WI; Battle Creek, MI; Saginaw, MI; Elkhart, IN


So what do the categories suggest about each midsize city’s present and future economic prospects?

Captured Satellite City: These cities have economic fortunes that are closely tied to the economic fortunes of the much larger metro area surrounding it.  Some cities seem to recognize this and have planned accordingly; others still have memories of their earlier independence and have struggled in the face of industrial restructuring.  Perhaps their future is better served by becoming low-cost urban options in otherwise suburban areas.

Emerging Satellite City: These are cities that sit on the periphery of major metro areas, and have yet to fully benefit from being “pulled” into the larger orbit.  They, too, have memories of earlier independence, and may struggle with adjusting to a more dependent future.

State Capital and College Town: With only three in this category, Madison leads the way in terms of economic strength, with Lincoln not far behind.  Lansing, despite having the capital and college attributes, has historically relied on its industrial legacy as well, possibly diluting the government and education benefits.  If it can tap those strengths maybe it can duplicate the others’ success.

Emerging Satellite City and College Town: Ann Arbor and Bloomington are truly unique in that they are the flagship universities in their respective states and are in close proximity to each state’s largest city.  Ann Arbor seems to figure more prominently in metro Detroit’s future; Bloomington remains relatively disconnected from metro Indy.  My guess is that when these cities are fully brought into the larger metro’s orbit, they — and the entire metro — will greatly benefit.

State Capital: As long as the four cities here remain state capitals, they have a reason d’etre and economic catalyst that will support them.  They will continue to have strengths that will elude other similarly-sized cities.

College Town: In many respects the college towns are similar to the state capitals, with an existing reason d’etre and economic catalyst.  The difficulty, perhaps, lies in strengthening and reinforcing the college’s links to the rest of the city and metro.

Independent Midsize City: Here, I believe, are the midsize Midwest cities whose future is most tenuous.  When people wonder about the future of smaller post-industrial cities, these are generally the ones we think of.  What can Youngstown, OH do to forestall its decline?  What strengths does Decatur, IL have that can serve as a foundation for revitalization?  What lies ahead for Terre Haute, IN?  Wtih respect to the other midsize Midwest cities, which have more clear futures (whether or not they choose to accept them), I’ll start exploring what might happen with the independent, midsize, post-industrial Midwest city.

This post originally appeared in Corner Side Yard on November 9, 2013.


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 September 23, 2014 05:02 PM

512 Pixels

On iOS 8's built-in time lapse feature →

Dan Provost:

On Apple's website, they claim that in time-lapse mode, "iOS 8 does all the work, snapping photos at dynamically selected intervals." When I first read this, I thought they were doing something super fancy, like monitoring the frame for movement and only snapping a picture when something changes. On deeper reflection, this would be a bad idea. Time-lapse videos look best when they are buttery smooth, and dynamically selecting intervals in this fashion would create a jittery and jerky video. So what does Apple mean by "dynamically selected intervals"?

Turns out, what Apple is doing in quite simple, and indeed, pretty clever.

Permalink

by Stephen Hackett at September 23, 2014 04:41 PM

Feed: stratechery by Ben Thompson

Sponsor: Igloo

Igloo is an intranet you’ll actually like: built with easy-to-use apps, like shared calendars, task management, file sharing and more. It’s everything you need to work better together, in one very configurable cloud platform.

With Igloo’s responsive design, your intranet already handles a range of devices, it will even work on your iPhone 6 or 6 Plus right from the start. Share status updates, manage your task list, download documents — almost everything you can do on your desktop, you can do on your phone. Plus, Igloo is free to use with up to ten of your favorite co-workers. Sign up now to start building your mobile-friendly Igloo.

My thanks to Igloo for sponsoring Stratechery this week

The post Sponsor: Igloo appeared first on stratechery by Ben Thompson.

by Ben Thompson at September 23, 2014 04:24 PM

assertTrue( )

Don't Grinf*ck Me

You've seen the scenario play itself out a million times before. A client or coworker comes to you for advice; you offer your very best insights. The other person nods, smiles, thanks you, and agrees to put some of your ideas into action. But then you find out, hours or days later, the person not only ignored your advice but went against it.

You've been grinf#(ked.

The Urban Dictionary defines grinf*ck (noun form) as follows.
In business, when someone smiles and shakes your hand, assuring you that they have heard and will act upon your recommendation or concerns, when in truth you have already been ignored and dismissed.
I think the expectation of being grinf#(ked is why many of us are hesitant to take user satisfaction surveys when asked to do so by banks, e-commerce sites, etc. We suspect we'll get the nod, the sincere thank you—and see our suggestions ignored. (Have you ever dialed the 800 number listed under one of those "How is my driving?" stickers on the backs of trucks? Me neither.)

I'm not a psychologist (so if any specialists are reading this, please speak up here), but it seems to me that grinf**kery, in at least some cases, qualifies as a type of passive-aggressive behavior, meant to humble the advice-giver while bolstering the other person's authority. In other cases, grinf**king is just a byproduct of someone's opinion-gathering requirement. The person who asked for your advice was required to get a second or third opinion on something; there was never any intent to use that opinion to deviate from an already chosen agenda.

And then there are those who mean you no disrespect, but who simply feel embarrassed or timid about disagreeing with you to your face. These are well-meaning people who aren't trying to be disingenuous. They just don't like to appear disagreeable. Or maybe they're confrontation-averse.

Regardless of motivations, it seems to me we all have a duty to be honest and forthright in our dealings with clients and coworkers. We can always agree to disagree on things, if need be. There's room (or should be, in any organization) for honest divergence of opinions. Transparent, open debate of ideas is healthy and should be encouraged.

But don't be disingenuous. Don't camouflage dissent as agreement. Don't tell me one thing when you mean another. Don't deliberately mislead me into thinking you value what I'm saying, when in fact you intend to ignore what I'm saying. When I learn the truth, later, it does nothing good for our relationship.

Just be honest with me. Let me know what you really think. I can take it. I promise.

Don't be a grinf#(ker.

by Kas Thomas (noreply@blogger.com) at September 23, 2014 03:47 PM

Inconsolation

slsc: Resurrected at long last

If you didn’t see John’s note from a day or two ago, you might have missed an important bit of news:

2014-09-23-6m47421-slsc

slsc has been updated to run with the newest slang libraries, which makes it very much a usable program again. O frabjous day! :)

I’m quite excited by that, because it means (by my informal estimations) that the total number of functional text-only spreadsheet programs has increased by one. This represents an uptick on the graph. An upswing in the market. This pleases me.

And if sc was never to your liking, slsc might be a much more appealing title. Customizable color. Customizable navigation. Menu-driven. Onboard help. Compatibility (for the most part, in my preliminary checks) with sc-format files. And best of all, light as a feather and quick as a rabbit.

To the best of my knowledge, slsc fell out of Debian-based distros as far back as 2007 or 2008, since the man pages for Dapper held slsc, but those after didn’t. AUR probably had slsc in it around the same time, but I’m sure someone weeded it out in the years that followed. Maybe it can make its way back into those distros now.

Five years ago I said “old programs don’t die, they just patiently await reincarnation.” See, you knew I wouldn’t lie to you. ;)


Tagged: spreadsheet

by K.Mandla at September 23, 2014 03:02 PM

John C. Wright's JournalJohn C. Wright's Journal

Who is John Galt?

Mr. Obama will not speak to you tonight. His time is up. I have taken it over. You were to hear a report on the world crisis. That is what you are going to hear.

For twelve years, you have been asking: Who is John Wright? This is John Wright speaking. I am the man who loves his soul. I am the man who does not sacrifice his love or his values. I am the man who has deprived you of excuses and thus has destroyed your world, and if you wish to know why you are perishing — you, who dread knowledge — I am the man who will now tell you.

You have heard it said that this is an age of moral crisis. You have said it yourself, half in fear, half in hope that the words had no meaning. You have cried that man’s sins are destroying the world and you have cursed human nature for its unwillingness to practice the virtues you demanded. Since virtue, to you, consists of unreason, you have demanded more unreason at every successive disaster.

I just saw the final of the ATLAS SHRUGGED film trilogy, and my reaction to the movie is mixed. I give them high grades for their effort, for their loyalty to the original book. This film was made by fans of the book who understood its point. That is rare enough to be worth trumpeting.

I give them below average grades, however, for their execution. This was like a cheap, made-for-TV movie.

No one not a fan of the book is likely to go seen this film, or even know it is in theaters. Hollywood and the media seem to be in full blown ignore-the-pariah mode when it comes to ATLAS SHRUGGED.

The plot concerns the downfall of a corrupt and socialist future America which results when the capitalists, inventors, entrepreneurs and men of ambition all go on strike, leaving the people who call them exploiters free to be no longer exploited, which means, no longer employed.

The idea, to borrow a phrase from Margaret Thatcher, is to see what happens to socialists, of both the economic and the spiritual kind, when other peoples’ money runs out, as when these other people stop running the motor of the world.

The plot revolves around the love triangle between a beautiful female railroad executive named Dagny Taggart, and unhappily married steel magnate named Hank Reardon, and a superhuman philosopher-scientist and adventurer named Doc Savage.

Savage has been persuading the virtuous industrialists and self-made men to retreat his Fortress of Solitude hidden under a holographic forcefield in the Rocky Mountains; Dagny enters by mistake, her plane engine knocked out by the forcefield, and crashlands, is bruised, and while she recovers in Doc Savage’s house, gets a job as his housekeeper, and finds she must decide between this secret small world of those who think like her, and the outside world which is degenerating rapidly into socialist hellhole.

Let me discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Doc-Savage-2

John Galt (foreground). From Left to Right (rear): Richard Halley, supercomposer, Hugh Akston, superphilosopher, Ellis Wyatt, superoilman, Judge Narragansett, superjurist, Midas Mulligan, superbanker

THE GOOD

The good was that the movie makers respected and followed the source material, so any fan of the book is likely to see at least one of his favorite scenes or hear one of his favorite lines. While the three hour long John Galt speech is replaced by a five minute advertisement, at least it is there. The main philosophical point of Ayn Rand’s message is absent, but the main emotional and dramatic point is there.

The adaptation made two small changes of which I wholly approve.

First, Ayn Rand’s atheism, which is logically necessary for her philosophy,  but which is a distracting excrescence in her drama, is thankfully dropped. I call it a distraction from her drama, because the main plot conflict is between free market freethinkers and collectivist socialist hypocrites. In real life, the socialists are allied with the atheists, and the Christians are allied with the free marketeers. In her book, having the socialist lumped in with their hated enemies the Christians as the foes of the atheist free marketeers (a creature as rare as a unicorn) was a jarring note.

Second, in the book, Eddy Willers left, forgotten by the supermen, to die in the desert next to the hulk of an abandoned train which he lacks the knowledge to restore to motion. This always seemed pointlessly cruel that he should not be allowed into Narnia at the end, since, unlike Susan, he never ignored the values of free thought and free markets for the sake of lipsticks, nylons, and party invitations. By that, I mean, of course, that he was no enemy to the Objectivist Industrialists on Strike, and could have joined them as a useful and productive member of their new society, so there was no moral point to the writer merely letting the shipwreck of civilization drown him. There was plenty of room in the lifeboat.

The movie rectifies this needless cruelty.

THE BAD

The bad is that the script was leaden and paint-by-numbers. It hit the plot points from the book in a workmanlike but unimaginative fashion, but not taking any advantage of the visual medium of the movies.

There was one tiny exception: the physician who went on strike when medicine was socialized takes out a small handheld x-ray and diagnostic machine. It shows visually the kind of thing the outside world is losing due to its philosophy of punishing success. But this one tiny exception makes the lack of any imagination used in the film adaption all the more poignant.

(There was likewise a single example of an imaginative adaption in the previous film, when the heroine pumps a tank of gas and it costs 800 dollars. That was a moment which used a visual image to smite the audience with a gut-level understanding of how bad the ‘Ameritopia’ of the socialist ‘brother’s-keeper’ types were.)

One tiny visual clue the movie makers put in the film, however, which I adored, was that the Seal of the President, in the spirit of the book, read ‘Head of State’ and the name of the nation was ‘The People’s State of America’ not the United States.

The adaptation threw the entire love triangle between Doc Savage, Hank Rearden, and Dagny Taggart overboard. Hank Rearden does not appear in the film at all, except as a ten-second voiceover of a farewell phone call heard during an overhead traveling shot of a train in motion. This would be on the same magnitude of bad writing as if Margaret Mitchell were to have Ashley Wilkes fall into a well and die offstage, leaving Scarlett free to wed Rhett without second thoughts, or dramatic tension.

The filmmakers do indeed have Cheryl Taggart, the deceived and hero-worshiping wife of the main character’s worthless brother, die offstage, without even mentioning that she commits suicide when the full horror of the collectivist world-view and its backward moral code is revealed to her in all its hellish ugliness. The film makers did not even include  a one-second shot of her jumping off a pier.

The adaptation junked the idea of the soundwave weapon Project X from the book, and instead had the Oppenheimer-based character, Robert Stadler, have his crisis of conscience when he discovers his research is being used to produce an electroshock torture machine. This was wholly insufficient for the plot purposes. A scientist discovering his work in atomic theory has been used to make a terrifying death-ray able to level cities, now turned on the civilians to enslave them is dramatic. A scientist discovering that a car battery is being used to deliver shocks to a prisoner on the rack is just silly.

Even more bad was the fact that the heroes were all horribly, horribly, horribly miscast. The actress Laura Regan, while she did her work bravely, simply lacked the scene presence of Taylor Schilling, who played the role of Dagny in the first film, and both lacked the ability to portray the book character.

neal_patricia2The role required an actress of the stature of Patricia Neal, who accurately captured the soul of Dominique Francon in the 1949 film production of THE FOUNTAINHEAD.

 

patricia-neal

The actor selected to play the superhuman inventor, Kristoffer Polaha, was pretty and pretty young, and looked more like a model for the cover of a romance novel — which, perhaps, is what the author intended. His lines were so good, that about half the time, he looked like the leader of men and the captain of industry and the shaker of empires that he was supposed to be. The other half of the time he looked like a Soap Opera hero.

gary cooper

The role should have gone to someone like Russel Crowe, or better yet, Gary Cooper.

neal and cooper

Francisco D’Anconia should have been played by Antonio Bandaras or a young Ricardo Montalban. Instead they got a guy who looks like my father in law, a genial older man with a big nose.

Ragnar Djanneskjold was a guy in a knit cap, and he was supposed to be Basil Rathbone or Tyrone Power.

Eddie Willers was supposed to be a small, rabbity man. The actor is a magnificent giant with a bald head who looks like a marine.

Ellis Wyatt, who was played to perfection by Graham Beckel in the first film, and stole every scene he appeared in, was replaced by an actor with a mustache named Lew Temple, so instead of Ellis Wyatt from the book, we got Slim Pickens. Again, no offense is meant to Mr. Temple, who did his work in a workmanlike fashion, but he was cast for the wrong role.

On the other hand, the villains were perfectly cast. Every line and look, every nuance and gesture was authentic. I have never seen such a perfect portrayal of hypocrisy and villainy. The scene where the villains decide that the public good requires them to engineer an Ukraine-style famine in order to tighten military control over the crumbling republic could have been taken from security cameras in the Oval Office. It was perfect.

THE UGLY

The ugly is that the production values were cheap, cheap, and this film showed it. Some scenes look as if they were filmed in the school gym. All the crowd scenes were ten or twelve people, shouting. Nationwide disasters, famines, blackouts, and pirate raids are depicted by flashing a still photo on the screen with a narrator mentioning the vast events occurring.

background 1

The film makers, honestly, would have been better served had they animated their epic, using Art Deco paintings as backgrounds, like something from a Max Fleischer’s SUPERMAN cartoon, with soaring buildings, speeding trains, and shining powerplants.

background

THE CONCLUSION

Never has a message been more needed, more desperately needed, than the message of this movie the current generation. The events in the film are coming true all around us, and the anti-industrial revolution in in full swing.

Alas, this movie is simply not strong enough, not good looking enough, not well written enough, not well-acted nor well-written enough, not GOOD enough, to serve as the John the Baptist we need, warning us to escape the wrath to come.

The wall of solid sound formed by the brainless mainstream media will smother the message. This movie is the last stand of a rearguard, their weapons amaturishly and imperfectly employed, and the bravery of the soldiers is insufficient to overcome the hordes of orcs overwhelming them.

Whether the lights of New York go out due to pure socialist self-imposed idiocy and incompetence, or due to self-imposed idiocy and unwillingness to protect ourselves from the inevitable terrorist electromagnet pulse weapon knocking out nationwide powerstations for a year, is no matter.

The lights are going out.

rockefeller_plaza

by John C Wright at September 23, 2014 02:37 PM

Inconsolation

dirname: That slash-mark filter you always wanted

I should probably mention dirname out of coreutils today, since it effectively reverses what we saw the other day with basename. This is easier to show than explain.

kmandla@6m47421: /usr/share/pixmaps$ dirname /usr/share/pixmaps
/usr/share

dirname strips away the directory and shows only the path up to the final folder. In the example it was the current directory — you get the same results from dirname $(pwd) — but you can feed it any path (or more than one), so it’s not correct to say “your current directory.”

If you feed dirname a path and file name, you get the path of to the file, which is where dirname becomes useful.

kmandla@6m47421: ~$ dirname /home/kmandla/downloads/list.html.txt 
/home/kmandla/downloads

Now you can effectively strip away the filename from a string, and leave only the path to it.

kmandla@6m47421: ~$ dirname $(find /usr/share/pixmaps/ -type f -iname "*png") | sort -u
/usr/share/pixmaps
/usr/share/pixmaps/pidgin
/usr/share/pixmaps/pidgin/animations/16
/usr/share/pixmaps/pidgin/buttons
...

So I know I have png files somewhere inside /usr/share/pixmaps, /usr/share/pixmaps/pidgin, and so on.

Now comes the strange part: If you give dirname a file in your current path, you get a lonesome dot.

kmandla@6m47421: ~$ dirname .bashrc 
.

