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July 23, 2014

Natural Running Center

3 Common Misconceptions About Minimalist Footwear and Running Form

We are happy to share the following essay from my friend and colleague Jeff Gaudette, who is the founder of Runners Connect, which is a team of expert coaches dedicated to helping runners train smarter, stay healthy and run faster.  Jeff is one of the forward thinkers in natural running movement  as well as a [Read more...]

by BillK at July 23, 2014 09:16 AM

Crossway Blog

Deleting Bible Study from Your Mental Checklist

WOWM - Tips and Encouragement

This is a guest post by Lydia Brownback and is part of Women of the Word Month, a free 31-day campaign designed to encourage and equip women for transformative Bible study. Learn more or sign up at

The Checklist

The mental morning checklist—we’ve all got one.

Beds made? Check.
Lunches packed? Check.
Phone charged? Check.

For many of us, that mental rundown includes a daily Bible reading, and checking it off is simply part of a well-organized morning. Yet, while all Bible reading is profitable, there’s something a bit off about placing it on a to-do list—kind of like including “Kiss husband good-bye” or “Drink coffee.”

We don’t need reminders for our cravings—love, affection, caffeine. So where are with this? Do we crave our time in the Word?

Checking Our Motives

We’re not likely to jump eagerly out of bed to get to it if we see it as yet one more goal (“This time, I’m determined to get through that ‘Read-the-Bible-in-a-Year’ plan.”) or as a way to appear spiritual (“Obadiah? Hmm. I’d better dig in and find out before it comes up in conversation.”) or as a means of guaranteeing God’s blessing on the day (“I can’t miss my quiet time. I’ve got a dicey meeting at 2pm that will definitely require divine intervention.”).

But God actually isn’t concerned that you read through the Bible in year. And appearing spiritual is really just pride. And all our blessings come to us through Christ’s righteousness, not what we do. So with those motivations out of the way, what’s the incentive?

It’s this: enjoying a foretaste of heaven.

We get that foretaste when we understand that God’s Word is literally that—his word! He speaks to us through it. In fact, it’s the only way he speaks to us. When we go to Scripture with a listening heart, the Holy Spirit illuminates its truths to our understanding and enables us to know God more fully. On top of that, he will often apply specific passages to something we’re dealing with or bring to light something he wants us to change.

A Two-Way Conversation

So we listen. But it’s a two-way conversation. God delights in our “discussing” Scripture with him. We can tell him what we see there, and we can tell him what we don’t get and ask for deeper understanding. And when we experience one of those ah-ha moments, we can share with him the joy of our discovery.

We can also pray the actual words of Scripture. Consider the Psalms—how many prayers we find there! There are heartfelt cries of sorrow, confusion, fear, joy, exaltation, gratitude, and need. And we’re invited to turn these heartfelt cries into our own personal prayers.

Think also of the prayers of Paul in the New Testament, such as those in Ephesians 1:16–21 and 3:14–19. Have you turned those words into personal petition? Can you? Will you? One thing’s for sure about those prayers: we know the things mentioned in them are God’s will for us because those prayers are part of God’s inspired Word.

The Way to Spiritual Intimacy

We have a relational God, and meeting with him prayerfully in his Word is the way to spiritual intimacy. The more we practice it, the better we’ll know our Lord, and the better we know him, the more of him we’ll want.

Soon we’ll notice that Bible reading is no longer dependent on the morning checklist. We don’t need reminders for what we value most.

Lydia Brownback (MAR, Westminster Theological Seminary) is the author of several books and a speaker at women’s conferences internationally. She has served as director of editorial for Crossway’s Book Division; writer-in-residence for Reverend Alistair Begg; and broadcast media manager for Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals, where she produced The Bible Study Hour radio program with James Montgomery Boice. Some of Lydia’s books include the On-the-Go Devotional series, A Woman’s Wisdom: How the Book of Proverbs Speaks to Everything, and Proverbs: A 12-Week Study.


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by Matt Tully at July 23, 2014 09:00 AM

The Gospel Coalition | Latest Articles

Raise Your Voice for Religious Liberty

This spring, the President announced he would issue an executive order regarding LGBT employment in organizations contracting with the federal government. A number of religious organizations quickly expressed concern. The policy would pose a problem for groups whose conduct standards reflect biblical teaching that reserves sexual relations for the marital union of a man and a woman. As it turns out, even raising a voice to defend religious liberty in the policy discussion would be portrayed as a problem by some.

More than 160 Christian and Jewish leaders, organized by the Institutional Religious Freedom Association (IRFA), signed a June 25 letter to President Obama calling attention to problems with the proposed executive order. They wrote:

It would be counterproductive to bar [religious organizations] from offering their services to the federal government simply because of their legally protected religious convictions; it would be wrong to require them to violate those legally protected convictions in order to be eligible to receive federal contracts. Their exclusion from federal contracting would be diametrically opposed to the Administration’s commitment to having "all hands on deck" in the fight against poverty and other dire social problems.

Michael Wear, a former Obama White House and campaign staffer, helped to produce another letter to the President signed by 14 Christian leaders, including Rick Warren of Saddleback Church and Andy Crouch of Christianity Today. “Religious organizations, because of their religious faith, have served their nation well for centuries, as you have acknowledged and supported time and time again,” they reminded the President in their July 1 letter. “We hope that religious organizations can continue to do so, on equal footing with others, in the future. A religious exemption in your executive order on LGBT employment rights would allow for this.”

The executive order issued Monday by President Obama did not heed these appeals. While it did not go so far as to overturn a prior policy that allows a religious group to continue employment on the basis of its affiliation, “[l]itigation and a chilling of partnerships are predictable,” says Stanley Carlson-Thies, president of IRFA. Religious groups have contracted with the federal government to provide relief and development abroad, to provide services to the Bureau of Prisons, and to engage in research and technical assistance. How the new executive order will affect such working relationships remains to be seen.

Backlash Begins

It is already clear that one of the signatories has become the target of recriminations simply for speaking on behalf of religious liberty in this policy discussion. Michael Lindsay, president of evangelical Gordon College in Massachusetts, signed the July 1 letter along with Michael Wear and Rick Warren. Since then the New England Association of Schools and Colleges’ higher education commission, through which Gordon is accredited, has announced that it will review the matter at its September meeting. Meanwhile, the town of Salem wound down early its contract with the college (which Gordon was already in the process of ending for unrelated reasons), through which it had managed the Old Town Hall as an event space.

Salem’s mayor told The Christian Post that the school’s policy “is in violation of the LGBT-inclusive non-discrimination ordinance that was unanimously adopted by the Salem City Council earlier this year." Such policies on sexual orientation and gender identity have appeared in a number of communities.

The backlash against simply participating in civil discourse about an important topic of public concern is alarming—but not a first. In 2012, Angela McCaskill, associate provost for diversity and inclusion at Gallaudet, a federally chartered private university for the deaf in Washington, D.C., was put on administrative leave after it became known that she had signed a petition—along with 200,000 other Maryland residents—to put a referendum on the ballot for citizens to review a same-sex marriage law passed by the state legislature. Mere participation in the political process was enough to warrant such treatment of McCaskill, the first black, deaf woman to earn a PhD from Gallaudet and a 20-year veteran of the staff.

Similarly, the purge of Brendan Eich as Mozilla CEO this past April stemmed from a furor over his donation six years ago to the Proposition 8 campaign to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman in the California state constitution.

Such outrages can prompt despair, cynicism, and withdrawal. But they should not. These episodes should be catalysts to engage more vigorously and with greater perseverance in efforts to persuade through reason.

Speaking Truth, Defending Truth

Christians, whether as individuals or in groups founded on tenets of the faith, should continue to speak and to act consistent with biblical truth about marriage and sexuality. Christians—and all citizens—should also defend the freedom to speak and to act in both private and public life consistent with these truths. It is a matter of stewardship and interest in the common good of all to maintain freedom of conscience and freedom of speech against coercive policies or cultural trends.

This pursuit of civil dialogue includes expecting and calling on interlocutors to use reason—not coercion or intimidation—to make their points as well. Failing to call out uncivil approaches shortchanges the dignity of those directly involved and of the surrounding community.

Media frequently portray these policy disputes as a zero-sum game. They need not be. Christians and other concerned citizens should be a part of seeking out the facts about the available policy and legal accommodations and working through the details in particular contexts to balance competing interests.

Christian ministries and educational institutions by definition seek to integrate faith in every aspect of their work. Hiring and conduct standards are critical aspects of such mission-driven enterprises. One of the most pressing apologetic tasks in the 21st century is to articulate the transformative implications of faith in such communities, both to form members and also to inform the understanding of neighbors. 

by Jennifer A. Marshall at July 23, 2014 05:01 AM

Dispatches from the Front

Tim Keesee. Dispatches from the Front: Stories of Gospel Advance in the World’s Difficult Places. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2014. 240 pp. $14.99.

Following the same format as the popular DVD series, Dispatches from the Front: Stories of Gospel Advance in the World’s Difficult Places shares astonishing stories of the gospel’s advance as it follows veteran missionary Tim Keesee around the world. The book is a collection of Keesee’s journal entries as he travels, reflecting on the gospel, missions, and the global church. It’s a gospel travelogue of sorts. We follow Keesee from the former Soviet republics to the Horn of Africa to Iraq and (seemingly) everywhere in between.

But this is no ordinary travelogue, for it is particularly concerned with sharing stories of the lives and witness of Christians in some of the world’s most difficult places. Some will read the book because they have seen the DVD series by the same name. Others will pick it up because they have been to one of the places Keesee writes about, still others simply because they love missions. But perhaps many will wonder why they should read the journal entries of a missionary—after all, wouldn’t a documentary or a presentation by a missionary I know be more engaging?

I believe this book has enormous potential to mobilize an army of senders and goers, so what follows are five reasons why I would urge all Christians to read Dispatches from the Front

1. This book will give you perspective.

Mark Twain famously remarked that “travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” You may have never left your home country, but as you travel with Keesee through the pages of this book you will have your eyes opened, your presuppositions challenged, and your worldview broadened. To see how other believers around the world live, suffer, worship, and die is a gift. These stories will deliver a blow to materialism. They will place Western “persecution” in context. And they will make you grateful, even while perhaps rebuking.

Perspective nurtures wisdom. Read these stories of your brothers and sisters in dramatically different contexts than yours and receive the gift of wisdom.

2. This book will cause you to hope anew in the power of the gospel.

Few things fuel gospel hope more than hearing testimonies of conversion, and in this book you will read dozens of such stories. You will hear of men and women who once worshiped false gods now bowing their knee to the only true God. You will read of some who persecuted Christians with vitriol who are now worshiping with their new brothers and sisters. You will meet prisoners, KGB agents, imams, wealthy men with power, and marginalized women with nothing of their own—all transformed by the unstoppable, boundary-shattering power of the good news.

This is one of the reasons I love what Keesee is doing through the Dispatches from the Front DVDs and now the book—it’s a hope-giving project. Many American Christians will go years without seeing someone come to Christ or without even sharing the gospel with a friend or neighbor, all while seeing their churches ebb and flow with “transfer growth.” Is the gospel really the power of God for salvation?

These stories affirm, with bursting energy, “Yes!” They show the strength of our King and the breathtaking power of his Word. They inspire us to pray and work for the bold advance of the kingdom around us. As I read of the stunning accounts of Muslims coming to Christ in Afghanistan, I was reminded that there are more Muslims in my neighborhood than I can count. And the same King and the same gospel are on the move—in Minneapolis and the Middle East—calling out a people for God’s precious name.

3. This book will expand your view of Christ’s kingdom.

Christianity’s geographical center of gravity has so shifted toward the Global South that Philip Jenkins claims the average Christian in the world today is “probably a poor, brown-skinned woman living in a third-world mega-city.” Six of the eight chapters in Dispatches from the Front find their setting in the Global South. Through these stories you will meet believers in remote villages in Cambodia, in the urban bustle of Dhaka or Delhi, or in the most unlikely places in the Horn of Africa. One of the joys of traveling to other parts of the world is the chance to see the staggering diversity of the body of Christ, and through this book we catch a glimpse of this diversity.

As it expands your view of the kingdom, the book also helps clarify the role of Western missions within the global Christian church. It does so by removing our Western-centric perspective on the world and the church and by showing us that God is at work building his church with all sorts of means independent of the West. Countries that we consider “closed” are often the places where the church is growing most rapidly. Indeed, even most missionaries (those who cross cultures to share the gospel) are not from the West! The foot soldiers of gospel advance are as diverse as they are many.

I particularly appreciated that Keesee, while giving a sense of perspective regarding the global nature of church, never does it with a heavy, shaming hand. In other words, he’s not a critic; he clarifies and encourages. While sharing the remarkable risks Christians around the world are taking for the sake of the gospel, he reminds us that Christians over there aren't greater than Christians here, because Christ is the greatest. He is the one saving, the one calling, the one equipping all kinds of people for the work of his kingdom.

4. This book will stir you to live with a clear view of eternity.

These stories soberly reminded me what it means to live in light of eternity. In view of the transience of this life and the permanence of the life to come, how then ought we live? In Dispatches from the Front we meet countless people living for another time and place, another kingdom ruled by grace.

One of the more poignant stories begins when a Christian worker in Afghanistan is shot and killed, forcing the other missionaries to go into lockdown. With them for several days, Keesee attends a worship service led by a veteran missionary who’d lost everything he owned a few years earlier. As he closed their time of worship, the missionary read a poem, giving them a clear view of the next life and thus this one:

If china, then only the kind

You wouldn’t miss under the movers’ shoes

Or the treads of a tank;

If a chair, the one that’s not too comfortable, or

You’ll regret getting up and leaving;

If clothes, then only what will fit in one suitcase;

If books, then those you know by heart;

If plans, then the ones you can give up

When it comes time for the next move,

To another street, another continent or epoch

Or world.

Who told you to settle in?

Who told you this or that would last forever?

Didn’t anyone ever tell you that you’ll never

In the world

Feel at home here?

5. This book will move you to worship.

The chief reason I can commend this book to you is that it will allow you to see Christ more clearly. You will witness his sovereign power at work. His manifold grace to sinners will be displayed. You will behold a kind, strong Sovereign moving in hearts, transforming lives, casting down darkness, and exalting his own name. If you’re a Christian, Jesus will appear more beautiful to you after reading this book.

And this is where the wisdom and sovereignty of God is seen even in the writing of this book. Keesee set out to write stories about making worshipers, which is the final goal of missions. But he ends up doing so much more. For in showing us Christ—strong in salvation—we are moved to worship, which, it turns out, is also the fuel of missions. And therein lies the secret to this book: it aims to make missionaries intent to see more worshipers by causing them to worship the One who creates worshipers.

I second Justin Taylor: “This is a dangerous book to read, for you may never be the same.” For the glory of God and the joy of all peoples, may that statement be true!

by David Crabb at July 23, 2014 05:01 AM

Defending Tony Dungy’s Right to Have an Opinion

As soon as I saw Tony Dungy’s recent quotes about the Michael Sam situation, saying that he wouldn’t have drafted Sam because he “wouldn’t want to deal with” the baggage, I knew he would be publicly castigated. Dungy deviated from our culture’s de facto “Things That Are Acceptable to Say About Michael Sam” talking points. Here’s a short list of those points about Sam, drafted this year in the seventh and final round as the first openly gay player in the National Football League:

  • He’s a hero
  • He’s courageous

And that’s about it. 

Dungy was eviscerated shortly after his statement by a columnist named Dan Wetzel on I hadn’t previously heard of Dan Wetzel and, between us, he and I have won zero Super Bowls and have zero years of NFL playing or coaching experience. The subtext in that last sentence, in case you missed it, is that Dungy is qualified to speak to NFL-related issues in a way that we are not, given that he has played in the league and won multiple Super Bowl rings. 

Wetzel accused Dungy of cowardice, for being on the wrong side of history. He predictably compared Sam to Jackie Robinson and compared Dungy’s couple of sentences to all the people who never wanted to integrate schools or integrate baseball or give women the right to vote. He ended the article by saying, “The good news . . . is that Tony Dungy doesn’t draft or coach players anymore.”

It was all very Huffington Post except that it was published on Yahoo Sports. And Wetzel isn’t really even the issue, as you can count on a similar article being written be many other columnists over the next 24 hours. 

I had an opportunity to interview Dungy a few years ago and found him to be humble, gracious, and soft-spoken—exactly the kind of coach I would want my kid playing for. He's not perfect—just a sinner like you and me and Dan Wetzel and Michael Sam. But Dungy is the kind of coach I would want to play for in that he seemed to treat every human in his orbit with a lot of respect and grace. I don’t have to tell you how rare this is in football. Dignity can sometimes be in short supply. That’s why I’m defending him (in a small way), but in a larger way defending his right to have an opinion. 

Here are several of my own opinions.

  1. From an athletic standpoint, Michael Sam is not Jackie Robinson. 

Jackie Robinson was a singular talent who gave his team an undeniable competitive advantage. Lest we semi-saint Branch Rickey, there was a good dose of rational self-interest in his compulsion to sign Jackie Robinson in spite of the upheaval he knew it would create. By contrast, Sam is a seventh-round draft choice who may or may not make it. If Sam is Lawrence Taylor, then this is a different discussion. 

  1. A few years ago, when everybody said, “I don’t want to sign Tim Tebow because of the media circus that comes with Tim Tebow” almost nobody defended him. In fact, most of us nodded our heads in agreement (I did, even though Tebow and I share a common faith). 

To me, Sam presents a similar situation. It’s a question of “Do I want to draft or sign a marginal prospect who comes with a lot of media-related baggage? Is he worth it?” The answer, with Tebow, was “No, he isn’t.” To suggest that teams or coaches are somehow morally obligated to give opportunities to certain players is a slippery slope. Must every backfield contain a Christian, a Muslim, and an atheist in order to be morally acceptable? If Tebow were Dan Marino, his discussion would have also been different. 

  1. Should all the teams that passed on Johnny Manziel because of Manziel’s lifestyle be similarly castigated? 

I care about who Johnny Manziel sleeps with about as much as a care about who Michael Sam sleeps with, which is to say not at all. A lot of teams ostensibly passed on Manziel because of his partying “lifestyle,” which is Manziel’s choice and may or may not affect his employment. As of now, there are zero HuffPo-type articles talking about what a “courageous young man” Manziel is for flying to Vegas on the weekend to be photographed with a bevy of young party girls. 

  1. An article like Wetzel’s puts him in the tenuous position of moral arbiter.

I remember a time, not too terribly long ago, when Dungy was on the other side of a similar discussion. Citing the dearth of African American coaches in the league, commentators allowed only one culturally acceptable stance on whether or not teams should hire him. Now, a few years later, Dungy has proven himself in the marketplace. He became the first African American head coach to win a Super Bowl, and he won an audience for his bestselling books. The NFL (in my opinion) is better for his success. The same thing may or may not happen as naturally for Sam. My point is that Sam doesn’t need (and probably doesn’t want) the media telling the culture what to think about his sexuality. 

Is Rams head coach Jeff Fisher suddenly the bad guy if he decides to cut Sam? Or is he still the good guy who decided to draft him in the first place? This might be the no-win situation that Dungy would have wanted to avoid. But what Sam has, starting now, is a training camp invite and an opportunity to prove himself in the marketplace, which is, ostensibly, a very American thing to have. 

So is an opinion. 

by Ted Kluck at July 23, 2014 05:01 AM

The Outlaw Way



1) Clean from blocks (just above knee): 5X2@80%

2) BTN Jerk from blocks (drop every rep): 5X2@80%


1) Power Clean: 3X2@80%


1) Push Press: 3X3@80%

2) Bench Press: 3X3@80%

The post 140723 appeared first on The Outlaw Way.

by at July 23, 2014 04:48 AM



Jerk from the blocks up to 65%


3 rounds for time of:

25 GHD Sit-ups
50′ HS Walk
50′ OH Walking Lunges 155/115#

Do Work…

The post 140723 appeared first on The Outlaw Way.

by John Dill at July 23, 2014 02:59 AM


VOLT. Debuting at the Afro Brutality store at the CrossFit Games.


WOD 140723:


1) Clean from blocks (just above knee): 5X2@80%

2) BTN Jerk from blocks (drop every rep): 5X2@80%


1a) 3X3 Bench Press @ 80% (of 3rm) – rest 90 sec.

1b) 4X5 Tempo Strict TTB (3 counts on descent of legs) – rest 90 sec.


3 rounds for time of:

25 GHD Sit-ups
50′ HS Walk
50′ OH Walking Lunges 155/115#

The post 140723 appeared first on The Outlaw Way.

by at July 23, 2014 02:00 AM

The Art of Non-Conformity

The Feeling of Being Unsettled Won’t Just Go Away

From my inbox:

“I have a sneaking suspicion this feeling of being unsettled won’t go away until I control my freedom.”

A common theme in the emails I receive is one of readers feeling unsettled. People are frustrated with one or more parts of their current life, yet they sense that change is possible—somehow, somewhere—if they can only find their way through the confusion.

As this person noted, the sense of feeling unsettled won’t just disappear. Finding true resolution requires genuine action. The required action may vary, but the requirement for action is constant.

Also, the unsettlement is a gift. It allows us to understand that there is so much more.

by Chris Guillebeau at July 23, 2014 12:52 AM

July 22, 2014

Alexis C. Madrigal : The Atlantic

Adventures With Technology: Hide and Track

Last month, we made our first official call for pitches and it was a tremendous success. So many great ideas came across the transom. We commissioned 25 and we loved every single one. 

We learned about the lost levels of Sonic the Hedgehog. And Gregg shorthand. And Eveleth, Minnesota. We remembered that Prodigy was a thing. And so were the New Kids on the Block. There was grief and solace, small heroism, big questions. This was one hell of a collection.

Now it's time for a new batch of your stories.

Let me remind you what we're looking for. We want adventures with technology. We want exciting stories—the kind that warrant telling your friends—about what it's like living with technology these days. We want you to be able to execute quickly, on a scale measured in days. You don't have to be at the center of the story, but someone should be.

(You can read the whole rationale and theoretical framework we're using here. Short version: These calls were inspired by Ann Friedman, David Edgerton, Rookie Mag, and a bunch of great radio shows.)

The new theme is Hide and Track, stories about slipping away from data, or taking control of it.

In "Hide and Seek," everyone hides and one person searches. Online, though, everyone's searching—and everyone's hiding. The default is increasingly that everything gets recorded. 

There is the dark side. An unannounced engagement revealed by canny web ads. A website archived forever on the Wayback Machine, accessible only by a URL you know. Lying to your fitness tracking app. Secret profiles, insurance problems. You can't check the weather without a few dozen companies harvesting your IP address and trying to sell you something. We live without oversight only when we can throw the data hounds off the scent.

But the new state of affairs is not entirely dystopian. There's power in people choosing to aggregate their data. We can know the bacteria in our guts or the number of white blood cells in our bodies. We can track our steps and our calories. We can see precisely where our children are or how their caretakers are treating them. We can save or make money by making ourselves accessible and legible to the machines. 

(I write this looking out on the northern California coast line, fog coming and going to hide or reveal an ocean. Maybe it is climactic, but there is a sense you can lay low out here, keep to yourself: live a full life but stay unfound, not universally public. Is there a place like this online?)

As always, pitches go to the absolutely fabulous Adrienne LaFrance (adrienne.lafrance [at] We're only going to take 20 pitches, and we suggest you get them in early. Based on the response from last time, we'll have met our quota of stories by the end of the week.

by Alexis C. Madrigal at July 22, 2014 10:09 PM

512 Pixels

Apple posts Q3 results →

Joel Mathis at Macworld:

Even in an era when critics complain the company has lost a step, Apple’s profits keep climbing. The company released its fiscal third-quarter earnings report on Wednesday, reporting revenue of $37.4 billion and a net profit of $7.7 billion.

Those numbers were up from the third quarter of 2013, when Apple tallied $35.3 billion in revenue and $6.9 billion in net profit.

That's 35.2 million iPhones, 13.27 million iPads, 4.41 million Macs and 2.96 million iPods compared to 31.24 million iPhones, 14.62 million iPads, 3.75 million Macs, and 4.57 million iPods last year.


by Stephen Hackett at July 22, 2014 09:00 PM

Front Porch Republic

Localist Roundup: Mild Electrical Shocks

This USDA press release outlines recent efforts to offer more support to the local food movement.

Meanwhile, this piece explains the importance of restaurants for cities.

Lastly, this article reports that, apparently, people prefer electrical shocks to being alone with their thoughts.

The post Localist Roundup: Mild Electrical Shocks appeared first on Front Porch Republic.

by Josiah Duran at July 22, 2014 08:34 PM

Justin Taylor

The Gospels and Mythical Legend

C. S. Lewis:

I have been reading poems, romances, vision-literature, legends, myths all my life. I know what they are like. I know that not one of them is like this. . . .

These men ask me to believe they can read between the lines of the old texts; the evidence is their obvious inability to read (in any sense worth discussing) the lines themselves. They claim to see fern-seed and can’t see an elephant ten yards away in broad daylight.

—C. S. Lewis, “Modern Theology and Biblical Criticism” or “Fern-Seeds and Elephants” (1959).

by Justin Taylor at July 22, 2014 07:06 PM

The Outlaw Way


Box Shoulder Stretch 4×0:20

Static Shaping
2×1:00 Hollow Hold on Hands

Active Shaping
3×30′ Arch Hollow Roll + V-Up Across Floor DEMO

Supplemental Work
This isn’t part of the program and is completely optional. With that being said, any opportunity you have to master body weight movements will help improve existing Crossfit movements.

Ring Forward Rolls
Prerequisite Strength- 1 Strict Muscle Up

Ring Forward Rolls Part 1
1. Forward Roll Over the Bar x5
The first step in mastering forward rolls on the rings is to get comfortable rolling forward and build confidence in getting your hips over your head. Start in front support on a bar (either pull-over or muscle-up to get into position) pike at your hips, shift your hands around the bar and roll forward over the bar to a hang position.

2. Forward Roll Over the Bar to Chin-Up Hold x5
Same as above, but work on keeping the bar close and your arms bent throughout the entirety of the skill. Finish in the same position you would at the top of a strict pull-up and pause before coming down.

The post 140723 appeared first on The Outlaw Way.

by Kaitlin at July 22, 2014 06:50 PM

The Gospel Coalition | Latest Articles

Coming Alongside Filipino Pastors

Crossway Christian Church in Bay City, Michigan seized an opportunity to encourage a young church-planter.

Pedro Junior—“Jun”—Taguinod originally left Manila, Philippines to come to the United States to plant churches. When financial difficulties cut short his plans three years ago, he prepared to return home. And Crossway’s preaching pastor, John Botkin, saw the chance for his congregation to help Jun to equip pastors back in his country.

“The best way we thought we’d be able to encourage him was to simply be there,” Botkin says. Crossway began planning their first trip to the Philippines.

Jun’s home mission field of Santa Maria, Bulacan is located in an area on the outskirts of Manila. Over 25 million people reside in metro Manila, exceeding 1800 people per square mile. 

Amid the myriad of people in this part of the world, religious workers and clergy are held in high regard. Botkin says, “Last year politicians in Manila invited religious leaders to pray, and Jun was able to go and pray at a public prayer rally.” 

A majority of churches have young men with no formal training attempting to lead their congregations. (This problem mirrors the larger picture in the Philippines, where more than half of the nation’s almost 100 million people are below the age of 20). Bookstores are full of Christian books, according to Botkin, “however, a vast majority are prosperity-gospel related.” 

Competing with a false gospel

Christians in this densely packed region, though largely conservative in beliefs, struggle to know their true identity in Christ. Impoverished conditions in greater Manila seem to have yielded ground for a false gospel, one that offers the allure of temporary satisfaction, an exchange of the Creator for the created. 

“I’ve been to a lot of places in the world, and despite poor conditions people have access to media, where prosperity gospel messages thrive,” Botkin says.

Despite the widespread prosperity teaching in greater Manila, there is a hunger for solid teaching and the desire for equipping church leaders.

On the Crossway team’s most recent trip to the Philippines in March, 2014, Botkin’s hope was to encourage and equip pastors by hosting a pastors’ conference with Jun, to specifically warn against prosperity teaching.

“These pastors have very little resources—they’re in poverty themselves,” Botkin says. (When one pastor died unexpectedly, he left a family of eight behind with nothing). “We wanted to help equip pastors, which we know will influence preaching, which we know will hit the pews.”

Pulpit support

Botkin realized that Jun could best equip pastors by supplying theological support. His team carried along 165 pounds of resources provided by The Gospel Coalition-International Outreach (TGC-IO) for “theological famine relief.” The materials included ESV Global Study Bibles (32 copies) and books that support pulpit ministry, including: The Supremacy of God in Preaching, by John Piper (88 copies); Galatians and You, by Tim Keller (68 copies); and Proclaiming a Cross-Centered Theology, by Mark Dever and Ligon Duncan (52 copies). 

One young recipient said, “I can’t believe you actually brought these books!”

Another church Jun started has used the English Standard Version for preaching for years, but members haven’t been able to follow along, having no ESV Bibles of their own. Thanks to Crossway’s partnership with TGC-IO, each member of this church can now follow along with their own ESV Global Study Bible.

Botkin’s congregation, a small church of 60, has learned the truth of Romans 12:4, one body with many parts. He says, “God has entrusted us and challenged us to think about how we can best use the resources he’s given us to make disciples not only here, but in the Philippines as well.”

The congregation at Crossway Christian Church hopes and prays that the church in the Philippines will grow in discernment and develop a love for God’s word, to be able to know truth from error. John Botkin says that by God’s grace more and more will be undergirded by a love of the riches, depths and surpassing greatness of Jesus Christ. 

“If they aren’t going out with that foundation, then the other things don’t matter.”

by Chad Farmer at July 22, 2014 06:06 PM

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

A Message from my Editor: Last Call for Charity

Below are the words of my editor, Castalia House, concerning the charity drive for Stillbrave, and my own drive to sell my humble work:

Last call for charity

As I mentioned when we announced the book, a substantial portion of the first month’s sales revenues (approximately half), will be donated to Stillbrave, the children’s cancer charity. An estimated $1,350+ has been raised for Stillbrave to date. Today is the final day of the release month, so if you are interested in supporting either Mr. Wright or Stillbrave, I encourage you to buy it now, either from the Castalia House store (EPUB format) or from Amazon (Kindle format).