This strikes me as odd behavior, since this is also dirname‘s response:

kmandla@6m47421: ~$ dirname /home/kmandla/.bashrc 
/home/kmandla

The man page comes to the rescue this time, and after reading that, I would hazard to guess that dirname is just traipsing along the string until it reaches the last slash, then dumping everything before that to STDOUT. No slashes means … a dot. :???:

And my suspicions are confirmed with this:

kmandla@6m47421: ~$ dirname this/is/a/test
this/is/a

So basically dirname is a filter for slash marks, and whether or not that represents an actual folder tree on your system is … moot. :roll:

dirname is useful in the same way as basename, but again, I can’t give you any tried-and-true uses that aren’t specific to my own real-life adventures. I leave it to you to come up with something earth-shattering and life-changing to use with dirname. It’s not an impossibility, even if it is just a slash-mark filter. … ;)


Tagged: directory, file, folder, name, text, tree

by K.Mandla at September 23, 2014 02:30 PM

Responsive.org

Unusual — And Brilliant — Partnerships

Leslie–and Aros–represent Quirky’s next big step: moving from a small startup with limitless R&D to a sort of on-demand maker of products (no matter the complexity) for interested partners. Last year, it announced that the $146 billion king of invention, GE, would invest $30 million in the company and open up thousands of its patents to Quirky members. GE, meanwhile, would acquire the nimbleness and cool factor it struggles to achieve on its own. “I’m a big believer in retail as media,” says Beth Comstock, GE’s chief marketing officer, who now serves on Quirky’s board. “[The partnership] gets us in new places in unexpected ways.” After a few false starts with gizmos such as an $80 egg tray that connects to your phone to tell you how old your eggs are, the duo found a winner.

GE has found a fascinating way to engage with a powerful platform of inventors, a strategy that not only represents a great PR move, but that will also likely put them on the cutting edge of appliance invention. As numerous creativity studies have shown, big companies like GE benefit greatly from cross-pollinating and tapping into brainpower outside of their usual invention teams, so their partnership with Quirky is likely to yield some very high-grossing products. It can be hard for companies to make decisions like this, which put power in the hands of networks rather than hierarchies and  invite others to generate ideas and make decisions, but example after example shows how effective this can be.

Quirky itself is also a great example of a company that recognizes the importance of the network over hierarchy, as evidenced by its strategy for moving product concepts up the chain — every employee and many site members participate in a weekly “live evaluation” to determine which invention ideas are the best. In this way, they are even engaging their customers in the decision-making process.

This particular partnership is definitely one to keep an eye on. Big lessons are likely to come out of it.

by Kate Jenkins at September 23, 2014 02:00 PM

Crossway Blog

Help Us Test Crossway's Mobile Bible Apps

Major Updates

We’re getting close to launching some important updates to our mobile Bible apps, including ESVBible.org syncing for the ESV Study Bible + app and the Android ESV Bible app. These updates relate to the following mobile apps:

  • ESV Bible app (iOS)
  • ESV Bible app (Android)
  • ESV Study Bible + app (iOS)

We’d Love Your Help

Before these updates go live, we’re looking for volunteers to participate in a quick round of beta testing. By signing up, you’re applying to participate and agreeing to receive more information via email.

There are a limited number of spots available, so sign up soon if you’re interested in helping us test these apps!

UPDATE: The sign up period has ended. Thank you for your interest.

by Matt Tully at September 23, 2014 02:00 PM

The Art of Non-Conformity

Don’t Miss Out on Your Own Story: On the Road with Christy Campbell

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

As a stated “recovering conformist,” Christy is now convinced that living a comparison-free, mindful life is as non-conformist as it gets in today’s world. Here’s her story.

Tell us about yourself.  

I’m a story-teller at heart. I love telling mine, as well as other people’s. But I’ve noticed something: those who only dream of a lifestyle that includes soaking up experiences in foreign lands – and even those who live that life – are constantly looking at others and want more. By doing so, we feel we are not “achieving” enough, that we could be doing something cooler or be living a story that had more color, more pizzazz. Too often we wish we could be more like that person, have their experiences, live their story, take their journey.

Can you tell about a time when you’ve felt that way, and how you overcame it?

I think a lot of us, if not all of us, battle with the monsters of comparison at some point. But comparison is a funny thing because it’s multi-directional. I have a few friends who are living in places I’ve only ever dreamed of going or are doing work that I dub as “epic.”

I’ll see a Facebook post or get an email update from them and all of the sudden the fact that my day consisted of me sitting on my couch, answering emails and surfing the web seems so un-grand and unimportant. But then I go home for a visit and hear over and over, “Wow, you’re so brave! You’re so adventurous! I could never live your life.”

And I laugh because it reminds me that the minute I start comparing my trip, my day, my current situation with someone else’s, I’m missing out on how great my own story is, simply because it’s mine.

I want to find a way to break through that misconception and skewed belief. I want people to know that their story is amazing. Whether they’re sitting in the same farmhouse in the Midwest where they grew up (hello, family!) and planning a trip to the State capital or they just gained their 50th passport stamp, their journey is amazing, valuable and worth telling.

christy3

What makes any  journey “amazing, valuable and worth telling?”

I love the way A Deeper Story put this: “It’s easy to tell someone your opinion. It’s hard work telling them your story.” I’m really good at spouting my opinions but it can be a much more humbling experience to tell my story instead. And not the blow-your-mind kind of tale (although I love those too) but the full story. You know, the stories that contain details we’d rather leave off Instagram.

But I’m an avid reader and have found so much inspiration, encouragement and empathy in the pages and posts of those willing to share their stories in all their gritty glory. At the end of the day, regardless of what our resume or Instagram feed projects, we’re all human and there can be a lot of encouragement in talking about that. But to borrow the wise words of Donald Miller, “Change the world around you by living, not just talking about, a better story.”

Tell us a memorable story:

I tagged along on a trip to Malaysia with my boyfriend, who was attending a conference. I had no agenda other than to explore, do a little work from a local coffee shop and eat a lot of good food. He, on the other hand, was going to be meeting with his company’s top management, attending a lot of workshops, and planning his department’s future. Our trip there was rather harried, and while we miraculously made our final flight, my boyfriend’s luggage did not.

With his meetings starting early the next morning, my boyfriend realized that he’d be either wearing his now disheveled shorts and t-shirt or a hotel bathrobe to his conference the next morning unless he didn’t find something fast. Our driver gave us the news: there was one late-night shopping option in a rough neighborhood. We told him to hit the gas, and he got us to the store with a mere eight minutes til closing.

Enlisting the help of the entire floor’s staff, we rushed around the store pulling belts, socks, pants, undershirts, shoes and ties from various areas of the men’s department. The security guard produced the “winning” shirt (of course, this ultimately became a competition for all of us) and the rest of the outfit came together with help from a gaggle of giggling clerks who morphed from shy sales assistants to pro outfitters within minutes. They even called up the store’s seamstress to hem up some pants while we checked out.

For that moment in time, language and culture didn’t matter in a city where our skin color alone heralded us as tourists and our backgrounds varied drastically from those who helped us. The security guards opened up the now gated entrance as the staff escorted us out and waved goodbye. We found our taxi driver waiting outside and we loaded up his trunk, still laughing at how all of these people had come together to save the day. No bathrobes needed.

Looking back, we both agreed it was a great trip. But our favorite part? Late night speed shopping and our own edition of “What Not to Wear: Conference in a Foreign Land.”

christy4

Have you learned anything from your time abroad?

I never thought I’d own up to this, but I love a good bus tour. I discovered them in the UK, and I won’t lie: at the time, a bus tour sounded rather lame. As it turned out, it was one of my favorite trips to date: I didn’t have to do any of the planning, I didn’t have to find places to eat or stay, and I saw WAY more than I would have on my own.

I also met some great people (I’m still friends with the girl that I bunked with) and our guide (who doubled as a bus driver and full time entertainer) not only gave us an amazing tour, but he’d done the route so many times he’s actually compiled a CD with perfectly timed songs to serenade us as we mounted a spectacular vista or to feature an artist as we rolled into their hometown.

The great debate: aisle or window?

Window! Seriously, this is a debate?

Best travel tips. Go:

1) Skip the guide book and grab a novel set in or about the place you’re going.

2) Check out the tipping situation in the country before you go. I can’t tell you how many times I’m sitting in a taxi or at a restaurant, ready to pay my tab and unsure of correct tipping protocol.

3) Speaking of tipping: leave a tip for the housekeeping staff. They’re some of the hardest working folks and possibly the most under-appreciated, as you rarely interact with them.

4) Try an app like Postagram and send your own pictures as postcards.

5) If you can, learn the language basics (like ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’ and ‘Hello’) for the country you’re visiting. Use them with your award-winning smile and you’ll be amazed at how much better your trip will be.

christy6

Anything else we should know?

Want to know a secret? I have a bizarre personal aspiration to grab a flag and see if I can look/sound convincing enough to hijack someone’s tour group and lead them astray. I mean, around. Lead them around, of course.

Where are you headed next?

I’m en route to Mexico as I write this and plan to stay for a while, so I’m guessing there will be lots of salsa–on my chips and with my hips–in my near future. I haven’t seen much of Latin America yet, so I’m pretty stoked to learn the language and go explore!

Follow Christy’s journey on her blog, Lane Letters  or via Instagram @lane_letters

###

by Chris Guillebeau at September 23, 2014 12:30 PM

Justin Taylor

Rick Segal: A Novel Every Christian Should Consider Reading.

RickI am doing a blog series on Novels Every Christian Should Consider Reading.

Rick Segal is Vice President of Advancement and Distinguished Lecturer of Commerce and Vocation at Bethlehem College & Seminary, following a 30-year career as entrepreneur and global advertising executive. He is responsible for donor relations and institutional communications, as well as teaching and writing related to his role as Lecturer.

He and his wife Adrien have four grown sons.


QuoVA promotional slug on the cover of my 1993 edition of Quo Vadis by Henryk Sienkiewicz declares the book to be, “Worldwide #1 Bestselling Novel of All Time.”

The claim is unattributed, and a online search 21 years later suggests it may be dubious.

What is objective is that this historical novel of Rome in Christianity’s first century, indeed its first decades, has been in continuous publication since 1895, translated into more than 50 languages, the inspiration of four American and three European film versions, and partially responsible for earning its author the Nobel Prize for literature.

Quo Vadis derives its name from the Latin, “Quo vadis Domine,” “Where are you going, Lord?”, an allusion to an event described in the apocryphal Acts of Peter in which the saint while fleeing Rome encounters Christ heading toward the city.

“Where are you going, Lord?,” Peter asks.

“I am going back to be crucified, again.”

Peter takes this as his cue to turn back and accept martyrdom.

This is Rome in the last earthly days of both Peter and Paul. The Gospel has found a home in the hearts of a small community of believers living in the shadows of Nero’s temples and obelisks. It is a human-scale story of a cataclysmic culture clash, played out in the broad strokes of historical events, and in a love story about a young Christian woman, Ligia, and a Roman patrician, Vinicius.

The clash is exposed in exchanges like this excerpt from letter sent by the fictional Vinicius to the real-life Petonius, Nero’s Arbiter of Excellence:

O Petronius, you do not realize what a comfort and consolation our religion can be in misfortune, how much patience and courage it inspires before death. So come and see for yourself how much happiness it can give in ordinary day-to-day living. People up to now did not know a God Whom they could love hence they did not love one another. From this came misfortune because as the light comes from the sun so too happiness comes from love. Languages, philosophies did not teach this truth and it did not exist in Greece nor in Rome; and when I say Rome, I mean the whole world.

The book’s graphic descriptions of the persecution of Christians were undoubtedly informed by Foxe. This is why some current reader reviews online regard the book as too disturbing to complete. It is, however, the essential argument for reading Quo Vadis. Vats have gathered the blood of martyrs all along the way to the present. Persecution of believers is yet promised. Quo Vadis tells the story of those found first-faithful in persecution’s face.

I am no spoiler to share:

The road to the execution place was long. . . . Paul felt this peace in his heart and he thought with gladness that by his life he has added notes of harmony without which the whole earth was sounding brass or tinkling cymbals. . . . Inwardly, he repeated the words of one of his epistles: “I have fought the good fight. I have finished my course. I have kept the faith. Henceforth, there is waiting for me a crown of glory.”

by Justin Taylor at September 23, 2014 12:00 PM

sacha chua :: living an awesome life

Categorical imperatives versus genetic algorithms

I was thinking about why I like thinking in terms of experiments, and how that’s related to how I generally don’t have strong disagreements with people.

I think most people I spend time with have a “live and let live” sort of policy similar to mine. We explore different life paths and have different opinions, but that’s okay. It results in more information and more insight.

Sometimes I come across people who express their opinions more strongly. Reading Reddit posts about people dealing with strong and probably well-meaning advice reminds me that there are people out there who are firmly convinced they know what’s good for you. I know I sometimes slip into that kind of advice-giving mode myself, especially around things that give me heebie-jeebies.

2014-09-12 Categorical imperatives versus genetic algorithms

2014-09-12 Categorical imperatives versus genetic algorithms

I like the idea that most of us are figuring things out in good faith. I haven’t thought through the limits of this idea yet (one’s choices might limit someone else’s, for example), but there might be something there worth exploring.

The post Categorical imperatives versus genetic algorithms appeared first on sacha chua :: living an awesome life.

by Sacha Chua at September 23, 2014 12:00 PM

QuirksBlog

dsgnday announces Peter Boersma

On 11th of November we’ll organise the first dsgnday in Amsterdam; a one-day conference for graphic and UX designers working on the web. Today we announce the last speaker.

A few weeks back we announced seven out of eight speakers. We still owed you an eighth one, and today we're happy to announce that Peter Boersma has agreed to speak.

While working for increasingly international clients, Peter still managed to become a fixture of the Amsterdam UX scene, organising and hosting several meet-ups and conferences.

At dsgnday he's going to talk about his passion: expanding your influence and improving your design process. UX covers more of the design process than just creating wireframes or code. It should influence and inform all details of the site, and your job isn't done when a wireframe is accepted and implemented.

With the addition of Peter our line-up is complete.

  • Mark Boulton, thoughts from his notebook
  • Bonnie Colville-Hyde, user experience comics
  • Stephen Hay, designing in the browser
  • Val Head, designing meaningful animations
  • Laura Kalbag, accessibility by design
  • Peter Boersma, expanding your influence
  • Leisa Reichelt, the strategy is delivery
  • Mike Rohde, sketchnote mini workshop

Tickets are € 275, and coffee, lunch, and drinks afterwards are included.

by ppk (ppk@xs4all.nl) at September 23, 2014 10:57 AM

Responsive.org

Hire People Who Know They Have Room to Grow

Never let it be said that Americans lack self-confidence. A survey finds that while 61 percent agree that there’s a “skills gap” in the U.S. workforce, 95 percent think they personally are qualified or overqualified for their own jobs.

“When it comes to the skills gap, Americans clearly believe ‘it’s not me—it’s you,’” says a blog post put up on Wednesday from Udemy.

Fifty-three percent of millennials believe they already know everything they need to know to do their jobs, against only 43 percent of boomers, the survey found.

Well this is interesting. Though I can’t say I’m shocked that so many people are aware of a skills gap, what I do find disturbing is that so many employees seem to think of their skill sets as being fixed assets. If they believe they already know everything they need to know to do their jobs, then clearly they aren’t prioritizing the acquisition of new skills. Furthermore, this makes it clear that most employees are unaware of just how quickly their job may need to adapt to changing circumstances — and indeed, how it should be adapting anyway, every single day.

So, then, the question becomes: how can a company ensure that it is hiring people who value new skills and think of themselves as constantly evolving professionals? And how can a company encourage its existing staff to recognize the change that is impacting its sector and to prepare themselves accordingly?

by Kate Jenkins at September 23, 2014 09:00 AM

The Gospel Coalition | Latest Articles

Study: American Public Thinks Religion’s Influence is Waning

The Story: According to a new Pew Research Center study released yesterday, a growing number of Americans think religion is losing influence in American life — and they want religion to play a greater role in U.S. politics.

The Background: Since 2006, Pew had registered declining support for religion in politics, notes the Wall Street Journal. But this year, something changed. "To see those trends reverse is striking," said Greg Smith, Pew's associate director of research. One reason for that could be that a growing majority of Americans—72 percent, according to the study—say religion is losing its influence in American life, Mr. Smith said, "and they see that as a bad thing."

"It could be that as religion's influence is seen as waning, the appetite for it moves in the other direction," he said.

The Takeaways:  Some of the more interesting findings from the survey include:

Religion in Politics

• The public is now evenly divided on the question of whether churches and other houses of worship should express their views on day-to-day social and political questions: 49 percent say they should do this, while 48 percent say churches and other houses of worship should keep out of political matters. 

• Two-thirds of white evangelical Protestants (66 percent) now express support for having churches speak out on social and political issues, up from 56 percent in 2010. Nearly six-in-ten black Protestants (58 percent) also say churches should express their political views, as do roughly half of Catholics (48 percent) and white mainline Protestants (49 percent).

• Most of those who have no religious affiliation say churches and other houses of worship should keep out of politics (65 percent), with just 32 percent saying churches should speak out on political matters.

• Currently, 41 percent say there has been too little religious talk from political leaders, while 30 percent say there has been too much and 23 percent say there has been about the right amount of religious speech from politicians. Most white evangelical Protestants (68 percent) say there has been too little expression of religious faith and prayer by political leaders. 

• Most Americans continue to oppose the idea of churches endorsing particular candidates during political elections, with roughly twice as many people saying churches should not do this as saying they should (63 percent vs. 32 percent). 

Religion’s Influence on American Society

• Nearly three-quarters of Americans (72 percent) now say that religion is losing influence in American life, with 56 percent of the public as a whole saying it is a “bad thing” that religion is losing sway in the U.S.

• The concern is most pronounced among white evangelical Protestants, 77 percent of whom say religion is losing influence and that this is a bad thing, but is shared by majorities of white mainline Protestants (66 percent), black Protestants (65 percent) and Catholics (61 percent).

Which Institutions Are Friendly Toward Religion?

• Roughly half of adults (47 percent) think the Republican Party is friendly toward religion, with 30 percent saying the GOP is neutral toward religion and 15 percent saying it is unfriendly toward religion. Far fewer (29 percent) see the Democratic Party as friendly toward religion, with 39 percent describing the Democratic Party as neutral toward religion and 25 percent describing it as unfriendly toward religion.

• The share of Americans who rate the Obama administration as friendly toward religion has declined sharply in recent years. Currently, 30 percent say the administration is friendly toward religion, down from 37 percent in 2009 and 39 percent in 2012. Nearly three-in-ten (29 percent) see the Obama administration as unfriendly toward religion, up from 17 percent in 2009 and 23 percent in 2012.

• Half of the public views the Supreme Court as neutral toward religion, with roughly equal shares describing the high court as friendly (21 percent) or unfriendly (22 percent) toward religion.

Perceptions of Discrimination

• Nearly six-in-ten Americans (59 percent) say they think Muslims face a lot of discrimination in the U.S. today. Far fewer think other religious groups – including Jews (32 percent), evangelical Christians (31 percent), atheists (27 percent) and Catholics (19 percent) – face a lot of discrimination.

• About two-thirds of Americans think gays and lesbians face a lot of discrimination in the U.S. today (65 percent), and half or more say this about blacks (54 percent) and Hispanics (50 percent). 

• Among religious groups, fully half of white evangelical Protestants (50 percent) say evangelical Christians face a lot of discrimination compared with 31 percent of the public overall saying this. 

• eight-in-ten African Americans (82 percent) say there is a lot of discrimination against blacks, compared with 61 percent of Hispanics and 47 percent of whites who say this.

• Seven-in-ten Hispanics (71 percent) say there is a lot of anti-Hispanic discrimination (as do 64 percent of blacks), but just 42 percent of whites agree. 

• Most religious “nones” say it has become easier (31 percent) to be a person with no religion or that it hasn’t changed much (60 percent).

• One-third (34 percent) of evangelicals say it has become more difficult to be an evangelical Christian in the U.S.

Social Issues

• Half (49 percent) of Americans say that wedding-related businesses should be required to provide services to same-sex couples just as they would to all other customers, while 47 percent say that these businesses should be allowed to refuse services to same-sex couples for religious reasons.

• Among religious groups, white evangelical Protestants express the strongest support for allowing businesses to refuse to provide services for same-sex weddings (71 percent).

• Among those who say homosexual behavior is a sin, six-in-ten say that businesses should not be required to provide services for same-sex weddings. But among those who say homosexual behavior is not a sin, two-thirds say businesses should be required to service same-sex weddings.

• The number of people who view homosexual behavior as sinful has ticked up in the past year, from 45 percent in 2013 to 50 percent in the current poll.

• The view that homosexual behavior is sinful is most common among white evangelical Protestants (82 percent) and black Protestants (77 percent). By contrast, nearly three-quarters of religious “nones” (72 percent) say that homosexual behavior is not sinful. White mainline Protestants and Catholics are more evenly divided about whether homosexual behavior is sinful.

• Among religious groups, white evangelical Protestants express the strongest opposition to abortion; two-thirds say it should be illegal in all or most cases. By contrast, three-quarters of religious “nones” (75 percent) say that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, as do two-thirds of white mainline Protestants (65 percent). Catholics and black Protestants are more evenly split on this issue.

by Joe Carter at September 23, 2014 07:07 AM

Table Titans

Tales: Failure from Success

News
I was running an adventure for a single character, a Wizard working as a private investigator in Eberron. When rolling her character she passed on the Adventurer's Kit. The Adventuerer’s Kit, as it’s name implies, includes all the basics of adventuring: rope, flint, whetstone, bedroll, waterskin,…
Read more

September 23, 2014 07:00 AM

The Gospel Coalition | Latest Articles

Holiness and Love: Together, Not at Odds

Over the past century or so, the church in North America has been weakened by a tendency to wrongly pit different aspects of God's character against each other. Believers who have witnessed too much heavy-handed, legalistic behavior from their leaders may be tempted to focus only on his grace and mercy—the qualities we most often associate with God's love—and downplay his pure and uncompromising holiness.
 
The reverse may be the case for Christians who are hungry for unvarnished, authoritative biblical teaching after spending too many years in churches that, perhaps out of a desire to make everyone within their doors feel welcome, have given short shrift to God's commands toward obedience.
 
It is wrong, however, to pit God's holiness and love against one another. As theologian David Wells explains to me in this interview, they are, in fact, of a piece. Wells, distinguished research professor at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, unpacks this truth in his typically insightful way in his latest book, God in the Whirlwind: How the Holy-Love of God Reorients Our World [written interview]. 
 
Listen as Wells speaks with wisdom and grace about why it is so easy for even serious-minded Christians to lose their hold on the character of God and how, in our recovery of it, God may be freshly pleased to reveal himself through us to a lost and distracted world. 

by Mark Mellinger at September 23, 2014 05:01 AM

CrossFit Naptown

Back Squats Back..alright..

Today’s Workout: 

Back Squat
3-3-3-3-3

Partner Thruster Ladder
10 minutes to get as far as possible. Split up the reps as needed. 

20 Thursters (75/55)
20 Thrusters (105/75)
20 Thrusters (135/95)
20 Thrusters (165/115)
20 Thrusters (195/135)
20 Thrusters (225/155)

*Rx Men go up by 30 lbs ea time
women go up by 20lbs ea time

Tier 2 go up by (men 20lbs, women 10lbs)
Tier 3 go up by (men 10lbs, women 5lbs)

Screen shot 2014-08-26 at 2.46.07 PM

by Peter at September 23, 2014 03:02 AM

Doc Searls WeblogDoc Searls Weblog »

Why we’ll miss #EricTheActor

ByISkIxIgAAHakl

What makes Howard Stern’s radio show so compelling, besides Howard himself, is that everybody who contributes to the show is a character. That goes for all the staff members who come on the air, and all the callers — especially the oddballs called the Wack Pack. There’s Mariann from Brooklyn, Bigfoot from the backwoods of Vermont (and sometimes its jails), Sour Shoes, High Pitch Eric and too many others to name. But the biggest character of them all was physically the smallest: Eric the Actor, first known as Eric the Midget, who died Saturday. He was just 39 years old.

Eric was a tiny dude with bad diseases and a voice like a kazoo. He was demanding, selfish, obsessed with celebrities, professional wrestling, the Oakland A’s, large breasts and other stuff Howard and his crew loved to goof on. He was also the kind of guy Monty Python called “a gentleman of unshakable negativity.” He liked to complain and loved to fight. When he did, he sounded like a duck getting goosed.

Eric also felt completely deserving of the fame he gained on Howard’s show, which commenced at 3am for Eric’s home in Sacramento, California. He called almost every day. He didn’t always get on the air, but it seemed like he got more air time than any character on the show other than Robin Quivers and Howard himself. In the end his fame proved huge, with coverage of his death in People, Variety and countless other celebrity rags. Yet every Stern show fan knows that if Eric could still call in, he’d be complaining about what the reporters got wrong. And it would be funny as hell.

Eric was pepper on the show’s steak. It’ll still be tasty without him, but it won’t be the same.

Bonus link.

by Doc Searls at September 23, 2014 02:49 AM

The Outlaw Way

140923

Details on the next Power program will be posted tomorrow!

Power

1) 5X1 Clean from blocks (just above knee) @ 80% – rest as needed

2) 5X1 Jerk from blocks @ 80% – rest as needed

BB Cycling/Midline

1a) 3X5 Touch & Go Cleans (full) @ 70% of 5RM – rest 90 sec.

1b) 3X10 Strict HSPU AFAP (as fast as possible) – rest 2:00

Conditioning

12:00 AMRAP of:

Row 250m
25 6″ Target Burpees

The post 140923 appeared first on The Outlaw Way.

by John Dill at September 23, 2014 01:59 AM

140923

Whaling City Crossfit-
photo.PNG-10

Flexibility
4×0:20 Box Shoulder Stretch + 8 Immediate PVC Raises

Static Shaping
2×1:00 Hands and Feet Hollow Hold

Skills and Drills
3×3 Arch to Hollow Swing + Chest to Bar + Bar Muscle-Up DEMO

The post 140923 appeared first on The Outlaw Way.

by Kaitlin at September 23, 2014 01:19 AM

Roads from Emmaus

This site is moving! Email subscribers, please note.

This weblog is moving. If you currently subscribe via email, please go to the new site and sign up there. Thanks!Filed under: Uncategorized

by Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick at September 23, 2014 01:03 AM

Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy

We’re Moving: A note for our email subscribers (and others)

This weblog is moving. If you currently subscribe via email, please go to the new site and sign up there. Thanks!

by Fr. Andrew Stephen Damick at September 23, 2014 01:01 AM

September 22, 2014

CrossFit 204

Workout: Sept. 23, 2014

So you've tasted this dish before?

So you’ve tasted this dish before?

PUSH PRESS 6-6-6-6

EVERY 2 MINUTES FOR 10 MINUTES:

PROWLER SPRINT

15 kettlebell swings (70/55 lb.)

by Mike at September 22, 2014 10:48 PM

The Brooks Review

The Plan To Save RadioShack

MG Siegler:

Radio Shack stores seem to be just the right size. The key would be to curate only the best-of-the-best Android devices, Google devices, Microsoft devices, Sony devices, etc. Not everything, just the best.

Really smart plan.

In 2005 I co-wrote a senior paper for our business course on how to turn around Radio Shack. Our idea was very similar, only instead of focusing on devices, we thought it would be more focused on video gaming — a sign of the times I guess. Either way the concept was the same: small selection of really great things, and things that the employees had a deep understanding of.

This very much reflects the deep knowledge tradition of the chain. I wish they would do it.

Please consider becoming a member to support my writing. All writing is 100% member funded.

by Ben Brooks at September 22, 2014 10:00 PM

The Outlaw Way

140923

Cassidy’s Jerk was working so well on Saturday that the only thing between her and a massive PR was the Clean. 250#/114kg would have given her a 205kg Total for the weekend, and 250# was a number we’d set as a goal when we first started working together. She missed no lifts on the way up to this attempt – including a PR of 245#/111kg – and when she caught it, I had no doubt it would go overhead. Then this happened, and I almost cried.


WOD 140923:

BBG

1) 5X1 Clean from blocks (just above knee) @ 80% – rest as needed

2) 5X1 Jerk from blocks @ 80% – rest as needed

BB Cycling/Midline

1a) 3X5 Touch & Go Cleans (full) @ 70% of 5RM – rest 90 sec.

1b) 3X10 Strict HSPU AFAP (as fast as possible) – rest 2:00

Conditioning

12:00 AMRAP of:

Row 250m
25 6″ Target Burpees

The post 140923 appeared first on The Outlaw Way.

by rudy.coach at September 22, 2014 09:16 PM

The Brooks Review

The iPhone 6 Plus

Gabe Weatherhead:

If you rely on one handed use, I can easily dismiss the 6 Plus as an option. If you want the most portable and powerful pocket computer then the 6 Plus is almost perfect.

Please consider becoming a member to support my writing. All writing is 100% member funded.

by Ben Brooks at September 22, 2014 08:58 PM

∞ The iPhone 6 Camera

You’ve likely seen Austin Mann’s epic iPhone 6 camera review, and likely you have seen many others post about it. This weekend my family and I went to the Washington State Fair and it was there that I was won over — the iPhone 6 camera is astounding.

I’ve put up a Flickr album of some of the shots I have taken if you want to take a look. The photos are impressive. The ones with the windows in the background are of particular note as the iPhone has typically not exposed those shots very well, or you’ve got a lot of blown out highlights. Now though, those shots are pretty solid.

Normally I wouldn’t write about this just yet, it’s too early, but then I shot video using the new 240fps slow motion. Jaw = floor.

I shot the below video in a dim area, of my daughter riding the carousel. I shot it handheld, popping up at the last moment to snag her as she came around (I was watching our other daughter). When I played it back on my phone, I couldn’t believe what I just grabbed with almost no effort or thought. Amazing.

Playing it back on my retina Mac diminishes some of my amazement, as you can see some imperfections, but then again handheld, no thought, yeah I’ll take it any day.

And that video wasn’t dumb luck, I did it twice:

I still have to play with the camera more, and wait for some excellent apps to get updated, but as of now, the camera along is worth the price of upgrading. Astounding.

Please consider becoming a member to support my writing. All writing is 100% member funded.

by Ben Brooks at September 22, 2014 08:37 PM

Bible Design Blog

Schuyler NKJV Single Column in Natural Grain Goatskin (Red and Brown)

SchuylerNKJV14A new single column setting of Scripture is always worth getting excited about. Back in 2009 when Thomas Nelson first teased us with this layout of the NKJV, there was even more reason: single column editions were pretty rare compared to today. When, a few years later, the newly launched Schuyler imprint announced they would be using the Nelson setting in one of their own editions, fans of the NKJV had even more reason to rejoice.

Somehow I missed out on the first printing of Schuyler NKJV Single Columns — but Beth Rhodes didn’t, and she posted a thorough write-up back in October. To make a long story short, she liked it, though she did note that the uneven line-matching could be frustrating.

With a few aesthetic tweaks and a fresh selection of colors, the Schuyler NKJV Single Column is back. The question is whether it’s better the second time around. Let’s find out.

SchuylerNKJV2

The Schuyler NKJV Single Column is a beautifully printed and bound edition of a 2009 Nelson text setting, with 10.5 point type and a nice, dark imprint.

SchuylerNKJV4

No references, but chapter and verse are indicated in the text, with centered section headings in bold.

THE SECOND PRINTING
When I stepped inside the headquarters of EvangelicalBible.com in Virginia, one of the first things I noticed was the stack of boxes lining the main hallway, each one packed with newly-arrived copies of the Schuyler NKJV Single Column. They were hard to miss. Even harder was not tearing into them when nobody was looking. I suppressed the impulse and was eventually rewarded with a firsthand look. When I left later that day, I took a couple of review copies with me, the red and the brown.

The second printing of Schuyler’s NKJV Single Column is available in four colors: Black, Brown Marble, Imperial Blue, and Firebrick Red. The Bibles are printed on 32 gsm paper, and have Smyth-sewn book blocks. They’re bound in edge-lined Cantara goatskin covers with full leather linings, hand-stitched around the perimeter for reinforcement. In a subtle refinement, the front cover features a blind emboss of the Schuyler cross –without the big HOLY BIBLE and NKJV in gold gilt from the first printing. Less bling results in more class. Each book includes four thick ribbon markers, too, and has art-gilt edges (red-under-gold with the exception of the Imperial Blue edition, which has blue-under-silver gilding). Some quick work with the ruler yields a trim size of roughly 6.5″ x 9.5″ x  1.25″, which is a fairly handy proportion for a full-size Bible. The type size is 10.5 point, and the print is nice and dark. As is the case with all Schuyler Bibles, the NKJV Single Column is printed and bound in the Netherlands by Jongbloed, and the quality is first rate. They retail for just under $200, and are available exclusively at EvangelicalBible.com. (Follow the link for full specs.)

SchuylerNKJV1

Brown Marble (top) is the most interesting color thanks to its subtle variations in shade, while Firebrick Red offers a more traditional alternative to basic black.

SchuylerNKJV13

Compared to the first printing, the second has a toned down aesthetic (no oversized gilded titles on the cover) that strikes a classic note.

SchuylerNKJV12

Dark red leather lining on the Firebrick Red cover and dark brown on the Brown Marble (not pictured). This kind of color coordination is a must with fine editions.

SchuylerNKJV10

These edge-lined covers by Jongbloed are limp and flexible, which means you can fold over one side of the Bible for handier reading.

SchuylerNKJV6

It’s times like this that make me wish I were a proper photographer. The color variation is so subtle I had a hard time capturing it. Look hard and you will make it out.

LINE-MATCHING
Unfortunately, the uneven line-matching Beth noticed in the first printing is still a problem in the second. Some pages are fine and others are almost perfectly mismatched, giving the page a five o’clock shadow that takes readability down a notch. While line-matching is well outside my area of expertise, I noticed something interesting while comparing good matches to bad. Even on pages with very poor matching, the page numbers are matched precisely. For example, pages 1615/1616 (1 Corinthians 14.16-15.32) in both of my review copies are mismatched identically, but both have perfectly aligned page numbers. The fact that the line matching is consistent between copies, and the numbers themselves are matched suggests that the problem is with the text setting. In other words, it wasn’t designed so that the front and back of each page would line up. There’s no way to make them. This is a shame, because in every other respect the NKJV Single Column is an admirable edition.

MAKING PEACE WITH THE FONT
I have to admit, the first time I encountered the typeface used in this text setting, I wasn’t a fan. When it comes to fonts, I prefer old style, or humanist, typefaces for books. (If in doubt, Wikipedia is your friend.) To my eyes, they just look right. This text setting uses a font that makes me think of a beefier version of New Age, the face the TNIV used to be set in. Remember how cross-eyed and apoplectic I used to get over that font? Well, I’ve mellowed with age. I’m not sure whether there’s a connection to New Age or not, but I’ve made peace with this type, telling myself there’s a something Eric Gill-like about it. There’s a hint of the reed pen of some Alexandrian scribe in there, and that’s just fine.

PARAGRAPHED RIGHT
One thing I don’t have to make peace with is the paragraphing, which is done just right. The preface notes that “prose is divided into paragraphs to indicate the structure of thought,” but let’s face it, not all paragraphing is equal. One of my gripes with certain popular translations (I’m looking at you, ESV!) is that while they’re paragraphed, they aren’t paragraphed the way we actually write in English, particularly where dialogue is concerned. Open a novel at random and you’ll discover that generally we begin a new paragraph whenever a new speaker chimes in. Burying a back-and-forth conversation in one long paragraph? That’s not how it’s done.

SchuylerNKJV8

The conversation between Jesus and Peter at the end of John 13 is paragraphed correctly, with a new paragraph for each change of speaker.

So I was delighted to find that this NKJV gets it right. Look at the conversation between Jesus and Peter at the end of John 13, verses 36-38. In the ESV you get this:

Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.” Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.

In the paragraphed NKJV, you get this:

Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, where are You going?”
     Jesus answered him, “Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterward.”
     Peter said to Him, “Lord, why can I not follow You now? I will lay down my life for Your sake.”
Jesus answered him, “Will you lay down your life for My sake? Most assuredly, I say to you, the rooster shall not crow till you have denied Me three times.

It’s hard to believe I never noticed this before. “It must be unique to this text setting,” I told myself, but I was wrong. My NKJV Pitt Minion is like this, and so are some others I checked. Funny the stuff you miss. Since the paragraphing was done after the translation, the dialogue tags are still clunky. Ideally the work should be done hand-in-hand, or the paragraphers should be given liberty to make the necessary adjustments, like so:

“Lord, where are You going?” Simon Peter asked.
     Jesus answered, “Where I am going you cannot follow Me now, but you shall follow Me afterward.”
    “Lord, why can I not follow You now?” Peter asked. “I will lay down my life for Your sake.”
     “Will you lay down your life for My sake?” Jesus answered. “Most assuredly, I say to you, the rooster shall not crow till you have denied Me three times.

And yes, while the NKJV’s formatted beats the ESV here, it loses points in my book for all those capitalized divine pronouns — but that’s an argument for another day.