If you have not read the reviews, of which there are now 22 averaging a 4.7 rating, I hope you will not mind if I happen to share a few of the newer ones with you. And to those of you who have already purchased the book, thank you very much for all your support.

Review 1: I, or my other timeline self, really enjoyed this. I have to admit, I like this better than Awake in the Night Land. I mean, it has a time travelling gumshoe, who can’t like that? The twists and turns of chrono-based events was fun. If I ever ran into anything that was even remotely difficult to understand, I just went with it, knowing that my other self on a different timeline would understand it. Or maybe I didn’t. Well, never mind…. Good book. Go with it. You or your other timeline self will enjoy it.

Review 2: Time travel has been a staple of science fiction for decades, as has the usual paradoxes. But Wright has tried a new twist – the morality of time travel. What is right and wrong when you can go back in time, rerun the past, and create the future? And what horrors can you conceal? Wright tells these stories with an elegant phrasing rarely seen today. Highly recommended.

Review 3: This is the third book of John C. Wright I have read this year. I was introduced to Wright’s writing with his book “Awake in the Nightland,” published by Castalia House. The second was “Count to a Trillion,” published by Tor. This third book, “City Beyond Time,” is published by Castalia House. “City Beyond Time” is along the same vein as “Awake in the Nightland.” Both are a collection of short stories within the same setting…. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves time travel science fiction. It is better then most time travel books that are linear in style and movement. It is by no means predictable and keeps you reading for more. I hope Wright writes more stories about Mr. Fontino in the future, perhaps even give him his own novel series.

by John C Wright at July 22, 2014 05:51 PM

The Brooks Review

∞ Chatting

When I went to launch the new Podcast, I also went through a lot of trouble of trying to find a good chat system. After I killed the idea of recording live I figured there would be no use for a chat room so I dropped the idea. And then at the last minute I decided to toss up a Glassboard where I could host a ‘delayed’ chat — really a comment room instead of a chat room.

So far the Glassboard has worked well, with only 50-60 users, and only a few that are active. It has been quiet most days, but things that are brought up I have found genuinely interesting.

With the recent changes to Glassboard I’ve come to realize two things:

  1. This is not a good use for Glassboard. Glassbaord works fine, but what is said is private, and these discussion really shouldn’t be private.
  2. I’m limiting the potential chatters because I am choosing a service which I love to pay for, but others might (likely) do not love or want to pay for.

I’ve gone ahead and set up yet another WordPress site to host the chat for the Podcast and for this site. My goal is for me to not be overly involved, but rather get people talking in an informal setting.

You can check out the site here and do register (if you already have a account you can link it, but you cannot use the account you have on this site to login). I’ll be keeping a close eye on things and if they get shitty I will shut it down right away.

I also reserve the right ban people that act like douchebags.

Until then, let’s give this a try. Feel free to talk about anything, as the system is setup for Comments, Quotes, and Links to be shared.

Thanks for all the support, it has meant the world to me.

Note to Mobile Users

The site should work fine on mobile devices, but the P2 theme I am using wasn’t built for small screens and made itself view only on the iPhone. That was silly so I changed that, but I am still working on making the site more responsive — as of right now it looks crappy on your iPhone.

Believe me, I too want that fixed.

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

by Ben Brooks at July 22, 2014 05:46 PM


Want to Read the Bible Well? Then Read It This Way, Which Leviticus Illustrates


True confession: I was once a professional Bible quizzer.

As a teenager I memorized John 1, 3, 5 and 8; 2 Corinthians 1-10; and all of Ephesians and 1-3 John. Then I memorized the questions that accompanied those verses so I could buzz in early, leaving my competitors in the dust. That’s what true Bible quizzing professionals did, after all.

Looking back I’m thankful for that experience, because it gave me a solid grounding in God’s Word. But I also see how it skewed my view of the Bible. I saw it as a thing to chop up and dissect for knowledge sake. And what verses I did memorize were totally disconnected from the Bible’s larger narrative. 

Bible quizzing taught me to memorize verses, it didn’t teach me to read the Bible.

In their book How to Read the Bible Book by Book, Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart expose a similar problem of their generation: 

our generation had learned a kind of devotional reading of the Bible that emphasized reading it only in parts and pieces, looking for a “word of the day.” (14)

Like my own reading of Scripture, the downside to this “daily breadcrumb” style of reading is that it teaches people “to read the texts in a way that disconnected them from the grand story of the Bible.” (14)

Twelve years ago their book sought to rectify this problem by showing how the various books of the Bible fit into God’s story.

Because after all, that’s what the Bible is, a story—God's story. And in order to read the Bible well, this is how it should be read.

Here are 3 reasons why and an example to illustrate:


1) The Bible is not Essentially Propositional and Imperative

“The Bible is not merely some divine guidebook, nor is it a mine of propositions to be believed or a long list of commands to be obeyed.” (14)

Yes, we receive guidance from its pages. Yes, the Bible contains plenty of true propositions and divine directives.

Yet “the Bible is infinitely more than that.” (14)

It is more than a word of the day. It is even more than a theological tract, though it is obviously theological.

So what is the Bible?

2) The Bible’s Essential Character is Narrative

The Bible is story, through and through, argue Fee and Stuart:

[T]he essential character of the Bible, the whole Bible, is narrative, a narrative in which both the propositions and the imperatives are deeply embedded as an essential part. 

Under this assumption, then, Genesis 1 and 2 are less interested in the specifics of how the world was created (proposition), but that the world was created by the main protagonist, God the Creator (narrative). 

This is even true of Leviticus and Deuteronomy. While on the surface they “may appear otherwise because they are composed largely of laws,” they “cannot be properly understood apart from the narrative structure in which they are placed.” (21-22)

3) The Bible is One Whole Story

Sometimes we forget the Bible's original manuscripts did not contain chapter and verse divisions like our modern Bibles contain. While such divisions are helpful for memorizing and sermonizing, they can distract from seeing the Bible as one whole story.

Fee and Stuart “want to show how the separate entities—each biblical book—fit together as a whole to tell God’s story.” (9) Which is why they spend the first chapter outlining this so-called metanarrative.

You may recognize its four-act form: creation, fall, redemption, consummation. The authors help readers carefully reconnect each book to this larger story.

Leviticus: Illustrating Reading the Bible Book by Book Well

Let’s return to Leviticus, because this enigmatic book illustrates how the authors help people read the Bible well by reading books within God’s larger story.

To help readers get the most out of reading Leviticus Fee and Stuart remind them of two things:

  1. These laws are part of God’s covenant with Israel, so they’re not just religious rites but about a relationship;
  2. Leviticus is part of a larger narrative, the Pentateuch, and must be understood in light of what comes before and after.

The authors remind us Leviticus picks up the story after Exodus, where Israel is camped in the wilderness. So before they can seize Canaan and “in order for these individuals who grew up in slavery to be formed into God’s people, there is great need for them to get two sets of relationships in order, namely with God and with one another.” (45)

Thus, even a book so saturated with propositions and imperatives as Leviticus is essentially narrative in character.

And the way Fee and Stuart help readers navigate this book is how they help readers navigate every book in the Bible: 

By making the whole story hold together as one story.

Just as God intended.


Jb_headshotJeremy Bouma (Th.M.) is a pastor with the Evangelical Covenant Church in West Michigan. He is the founder of THEOKLESIA, a content curator dedicated to helping the 21st century church rediscover the historic Christian faith; holds a Master of Theology in historical theology; and makes the vintage faith relevant at

by Jeremy Bouma at July 22, 2014 05:42 PM

The Art of Non-Conformity

Thoughts on Working from the Drugstore

The drugstore in my neighborhood has a deliberate policy of wasting every customer’s time. If you arrive to pick up a prescription, you’ll wait a minimum of 20 minutes, guaranteed. It doesn’t matter if you’re just getting a refill. It doesn’t matter if your doctor’s office has called in your prescription. It doesn’t matter if you’ve called ahead to say, “Hey drugstore, I’m on the way—please have this ready for me.”

No matter what, you’ll show up and they’ll say something like, “When do you want to come back to pick this up? Is 30 minutes okay?”

The drugstore is small. There is nothing nearby, not even a Starbucks or grocery store or anywhere else where you could potentially run another errand. There are at best five or six aisles in the drugstore, so even if you want to explore every single one of them in search of the finest dental floss your money can buy, it will take you five minutes tops.

Most people accept the fate of having their time wasted. They take a seat and look through an issue of People from last month. Others play with their phones.

I find the practice of mandatory waiting just as annoying as everyone else, but I have no plans to open a competing drugstore based on actual customer service. So instead, I use this time to do something different.

I play a mental game and tell myself: “What can I accomplish while I’m annoyed at having to wait?”

Then I find a way to do something. If I have my laptop, which I often do, I’ll open it up and go back to work. I’ll reply to emails or work on a newsletter update. If I have only my paper notebook, which I always do, I’ll review my task lists or make notes. I don’t like making phone calls, but if I can do so without disturbing anyone else around me, that’s next on the list.

Even if your drugstore is staffed by wonderful people who don’t force you to wait, you probably encounter similar situations in life. In fact, you may find yourself with pockets of unexpected time to fill every single day.

If you can find a way to use this time well, even somewhat well, you can accomplish a lot.

The next time someone asks, “How do you get so much done?” remember these stolen moments at the drugstore. Consider the minutes and hours that other people attempt to take from your life without apology. Find a way to take them back!


Image: CarbonNYC

by Chris Guillebeau at July 22, 2014 04:49 PM

Justin Taylor

The Gospel Advance in North Africa: New Documentary for $5 (72 Hours Only)

WTS is selling their bestselling series on Dispatches from the Front for over half off, and the latest episode for only $5 (sale ends July 25). Here is a trailer:

You can also check out Tim Keesee’s book here.

40 copies of the DVD are being given away, and you can sign up for a chance to enter here.

by Justin Taylor at July 22, 2014 04:17 PM

Emacs Redux

Travel back and forward in git history

I recently discovered an extremely cool package called git-timemachine that allows you to step though the git history of the file you’re currently editing in Emacs.

Using it is pretty simple:

  • visit a git-controlled file and issue M-x git-timemachine (or bind it to a keybinding of your choice)
  • use the following keys to navigate historic version of the file:
    • p visit previous historic version
    • n visit next historic version
    • w copy the hash of the current historic version
    • q exit the time machine buffer

Here you can see git-timemachine in action:


This package is bundled with Prelude.

July 22, 2014 04:02 PM

Become an Emacs Redux patron

Securing funding for OS projects and blogs (outside of displaying annoying ads) is a hard endeavor. While I’d love to raise enough cash to work on CIDER, projectile and Emacs itself for an entire year through some wildly successful crowdfunding campaign, that’s unlikely to ever happen.

That said, I recently discovered an interesting alternative to one-off crowdfunding campaigns called gittip. Self-described as sustainable crowdfunding (meaning people will get microdonations (say half a buck) from their patrons each week) it seems like a reasonable way to raise a modest sum of money so you could work on open-source projects more than your regular schedule might permit.

So, if you like Emacs Redux and the Emacs projects in which I’m involved like:

  • Prelude - An Emacs distribution built on top of GNU Emacs 24
  • Projectile - Project Interaction Library for Emacs, that stays out of your way
  • clojure-mode - A major mode for programming in Clojure
  • cider - A Clojure programming environment for Emacs
  • guru-mode - An annoying companion on your journey to Emacs mastery
  • rubocop-emacs - Emacs integration for RuboCop
  • zenburn-emacs - The Zenburn color theme, ported to Emacs
  • solarized-emacs - The Solarized color theme, ported to Emacs
  • puppet-mode - A mode for editing Puppet 3 manifests
  • swift-mode - A mode for editing Swift code

consider supporting my work via gittip.

Support via Gittip

July 22, 2014 03:04 PM

New Emacs blogs

The problem with Emacs blogs is one can never have enough of them (especially the good ones).

I’d like to draw my readers attention to two new blogs:


lunarsite is not exactly new (it was started in March 2014), but I don’t think enough people have come across it, so I’m mentioning it here anyway. It’s operated by one of the most prolific members of the Emacs community in recent years - the great Sebastian Wiesner (of flycheck and cask fame).

If you’re thinking of writing your first major mode - you’ll find some great advice there.

Endless Parentheses

Endless Parentheses is a brand new blog started by Arthur Malabarba. It’s dedicated to concise posts on improving your Emacs productivity.

The content so far is similar to the articles I write here, so if you like Emacs Redux you’ll likely enjoy Endless Parentheses as well.

July 22, 2014 02:43 PM

Zippy Catholic

An ontological argument for our existence

[31] Seeing, saith he, I have once begun, I will speak to my Lord. What if twenty be found there? He said: I will not destroy it for the sake of twenty. [32] I beseech thee, saith he, be not angry, Lord, if I speak yet once more: What if ten should be found there? And he said: I will not destroy it for the sake of ten. – Genesis 18:31-32

St. Anselm famously argued that God must exist because existence is more perfect than nonexistence.  Very roughly speaking, and without pretending to really do the argument justice, God is by definition the most perfect being that can possibly be conceived; if He didn’t exist then He wouldn’t be perfect; therefore He must exist.

Whatever one thinks of that as an argument for the existence of God, it is interesting to reflect on our existence in the light of Anselm’s argument. It is better for myself and all the people and things that I love to exist than for them to not exist. The fact that my personal existence is logically contingent upon all sorts of evil and suffering doesn’t change the basic fact that existence is better than nonexistence.

An infinitely loving, infinitely good, infinitely powerful God cannot do “everything” when the referent of the term “everything” includes “things” that are rationally inconceivable. Strictly speaking, rationally inconceivable “things” are not really things. An omnipotent God cannot lock Himself into a box from which He cannot escape without ceasing to be omnipotent: the “box from which an omnipotent God cannot escape” is not a “thing”, because it is not even a rationally coherent idea.

I’ve known several young men who have born terrible suffering. One young man is quadraplegic because of a botched delivery. He just graduated from high school. His parents’ marriage broke up over the stress years ago.

Another young man with terrible physical deformities used to come to our house for birthday parties years ago. He had to carry around an oxygen tank and was physically very limited. He loved sports despite his own limitations, and he had an indomitable spirit: rarely have I seen such fierce and determined joy in a human being. He died when he was twelve years old.

I know several others too: a young man confined to a wheelchair who cannot talk and who suffers dangerous siezures; a relative is eighteen and autistic, and cannot cross the street by himself. I won’t get into ‘closer to home’ examples, because they pale to nothingness in comparison to the crosses I have watched others bear and accept: not just the ‘victims’ of these maladies and tragedies themselves, but the parents and families whose hearts break at what their loved ones endure, and the limitations they face.

God watched as His only begotten son was tortured to death. This was literally for our sake in ways so comprehensive that most people – most Christians – can’t begin to appreciate it, I think.

The existence of suffering and evil is not an argument against God’s omnipotent power and infinite goodness. It is an argument in favor of those attributes. A more selfish God would not have made this blasphemous world. But as bad as we are, and as awful as the suffering in this world is, it is better for us all to exist than to not exist. In this world there is plentiful bad news; but there is also Good News. Those who would prefer Nothing over all that we are, all that we know, and all that we love, may eventually get the Nothing they crave. But not at the cost of any bit of good which can be saved.

UPDATE: Added epigraph.


by Zippy at July 22, 2014 02:36 PM

Daniel Lemire's blog

Potentially bogus freelancing advice

For nearly 20 years, I have been freelancing: selling my skills as a free agent. I do very little freelancing these days, but I still regularly give advice to students and colleagues. Is it wise? I let you be the judge: here are my favorite bits of wisdom.

There are bad and good clients.

In retail, the more clients you have, the better. The economics of freelancing are different. That is because you are selling finite ressources (your time and your energy) and every transaction depletes your ressources.

A bad client might waste your talents and skills in a dead-end project. A bad client might use 80% of your energy and contribute less than 20% of your income. A bad client might drop you in favour of a cheaper alternative without thinking twice. A bad client might feel abusive, put you in a bad mood. (Being in a bad mood is bad for business on the long run.) A client might take your business in the wrong direction.

As a freelancer, it is entirely reasonable to turn down work. It is often the strategic thing to do, even if you have nothing else lined up. Think about an actor offered the leading role in a major movie that is bound to be a failure.

Ultimately, the great thing about being a freelancer is the freedom to turn down work. It is not only good business, but it is also what sets you apart from employees.

Everything is negotiable.

When I started freelancing, some clients would put forward rules or policies. These rules were invariably convenient to my clients.

For example, it is common to have bounds on how much consultants can charge. A few times over the years, even recently, a client told me that I could not charge over $50 an hour, as a rule. Whatever the rule or the policy, it is always a matter of negotiation. Do not worry, clients will make “exceptions” if you are worth it.

Intellectual property is another important point… when freelancing, you should not sign away your rights lightly. For example, if you are doing a programming job, consider that giving the client the copyright of your work might prevent you from reusing the same code in other projects. A much more reasonable default stance is to license your work to the client.

In all cases, remember that there are bad and good clients. If a client refuses to negotiate in good faith, he may not be a good client to you.

Do not watch your clock.

Because it is a widespread practice, clients almost always want you to charge by the hour. Often, they want to know ahead of time how many hours you will charge.

Charging by the hour is more of a metaphore. In practice, you should charge by the value provided. That is, suppose that you can solve a problem in 5 minutes but that 99.9% of world experts would take 5 days… then it makes no sense to charge 5 minutes. Similarly, if a client wants you to do some work that most people can do in a few minutes but that will take you days,
you should not charge the client a lot.

A more reasonable approach is to charge flat fees or the equivalent. A flat fee could include a service such as “being available at a moment’s notice”. If it reassures the client, you can translate the flat fee into a fixed number of hours and an hourly rate.

Whatever you are charging, you should not worry about the time you spend on projects too much. Your main worry should be to provide something valuable to your clients.

by Daniel Lemire at July 22, 2014 02:11 PM

The Art of Non-Conformity

A Free-Range Life: On the Road with Pam Mandel

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

I met Pam Mandel at an event in Seattle. I was interested in how she’d made travel not just part of her life, but also part of her lifestyle. Here’s her story.

Tell us about yourself.

I’m a free range human.

I’ve done all kinds of things to pay my bills—farm work, selling art supplies, writing photo captions, making sandwiches, stuffing envelopes, designing websites—but I’ve almost always been freelance or temp because I need space for creative things (music, my own writing, art) and travel.

What was one of your recent, memorable trips.

I went to Anchorage, Alaska, to talk about travel stories and why they matter. I love to travel in Alaska. It’s full of edge-of-the-map weirdos (I mean that in the very best possible way) and nature. The landscape is so big and beautiful, it just gets inside my head and opens it up.

Is this a caption?

Pam in Alaska

What inspired you to make travel part of your life?

The short answer is when I’m elsewhere, inevitably something happens to me that makes me glad I’m out in the world.

The long answer is I was a free-range teenager, too—meaning problematic. Though I was an unconventional candidate, my French teacher advocated for me to study abroad, and when I came back, I was addicted to being a fish out of water.

I was 16 when I was a foreign exchange student; this year I turned 50 and I am not even a little bit tired of travel.

How do you save the money you need for your trips?

Travel, and my need for it has always defined my personal economy. I live very much within my means (think second-hand thrift store wardrobe, a one car for our household, some nice electronics) so my husband and I have money for traveling.

How many miles and points do you have banked right now?

I have a balance of 100,000 Delta SkyMiles, which I plan to burn up by the end of this year.

The great debate: aisle or window?


Where do you usually stay when on the road?

I’ve traveled so much and become so connected that often, I end up staying with friends all around the world. That’s the best possible thing to have happen. When my husband and I moved into our current home, it was really important to me that we have space for guests. People have opened their homes to me and I wanted to be able to do the same.

As a travel writer, I often get to stay in some very nice hotels. I’ve come to think that a clean, quiet room with a good bed trumps any other features a hotel might have. A bargain room is just as good as any if you sleep well and there’s decent coffee close by.


Seattle coffee shop

Tell us something that has surprised you while traveling.

People are so universally welcoming. What a great thing. And always, always, I’m surprised by it.

I was surprised how kind the people in Cambodia were in spite of their tragic recent history. I was surprised that the people of Vietnam seemed to have no anger towards Americans. I was surprised when, in Zanzibar (which I’d been told could be tough for Western women), local people treated me like a lost cousin. I was surprised to get the same treatment in New York City, like I’d moved away and come back and where-had-I-been-all-that-time.

Have you met any fun or interesting people on the road?

Some days, I feel like I can’t leave my house without meeting someone who’s got a story they are dying to tell me.

In Hawaii, I met a guy who told me he was a dentist for the Grateful Dead. In Austria, I met an old farmer who was arrested by the Americans during the first days of WWII and spent the entire war in a POW camp in Texas learning to play Johnny Cash songs on a guitar he’d been given by the Red Cross. This last trip to Alaska, I met an effusive young lad, aged 7, outside a tiny Russian Orthodox church. Everyone was inside for services, but he was playing along the fence line, chatting like I was a neighbor he’d known forever.

Best travel tips. Go:

Go to the supermarket.

Breakfast cereal and candy bars and toothpaste—the stuff that daily life is made of is equal parts familiar and weirdly strange in supermarkets around the world. Stopping in for an inspection is always a good time.

Whenever you can, take public transit.

If you can manage the bus, subway or ferries in far away places, not only does it give you a great perspective on a place, it feels like a little triumph when you get from Point A to Point B.

You’re not going to see it all.

It’s so much better to enjoy where you are than worry about where you’re not. Wonders are everywhere, so if you don’t see this one, today, you’ll see another. Promise.


Ukulele over Waikiki

Tell us something interesting about you that hasn’t been covered already.

As of recently, I’m a musician, having fallen in with a bunch of rogue ukulele players. I played Rocket Man with Commander Hadfield (the Canadian astronaut who charmed the world from the International Space Station) in front of about 400 people.

Where are you headed next?

San Francisco, then camping up in Point Reyes.

Read more about Pam on her blog, Nerds Eye View, or follow her on Twitter @nerdseyeview

by Chris Guillebeau at July 22, 2014 01:40 PM

The Urbanophile

Incrementally Transforming Kokomo Without Debt by Eric McAffee

[ Kokomo, Indiana is a small industrial city about an hour north of Indianapolis. It is one of the rare ones whose industry remains largely intact, with two large auto-related plants. This makes them different from the type of community that really has deindustrialized. Yet they fret that those who earn decent incomes in their town too often decide to live in the Indianapolis suburbs. Hence a program to upgrade quality of life in the city. It should be noted that while they've managed to do this without incurring debt, Kokomo arguably benefited more than any city in America outside Detroit from the massive federal auto bailout. Their civic improvements have in a sense been financed by a unique external windfall unavailable to others. Nevertheless, lots of places have received windfalls and spent them poorly. Cities may not be able to control our circumstances, good and bad, but they at least have some control over how they respond to them. This piece from American Dirt takes a look at Kokomo's response. Keep in mind it ran in 2012 and there are likely some anachronisms by now - Aaron. ]

Across the country—but particularly in the heavily industrialized Northeast and Midwest—smaller cities have confronted the grim realities of the unflattering “Rust Belt” moniker, and all of its associated characteristics, with varying degrees of success. With an aging work force, difficulty in retaining college graduates, and a frequently decaying building stock, the challenges they face are formidable. Cites from between 30,000 and 80,000 inhabitants typically boomed due to the exponential growth of a single industry, and, in many cases, the bulwark of that industry left the municipality nearly a half century ago, for a location (possibly international) where the cost of doing business is much cheaper. Essentially, everything the smaller Rust Belt cities had to offer is completely tradable in a globalized market; the resources that provided the town’s life blood are either depleted or are simply to expensive to cultivate further.

Reinvention is the only condition likely to save many of these cities from persistent economic contraction, but, with an overabundance of retirees and older workers, these towns lack the collective civic will that could be expected in larger communities with more diversified economies. An absence of young people intensifies (and, to a certain extent, justifies) the low level of civic investment in one’s own community; after all, if a resident is six months from retirement, how likely is it that he or she would support public investments intended to improve quality of life for twenty or thirty years into the future? For that matter, how likely will a population of retirees remain engaged to encourage or challenge major private sector investments as well?

By no means am I intending to denigrate needs and ambitions of the senior population; I’m merely observing that a stagnant Rust Belt city with this demographic profile will demonstrate vastly different priorities from a city rife with young families. While every Rust Belt city large and small must avoid obsolescence that results from the spoils of globalization, the smaller cities—which have tended to be dominated in the past by a single thriving industry—are less likely to claim alternative sectors and labor pools if their primary manufacturing lifeblood fails. A dying city of 80,000 may not exert the same impact within a region (particularly in the densely populated Midwest and Northeast) that a city of 500,000 would, but it is far more of black eye for the state than a town of 2,000 that has lost its raison d’être. This conclusion is obvious.  Many of these small cities must reordering of their economies comprehensively; while the state, the county, or private foundations may offer some outside help, the constituents of these cities themselves are typically the best equipped to understand how their city should evolve. Unfortunately, many of these communities aren’t yet even aware of the need for this reinvention, let alone which avenue to pursue in order to achieve it.

It is with no small amount of reassurance that I can assert that Kokomo, Indiana is not one of these latter cities.

No Rust Belt complacency on display here in the City of Firsts. Though as recently as 2008 it was on Forbes’ list of America’s Fastest Dying Towns, a recent visit shows much more evidence than I’ve seen of some comparably sized cities in the region that the civic culture is neither resting on its laurels nor wringing its hands about how much better things used to be. In fact, one of the Indianapolis Star’s leading editorialists, Erika Smith, recently visited the city, and, after receiving a tour from the Mayor, was pleasantly surprised by how proactive it has been in implementing precisely the type of quality-of-life initiatives largely perceived as necessary to help a historically blue-collar city stave off a brain drain or descend into irrelevancy.

I, too, recently received the Kokomo tour, followed by a meeting with Mayor Greg Goodnight, and I can also recognize some of the city’s most impressive achievements at shaking off the post-industrial malaise that saddled the city with double-digit unemployment rates as recently as a few years ago. Since then, the city has introduced a trolley system at no charge to users; prior to this initiative, the city had had no mass transit for decades. The Mayor pushed successfully to annex 11 square miles in the town’s periphery, therefore elevating the population by about 10,000 people. The Mayor’s team worked to convert all one-way streets in Kokomo’s downtown to two-ways, recognizing that accommodating high-speed automobile traffic in a pedestrian-oriented environment only detracts from the appeal. The team has restriped several miles of urban streets to incorporate bike lanes, and it has converted a segment of an abandoned rail line into a rail-with-trail path, branding it by linking it to the city’s industrial heritage. They have deflected graffiti from several bridges and buildings through an expansive and growing mural project. They have upgraded the riverfront park with an amphitheatre and recreational path. They have introduced several sculptural installations, the most prominent of which is the KokoMantis, a giant praying mantis made entirely of repurposed metal and funded privately. And my personal favorite: with the support of the City, the school superintendent has integrated a prestigious International Baccalaureate (IB) program to the public school system, including an international exchange program for young men from several foreign countries (a girls’ program should arrive in the next year or two) who live in a recently restored historic structure in Kokomo’s walkable downtown, attending demanding courses that bolster their chances of admittance in a coveted American university. Most impressively, the City of Kokomo has achieved all of this without incurring any public debt in the past year.

Obviously the individuals offering me this tour are going to make sure their Cinderella is fully dressed for the ball, and I recognize that not a small amount of the securing of certain infrastructural projects and transportation enhancement grants requires a political savvy that the current civic leadership has in abundance. And I don’t want to rehash Ms. Smith’s article, which more than effectively chronicles this approach at a macro level. In addition, Erika Smith recognizes, as do I, that very few of these initiatives (the IB foreign exchange program notwithstanding) are really particularly earth-shattering. But when most other similarly sized cities in the Midwest seem to be engaged in a race to the bottom, luring new industry through generous tax breaks (often initiated at the state level), Kokomo seems to recognize that a town lacking any amenities outside of low cost of living has to compete with dozens of other cities in Ohio and Michigan and Pennsylvania, and elsewhere in Indiana, that offer the exact same brand. Whether this investment yields a long-term return remains to be seen, but it certainly demonstrates the right gestures necessary to instill civic stewardship in a place whose decades of job loss have seriously scratched its mirror of self-examination.

What ultimately struck me about Kokomo—which Erika Smith only touched upon—was the level of design sophistication evident in some of these civic projects. I need only focus on a single location in the city, in which two particularly laudatory techniques are on display. At the intersection of Markland Avenue and Main Street, just south of downtown, the Industrial Heritage Trail begins its journey southward. Here’s a view as the trail terminates at its junction with those two streets, looking northwestward:

Here is a view in the other direction:

Continuing a bit further in this direction, one encounters this painted wall:

And, pivoting slightly to the left, another mural that is still in progress:

This photo series identifies two amenities that stand out for the astute decision-making that apparently took place during the implementation. The Industrial Heritage Trail clearly operates in a railway corridor, but it is not a rail-trail. Unlike the more common rail-trail conversion, this Kokomo trail did not incorporate the removal of the original rail infrastructure. The Rails to Trails Conservancy would label this approach a rail-with-trail, indicating that the trail shares the railway easement, typically separated by fencing. Rail-trails such as the Monon Trail in metro Indianapolis are still the more common practice. However, a growing number of communities are embracing rail-with-trails, not only because they obviate the need for costly removal of rails, ties, and ballast, but they reserve the rail infrastructure for the possibility that a railroad company may reactivate the line in the future. If the sponsors of Kokomo’s Industrial Heritage Trail had removed the infrastructure, the possibility of ever reintroducing rail along the corridor would be virtually nil. As it stands, the only conceivable disadvantage to rail-with-trails is that, in the event a rail company reintroduces train service, its close proximity to the path may prove hazardous to bicyclists or pedestrians. Otherwise, the decision to retain the railway not only helped to diversify options, it most likely saved a considerable amount of money.