PAPER
The original Schuyler editions used 32 gsm paper, and then they began to experiment with thicker stock, going all the way up to 45 gsm for the NASB Quentel. On pages where the line matching is off, the NKJV Single Column will have you yearning for thicker paper — but when it’s on, you see that 32 gsm isn’t bad, all things considered. Unless you go to multiple volumes like Bibliotheca, you’ll never get rid of ghosting or show through. Some papers seem better than others, and the black paper trick can be surprisingly effective, but at the end of the day Bible paper has to be ridiculously thin to accommodate so much text and so many pages. There will always be tradeoffs.

SchuylerNKJV7

The 32 gsm paper is nice. It’s a shame the text setting cannot be line-matched to minimize the five o’clock shadow, though.

BINDING
As far as color options go, you’ll remember the Firebrick Red from my review of the NASB Quentel. The shade is spot-on, a bold, beautiful scarlet that doesn’t veer into orange or purple. I wish I could say it’s my favorite, but the fact is, I’m really smitten with the Brown Marble. The dark-to-light color variation is incredibly subtle. From a few feet away in most light, it’ll be mistaken for solid. But up close in the right light, the depth comes through, making this an interesting but not flashy cover. The elegance is understated, as it should be.

SchuylerNKJV3

Edge-lined covers like this one make “Bible yoga” easy.

SchuylerNKJV11

The inflexible hinge connecting the book block to the cover prevents the Bible from opening truly flat near the spine, which is why you see the arc in the cover. Left to its own devices, that leather-lined cover would lay flat on the table.

Jongbloed works wonders with these edge-lined Bibles, producing limp bindings with a consistent quality that is almost boring (in the best possible sense). The only thing I would change is the stiff hinge running down either side of the spine, which keeps the Bible from opening perfectly flat. I’ve noted these hinges before in my reviews of the Quentel and Crossway’s Heirloom Thinline (where the thinner book block makes the problem more pronounced). While I’m sure the hinge material’s stiffness contributes to the strength of the binding, I wish they would find a similarly tough but more flexible alternative. These covers beg to open flat on the table, but the hinges produce tell-tale humps on either side of the spine.

OVERALL ASSESSMENT
One of the things my visit to EvangelicalBible.com and Schuyler really brought home to me is how tightly connected the customer service experience of the former is connected to the publishing program of the latter. A lot of frustrated NKJV readers let their feelings be known, prompting Schuyler to negotiate rights to the Nelson text setting and produce a high quality limited run. The first outing was so successful that it led to this reprint. It goes to show that this short run, high quality publishing model is an effective way to serve the readers of translations that don’t enjoy as much support as their fans could wish.

If you love the NKJV and you missed out on the first printing, then I suppose it’s a no-brainer. You’ll want one of these. The single column setting and relatively large print makes for a readable combination, especially when the line matching doesn’t get in the way. If you already have one of the first editions, is it worth an upgrade? The only grounds would be aesthetic. If you prefer the color (likely) or the more subtle imprinting (very likely), it might be worth taking the plunge.

Other reviews of Schuyler Bibles

Other reviews of NKJV editions

The post Schuyler NKJV Single Column in Natural Grain Goatskin (Red and Brown) appeared first on Bible Design Blog.

by J. Mark Bertrand at September 22, 2014 08:08 PM

John C. Wright's JournalJohn C. Wright's Journal

How to Decipher a Book Review

 

Over at the Vox Day website, one Bextor Fenwick asks a really good question:

I was looking to get my hands on a physical book of Wright’s. The only book they do carry is “Count to a Trillion”. But, the average review rating for that book on amazon is not all that great. So, because of that I’ve been holding off on buying it. However, you made some very favorable comments about that book. Why do you think it didn’t fare so well with the reviews on amazon??

Here is my theory, which should surprise no one. The book fared well with those whose tastes, preconceptions, worldview and attitudes it pleased, and fared poorly with those it displeased. That raises a deeper question of how to discover the tastes of the reviewer, what he is looking for in a book.

Please look at what the reviewers, positive and negative, found good and bad in the book, and try to guess whether their tastes and predispositions match yours.

A negative review:

“This is a dreadful book…. It’s bad in so many ways… where to start?

The weird politics? The hero is a 22nd century Texan, which apparently means he talks like the sidekick in a spaghetti Western and has unlimited faith in the Right to Keep and Bear Arms – no fooling, he actually lectures posthumans a couple of centuries later on the necessity of the Second Amendment. This idiot’s name is Menelaus Montrose, but he’s basically Rick Perry minus the Christian accoutrements. … The Europeans are effete, and the villains are all treacherous Hispanics: from Spain, thank God, I was afraid Montrose was going to start calling them ‘wetbacks’.”

Now, what do you think this reviewer’s politics are? Do you think he is Leftwing or Rightwing? Do you think these portrayals of Europeans as effete or Spaniards as wetbacks are actually in the book, or something he brings into the reading out of his own particular bigotries and racial opinions?

A positive review:

“John C Wright did his research for this book, it is not fantasy masquerading as science fiction, nor does it include faster then light travel, everything from the social, the economic, the math, to the physics, the scientific method and the way that science and society actually happen and advance are wholly believable and accurate.”

What do you think the reviewer here was looking for in a book? Is what he looks for what you look for?

Or this:

“There’s something about Wright’s style of prose that reminds me of ancient classics. yes, there’s gee-whiz technology, but the Big Ideas and the heroic epic style come straight from a time when it was a story about some long dead Greek. Who I would particular recommend this to is anyone who finds descriptions of physics and mathematics like a kind of poetry.”

What is this reviewer looking for? What are his standards?

Another way is to discover which authors the reviewer likes, to confirm if his tastes match yours. Note this most flattering discription of my work:

“Wright is Chesterton-infused Melvillean van Vogt birthday cakes with Zelazny sauce on top.”

You know he likes Chesterton, etc. If Chesterton is not to your taste, then you know this book might not be for you.

Another positive review:

“So many great ideas are contained within that they could have been parsed out a basis for a dozen of other SF books…..

“Menelaus is a brilliant polymath who dreams of “shining tomorrows” and the disappointments of actual life and not flying cars and other gee wiz technological developments. His dreams are partially shaped by a comic book series named Asymptote that has many shadows of Star Trek and it’s view of the future of man along with the cornier aspects related to Captain Kirk. As someone whose childhood included the start of the Star Trek series and the race to the moon this young character had many elements I could relate to.

“The book also deals with post humanism and contact with an alien civilization which has left an artifact so dense with information that ultimately it can only be read by someone with post human intelligence. The big ideas surrounding this aspect are also very interesting ….

“The philosophical discussions between the main characters is also interesting…

“Really the dialogue is quite enjoyable and often very funny at times. One description involving hackers and Moby Dick is one of the funniest things I have ever read…”

Now, this reviewer finds appealing the selfsame things other negative reviewers found unappealing: many brilliant ideas (which other reviewers call a slow plot) a likeable main character (which other reviewers called unrealistic — perhaps they know no likeable people in real life) philosophy (tedious to dullards) enjoyable witty dialog (meaningless to those who don’t get the jokes).

Let me make a personal comment: look back at the first review I quoted. Myself, I wonder how portraying the starship captain who saves Montrose from a life of misery as the only man ballsy enough to organize and fund the world’s first international and interstellar manned mission somehow qualifies as ‘effete’. The character is from Monaco, and is the only character whose nation of origin is mentioned in the book, aside from the main villain, who happens to be from Spain.

More to the point, I wonder how portraying Spain as a first-world world-empire with a working space program versus Texas inhabited by Mestizo as a third world hellhole somehow constitutes a racist insult against the Spaniards rather than against the half-Spanish half-Indians living in the Republic of Texas (including my hero).

Before a reviewer plays the race card against me, perhaps he should discover what race the hero of my book is, eh? Bob Heinlein played a similar trick against the bigots of his day by making Mr Rico of STARSHIP TROOPERS Filipino.

Heh-heh. Gotcha, ya bigot.

by John C Wright at September 22, 2014 07:00 PM

Inconsolation

go-fish: Let’s finish it off

I am going to go ahead and write up go-fish, because it appears that is the last title in the venerable bsd-games section that I have left.

2014-09-22-6m47421-go-fish

If you don’t know, Go Fish is a children’s game of card collecting, wherein each player demands cards of another in turn, collecting as many sets of four as luck will allow. When the players run out of cards, the winner is determined by the highest number of sets.

It’s exceptionally simple, and since there’s almost no skill involved, you might see how it appeals mostly to small children. I’ve seen variations of this in other cultures, but don’t feel bad if it’s something alien to you.

The bsd-games version is fairly quick, and if you don’t mind reading through the play-by-play, it’s not a difficult game to adopt. Controls are just card numbers, with the computer collecting and managing your cards for you.

Go Fish itself has very little in the way of strategy, although I should mention that a certain measure of poker-style behavior can come into play. If you play purely honestly — what go-fish calls “professional” play, and is accessed with a -p flag — then asking for a card reveals what cards you have.

Even young players can figure that out fairly quickly, so as a strategy, most players will deliberately ask for unheld cards, hoping to conceal the cards they actually hold and collect.

All that aside, go-fish can either allow for sneaky underhanded play (by default), or block you from asking after cards you don’t have on hand … professional play. Your choice of rules is dictated by your conscience.

I’m going to give go-fish similar marks to gomoku: Certainly not a bad rendition of the card game, but not particularly inspiring … especially after seeing things like ttysolitaire, or even cpat from long ago. go-fish could easily adopt a more colorful, visual arrangement and perhaps appeal more to the little people who enjoy the game to start with. ;)

And now unless I’m mistaken, all of bsd-games is done. I can scratch that off my list. … :mrgreen:


Tagged: game

by K.Mandla at September 22, 2014 06:45 PM

Mr. Money Mustache

Lessons in Badassity from a Night in Houston

almonds

almondsThe great thing about this unusual lifestyle you and I lead is that it automatically reinforces and rebuilds itself from all directions. Although Mustachianism is built on the idea of embracing hardship, it becomes so automatic that it is soon the only way you could imagine living. Because of this amazing tendency, it is often easier to live on 25% of a professional income (and save the other 75%) than it is to try to scrape by on 90% and save 10.

Everything just falls into balance once you get the basic philosophy, and today I have brought a little Story about a recent experience, which is annotated with links to all the other articles that fill in the background of what is really happening. For the full experience, you can right-click each one and open it in a new tab, then go on to catch up after you have finished this story.

Not long ago, I found myself in the semitropical metropolis of Houston on a steaming summer afternoon. It was just a flight transfer on the way to Ecuador, but this time there was some trouble in store for those of us on the plane.

The jet was pointing straight down the runway and I was looking forward to a timely departure. But instead of the excellent blast of power followed by liftoff, we just kept idling. And idling. After quite some time, the pilot crackled on to the speakers to inform us all that we had to wait out some thunderstorms. And sure enough, I saw lightning bolts here and there, shooting from a line of clouds off in the distance. The rest of the sky was clear.

This tarmac delay dragged on for two hours. The sun went down. One engine was eventually powered down. My longish limbs were folded politely into a miniature middle seat way back in the cheap section of a United Airlines plane. Stretching whatever body parts I had room to move, I pondered the consequences of this delay. I sent an email to the people I was expecting to meet at the Quito airport to let them know I’d be late. Hopefully not too late.

I really don’t like sitting still for too long, and I’ve already been up for two little walkaround breaks and a wee bit of second breakfast since I started writing this article. But there in that seat, I found myself perfectly content as I had cracked open a can of Stoicism much earlier in the day and been mentally sipping on it ever since.

“This may not be my idea of perfect comfort and convenience”, I reminded myself, “But it is infinitely nicer than starving to death (or being eaten), and indeed it is just a tiny blip in a life of incredible good fortune.

Dude, you are on your way to South America to meet an amazing group of people, an experience you earned by occasionally typing some shit into the computerThis is what you do instead of working now. Can you remind me what you are complaining about as your healthy body sits in a padded chair awaiting the takeoff of this immense flying machine?”

 

Reminding yourself of your blessings is an essential part of any worthwhile life philosophy, and Stoicism is just one of my own personal favorites alongside Buddhism and some of their more modern incarnations.

The flight was eventually canceled and our jet sulked back to the gate to disgorge its unhappy cargo into the terminal building. “We’re sorry folks, but the flight will run tomorrow morning at 7:00 am.” All 200 passengers immediately formed a spectacularly long line at the service desk, perhaps to request flight rebooking or a credit towards overnight accommodation.

I watched the line for a short while and noticed that it took almost a minute to process each person. A quick back of the napkin calculation told me that this could be a 3-hour wait, and it was already 10:00 in the evening. Besides the fact that I don’t do lineups, I had been up since five that morning and knew that the chance for a night’s sleep was rapidly eroding.

Luckily, technology and psychology were there to save the day. Since I had a Republic Wireless smartphone with an unlimited data plan in my pocket (no good wi-fi in Houston), I was able to confirm booking on the next morning’s flight, making that immense lineup completely optional.  Then I used the phone to find the nearest hotel, a Mariott Courtyard just a few miles away. At $115 per night, it was a bit of an unplanned expense. But thanks to the Gift of Not Worrying about Money, I paid it with glee, thankful that I had the luxury of purchasing a bit more sleep when it was most needed. Besides, everything about this trip would be fully tax deductible, thanks to the Joy of Self Employment. I headed out to find some transportation.

Bypassing the gigantic lineup at the taxi stand, I fired up the Uber application on my phone and called for a driver (I have amassed a surplus of free ride credits so all my trips are free). Since modern transportation options aren’t allowed in the taxi pickup area, I had to sprint a fair distance through the evening heat with my heavy backpack and hop over a few hedges to get to a suitable meeting point. It was sweaty work, but I viewed it as an ideal caveman workout, Mark’s Daily Apple Style. Instead of cursing the humidity, I viewed it as a positive opportunity to work on heat tolerance, which is the world’s most efficient air conditioner.

The Uber driver and I had a great conversation during our short time together and exchanged life stories and 5-star ratings. Stepping at last into the air conditioned hotel lobby to pick up my room card, I suddenly remembered that I had not eaten since lunch and there would be no chance for a real meal until arrival in Ecuador the next afternoon.

Again the solution materialized: I always travel with a big Ziploc of raw almonds (since I know the world is not my personal buffet), and there were still a few small handfuls remaining. While this would not be enough food to sustain a man for the next 15 hours, the situation would be considered exceptionally easy when judged by the standards of fasting.

Of all the badass concepts I have come across in recent years, fasting is one of the best. You simply shut your mouth and relish the feeling of mild (or strong) hunger instead of complaining about it. Suddenly, you can travel the world and do almost anything without the standard rich-world obsession of planning your next meal. Because if you lift up your shirt and inspect the area just above the belt, you’ll see that the next several meals are already pre-installed. The physiological and mental benefits of this are profoundly good. And as it goes for eating, so it goes for gorging upon modern luxuries of any type.

By the next morning, this eerie but educational vortex of hardship over Houston had cleared, and we took off into the clear sky without a hitch. Life since then has continued to be abundant yet inexpensive. Not because of superlative effort or any sort of smarts, but rather just because prioritizing experience and challenge over convenience and consumption is a natural human behavior if you let it develop.

A wealthy lifestyle is really built on rich habits. And it doesn’t take much of this change in attitude, to completely change your life.

by Mr. Money Mustache at September 22, 2014 06:30 PM

John C. Wright's JournalJohn C. Wright's Journal

A Cover Update

An announcement from my publisher:

A cover update

We had a bit more trouble getting John C. Wright’s latest masterpiece out the door than usual due to the cover artist being temporarily knocked out of commission. Since the book was already late, JartStar stepped in and colorized the low-res greyscale comp that we had, which was why the initial cover was not quite up to our usual standard. Fortunately, the artist is back up to speed and last week he sent us the final image, which has now been incorporated into the ebooks on both the Castalia store and Amazon. If you wish to update your ebook accordingly, I believe Amazon does it automatically if your Kindle is set to permit it, while if you have purchased ONE BRIGHT STAR TO GUIDE THEM from the Castalia store, you already have the ability to download it again via the original download link provided. If, for some reason, it doesn’t work, email me from the same email you used to purchase it and I’ll send it to you.

ONE BRIGHT STAR TO GUIDE THEM has been getting some excellent reviews, such as this one:

Mr. Wright takes us on the most bizarre of hero’s quests: the one that takes place AFTER the quest, and that takes place in the “real world.” In so doing, he brings back a bit of the magic of Narnia and – much like Lewis’ Chronicles were a parable to point the young reader to Jesus – One Bright Star reminds us that there is hope when youth has faded, innocence lost, and the black-and-white morality of a child seems but a memory. There is hope that a man can find “childlike faith” and find again the magic and joy of belief. That restoration of faith and hope is why I marked the book 5 stars; because it took me back to my First Love and reminded me of that otherworldly joy I felt when reading Lewis’ timeless novels.

Another reviewer added:

Simply enchantingly beautiful. It is rare praise to give to a novel these days, but, Mister Wright’s One Bright Star to Guide Them deserves this praise. I would highly recommend anyone take it up and read. It is simple because everything in the story is straightforwardly told with a wealth lying behind each paragraph. It is beautiful because it is true. The character, their actions, and their reasons all strike the reader as what those character truly would do or say. One Bright Star to Guide Them is, at its heart, a story of good and evil and the consequences of accepting each.

But let’s not forget about his excellent CITY BEYOND TIME either:

John C. Wright at his mind-twisting best. Excellent. Gripping, well-told story that build slowly to a pretty cool payoff. Highly recommended.

If you haven’t kept up with our new releases, I recommend that you do so now, because the good news is that we expect to publish one more new work by the SF grandmaster before the end of the year.

We are also on schedule to publish RIDING THE RED HORSE, the new MIL-SF anthology series with contributions from Eric S. Raymond, William S. Lind, Tom Kratman, Christopher G. Nuttall, Chris Kennedy, and Steve Rzasa & Vox Day, among others, in November.

The new work to which my publisher refers is SOMEWHITHER, an novel I have been working on, off and on, for some years now. It is a sidewise-in-time story that is sideways to all other sideway-in-time stories. Think of an as an alternate take on alternate history.

by John C Wright at September 22, 2014 06:08 PM

Responsive.org

Company Culture Affects Productivity Affects Customers

If the culture is negative or cynical, you’re going to lose employees–and then you’re going to lose customers.

It really is this simple. But we all need reminders sometimes.

by Kate Jenkins at September 22, 2014 06:00 PM

Inconsolation

gomoku: Average on all counts

I am guilty of assuming gomoku, out of bsd-games, was a digital rendition of the classic go game, but that might be just because I saw the name, and saw the board, and saw two teams of black and white.

2014-09-22-6m47421-gomoku

I wasn’t far off the mark since it’s apparently an adaptation of a cousin of go, entitled (believe it or not) gomoku. :roll:

This was a first for me with gomoku, although I have played some other counter-placing games in other cultures that followed similar rules. If you know connect-five or perhaps even Reversi, gomoku should be a piece of cake: In short, get five in a row in any direction, and you win the game.

Placement is via grid keys, and gomoku accepts only coordinates that match its array. You also have the option to quit by entering “quit” or “resign,” and to save your game with “save.”

gomoku allows for hotseat user-versus-user play, or perhaps more interestingly, computer-versus-computer games. I will say that running a computer-only game slowed down this machine sharply, so be prepared to throw some considerable processor power at gomoku’s solitary efforts. Unless you’re into weeks-long epic battles of gomoku algorithms, that is. :roll:

The man page for gomoku is dated 1994, but I suppose it’s possible that gomoku’s history — the program, that is — stretches back even further. In that case, I can only wonder how this software handled battling itself on ancient machines. :|

As one note of something I didn’t check: gomoku supposedly has a background mode, where it will accept simple commands — “black K10″ and so forth — and reply with countermoves. If you’re clever, it might be possible to rig gomoku as the silent partner to an external program, that displays a game board based on gomoku’s replies.

I give gomoku average marks in almost every category. It’s graphical, but not color. It’s speedy, but not after around 10 or 12 moves. It’s a simple game, but lacks some assistance getting started. All in all, there are more entertaining options for the command line, but I won’t throw out gomoku just yet. ;)


Tagged: game

by K.Mandla at September 22, 2014 05:45 PM

The Outlaw Way

140923

WL

1) 5X1 Clean from blocks (just above knee) – 80% of max

2) 5X1 Jerk from blocks – 80% of max

3) 3X5 Touch & Go Cleans (full) – 75% of 5rm

Strength

1a) 3×8 Strict Pull-ups – rest 2:00

1b) 3×8 Strict HSPU – rest 2:00

The post 140923 appeared first on The Outlaw Way.

by J Mart at September 22, 2014 05:41 PM

The Urbanophile

Diverging Fortunes

This weekend’s New York Times Magazine had a story on Portland that featured Yours Truly. I recapitulated a few observations I’ve had over the years, including that it’s truly remarkable how a small city like Portland has captured so many people’s imagination, and also that “people move to Portland to move to Portland.”

A Portland writer named Steve Duin appears to have had an aneurysm over the piece and, among other things, criticized my statement about why people move to Portland, saying:

She quotes Aaron Renn, an urban-affairs analyst, who insists that while Los Angeles attracts starlets and New York the financiers, “People move to Portland to move to Portland,” as if the city is a space between Pacific Avenue and Park Place on the Monopoly board, not a vibrant, creative, accessible and accommodating urban scene.

Which only proves that he completely missed the point. All I’m saying is what he’s saying in different words, namely that people move to Portland for its lifestyle and amenities. This is exactly what every Portland booster claims, namely that what they’ve created is attractional. I’m simply pointing out the obvious: people move to Portland primarily for lifestyle and leisure, not career or economic reasons. People move to Portland because they want to live there.

Portland’s economy has actually picked up of late. Its unemployment fell below the national average in 2013 after having been above it for 14 straight years. But I want to highlight a disconnect between a couple measures of economic performance.

I’ve written many times that Portland has done very well in terms of per capita GDP. In fact, from 2001 to 2013 (the maximum range of data available from the feds), Portland was #1 out of all 52 large metros in the US in its percentage increase in real per capita GDP.

On the other hand, looking at how much of that economic value ends up in people’s pockets tells a different story. From 2001 to 2012 (I don’t think 2013 has been released yet), Portland only ranked 40th out of 52 in its percentage increase on this metric. Portland declined from a per capita income of 104.9% of the US average in 2001 to 98.6% in 2012.

I threw this divergence into a quick chart:

portland-gdp-vs-persinc

It would be interesting to dig into these numbers. I would particularly be interested in seeing where the GDP growth is coming from, as unlike say San Jose, there’s no obvious driver I see.

Update 9/23/14: I did a quick back of the envelop calculation of total GDP growth by industry. Only a few industry totals are available, but the biggest gainer was Manufacturing, up 300%. Education, Health, and Social Assistance were #2, followed by Professional and Business Services. Natural Resources, Retail. Information, and FIRE were at the bottom.

Speaking of San Jose, I see an even more remarkable divergence there. It was #2 in per capita GDP growth over the 2001-2013 time frame. Looking at the overall Bay Area total real GDP, it increased by 30.1% from 2001 to 2013. Keep in mind I’m using the inflation adjusted figured here, so there’s no inflation in that metric. But at the same time the Bay Area lost 2.4% of its jobs.

The Bay Area grew its economy by almost a third while shedding over 75,000 jobs. Pretty remarkable.


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 September 22, 2014 05:30 PM

The Art of Non-Conformity

“Your Time to Build for the Future Before the World Descends On You”

I’m not very good at all the things you’re supposed to do to be more productive. I check email first thing in the morning and then continually throughout the day. I jump from task to task and I read the news five times a day.

But I do try to be outcome-focused, and I appreciated this perspective from Tyler Cowen, a professor of economics who’s been blogging daily for a decade while also writing books, teaching students, traveling the world, and eating good food:

“There is always time to do more. Most people, even the productive, have a day that is at least forty percent slack.

Do the most important things first in the day and don’t let anybody stop you.

Estimate “most important” using a zero discount rate. Don’t make exceptions. The hours from 7 to 12 are your time to build for the future before the world descends on you.”

That last line is so great. Are you building for the future?

Link: Do I wish To Revise My Time Management Tips?

###

by Chris Guillebeau at September 22, 2014 04:39 PM

Feed: stratechery by Ben Thompson

Don’t Blame Uber

At the risk of painting too broad a stroke, it seems to me that much of the opposition to changes wrought by the Internet undervalue the positive impact said changes have on normal people. For example, people despair over newspapers closing without appreciating the explosion in quality content freely available to anyone anywhere in the world, the net result of which means those who choose to be can be far more informed about far more things than just a few years ago. Others gripe about Facebook’s frivolity or it and Google’s collection of data without acknowledging that both have fundamentally changed how we relate to both those we know as well as anything we wish to know. Probably the most charged group of companies, though, are those which most closely touch the real world: the “sharing” companies. And, of those, none is more controversial than Uber.

The benefit of Uber for consumers is really quite remarkable. Everything about an Uber experience is superior to the taxis it is obsoleting: it is easier to get an Uber, it is more pleasant to ride in it, it is easier to pay. In places with heavy coverage it is possible to not use a personal car for days at a time or to completely go without, with all of the financial and environmental advantages such a decision entails. And so, my position, at least to start, is to presume that the existence of such a service is a good thing.

Critiques of Uber, particularly from the left, rather stridently disagree; consider this piece by Avi Asher-Schapiro from Jacobin:

Uber is part of a new wave of corporations that make up what’s called the “sharing economy.” The premise is seductive in its simplicity: people have skills, and costumers want services. Silicon Valley plays matchmaker, churning out apps that pair workers with work. Now, anyone can rent out an apartment with AirBnB, become a cabbie through Uber, or clean houses using Homejoy.

But under the guise of innovation and progress, companies are stripping away worker protections, pushing down wages, and flouting government regulations. At its core, the sharing economy is a scheme to shift risk from companies to workers, discourage labor organizing, and ensure that capitalists can reap huge profits with low fixed costs.

There’s nothing innovative or new about this business model. Uber is just capitalism, in its most naked form.

First off, as I noted at the beginning, I’m put off by the lack of acknowledgment of the very real benefit Uber is providing to people who use their service; while I quoted only the conclusion, actual consumers were not mentioned once in the article. The reason this matters for Uber in particular is that if Uber were to actually hire all of its drivers as I presume Asher-Schapiro would prefer (and something Kevin Roose warned the IRS might make happen) the impact on consumers would be significant:

  • Because Uber’s cost per driver would increase significantly, the geographic reach of Uber would be dramatically curtailed
  • Because Uber would not have the flexibility of drawing more drivers onto the roads through surge pricing, availability during peak demand would likely suffer
  • Were Uber to hire drivers as Uber employees, they could also restrict said employees from driving for any other car service; this would actually increase the advantages Uber gains from being reportedly 12 times bigger than its nearest competitor, Lyft, which would ultimately reduce competition and result in higher prices

Moreover, what exactly would drivers gain from being employed by Uber? Clarity on insurance and liability is a big one, and I absolutely think that Uber should be more proactive here, particularly since their scale should give them an opportunity to demand better rates. The bigger gain though – and the biggest reason for Uber not to straight-up hire their drivers – are benefits, particularly health insurance. As Roose notes in his piece:

For start-ups trying to make it in a competitive tech industry, the benefit of opting for 1099 contractors over W-2 wage-earners is obvious. Doing so lowers your costs dramatically, since you only have to pay contract workers for the time they spend providing services, and not for their lunch breaks, commutes, and vacation time. Contract workers aren’t eligible for health benefits, unemployment insurance, worker’s compensation, or retirement plans.

This is the biggest hangup for me in the Uber spin that they are, as the Uber blog put it, enabling entrepreneurship:

Drivers around the world are seizing Uber’s economic opportunity by building small businesses for community needs long forgotten by the taxi industry: high quality, safe, reliable and affordable transportation options. At its current rate, the Uber platform is generating 20,000 new driver jobs every month. UberX driver partners are small business entrepreneurs demonstrating across the country that being a driver is sustainable and profitable…Our powerful technology platform delivers turnkey entrepreneurship to drivers across the country and around the world.

Entrepreneurship is nice and all – I’m obviously a fan – but the truth is it is a risky proposition in the United States. Estimates for the cost of health care for a family of four range from $16,000 to $22,000, and medical bankruptcy accounts for the majority of personal bankruptcies. If these numbers are shocking to you, it’s likely because your employer is paying the lion’s share of your costs; the cost of such payments is a significant factor in income staganation, particularly in the lower to middle classes. The real world implication of having employers provide health care is even more pernicious though: it dramatically increases the stakes when it comes to entrepreneurship, Uber-style or more traditional.1

This is the chief reason why I am so frustrated by the left-wing attacks on Uber. Beyond the lack of regard for consumers, the truth is the venom is misplaced: it’s not that Uber is bad for not hiring workers and giving them attendant benefits, it’s that said benefits shouldn’t be Uber’s – or any employer’s – responsibility at all. It’s employer-based health care that is the problem, and in ways that go beyond the economic benefits of universal health care (the most obvious of which is the broadest possible risk pool, not to mention unmatched buying power). It’s that people are afraid to leave or lose their jobs because they lack the most basic of safety nets.

This is quite personal for me; one of the chief reasons I took the risk of launching Stratechery is that my family lives in Taiwan, home of one of the best health care systems in the world. As someone who is self-employed I pay my fair share, but in return I could take a chance on this site knowing that while I might fail (I haven’t), I at least would not endanger or bankrupt my family in the process. I wish this opportunity on everyone.

And, as for those Uber drivers, the truth is they are Uber’s weak point (members-only); they recently forced Uber to change its policies in New York – how much more might they accomplish if they had the sort of safety net afforded to citizens of every other developed country? Imagine that: the freedom to leave a job you didn’t like because you knew that at least your family would have its most basic needs met. That’s what alleged advocates like Asher-Schapiro should be focused on.

As an addendum, I find it frankly bizarre that I write this article concerned about being characterized as both a right-wing fanatic (It’s not Uber’s problem!) as well as a left-wing socialist (Go universal health care!). And, to be honest, I’d be lying if I said I weren’t concerned about making some of my paying customers unhappy. Politics are fraught like that. But it seems like this issue in particular is one in which alleged right-wingers like Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and left-wingers like Asher-Schapiro could find common ground.

Moreover, I believe that Silicon Valley broadly should make the adoption of a social safety net one of their top political priorities. I do believe that services like Uber and technologies like automation will ultimately progress humanity, but as someone who grew up in the Midwest I know personally the wrenching cost this progress can exact. The political and regulatory challenges that Uber is facing are only the beginning for Silicon Valley, and if we as an industry are not proactive in ensuring that everyone benefits from progress then we will have only ourselves to blame for the inevitable backlash.

  1. Obamacare has, in my opinion, improved the situation, but seeing as how it still relies on employer-based health care it’s not nearly as friendly to entrepreneurship as true universal health care would be

The post Don’t Blame Uber appeared first on stratechery by Ben Thompson.

by Ben Thompson at September 22, 2014 04:30 PM

Responsive.org

Don’t Let Divergence Interfere with Your Purpose

So what can we learn? RadioShack suffered from poor, often overpaid, leadership, which could not focus on a single plan and then was left grasping for a rescue strategy.

We can see echoes of this in the current mad dash by the Silicon Valley giants to become conglomerates. Google, Facebook and others also fear that their original mission will become obsolete and so they are buying anything new for billions of dollars to avoid a fate like RadioShack’s.

But perhaps the tech giants are missing one thing from the RadioShack story. RadioShack tried many paths. But going in all directions without a full commitment is not enough, particularly when the core brand is not sustained. RadioShack has branded itself well but it led itself too far from its strengths.

This is a great read on what went wrong with RadioShack, and all the missed opportunities to make it big. As the author argues, RadioShack tried to be too many things at once, throwing itself in all kinds of different directions.

Now, we’re all for testing hypotheses and encouraging divergence, but the thing about that kind of experimentation is that at the end of the day, you have to be willing to commit to the option that works for your company. RadioShack’s misstep was that it lost sight of its purpose — and so did its customers. What is RadioShack? To be honest, I’m not even sure. A battery store? Wait, doesn’t it sell those remote control cars?

It’s too late for RadioShack, but it doesn’t have to be for your company. Really honing your identity and purpose — again and again, as the world changes around you — is what will save your brand.

by Kate Jenkins at September 22, 2014 02:00 PM

One Big Fluke

512 Pixels

Apple sells 10 million iPhone 6 and 6 Plus units →

Apple PR:

“Sales for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus exceeded our expectations for the launch weekend, and we couldn’t be happier,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “We would like to thank all of our customers for making this our best launch ever, shattering all previous sell-through records by a large margin. While our team managed the manufacturing ramp better than ever before, we could have sold many more iPhones with greater supply and we are working hard to fill orders as quickly as possible.”

Not that we'll ever get it, but I'd be very interested in seeing how the sales split up between the two models.

(Also, sometimes Tim Cook's years as COO really shine through, like that bit about manufacturing ramp.)

Permalink

by Stephen Hackett at September 22, 2014 12:57 PM

The Art of Non-Conformity

Lessons from the Journey: Everyone has a calling. Follow your (own) passion

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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: Everyone has a calling. Follow your (own) passion.

Pay attention to the things that excite you and the things that bother you.

In the book I wrote about Jiro Ono, a world-famous sushi chef from Tokyo. In one of my favorite clips from a documentary on his restaurant, he talks about how excited he becomes over a particularly nice tuna.

“When we have a good tuna, I feel great,” he says with a smile. “I feel victorious!”

I laughed out loud when I heard Jiro talking about feeling victorious over a good tuna. But I also got the message: the man loves what he does.

But what if you don’t have a “passion,” or you haven’t yet fallen in love with fish? Instead of thinking about what excites you, try thinking about what bothers you.

Miranda Gibson, a young women from Australia, had a different kind of mission. Hers was rooted in a grave concern for the environment, and when loggers threatened her native Tasmania, she took to the treetops and lived there for an entire year (read the book for the whole story).

Miranda

Your passion or pursuit may not matter to anyone else—in fact, often it doesn’t. If it matters to you, though, don’t ignore it.

###

Other lessons (more to come!):

The Happiness of Pursuit is available from Amazon.com or your favorite local bookseller. You can also join me on tour in your choice of more than 40 cities.

Image: Roger

by Chris Guillebeau at September 22, 2014 12:26 PM

CrossFit Naptown

Bracket Buster this weekend!

Today’s Workout: 

WOD 3
11 Minute Time Cap
Ascending ladder of the following movements:
Wall Balls
Box Jumps
Deadlifts

Starting with 3 reps of each movement and adding 3 reps each round as long as far as you can for 11 minutes. 

The Rep Sequence

Round 1
3 Wall Balls
3 Box Jumps
3 Deadlifts
Round 2
6 Wall Balls
6 Box Jumps
6 Deadlifts
Round 3
9 Wall Balls
9 Box Jumps
9 Deadlifts
Add 3 Reps each round
Continue with 12, 15, 18, 21, 24, 27, 30…. until time expires

Movement Details – Men

Level III (3)
Wall Balls- 20 lbs with a 10 foot target
Box Jumps- 24 inches
Deadlifts- 115 lbs
Level II (2)
Wall Balls- 14 lbs with a 10 foot target
Box Jumps- 20 inches
Deadlifts- 105 lbs
Level I (1)
Med Ball Cleans- 14 lbs
Box Jumps- 16 inches
Deadlifts- 95 lbs

Movement Details – Women

Level III (3)
Wall Balls- 14 lbs with a 9 foot target
Box Jumps- 20 inches
Deadlifts- 75 lbs
Level II (2)
Wall Balls- 10 lbs with a 9 foot target
Box Jumps- 16 inches
Deadlifts- 65 lbs
Level I (1)
Med Ball Cleans- 10 lbs
Box Jumps- 12 inches
Deadlifts- 55 lbs

*Movement Standards are listed below the article.

 

The Gym will be closed on September 27th and 28th due to the 3rd annual CrossFit NapTown Bracket Buster competition.

Are you still not sure what The Bracket Buster is? It is an annual competition held here at CrossFit NapTown. It puts 2 men and 2 women together to compete in a bracket style tournament. All day Saturday, September 27th over 30 teams will fight to get seeded into the Sunday bracket. 8 teams will compete in the Advanced Division and 22 teams will compete in the Beginner/Intermediate Division.

The Bracket Buster started in 2012 as a way to allow people to compete who never thought they could. The foundations of the event are still in place in the beginner division. Every WOD on Saturday and the first few on Sunday are scaled to meet every CrossFit Level.