The other smart decision was the site selection for those murals. The ones featured in the photos above are part of a growing mural campaign that the City of Kokomo introduced, and every one that I recall shows real foresight in the locational decisions. What makes them so good? The murals in the photos above front a public right-of-way, minimizing if not completely precluding the chance that later development will conceal them. I blogged a few years ago about an excellent mural in Indianapolis that showed wonderful care and craft in the entire implementation process…except where the conceivers chose to locate it. Not only did they paint on a cheap, cinder-block building that will likely tumble down if market pressures encourage new development in the neighborhood, but the mural also faces a vacant lot which is large enough to host a new structure that would block it completely, no doubt frustrating the community and pitting them against a developer.

Compare this to Kokomo’s murals. Here’s one a little further south on the Industrial Heritage Trail:

Again, it fronts the trail itself—not a chance that a developer will try to block it. And here’s another along a bridge underpass for the recently completed trail along the Wildcat Creek:

The original intention of the mural was to repel vandals at spot that previously suffered from it frequently; this approach has proven successful in locations across the country.  But it also sits in a park along a new greenway, so it should remain in perpetuity. Granted, Indianapolis has plenty of murals along retaining walls and buildings that front the aforementioned Monon Trail. Those, too, should survive far into the future. But in recent years, the City of Indianapolis has encouraged countless murals on the side walls of commercial buildings—sites where a blank wall faces a parking lot, where a building once stood. While these bare walls often scream for some ornamentation to help distract from what used to be there (another adjoining building), in many instances the parking lots will likely fall under increasing development pressure in upcoming years. Will the locals thwart development in order to save the mural? This remains to be seen, and I don’t want to base too much of an analysis on speculation. But it’s hard to deny that these public art investments seem less astute than the once I witnessed in Kokomo.

One could argue that Kokomo is merely taking advantage of the fact that it is jumping into the game relatively late; it benefits by learning from the mistakes of others. But decisions that stand the test of time also contribute their fair share to foster civic goodwill. Taxpayers are rarely too forgiving of poorly conceived projects, and several successive blunders, no matter how small they may be, demonstrate poor accountability. Only time will determine the return on investment, but Kokomo certainly has a leg up on many of its competing small cities. My suspicion is, if these projects stimulate the discussion and enthusiasm for proactive leadership that they suggest (Mayor Goodnight was re-elected last year by a landslide), the citizens of Kokomo are only beginning to stoke the fire.

This post originally ran in American Dirt on November 16, 2012.

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 July 22, 2014 01:33 PM


howdoi: Because the Internet knows more than you

I picked howdoi as a complement to betty today, because in some ways, they both do similar things.


Whereas betty would reply with set answers (provided she knew the questions :roll: ), howdoi acts as a conduit between you and that vast cesspool in the sky, The Internet. Give howdoi a few key terms, and it will give back what it hopes is an answer to your conundrum.

howdoi is aimed mostly at coders, as I understand it, but as you can see, it will handle system admin or just bash issues too. I even asked it a question or two about vim, and I think it gave the right answer. It’s hard to tell with vim. :| I didn’t ask it for the weather in London. :roll:

If you tinker with howdoi for a few minutes, you’ll see what it’s doing: searching through StackOverflow, and replying with a best-case answer formatted for your screen. If you ask nicely (in other words, use the -a and/or the -c flags) it will prettify the result, and give a link to where it was found.

I can’t fault howdoi very much, since for the most part, it seems to give the right answers. On the other hand, as you can see above, it doesn’t really know what you’re asking — I don’t think that is the right command to add a user with bash. ;) So remember: It’s just handing down the wisdom of the unwashed masses, and hoping you will be pacified.

In that way, howdoi is really just a well-designed search utility for the console, like surfraw is and a few other tools do. I’d have to check to see how it’s designed, and whether it actually looks through more than just StackOverflow; I’ve only seen links to that site.

So in all, I can’t complain about howdoi the same way I do about betty. If you’re a coder and you sometimes find yourself fishing for snippets, howdoi is a short and quick tool that gives out just the right amount of info. On the other hand, be aware that while the Internet will always know more than you, what it knows isn’t necessarily something you want to learn.

P.S., Yes, there is an elvi for StackOverflow in surfraw. In case you were headed there next to check. …

Tagged: browser, code, search, web

by K.Mandla at July 22, 2014 12:15 PM

betty: Anti-aliasing

I have two applications within a theme today; one of them I talked about a month ago on some other random site, and the other is relatively new. Or it is to me, anyway.

First up is betty.


betty was steamrolling the Linux underbelly of the Internet for a while this summer, winning fans as a “Siri for the console.” Proponents suggested you could type just about any request of betty, and she would run the appropriate command and provide results. Rather than learning esoteric commands and flag sequences, betty could translate a request, pump it through the appropriate tool, and give you back an answer.

Which sounds like a fantastic idea, and I’m fully on board with betty … except as you can see above, it doesn’t quite work.

betty has preset commands she understands, most (all?) of which are listed on her home page. Deviate one character from those, and she’s lost.

Or worse, there are a few that supposedly work, that don’t. That’s what I hoped to show in the screenshot: that my typing skills were not to blame for betty’s empty replies.

I won’t harp too much on betty because I got most of my shots in last month, when fanboys hailed betty as The Golden Child of Linux and promised she would revolutionize life at the cursor. Suffice to say that betty doesn’t actually translate your commands, doesn’t parse context for a reply, and doesn’t tolerate deviation from her set list … hopefully.

Which means at best, betty works the opposite of an alias. Instead of just typing date +"%A", you’re typing in betty whats today, then sifting through her possible responses. If you hoped to save time typing, you didn’t.

And if you need to know the day of the week so frequently that you’d consider using betty for it, you’d do as well to use alias dow='date +"%A"', and do things the old-fashioned way.

But that’s enough for now. It will be a while before betty fulfills her promises, and becomes the natural language translator for the console. In that time, imagine how many traditional commands you could learn. … :???:

Tagged: command, convert, translate

by K.Mandla at July 22, 2014 12:00 PM

sacha chua :: living an awesome life

Learning from things I like: Books about applying advice to your life

I’m fascinated by books about applying advice to your life. “Stunt memoir” seems to be the phrase for it – or gimmick book, or schtick lit. (This post lists lots of examples.) Part self-help book and part memoir, these are usually broken up into one chapter per principle, applying research or time-tested ideas to everyday life. Book titles are often long multi-parters where the second part refers to the adventure or lists an incongruous combination of techniques. The authors illustrate principles with struggles, successes, and epiphanies, and then eventually make their peace with the advice. Oddly enough, chapters tend to fit rather neatly into the usual three-act story structure – the storyteller’s craft at work.

A year seems to be a common size for these experiments, often divided into one principle per month: long enough to test ideas and write a decent-sized book for print. I think that one principle a month looks manageable for readers, too: not so short that you won’t see changes, and not so long that you’d get bored or discouraged.

Here are some examples:

I imagine that writing such a book is good for self-improvement even if no one else ever buys or reads it, so any sales are a bonus. I wonder what the process of writing that kind of a book is like: how to organize notes into a narrative, how to push yourself beyond what’s easy.

There are lots of experiments I could run along those lines:

  • Self-tracking: focusing on quantifying different things per month, bringing in research as well. Time, finance, productivity, mood, habits, fitness, food, learning, thinking, relationships, others
  • Practical philosophy: paying close attention to ancient wisdom and applying that to daily life
  • Behavioural economics and psychology in daily life: rationality, decision-making, etc.

Still, I want to be careful about the kinds of things that have rubbed me and other people the wrong way A month is not that long, and sometimes these books feel a little… shallow? Like someone’s going through the Cliff Notes for a deep idea, trying out a few things, and then calling it a day. As if someone’s just going through a checklist, crossing off different techniques. There’s also that consciousness of privilege, and the self-absorption of memoirs. That said, I write about my reflections a lot on this blog, so… maybe? I tend to think of it more as “Ack, there’s so much I still have to figure out; if I post my notes, maybe someone will take pity on me and share their insights (or possibly recognize something that they might find useful in theirs)” rather than “Here, learn from my life.”

So… I don’t know. On one hand, I like the “I’m figuring this out too” approach compared to the didactic awesomer-than-thou feel of many self-help books. On the other hand, I’m not keen on the “My life is incomplete and unhappy; I must search outside for ways to make it better.”

What’s at the core of the things I like about these kinds of books?

  • Translates research or principles into everyday actions: There’s a lot of good stuff buried in scientific language, abstract concepts, or even self-help books. Sometimes it’s hard to imagine applying those ideas to real life, and seeing someone go through the process (recovering from mistakes and all!) can help.
  • Pays attention to things we often take for granted: We do many things repeatedly and with little attention. If we look closely at them, we can get better. For example, if we think about a principle and relate it to how we want to communicate, make decisions, or use our time, we’ll often find things that we can tweak and turn into new habits.
  • Shares the struggles and the little celebrations: Self-help books can feel a little too pat with all their success stories. I relate a little better to stories along the lines of “Yeah, this was hard to learn, but here’s how I picked myself up and tried again. Here are some things that made it a little easier for me until I got the hang of it. This is what encouraged me to keep going, and now here I am. Maybe this can help you too.”
  • Connects with people who are even more dedicated to the topic: Some books sprinkle in quotes from researchers and authors. Some books include conversations with specialists. Some books delve into subcultures of people who are even more passionate about the principles and have lots of insights to share. I like the last type most of all; it’s like having an excuse to meet and learn from geeks of other persuasions.

Maybe less stunt-ish, then? I’m not thinking of these as radical changes to my life (“Oh, I only have to do this a month at a time, for a year”), but more like gradual improvement. I can always try things informally, and then stitch the essays together into a book. It might not be as impressive as spending one contiguous year focused on something, packaging this up for other people’s entertainment and perhaps inspiration, but we’ll see where it goes. =)

The post Learning from things I like: Books about applying advice to your life appeared first on sacha chua :: living an awesome life.

by Sacha Chua at July 22, 2014 12:00 PM

Crossway Blog

Help Wanted: Looking for Someone to Make My Kids Love the Bible

WOWM - Tips and Encouragement

This is a guest post by Jessica Thompson and is part of Women of the Word Month, a free 31-day campaign designed to encourage and equip women for transformative Bible study. Learn more or sign up at

Help Wanted

Help Wanted: Looking for someone to make my children understand and love the Bible. My husband and I have tried everything, from bribery to anger to manipulation and they don’t seemed interested at all. If you can take on three kids, ages 5-10 and instill in them a love for God’s Word. I will pay you $100 per week.

I would never actually put an ad like this on Craigslist, but I have been tempted. It is unbelievably frustrating and hopeless to spend time reading a devotional or the Bible to your children to find out at the end of it that two of the kids were playing rock, scissors, paper under the table and the other one had fallen asleep (that explains why they were so quiet and “attentive”).

As Christian parents, we hope that our children will say with David and with us, “In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches . . . my soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times” (Ps. 119:14, 20).

Examining Our Own Hearts

Now stop, read those verses again and ask yourself this question: Do I even do that? I know I personally don’t. There are mornings, weeks, and months when my heart is hard and indifferent to the Bible. There are mornings, weeks, and months when I am distracted and would rather do anything but sit and meditate on the Word of God.

So my question to you is, “Why do we expect our children to be any different than we are?” And yet, we do . . . and then we get angry and depressed when they don’t seem to care. Only a true believer’s heart would want to read or understand the Bible, and, at times, we expect our children—who may not be believer—to act as though they are. Let’s get real honest here: we might even force our children into a charade of sorts, showering them with praise the more they act like they are enjoying their devotional time.

Please hear me: it is good and right to read the Bible with your children; it is good and right to share your love for God’s Word. However, we can’t force our kids into the kingdom of God.

Help from Above

There is One who can fill that “help wanted” ad above. It’s actually his job, not ours.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:13)

It is the Holy Spirit’s job to make your children love Jesus and love the Bible. And it’s his job to do that in your life, too. You can trust Him to do His work.

Practical Tips

But what can we do to make it easier for our kids to love God’s Word, instead of merely forcing it on them?

First and most importantly, pray . . . and not just during devotions. And don’t pray the “guilt prayer” while seated around the table: “God, help these children stop messing around. Help them to sit still because you love kids who listen.” Rather, pray like Paul prayed. Ask God to help your kids come to know his unfathomable love for them and that they would consequently come to love His Word.

Second, don’t make the Bible out to be a book of morality. That isn’t the message of Christianity. The Bible is the story of God’s unrelenting, redeeming love for sinners. Do your children know that? Do you know that? Or have we reduced God’s Word to a bunch rules and regulations?

I know I don’t want to read a list rules. But give me an action-packed story about a good King fighting for his people and I’m hooked.

Last, remember their salvation isn’t up to you. This realization will free you to enjoy them and your devotional time with them, even if they don’t. Their response to the Word doesn’t define you as a parent.

Simply put, trust God when it comes to helping your kids understand and love the Bible. He’s the help you’re looking for.

Jessica Thompson is the author of Exploring Grace Together: 40 Devotionals for the Family and the coauthor (with Elyse Fitzpatrick) of Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus. She is a wife, a mother of three, and a member of an Acts 29 church.



Related Posts

by Matt Tully at July 22, 2014 09:00 AM

Cal Newport » Blog

Don’t Pursue Promotions: Contrarian Career Advice from Ancient Sources of Wisdom


An Innovative New Voice in the Advice World

For the past six months, my friend Dale Davidson has been executing an epic project.

Eager to optimize his life, and frustrated with much of the advice he encountered online and in contemporary books and magazines, Dale decided to go back to basics and start drawing lessons from humankind’s most ancient and enduring philosophies and religions.

To do so, he focuses on one ancient philosophy or religion per month. During this month he chooses a core ritual to practice. He then extracts wisdom relevant to his  modern life from these ancient prescriptions.

The logic driving his project is simple. These systems have undergone centuries — and in many cases, millennia — of brutal cultural evolution. The ideas that survived this competition must have done so for a good reason: they work.

Why start from scratch in finding answers to life’s challenges, big and small, when you can reference the solutions human civilization has already painstakingly developed and tested?

I’ve been fascinated by Dale’s progress with this project, which he details on his Ancient Wisdom Project blog. I think more people should know about what he’s up to, so I asked him to write a guest post for me.

Below is the (epic) result. In the guest post that follows, Dale briefly summarizes the structure of his project, then identifies five contrarian tips he’s learned so far. To keep the article relevant to our recent discussions, I asked Dale to focus on tips relevant to career issues.

Some of the ideas below you may agree with and some you may not. But they should all get you thinking more deeply about how you approach success and happiness in your career…

Take it away Dale…


[Note: From this point on the text is written by Dale. -- Cal]

Returning to Ancient Wisdom

During college, all I wanted to do was become a Navy SEAL. I won an NROTC scholarship, got accepted into training, and was ready to start my career as an operator.

Unfortunately, once I got to training, I realized I didn’t want to become a SEAL, and I quit.

Not knowing what to do with my life, I looked to bloggers for help. I discovered Tim Ferriss, and decided that what I needed to do was build a passive-income web business and travel the world.

So I did. I started a (unsuccessful) web business, took off to Egypt to teach and travel, and tried to create the life I thought would make me happy.

The thing is, I wasn’t happy. None of the standard blogger advice worked for me. I felt like I would never have a meaningful career or professional life, that there was something fundamentally wrong with me.

So a few months ago, I changed strategies. I started to look outside the blogosphere for help. I began studying and practicing ancient religion and philosophy to figure out how to live a meaningful life. Over time, I added some structure to this project and began to blog about it: calling the whole endeavor the Ancient Wisdom Project.

Ultimately, I settled on the following rules to structure my efforts:

  1. Every month I identify one positive trait or quality I’d like to cultivate in myself (tranquility, compassion, etc.).
  2. I then choose an ancient religion or philosophy that I believe will help me develop that particular trait. These philosophies or religions must be sufficiently ancient (at least 500 years or so) and must still exist in some form today.
  3. After I match the religion with the trait, I select one practice from the religion to adopt for a 30-day period that I feel will be particularly useful. Ideally it’s a practice that I can perform on a near daily basis.
  4. Then I do the practice for a one-month period and study the ancient philosophy or religion in order to maximize the effectiveness of the practice.
  5. Finally, I write about the experience on my website.

For example, the first trait I wanted to cultivate was tranquility. After a bit of research, I decided that Stoicism would be perfect for helping me develop this trait.

I then decided to adopt one physical practice and one mental practice.

For the physical practice, I decided to take daily ice baths, (to expose myself to physical hardship), and for the mental practice, I chose negative visualization, the act of imagining all the ways your life could be worse.

Dale in an ice bath.

Dale attempting to look upbeat in a Stoic ice bath.

Over that 30-day period of ice baths and negative visualization, I learned the importance of managing my perceptions of external events and observed noticeable improvement in my daily anxiety level.

Over the past few months, I’ve explored many sources of ancient wisdom (e.g., in addition to Stocism, Catholicism, Judaism, and Islam). In this blog post, I want to identify several unexpected pieces of advice from these experience. I will focus, in particular, on advice relevant to your career.

These ideas are not what lifestyle designers will tell you to do, and they aren’t always as easy to follow as what you might find in the standard Business Insider click-bait story.

But they’re based on insights that formed over thousands of years of cultural evolution, and therefore  represent some of humankind’s best thinking on these issues.

I hope you find this advice as useful as I have…

Contrarian Career Advice from Ancient Sources

Tip #1: Don’t pursue promotions

Promotions are wonderful tool for companies to motivate its employees. They’ll say that if you work hard, you can get a raise and a fancy new title.

For many employees, this is a worthwhile pursuit. There is nothing like external validation and more money to make you feel good about yourself.

But there are two problems with approaching your career this way:

First, promotions are not within your control.

There are a few reasons for this. There are a limited number of positions and titles in any given company. You are restricted by the inherent supply of positions that are available to you.

In addition, someone else will ultimately decide whether you receive a promotion. It might be your boss, it might be a committee, but it’s not you. You can’t waive a magic wand and give yourself a promotion.

Stoicism, an ancient Greek philosophy, teaches that you should only desire things within your control. Otherwise, you are doomed to be unhappy.

And what is within your control? Here’s what Epictetus, a slave turned Stoic sage has to say [Note: All cited passages in this section are from Epictetus]:

Some things are in our control and others not. Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever are our own actions. Things not in our control are body, property, reputation, command, and, in one word, whatever are not our own actions.

Promotions don’t fall into the list of things you can control, therefore, you shouldn’t desire promotions. If you receive one, you’ll soon get used to the new title and larger salary and begin desiring the next promotion. If you are passed over for one, you will be unhappy.

The second major reason you shouldn’t seek promotions is that it is likely you will have to compromise something you value in order to attain one.

Are you a creative type in a conservative company? Well, it’s unlikely that you’ll get a promotion without hiding your creativity to some extent.

Do you like to work on your own but your company emphasizes teamwork? If you stop showing up to meeting, people will question your dedication to the mission.

The pursuit of a promotion will come at a price, and it will sometimes be a price you shouldn’t pay.

Is anyone preferred before you at an entertainment, or in a compliment, or in being admitted to a consultation? If these things are good, you ought to be glad that he has gotten them; and if they are evil, don’t be grieved that you have not gotten them. And remember that you cannot, without using the same means [which others do] to acquire things not in our own control, expect to be thought worthy of an equal share of them. For how can he who does not frequent the door of any [great] man, does not attend him, does not praise him, have an equal share with him who does? You are unjust, then, and insatiable, if you are unwilling to pay the price for which these things are sold, and would have them for nothing.

Cal says that you should become so good they can’t ignore you. I agree that you should become “so good,” as that is in your sphere of control, but I say you should be indifferent to whether or not others ignore you. The Stoics would say instead:

“Become so good and stop worrying if others ignore you.”

If you happen to win praise and recognition for your good work, great! Just don’t let it get to your head. If you do good work and no one cares, be indifferent.

But, for your part, don’t wish to be a general, or a senator, or a consul, but to be free; and the only way to this is a contempt of things not in our own control.


Tip #2: Cultivate humility

If you’ve ever taken part in a workplace gripe session with your friends, you know that the conversation usually includes complaints about “idiot coworkers” or “clueless management.”

The universality of these comments would make you believe that all employees and bosses everywhere are clueless or evil idiots whose only purpose is to make your work life miserable.

We know this to be false, so what explains this phenomenon?

When you say your co-worker or boss is an idiot, the hidden assumption is that you are better than them as human beings. You are not conducting a dispassionate analysis of their behavior and coolly explaining how they can do things better, you’re just being arrogant.

This arrogance is making you miserable.

The word Islam, means “submission [to God’s will].” Implied in this definition is that you are not the center of the universe, that you shouldn’t follow your own desires, you should follow God’s desires.

Dale learning islamic prayer techniques.

Dale learning Islamic prayer techniques.

Focusing less on yourself is a key component to humility. Islam reinforces humility by requiring Muslims to pray five times a day (the practice of Salat), which includes a physical act of prostration.

Islam didn’t just teach people to practice humility towards God; they also taught that it was important to be humble in the way you relate to others.

Rumi, a famous Sufi poet, once said, “The fault is in the one who blames. Spirit sees nothing to criticize.”

Criticism of your co-workers is not really about them, it’s about you and your own issues.

In my own experience, I found that by practicing humility, I became happier at work, or at least, less frustrated. If a co-worker did something I thought was dumb, I would ask myself “Am I capable of making similarly stupid mistakes? [Yes I am]” When I thought senior management was making a stupid strategic decision, I asked myself, “Do I know how to run a company better than they do? [No I don’t]”

Cultivating a humble attitude towards others at your work will yield better emotional and psychological results than venting at happy hour with your friends.


Tip #3: Ditch work-life balance in favor of sacred rest

Work-life balance is a hot topic at the moment. We live in an age of distraction and fluid boundaries between work and the rest of our life. We answer work e-mails at home, personal e-mails at work. “Leisure” doesn’t even seem that relaxing. I’m guilty of binging on Netflix for hours and hours on the weekend. When I’m done, I feel sluggish and unhappy. I’m not working, but I’m not quite resting either.

Modern advice that advocates work-life balance doesn’t go far enough. Even the term “work-life balance” doesn’t convey the importance of what we need to truly flourish as human beings.

What we need is something like Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest.

Shabbat begins on Friday night and ends on Saturday night. If strictly observed, you are not allowed to cook, write, or really do anything that would be considered work. You are also prohibited from using electronic devices, as that would be considered “igniting a fire,” (due to electrical sparks in the circuitry of the device).

Does this seem outdated? Overly strict?

I don’t think so. To truly rest, you need to commit yourself to activities that are meaningful and rejuvenating, and ruthlessly cut out those that aren’t.

When you can’t use your iPhone, buy anything, or even drive, you will naturally do activities that are inherently meaningful. You will spend time with your family, go out for long walks, have fun conversations over long meals (with food you prepared before Shabbat), etc.

It reminds you that you have a life outside of work, that humans aren’t “beasts of burden,” that our purpose here on Earth goes beyond your career or job.

Consider these words from Abraham Joshua Heschel, a famous Jewish theologian,

“The Sabbath is a day for the sake of life. Man is not a beast of burden, and the Sabbath is not for the purpose of enhancing the efficiency of his work. ‘Last in creation, first in intention,’ the Sabbath is ‘the end of the creation of heaven and earth.’

The Sabbath is not for the sake of the weekdays; the weekdays are for the sake of the Sabbath. It is not an interlude but the climax of living.”

Instead of complaining that your work is taking over your life, make some portion outside of your life sacred, so you can truly feel rejuvenated.

Cal says that to achieve a remarkable career, we need to learn the art of deep focus at work.

Judaism would say to achieve a remarkable life, we need to learn the art of deep focus at rest as well.

Tip #4: Pay close attention to your feelings

I’ve been a slave to my emotions about my work. During particularly boring work assignments, I’ve fantasized about quitting my job to start a passive income business and traveling the world. In moments of anger, I’ve wanted to yell at my boss, make a dramatic speech to my co-workers, and storm out of the office.

I found that most lifestyle design bloggers play upon these (normal) feelings and use it to promote bad advice that will lead you to make bad decisions. If your job is boring, they will tell you to quit for an exciting life as an entrepreneur. They will tell you to find your passion or travel the world regardless of what your individual circumstances are.

Your feelings are important, but you need to learn how to correctly assess your feelings in order to make good decisions.

For this, you should follow the Jesuit (a Catholic order) process called the “Discernment of Spirits.”

Father Kevin O’Brien, a Jesuit priest, writes:

In discernment of spirits, we notice the interior movements of our hearts, which include our thoughts, feelings, desires, attractions, and resistances. We determine where they are coming from and where they are leading us; and then we propose to act in a way that leads to greater faith, hope, and love.

We pay attention to feelings of consolation, “…an experience of being so on fire with God’s love that we feel impelled to praise, love, and serve God and help others as best as we can,” and desolation, “an experience of the soul in heavy darkness or turmoil.”

There are a number of rules to follow when practicing discernment that are unexpectedly sophisticated for a practice that is 500 years old.

For example, take the Third Rule:

“With cause, as well the good Angel as the bad can console the soul, for contrary ends: the good Angel for the profit of the soul, that it may grow and rise from good to better, and the evil Angel, for the contrary, and later on to draw it to his damnable intention and wickedness.”

What this says is that just because something your doing feels bad or painful, it doesn’t mean the activity itself is bad.

Say you’re on a particularly stressful project at work. You feel exhausted and frustrated, and you think you should quit your job.

A lifestyle design blogger would say, “of course you should quit! A job you love would never feel stressful or difficult.”

A Jesuit, on the other hand, would ask you if maybe these feelings are temporary, and that if the project is a good one, maybe it’s worth completing. It asks you to consider that maybe the “bad angel” is trying to trick you into abandoning a worthwhile effort.

You may protest that you don’t believe in angels or God or spirits, but that’s not the point. The point is that the Jesuits had an advanced process for paying attention to your feelings that will help you make good decisions and avoid bad ones. The process is careful, methodical, and more importantly, tested over centuries of human experience.

I’ve used discernment when assessing whether or not I should stay at my job. My job generally leaves me with feelings of desolation. It may seem obvious that I need to quit, right?

Wrong. Using discernment, I discovered what I needed was to do something meaningful and that it didn’t have to come from my job.

So what did I do? I started volunteering at a homeless-services organization. I spend a few hours every month serving meals to the homeless. This has provided an immense boost to my happiness.

Do I still have negative feelings about my job? Of course, but I found a way to make it tolerable, which gives me time to assess what I really want to do for my career.

If a 500-year old Jesuit practice can help me, an agnostic, it can certainly help you too.

Conclusion: The ancients were wise; you should listen to them

None of this advice is as easy or as sexy as the standard, “quit your job, follow your passion” advice that Cal has quite smartly pointed out is nonsense.

It’s not that lifestyle design bloggers are purposely trying to lead you astray; I believe they are really trying to help people have meaningful lives and careers.

However, their greatest weakness is that their advice is not time-tested. Careers are fairly new inventions, and we’re all trying to figure out how they fit with our lives, so the fact that there is lots of bad advice out there is not surprising.

The ancients did not attempt to provide career advice per se (though some did), but they did teach people how to live good and meaningful lives in a world that is often cruel and indifferent to our desires. This same advice which has helped billions of people over thousands of years is still relevant to our modern lives and, can help us navigate even modern artifacts, like our careers.

To live a good and meaningful life, you’re better off following the example of philosophers like Epictetus, Catholic heroes like Saint Ignatius, or Islamic prophets like Mohammed than you are of following advice from the latest lifestyle design blogger.

But what do I know? I’m just a 26-year old blogger.

by Study Hacks at July 22, 2014 09:00 AM

Vivek Haldar

When to do a rewrite

Spolsky’s famous screed against rewriting from scratch is now canonical. All the same, there are valid reasons to do a rewrite:

  • Your understanding of the domain, or the domain itself, has changed drastically in the process of building the first version.
  • The scale for which you built the initial system has grown by more than an order of magnitude. The right design for millions of users is very different than that for thousands.
  • Newer languages and runtimes make the product much better along some dimension: deliver better performance, be more maintainable etc.
  • You have accumulated so much technical debt that starting from scratch is easier than untangling the mess you have. This is often the most misleading reason, because engineers always prefer a system they wrote from scratch to inheriting one which works just fine. But even so, it does happen.

None of the above takes away from what Spolsky wrote. A rewrite is still a risky endeavor, even if one or more of the above conditions hold true, and should always be approached with caution and humility.

His argument was much stronger in the era of software that was shrink-wrapped to PCs, because the slow rate of change of the surrounding environment made many of the above reasons inapplicable.

But server-side software that powers online services is always in a constant state of flux. There is rarely any concept of “done”. The product might look more or less the same from the outside, while the backend code constantly churns to deal with growing scale, new stacks, and other services it depends on.

July 22, 2014 07:09 AM

Table Titans


Are All Sins Really “Equal in the Eyes of God”?

Scales-of-justice-2One of the most common truisms you’ll hear as a kid growing up in Evangelical churches is that “in the eyes of God, all sins are equal.” If all have fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:20), and breaking one part of the Law means you’ve broken all of it (James 2:10), then there’s a sort of equalizing effect at work here, right? Whether you’re a murderer or a serial jay-walker, you’ve violated the law and so stand accused in the dock on the same charge as anyone else: sin.

Now, there are two main uses to which this doctrine is usually put. First, it’s often used as a way of curbing pride or discouraging judgmentalism. Since everyone is a sinner, including you, there’s no place for feeling better than your neighbor just because they seem to have sinned in a worse way. Second, since all sin is equal in God’s sight, there’s also no use in you thinking you can earn your way into God’s graces, or justify yourself because you haven’t committed any of the “really big” sins.

You may be able to tell, I have a big caveat to add here.

I have to admit, as a kid this idea never sat well with me. I mean, I wouldn’t deny that we’re all sinners in need of salvation, or that no one should feel better than others, or that all sin leads to judgment, but I remember very clearly arguing in Bible study that there’s definitely a distinction between greater and lesser sins. There’s got to be a difference between beating your child and sneaking a peek on a tough answer on your quiz; it seemed to me like utter nihilism to deny any sort of distinction like that.  If a human judge gave the thief 25-life along with the murderer, we’d say there’s something off with her ability to discern right from wrong, and subtle gradations of human justice.