Our goal was and still is to allow people the chance to have some fun with their friends and family in a competition and not feel the pressure that some other events may put on them. The efforts that we have seen in the last two years have been incredible and inspiring. Feel free to come watch and cheer on fellow NapTown’ers and other CrossFit athletes from around the area as the vie to stay on top of the bracket and come out as the 2014 Bracket Buster Champion.

The event registration is closed, but we are still accepting volunteers and judges. Please email Rachel@crossfitnaptown.com if you wan to help with the fun. You can volunteer for a half day Saturday or Sunday or a full day, or both days. Either way, we look forward to having you here next weekend cheering on over 120 athletes from all around the area.

 

sled

Lurong WOD 3 Movement Standards

Wall Balls
In the wall ball, the medicine ball must be taken from the bottom of a squat, hip crease below the top of the knee, and thrown to hit the specified target. The center of the ball must hit the target at or above the specified target height. If the ball hits low or does not hit the wall, it is a no rep. Using an additional ball, box or other object to check for proper depth is not allowed. If the ball is not caught between reps, it must come to a full stop on the ground. Bouncing the ball off the floor is not permitted. The men’s target is at 10 feet and the women’s is 9 feet.
Box Jumps
The movement starts with the athlete standing upright. The hips and knees must open fully while in control on top of the box. Step ups and/or step downs are permitted for all levels. When jumping up the athlete must take off and land on the box with both feet. Use boxes, bumper plates, or other stable materials to achieve correct box height.
Deadlifts
This is a traditional Deadlift with the hands outside the knees. Sumo-Deadlifts are not allowed. Starting at the floor, the barbell is lifted until hips and knees reach full extension with the shoulders behind the bar. The arms must be straight throughout. The Athlete may drop the barbell from the top of the lift, but the bar must be a rest before starting the next rep. Bouncing of the barbell will not be permitted.

by Peter at September 22, 2014 12:06 PM

Justin Taylor

Mike Cosper: A Novel Every Christian Should Consider Reading

cosperI am doing a blog series on Novels Every Christian Should Consider Reading.

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 co-author of Faithmapping and the author of Rhythms of Grace: How the Church’s Worship Tells the Story of the Gospel. His latest book is The Stories We Tell: How TV and Movies Long for and Echo the Truth (foreword by Tim Keller).


Yiddish“My homeland is my hat.”—Meyer Landsman, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union

Author Michael Chabon was wandering a bookstore when he came across a book called Say It in Yiddish. It was a phrase book for travelers who might find themselves needing directions, a meal, or (the book seriously provides this) a tourniquet. It struck Chabon as deeply nostalgic and tragic. “Where,” Chabon wondered, “would be the most fabulous kingdom you could have taken this phrase book to, if the Holocaust hadn’t happened?” In a post-WW2 world, the idea of a Yiddish-speaking community seemed both sad and magical.

What emerged from this question was The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, a Hugo-Award winning novel that weaves together a Noir-style detective story, a wholesale reimagination of 20th-century global politics, and Chabon’s own voice, which is it once funny and provocative. What if, Chabon supposes, the United States had opened Sitka, Alaska, as a temporary refuge for European Jews fleeing Hitler, and what if the fledgling state of Israel had been conquered in 1948? The resulting world weaves together American, European-Jewish, and Tlingit Alaskan Native cultures, a world that is at once culturally rich and sad.

The story picks up 60 years after the refuge’s establishment, when the land is about to revert to U.S. rule. On page one, we’re introduced to Meyer Landsman, an embattled, alcoholic detective, and the dead body of Mendel Shpilmen, the son of a well-respected rebbe, who also happens to be something of a crime boss in the region. Both are presently occupying the same flea-bag motel, and Landsman feels a strong empathy for the dead young man, who was once a figure of promise and intrigue in Sitka.

The pressure is on for the Jewish police department to close their cases, pack their bags, and get out of the way for the Americans who are taking over, which adds a hurry-up factor to Landsman’s investigation. Further complicating things is the fact that Landsman’s boss at the soon-to-be-defunct department is his ex-wife, and relations between them remain a mix of bitterness and longing.

What Chabon does with this odd mix of ingredients is both thrilling and heartbreaking. The tone of his writing is, in many ways, a Raymond Chandler-style hard-nosed detective story, but the spiritual and political backdrop of the story serves to heighten the tensions and further illuminate the characters at the foreground. Landsman has no homeland, no family, and no ties to the world he inhabits. He travels amongst Sitka’s citizens—most of whom are far more faithful, ambitious, and serious than he—trying to both solve the crime and untangle the mess of his own life.

The dead man’s story reveals a broad sense of homesickness and exile in Sitka’s Jewish community, and paints a startling picture of messianic longing. Redemption, for many of the Sitka exiles, seems only possible through violence, and I found Chabon’s story illuminating (albeit in an odd, sideways kind of way) of the longing that must have occupied a large part of the hearts of the authors of the New Testament. And like that (truer, better) story, the redemption that Landsman finds is much more simple, sad, and surprising than anyone could have dreamed on their own.

by Justin Taylor at September 22, 2014 12:00 PM

sacha chua :: living an awesome life

Index cards

I’ve been drawing more on index cards than in sketchbooks lately. I keep a stack of index cards on my bedside table, and I have a few more in my belt bag. Index cards are great because they really can contain only one thought, so they’re not at all intimidating to start. I know I’ll finish the card. Index cards are also sturdier than the small notepad I carry around, and since I’m not tearing off pages, I don’t have to worry about fiddly little paper bits. Compared to index cards, a 8.5×11″ sheet feels like such a generous expanse. Although the extra space of a sketchbook lets me get deeper into a topic, it also sometimes results in half-drawn pages when I’m distracted by another thought or something that I need to do.

2014-09-10 Index cards

2014-09-10 Index cards

So maybe that suggests a new workflow for developing ideas. I can start by brainstorming topics on an index card. Then I can pick some ideas to flesh out into index cards of their own, and from there, to sketchbook pages. Blog posts can explain one sketch or collect several sketches, and they can link to previous posts as well.

2014-09-10 Possible workflow for developing ideas

2014-09-10 Possible workflow for developing ideas

This should help me think in bigger chunks

The post Index cards appeared first on sacha chua :: living an awesome life.

by Sacha Chua at September 22, 2014 12:00 PM

Crossway Blog

Christ in All of Scripture – Proverbs 29:23

Proverbs 29:23

"One's pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor."


Humility. The surprise of God’s wisdom is that it outfoxes our own intuitive formulas for success. Pride feels smart, but is foolish (Prov. 26:12). Inevitably, pride goes before a fall (Prov. 16:18). “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death” (Prov. 14:12; 16:25). This is so because in selfishness and impatience our pride overreaches. Pride even hastens judgment, because it scorns the saving Word of God (Prov. 13:13). By contrast, “he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor” (Prov. 29:23). The lowly might be highly talented people, but they are teachable before the Lord (Prov. 15:31–33).

This theme of humility-before-honor opens up the heart of the gospel. Jesus himself walked this path—first the cross, then the crown—and now he is giving us the privilege of following him there (1 Pet. 1:10–11; 4:12–13). Sometimes, when we are bearing the cross of humility, it can be heavy. That is when we can remember that the glorious crown of honor is coming to us just as surely as it came to Jesus himself.

One of the practical ways we can walk in humility together is to confess our sins to one another: “Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy” (Prov. 28:13; cf. James 5:16). Rather than save face, we can humbly own up to our sins, because God has justified us by his grace as a gift (Rom. 3:24). The curse of the law’s condemnation fell not on us but on Christ at the cross (Gal. 3:13). We are now free to be honest with God, and with one another, about our real problems. When we walk humbly together in this gospel light, we experience renewed fellowship and fresh cleansing (1 John 1:7). Truly, we will “obtain mercy.”


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 GospelTransformationBible.org.

 

by Lizzy Jeffers at September 22, 2014 12:00 PM

The Outlaw Way

140922

BBG

5X1 Snatch from blocks (just above knee) @ 80% of max from blocks – rest as needed

BB Cycling

3×5 Touch & Go Snatches (full) @ 75% of 5rm – rest 90 sec.

Strength

1a) 3X60 second Weighted Plank Hold (plate on back) – heaviest possible, rest 90 sec.

1b) 3×8 Weighted Back extensions. Heavy, but perfect

The post 140922 appeared first on The Outlaw Way.

by J Mart at September 22, 2014 10:19 AM

Responsive.org

Yes, These Facebook and Twitter Changes Will Affect Your Business

The news feed will begin factoring in trending topics, ranking posts with relevant news stories higher. A small test found such a change resulted in 6% more engagement, measured by the number of shares, comments, likes, or clicks.

In addition, the company will take into account when people engage with a post (e.g., if a post is popular shortly after publishing but not after several hours). Using that as a signal, it will prioritize timely posts higher up in the beginning and push them down in the feed later on. This signal will also help Facebook decide when to resurface older popular stories that people might not have seen the first time around.

Take note, online marketers. Recent changes in Facebook and Twitter algorithms will have important effects on the success of your social media work. Twitter will now operate a bit more like Facebook, in that tweets don’t show up simply in chronological order, but are determined by factors like popularity of the tweet. Facebook has also announced that posts related to trending news are going to be displayed more prominently on people’s news feeds.

So what does this mean for you? It means that whenever possible, you’ll want to be sure that what you’re posting is timely and, if at all possible, related to trending news. That’s always been an important part of media work — to ensure that what you’re putting out into the world is timely and relevant — but now it’s more important than ever. Many companies are choosing to position themselves not just as businesses, but also as thought-leaders with an identity and set of values; for most, this will turn out to be an excellent move, not least of all because it gives the company a perspective from which to participate in national discussions.

by Kate Jenkins at September 22, 2014 09:00 AM

Table Titans

Tales: With Great Power…

News

You know what they say about ultimate power...

I was running a low-ish level 4e D&D game for some friends at my local game shop from my brand new Book of Vile Darkness adventure book. The party was lost in a thick patch of forest and had just stumbled into a clearing, created by something…

Read more

September 22, 2014 07:00 AM

Market Urbanism

Six Shooters and Bullet Trains: High Speed Rail in Texas

California might have some competition in the race for high-speed rail.

Texas Central Railway wants to begin construction on a high-speed line from Dallas to Houston as early as 2017. The current plan is to go from downtown to downtown, with possibly one stop along the way in College Station. An environmental impact assessment is under way and the hope is to be operational by 2021.

The company claims that the price per ticket will be competitive with airfare and that the run will take a mere 90 minutes. To give that some context, current travel time from Houston to Dallas by car is about 3.5 hours according to Google (but closer to 4.5 according to my prior experience).

While there’s a lot to be skeptical about here, the impact of connecting the nation’s 4th and 6th largest urban economies could be significant. If a high-speed line does get built and if it does manage to deliver on its specs (two major “ifs” already), it would be the equivalent of a magic portal…or a stargate…or a warp pipe…or a tesseract…or…well…the point being it would make the two places functionally much closer together, and that’s a big deal.

Cities become economically vibrant through agglomeration. Bringing people closer together lowers search costs for both employers and employees. It also increases the likelihood of “creative collisions”. What high-speed rail could do is combine the benefits of agglomeration that each of these two cities already enjoy.

And, as early in the day as it is, there’s already speculation that a line connecting Dallas and Houston would be a precursor to additional lines connecting all four of the state’s pillars of civilization: Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and Austin. The unbridled optimist in me imagines high-speed rail as the embryonic bones of a future mega-city encompassing the entire Texas Triangle.

texas.bullet.train

…but…I’m still skeptical.

Texas Central Railway is backed by private investors. It claims it can pull off the project without resorting to either government subsidies or land development. This means total reliance on fares to cover operational costs as well as recoup capital investment. To my knowledge, no mass transit system in the U.S. covers operational costs on fares, let alone operational and capital costs combined.

That said, it’s a cool project and I’d love to see my home state get a little more diverse in terms of transportation infrastructure, especially if it’s being paid for out of private pockets. And hopefully, if there’s a bait and switch, it’ll turn into a land play rather than politicking for subsidies. Combining transit and land development works pretty well in Hong Kong, so I wouldn’t mind seeing the same approach tried back home.

by Jeff Fong at September 22, 2014 03:21 AM

The Outlaw Way

140922

Static Shaping
3×0:30 30 Degree Handstand Hold
photo 1-2

Skills and Drills
3×8 Feet in Rings MU Drill

3×8 Straight Body Floor Levers

The post 140922 appeared first on The Outlaw Way.

by Kaitlin at September 22, 2014 02:03 AM

The Frailest Thing

What Emerson Knew About Google

As a rule, I don’t think of myself as an Emersonian–rather the opposite, in fact. But while I usually find myself arguing with Emerson as I read him, I find it a profitable argument to join and Emerson’s voice a spirited counterpoint to my own intellectual tendencies. That said, here’s a passage from “Self-Reliance” that jumped out at me today:

“The civilized man has built a coach, but has lost the use of his feet. He is supported on crutches, but lacks so much support of muscle. He has a fine Geneva watch, but he fails of the skill to tell the hour by the sun. A Greenwich nautical almanac he has, and so being sure of the information when he wants it, the man in the street does not know a star in the sky. The solstice he does not observe, the equinox he knows as little; and the whole bright calendar of the year is without a dial in his mind. His note-books impair his memory; his libraries overload his wit; the insurance-office increases the number of accidents; and it may be a question whether machinery does not encumber; [....]“

The Internet, of course, is our almanac.


by Michael Sacasas at September 22, 2014 12:43 AM

September 21, 2014

Caelum Et Terra

Straw for the Fire V

 

012001-rotated

A Return To Normalcy, Sort Of.

Well the baby is home, and he is doing better than I had imagined, toddling around and smiling and being Sam. The main thing that is different is that he gets fussy when it is nearly time for his pain medicine. And then there is the daily ordeal of bathing him and changing his bandages. He goes back for a checkup on Tuesday.

I posted on Facebook after Sam was scalded and updated about how he was doing regularly. I must say that while I am ambivalent about Facebook it was heartening seeing all the people who were praying for him, including a lot of people that I generally do not see eye to eye with on much. Sam had Catholics and Orthodox, Pentecostals and Evangelicals, Witches and astrologers and Buddhists, liberals and conservatives, communists and libertarians, all praying for him.

Even a couple of atheists, though they would not use the word.

It all counts, all good will directed toward a poor baby.

Sam thanks you, one and all.

My Hope

It is my hope that in the next political cycle the biggest issue in state elections will be the need for justly ordered congressional districts. The existing jerrymandered  quilt is a crime against democracy, insuring in many cases an entrenched minority rule. The maps are bizarre, a harlequin jigsaw puzzle of injustice. A simple grid, adjusted only for population, would assure a more representative electorate. Existing township grids in most places could serve as a rough template. But this is one step toward representative government that is long overdue.

The other issue everywhere in local elections should be the militarization of the police. Everyone is sick of bully wannabe commandos, who are in truth, like all bullies, brave only when they possess overwhelming force. Sheriffs and city councils and mayors, which appoint police chiefs, are directly elected, at a level where democracy can really work.

Nationally, the most important thing to be done is to establish momentum to overturn the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, which gave corporations and billionaires incredible power and cloaks their activities in secrecy, as if the deck were not stacked in their favor already.

And I think we need a nonpartisan bumper sticker: DO NOT VOTE FOR MILLIONAIRES.

Weird Economics

I have been thinking how strange it is that erstwhile Christians endorse Capitalism with some enthusiasm, when that system is clearly based upon the love of money, which St Paul said is ‘a root of all evil’. I have never understood how someone can read the Sermon on the Mount and then say that an economic system based upon greed and predation is somehow compatible with the gospel of Christ. It may be compatible with our fallen nature, but that is what Jesus came to heal.

First Principles

Because among the things that have been stripped down to the bare bones essence in recent months has been my understanding of social principles.

The first principle of social justice is the Universal Destination of Goods. That is, ‘the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof’. All things are created for all creatures, loved by God. The earth is rich and fertile and generous. It is a sin against all that is holy that anyone suffer need in this world so full of beauty and abundance.

The primary virtue for a just society is solidarity. We are all in this together, brothers and sisters, children of God.

In other words, I am now a utopian communist.

No, I am not a utopian in the sense of thinking that human nature can be altered by force to make a perfect society. Indeed, I believe that every human endeavor however noble is doomed to unintended negative consequences (I call this ‘The General Principle of Fuckupedness’, or in polite society, ‘Fallenness’, or for short ‘The General Principle’). I am ‘utopian’ in the sense that I begin with Perfection and measure any human effort or theory in that light.

And I am not a ‘communist’ in the sense of identifying with any party or state that claims that name and then attempts to establish a bureaucratic monopoly, in the name of “The People” on the means of production. Let alone one that would oppress or silence or kill anyone.

But it is clear that in the perfect world, what Jesus calls Heaven or ‘the Kingdom’, and for which he gives clear instructions in the Sermon on the Mount and elsewhere, that state of being where Love rules, all would be held in common. The early Church intuited this and tried it. In keeping with The First Principle, it did not go so well, though monasteries, which exist because certain people are born with an urge to live a more perfect life, continue to live with all things in common.

Of course, given The General Principle, this always goes badly, sometimes even at the inception.

So I combine an intuition of the highest good with the utmost pessimism about attaining perfection. Keep the ideal in mind, but do not refrain from what limited good can be attained.

So for expediency’s sake, given the fact of a fallen world, I would settle for a distributist solution, as if that is any more attainable.

Art by Michelle Dick

 


by Daniel Nichols at September 21, 2014 11:47 PM

The Art of Non-Conformity

The Happiness of Pursuit Is a NYT Bestseller! (Because of you!)

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Yep yep, it’s true… because of our great readers, The Happiness of Pursuit debuted at #3 on the New York Times bestseller list this weekend.

I’m so excited! Debuting on the list is harder than ever these days because paperback, hardcover, and ebooks are all combined into “one list to rule them all.” The same non-fiction list includes books about dieting, money, pregnancy, lifestyle, and a wealth of other topics. In other words, it’s a tough crowd to compete against.

But we did it, and I’m grateful. Thank you, everyone!

 

If you haven’t picked up the book yet, you can do so from Amazon or your favorite local bookseller.

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Two Small Requests

1. If you’ve read the book, will you do me a favor and leave a quick review on the Amazon listing page? (Scroll down to where it says “Write a customer review.”)

You don’t have to write a long review … just share a few brief thoughts so that others can see. And of course, you can say anything you’d like.