But where does that leave our theology of judgment, sin, and salvation? If there are worse and lesser sins, it seems cruel to punish both with the same ultimate judgment. If treating the thief and the murderer equally seems unjust in this life, then how much more in the life/state to come?

As it turns out, there’s good biblical reasons to affirm both the fundamental equality of sinners before the dock of God, as well as the distinctions between sins that seem intuitive to our basic instincts. Bavinck has an excellent little section that will set the stage for us:

Aside from the difference between diabolical and human sins, there is also a great deal of difference among the latter…Granted, in principle sin and virtue are indivisible: those who have one have them all, and those who lack one lack them all. Between good and evil there is no gradual transition. A person consents or does not consent to the law of God.  The law of God is an organism that, when violated in one of its commandments, is violated in its totality, for God, who have the commandment that was violated, is the author of all the other commandments as well (James 2:10). But not all sins are for that reason equal. The different names for sin already bear this out. In Genesis 4, in connection with the sacrifice of Cain and Abel, we learn that the inner disposition is of greater value than the gift. Though the law given to Israel contains a wide range of ceremonial commandments, the entire Old Testament makes clear that the value of the ethical conduct far surpasses that of cultic and ceremonial acts. Faith is reckoned as righteousness (Gen. 15:6). obedience is better than sacrifice (1 Sam. 15:22; Amos 2:6ff; 5:14, 21f; Hosea 4″1f; 12:6; Mic. 6:6, 8; Isa. 1:11f; 5:8f; Jer. 7:3; 22:3; Ezek. 16:49; 18:5f; 2 Cor. 12:20f; Gal. 5:19; etc.). The law itself moreover, makes a distinction between sins that are committed inadvertently, out of ignorance or weakness, do not break the covenant, and can be expiated within the covenant, and sins that are committed consciously and intentional (…”with a high hand”), place the perpetrator outside the covenant, and make him worthy of death (Lev. 4:5; 22:14; Num. 15:22f; 35:11f; Josh. 20:3, 9). Scripture never abandons the objective position that locates the standard of sin solely in the law of God. Yet the guilt of violation is greater or less to the degree the commandment was violated more or less intentionally.

Reformed Dogmatics Volume 3: Sin and Salvation in Christ, pp. 149-150

The whole section is worth perusing as Bavinck goes on to parse the biblical material even further. Still, we see both truths, that the law of God is one, and that all who violate it stand condemned, but that even so, God makes distinctions between types of sin. Murder really is a bigger deal than theft. Stealing because you’re poor and hungry is not the same thing as cheating your impoverished employees out of fair wages to pay for a lavish vacation. What’s more, those sins that we knowingly commit, thinking to ourselves “I know this is contrary to God’s demands, but I’m going to do it anyways” have a greater weight than the transgressions that we give ourselves over to in a foolish, unthinking moment. Our everyday, human instincts are not entirely wrong here, but are, in fact, confirmed by biblical material.

What then of the equality of sinners before the bar of God’s justice? Biblically, it’s not so much that all sins are flatly equal, but that any sin is a sign of violation of the greatest sin. “A person consents or does not consent to the law of God.” What Bavinck is saying is that even the “small” sins, flow from the deep, great, fundamental stance of lawlessness towards God. From another angle, Martin Luther said of the first commandment “where the heart is rightly disposed toward God and this commandment is observed, all the others follow” (Larger Catechism). In other words, we only ever murder, or lie, or cheat, or steal, or commit any number of piddling little sins, because we are already caught up in the greatest, most flagrant violation of all: idolatry, worshiping something other than the true God as God.

This is the reason that Paul writes we all have fallen short of the glory of God. His indictment of human sin, debauchery and lawlessness begins with idolatry in Romans 1:18-23, and from there we see humanity given over as a consequence to the various sorts of sin listed in 1:24-32. Considered simply as “thief” and “murderer”, the murderer is clearly guilty of a far greater crime. That said, both thief and murderer stand before the bar under the far weightier charge of “idolater” and “cosmic traitor.”

Incidentally, this is part of the answer to the charge that no one has done anything merit the eternal judgment we are warned of in Scripture. I’ve discussed the inherent symmetry of handing the person who has spent a life-time pursuing everything but God, a future without God. Still, that aside, that many of us don’t observe our idolatry with the horror with which it is presented in Scripture is not an indication of the Bible’s over-scrupulosity, but our own comfortable we’ve become with our own sin. As Anselm famously put it, “you have not yet considered how great the weight of sin is.”

To sum up then, are all sins equally vile, condemnable, and is distinguishing between them a merely human way of looking at them? No. To say so is to go beyond Scripture and even to do violence to our righteous moral instincts about everyday human justice. But are all sinners “equally guilty” before God, in no place to merit their salvation, or boast and brag over others? Yes.And one more question: does God’s extend his abundant, overwhelming, and astonishing grace in Christ to all? Thankfully, we can say a bold “Yes, and Amen!”

Soli Deo Gloria

by Derek Rishmawy at July 22, 2014 06:19 AM

The Outlaw Way



1) Snatch: 5X2@80%


1) Snatch Balance: 3X3@80%

2) Snatch Hi-Pull (to chest): 3X3@80%


1) Back Squat: 5X2@75%

The post 140722 appeared first on The Outlaw Way.

by at July 22, 2014 05:42 AM

The Gospel Coalition | Latest Articles

Trees of the Field: Thoughts on Work

I got my first “job” when I was 10 years old. To keep me out of trouble and my babysitter sane, my parents made me clean the gunk out of the cracks on our back deck with a paring knife. With a simple power washer, or even a Shop-Vac, the task would have taken maybe an hour. With a paring knife, though . . . well, more than 20 years later, I’m still not done. My only respites from the digging were afternoon baseball games, where I’d constantly strike out at the plate. It was a great summer.

I can’t say for certain, but I’m pretty sure that season solidified my view of work as nothing but toil and trouble. Culturally, we often think of work as a means to an end. It’s the thing we “do” so we can have “stuff.” It’s all about us—our happiness, our needs, and our dreams.

Apple Tree

The truth, however, is that work is so much more than a burden. It’s more than what it does for us. It’s more than a product or an end result. Work is a gift. It’s how we serve one another. In a way, it’s a beautiful demonstration of “God with us,” providing for us. As Martin Luther said, “God could easily give you grain and fruit without your plowing and planting, but he does not want to do so. . . . [Our vocations] are the masks of God, behind which he wants to remain concealed and do all things.”

If you ask me, the best way to think about “work” is to think about trees. Yes, trees. Consider, for example, the apple tree. Does an apple tree horde the fruit of its labor? Does it call the police when we scale its limbs or breathe its air? Hopefully, and thankfully, not. Its nature is to give. In a way, it wasn’t created for itself, but for us. Its very existence is service.

Similarly, God created us in his image to work, create, and serve. Our work is not merely about us. The fruit of our labor is meant for the needs and desires of others (Phil. 2:3-4). We are the masks of God, behind which he works to provide for others.

Oak Tree

Many times in our work-a-day lives, we come to think of our jobs merely as providing a particular widget or service. We think of our work as one thing we do, that concerns only us, and that stands alone to serve a certain purpose. To a certain extent, this is true. A cashier, for example, scans and bags my groceries, counts my money, and (usually) smiles at me. That’s what the cashier does, and that’s why he or she is rightly compensated. But there’s more to that encounter than a simple exchange; there’s collaboration.

Consider another tree—the oak tree. The fruit of its labor is more than just acorns and wood. A farmer who clears a patch of oak trees from his field creates more space to plant his crops. That, in turn, creates more crops to sell, more food in grocery stores, more money for the farmer, and more opportunities to hire farm hands or fix equipment or send the kids to college or maybe just have a really good time at the local bowling alley.

The wood itself, of course, went to a mill, where other people used their talents to cut, shave, and sand. They were rightly compensated for their work, too. The wood then was shipped to a distributor and purchased by a craftsman. The craftsman chiseled, pounded, sanded, and stained, in order to create a dining room table—a table that will be a place of fellowship for years to come.

In this way, the fruit of the oak tree is more than just wood. The fruit of the oak tree is relationship, collaboration, fellowship, and meaning. In its presence—and absence, too—it contributes to the flourishing of the world.


This is the nature of our work, too. We don’t operate in a vacuum. Whether or not we know it, our work thrusts us into relationship with millions of people for generations to come. From street sweeper to CEO, all our work is a mighty collaboration with millions of others for the life of the world.

In this way, our work points to God’s work; it is collaborative because he is collaborative. The triune God works in community: “Let us make . . . ” (Gen. 1:26). He works with, and for, us: “Unless the LORD builds the house, the builders labor in vain” (Ps. 127:1). And our work bears much fruit when we abide in community with him (Jn. 15:1-17).

The fruit of cleaning out the gunk on my back deck, then, is more than unclogged cracks. It’s a clean place where our family can eat and talk. It’s a welcoming spot for neighbors to relax, play, socialize, and fellowship. It’s an inviting space for people to gather, commune, and feast. The fruit of my work is relationship.


Summer Film Series: For a free 72-hour rental of the second episode of For the Life of the World: Letters to the Exiles ("The Economy of Creative Service"), click here and enter code "TGC3." (Note: This TGC-exclusive rental code expires at midnight tonight. If you would like to purchase the entire series and its study guide at a special discounted price, visit Hearts & Minds.)

by Evan Koons at July 22, 2014 05:01 AM

The Gospel on Our Sleeves

I made two mistakes when I taught my Sunday school class on the theology of clothing, as it relates to modesty. My first mistake was fundamental: I did not begin with the gospel. My second mistake was one of scope: I addressed modesty as a women’s issue. This was unintentional because I only had young ladies in my class that year.

Five years later, I would teach this class much differently.

Out of the Abundance of the Heart

I grew up in a Muslim country where clothing embodied faith. People literally wore their religion on their sleeves. Muslim women were allowed to expose only their hands and faces; even Muslim men followed a strict dress code. Though faith is typically regarded as a private matter here in the West, what we choose to wear still tells others who we are and whom we love.

Out of the abundance of the heart, our clothing speaks.

As our Lord Jesus declared, it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person. What defiles a person, he said, proceeds from the heart (Matthew 15:10-19). Thus, it is not what I put on my body that defiles me; my wayward heart defiles me. In and of themselves, cotton and polyester, leather and fur cannot make me righteous or unrighteous.

Sin and idolatry proceed from my heart. My defiled heart desires clothes for my own comfort, my own glory, for my own honor, for my name’s sake. I can be covered from head to toe and still be defiled. I can be wearing locally made, fair-trade, recycled clothes—and still be defiled. Modest dresses can be stained with pride and self-righteousness. Environmentally conscious, budget-friendly fashion can reek of greed and jealousy.

The Lord's instruction with regard to how we dress goes beyond what we wear. He is looking at the desires and intentions of our hearts. Therefore, living out a biblical understanding of how to dress does not begin with what we wear, but why we wear what we wear.

We Are All Immodest

Adam and Eve walked with God in Eden, naked and without shame. They had nothing to prove, nothing to hide. The serpent lied and said that their eyes would be opened if they ate the fruit of the forbidden tree. They believed the serpent, and they ate. Their eyes were indeed opened—unto death.

Apart from God, they were naked, exposed, and ashamed. Immodesty was the result of their death, their separation from God.

Apart from God, I am naked, exposed, and ashamed; I am immodest. My clothes are reminders that I am not who I ought to be. I always have something to prove, something to hide. In the words of the hymn writer, I can only pray, “Naked, come to Thee for dress; Helpless look to Thee for grace; Foul, I to the fountain fly; Wash me, Savior, or I die.”

Garment of Mercy

In his mercy, God clothed his rebellious children. While they attempted to hide, Adam and Eve sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves. But fig leaves were not enough. Even in their unrepentant state, God showed them grace. He fashioned for them garments of skin and covered his children (Genesis 3:21). In Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son, we hear an echo of the father’s love and mercy. When his son returned home, the father clothed his rebel child with the best robe, put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet.

My clothes remind me of God’s mercy toward me. I despised his rule and sought after my own glory. I tried to cover my guilt, but my best effort was as the fig leaves. The righteousness I fashioned for myself was like a filthy rag (Isaiah 64:6). Yet when he saw me, my Father brought out his best robe. I was a beggar at his gate, and he clothed me. I was naked, and he covered me.

Perfect Covering

Jesus Christ is my perfect covering. Christ took on flesh and dwelled among us. Christ paid the penalty for my sin; he died in my place. Hidden in Christ, I am truly modest. I am modest not because of my clothes, but because Christ hems me in, behind and before (Psalms 139:5). I am no longer naked, and I am no longer ashamed.

I am to put on Christ, my armor of light (Romans 13:12-14; Galatians 3:27). Christ is my helmet of salvation. Christ is my breastplate of righteousness. Christ is my belt of truth. Christ equips my feet with shoes; he prepares me to proclaim the gospel of peace. Christ is my shield. Christ gives me the sword of the Spirit, his living Word (Ephesians 6:10-20). I am to wait for my linen, bright and pure (Revelation 19:8), when my mortality will be replaced with the garment of eternal life, where I will be at home with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:4).

Immodesty is the beginning of why we wear clothes, but Christ is the end. We put on our clothes in remembrance of him.

Nothing to Prove, Nothing to Hide

By faith, Jesus Christ makes righteous our defiled hearts. What we put on our bodies, therefore, is a response, not a means, to God’s forgiveness. Our clothes embody our response to the gospel. Our clothes embody our worship.

This was where my Sunday school class went wrong. Apart from the gospel, no real change can happen because real change begins at the heart. Apart from understanding the shame of our nakedness, the magnitude of God’s mercy, the perfection of Christ’s death in our place, teachings about clothing and modesty can only lead to self-love, not godliness.

Out of the abundance of the heart, our clothing speaks.

If I had encouraged others to dress modestly in order to “attract the right kind of guy or girl,” I would be teaching them to dress for themselves, to dress for other people’s attention and affection. If I had encouraged them to dress modestly primarily to “not make other people stumble,” I would be teaching them that other people, rather than God, are the ones for whom we dress. But in our concern over other people’s lust, we neglect to repent from our own self-righteousness, jealousy, unforgiveness, and every other form of self-glorifying, self-satisfying sin. Apart from Christ, our own sin is what would eventually destroy us. The gospel guards our hearts for times when we feel perfectly righteous about how we dress. The gospel exposes our pride, reminding us of the ceaseless work of repentance and our relentless need for grace.

As for my second mistake, I should have made it clear that modesty is not only a women’s issue. All of God’s children need to evaluate their desires and intentions when it comes to their clothing. We were all immodest. Both Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, and both of them saw that they were naked. The Father, in his mercy, clothed all of his children—male and female—with the perfect sacrifice of his beloved Son. Modesty is a heart issue that affects both men and women.

Again, immodesty may be the beginning of why we wear clothes, but Christ is the end. We get dressed with nothing to prove, nothing to hide. When our clothes are beautiful, let their beauty honor Christ. When our clothes comfort and protect, let them enable us to labor for Christ. When our clothes are means of expressing ourselves, let us proclaim Christ—truthfully, beautifully, and well. Not because we have to, but because we enjoy the privilege of responding to the gospel by worshiping Christ—even in what we wear. 

by Irene Sun at July 22, 2014 05:01 AM

Survivor of the Worst U.S. Naval Disaster at Sea

From our vantage point the Second World War was just about over by July 30, 1945. But the 1,196 men sailing aboard the USS Indianapolis enjoyed none of our benefits of hindsight. They were planning to join the impending invasion of the Japnese mainland. But in reality they didn't even know the contents of their ship or the purpose of their mission. They didn't know that they had recently delivered the necessary uranium for the atomic bombs that would soon devastate Hiroshima and Nagasaki and end the terrible war. And just after midnight on that fateful day at the end of July, they did not know they were being tracked by a Japanese submarine intent upon sinking their vaunted heavy cruiser. Indeed, U.S. Navy personnel witheld key information from the ship's captain that would have warned him that his route to the Philippines was not safe.

About 300 men perished with the ship when two of the six Japanese torpedoes hit and crippled the Indianapolis. Around 900 initially survived in the water. But in another travesty, no one reported that the ship did not arrived as expected. Over four days these men struggled for life without the aid of lifeboats. They faced dehydration, saltwater poisoning, and exposure that tortured their minds and bodies. Worst were the sharks that prowled their ranks looking to pick off stragglers. After a plane that wasn't even looking for them miraculously spotted the survivors, 317 men were saved not long before all would have likewise perished in what was already the worst naval disaster in U.S. history. 

Marine Edgar Harrell was one of those survivors. His steadfast faith in Jesus Christ sustained him during unimaginable horror. He sees the hand of God's providence in his unlikely rescue and has recently told his story in the page-turning new book Out of the Depths: An Unforgettable WWII Story of Survival, Courage, and the Sinking of the USS Indianapolis. He co-authored this book with his son, David Harrell, senior pastor-teacher of Calvary Bible Church in Joelton, Tennessee. And he spoke with me about how God preserved him at sea and how the Lord has continued to work through him in 69 years since the sinking. Listen to hear this veteran discuss the difference between praying and really praying, the controversy over whether the U.S. government knew about Pearl Harbor ahead of time, and the need for all of us to prepare to die.

You can get other TGC audio on iTunes or subscribe through your other mobile devices.

by Collin Hansen at July 22, 2014 05:01 AM

The Outlaw Way



Snatch up 65%


For time:

Row 500m
12 Push Jerks 175/115#
12 Muscle-Ups
9 Push Jerks 175/115#
9 Muscle-Ups
6 Push Jerks 175/115#
6 Muscle-Ups
Row 500m

Do Work…

The post 140722 appeared first on The Outlaw Way.

by John Dill at July 22, 2014 02:54 AM


Handstand Hamstring Stretch
Thanks to @crossfithg3 for being my new model.

Static Shaping
1:00 Arch Hold
1:00 Hollow Hold

Active Shaping
3×30′ Arch Hollow Roll Across Floor DEMO

The post 140722 appeared first on The Outlaw Way.

by Kaitlin at July 22, 2014 02:45 AM


In the world of Weightlifting, there is one thing that is simply cooler than anything else. It’s not a double bodyweight Snatch, a Nike singlet with an owl on the front, or even an invite to the Olympic Training Center. All of those are cool

But the true penultimate, Steve McQueen level of cool – is having HookGrip make a slow motion video of you.

WOD 140722:


Snatch: 5X2@80%


Back Squat: 5X3@75%


For time:

Row 500m
12 Push Jerks 175/115#
12 Muscle-Ups
9 Push Jerks 175/115#
9 Muscle-Ups
6 Push Jerks 175/115#
6 Muscle-Ups
Row 500m

The post 140722 appeared first on The Outlaw Way.

by at July 22, 2014 02:19 AM

512 Pixels

Lift Big Eat Big

Athlete Interview Series: Allison Moyer

Allison Moyer is a figure competitor and Crossfit athlete with a long list of credentials, as well as some unique approaches to both Crossfit and figure competition training. She sat down to answer some questions with us, check them out below:

1. Allison, thanks for taking the time to talk with us today. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, as well as your sport?

Ah I’m so bad at the self talk J Let’s see I’m a 30 year old nationally ranked NPC Figure Athlete, published fitness model, crossfit athlete, weightlifter, and nutritionist and coach. I own Alli-Fitness Systems LLC which is my online fitness coaching company and I work fulltime as a trainer, coach and nutritionist.

I compete in crossfit and in figure. Crossfit, of course is a sport to me, but I don’t necessarily consider figure to be a sport. I consider it to be an art more so then anything else- the art of sculpting the body or shaping the body to fit a specific set of criteria.

I’ve been competing in figure since I was in college. I did my first show, a small local NABBA show was I was only 20, and by the age of 23 did my first NPC show, where I won my class and the figure overall. I’ve been competing at the national level on and off since 2008.

2. For those who don’t know the differences, can you explain the differences between figure, bikini, and bodybuilding competitions?

Female bodybuilding is really a dying arena of physique sports at this point- it’s mostly been replaced by women’s physique. And then of course there’s bikini and figure. The classes are differentiated by the judging criteria set forth by the NPC/IFBB standards. I compete in figure, which is judged based upon the overall symmetry, shape, conditioning and aesthetic flow of the athlete. 

 3. For you, what is the hardest part of being on stage? What sort of things to do you, in order to make prepping for the stage as simple as possible?

Posing, for me, is the hardest part of being on stage. It doesn’t come naturally to me, and probably the ONLY time I wear heels is when I’m on stage, so perfecting my comfort in heels, and in figure poses is something I try to work on in the weeks leading up to a contest. The more comfortable you can be flowing in and out of your figure poses and walking in your heels the more confident and effortless your stage presentation come contest time will be.

4. How does your diet change as you get closer to competition day? Do you believe in cheat meals, or do you follow a Macro approach instead?

I have Ulcerative Colitis so my diet is very strict and very structured. As it regards competing in figure, my diet can change daily if it needs to, or it doesn’t change much at all when it comes to being stage ready. I know that sounds vague, but honestly contest prep is all about making decisions based upon the responses of your body. So anything I do nutritionally in the weeks and days leading up to a show is going to be entirely dependent upon how my body is looking in that moment.  It’s a very meticulous approach.

As far as cheat meals, it’s not something I find effective for me. I have a weekly re-feed which I find beneficial to both my body composition and my performance.

5. Fasted Cardio is a method that has vehement proponents and opponents on both sides. Do you use fasted cardio in your training?

I train twice a day most days, and usually one of those sessions is an early morning session, however I don’t go in “fasted” in the traditional sense. I usually have some coffee blended with MCT Oil and some protein powder prior to. I should also note that my sessions aren’t really cardio based- I don’t do traditional cardio anymore.

6. Based on your social media outlets, it seems like you continue to incorporate heavy and explosive compound lifts throughout your training cycles. How do you think this sets you apart from other competitors who may focus on mostly isolation movements?

I don’t “train for figure.” I train to become a better weightlifter, a stronger athlete and a more efficient crossfit competitor. Figure isn’t the focus of my training.  I’ve found that mentally, for me, it was important to let go of training based on how I look. The last thing I think about when I’m training is whether this exercise or that exercise is going to make my shoulders bigger, or make my waist thicker or whatever. I’m focused on getting stronger, on squatting more weight, or increasing my pressing strength, or working towards a new snatch PR.

Although I do still compete in figure, I don’t train in the same manner that traditional figure athletes do, or even with the focus most figure athletes have, and I know this makes me a bit of a pariah in the bodybuilding world.  But I’m okay with it, because I very STRONGLY believe that the way I have been training has positively influenced my mind and my body. Even though I don’t train for aesthetics, my physique has changed for the better. Training for strength has made a huge impact on who I am as a coach, as an athlete, and as a woman. I eat more now than I ever have in my life and yet I carry less bodyfat then I ever have. I also carry more lean muscle. I’m stronger. I’m healthier- both mentally and physically and I believe that training the body as a whole (i.e squatting rather than doing leg extensions)  has allowed for a more streamlined and athletic look then can be found in athletes who train the body in terms of pure isometrics.

7. Since you don't train primarily for aesthetics, can you give us some examples of what your training looks like?

I train two sessions a day. My morning session is usually 100% conditioning related like a metcon or perhaps aerobic related- running, rowing, or Airdyne work.

I have a coach who helps with my programming- which is usually structured (somewhat) as follows:
My second session is my main session and involves some light aerobic work to get my body warm, then a good 20-30 minutes of a dynamic warm up, followed by my weighlifting which would be snatch, clean, and clean and jerk including their variations. Right now I'm on a cycle which is emphasizing pushing and pulling strength so there's a lot of push press, clean and snatch pulls, etc.

After my weightlifting I usually wind up doing some form of squat or other strength based movement. Occasionally there's a strict OH press or bench press, but since I'm focused on my Olympic lifting I don't bench much. Sometimes there's a deadlift. Mostly rows or rowing variations, pullups (weighted or in a weighted vest), weighted pistols, etc. It varies.

The remainder of my training could be gymnastics or skill practice, some accessory work on my weaker points (hams/glutes and shoulders) and then a metcon or some interval work. I like to work a lot with sled drags, prowler pushes, tire flips, sandbag carries or run, etc.

Currently I train 3 days on (mon/tues/weds) then one day off (thurs) then two days on (fri/sat) and then Sunday off. Thursday I usually do something monostructural and low intensity in the morning (restorative aerobically) and then some technique work or gymnastics skill practice in the afternoon. Sunday's I always do a long run in the morning with my German Shepherd, usually 4-6 miles and then take a hot yoga.
8. Where do you see yourself in the sport in the next 3-5 years?

I’m not sure- honestly. I’d love to say that one day I’ll be blessed to receive my IFBB Figure Pro card, but in all honesty that’s only one facet of fitness I enjoy. I love weightlifting and would love to compete someday and see where I can take that. I also love competing in crossfit, in mud runs and adventure races, and of course figure. I don’t label myself as one form of athlete or another now, and I doubt I will in the future either.

9. Do you have any pieces of sage advice for women who may be interested in joining an aesthetic competition, but still want to continue lifting heavy?

My advice would be don’t focus on aesthetics. Allow them to be the byproduct or the nice side effect of your training. Instead focus on strength, focus on performance, focus on eating well and fueling your workouts, and I think you’ll find your body will wind up looking exactly as it needs to.

Five things you may not know about me:
1. I have what can only be described as a very strange obsession with Wonder Woman.
2.  I dislike eating off regular spoons. I only eat off of soup spoons.
3. I weigh and measure EVERYTHING I eat. Even lettuce. My fiancée is constantly chastising me for it.
4. I eat all my food cold. I hate hot and warm food.
5. I’m up at 4am every day. Even on the weekends. I can’t ever sleep in. 

Born and raised in rural PA, Allison has been a well known and respected face in the fitness industry since early 2007. A national level NPC figure athlete, competitive Crossfit athlete, professional fitness model and published author, she has currently worked with nearly 300 clients both in and out of the U.S since she launched her online fitness coaching company, Alli-Fitness Systems LLC in mid 2008.

She has been voted "Best of Central PA's" Fitness Trainer five years in a row and is a well renowned trainer, competitor, athlete, model, author and motivational personality, writing for magazines like Paleo Living, and critically acclaimed websites, The Athletic Build, and BreakingMuscle. She currently features an athlete journal on

INSTAGRAM: @Allisonmoyer

by Brandon Morrison ( at July 22, 2014 12:08 AM

July 21, 2014

The Art of Non-Conformity

“It’s nice to get to a point in life where you can be comfortable with yourself”


Thoughts on unexpectedly becoming blind after surgery.

“Shit happens … nobody said life would be fair, so I just try to move on and be happy.

Do you ever see those people who sit around and bitch about something that happened 20, 30 years ago? I could have sued, but I didn’t want to bother with that … I’m going to concentrate on getting back to nirvana.”


by Chris Guillebeau at July 21, 2014 08:12 PM

512 Pixels

Front Porch Republic

Rollin Coal and the Empire of Desire

rollin coal

Thanks to a good friend, I’m now up to speed on the phenomenon of “Rollin Coal,” which one commentator describes as “a new trend in which anti-environmentalist idiots with nothing better to do modify their diesel engined trucks to burn…

Read Full Article...

The post Rollin Coal and the Empire of Desire appeared first on Front Porch Republic.

by R. J. Snell at July 21, 2014 07:57 PM

Greg Mankiw's Blog

CrossFit Naptown

Let’s Get Strong

Tuesday’s Workout:

Press Every 3 Minutes


10:00 AMRAP (155/105)
12 Deadlift
9 Hang Power Cleans
6 Shoulder to Overhead


Strength Cycle:

Over the next few weeks at CFNT, we will be including strength as a part of the programming on a regular basis. The goal with this is to help people to develop gross strength in the basic lifts. Building strength is an important part of improving as athletes and being better at life in general. Remember, stronger people are harder to kill. For those of you that are highly interested in getting stronger, my advice to you is to pay close attention in the coming weeks to these strength days. KEEP TRACK OF YOUR NUMBERS (this goes for everyone). If you miss a strength day, try to make it up during an open gym time during the week or on Sunday. You will get the most benefit out of the cycle if you are consistent and smart with it. More information will be coming later on, as we get deeper into the cycle, on how to approach strength in a smart way and how to build strength safely. If you have questions before that information comes out, then please communicate with me or another coach so we can clear anything up. For now, keep showing up to classes on a consistent basis and keep clean, organized records of your scores and you will be all set to get big and strong in the coming weeks.


California Chronicles:

In other news, the CFNT Blue team arrived last night in California! Check in on the blog each day for some updates on what the team is up to and check out the CrossFit Games site for competition highlights, news, and updates! 

by Anna at July 21, 2014 04:48 PM

CrossFit 204

August Running Clinic With Mike Booth

Congrats to Mike Booth on a 7th-place finish in the 2012 Manitoba Marathon!

Four-time Manitoba Marathon winner Mike Booth in the 2012 marathon.

Cost: $52.50 (includes GST)

Dates (all sessions on Thursdays at 8 p.m.): Aug. 7, 14, 21, 28

Register here.

Just as with lifting, you can get better at running. It’s a skill, though most of us never give running technique a second thought as we run during workouts.

But it’s probable no one ever taught you how to run. Some of us have great mechanics as a natural gift, but others struggle and let poor mechanics make running workouts more challenging than they need to be. As you’ve noticed, we’ve been using running a great deal this spring and summer as a way to improve aerobic conditioning, and we’ve also thrown in some sprint workout to test your maximum output over shorter distances.

Can anyone catch Mike Booth? Good luck in Vegas, Mike!

Mike’s clinic in 2011.

To help you improve, we’re bringing in Mike Booth of Massage Athletica for a four-session running clinic. Most of you know Mike from workouts at CrossFit 204, but it’s worth mentioning that he won the Manitoba Marathon four times and trained in Toronto as a sponsored runner.

Mike will run the sessions like a CrossFit 204 class, with a warm-up, teaching component with skills and drills, and a workout. The sessions will be designed to help you improve your running technique and learn about pacing, racing and training.

These sessions are open to members of CrossFit 204 and anyone else who would like to come.

To register, click here.

by Mike at July 21, 2014 04:18 PM

The Art of Non-Conformity

Managing Your Time as a New Freelancer

Boba Fett Freelance

“When you come to a fork in the road, take it.”

This series poses questions from readers. You’re invited to answer! You can also send in a question for a future post.

Today’s question comes from Maria in Italy. Ciao, Maria!

One year ago I lost my job, and instead of looking for another I decided to try working independently. I was able to convince my former boss to let me work on a contract basis two days a week, and then I picked up another assignment that requires another day or two. Most of this time is flexible, which is great. I’d rather have the ability to choose my time 2-3 days a week than work every single day in the office.

However, this flexibility has also been challenging. I find myself in a constant hurry to get everything done and shifting from project to project. Working for yourself in Italy doesn’t seem as normal as in some other countries. I’m struggling a bit … how can I manage my time?

This is tough! After more than 15 years of working for myself, I still struggle with it.

One thing that helps me is to focus on the deliverables. What do I have to get done, exactly? Those specific outcomes are far more important than whatever time it takes to achieve them.

It sounds like you have a similar situation in that the hours don’t matter but the outcome does—which is great. When you’re struggling, try to get to the next milestone or deliverable… and then take a short break or just do something else.

That’s my $0.02, but I’d love to hear what other people think. What would you suggest?

Share your comment below. We may feature some comments in a future post.


Image: Scott

by Chris Guillebeau at July 21, 2014 03:50 PM

Vivek Haldar

Learning your life

If you are a “regular” person living and working in modern civilization, it is likely that your life has a few recurring patterns:

  • on weekdays, you travel from home to work in the morning, and back in the evening; perhaps punctuated with a school or daycare drop-off and pick-up.
  • on weekends, you either mostly stay at home or frequent a small set of haunts (beaches, restaurants etc).
  • infrequently, you break out of this pattern by leaving the orbit of work-home to go on a vacation.

This is easy to figure out by observing someone for a short period of time. Of course, your phone already does this.

The above model of your life could be described in a few kilobytes. It is a zeroth-order machine learning problem. Is that depressing? Does that mean your whole life has a few kilobytes worth of complexity?

John Foreman, in his poignantly named piece “Data Privacy, Machine Learning and the Destruction of Mysterious Humanity”, takes a view of the field from the inside, and it sounds like that of a physicist working on the Manhattan Project worrying about the impact of what they’re building.

Our past data betrays our future actions, and rather than put us in a police state, corporations have realized that if they say just the right thing, we’ll put the chains on ourselves… Yet this loss of our internal selves to the control of another is the promise of AI in the hands of the private sector. In the hands of machine learning models, we become nothing more than a ball of probabilistic mechanisms to be manipulated with carefully designed inputs that lead to anticipated outputs… The promise of better machine learning is not to bring machines up to the level of humans but to bring humans down to the level of machines.

That is a dim, if plausible, view.

It is based on a pessimistic view of humans as always giving in to nudges to behave as our worst selves. I hope that we are better than that. We are already surrounded by advertising for junk food, and yet a substantial fraction of us manage to ignore that and eat healthy. I hope machine predictions that try to nudge us face a similar fate: predictions that look down on us will be indistinguishable from low-quality ones. The quality and tone of predictions will become an important part of the brand identity of the company emitting them. Do you really want to be the company known for peddling fatty, salty food, legal addictive substances, and predatory loans?

A tangential point: naming matters. Statistical inference, which is what machine learning really is, is a less scary name. “Statistical inference” conjures images of bean-counters with taped glasses; “machine learning” of an inevitable army of terminators.

Circling back to the question I posed above: is your life really describable in a few kilobytes in a predictive model? No. A model is a probabilistic abstraction. You, and your life, are not a sequence of probabilities, in much the same way that hiking a trail is a much richer, “realer” experience than tracing your way through a detailed trail map.

July 21, 2014 03:30 PM

Crossway Blog

Christ in All of Scripture – Job 42:10–17


Job 42:10–17

“And the LORD restored the fortunes of Job, when he had prayed for his friends. And the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before. Then came to him all his brothers and sisters and all who had known him before, and ate bread with him in his house. And they showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the LORD had brought upon him. And each of them gave him a piece of money and a ring of gold.

And the LORD blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning. And he had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys. He had also seven sons and three daughters. And he called the name of the first daughter Jemimah, and the name of the second Keziah, and the name of the third Keren-happuch. And in all the land there were no women so beautiful as Job’s daughters. And their father gave them an inheritance among their brothers.

And after this Job lived 140 years, and saw his sons, and his sons’ sons, four generations. And Job died, an old man, and full of days.”

Is the book of Job’s “happy ending” tacked on? Is it a sort of reassurance, to make the reader breathe easy again after emerging from the wringer? No. Job’s happy ending is a resolution that deserves the word “profound.” As ever with God’s work in a person’s life, Job’s character or inner self is more important to God than Job’s “doings.” Thus, the provided-for life that Job ended up with was not provided until he prayed in selfless fashion for his three unworthy friends (Job 42:10).

We are also told that Job’s sufferings were “all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him” (Job 42:11). Everything that happens to us comes from God. “He’s got the whole world in his hands.” Such truths challenge us no less than they challenged Job, but they are also responsible for leading Job (and us) to a right understanding of the God who provides eternity—even if it is through earthly difficulties. God’s purposes are eternal as he weans us from earth and woos us to heaven.

Finally, Elihu’s prediction of how Job’s life was supposed to end, actually came true: “If [people] listen and serve [God], they complete their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasantness” (Job 36:11). “Job died, an old man, and full of days” (Job 42:17), with his losses restored and possessions increased (Job 42:12–16). Even his children were doubled, if one considers the existence of those already in eternity with those new on earth. As the expression goes, “It’s never too late.” We could also say, on the basis of Job, that things are never so bad that God is not present and “able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20). Of course, for many of those who suffer in this world, prosperity and pleasantness await fulfillment in the new heavens and new earth, but this reality is no less real for those of faith. Through Job we learn that God will do whatever is necessary to claim the hearts of those he loves. His eternal love is solace, sufficiency, and satisfaction for all whose ultimate hope is in him.

It’s the old, old story, of Mary Magdalene, Zacchaeus the tax collector, Peter the denier, James and John the Sons of (raging) Thunder, Paul the Christian-tracker, and Cornelius the sideliner. And us. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

This series of posts pairs a brief passage of Scripture with associated study notes drawn from the Gospel Transformation Bible. For more information about the Gospel Transformation Bible, please visit


by Lizzy Jeffers at July 21, 2014 01:38 PM

CrossFit Naptown

Indianapolis Rowing Center Adaptive Rowing Volunteers Needed

Wednesday’s Workout:

70 Double Unders
60 Air Squats
50 Toes-to-Bar
40 Box Jumps
30 Burpees
20 Walking Lunges
10 Ring Dips

4:00 AMRAP
2:00 Rest
Then begin at the top to complete the entire workout for time.

*each athlete will have two scores on the board: the number of reps completed in 4:00 and a time for the completion of the entire workout starting back on double unders after the 2:00 rest.




IRC Adaptive Rowing Program Volunteers Needed

The Indianapolis Rowing Center (IRC) in Eagle Creek Park is looking for volunteers to help with their Adaptive Rowing Program, Wednesday nights, 6-8:30pm. Rowing experience is not necessary.

Adaptive Rowing is rowing with a modification of equipment and technique that enables people with disabilities to participate in the sport. The sport was in the Paralympics for the first time in 2008 at the Beijing, China games. Two athletes were on that US Paralympic Team. In London 2012, 96 athletes competed in Adaptive Rowing. As you can see, the sport is growing in the US, and IRC is fulfilling that need and desire among disabled athletes. This is the second year in a row that IRC has worked with RHI (Rehabilitation Hospital of IN) to provide as another sport for their patients to take advantage of.

IRC is looking for volunteers to help wheelchair bound rowers from their chair, into the boat, and then back into their chair when they are done rowing. It may require heavy lifting at times. Tasks will also include helping to carry equipment (boat and oars) from the boathouse to the dock. There are 2 rowing sessions – one at 6pm and one at 7pm. The volunteer session covers both rowing times.

If you are interested in helping out, please visit the Adaptive Rowing Volunteer registration site IRC Adaptive Volunteer Signup



California Chronicles:

Yesterday, the team checked in and received all of their gear and swag courtesy of Reebok for the competition. They also attended a dinner for all of the teams competing. Today, the team will be competing in the first event of Games by taking on “The Beach.” Keep up with CFNT Blue’s performance on the CrossFit Games website!


by Anna at July 21, 2014 12:50 PM

And They’re Off…Almost

Monday’s Workout:

BSQ Every 3 Minutes

21 Thrusters (95/65)
1:00 rest
15 Thrusters
1:00 rest
9 Thrusters


CrossFit NapTown Blue is Cali-Bound!

This evening, the CrossFit NapTown Blue team will be boarding a plane and headed out to Carson, California for the CrossFit Games. We are very excited to be representing CrossFit NapTown on such a large stage and promise to put in our best possible performance as a thank you for all of the support and love we have received from this great community. You can keep up with all of the action via the CrossFit Games site as well as streaming on ESPN3. Check out this article for full details on how to stay up to date on the action. Our amazing coaching staff will be working hard in their own way here in Indy to be covering the full CFNT schedule. The fittest hipster in the Midwest, Eric Nolan, will be available to answer any questions that may come up while we are away. Direct those questions as they come up to starting this afternoon as the rest of the crew will be headed West. Thank you for your patience and support throughout this journey. It truly cannot be said enough how lucky we are to be a part of this community. 



by Anna at July 21, 2014 12:36 PM


Mounce Archive 2 — Are Women Saved through Bearing Children? Mounce Explains 1 Tim. 2:15


Everyone needs a sabbatical once in a while, and Bill Mounce is taking one from Koinonia blog until September. Meanwhile, we’ve hand-picked some of our favorite and most popular posts for your summer reading and Greek-studying pleasure.

Today's selection from Dr. Mounce's archive addresses what he calls one of the strangest verses of the Bible:

"But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety." (1 Tim. 2:15)

Really? Women are saved through child bearing? If so, what's that all about? Read an excerpt below of how he answered the question, and then go read the full post to better understand what Paul originally meant.

1 Tim 2:15 has been labeled as one of the truly strange verses of the Bible, and appropriately so. I know of no one who takes it “literally” (although I assume that someone somewhere has tried to do so).

But actually it does illustrate an interesting concept in Greek, and that is the overlapping of semantic ranges. There are two Greek words meaning “to save.” The most common is σωζω. It has a wide range of meaning, from “to preserve or rescue fr. natural dangers and afflictions, save, keep from harm, preserve, rescue” to “to save or preserve from transcendent danger or destruction, save/preserve from eternal death” (BDAG). σωζω is the normal word for spiritual salvation.

The other word is ῥυομαι...

(Continue reading the full post, here.)



William D. [Bill] Mounce posts about the Greek language, exegesis, and related topics at Koinonia. He is the author of numerous works including the recent Basics of Biblical Greek Video Lectures and the bestselling Basics of Biblical Greek. He is the general editor of Mounce's Complete Expository Dictionary of the Old and New Testament Words. He served as the New Testament chair of the English Standard Version Bible translation, and is currently on the Committee for Bible Translation for the NIV.

Learn more about Bill's Greek resources at and visit his blog on spiritual growth at

by Jeremy Bouma at July 21, 2014 12:27 PM


gnus: As close as I could get

I feel a little disappointed in myself: This is the best I did with emacs‘ built-in newsreader-plus-e-mail-client, gnus.


I am ashamed. I think I spent the better part of an hour too, trying to get all the options set, and still came up with a great big goose egg. :(

The sad part is — even after all that time, and being fairly confident that it was really connecting to, and having moderate success with slrn a few months ago — I don’t have any worthy notes to mark here. Everything I tried either failed outright, caused emacs to sputter error messages, or just gave me “No news is good news.”

Ah well, the best-laid plans of mice and men. I do feel guilty now for not trying harder with wanderlust though. :(

I can give you the home page for gnus, and tell you that the documentation is very detailed and very easy to read. There are even a few comic moments deep in there, but I am so far gone from picking through them that I don’t remember where those jokes were at. :???:

I feel I should mention that if you just search the Internet for “gnus setup”, a large portion of your results will be how to make gnus play nicely with GMail. I didn’t go in that direction, mostly because I had gnus in my notes as a newsreader, and I was interested in seeing how it compared with slrn and tin.

As it stands, I’ll leave it to the emacs experts to clue me in. The irony of the entire situation was, every time I needed to edit a configuration file, I instinctively did it with vim. I didn’t even think about it until I had done it four or five times in a row. … :oops:

Tagged: client, e-mail, news, reader, usenet

by K.Mandla at July 21, 2014 12:15 PM

The Urbanophile

Why Does Louisville Have Better Restaurants Than Indianapolis?

I was briefly back on the homefront earlier this month to check out the now fully opened Big Four Bridge pedestrian path across the Ohio River in Louisville. While there I spent some time in NuLu, a retail and restaurant district centered on Market St. just east of downtown, and had dinner at a French bistro type place called La Coop. This place focuses on what I’d call the basics – it’s not trying to be a super high end kind of place. But I’m not going to lie, the undistinguished frites aside, the meal was spectacular front to back, and my date agreed.

Louisville is known for its many high quality restaurants. I doubt La Coop is tops on many people’s list, nor does it aspire to be. Yet preparing to drive back to Indy I was struck that La Coop is better than any restaurant in Indianapolis. My meal at La Coop was probably better than any one I’d had in Indy since L’Explorateur closed in 2009. And that’s a not uncommon occurrence when dining in Louisville. What’s more, La Coop was bustling by 8pm on a Tuesday night. While tables were certainly available, you can’t assume you can just walk in to a top restaurant there without a reservation, even on a weeknight.

Louisville clearly values fine dining in a way that Indianapolis doesn’t. Metro Indy is larger, better educated, richer, and much less provincial. Given that amenities generally fall along a size-wealth slope, by default you’d think Indy would do better on the restaurant front. But it doesn’t. Why is this?

Louisville clearly punches above its weight on restaurants. Part of this is due to the presence of a major culinary school. But that doesn’t explain the demand side of the equation. What does?

I see this as resulting at least in part from a cultural divide between the Midwest and the South, which seems to fall somewhere between these two cities. I argue the stronger aristocratic heritage of the South creates the conditions in which excellence is encouraged (or at least respected), versus the leveling democratic social state of the Midwest that anathematizes any distinctions between high and low and thus creates a climate in which excellence is disparaged (or distrusted at best).

Tocqueville is of course the best writer on the differences between aristocracy and democracy. Of aristocratic heritage himself, he recognized the overall superiority of the democratic state in uplifting the common man. The average condition in a democratic social state he would note, is higher than that of an aristocracy. He also saw clearly the many flaws of the aristocratic state. Yet he also realized that with the passing of aristocracy, things would be lost, especially in the realm of fine arts and refinement more broadly construed.

Tocqueville (among others) noted that the South was the most aristocratic region of the United States. That doesn’t mean he approved. In fact, he was not a fan of the US South, and wrote of its many manifest flaws, including the injustice of slavery and the many pernicious effects it had on the character of whites as well.

One of traits of aristocracy that seems to remain present in the South is the existence and embrace of an aristocratic class or caste. In many cases this is family based, such that, for example, you could never become full part of the elite of Charleston as an outsider no matter how much money, talent, or class you have. But carpetbaggers and the nouveau riche are able to assimilate to some degree.

As with a feudal landholding, this aristocratic class exists as part of an integrated system with the lower classes. Thus the lower classes not only recognize the rights of aristocratic class to homage and such, the elites can even be a source of pride to ordinary residents of the community.

In this system, the upper class can cultivate high end tastes without incurring the opprobrium of the community. They are literally a class apart and are expected to depart from the average resident in terms of tastes and manners.

We see this clearly in the case of the so-called “Millionaire’s Row” at the Kentucky Derby. Actually, many Louisville locals never even attend the Kentucky Derby, instead attending the Kentucky Oaks, which is held the day before and is known as the race for the locals. (The Oaks itself attracts over 100,000 attendees). Most of them will certainly never visit the Derby’s more elite precincts. Yet, seeing the presence of celebrities and local elites in their finery on TV doesn’t produce resentment, but rather pride. The conspicuous consumption and lavish traditions of elite Louisville are something the average resident sees as reflecting well on their community as a whole, and hence to some extent even on themselves.

In terms of how this affects restaurants, Louisville’s elite can patronize high quality, high status establishments without shame. There is nothing seen as wrong in the community with them pursuing aristocratic tastes. Again, the high quality of Louisville’s restaurants can be a source of pride even to those who don’t patronize them. There are, of course, class tensions in Louisville such as the East End-South End divide. But class conflict itself implies multiple classes of people.

The situation is totally different in Indianapolis. In Indiana, the idea of an aristocratic type class would be viewed with hostility. There’s a democratic social state norm in which anyone who is viewed as too uppity is seen as having a moral defect. There’s only supposed to be one class of people. This has its virtues, but has debilitating effects as well. Take for example the classic line “He might have book learning but he doesn’t have any common sense.” You literally hear this in Indiana. Admittedly, in my case it may have been true. But the moral system underpinning it clearly explains why education is held in such low regard in the Midwest. It’s not just that education as such is viewed as not worth it; the pursuit of education indicates a type of moral deficiency.

So take a look at the traditions of the Indianapolis 500. Obviously US auto racing has a different culture than horse racing. But it still aligns with the social state. The 500 is a classic everyman’s type event, with a blue collar ethos, in which actual attendance by locals plays a major role. There are some celebrities of course, but celebrity/elite culture plays a very limited role there in contrast to the Kentucky Derby and certainly than international auto racing such Formula 1. (The biggest personalities at the 500 are those with a particularly local traditional appeal – like Jim Nabors and Florence Henderson – versus contemporary celebrity star power).

This bleeds through into nearly every aspect of the civic culture in the state. I’ve long noted that there’s no culture of connoisseurship in Indianapolis. This is true for pretty much everything. Restaurants are but one example. While much better on average than they used to be, and certainly not bad by any means, Indy’s restaurants don’t measure up to Louisville’s with the notable exception of breakfast places. As the case with the aforementioned L’Exporateur shows, when Indy chefs do decide to put out a world class product, it isn’t patronized because it isn’t valued. It’s not about culinary talent, it’s about the customer base or lack thereof. The chef behind L’Ex opened a pizza place next. It should be no surprise that Indianapolis Monthly once had a cover story dubbing the city “Chain City, USA.”

My understanding is that there is a group of hardcore food and wine folks in Indy, but they do most of their consumption at private dinners and out of their private cellars. Public displays of refinement or luxurious consumption in Indianapolis are simply not acceptable.

This is but one example of how the pursuit of excellence in all varieties is disparaged and subject to active suppression in the state. This is hardly limited to Indiana and is a near universal Midwestern trait from what I’ve seen. Chicago offers the major exception, and I’ll exclude Minnesota as well for now since I don’t fully grok the culture there.

It’s been said pejoratively that “Indiana is the ‘middle finger of the South’ sticking into the Midwest.” And while it’s true that parts of Southern Indiana such as my hometown, being in Louisville’s orbit, have a heavy Southern influence, the state is not Southern in my view. It’s very different culturally and here we have one example. I easily see the same dynamic that exists in Indiana to various degrees in Illinois, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

That this is a cultural value is most clearly seen in the exceptions that prove the rule, like Columbus, Indiana. Columbus is by far the most successful small industrial city in the state, and home to a world-renowned collection of modern architecture among other distinctives. In a major essay on that city, I noted that “in Columbus, excellence is not a byword.” This was perhaps imposed externally by local business magnate J. Irwin Miller, but appears to have been stamped to some degree on the character of the community. As local business owner Tony Moravec put it, “We do things first class here.” Whether the value will be retained or dissipate now that Miller is dead remains to be seen, but it’s still there for now.

But in a state replete with struggling communities, has anyplace ever looked to imitate Columbus? Has it been held up as a model? No. Why not? It’s because Indiana as a whole rejects the values that made Columbus successful. J. Irwin Miller famously said that “a mediocrity is expensive.” True, but that misses the point re:Indiana. Mediocrity isn’t an economic value in the state. It’s a moral value. People aren’t choosing mediocrity in the mistaken belief that it’s cheap. They think aspiring to better is a character defect. That sacralization of average is why many of its communities are willing to martyr themselves in its honor. And if a place tries to aspire to better, don’t worry. The General Assembly will soon be introducing legislation to make sure that doesn’t spread.

This produces an enormous cultural headwind that is an impediment to even the cultural elite in their attempts to create high quality things, from good architecture to good restaurants. The attempts are compromised both via the internalization of this value, and external forces expressing it. As Paul Graham put it:

How much does it matter what message a city sends? Empirically, the answer seems to be: a lot. You might think that if you had enough strength of mind to do great things, you’d be able to transcend your environment. Where you live should make at most a couple percent difference. But if you look at the historical evidence, it seems to matter more than that.

The restaurants of Indianapolis are well beyond mediocre, but they have clearly been affected by this characteristic of the social state in which they are operating.

One exception to this rule about the pursuit of excellence is in sports, and it’s a telling one. Hoosiers and Midwesterners want to see their teams win, but they want to see them win the right way and with the right kind of people that reflect the character of the state’s residents. In the South they just want wins and they don’t care how they get them.

Do you think anybody in Kentucky cares about the Calipari Way as long as UK is racking up wins and championships? Is it any surprise that it’s North Carolina where athletes get A’s in fake classes? Nobody cares in the South as long the wins come and behavior doesn’t get so bad it brings national publicity.

By contrast, Big Ten schools by and large expect their players to get an education and graduate, to demonstrate good character, and there’s a lifelong commitment and bond between coaches, fans, and players. When IU tried to import a UK style into its program with the Kelvin Sampson hire, the fanbase rejected it almost immediately. (By the way, I’ll never consider Penn State a Big Ten school, and Pennsylvania is not the Midwest). It’s similar in the way that the brawl era Pacers saw their fan support vaporize.

In Indiana particularly, from Milan High School to Steve Alford’s Indiana Hoosiers, the self-effacing, fundamentally sound, clean cut, small town type of player and team had big success. (Oscar Robertson was a player in the same mold. Though he never got his due at the time thanks to racism, he shows that even black Indiana players exhibited the same character traits). This perhaps convinced Hoosiers that their preferred style of doing things would bring success as well.

Unfortunately that hasn’t played out much recently, either in sports or economically. This produces cognitive dissonance and a sense of bitterness about a world that seems to have gone wrong. As I wrote re:Columbus and about how that city’s embrace of excellence paid economic rewards in a world where cheap places to do business are a dime a dozen:

It isn’t just something that affects architecture….This is a place with high standards for itself. This pays huge dividends in the economic development sphere. In a competitive world, only firms that deliver excellence can survive the brutal global competition. Which workers are more likely to produce excellent products, ones that demand excellence in their own communities, or ones who disparage it? How can any investor believe that residents who tolerate a run down, mediocre community for their own family to live in will suddenly start taking pride in the products coming off their employers’ production lines? It makes no sense at all.

I’m not sure the Midwest understands this lesson, or would take heed of it if it did. Rather there is, I detect, a martyrdom complex. People in the Midwest believe they are entitled to success the way they used to enjoy it because they live the right way. But if they don’t get it, at least their communities can die with their values intact. If this is in fact the case, it’s impossible to gainsay the decision. It’s even admirable in a sense. I myself would never adopt the values of UK basketball no matter how many championships it would bring. But then again I’m a Hoosier so of course I feel that way.

In any case, as Richard Longworth put it in his book about the failures of the Midwest in the age of globalization, “The first task is to tell the truth.” Simply stating the obvious truth that Louisville has better restaurants than Indy may generate blowback. But the larger and more painful truth is that Indiana and the Midwest have embraced mediocrity as a value in a way that hobbles the pursuit of excellence there, and has terrible economic and other consequences that go far beyond restaurants. Unless and until that truth is faced and things change, which may require something like an influx of outsiders not wedded to the status quo, the enormous potential of this region and its people will continue to be squandered.

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 July 21, 2014 12:00 PM


mp3rename: Rename and organize, in one fell swoop

No, it is not reruns week for K.Mandla. Back in January we had a little CLI tool named mp3rename, and now again, here’s a CLI tool named mp3rename.


Two separate tools with much the same approach and results. This mp3rename, which dates back to 2003 supposedly, adds the feature of organizing the output files, in a similar fashion to mussort. I don’t recall seeing this outside of one or two other utilities.

This mp3rename is a little convoluted to work with; I found I had to call specifically for the IDv3 tag to be used, or it came up with no data to sort or rename on. That might just be my files though.

And it’s worth mentioning that the renaming options seemed to stutter if they weren’t explicitly listed in the command, even though the help flag suggests there’s a “default” string mp3rename will fall back to. I got a lot of errors until I used one I drew up with no spaces, and tacked it on to the end of the command.

If you try this in Arch, you’ll need both perl-mp3-info from extra and perl-mp3-tag out of AUR. Offhand, I’m not sure what those correspond to in Debian; my search for “perl mp3” was somewhat scattered.

In all, this mp3rename — aside from the option to organize mp3s according to artist and album — doesn’t differ a whole lot from the other one. And goodness knows there are lots of other scripts, some specific to file types, that will do the same in much the same way.

The lesson to be learned here is, if you are a young Turk in software design circles, the command-line mp3 renamer utility has been done. And done, and done, and done, and done. … :|

Tagged: audio, file, id3, mp3, rename, tag

by K.Mandla at July 21, 2014 12:00 PM

sacha chua :: living an awesome life

Planning my next little business

I’ve been holding back from experimenting with new businesses. I’m not sure how the next few months are going to be like, and I don’t want to make commitments like sketchnote event bookings or additional freelance contracts. Besides, focusing on my own stuff has been an interesting experiment so far, and I want to continue it.

Still, from time to time, I get the itch to build systems and processes for creating value for other people. For example, when I talk to people who are struggling to find jobs or having a hard time building freelance businesses, I want to support and encourage them by helping them see opportunities. Talking about stuff can feel a bit empty, but actually doing stuff–and showing how to do it–is more helpful, especially since I seem to be more comfortable with sales, marketing, and business experimentation than many people are.

So, depending on how these next few months turn out, what are the kinds of businesses that I’d like to build?

  • E-books and other resources: I like the way free/pay-what-you-want information makes it easy for people to learn without friction and still be able to show their appreciation through payment, conversation, links, or other good things. I also like the scale of it: I can spend some time working on a resource, and then people can come across it when they need it. No schedule commitments, either.
  • Software, maybe?: Someday. The upsides of working on stuff that other people use: feature suggestions, warm-and-fuzzies. The downside: dealing with bugs. I think the first step would be to build tools for myself.
  • Visual book reviews?: People seem to like these, and I enjoy reading.

Let me take a step back here and break that out into the specific characteristics I like. If I identify those characteristics, I might be able to recognize or imagine other businesses along those lines. What attracts me?

  • Scale: Build once, help many. I don’t mind lower sales at the beginning if I’m working on the kinds of things that people will find useful over a long period of time.
  • Accumulation: I like collecting building blocks in terms of content and skills because I can combine those in interesting ways.
  • Generosity: I like free/pay-what-you-want because it allows me to reach the most people and feel great about the relationships.
  • Flexibility: I like minimizing schedule or topic commitments because that reduces stress and lets me adapt to what’s going on. Self-directed work fits me well.
  • Distinction: I like doing things that involve uncommon perspectives or combinations of skills. I feel like I can bring more to the table.
  • Value: I like things that help people learn more, understand things better, save time or money, share what they know, or be more excited about life.
  • Other things I care about: I care about making good ideas more accessible, which is why I like transcripts, sketchnotes, writing, and websites. I also care about helping good people do well, which is why I help friends with their businesses.

Writing fits these characteristics pretty well. If I can help friends through process coaching and things like that, I can learn more about things that other people might find useful too. It’s entirely possible to build good stuff around just this learn-share-scale cycle. Anything else (spin-off businesses? software? services) would be a bonus.

I have a little more uncertainty to deal with. I can see the timeline for it, so I’m okay with giving myself permission to take it easy for the next couple of months. After that, I’ll probably have a clearer idea of what the rest of this experiment with semi-retirement (and other follow-up experiments! =) ) could be like.

What would more focused writing or content creation look like? I might:

  • Pick a subject people are curious about and write a series of blog posts that I can turn into e-books
  • Revisit that outline of things to write about and flesh it in
  • Organize blog posts and other content into downloadable resources
  • Create courses so that people can go through things at a recommended pace and with multimedia content
    • Ooh, more animations

I think that would be an interesting life. =)

I still want to do something to help all these awesome people I come across who are having a hard time finding jobs or building businesses for themselves, though. It’s odd hearing about their struggles while at the same time watching the stock market keep going up – businesses seem to be doing okay, but it’s not trickling down? Maybe I’ll spend more time listening to people and asking what could help. Maybe I can spend some time connecting with business owners and seeing if I can understand their needs, too. Knowledge, ideas, and encouragement are easy, but there are probably even better ways to help. Hmm… That gives me a focus for networking at events. Looking forward to helping!

The post Planning my next little business appeared first on sacha chua :: living an awesome life.

by Sacha Chua at July 21, 2014 12:00 PM

Crossway Blog

Video: Elyse Fitzpatrick on How She Reads the Bible

WOWM - Personal Story

This video with Elyse Fitzpatrick is part of Women of the Word Month, a free 31-day campaign designed to encourage and equip women for transformative Bible study. Learn more or sign up at

In this video, author and speaker Elyse Fitzpatrick explains why she stopped reading through the entire Bible every year and reminds us that God doesn’t get “mad” at us when we miss a day of reading his Word.

Elyse Fitzpatrick on How She Reads the Bible
from Crossway on Vimeo.

Elyse M. Fitzpatrick (MA, Trinity Theological Seminary) is a counselor, a retreat and conference speaker, and the head of Counsel from the Cross Ministries. Fitzpatrick has authored or coauthored 18 books, including Because He Loves MeGive Them GraceComforts from Romans, Comforts from the Cross, and Found in Him.