2. I often say that I get paid in nice emails and blog posts. If you like the book, will you please tell your friends?

Everything we’ve achieved here has always been because of the small army of remarkable people. I’d love to know what you think about the ideas in the book, as well as the general concepts of quests and adventure.

This week I’ll be in Houston, Austin, Naperville (Chicago area), Milwaukee, and Denver.

I hope to see some of you on the road! We’ll also be adding more tour dates very soon.

Thank you again. I’m extremely grateful!

###

Images: Soupatraveler

by Chris Guillebeau at September 21, 2014 11:38 PM

The Outlaw Way

140922

Ok, the time has arrived for some decisions. We have arrived at a point in our program where the time has come for anyone that is interested in competing in the Open, Regionals, etc… this year to go back to following the regular Outlaw Way programming. After this deload week, our Power program will begin an extended template next week that will be built around a long term Deadlift progression. I will post more details about the specifics of the progression tomorrow.

Power

5X1 Snatch from blocks (just above knee) @ 80% of max from blocks – rest as needed

BB Cycling/Midline

1a) 3×5 Touch & Go Snatches (full) @ 75% of 5rm – rest 90 sec.

1b) 3X60 second Weighted Plank Hold (plate on back) – heaviest possible, rest 90 sec.

Conditioning

“Open Workout 14.1″

10 minute AMRAP of:

30 Double-Unders
15 Power Snatches 75/55#

Do Work…

The post 140922 appeared first on The Outlaw Way.

by John Dill at September 21, 2014 11:09 PM

Who-T

Stylus behaviour on Microsoft Surface 3 tablets

Note: The purpose of this post is basically just so we have a link when this comes up in future bugreports.

Some stylus devices have two buttons on the stylus, plus the tip itself which acts as a button. In the kernel, these two are forwarded to userspace as BTN_STYLUS and BTN_STYLUS2. Userspace then usually maps those two into right and middle click, depending on your configuration. The pen itself used BTN_TOOL_PEN when it goes into proximity.

The default stylus that comes with the Wacom Intuos Pro [1] has an eraser on the other side of the pen. If you turn the pen around it goes out of proximity and comes back in as BTN_TOOL_RUBBER. [2] In the wacom X driver we handle this accordingly, through two different devices available via the X Input Extension. For example the GIMP assigns different tools assigned to each device. [3]

In the HID spec there are a couple of different fields (In Range, Tip Switch, Barrel Switch, Eraser and Invert) that matter here. Barrel Switch is the stylus button, In Range and Tip Switch are proximity and "touching the surface". Invert signals which side of the pen points down, and Eraser is triggered when the eraser touches the surface. In Wacom tablets, Invert is always on when the eraser touches because that's how the pens designed.

Microsoft, in its {in}finite wisdom has decided to make the lower button an "eraser" button on its Surface 3 Pen. So what happens now is that once you press the button, In Range goes to zero, then to one in the next event, together with Invert. Eraser comes on once you touch the surface but curiously that also causes Invert to go off. Anyway, that's a low-level detail that will get handled. What matters to users is that on the press of that button, the pen goes virtually out of proximity, comes back in as eraser and then hooray, you can now use it as an eraser tool without having actually moved it. Of course, since the button controls the mode it doesn't actually work as button, you're left with the second button on the stylus only.

Now, the important thing here is: that's the behaviour you get if you have one of these devices. We could work around this in software by detecting the mode button, flipping bits here and there and trying to emulate a stylus button based on the mode switches. But we won't. The overlords have decreed and it's too much effort to hack around the intended behaviour for little gain.

[1] If marketing decides to rename products so that need a statement "Bamboo pen tablets are now Intuos. Intuos5 is now Intuos Pro." then you've probably screwed up.
[2] Isn't it nice to see some proper queen's English for a change? For those of you on the other side of some ocean: eraser.[3] GIMP, rubber tool, I'm not making this up, seriously

by Peter Hutterer (noreply@blogger.com) at September 21, 2014 10:39 PM

The Urbanophile

Indiana Toll Road Lease Vindicated As Win For Hoosiers As Private Operator Goes Bankrupt

The genius of the Indiana Toll Road lease is now on display again as its private operator is declaring bankruptcy. Mitch Daniels once said that it was “the best deal since Manhattan was sold for beads – only this time the natives won.” We now have the proof on display.

I continue to be mystified that people can still claim this was a bad deal for the state (see former Indiana House Minority Leader Pat Bauer and this Shaw Friedman guy). Hello? If the operator is going bankrupt, it’s because they overpaid. The revenue projections they made were so inflated that the tolls couldn’t even cover the debt service. That means Indiana got way, way more than the road was actually worth.

It may well be that you can have various objections to the deal. Maybe the state should have better anticipated some compensation events. Maybe you don’t like some of the projects the proceeds were spent on (there are a few I think are dubious). But just because the deal might fall short of some theoretically perfect ideal that nothing ever achieves doesn’t mean it wasn’t a massive win for the state overall – especially financially.

Those who claim that the state could have better monetized the highway itself beyond stretch credulity. After all, the state never made a material profit on the highway in the 50 years it owned it and it had badly deteriorated in many places. To think that state would have been able to generate more than the private concessionaire paid ($3.9 billion in cash and upgrades) with a revenue stream that has proven manifestly inadequate to even keep the private firm afloat is, shall we say, a bridge too far. (You might be able to try a Laffer Curve type argument, but I’ve never heard anyone actually make it. And if cutting tolls would have optimized revenues, you can believe the private operator would have tried it).

Daniels did once say that the state would retake responsibility for the road back if the vendor declared bankruptcy. He clearly misspoke on that. The state won’t get the road back until the lease expires (though still has and never did lose ownership). But if the bankrupt or restructured entity defaults on its obligations under the lease, the state very much can take it back. So the state is protected. Who care’s who the operating entity is as long as it’s delivering on the contract?

I don’t think that government should try to sign “gotcha” deals with private parties that sends them into bankruptcy. Ideally such deals would be win-win. But given how many terrible deals have been signed with cronies and such out there, it’s good to see one where the public gets a clear win. Cintra and Macquarie are big boys who surely already protected themselves (and have a large portfolio which likely includes some big winners for them). Though a new operator may try, and they’d be crazy not to, there’s no reason for the state to renegotiate on this one.


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 September 21, 2014 10:33 PM

The Outlaw Way

140922

Thanks to Justin, Cass, Jake, Shantai, and the whole SLC crew for providing us a great facility and a great weekend.

IMG_6360.JPG

WOD 140922:

BBG

5X1 Snatch from blocks (just above knee) @ 80% of max from blocks – rest as needed

BB Cycling/Midline

1a) 3×5 Touch & Go Snatches (full) @ 75% of 5rm – rest 90 sec.

1b) 3X60 second Weighted Plank Hold (plate on back) – heaviest possible, rest 90 sec.

Conditioning

“Open Workout 14.1″

10 minute AMRAP of:

30 Double-Unders
15 Power Snatches 75/55#

The post 140922 appeared first on The Outlaw Way.

by rudy.coach at September 21, 2014 10:02 PM

The Art of Non-Conformity

6 Discoveries from Near and Far: Volume XI

SUBjpSWIM6-master1050

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.

  • Not Realistic– Wherever you encounter skeptics, naysayers, and charlatans, you will always encounter this phrase

###

Image: The New York Times

by Chris Guillebeau at September 21, 2014 07:00 PM

Inconsolation

mkfifo: Pipe panjandrum

I’m going to guess that you probably know what a pipe symbol does on most Linux systems — passes the output of one program to a second. It’s what allows you to do things like this

dmesg | grep ATA

and find local hard drives. Or gives me my topics for the day, with

ls vimwiki/ | shuf -n1

mkfifo is part of coreutils, and allows you to name a pipe, and reuse it over and over. It might sound odd, but it works in much the same way as the symbol.

mkfifo pipe

Now I have a file entry called “pipe” in my directory, marked with a “p” in the leftmost column.

kmandla@6m47421: ~$ ls -lha
prw-r--r--  1 kmandla users    0 Sep 21 07:42 pipe

Now I can jam something in that pipe, if I like.

kmandla@6m47421: ~$ ls vimwiki/ > pipe

And … apparently, nothing happens. My terminal is paused, somehow waiting for an action. The suspense is killing me. :roll:

Actually, until something collects the material in that pipe, it will pause there more or less indefinitely. So if I …

kmandla@6m47421: ~$ grep ch < pipe

The whole flood comes out, and we can all relax again. Crisis averted. :|

2014-09-21-6m47421-mkfifo

It might seem rather pointless or irrelevant to name a pipe or even to make note of mkfifo for it. But you’ve already seen the subtlety in action, and maybe just didn’t think about it.

That first terminal emulator was paused, waiting for someone to unblock the pipe. A second terminal received the data and did something with it.

So what? So … not only can you jam a program’s output into a holding area, waiting for a recipient, but that also means you can pass data between terminals with a named pipe. So if you’re waiting for one program to end, you can send the output of another into stasis, until it’s ready.

And you can pass information between different programs running in different terminals, at virtual consoles, in and out of a multiplexer … possibly even between users or across distant machines if you’re clever. It’s not the best way to do those things, but it might work in a pinch. Experiment and see.

I know named pipes are not anything new, but little things like this are the reason I wanted to sift through coreutils again. If you need a better explanation of named pipes, and you don’t mind reaching back almost 20 years, Andy Vaught’s explanation from issue #44 of Linux Journal is a great starting point. Nice to see that things haven’t changed that much since ’97. … ;)


Tagged: data, edit, manage, pipe

by K.Mandla at September 21, 2014 02:00 PM

mange: The program with a delicate name

Every time I find a csv tool of some sort, I end up wishing I had more chances to work with csv files. The first program for today is a great example, even if I have to be careful how I phrase these next few sentences. This is mange:

2014-09-21-6m47421-mange-01 2014-09-21-6m47421-mange-02 2014-09-21-6m47421-mange-03

Before I am hounded by rabid animal rights activists, just let me say I didn’t pick the name. I can’t find any sort of explanation as to why “mange” is the title, unless there are non-English and non-other-languages-I-speak references. If you know, let me in on the secret.

And I’d like to know, because mange is a pretty good program. I don’t come across many csv editors — viewers, yes, and utilities, yes. Even spreadsheets for the console. But now that I think of it, not many editors. Finding mange is a lucky event.

mange works in a straightforward fashion — arrow keys to navigate cells, enter to edit them. mange will stick to an editor mode and fall cell by cell as you edit, which makes data entry much easier.

mange also has the sense enough to display and keep a header row, as you can see in the images above. And it seems to handle terminal width and four-way scrolling without too much effort.

I did see a couple of screen corruption problems, usually when editing a long field on a wide spreadsheet that was pressed up against the rightmost edge. I have a feeling there might be a small tweak to get the screen to refresh properly after editing a cell that stretches over the screen width.

mange has a couple of features I didn’t get to, just because they’re tied to the statistical package r, and the time it would take me to learn to work them together would delay this post until about Thursday. So take it on faith that mange can feed data into r, and generate plots and graphs.

Your best bet for getting started with mange is the man page, where most of the controls and the editing-command-navigation modes are explained. It won’t take long.

I’m sad to see that the last update to mange was around three years ago, which makes me wonder if the list of coming attractions in the README file is ever going to materialize. I guess that remains to be seen. :\


Tagged: csv, editor, graph, spreadsheet, statistics

by K.Mandla at September 21, 2014 01:30 PM

Wedgewords

Citizens of Heaven

Text: Philippians 3:15-4:1

What do you think of when you hear the word citizenship? Is it voting rights, the ability to participate in civic and political activity, or perhaps loyalty in times of war? Perhaps you think of it more along the lines of values and ideals: the American way. In the ancient world there were various understandings of citizenship and different demonstrations and festivals to impart a sense of admiration of one’s city or state. There were those who viewed their citizenship as a mark of honor, virtue, or civilization. They were Roman or Greek rather than a barbarian. Aristotle even thought that the Northern tribes were incapable of civilization. Anyone with red or blond hair, and especially someone with freckles, was thought to be outside the bounds of reason and domestication altogether. You can’t work with those people. Other views of citizenship were more philosophical but they all shared the concept of uniting different people together as one. Citizens were all on the same team, so to speak.

Paul, understanding the importance of this theme, picks up on the idea of citizenship in Philippians, and he applies it to the church. The church, he says, is the gathering place of the citizens of heaven. Heaven was the true homeland, and wherever the Christians might currently find themselves was a sort of outpost or colony. This gave the church a new kind of citizenship ideal. They were to think of themselves as a community of friends with specific concepts of justice and mutual support. In a certain sense they were exactly backwards from the ways of the world, then and now, in that they were people who did not “stand up for their rights” but rather voluntarily relinquished those rights for the good of those around them. This is, again, what Paul calls the mind of Christ, and we can’t understand heavenly citizenship without first understanding the shared mindset that heaven’s citizens must have.

The Mind of Christ Again

Though we are in danger of becoming a broken record, we must again mention that this section of Philippians is still bound up in that foundational teaching of the mind of Christ. The “mind” that Paul continually refers to is that mind, the mind of humility and putting others ahead of themselves. And Paul wants those advanced in the faith to set the example:

Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind. Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. (Philippians 3:15-17)

We see here a subversion of values in that the “mature” or “complete” members of Christ are not so much expected to enjoy seniority and receive the highest honors, but instead are supposed to lead the way in humility. Now, of course, I do think those with seniority in the faith ought to be greatly honored and respected, but their interests and motivations should be selfless. They aren’t anxious to defend their image and authority. Instead they are humbling themselves for others. They are exhibiting the mind of Christ to those who are less mature and learning from them.

The opposite ideal is explained as being self-seeking and earthly:

For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things. (3:18-19)

The mature Christians ought to walk opposite the way of the world. They should not set their mind on earthly things, by which Paul means that their chief motivation ought not to be food, riches, or glory, but instead they should be heavenly minded, thinking of the things of Christ and the way which He left them to follow. To put it simply, you cannot be a friend of the cross of Christ if you are selfish and self-centered. If your first priority is always yourself, then you are an enemy of the cross. Stop worshiping your belly and follow after the opposite example, the mature walk of a Christian.

Heavenly Citizenship

For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself. Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved. (3:20-4:1)

In this transition we can see that the reason, the rationale, for us to seek after maturity is that our citizenship is in heaven. We ought to live and act differently because we are members of another city, another kingdom. The term used here by Paul is πολιτευμα a term typically used for literal civic participation. It was also applied to schools and other bonds of friendship, and it was understood to mean a tight brotherhood or organized group which lived together and behaved in a united way.

In fact, politeuma was a technical concept in the ancient Greek and Roman world which had a rich literary and philosophical history. Plato contributed to it by grounding friendship itself in civilization, “Injustice causes civil war, hatred, and fighting, while justice brings friendship and a sense of common purpose” (Republic Bk. 1). Hence citizenship was, for him, an established and protected friendship with a stated common purpose. This notion of citizenship as friendship became quite popular. The early church historian Eusebius wrote about another group who promoted a similar view, “The school of Epicurus resembles a true commonwealth, altogether free of factionalism, sharing one mind and disposition, of which there were and are and, it appears, will be willing followers” (Eusebius of Caesarea, Preparation for the Gospel 14.5). The ideal Greek philosopher-king was thus not merely a conqueror or bureaucrat but someone in charge of promoting a shared vision of virtue and love.

For their part, the Romans attached this notion of citizenship to empire, namely their own rule over others. A Roman city was a miniature Rome, separated by space but united in spirit. Their cities were the empire by virtue of their colonial status, and their job was to represent and even spread that empire to new areas. The city of Philippi was known for taking priding in its status as a Roman politeuma. It had all the imperial artwork and imagery, and the citizens of Philippi dressed like Romans, spoke like Romans, and even got their hair cut like Romans. Their Roman identity was a big deal.

And so it is interesting to see here in Philippians 3:20 Paul saying that our politeuma is in heaven. He takes this concept which was so valuable to Philippians and applies it to a different capital city, heaven itself, where our Lord is seated on His throne. This is thus then further example that worldly “gains” are to be renounced, but it also shows a positive application as well. You see, a variation of this same word, politeuma, appeared earlier in Philippians 1: “let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ” (1:27). That phrase “let your conduct be worthy” is literally, “live like a citizen.” So Paul is not only saying that Christians should stop taking pride in their earthly cities, but also that they should start living like citizens of the gospel.

3 Interpretations of Heavenly Citizenship

What exactly does it mean to live like a citizen of heaven? There have been several competing interpretations throughout the history of the church. The first understanding is that Christians ought to live radically separate lives, apart from the world. You see this in various degrees over the years, from the early-church monks who went out to live in the wilderness to the later Anabaptists who formed their own communes and established self-sufficient “cities” of a sort. The Amish still do this today. They actually have no moral objection to electricity per se, but they refuse it because it would require them to be dependent on the outside world. They essentially renounce their citizenship in earthly cities and seek to live in their own city.

There are a number of problems with this interpretation, namely that it seems to suggest that instead of working in the world, evangelizing it, and baptizing it into the name of the Trinity, Christians are instead fleeing the world. It seems to flatly contradict what Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 5, “I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world” (vs. 9-10). Paul says that the church should be pure but that it should live in and amidst the world. The New Testaments everywhere teaches us that while we are not to be “of” the world, we are certainly to be “in” it, testifying of Jesus Christ its savior and lord.

A second and equally problematic view is the sort of ecclesiastical supremacy we see in Roman Catholicism and smaller sects of various sorts. These groups identify heavenly citizenship with church membership itself, and they attribute otherwise civic characteristics to the church. In these cases the visible church ends up having to have all sorts of agencies, administrative bodies, and even police and military forces. The leadership of the Roman Catholic church calls itself a “magisterium,” and the pope bears ancient imperial symbols and titles. In the Middle Ages, the papacy literally had an army, and to this day it still has armed guards at the Vatican. A more modern example of this same conception is Mormonism. Throughout the 19th and most of the 20th century, the Mormon church possessed political and civic authority as well as ministerial authority. Church elders effectively ran the cities of smaller towns, and the political power of the LDS church remains substantial.

The problem here is that it essentially turns the church into the state. It makes for a rather worldly “heavenly citizenship,” and it also produces all kinds of pastoral problems and occasions for spiritual abuse. If the person who has jurisdiction over your soul also has political jurisdiction, then you pretty much have to do what he says, vote for who he says to vote for, and obey the laws of his rulings. It is the perfect recipe for legalism. And of course, it isn’t what Paul says in Philippians at all. He does not say that our citizenship is in the church. He says that it is in heaven. And he does not say that the church should take over the world, but rather that we should “eagerly wait for the Savior” to come from heaven to us (Philippians 3:30).