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by Matt Tully at July 21, 2014 09:00 AM

Table Titans

Tales: Fortune Cruise


This tale begins on a Monday at my high school cafeteria, they were serving egg rolls and of course fortune cookies. My fortune read,

"This weekend, steer clear of water"

That Saturday we decided to start a new campaign and I rolled the best gods damned Ranger ever! The whole group rolled…

Read more

July 21, 2014 07:00 AM


Giving Jesus Credit Where Credit is Due (Or, Soteriological Maximalism & Atonement Accounts)

There’s a principle in theology that some have named have the “principle of perfection”, or what we might term “theological maximalism”, that says our thinking about God should aim to do justice to God’s maximally great being.  In other words, when trying to do construct your doctrine of God, if you have an option between two ways of looking at God, unless you have some very good reason for thinking otherwise, whichever option is greater ought to be preferred. So, for instance, if choosing between the view that God’s omniscience, his all-knowingness, includes a knowledge of the future as well as the present and the past, or only the present and the past, we should probably prefer the former option. Unless we have some very good scriptural evidence to the contrary, theological maximalism will lead us to expect that God’s perfect knowledge will contain perfect knowledge of the future.

Now, to my mind that makes intuitive and even biblical sense. The Scriptures declare God’s greatness and glory is beyond human comprehension, which likely means that if we could come up with attribute that would make him better, stronger, and more glorious, then he probably has it. The big qualification that comes in, though, is that we need to make sure our reasoning and logic about what would make God “great” is itself formed and normed by what God has said about himself in Scripture. Your “great” and the Bible’s “great” might not always match up in all the details.

From Big God to Big Salvation

This might be the most terrible portrait of Jesus I've ever seen.

This might be the most terrible portrait of Jesus I’ve ever seen.

I go into all of this to set up what I think should be a similar principle in our theology of salvation–a “soteriological maximalism”, if you will. What do I mean? And where am I going with this? Well, essentially, whichever position presents us with a greater, more complex, and comprehensive view of salvation wrought through Christ ought to be preferred. In other words, whichever view of salvation gives Father, Son, and Spirit more credit for getting more done through Christ’s life, death, and resurrection, all other considerations being equal, we should opt for that one.

For instance, for a long time now I’ve been annoyed at what I see as reductionistic views of the atonement, (ie, how Christ’s death reconciles us to God). Ever since Gustav Aulen’s treatment of the atonement back in the 30s in Christus Victor, theologians have been talking about three different models, types, or “theories” of atonement: moral influence, penal satisfaction, and Christus Victor. J.I. Packer explains the three quite nicely in his classic essay, The Logic of Penal Substitution so I’ll let him expand at length:

1. There is first, the type of account which sees the cross as having its effect entirely on men, whether by revealing God’s love to us, or by bringing home to us how much God hates our sins, or by setting us a supreme example of godliness, or by blazing a trail to God which we may now follow, or by so involving mankind in his redemptive obedience that the life of God now flows into us, or by all these modes together. It is assumed that our basic need is lack of motivation Godward and of openness to the inflow of divine life; all that is needed to set, us in a right relationship with God is a change in us at these two points, and this Christ’s death brings about. The forgiveness of our sins is not a separate problem; as soon as we are changed we become forgivable, and are then forgiven at once. This view has little or no room for any thought of substitution, since it goes so far in equating what Christ did for us with what he does to us.

2. A second type of account sees Christ’s death as having its effect primarily on hostile spiritual forces external to us which are held to be imprisoning us in a captivity of which our inveterate moral twistedness is one sign and symptom. The cross is seen as the work of God going forth to battle as our champion, just as David went forth as Israel’s champion to fight Goliath. Through the cross these hostile forces, however conceived — whether as sin and death, Satan and his hosts, the demonic in society and its structures, the powers of God’s wrath and curse, or anything else — are overcome and nullified, so that Christians are not in bondage to them, but share Christ’s triumph over them. The assumption here is that man’s plight is created entirely by hostile cosmic forces distinct from God; yet, seeing Jesus as our champion, exponents of this view could still properly call him our substitute, just as all the Israelites who declined Goliath’s challenge in 1 Samuel 17:8-11 could properly call David their substitute. Just as a substitute who involves others in the consequences of his action as if they had done it themselves is their representative, so a representative discharging the obligations of those whom he represents is their substitute. What this type of account of the cross affirms (though it is not usually put in these terms) is that the conquering Christ, whose victory secured our release, was our representative substitute.

3. The third type of account denies nothing asserted by the other two views save their assumption that they are complete. It that there is biblical support for all they say, but it goes further. It grounds man’s plight as a victim of sin and Satan in the fact that, for all God’s daily goodness to him, as a sinner he stands under divine judgment, and his bondage to evil is the start of his sentence, and unless God’s rejection of him is turned into acceptance he is lost for ever. On this view, Christ’s death had its effect first on God, who was hereby propitiated (or, better, who hereby propitiated himself), and only because it had this effect did it become an overthrowing of the powers of darkness and a revealing of God’s seeking and saving love. The thought here is that by dying Christ offered to God what the West has called satisfaction for sins, satisfaction which God’s own character dictated as the only means whereby his ‘no’ to us could become a ‘yes’, Whether this Godward satisfaction is understood as the homage of death itself, or death as the perfecting of holy obedience, or an undergoing of the God-forsakenness of hell, which is God’s final judgment on sin, or a perfect confession of man’s sins combined with entry into their bitterness by sympathetic identification, or all these things together (and nothing stops us combining them together), the shape of this view remains the same — that by undergoing the cross Jesus expiated our sins, propitiated our Maker, turned God’s ‘no’ to us into a ‘yes’, and so saved us. All forms of this view see Jesus as our representative substitute in fact, whether or not they call him that, but only certain versions of it represent his substitution as penal.

So here you see the three types. You can probably also see where this is going with respect to “soteriological maximalism.” It has been an lamentable reality that in the West, and especially in contemporary theology, the three forms have been pitted against each other as rival models that we must choose between, because they’re apparently totally incompatible. I think this is an unfortunate, and quite unnecessary move. Indeed, Packer goes on to say as much:

…it should be noted that though the two former views regularly set themselves in antithesis to the third, the third takes up into itself all the positive assertions that they make; which raises the question whether any more is at issue here than the impropriety of treating half-truth as the whole truth, and of rejecting a more comprehensive account on the basis of speculative negations about what God’s holiness requires as a basis for forgiving sins. Were it allowed that the first two views might be misunderstanding and distorting themselves in this way, the much-disputed claim that a broadly substitutionary view of the cross has always been the mainstream Christian opinion might be seen to have substance in it after all. It is a pity that books on the atonement so often take it for granted that accounts of the cross which have appeared as rivals in historical debate must be treated as intrinsically exclusive. This is always arbitrary, and sometimes quite perverse.

In a sense, accepting some form of penal representation allows you to affirm the truth of the other two models, while accounting for more biblical material that can’t be easily folded into those accounts. Indeed, as some theologians like Hans Boersma, Graham Cole, Henri Blocher, and Robert Sherman have pointed out in their different accounts, accepting it actually gives us a coherent grounding for the other two realities. Following a principle of soteriological maximalism, then, we will strive to affirm it because allows us to give Jesus more credit for his work on the cross, not less.

This comes in handy when, for instance, coming to a text like Colossians 2:13-15:

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

Here we see very clearly both legal/penal concerns (v. 14), as well as the theme of victory over powers and principalities. Instead of trying to subsume or screen out either theme, instead we can clearly preach both at once, seeing the way they are seamlessly combined in Scripture, and even begin to trace the way they are organically combined together.

A Note on Girard

Incidentally, this should probably be our approach towards newer atonement accounts of a Girardian “scapegoat” type. Basically, innocent Jesus’ obviously unjust death on the cross at the hands of the powers (government, religion, the mob) exposes the violent, scapegoating mechanism at the heart of sinful society, bringing about repentance, or something like that. You can dig through these resources for more details.  I’ll be honest, on its own, it’s an abysmal account of the atonement that can’t really deal with the biblical material, and usually operates with Girard’s own neo-Marcionite reading of the Old Testament. As Scot McKnight has pointed out, it’s basically a new-style Abelarian/moral influence type, only in this set-up, we’re tempted to forget that we’re the ones who put him up on the Cross. (Also, the above works by Boersma, Sherman, and this one by Horton, all ably critique Girardian atonement types.) Still, it is possible to take some of Girard’s insights about the scapegoating process in general and fold them into Christ’s work of exposing the powers of evil on the Cross.

Also, Girardian types remind us of the boundary measure we mentioned with theological maximalism. As I said, Girardian types usually have to screen out, or hold up as false, most of the Old Testament sacrificial system, as well as reject any image of God dealing out judgment upon sin as punishment. And yet the acknowledgement that the Creator God is the just judge who punishes sin stands clearly at the center of the story of Israel’s dealings with him. In putting forward a view of the atonement that’s allegedly consistent with a glorious ‘non-violent’ God, not only do these accounts deny the accomplishments that penal accounts affirm, they have to do so contrary to the witness of Scripture as well.

Objections and Conclusions

I can, at this point, anticipate a couple of objections at this point along the lines of “Well, what about universalism? That seems to make Jesus a more able Savior, wouldn’t it? Saving all is better than saving only some?” Or again, “What about theosis, or Eastern Orthodox forms of deification? Shouldn’t we then try and figure out a way to affirm those? ‘Deifying’ people seems like an extra step up, doesn’t it?” Well, honestly, I don’t have time to address both adequately, but I’d simply say this is where we need to make sure our ideas about what is ‘maximal’ is being normed and formed by Scripture. In the case of universalism, the numeric ‘more’ that seems more maximal must be submitted to the scriptural judgments we have on the subject that apparently imply otherwise.

On deification, actually I’d say that this ought to motivate us to re-examine our hesitancy to reject any notion of deification as entirely out of bounds for a Reformed, or simply biblical, account of Christ’s work for us. J. Todd Billings has done some excellent work to make a case for a Calvinistic doctrine of ‘deification’ through union with Christ that doesn’t violate biblical teaching on the Creator/creature distinction. A number of other Reformed theologians (Michael Horton, Robert Letham) have been affirming something similar as well.

At the end of this (already too long) post, all I’ll say is that our instinct in reading Scripture and preaching Christ should be to give him as much credit as possible for “so great a salvation.”

Soli Deo Gloria


by Derek Rishmawy at July 21, 2014 06:30 AM

The Gospel Coalition | Latest Articles

When It Comes to Work, We Are Never Alone

As a freelance writer, I often work alone. No one greets me when I come into the office or meets me at the water cooler to talk about last night’s game. In fact, right now, I’m sitting at a table outside a university library, working on my laptop, and waiting for a call. Although the table has three chairs, I’m the only one here . . . or am I?

Work Is Relational

The truth is that—even when I work alone—I’m actually in relationship with hundreds of other people. From the person who mined the bauxite that was used to make my laptop to the person who packaged my phone so that it wouldn’t be damaged in shipping, I’m interacting with hundreds of “co-workers," if you will. In this moment, we are knit together in a vast network of mutual service built on trust, honesty, sacrifice, and hope.

Work, therefore, is not merely a means of sustenance and survival. It is not just about utility, efficiency, and progress. It is, in fact, relational and personal. It is creative service because it is our opportunity to enact our creative agency on the world, so that we might cultivate the life of the world through service to others.

For the Life of the World

“What is our salvation actually for?” is the question at the center of For the Life of the World: Letters to Exiles, a seven-part film series that we’ve been featuring this summer as a way to examine the bigger picture of Christianity’s role in culture, society, and the world. Today, we’re delighted to share with you Episode 3: The Economy of Creative Service

To watch the full episode, click here. Enter "TGC3" today or tomorrow for a free 72-hour rental. 


Each Monday—from July 7 to August 18—we will highlight one episode and share an exclusive code for a free 72-hour rental of the full episode. (Note: You have to redeem the code today or tomorrow, but once you do, the rental is free for 72 hours.) To purchase the full DVD collection with a study guide for a $10 discount, visit Hearts & Minds

by Bethany Jenkins at July 21, 2014 05:01 AM

The Place Between Sundays

As a pastor, I often feel caught in the pull of consecutive Sundays. I wish I had more days between one Sunday and the next. It’s not a preparation issue (though admittedly I never feel “ready”—whatever that means). It’s an application issue.

First and foremost, I want to preach to myself. As I wrestle with God’s Word all week, the wrestling is not just in what to say and how to say it, but in how it speaks to my life, my relationships, my habits, my character. Am I applying it? Do I believe the promises? Do I take it seriously?

So Sunday morning comes and passes, and I walk out knowing that just everyone else in the sanctuary, God will give me opportunities to practice what I just preached.

But then the next Sunday begins to call. The next passage of Scripture beckons, and the pull begins: two sermons (at least) speaking to me. If the pull from what I just preached wins out, I want to pause the week, to really soak in Sunday’s lessons or challenges or encouragements or commands. I want to get it right before moving on. But sometimes the pull from next Sunday gains the upper hand: I want the days to stretch out so I can get it down before preaching it, achieve perfection, and know of what I speak when I say that God’s Spirit can enable us to put to death sin and put on the new life in Christ.

Learning to Abide

Maybe you see the problem already. Or maybe you’re chasing the same illusion. The Christian life is not a list of boxes to check to accomplish before moving on to the next sin or the next fruit of the Spirit, achieving perfection in weekly segments. Each Sunday’s challenge or promise or encouragement or command should point us—no, should cast us—to the foot of the cross. The goal is not joy or peace or holding one’s tongue. Paul would say the goal this way: “For me, to live is Christ.”

When our life is Christ—when we drink deeply from his blood and take our fill from his body—then joy and peace and holding one’s tongue spring up out of Christ’s life through ours. This fruit spills over into the mess of this world and brings little bits of healing and wholeness to the most surprising places. It’s not that we do nothing, it’s that doing flows out of abiding. We put to death sin and live to righteousness because we identify with Christ and desire to let the life of Jesus shine through us (2 Corinthians 4:5–12).

But it’s so much easier to chase peace or joy or holding one’s tongue or being a good steward or practicing lovingkindness toward an enemy than it is to repent of self-effort and abide in Christ. Why? Because we are inherently doers. Jesus revealed that tendency when he spoke to the crowd in John 6 after he fed the 5,000 (see specifically the conversation from John 6:25–35).

The place between Sundays is not a bad place if it reminds us of two important tasks for the Christian. First, we seek a lifestyle characterized by this prayer: “LORD, do through me what I won’t do naturally in this situation,” followed by obedience to the Spirit’s promptings. Second, we develop, through continued practice, sensitivity to the Spirit such that when we fail, we immediately repent and return to the above prayer.

That is my hope for you and me as we live in the place between Sundays. 

by Michael Herrington at July 21, 2014 05:01 AM

3 Lessons from an Early-Life Stroke


That’s the word the neurologist used as he crouched down beside my hospital bed. “This is craziness.” He was speaking partly to me, but mostly, I think, to the six other people who had filed into my room behind him: interns, residents, and my nurse.


It’s a word one would more readily associate with the absurdities of an internet company’s automated help lines (ahem, Comcast) or the antics of World Cup soccer fans than with health care, but there it was anyway: craziness.

All things considered, I suppose it was better to hear the minor stroke I had just suffered at the ripe old age of 33 characterized as “crazy” than the alternative. To hear him say, “This is just what we would have expected” would have been depressing in an entirely different way.

The doctor, enlarging on his previous theme, continued: “This was just bad luck.” I suppressed the urge to quote Dante to him (“Luck was the first of God’s creatures”—in my experience, practitioners of the hard sciences tend to have little patience with aficionados of the softer ones).

After 36 hours of observation and a slew of tests that would have made a torturer of the 15th-century Inquisition feel all warm and fuzzy inside, the practitioners of 21st-century medicine reached this conclusion: there was, it seems, no observable reason for my stroke.

There may well be no observable reason for what happened; there may, for that matter, be no unobservable reason for it, either (remember Dante?). But as I reflect on this temporary weakness God thrust me into, I think otherwise. Here are three lessons I’ve taken away from my stroke.

My Life Is Remarkably Fragile

Here’s the song that’s been going through my head since all this happened. It’s the third verse of Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise by Walter Chalmers Smith:

            To all life Thou givest—to both great and small;

            in all life Thou livest: the true Life of all.

            We blossom and flourish as leaves on the tree,

            and whither and perish, but naught changeth Thee.

In comparison to the one “who alone possesses immortality” (1 Timothy 6:16) and who is the very ground of existence itself (Acts 17:28), my life is remarkably transitory. This is why Isaiah confessed, “All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field . . . the grass withers and the flower fades, but the Word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:6, 8).

It is surprisingly easy to forget this reality. We tend to think that we will be able to continue life as we know it for the foreseeable future, and really, what future is worth considering that is not foreseeable? But that’s the problem. Our foresight is seriously flawed. The day will come when our health will fail. The day will come when we will die. I will not live forever. My time on this earth is short. I neglect this fact to my peril. So God, in his mercy, has reminded me of it. My life is fragile and entirely in his hands.

My Life Is Entirely Unassailable

The flip-side of this coin is true too. Since my life is entirely in God’s hands, it is not only remarkably fragile, but also entirely unassailable. Although statistically a person who has suffered one stroke is at higher risk for suffering a second one, it would be a mistake for me to think of my life as a ticking time bomb. There is simply no sense in which my life is more fragile now than it was before.

In the doctoral seminar I was attending when this trouble began, we had been discussing spiritual warfare. The enemy hates the advance of the gospel and will use all means at his disposal to stop it. Sometimes, these means include physical attacks. I hadn’t thought, at the time, that I was about to become Exhibit A. But here’s the thing: while it is eminently possible that my stroke was an attack from Satan, the Bible makes it abundantly clear that Satan is powerless apart from the permission of God. He cannot attack Job without God’s permission (see Job 1–2). He cannot attack Peter without God’s permission (see Luke 22:31). The enemy may snarl and snap and sometimes even bite, but he does so as a mongrel on a chain.

It may well be that some obdurate valve in my heart will hurl another blood clot projectile that will travel through my arteries and pierce my brain like a bullet. It could happen. But if it does, it will do so only with the permission of my loving Father, whose plan I trust and whose prerogative I humbly recognize.

My Life Is Not Even a Little Bit My Own

My life does not belong to me—not even a little bit. Our indignation at unexpected trials only proves that we think our lives are just that—ours. But that’s not right, is it? My recent experience has reminded me that my life belongs to God. My heart is his. My brain is his.

On the one hand, this reality leads me to take a careful look at how I’m stewarding these things that God has put into my charge for the time being. Can I be a better steward of my life and health? Yes. Can I be a better steward of my time? Sure.

But suppose I become the most faithful steward alive, and then I have another stroke. Maybe a fatal one this time. Will I then have a right to be displeased? “Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?” (Romans 9:20 KJV). No, my life is not my own. I owe it doubly to God—first by right of creation, second by right of redemption. So that in all things, I must say with Job, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).

by Andrew Shanks at July 21, 2014 05:01 AM

The Outlaw Way


Outlaw Barbell, your National Champion – Cassidy Duffield:


1) Clean & Jerk: 5X2@80%

2) Jerk from blocks: 5X1@100% of #1


1) Jerk Grip OHS: 5X2@80%


1) BTN Push Press Clean Grip: 5X2@80%

2) Good Mornings: 3X5@80%

The post 140721 appeared first on The Outlaw Way.

by at July 21, 2014 03:46 AM

sacha chua :: living an awesome life

Weekly review: Week ending July 18, 2014

Lots and lots and lots of reading last week. Yay! Also, more talking to people. This week: meetings, another Emacs Chat episode, and more.

Blog posts

Link round-up

  • HeartMath Considered Incoherent: Fascinating analysis.
  • Using Themed Work Weeks instead of Themed Work Days: Sprints tend to work well for me too, although I generally don’t decide the theme far in advance.
  • Is it Ok to Be Happily Retired?: Sometimes I feel self-conscious about this experiment while other people around me work hard or struggle to find work. I’m getting better at giving myself permission to learn stuff, though, and I enjoy using some of my time to help out.
  • The Problem with Asking for Advice: I like the test of thinking about whether you’re going to change your behaviour based on the input. This also reminds me of why I push back on a lot of poll/survey questions with the meta-question: “What are we going to do about the answers?”

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (23.8h – 14%)
    • Earn: E1: 2.5-3.5 days of consulting
    • Earn (17.4h – 73% of Business)
    • Build (0.5h – 2% of Business)
      • Drawing (0.0h)
      • Delegation (0.0h)
      • Packaging (0.0h)
      • Paperwork (0.5h)
    • Connect (5.8h – 24% of Business)
  • Relationships (5.0h – 2%)
    • Have coffee with Nadia
    • Host party
    • Discuss F
    • Have coffee with Andrew
  • Discretionary – Productive (24.8h – 14%)
    • Fix website
    • Emacs (1.2h – 0% of all)
      • Record chat with Harry Schwartz
    • Writing (4.5h)
      • What are people looking for when they talk about challenges?
      • Quiet days
      • Don’t worry about your tools in the beginning: Avoiding premature optimization
      • Books about applying advice to your life
  • Discretionary – Play (7.7h – 4%)
  • Personal routines (31.1h – 18%)
  • Unpaid work (9.3h – 5%)
  • Sleep (66.4h – 39% – average of 9.5 per day)

The post Weekly review: Week ending July 18, 2014 appeared first on sacha chua :: living an awesome life.

by Sacha Chua at July 21, 2014 03:14 AM

The Outlaw Way



Clean and Jerk up to 65%


5 rounds for time of:

7 Hang Cleans (full) 155/105#
14 HSPU (Kipping is allowed)
200m Run

Do Work…

The post 140721 appeared first on The Outlaw Way.

by John Dill at July 21, 2014 02:05 AM


Box Shoulder Stretch 4×0:20

Static Shaping
4×0:40 On/0:40 Off Arch Hold on Stomach
photo 2-3

1:30 Chin to Toes Handstand

Active Shaping
3×8 Arch to Hollow Swing on Bar, pause between each swing

For 4:00, 0:20 Arch Rocks/0:10 Rest

The post 140721 appeared first on The Outlaw Way.

by Kaitlin at July 21, 2014 01:53 AM

Caelum Et Terra

Sixty One and Anonymous



I dreaded turning sixty, and when that birthday was looming a year ago I got even more melancholic than usual.

Understand that when I was a boy sixty was old. 

And not just because I was young: people died younger. My paternal grandfather died in his early fifties. My mom’s mom died in her early 60s. Her dad around 70. My eldest grandparent was my father’s mother, who was in her mid 70s.

But I am aware that before that generation my ancestors, at least those who survived childhood, lived for the most part long lives, into their 80s and 90s.

I cannot help but speculate that moving from farm to city, as my grandparents and parents did, and beginning to eat store bought, processed food and drink homogenized milk and work in more stressful and unnatural environments – I have worked in factories- shortened their lives.

And I have written here about realizing that I had spun a very narrow narrative, that I assumed, after my Bad Year of health crises and subsequent ills, that I was soon to be gone from this world. I did not make long term plans. I was resigned to living in pain the rest of my short life, and about the only optimistic part was that my life insurance would help my bride and the kids climb out of debt.

It is not like I did not experience joy, or find pleasure in my family or in beauty. If you read what I write you know that. But the underlying reality was doom.

I wrote on Facebook that when I turned sixty that I would wear black clothes and dark John Lennon glasses. It wasn’t a joke. I bought black t shirts and shades. But black is too hot for a fiery man like me, even in winter months, and I found I do not like looking at a dark world.

But that was my mood.

Meanwhile, everything was falling apart, or so it felt. I began a long deconstruction, a stripping down, accompanied by an epic winter. I became disillusioned with a lot of what I had thought was religion, and critical of the subculture of a certain type of American ‘orthodox Catholicism’, even though I had never been anywhere but on the margins of the Real Catholic Club, a sort of pet Catholic bohemian radical.

But it fell apart.

Human construct after human construct crumbled, until I was just being beholding Being.

And I awoke.

Some friends may think I have lost my faith, but in fact I lost everything but my faith.

And I felt a surge of creativity, both artistically and intellectually. Everything seemed to come together, even the parts that were falling apart.

I realized that the source of much of my back and neck pain was anxiety, added to by the constant clenching that extreme cold inspires as a natural reaction, and I realized that there are exercises I can do to help strengthen my muscles.

Concurrent with this came clarity about a lot of personal things. I realized that I have books brewing in me: memoirs, things theological, erotic, philosophical, poetic.

But I do not have time for major projects. I came to understand that for all sorts of practical reasons it makes sense for me to retire later rather than sooner. Put these two realizations together and it is clear that while I do not have time to write a book or paint large paintings I can write sketches and chapters and jot down ideas, and I can do small paintings and drawings.

I do not know where this will go. It may all be worked into a novel, or there may be several books brewing.

Or maybe I will sum it all up in a poem.

Or silence.

But to that end I have begun writing elsewhere, anonymously. I will still write here, the sort of ‘Catholic stuff” that has appeared here since 2005. And I will continue writing here on social and political issues. Another presidential race is brewing and it will be hard not to offer my satirical take on it. Heck, the Republicans oddly chose Cleveland, one of the blackest and poorest cities in the US, for their convention. It’s just an hour away and I may pay a visit.

Though it doesn’t take a prophet to predict that this round of Americana is going to be uglier and dumber than ever.

So Caelum et Terra, which has been losing readers since I veered from the Real Catholic Club’s weird religion, will continue.

For the more personal and speculative, though, I have another venue.

And a plan.

Sixty, which I had dreaded, turned out to be a watershed, a hill from which there is a broad and hopeful view.

And tomorrow I turn 61.

by Daniel Nichols at July 21, 2014 01:29 AM

July 20, 2014

Lift Big Eat Big

Five Ways To Get The Most Out Of Your Online Coaching

Online coaching and programming, as many of you may know, is a booming business. It allows you to connect and work with coaches and athletes that otherwise would be too far away from your physical location.  Online coaching can be very beneficial for athletes who have become disenchanted with their gym's current model of programming, athletes who train by themselves but have no real guidance, or just athletes that are looking for something new. 
 The downside to online coaching is, of course, the lack of a physical coach to work with you. This isn't to say that it is ineffective, it just means that preemptive steps need to be taken, to ensure that both the athlete's money isn't being wasted, as well as that of the coach's time. I have worked with 200+ athletes via our online coaching programs, and in this article, I will outline five different tools an athlete can utilize, in order to get the most out of their online coach.

1. Maintain Contact With Your Coach.
This one is first on my list, and it is one of those things that shouldn't even need to be stated, meaning it, of course, HAS to be stated. When someone signs up for our programming, I make it clear that if you want the most out of the deal, YOU must put in the effort to remain in contact with your coach. If you were coached in person, would you just go without talking to your coach for two or three weeks at a time? Doubtful, so why do it with an online coach, where they don't even get in-person coaching time with you? 
Your online coach needs to be kept in the loop when it comes to your training; we want to know what felt good, what hurts, how hard the day way for you, etc. This feedback is doubly important when it comes to knowing what we should program for your next week or next month. Don't get me wrong, I am sure your online coach will gladly accept your dollars, whether or not you maintain contact, but it can get very bothersome to talk to an athlete once a month, get zero feedback from them, while they request the next cycle of programming. If you want your program to be tailored to your needs, maintain contact with your coach, you paid for it. Otherwise, just save your money and download a free program, since you will most likely be receiving generic programming anyway.

2. Film Your Lifts.
“I couldn’t film my lifts because I lifted by myself.” Honestly, as a coach, this is one of the most pathetic excuses about filming your lifts, and one of the easiest remedied problems. I along with everyone in our crew, film 80+% of all of the lifts we post online. Believe it or not, you can actually film yourself when no one is around to do it for you. Lean your camera against a wall, set it upright in a shoe, by a 15 dollar tripod, etc. I let the filming issue slide for roughly two weeks, before I tell my clients that they will no longer receive programming from me until I see your lifts.
This brings us back to the first point of maintaining contact with your coach: we want to see what you are doing. Telling us: “my back hurts when I deadlift, what am I doing wrong?” when you have no video to show, severely limits our options of assisting you. You can also look at it from a financial point of view: NOT filming yourself is like throwing money down the toilet when working with an online coach. For my clients, we schedule one day each week to watch all of the week’s previous videos together, so they can get feedback while we both watch the lifts. Something that I find extremely helpful when asking my athletes to film themselves, is the angle of the camera. If you were to look at a clock, I would ideally like the camera to be positioned at either the 2 or the 10, this will allow me to see what is happening in the front, as well as part of the side angle. Filming directly from the side is usually inadvisable, since the plate will block most of the shot.
3. Have Concise Goals, Or Let Your Coach make Them For You. 

If you want to reach a destination, you should probably have your path planned, or you will never get there. Newer athletes get a lot of leeway with me on this one, as it is simply something they may not have thought of. For example: “get stronger, lose bodyfat, increase my lifts” are of course good goals (Who doesn’t want these three things?), they aren’t incredibly helpful when trying to figure out the steps you take to get there. How much stronger? How much of a decrease in bodyfat? What lifts, how much weight? You can see what I mean when I say concise goals. I prefer when new athletes have goals that are specific, such as adding 80lbs to their squat in six months, a 4% decrease in bodyfat, etc. Having your goals written out and broken down will help you hold yourself more accountable to them, much like having a carrot dangled in front of a horse’s face while walking.
Keeping your specific goals in the front of your mind will help you to stay on track on those days when you may feel lazy. Six months is a finite amount of time, and keeping streamlined goals will help you to work towards it every day, instead of just wanting to “get stronger,” which is pretty relative. Technically, a 5lb PR means you have gotten stronger, but I don’t think it would be worth hiring an online coach for.

4. So Let It Be Written, So Let It Be Done.
Plain and simple, if you pay someone to write your programming, you should be following only that programming. I take it as a personal insult when clients pay me to spend hours every month writing their programming, only to find out that they are following their own gym’s programming at the same. Look at it this way; you are cheating on your online coach. When a coach designs a program, it is usually designed as a complete program, not a half-done program that you then must supplement with other lifts of your choice. If you want your coach to design a powerlifting program for you, don’t suddenly decide that you want to become more “explosive” by also following an Olympic lifting program. I have just given clients their money back in the past, because I do not want to waste my time with a client that can’t respect me enough to hold up their end of the bargain. We are there to help you progress, that is why you hired us: because you don’t know how to do it by yourself. And, because you don’t know how to program yourself, why would you suddenly decide to write your own programming? Don’t make this mistake, it is one of the worst offenses you can give to an online coach.

5. You Must Hold Yourself Accountable.
The more an athlete puts into the relationship I have with them as their online coach, the more I want to help them. We can write the world’s greatest programs, give you a stellar nutrition plan, and offer to assist you in any way that is feasible for us, but ultimately, the buck stops with you. I don’t think I am the only coach out there that receives blame from a client for their lack of progress, even though the client followed maybe 50% of what we have written for them. You could have the best person in the world working with you online, but if you don’t possess the willpower to achieve what you wanted in the first place, you won’t progress. If you ever just have “one of those days”, take a step back, remember your goals, and figure out what desire of yours is stronger: The desire to achieve change, or the desire to throw in the towel. Ultimately, all athletic careers can be boiled down to the sum of your desires. Your desire to change must be stronger than your desire to have an easy day.

These are just a few of the ways I have found to be most effective when working with an online coach. Have I left anything out? Do you have anything to add? Let us know on Facebook.

by Brandon Morrison ( at July 20, 2014 11:24 PM

The Outlaw Way


Sometimes things turn out better than you can imagine. For those of you who haven’t seen, Cassidy Duffield became Outlaw Barbell’s first National Champion this weekend. She went 5 for 6, winning gold on the Snatch at 89kg (195.8#), and bronze on the Clean & Jerk at 105kg (231#), for a 194kg total. Her session was nearly flawless, and she executed as if she was lifting in her gym, not on the biggest national Weightlifting stage.

Again, I will write more about Nationals this week, but today I wanted to say congratulations to our new National Champion. She has not been lifting competitively for very long, and she trusted me in every aspect of the prep for the meet (even though she wanted to do some conditioning more than anything in the world).

I could not be more proud to say: congratulations Cass, you are simply the best 69kg lifter in America – thank you, and enjoy every moment of this.

WOD 140721:


1) Clean & Jerk: 5X1@80% – rest as needed

2) Jerk from blocks: 5X1@80% (of max from blocks) – rest as needed


1a) Behind the neck Push Press (Clean grip): 3X5@80% – rest 90 sec.

1b) 3X5 Strict Pull-ups + ME C2B Pull-ups – rest 90 sec.


5 rounds for time of:

7 Hang Cleans (full) 155/105#
14 HSPU (Kipping is allowed)
200m Run

The post 140721 appeared first on The Outlaw Way.

by at July 20, 2014 10:37 PM

The Art of Non-Conformity

Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse: London Heathrow Airport

I love airline lounges and regularly spend four or more hours at a time working from them. This series explores some of my favorites from around the world.

Way back in 2007, one of my very favorite lounges was Virgin Atlantic’s “Clubhouse” at London Heathrow. I’ve been back several times since then, and it hasn’t lost its shine.

Interestingly, flying on Virgin Atlantic is nice but not amazing. A few years ago, they were one of the best Business Class options, but other airlines have since passed them by. The flagship Clubhouse, though, remains a strong contender for the best lounge in the world.

VA Clubhouse_1

The Clubhouse is located in Heathrow’s Terminal 3, also home to American Airlines, a few British Airways flights, and a hodgepodge of other carriers.

VA Clubhouse_2

If you’re eligible to visit the Clubhouse, you probably won’t want to go anywhere else in the terminal. You can easily spend four hours or more right here!

The Clubhouse bar is seriously extensive. You can order your choice of liquors or mixed drinks, including the signature Vesper cocktail. Of course, non-alcoholic options are also available.

VA Clubhouse_3

Seating areas are plentiful in this lounge. You can grab a comfy chair, a couch, a desk, or a seat at a dining table.

VA Clubhouse_4

Head on out to the observation deck for some plane-spotting.

VA Clubhouse_5

The classic British menu features breakfasts, burgers, light snacks, and fancy sweets.

VA Clubhouse_6

When passing through, I always spend some time working in the library.

VA Clubhouse_7

Fancy a game of pool, billiards, or snooker? You can do that.

VA Clubhouse_8

Premium spa treatments are a sign of a top-notch airline lounge… and the Clubhouse doesn’t disappoint. Visit the spa for your choice of free 15-minute treatments, including a haircut, manicure, facial, or massage.

VA Clubhouse_9


How to Get In: Virgin Atlantic Upper Class ticket holders receive complimentary admission, even if on an award ticket. You can transfer miles to Virgin Atlantic from American Express Membership Rewards (my preferred option). In some cases you may be able to pay for a day pass, though not usually at the nicer Clubhouses.


Images: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

by Chris Guillebeau at July 20, 2014 09:56 PM

512 Pixels

Mike Ashley


Use of Formal Methods at Amazon Web Services
Practice report of how Amazon has used TLA+ to eliminate design bugs in their distributed systems.
Corporate OpenSource Anti-Patterns
Bryan Cantrill’s talk on how companies can avoid mistakes in sponsoring open source projects.
The Developer’s Dystopian Future
Sentiments also shared by others.
Robots Will Pave the Way to Mars
Outlines some of the problems with and possible solutions to getting around Earth’s gravity well in order to start building real infrastructure in space.
What Problems to Solve
Letter from Richard Feynman to a former student.

July 20, 2014 06:53 PM

The Brooks Review

Microsoft layoff e-mail typifies inhuman corporate insensitivity

Lee Hutchinson:

Nadella’s e-mail stretches to almost 600 words in six paragraphs—too long by at least half considering the content. It’s bloated by stock corporate phrases totally devoid of meaning—Microsoft will “drive greater accountability” and will have “more productive, impactful teams.” The company will “accelerate the flow of information.” The e-mail even manages to drop in hyper-double-super buzzwords like “agile” and “lean.” I heard and read the same words at Boeing, and the same phrases show up in every big company's layoff notices. They're the corporate version of the “Oh, it's not you, it's me” break-up response.

This is a great analysis of why Nadellas Microsoft is the same Microsoft it always has been. In other words another out of touch CEO.

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

by Ben Brooks at July 20, 2014 04:05 PM

Doc Searls WeblogDoc Searls Weblog »

The cliff personal clouds need to climb

This speed test was done in London, but it’s typical of everywhere:
speedtest in london

It shows a Net biased for downstream, and minimized for upstream.

If we’re going to do any serious personal work in clouds, we need better upstream than this.

I wrote about the problem, and the reason for it, in France, four years ago. Not much has changed.

One would think that Amazon, Apple and Microsoft, all of which offer cloud services for people (check those links), would make a stink about awful upstream speeds. But I haven’t heard a peep. Why not?



by Doc Searls at July 20, 2014 12:45 PM


ansiweather: One-line weather report, with frills

If it seems like most of the titles thus far are in the early part of the alphabet, that is only to be expected. There hasn’t been much of a chance to pull in titles from the latter half, after scraping through everything after about section N onward.

So just by virtue of time and random chance, a lot of what I have is in the A through M portion. I hope that doesn’t disappoint. ;)

Here’s ansiweather, which might seem a bit minimalistic at first.


Mmm, color. :D Let’s get a close-up, and give ansiweather a chance to shine.


Whoa! Okay! That’s too close. But I think you can see one of ansiweather’s high points there: the use of specific weather ideographs as embellishments.

ansiweather also allows for forecast data, specific date formats, and of course, specific locations. All condensed into a single-line display.

Pretty cool. Colorful, terse, customizable, lightweight. I can find nothing wrong. Except of course, that those little umbrellas and clouds probably won’t show up in a virtual console. That’s a mighty small complaint though.

At this point, ansiweather is probably either a stroke of genius to you, or something so completely understated as to be rubbish. But consider adding ansiweather to …

  • vtclock, which allows you to pipe in the results of a command. Now you have a weather clock for your desktop;
  • Your .bashrc / .bash_profile, or maybe even somehow part of /etc/issue, which would give every console a weather report at login. This one might take a little effort to produce.
  • ticker or ticker, either of which will scroll that information across your console, vertically or horizontally;
  • figlet, or for real craziness, toilet … say no more;
  • or even just watch, which will allow you to paint it into a corner and update at set intervals. If you use a graphical desktop, try a terminal emulator set to be completely transparent, forced to the root desktop, reshaped to only one or two lines, and updating ansiweather at intervals. It’s like conky, without conky. ;)

You might also consider cramming this into a terminal multiplexer, either as a specific panel or “desktop widget,” or through some sort of built-in status bar. Let me know if you figure that one out.

At first ansiweather might seem like a triviality, but like a lot of things with Linux, it’s not the tool that matters. It’s how you use it. ;)

Tagged: display, screensaver, weather

by K.Mandla at July 20, 2014 12:15 PM

bm: A console bookmark manager

I never really thought about a bookmark manager for the console; the browsers that I use these days — specifically elinks or Pale Moon — have onboard bookmarking systems already.

bm does add the ability to bounce straight to a link from the command line, something like surfraw does.


Which might be preferable in some cases, rather than opening a specific browser, then working through the bookmarks to get to a site. Or using surfraw’s search tools to circumnavigate and end up in that spot.

bm can also tally some basic statistics about the number of bookmarks you have, and the popularity of particular categories. A nice touch.

Add to that the ability to sync bookmarks with Dropbox, and its ability to generate page snapshots, and bm appears to be a very good option for leaping straight from the CLI to a web page … particularly if you’re using a graphical desktop.

I had only one problem with bm as it stands now: The actual command to trigger the browser — whether through bm open or just bm — spat out a short error, which I attribute to my screwball setup. I trigger a lot of programs through specific scripts, and there’s just no way for bm to know about that.

I’m willing to give a thumbs-up to bm, even if I don’t anticipate using it much. I can see integrating it into a complete text-only machine, because it provides a good shortcut between the cursor and the browser. Enjoy, with my blessing. ;)

Tagged: bookmark, browser

by K.Mandla at July 20, 2014 12:00 PM

Zippy Catholic

Consent doesn’t create authority, even in marriage

Malcolm suggests that in the case of marriage it is the bride’s consent to marriage which creates the husband’s authority. This is mistaken.

A man – even an unmarried man – has natural law authority over his household. Just as someone may in some cases decide by (mutual) consent to become a citizen of a country and place himself under a particular sovereign’s authority, a bride decides by (mutual) consent to become part of the groom’s household and place herself under his authority.

But in neither case is it true that the authority in question derives from the consent of the governed.

by Zippy at July 20, 2014 04:56 AM

July 19, 2014

512 Pixels

36 →

Brett Terpstra has written one of the most amazing things I've read online in a long, long time. Happy birthday, bud.


by Stephen Hackett at July 19, 2014 11:24 PM


Wifi maximum range, lies, and the signal to noise ratio

Last time we talked about how wifi signals cross about 12 orders of magnitude in terms of signal power, from +30dBm (1 watt) to -90dBm (1 picowatt). I mentioned my old concern back in school about splitters causing a drop to 1/n of the signal on a wired network, where n is the number of nodes, and said that doesn't matter much after all.

Why doesn't it matter? If you do digital circuits for a living, you are familiar with the way digital logic works: if the voltage is over a threshold, say, 1.5V, then you read a 1. If it's under the threshold, then you read a 0. So if you cut all the voltages in half, that's going to be a mess because the threshold needs to get cut in half too. And if you have an unknown number of nodes on your network, then you don't know where the threshold is at all, which is a problem. Right?

Not necessarily. It turns out analog signal processing is - surprise! - not like digital signal processing.


Essentially, in receiving an analog signal and converting it back to digital, you want to do one of three things:

  • see if the signal power is over/under a threshold ("amplitude shift keying" or ASK)
  • or: see if the signal is frequency #0 or frequency #1 ("frequency shift keying" or FSK)
  • or: fancier FSK-like schemes such as PSK or QAM (look it up yourself :)).
Realistically nowadays everyone does QAM, but the physics are pretty much the same for FSK and it's easier to explain, so let's stick with that.

But first, what's wrong with ASK? Why toggle between two frequencies (FSK) when you can just toggle one frequency on and off (ASK)? The answer comes down mainly to circuit design. To design an ASK receiver, you have to define a threshold, and when the amplitude is higher than the threshold, call it a 1, otherwise call it a 0. But what is the threshold? It depends on the signal strength. What is the signal strength? The height of a "1" signal. How do we know whether we're looking at a "1" signal? It's above the threshold ... It ends up getting tautological.

The way you implement it is to design an "automatic gain control" (AGC) circuit that amplifies more when too few things are over the threshold, and less when too many things are over the threshold. As long as you have about the same number of 1's and 0's, you can tune your AGC to do the right thing by averaging the received signal power over some amount of time.

In case you *don't* have an equal number of 1's and 0's, you can fake it with various kinds of digital encodings. (One easy encoding is to split each bit into two halves and always flip the signal upside down for the second half, producing a "balanced" signal.)

So, you can do this of course, and people have done it. But it just ends up being complicated and fiddly. FSK turns out to be much easier. With FSK, you just build two circuits: one for detecting the amplitude of the signal at frequency f1, and one for detecting the amplitude of the signal at frequency f2. It turns out to be easy to design analog circuits that do this. Then you design a "comparator" circuit that will tell you which of two values is greater; it turns out to be easy to design that too. And you're done! No trying to define a "threshold" value, no fine-tuned AGC circuit, no circular reasoning. So FSK and FSK-like schemes caught on.


With that, you can see why my original worry about a 1/n signal reduction from cable splitters didn't matter. As long as you're using FSK, the 1/n reduction doesn't mean anything; your amplitude detector and comparator circuits just don't care about the exact level, essentially. With wifi, we take that to the extreme with tiny little FSK-like signals down to a picowatt or so.

But where do we stop? Why only a picowatt? Why not even smaller?

The answer is, of course, background noise. No signal exists in perfect isolation, except in a simulation (and even in a simulation, the limitations of floating point accuracy might cause problems). There might be leftover bits of other people's signals transmitted from far away; thermal noise (ie. molecules vibrating around which happen to be at your frequency); and amplifier noise (ie. inaccuracies generated just from trying to boost the signal to a point where your frequency detector circuits can see it at all). You can also have problems from other high-frequency components on the same circuit board emitting conflicting signals.

The combination of limits from amplifier error and conflicting electrical components is called the receiver sensitivity. Noise arriving from outside your receiver (both thermal noise and noise from interfering signals) is called the noise floor. Modern circuits - once properly debugged, calibrated, and shielded - seem to be good enough that receiver sensitivity is not really your problem nowadays. The noise floor is what matters.

It turns out, with modern "low-noise amplifier" (LNA) circuits, we can amplify a weak signal essentially as much as we want. But the problem is... we amplify the noise along with it. The ratio between signal strength and noise turns out to be what really matters, and it doesn't change when you amplify. (Other than getting slightly worse due to amplifier noise.) We call that the signal to noise ratio (SNR), and if you ask an expert in radio signals, they'll tell you it's one of the most important measurements in analog communications.

A note on SNR: it's expressed as a "ratio" which means you divide the signal strength in mW by the noise level in mW. But like the signal strength and noise levels, we normally want to express the SNR in decibels to make it more manageable. Decibels are based on logarithms, and because of the way logarithms work, you subtract decibels to get the same effect as dividing the original values. That turns out to be very convenient! If your noise level is -90dBm and your signal is, say, -60dBm, then your SNR is 30dB, which means 1000x. That's awfully easy to say considering how complicated the underlying math is. (By the way, after subtracting two dBm values we just get plain dB, for the same reason that if you divide 10mW by 2mW you just get 5, not 5mW.)

The Shannon Limit

So, finally... how big does the SNR need to be in order to be "good"? Can you just receive any signal where SNR > 1.0x (which means signal is greater than noise)? And when SNR < 1.0x (signal is less than noise), all is lost?

Nope. It's not that simple at all. The math is actually pretty complicated, but you can read about the Shannon Limit on wikipedia if you really want to know all the details. In short, the bigger your SNR, the faster you can go. That makes a kind of intuitive sense I guess.

(But it's not really all that intuitive. When someone is yelling, can they talk *faster* than when they're whispering? Perhaps it's only intuitive because we've been trained to notice that wifi goes faster when the nodes are closer together.)

The Shannon limit even calculates that you can transfer some data even when the signal power is lower than the noise, which seems counterintuitive or even impossible. But it's true, and the global positioning system (GPS) apparently actually does this, and it's pretty cool.

The Maximum Range of Wifi is Unchangeable

So that was all a *very* long story, but it has a point. Wifi signal strength is fundamentally limited by two things: the regulatory transmitter power limit (30dBm or less, depending on the frequency and geography), and the distance between transmitter and receiver. You also can't do much about background noise; it's roughly -90dBm or maybe a bit worse. Thus, the maximum speed of a wifi link is fixed by the laws of physics. Transmitters have been transmitting at around the regulatory maximum since the beginning.

So how, then, do we explain the claims that newer 802.11n devices have "double the range" of the previous-generation 802.11g devices?

Simple: they're marketing lies. 802.11g and 802.11n have exactly the same maximum range. In fact, 802.11n just degrades into 802.11g as the SNR gets worse and worse, so this has to be true.

802.11n is certainly faster at close and medium range. That's because 802.11g tops out at an SNR of about 20dB. That is, the Shannon Limit says you can go faster when you have >20dB, but 802.11g doesn't try; technology wasn't ready for it at the time. 802.11n can take advantage of that higher SNR to get better speeds at closer ranges, which is great.

But the claim about longer range, by any normal person's definition of range, is simply not true.

Luckily, marketing people are not normal people. In the article I linked above they explain how. Basically, they define "twice the range" as a combination of "twice the speed at the same distance" and "the same speed at twice the distance." That is, a device fulfilling both criteria has double the range as an original device which fulfills neither.

It sounds logical, but in real life, that definition is not at all useful. You can do it by comparing, say, 802.11g and 802.11n at 5ft and 10ft distances. Sure enough, 802.11n is more than twice as fast as 802.11g at 5ft! And at 10ft, it's still faster than 802.11g at 5ft! Therefore, twice the range. Magic, right? But at 1000ft, the same equations don't work out. Oddly, their definition of "range" does not include what happens at maximum range.

I've been a bit surprised at how many people believe this "802.11n has twice the range" claim. It's obviously great for marketing; customers hate the limits of wifi's maximum range, so of course they want to double it, or at least increase it by any nontrivial amount, and they will pay money for a new router if it can do this. As of this writing, even wikipedia's table of maximum ranges says 802.11n has twice the maximum range of 802.11g, despite the fact that anyone doing a real-life test could easily discover that this is simply not the case. I did the test. It's not the case. You just can't cheat Shannon and the Signal to Noise Ratio.


Coming up next, some ways to cheat Shannon and the Signal to Noise Ratio.

July 19, 2014 10:35 PM

Wifi and the square of the radius

I have many things to tell you about wifi, but before I can tell you most of them, I have to tell you some basic things.

First of all, there's the question of transmit power, which is generally expressed in watts. You may recall that a watt is a joule per second. A milliwatt is 1/1000 of a watt. A transmitter generally can be considered to radiate its signal outward from a center point. A receiver "catches" part of the signal with its antenna.

The received signal power declines with the square of the radius from the transmit point. That is, if you're twice as far away as distance r, the received signal power at distance 2r is 1/4 as much as it was at r. Why is that?

Imagine a soap bubble. It starts off at the center point and there's a fixed amount of soap. As it inflates, the same amount of soap is stretched out over a larger and larger area - the surface area. The surface area of a sphere is 4 π r2.

Well, a joule of energy works like a millilitre of soap. It starts off at the transmitter and gets stretched outward in the shape of a sphere. The amount of soap (or energy) at one point on the sphere is proportional to
1 / 4 π r2.

Okay? So it goes down with the square of the radius.

A transmitter transmitting constantly will send out a total of one joule per second, or a watt. You can think of it as a series of ever-expanding soap bubbles, each expanding at the speed of light. At any given distance from the transmitter, the soap bubble currently at that distance will have a surface area of 4 π r2, and so the power will be proportional to 1 / that.

(I say "proportional to" because the actual formula is a bit messy and depends on your antenna and whatnot. The actual power at any point is of course zero, because the point is infinitely small, so you can only measure the power over a certain area, and that area is hard to calculate except that your antenna picks up about the same area regardless of where it is located. So although it's hard to calculate the power at any given point, it's pretty easy to calculate that a point twice as far away will have 1/4 the power, and so on. That turns out to be good enough.)

If you've ever done much programming, someone has probably told you that O(n^2) algorithms are bad. Well, this is an O(n^2) algorithm where n is the distance. What does that mean?

    1cm -> 1 x
    2cm -> 1/4 x
    3cm -> 1/9 x
    10cm -> 1/100 x
    20cm -> 1/400 x
    100cm (1m) -> 1/10000 x
    10,000cm (100m) -> 1/100,000,000 x

As you get farther away from the transmitter, that signal strength drops fast. So fast, in fact, that people gave up counting the mW of output and came up with a new unit, called dBm (decibels times milliwatts) that expresses the signal power logarithmically:

    n dBm = 10n/10 mW

So 0 dBm is 1 mW, and 30 dBm is 1W (the maximum legal transmit power for most wifi channels). And wifi devices have a "receiver sensitivity" that goes down to about -90 dBm. That's nine orders of magnitude below 0; a billionth of a milliwatt, ie. a trillionth of a watt. I don't even know the word for that. A trilliwatt? (Okay, I looked it up, it's a picowatt.)

Way back in university, I tried to build a receiver for wired modulated signals. I had no idea what I was doing, but I did manage to munge it, more or less, into working. The problem was, every time I plugged a new node into my little wired network, the signal strength would be cut down by 1/n. This seemed unreasonable to me, so I asked around: what am I doing wrong? What is the magical circuit that will let me split my signal down two paths without reducing the signal power? Nobody knew the answer. (Obviously I didn't ask the right people :))

The answer is, it turns out, that there is no such magical circuit. The answer is that 1/n is such a trivial signal strength reduction that essentially, on a wired network, nobody cares. We have RF engineers building systems that can handle literally a 1/1000000000000 (from 30 dBm to -90 dBm) drop in signal. Unless your wired network has a lot of nodes or you are operating it way beyond distance specifications, your silly splitter just does not affect things very much.

In programming terms, your runtime is O(n) + O(n^2) = O(n + n^2) = O(n^2). You don't bother optimizing the O(n) part, because it just doesn't matter.

(Update 2014/07/14: The above comment caused a bit of confusion because it talks about wired networks while the rest of the article is about wireless networks. In a wireless network, people are usually trying to extract every last meter of range, and a splitter is a silly idea anyway, so wasting -3 dB is a big deal and nobody does that. Wired networks like I was building at the time tend to have much less, and linear instead of quadratic, path loss and so they can tolerate a bunch of splitters. For example, good old passive arcnet star topology, or ethernet-over-coax, or MoCA, or cable TV.)

There is a lot more to say about signals, but for now I will leave you with this: there are people out there, the analog RF circuit design gods and goddesses, who can extract useful information out of a trillionth of a watt. Those people are doing pretty amazing work. They are not the cause of your wifi problems.

July 19, 2014 10:34 PM

CrossFit 204

Workout: July 23, 2014

Making sure mom hits depth at the 2-on-1!

Making sure mom hits depth at the 2-on-1!

Power snatch 3-3-3

Squat snatch 2-2-2



Part 1

Handstand Work – Choose 1 progression that’s right for you. If you’re able to complete a certain progression easily, choose the next one. Ask a coach’s opinion before starting work. This is similar to last week, except volume/rest is changed. Only progress to the next step if you found last week very easy. If the work you did was challenging, stay with the same progression.

Progression 1 – 4 sets of 1 minute “nose and toes” handstand hold.

No bowing, get hollow.

Work:rest 1:1

Progression 2 – 3 sets of 24 shoulder taps

Done with the back to the wall this week.

Rest 30 seconds between sets.

Progression 3 – 4 sets of 10-second single-arm handstand holds (per arm)

Rest 30 seconds between sets.

Part 2

Weighted plank: 1 minute on, 1 minute off for 5 sets

Done with a partner to assist with loading.

Go as heavy as you can handle, but if you have to break up the minute or cannot hold a perfect plank, reduce the weight. Form must not break.

by Mike at July 19, 2014 09:47 PM

512 Pixels

What if Apollo 11 failed? →

A grim — but necessary — procedure had been put in place if Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were to become stranded on the moon.


by Stephen Hackett at July 19, 2014 08:24 PM

The Art of Non-Conformity

6 Discoveries From Near and Far, Volume II


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.

  • Fearless? — Because the absence of fear is not courage. The absence of fear is some kind of brain damage.


Image: LeoPlus

by Chris Guillebeau at July 19, 2014 05:05 PM

CrossFit 204

Workout: July 20, 2014

Neon runner.

Neon runner.

In partners:

100 wall-balls

Run 400 m

50 burpees

Run 400 m

100 toes-to-bars or hanging leg raises

Run 400 m


Part 1

5 sets of 2 hang cleans

Build from prior weeks’ speed work. Strive for position over weight. Do not exceed volume listed above.

Part 2

3 sets of 3 clean pulls (heavy)

Rest 60-90 seconds between sets.

If the bar path is off and you are off balance, reduce the weight.

Part 3

On a 3-minute running clock:

AMRAP burpees in 60 seconds

Remainer of time: max double-unders

Recorded as two separate scores

If you struggle with consecutive double-unders, spend 10 minutes on power skips.

by Mike at July 19, 2014 03:59 PM


Summer Scholar Sale: Word Biblical Commentary Set is 50% Off!


For scores of Bible scholars the Word Biblical Commentary (WBC) has served as an anchoring resources for building theological understanding from a solid base of biblical scholarship.

Fortunate for you, Christmas came early this year!

Now you can own a digital version of the entire WBC set for the incredibly low price of $299—that’s 50% off the original price. You're essentially paying $5 a volume.

Better yet, there are two ways you can grab this resource for your Bible study arsenal. But do it quickly, because the sale ends after July 21, 2014.

1. Olive Tree's Bible Study App

The free Bible Study App by Olive Tree (for Windows, Mac, iPhone/iPad, Andriod) fosters an in-depth study experience by linking your Bible reading with outstanding dictionaries, maps, and commentaries ... including the Word Biblical Commentary series (just $299 for a limited time). With 60 volumes and 26,000+ pages of content, the WBC is a hefty commentary series, but made easily navigable through the app.

Check out the video below illustrating how easy it is to navigate and study this trusted resource. Also, read about 5 Benefits of using the WBC in The Bible Study App.

Go here for more details and to purchase this resource.

2. Accordance Bible Software

If you use Accordance, a trusted tool of many pastors and scholars, now is the perfect time to add the Word Biblical Commentary series to your software library. The series is just $299 for a limited time.

Check out the images below to see how the WBC integrates with your Bible study software (Click to expand the image).

Go here for more details and to purchase this resource.




by Jeremy Bouma at July 19, 2014 03:30 PM

Extracurricular Activities 7.19.14 — Scripted Prayers and Why Writing on Romans is "Jolly Hard Work"

Michael Bird's Interim Report on Writing a Romans Commentary

I’m just now half way through writing my Romans commentary for the SGBC series. I plan to finish it by October/November. Let me say that it is jolly hard work. Romans is, after all, the magnum opus of the Pauline corpus, with disputed purposes, some curious text-critical problems, a plethora of exegetical problems, covering wide ranging themes, weaved together with a rich tapestry of intertextual citations and allusions, with huge theological capital, and rich rhetorical technique too. There is so much secondary literature in terms of articles, monographs, and commentaries. Realizing that I wasn’t writing a technical volume for the Hermeneia, ICC, or WBC series, I gave up even attempting to read everything. Instead, I found myself gravitating towards stuff that took my fancy and piqued my interest.

Things I’ve learned...

Ben Myers on the Joy of Teaching the Primary Sources

For me, the most rewarding part of teaching is introducing my students to primary sources. Each of my classes involves a lecture period plus an hour of small-group tutorials in which the class works its way through a book that I have chosen. In the books that have come down to us from the past, we have access to Christian minds far more energetic and more accommodating than our own. It is a joy to find yourself in the presence of a mind that you cannot fully comprehend. This has always been one of the chief reasons for studying the humanities at all: to learn that the human spirit is larger and more interesting than one's own poor spirit, or (this is the political benefit of studying the humanities) than the spirit of the age.

Scot McKnight Reflects on the Theological Depth of Liturgical "Collects"

The finest prayers of the church can be found in the church’s “collects.” A collect is a scripted prayer, used in public (or private) worship, written for a specific week in the church calendar, and which “collects” together the church’s petitions. What is not known is that the time-worn collects of the church have a long, long history. 

Chris Tilling's "Aha" Moment for Handling the Bible and the "Circular Reasoning" of Inerrancy

I’ve come from a theologically conservative background. Ken Ham this, dinosaurs-lived-with-humans-as-seen-in-Job that.

Sometimes I miss those days. Everything was straightforward. And most foundational of all: the Bible was the inerrant Word of God! The logic employed in defence of this dogma was obviously circular, but it was supposedly “God-ordained”, so who could object?!

(A) The Bible claims to be the perfect word of God. (B) The Bible is true. (C) Therefore, the Bible is the perfect word of God.

Try backing out of that beauty! Parsed more formally, this would tend to run as follows:

(A) The Bible is God inspired. (B) God cannot lie (according to the Bible). (C) Therefore, the Bible is true in all that it affirms (whether those affirmations be about history, science or whatever).

Russell Moore Comments as a Christian on the Complex Border Crisis

America’s southern border is engulfed in a humanitarian crisis, as refugees fleeing violence in central America, many of them unaccompanied children, seek safety. As Christians, we must recognize both the complexity of this situation and what it means to be people of justice and mercy.

I say that the situation is complex because some Christians would like a simple fix. Some would, it seems, like to hear that some organized mission trips to the border would alleviate the crisis here. This ignores the depths of the problem. 


Extra-Curricular Activities is a weekly roundup of stories on biblical interpretation, theology, and issues where faith and culture meet. We found each story interesting, thought-provoking, challenging, or useful in some way – but we don't necessarily agree with or endorse every point in every story.

If you have any comments on these stories, we welcome you to share them here. We hope you enjoy!