The third option, which we believe to be the correct and truly biblical one, is the one represented first by Augustine and then later by the Protestant Reformers. It says that the heavenly kingdom is heaven itself and that it now exists spiritually, through the Holy Spirit Himself operating in the lives of believers, and that this spiritual kingdom equally affects all Christians through their renewed hearts, minds, and obedience to Christ in all of life, in every calling. All Christians bring the kingdom with them, wherever they go, and they live like citizens of heaven all the while also remaining citizens of earth. We can see that this is indeed what Paul means by a careful reading of the expression as it appears in Philippians.

“Our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” There is an important sense in which the “heaven” in which our citizenship resides is still not fully present. We “wait” for Jesus to come to us from heaven. When this Jesus comes, He “will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself.” Jesus Himself does the transformation, and He transforms our body into His own through His power.

None of this means that we don’t live out our heavenly citizenship on earth. After all, this is not the language of us escaping earth and going to heaven. It is actually predicting that heaven will itself come to earth, just as Revelation illustrates. Earth is, in Roman terms, a colony of its mother-city, the heavenly Zion. We preach the message of a new king, King Jesus, and we proclaim His gospel to this world. Yet we do not take up arms and bring it about by force. We proclaim that Jesus is already Lord and that He is coming to set things right Himself. In the meanwhile, you’d be well-served to listen to His messengers.

Paul’s own conclusion here, his “therefore,” is this: “Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved” (4:1). “Stand fast” means to “persevere.” He’s telling us to keep going with the gospel message and not be distracted or distraught by what happens on this earth along the way. So live you life on this earth in faith. See the invisible kingdom at work, knowing that it is God who does the transforming, conforming, and subduing in His time. You are not walking by sight, but are always immovable in the assurance that Jesus is Lord and that He will hear the cries of His people. He will transform our lowly bodies. We can stand fast now, having the confidence to live a life of humility knowing that Jesus Himself is acting through our faith and obedience. Stand fast in the Lord by continuing to have the mind of Christ and live like citizens of heaven in this life, no matter what comes.

Conclusion

Heavenly citizenship is a sort of citizenship that does not displace nor compete with worldly citizenship per se. While our heavenly citizenship does subvert one sort of civic identity and social ethic, it does not declare a new political empire with the visible church at its vanguard. No, instead this heavenly citizenship is a citizenship which can exist within preexisting civil societies, in the same space and time, transforming them internally through the power of the gospel. Our vision is one of leaven leavening a lump from within, through the power of the gospel.

Indeed, the kingdom of heaven can exist in multiple states and kingdoms at the same time, in the hearts of all believers. And wherever this commonwealth goes, it teaches a new ethic and spiritual disposition. Its citizens behave differently. And they continually point to the future, when their Lord will return from heaven to transform our lowly bodies into His glorious body. We begin living this heavenly citizenship now, even while we anticipate a future coming of the kingdom in a visible and external way, and this heavenly citizenship knits us together as new people with a shared message and an unstoppable mission.


by Steven Wedgeworth at September 21, 2014 01:00 PM

Greg Mankiw's Blog

CrossFit Naptown

Happy Sunday

Come in and make up a missed workout, work on a skill, or work on mobility.

 

Reminder class is cancelled next weekend,.September 27-28.

by Peter at September 21, 2014 04:07 AM

John C. Wright's JournalJohn C. Wright's Journal

Praise for ONE BRIGHT STAR TO GUIDE THEM

Forgive me for repeating a reader’s praise of my work, but if you recall my theory which I recently posted that the proper motive for writing is not fame nor money nor the applause of crowds, but merely to touch the heart of that one reader one might never know who knows what your work really means.

Here is a reader for whom I am happy to have done my work.

You may keep the applause of worlds for more popular books. I am writing for this one, and for anyone willing and able to be for me the one, the only one, for whom I write:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/review/R1OVH7X9F93LMV/ref=cm_cr_pr_rvw_ttl?ASIN=B00N9760GO

Bright Star,” indeed

 

It was very difficult for me to sort through my feelings in reading One Bright Star to Guide Them, for it is a complex book wrapped in a simple premise.

Many of us have read Narnia, watched Star Wars, or heard some other adventure story where the average joe hero is plucked from his simple and boring life to be taken on A Quest, usually taken out of his world (as was the case with Narnia) and thrust into an unknown environment to fight some evil or right some wrong. It’s a tale as old as the first heroic myths.

Ah, but what happens when the Quest ends? Lewis touched on it – very briefly – in The Last Battle. 3 of the 4 children from The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe return to Narnia, but one sister got too wrapped up in the trappings of being “an adult.” She chose to forget. It quite probably was the greatest tragedy of that series. But that’s all we get about the Pevensies’ time after Narnia.

Mr. Wright takes us on the most bizarre of hero’s quests: the one that takes place AFTER the quest, and that takes place in the “real world.” In so doing, he brings back a bit of the magic of Narnia and – much like Lewis’ Chronicles were a parable to point the young reader to Jesus – One Bright Star reminds us that there is hope when youth has faded, innocence lost, and the black-and-white morality of a child seems but a memory. There is hope that a man can find “childlike faith” and find again the magic and joy of belief. That restoration of faith and hope is why I marked the book 5 stars; because it took me back to my First Love and reminded me of that otherworldly joy I felt when reading Lewis’ timeless novels.

ADDED LATER: I seem to have a second ‘one reader’. Here is shining praise indeed from another reviewer:

‘Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know
that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.’
G.K. Chesterton

I will admit to being a John C. Wright fanboy, and that I regard him as the finest prose stylist writing in SF/Fantasy today. With those biases admitted out front, I must say that this is Wright’s best piece of work I’ve yet read. John C. Wright is either taking dictation directly from Elfland, acting as Oberon and Titania’s personal scribe, being visited by the ghosts of Lewis, Tolkien and T. H. White, who whisper stories to him when the moon is full, or he has mastered the children’s fantasy story like no one since Madeline L’Engle, I don’t know which. Instead of his usual baroque filigreed prose, the writing in this story is stripped down, simpler, and yet retains the ability to imply depths and heights without directly glimpsing them. Wright weaves a tale of what happens after the quest is over, that is just as good as a story of the quest itself. For anyone who loves Fantasy, this is a must read. It will transport you to that far green country of your youth, where there was nothing more important on a Saturday afternoon than whether or not Frodo destroyed the ring, or if the Witch was defeated, or the rightful King Crowned.

Mr. Wright is the best in the field and fully deserving of the honorific of grandmaster. Mr Wright, I do not know how you do it, but you have brought us a story from the uttermost West, bathed in the light of the Two Trees.

Thank you.

by John C Wright at September 21, 2014 12:26 AM

September 20, 2014

512 Pixels

How to setup Medical ID with iOS 8's Health app

The new Health app in iOS 8 allows users to track their activity, calories and more. With HealthKit, third-party apps can share data with each other, letting users see a more complete picture of their health.

Past all of this, Health brings something long-needed to iOS: Medical ID.

For the uninitiated, a Medical ID is a tag, bracelet or some other item that contains vital information if the owner is in an accident or unable to respond or communicate. I wear a waterproof one when cycling, and my son wears one sharing critical facts about his situation that an EMT or other medical professional may need to know if no one can communicate to them.

Related to a Medical ID are ICE — "in case of emergency" — contacts. While some people may preface contacts with "ICE" to show that they are the ones who should be called in case of an incident, this system (or any third-party apps that mimic it) isn't accessible if an iPhone is locked.

With iOS 8's Health app, Apple's put this information in a place that can be accessible on a locked iPhone, just two taps away from the PIN code screen:

Adding this information is very simple. If you open the new Health app, and tap last tab at the bottom — named "Medical ID" — information and a headshot can be entered easily and quickly.

The Medical ID screen shows all the information inputted in Health app's Medical ID section, including:

  • Name
  • Photo
  • Birthdate
  • Medical Conditions
  • Medical Notes
  • Allergies & Reactions
  • Medications
  • Emergency contacts
  • Blood type
  • Organ donor status
  • Weight
  • Height

Contacts can be called from this screen, regardless of if the iPhone is locked or not. This means your spouse, parent or sibling can be contacted as long as your iPhone is intact. My wife and I both filled ours out, and as easy as it is, there's no real reason not to do so.

by Stephen Hackett at September 20, 2014 09:45 PM

sacha chua :: living an awesome life

Weekly review: Week ending September 19, 2014

Lots of work getting ready for a big event. =) Surprisingly still managed to get a lot of sleep, at the cost of giving up other discretionary activities. But it’s for a good cause, and it’s temporary anyway.

Blog posts

Sketches

Link round-up

Focus areas and time review

Wow, almost 60 hours of consulting. And lots of sleep, actually – 9.3 hours on average, with a 13-hour stretch on one of those days. Intense thinking makes my brain tired. =) Hardly any discretionary time, but that’s okay; sprint, not marathon. More delivered food than I’ve had the rest of the year, I think. So this is what my schedule looks like when I pare it down to the essentials so that I can focus on work…

  • Business (62.3h – 37%)
    • E1: Prepare for stuff
    • Earn: E1: Big event
    • Earn (57.5h – 92% of Business)
    • Build (3.4h – 5% of Business)
      • Drawing (1.9h)
      • Delegation (0.0h)
      • Packaging (0.1h)
      • Paperwork (1.4h)
    • Connect (1.3h – 2% of Business)
  • Relationships (4.6h – 2%)
  • Discretionary – Productive (2.8h – 1%)
    • Emacs (0.0h – 0% of all)
    • Pay Mastercard
    • Writing (1.3h)
  • Discretionary – Play (1.0h – 0%)
  • Personal routines (20.6h – 12%)
  • Unpaid work (11.3h – 6%)
  • Sleep (65.4h – 38% – average of 9.3 per day)

The post Weekly review: Week ending September 19, 2014 appeared first on sacha chua :: living an awesome life.

by Sacha Chua at September 20, 2014 08:04 PM

Inconsolation

basename: What I had in mind

A while back, when I said I dumped coreutils back into The List because I thought there were still a few useful programs in there, I was thinking mostly of basename. So I’m kind of glad that shuf spat it out today.

I use basename a lot, although I can’t pin down any regular case that you might identify with. Here’s one that comes to mind though: Making sure the index page in my local wiki has all the programs included in the directory.

Occasionally I get sloppy and lose a title, or worse, have a file in the directory that doesn’t have a corresponding link in the index. That’s a problem because I can go months without knowing there’s an additional program in there.

I solve that by periodically dumping all the names of the files into an empty wiki page, and check links manually. vimwiki makes that fairly easy, since one press of the enter key will create a link, and the next will follow it. If the page is blank, it was a missing file, but if the file is there I can check that against my old list.

All this is terribly uninteresting. Let’s get to the good part. I use find to pluck out all the files from within /home/kmandla/vimwiki/ :

find . -type f

find naturally shows a preceding ./ for each file. I could fix that by adding -printf "%f\n" at the end, but vimwiki tacks .wiki on the end of each file, so I’d end up using basename anyway to get rid of that.

Ergo,

find . -type f -exec basename "{}" .wiki \;

In that case, basename trims off the leading path, and then the suffix .wiki from whatever it is given. The next step, which I won’t bother showing, is to dump all that into a separate file.

basename can cut off whatever you like from the end of a file, provided you predict it correctly. It’s a good way to trim file extensions, if you know what they are (if you don’t, you should be thinking about cut).

I have other uses for basename, and I can’t think of them right now. Perhaps in the future I’ll come back and add them on here, just for future reference. :)


Tagged: edit, file, manage, name, text

by K.Mandla at September 20, 2014 06:15 PM

The Art of Non-Conformity

Mini City Guide: Toubacouta, Fatick Region, Senegal, West Africa

I love big cities, and always enjoy returning to Hong Kong, New York, and Sydney—among many others. But what about those unknown gems that are off the beaten tourist path… those obscure places just waiting to be explored by real travelers?

Our “Mini City Guides” are here to uncover those gems, and we’re looking to our favorite explorers—AONC readers—to give us the inside scoop.

Tell us if there’s a city you’d like to nominate. This city was nominated by reader Megan Wannarka.

Which accessibly obscure city would you like to share?

Toubacouta. It’s in the Fatick Region of Senegal, West Africa.



What makes it unique?

Ancient trees, lovely people, great fresh food, and the peace and quiet of being next to the water. This small (6,000 person) resort town sits on the Sine-Saloum delta (where dolphins, sea horses, manatees, and other fish find home or pass through during the season). It’s big enough to find something new every day, and small enough where in a week many people will be calling you by name during your stay.

Toubacouta_DockandBaobob trees

What makes it special to you?

I’ve spent the last two years as a Peace Corps volunteer living 11km from this town. People are different than the rest of Senegal. Quiet, relaxed, with absolute hospitality (teranga, the wolof word for hospitality, is Senegal’s middle name) and because it’s a bit out of the way, it’s never overrun by tourists.

Toubacouta Morning View

What’s the best place to grab a bite to eat or drink?

There are small restaurants that the locals will go to for breakfast, lunch and dinner (Restaurant Pam, Adama Sy’s). Chez Boom has a French-trained chef and offers a seasonal menu with fresh fish, and a selection of wine and beer. The two hotels and handful of campgrounds (Senegalese KOA, one room cabin/hut with simple amenities that is easier on the wallet) also offer great food and beverages.

Where can you kick your feet up with a great cup of coffee?

Here the idea of American style coffee doesn’t exist. Senegalese style cafe touba (think dark and sweet spiced coffee) can be purchased on the street from many vendors. Attaya (a sweet, strong green tea) is usually brewed in the afternoon to evenings while hanging out and talking with friends, and is offered to any friendly face passing by. Be warned—attaya can take a few hours for the three rounds you’re expected to consume, and you might not sleep for a while after drinking it.

For an espresso, hit the Les Palétuviers, a high scale hotel with an amazing view, or Hotel Keur Saloum has brewed coffee every morning.

Toubacouta_HotelKeurSaloum

Are there any festivities that can’t be missed?

Senegalese love parties and to have fun whenever they can. Senegalese wrestling happens from October to May almost every weekend in the area. Make sure to get some attaya, matches start at 10pm and go until 1-2am Thursday, Friday, Saturdays during the season.

What’s the best time to visit?

There is no bad time, just the best time to see what suits your interests or wallet. Birds start migration before the rainy season in May and continue until August making there to nesting grounds. Wrestling and cold season are October through February. The thirty varietals of mangoes and fresh roasted cashews are ready in May and finish in July.

Rainy season typically starts in July and ends in early October. This is when you can sometimes find the best deals, but bring long sleeves and pants to help with mosquitoes and bugs.

Toubacouta_BoysPlaying

What’s the best way to get around town?

From Dakar you will need to take a car (most hotels offer transportation from the airport) and once here most things in town are walking distance away. To travel to larger markets, or to do a lion walk at Fatala reserve, you can easily find public transportation by using a bit of French.

Toubacouta_ToubaMoridMarket

Any other areas around that can’t be missed?

If coming from Dakar or from Gambia’s capital in Banjul, once you’re in this haven, you won’t want to leave. It’s the perfect place to relax, listen and watch the birds, see the brightly dressed locals and have some wonderfully fresh fish. All senses will be awakened here in all good ways.

Toubacouta KeurSaloum

Thanks to Megan for sharing her experience of the peace and tranquility of Toubacouta. More Mini City Guides are on the way!

Panoramic image: Daniel Bobadilla; last image: Sheldon Little; all other images courtesy of Megan.

###

by Chris Guillebeau at September 20, 2014 05:00 PM

512 Pixels

From iPhone to iPhone 6 →

Rene Ritchie has dropped some serious Apple hardware eye candy with these photos.

Permalink

by Stephen Hackett at September 20, 2014 04:56 PM

A history of Apple.com's navigation →

James Dempsey:

The content of the tabs shows an interesting progression as well. The Apple logo, Store, and Support tabs are a common thread throughout with Search appearing surprisingly late in the game in 2007. These unchanging outer items are like bookends around the changing world of Apple over time.

For the first seven years, the inner tabs mainly focused on software (QuickTime, Mac OS X, iTunes) and different incarnations of online services (iReview, iCard, iTools which became .Mac). The first hardware to appear on a tab was iPod, but it had to share a tab with iTunes for almost seven years before getting a tab of its own.

Permalink

by Stephen Hackett at September 20, 2014 04:10 PM

The Art of Non-Conformity

To Express Gratitude, Put the Do-Not-Disturb Sign Back Where It Belongs

4718215678_c19bd90bd8_z

When I check into a hotel room (something I do 100+ times a year), I immediately put the do-not-disturb sign on the door. I don’t want to be bothered while working or napping, and unless it’s a really nice hotel, I don’t care about turndown service.

Over the years I’ve tried to follow a routine when unpacking. The short version is: everything belongs in one or two places. A few things by the bed, a few things in the bathroom, and a few things on the desk. I try not to spread out, because that makes repacking difficult and I’m more inclined to leave something behind.

I don’t clean the room before I depart (one benefit of hotels is that someone else that), but I’ve developed a new ritual. Upon walking out with my bags and heading downstairs for check-out, I take a moment to replace the do-not-disturb sign back on the inside door handle.

This takes a few seconds, because I have my bags in one hand and I’m holding the door with the other. My natural inclination, and what I used to do, was to just take off the sign and drop it on the floor. Much easier.

Leaving it on the floor, however, would leave one extra task for whoever cleans the room. It’s no big deal, I suppose, but I check out of a lot of hotels. The cleaning staff attend to a lot of rooms. Some people are messier than others, and I think it’s an established fact that most housekeepers already work pretty hard.

So I figure if I do this one thing, and do it consciously, then it matters—maybe not to the housekeepers, who wouldn’t know otherwise, but to me. Selfish as I can be, this small action helps me to be mindful of unseen others in my life.

###

Also see: Be Nice to the Cleaners

Image: Quinnaya

by Chris Guillebeau at September 20, 2014 01:05 PM

John C. Wright's JournalJohn C. Wright's Journal

Nachtritter

I am trying to concoct a German sounding name for a group in my next novel.

Nachtnebeldunkelritterbruderchaft.

It is supposed to mean the Brotherhood of the Knights of the Night-dark Mist.

Does it? Anyone here speak German?

Their shorter form is Nachtritter, which I am hoping means Night-rider (or, literally Night-knight)

Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?

 

by John C Wright at September 20, 2014 05:22 AM