–The Editors of Koinonia Blog

by Jeremy Bouma at July 19, 2014 02:56 PM


nmon: A monitor for everything

I could swear I have seen nmon before, and yet it’s not in the list of applications I commented on already, and it’s not on the old blog. I must have dreamed it. O_o


nmon picks up the reins of collectl, giving a variety of monitors that are all visible at your cue, on a long list of subsystems.

nmon works as a full-screen application though, with one-key commands that toggle boxed displays down the screen. If you find you don’t want a particular monitor or if you feel you need more space, you can add or subtract monitors as nmon runs.

Keypresses are easy-to-remember mnemonics, too. c for CPU, d for disks, n for network, k for kernel statistics … and so forth. And if you can’t remember one, press the h key for a help panel.

There are also “short” views of some monitors, that restrict themselves to active processes or active disk access, rather than listing a lot of deadbeats. It will save space, I promise.

nmon does just about everything right in my book, with the exception of no apparent provision for scrolling. It does a beautiful job providing a customizable panel of monitors, but you’ll end up turning off one or two so you can view one or the other.

Plus, the order of the panels seems fixed, so it’s not a matter of stacking them in the most convenient order for you; whether you start the CPU monitor or the network monitor first, they’ll always appear in the same order.

That’s a terribly small complaint though, and hardly worth voicing. nmon does a great job putting a lot of otherwise esoteric system information at your fingertips, with enough controls and options to keep even me busy.

Let me dig around here and … see if I have any … ah, here we are: For color, flexibility, usefulness and presentation, I hereby award one highly coveted K.Mandla gold star for nmon: :star: ;)

Tagged: information, monitor, network, system

by K.Mandla at July 19, 2014 12:15 PM

bb: Not so much a game, and not so much an application

I am beginning to think ls vimwiki/ | shuf -n1 is biased toward ASCII-based software. That would at least explain why bb comes up in the rotation so soon after aview.


bb is not a game, and it’s not an “application” in the classical sense of the word. It’s a demo, a lot like the scene demos of yesteryear, but pumped through the aa libraries. That, in my mind, makes it more like a digital art project than anything else.

bb only does one thing, although you do have control over some details. Much like aview, you can twiddle with the details and refinements, which may be of interest on particularly slow terminals, or machines with display issues to consider.

But other than that, there’s not much I can say about bb. Watch it through once and you’ve seen everything it will do. It’s an impressive display, but not something that will trap your attention for more than a few minutes. Enjoy it while it lasts. :)

Tagged: game

by K.Mandla at July 19, 2014 12:00 PM

Front Porch Republic

In Defense of Layoffs, Contempt for Tradition

Yesterday on NPR’s Morning Edition the business news began on a grim note—and it was grim for many reasons.

Explaining the biggest round of layoffs in Microsoft’s history (18,000 jobs world wide, or 14% of its workforce—by which I expect NPR means workers, or people), Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said the company does not respect tradition.

What it respects is innovation on a go forward basis. So it is really our collective challenge that we now need to make Microsoft thrive in a mobile first, in a cloud first world – that’s the core challenge that we collectively have to face up to.

As if on cue, one analyst respecting innovation reinvented the noun “architect”:

Companies need to architect themselves for the future. And I think it’s much more positive for a company to be restructuring when it’s strong, than having to cut when it’s weak.

(“Wall Street seemed to agree,” NPR reported, “with Microsoft shares surging in response.”)

Apparently there are times when getting rid of 18,000 people isn’t actually cutting but “restructuring.” And, of course, futurology comes into play.

I don’t know what’s worse, the sanctioned contempt for “tradition,” the cultish faith in the “future” and innovation for innovation’s sake,* or the abuse of a once-stately language that descends to us from Shakespeare and the Authorized Version.

“On a go forward basis”? “Mobile first, cloud first world”? Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and the donkey they rode on!

* James Howard Kunstler on innovation (as I noted a few weeks ago): “innovative things by nature have no track record of long-term success, and sometimes don’t work out, especially as basic economic conditions change. Innovation cannot be an end in itself, and we have made ourselves prisoners to a cult of innovation.”

The post In Defense of Layoffs, Contempt for Tradition appeared first on Front Porch Republic.

by Jason Peters at July 19, 2014 11:36 AM

Wilfred Hughes::Blog

Trifle: Lists and CONSequences

Lists are a spectacularly important data type. Even more so for lisp languages, as a lisp program is just a text file with some list literals.

In Trifle, we want our list structure to be easy to reason about, fast, and consistent. After exploring a range of possibilities, we settled on using dynamic arrays.

The major possibilities we considered were:

Sparse arrays. These are often harder to reason about. JavaScript is the most widely used language with this feature, yet many popular list libraries (such as underscore.js) do not support sparse arrays. Sparse arrays are also slower, leading to silly situations where user functions can be faster than interpreter built-ins.

Cons cells. This is the classic lisp datastructure. It’s easy as an experienced lisper to forget how awkward cons cells are.

Lists made out of cons cells have become similar to sparse arrays in that users make simplifying assumptions about their structure. For example, dash.el assumes that all lists are proper lists. Try to write a map function that accepts arbitrary cons cell structures and throws an error if the ‘list’ is improper or cyclic. It’s hard, and it’s inefficient.

Cons cells also introduce infix syntax (1 . nil) (bizarre in a lisp) and have strange naming conventions. A cons cell is really just a 2-tuple with the first element named ‘car’ and the second element ‘cdr’. This leads to ugly function names like caddr for getting the third element of a list.

To make matters worse, cons cells are as slow as linked lists but less versatile. Some lisp machines improve performance with cdr-coding but this just allows cons cell lists to approximate dynamic arrays. Whilst some list operations benefit from using linked lists (e.g. insert!), it’s not actually possible to implement push! or pop! as functions when using cons cells.

Linked lists. Linked lists are a more popular option and fix several of our objections to cons cells. Statically typed languages often default to linked lists (e.g. Haskell) and offer stronger guarantees about the well-formedness of the lists.

Proper linked lists do provide push! and pop!, and immutable singly-linked lists allow you to share their tails, reducing memory usage. However, the performance overhead of traversing the list with poor cache locality means linked list performance is frequently outperformed by dynamic arrays.

Dynamic arrays. Dynamic arrays are fast, since you’re accessing contiguous memory. Finding their length is free and they are always well-formed. Writing a map function is now trivial.

In Trifle, lists are mutable, zero-indexed, and accessing values out-of-bounds is an immediate error. Parsing s-expressions returns lists. We also benefit from using a datastructure that will be immediately familiar to users of many other languages.

This is a fundamental design choice that can only really be changed in the earliest stages of a language’s development. Trifle lists offer a nice abstraction in that we can expose the same API for lists, strings and bytestrings. Only time and many lines of code will reveal if our decisions were the best, but we are excited to see what form Trifle programs will take.

by Wilfred Hughes ( at July 19, 2014 07:00 AM

512 Pixels

How Apollo worked →

The fact that man has walked on the moon never ceases to fill me with wonder. The fact that we did it with 1950s and 60s tech is even more amazing.


by Stephen Hackett at July 19, 2014 03:41 AM

CrossFit Naptown

Give a Little More

Saturday’s Workout:

20:00 AMRAP
2 Muscle Ups
4 Hand Stand Push Ups
8 American Swings (32/24 kg)

*scale: 2 pull ups = 1 muscle up



Chief Petty Officer Nate Hardy was killed Sunday February 4th during combat operations in Iraq. Nate is survived by his wife, Mindi, and his infant son Parker.

“Hero workouts are special and they ask a little more of us, not only in the gym but also in life. Each Hero WOD is not only an opportunity to remember the sacrifice of a single or several First Responders, it is also an opportunity for us to remember all of those folks on the line, outside the wire, putting themselves in harm’s way so that we might be safe. Be free. We use these, as well, to remember that there are families left behind temporarily by those deployed and permanently by those lost. No gesture of thanks is too small. These are gracious people, all of them. They will understand and appreciate it, and you.” 

The above quote was posted as a comment on under the Hero wod Nate that CFNT will be taking on today. Whoever this person is hit the nail on the head. A Hero workout is more than just another workout. It is a time to put our own pain aside for a while and to suffer in silence for those who sacrifice every day for our freedom and safety. Each time you do a Hero WOD, give a little more in honor of those who gave it all for the rest of us.


by Anna at July 19, 2014 01:53 AM

Caelum Et Terra

Straw for the Fire

michael hoza

Our Red Pope

Pope Francis recently warmed my heart again when he responded to a criticism that his socio-economic analysis smacked of Marxism. He did not back away from this but said instead that communism had stolen it from the Church. While I am thankful that he did not back down, it is also unfair to the Marxists. They did not so much ‘steal’ it as find it by the side of the road, where the bishops had tossed it while they dined with emperors and presidents and bankers.

But every movement for justice and equality, for the people and for the universal destination of the earth’s fullness, is part of the long bright shadow cast by Christ.

Sectarian Catholicism vs True Faith

So much of what is called ‘Catholicism’ is mostly humanly constructed and ephemeral. The various sectarian Catholicisms may be rooted in a love of beauty and attachment to some historic form of the Faith that moved the soul. But whenever anything relative is held as absolute you have wandered into idolatry territory.

Again, Francis calls us to the primal encounter with Christ, not the embrace of ideas about him.

That Said

I have recently become aware of how grateful I am for my background in scholastic philosophy and Roman Catholic moral theology. If that is all you have you have a pretty crappy religion, but they are sure good to have in one’s repertoire .

Same Shit, New Flies

I saw a new right wing magazine the other day, The Whistle Blower, from NewsMax. The cover blared “The Truth About America’, but it was no expose of our historic sins, but rather a triumphalist apologia for American exceptionalism.

One article was called ‘The Land of the Self-Made Man’.

I thought about that expression, and it is clear that what is meant is the ‘self-made rich man’. I mean imagine how ridiculous the term ‘self-made beggar’ or ‘self-made slave’ is.

But of course any such phrase is delusional, in denial of our fundamental interdependence, not only biologically but spiritually and economically.

Individualism is an illusion spun by hubris, the original sin of America, watered and manured with the cursed spirit of Calvin.

And Finally


Dilbert would be so much better if the underlings wore postal uniforms. The pointy headed boss would be a dead ringer for the worst boss I ever had if he had a goatee and was twice the size of everyone else.

Painting by Ohio artist Michael Hoza


by Daniel Nichols at July 19, 2014 12:19 AM

July 18, 2014

The Outlaw Way


Today we will conclude our Test Week for the past twelve week cycle. We will be utilizing next week as a Deload and we will initiate a 6 week Squat and Bench Press emphasis the week after.


Establish a 1rm Strict Press.



Compare to 131221.

21-15-9 of:

Thrusters 95/65#

For time.

Do Work…

The post 7-19-14 appeared first on The Outlaw Way.

by John Dill at July 18, 2014 10:29 PM


Superman is back.

WOD 140719:


1) 15 minutes to establish a 1RM Snatch.

2) 15 minutes to establish a 1RM Clean & Jerk.


15 minutes to establish a 3RM Front Squat.



Compare to 131221.

21-15-9 of:

Thrusters 95/65#

For time.

The post 140719 appeared first on The Outlaw Way.

by at July 18, 2014 09:35 PM

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

The Devil’s Dictionary

Vox Day here ponders the odd Eleven Commandments of Progressivism, here propounded by that Moses of the Left, Elizabeth Warren.

Allow me to introduce my own translation from Newspeak to English:

1. “We believe that Wall Street needs stronger rules and tougher enforcement, and we’re willing to fight for it.”

Translation: We want the benefits of a free market system, but without banks and speculation and other financial institutions we neither understand nor trust, despite that they benefit us. We are willing to fight because we are, at the root, riotous, tumultuous, and uncivilized, as evidenced by the fact that (see above) we neither understand nor trust financial institutions.

Because we are chumps, we do not know that stronger enforcement actually leads to bribes via campaign contributions, regulatory capture, and incest between big government and big business. We are being played for patsies by establishing a type of socialist syndicate state fitliest called fascism, which our ideals allegedly oppose more vehemently than anything else in our dogma.

2.”We believe in science, and that means that we have a responsibility to protect this Earth.”

Translation: We believe in Junk Science, because our brains are filled with mush. Environmentalism is easier than communism to serve as a basis for dismantling the institutions of civilization we neither understand nor trust, despite that they benefit us.

We are also willing and eager to be distracted by completely imaginary and fictional dangers in large things no one can possible influence one way or the other, like the weather, as this makes it easier to ignore, blithely, blindly, and with gooselike foolishness, real dangers from real threats our dogmas do not allow us to recognize, such as international terrorism, and, before that, international communism.

3 “We believe that the Internet shouldn’t be rigged to benefit big corporations, and that means real net neutrality.”

Additionally, we neither understand nor trust the Internet, freedom of speech, or free trade. We also invent meaningless bafflegab like ‘Net Neutrality’ to hide, even from our own brains filled with mush, the true meaning of our policy goals, which is the abolition of freedom of speech and trade.

Because our brains are filled with mush, we are willing to believe conspiracy theories about sinister big business tycoons dressed like Rich Uncle Pennybags from the Monopoly game secretly organizing the Internet to benefit themselves. This, despite the overwhelming number of liberals, leftists, and far-left nutcases running most large corporations.

4 “We believe that no one should work full-time and still live in poverty, and that means raising the minimum wage.”

We also neither understand nor trust the simplest conclusions of economics, a science now over 230 year old, and so we do not understand the law of supply and demand. Since our brains are filled with mush, we believe that throwing unskilled workers out of work somehow benefits them. Since we are unaware that Union thugs have automatic pay raises tied to minimum wage, any raise in the minimum wage is nothing but cynical political payola from Dem politicos to Dem henchmen and thugs. Because were are unaware of this, we are chumps. The fact that we assume an annoying note of highminded moral smugness while being played for chumps makes us pathetic.

5 “We believe that fast-food workers deserve a livable wage, and that means that when they take to the picket line, we are proud to fight alongside them.”

A repeat of the same point given above, adding an expression of our love of violence and hatred for civilized means of settling disputes.

6 “We believe that students are entitled to get an education without being crushed by debt.”

Again, merely an expression of total and blithering ignorance that the law of supply and demand applies to services, such as teaching, as well as to realty and personal goods.

When we assert a right to something someone else must provide, our mush filled brains perhaps do not realize that this is asserting a right to force another man by means of the law to provide it. It is a right to invade another man’s rights. It is a demand to rob Peter to pay Paul disguised under the bafflegab language of rights. The fact that this is a paradox does not deter us. Logic is useful only to men without mush for brains.

It also shows we have not been paying the least attention to the economics behind student loans and college tuition for the last seventy-five years, or perhaps it shows that we do not know why government interference in these two markets is raising the prices in both cases.

7 “We believe that after a lifetime of work, people are entitled to retire with dignity, and that means protecting Social Security, Medicare, and pensions.”

Again, merely an expression of total and blithering ignorance about all matters economical. It is a demand for a free lunch, a demand for something for nothing, which, as above, is a demand to rob Peter to pay Paul. If this demand is directed to the federal government, it is also an expression of total and blithering ignorance about all matters Constitutional.

8 “We believe—I can’t believe I have to say this in 2014—we believe in equal pay for equal work.”

Again, an expression of total and blithering ignorance about all matters economical, but this time combined with a conspiracy theory paranoia concerning an outrageous lie.

If women were actually paid less than men for equal work, any entrepreneur in any field could make himself rich by hiring women and no men. He could even pay the women more than the going women’s wage but less than the going men’s wage for that given job, and put the difference in his pocket. He could also any out of work men willing to work at that wage rather than at a man’s wage. Any other entrepreneur unwilling to being undercut in price and outsold would be under a strong incentive to follow suit or risk going out of business.

This lie is so utterly disconnected from reality and so easy to disprove, that it is nigh impossible to believe any of the partisans of the Left actually believes it. Most likely it is a merely a verbal formula, like the lies Communist countries require all their peoples to say to each other without the least expectation that anyone believes it. Why they volunteer to engage in this humiliating behavior of being forced to utter lies which neither the speaker nor hearer is likely to believe is incomprehensible. It is the mystery of evil.

9 “We believe that equal means equal, and that’s true in marriage, it’s true in the workplace, it’s true in all of America.”

The assertion here is either insolently meaninglessness or insolent self contradiction. All men are equal in the eyes of the law in America and have been for some time.

What the mush heads are demanding is in equality. That would not poll well, so they demand inequality in the name of equality. They demand special privileges for women and minorities, double standards, quotas, and the wholesale rejection of biological and legal reality in terms of marriage, so that neurotic perverts can pretend to be married. The demand the use of the force of law to compel the Catholic Church to play along with their sick, neurotic sexual aberrations.

10 “We believe that immigration has made this country strong and vibrant, and that means reform.”

The assertion here is so gassy, I cannot tell what it means. ‘Reform’ is merely a whitenoise word which can mean whatever it needs to mean. Here, I assume it means total amnesty and the abolition of the Southern border.

11 “And we believe that corporations are not people, that women have a right to their bodies.”

Again, this means using the force of law to compel the Catholic Church to help you murder your babies in the womb, or artificially sterilize your women, and play along with your sick, neurotic, sexual aberrations.

And yet again, a blithering ignorance of economics is now combined with a blithering ignorance of law. Corporations have always been corporate persons in the meaning of the law, that is what the word ‘corporation’ means. That is why you can be hired by a corporation rather than hired personally by the chief officer who is not personally liable for your pay. That is why corporations, not the chief officer personally, owns the reality and stock. And so on.

The law in this case is not only Constitutional law, but an act designed to secure religious freedoms seriously under threat, and for which the Democrats voted overwhelmingly during the Clinton Administration. The law does not deny any woman any so-called right to her body, it merely means you cannot force the Pope to pay for your abortion-inducing drugs.

Now, no one in his right wits could possibly honestly confuse (1) a woman’s body being violated by a law which denies her an ownership right in it and (2) a woman being denied the insolent and unlawful ability, enacted by an arbitrary and unelected bureaucrat pursuant to a clearly unconstitutional law jammed illegally through the Congress, to force the Pope to pay for a drug to kill her baby in the womb. This means either that the Leftroids are not in their right wits, or that they are not honest, or some combination of both: as a dishonest demagogue whipping a mentally unbalanced mob of semi-criminal neurotics into a frenzy with words that mean the direct opposite of what they pretend to mean.

To sum up, translating all this from bafflegab and craptalk to English, it means three things (1) the Left are parochial, and only regard the issues of the current news cycle as being principles (2) the Left hates civilization and all its institutions (3) the Left hates the Catholic Church, and will destroy itself attempting to destroy her.

Regarding this last point, allow me to say on behalf of the one, true, catholic and apostolic Church that better men than you, leftwing nutbag, far better men, such as the potent and remorseless Imperators of Rome tried that.

We are here. They are gone. Soon — as we count time — you will be gone.

by John C Wright at July 18, 2014 09:34 PM

512 Pixels

Knowledge is Dangerous →

I joined Joe Saponare, Sam Valencia and Peter Cohen on the latest episode of Moisés Chiullan's Thank You For Calling podcast to talk about customer service in the IT world.


by Stephen Hackett at July 18, 2014 09:11 PM

The Outlaw Way



1) 1rm Snatch

2) 1rm Clean & Jerk


1) Bench Press: 5×3@90% of Wednesday’s 3rm

The post 140719 appeared first on The Outlaw Way.

by Kipping Bitch at July 18, 2014 07:35 PM

Englewood Christian Church: We Blog! » ERB

ERB Weekly Digest – July 18, 2014 – Richard Foster, Will Campbell


We have relaunched our Daily Book Morsel Feature.
Sign up now to receive a quote, poem and Kindle ebook bargain
in your inbox every morning!


Kindle ebook bargain!
Richard Foster and Gayle Beebe’s LONGING FOR GOD is only $3.99 right now:



Reviews, etc. posted this week on The Englewood Review of Books website:

  • Steven P. Miller – The Age of Evangelicalism [Feature Review]
    Can Evangelicalism be Born Again? A Review of The Age of Evangelicalism: America’s Born Again Years Steven P. Miller Hardback: Oxford UP, 2014 Buy now: [  ]  [  ] Reviewed by Betsy Shirley   I nearly choked on my sandwich. A remake of the movie Left Behind? In 2014? I was sure my friend had […]

  • James K.A. Smith – How (Not) To Be Secular [Feature Review]
    We Are All Secular How (Not) To Be Secular: Reading Charles Taylor James K.A. Smith Paperback: Eerdmans, 2014 Buy now:  [  ]   [  ] Reviewed by Brad Fruhauff   James Smith sets out to accomplish two main things in his short book. First: to paraphrase and condense Charles Taylor’s magisterial 2007 A Secular Age as […]

  • Kindle Fiction Bargains for Summer Reading!
    Amazon is running sales on a number of great novels! These Kindle Fiction Bargains would make for excellent summer reading! 1)  by Frederick Buechner $2.99 2)  – Sharon Creech $1.99   (A Newbery Medal Winner) 3)  by Rainbow Rowell $3.99  (A 2014 Printz Award Winner!) 4)  by Rainbow Rowell $4.99 5) by Gail Carson Levine $1.99 […]

  • Will Campbell Reads from his Fiction [Video]
    Today is the Birthday of Will Campbell, noted preacher and Civil Rights activist. He would have been 90. If you don’t know who Will Campbell was, then I highly recommend this online documentary… *** Books by Will Campbell This video features Campbell reading a scene from , followed by a song by noted songwriter Ken […]

  • James Skillen – The Good of Politics [Review]
    Engaging Politics Faithfully A Review of The Good of Politics: A Biblical, Historical, and Contemporary Introduction James Skillen Paperback: Baker Academic, 2014 Buy Now: [  ] [  ] Reviewed by Tim Hoiland   For decades, James Skillen has been thinking deeply and carefully about politics and public policy from an evangelical perspective. Despite the culture […]

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by csmith at July 18, 2014 06:28 PM

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

BEAUTY by Scott Burdick

Take the time to watch this, please.

It is very similar to an essay I wrote recently on the EveryJoe website, but, I think, makes the point more clearly.

Part 1


Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

by John C Wright at July 18, 2014 06:09 PM

The Brooks Review

Verizon’s Accidental Mea Culpa

Mark Taylor:

Verizon has confirmed that everything between that router in their network and their subscribers is uncongested – in fact has plenty of capacity sitting there waiting to be used. Above, I confirmed exactly the same thing for the Level 3 network. So in fact, we could fix this congestion in about five minutes simply by connecting up more 10Gbps ports on those routers. Simple. Something we’ve been asking Verizon to do for many, many months, and something other providers regularly do in similar circumstances. But Verizon has refused. So Verizon, not Level 3 or Netflix, causes the congestion. Why is that? Maybe they can’t afford a new port card because they’ve run out – even though these cards are very cheap, just a few thousand dollars for each 10 Gbps card which could support 5,000 streams or more. If that’s the case, we’ll buy one for them. Maybe they can’t afford the small piece of cable between our two ports. If that’s the case, we’ll provide it. Heck, we’ll even install it.

The only people shocked by this are Verizon PR reps.

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

by Ben Brooks at July 18, 2014 05:39 PM

Fire Phone Ad

Stefan Constantinescu:

Here’s the Amazon Fire Phone’s first 30 second television commercial. It’s frankly terrible, but interestingly enough, none of the phone’s key features (Firefly and BS 3D) are demoed.

That’s an understatement.

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

by Ben Brooks at July 18, 2014 05:34 PM

∞ Keyboard Maestro Macro: Time Zoner

One thing I have run into of late is time zone questions when I am trying to schedule guests on my podcast. “Did you mean Pacific, or Central?”

It’s a bit annoying, and I’ve always meant to make a better way to do this. So I wanted to create something that grabbed my location, knew the time zone, and spit out the conversion — but I haven’t figured that out yet.

For now, this is what I worked out:

You select the time (in 24 hour format, because that’s how I roll) hit the hot key and the macro spits back out the time in different time zones (in this one is spits out Central, Eastern and GMT). 1 It’s quick and dirty, but should cut down confusion.

You can grab it here.

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

  1. Why GMT? Just to for shits and giggles.

by Ben Brooks at July 18, 2014 05:26 PM

Staying Safe On Public WiFi

Bradley Chambers:

Because of that, I always use a VPN when I am using WiFi other than at my house, my work, or my inlaws. While I am using OpenVPN with a 3rd party VPN service, I don’t recommend that for most people because it is a lot more complicated to setup. I highly recommend Cloak for folks wanting a really easy to use VPN service for Mac and iOS.

Yep, Cloak is a great service.

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

by Ben Brooks at July 18, 2014 05:13 PM

Alexis C. Madrigal : The Atlantic

Baby Photos and Clinging to My Principles

I had a strict rule when our son was born last summer: I wouldn't post any photos of him in public settings. 

It made sense to me at the time. I live a pretty public life, and the decision to keep him off my Twitter feed and this space felt like asserting that I had a right to privacy. Really, I'd already been in the digital media game for so long that I needed to give permission to myself not to share. Living an intellectual life online, sharing becomes the default. Do thing, share thing. 

But everything about my wife's pregnancy and then the birth of our child did not feel like a part of the digital realm. No experience has ever grounded me more in the physical fact of our existence than watching the kid grow from a finger of a fetus into the baby that emerged in August, and then onward as he's grown up and looked out.

He has to learn every single physical thing. The thought that circles my brain as I watch him squat and stand and clap and wave is that there are so many ways to not walk and yet almost all kids converge on the same locomotive solution eventually. It's such a fascinating lesson in humanness, all these people walking and no one thinking anything about the fact that we're all doing it the same way. It's not exactly that we're all born the same, but rather, given the basic constraints of the human form and the dictates of physical reality and the modern world, we all must figure out how to walk, and we do. 

So, hurrah for physicality, for bodies in space. That's been one lesson of this first year.

Hurrah for closed social networks, too. The grandparents get the full, raw feed. And for friends, I feel comfortable (or a reasonable facsimile of comfortable) sharing on Instagram because I know every single person who follows me there. And it's 400 people instead of thousands: more than Dunbar's number, but easy enough to imagine as a global village.

Everything's good, then. Baby O suddenly has toddler written all over him. He's healthy and he has very sparkly eyes that he flashes at grandmas in the street until they come over and start blowing him kisses and cooing. He loves dogs. A lot. Especially golden retrievers. And some days, all it takes to make him happy is to let him parade through the streets of Oakland holding not one but two pinwheels, spinning gently in the breeze. One time he even slept through the night. And we have a great record of this adventure of coming to know our child, shared with only a select group of people, people we know care about him. 

And yet. Some part of me feels like I really want to share him—or his digital representation, at least—with the broader world. 

For one, he is so damn cute. You should see the little curls he's developed behind his ears... [parental fawning] ...

I spared you that paragraph. But he really is. But also, over the years—and it is many years now, on Twitter—I've built a kind of connection that's hard to define. It's a long-term loose tie. I know thousands of people by their work or a few nice exchanges we had one time about food carts or geology or tensile strength or water heaters or HTML. And I've learned so much from these people, been pointed to so many interesting resources, peeked in on so many different lives and minds.

It's not as Dave Eggers would have it in his book The Circle that "Not sharing is stealing." It's not exactly Fear of Missing Out. It's something more subtle: the dawning realization not that my relationships with these invisible figures don't exist or aren't important, but that they do and are. It's not a particular person, but all the people put together, the melange, who can deliver thoughts from outside the temporal, geographic, demographic, and work bubbles in which I exist. 

When I used to see parents post photographs of their babies on Twitter, I'd cringe, imagining the facial recognition algorithms as laser beams scanning their child's still unformed features. Now, I'm like, "Awwwww"—not just because all kids are now cute to me and this is a legally required reaction—but because I'm jealous that they feel comfortable popping the kid out there. 

It's almost the same feeling I get when two kids are doing something in a park that may or may not be very mildly dangerous. Do you want to be the twitchy, hovery parent who is narrating possible disaster—"Watch out honey! Hey, that can tip! Don't touch that! It's heavy!"—or do you want to be the parent who is clearly optimizing for risk-tolerance, sitting there on the grass, cool and French-like, watchful but with a wide behavioral envelope. 

I'd like to imagine I'm closer to the latter, but I am almost certainly near the caricature of the former. And so it goes with baby photos. Whatever minor risk it represents to post pictures of O on Twitter wins out over my desire to tap the network's edges. 

Recently, I've gotten up close to the line. I post observations about him. Or I have even posted a photo or two, but cropped so as to leave out his face. And that feels like enough for now. But who knows if that'll change. If there's anything I've learned in 10 months of fatherhood, it's that the principles I held so dearly before I was a dad require new kinds of flexibility. Pragmatism is the rule.

by Alexis C. Madrigal at July 18, 2014 04:44 PM

The Outlaw Way


The gang from GSR Crossfit in Vestal, NY

Hip Flexor Stretch

Static Shaping
4×0:40 On/0:40 Off Arch Hold
photo 2-3
4×0:40 On/0:40 Off Hollow Hold on Back

Active Shaping
3×8 Arch to Hollow Swing on Rings
Try to keep the rings as still as possible.

The post 140719 appeared first on The Outlaw Way.

by Kaitlin at July 18, 2014 04:15 PM

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

And Now a Message from my Editor re Hugo Awards

Reprinted from his website. If the sorry state of modern science fiction does not remind you of the sorry state of modern painting, please wake up and pay attention to what is happening to our beloved genre.

Keep in mind that his is not a parody. These subhumans are completely serious, and regard the short stories described below as the best of the year.

Voting for the Hugo Awards closes soon!  The voting page for the 2014 Hugo Awards is located at  The voting page for the 1939 Retro Hugo Awards is located at  You will also find links to paper ballots which can be filled out and mailed in.  The deadline for voting is Thursday 31 July 2014, 11:59 PM PDT.  The online voting pages will close and any paper ballots mailed in will need to be received by that time.

“If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love” by Rachel Swirsky. Not just bad, but laughably, risibly, embarrassingly terrible. When the history of Pink SF/F is written, this Nebula Award winner should stand as Exhibit A. The fact that it was written and published is indicative of a problem in science fiction and fantasy. The fact that it won an award, any award, is a veritable indictment.

“The Ink Readers of Doi Saket” by Thomas Olde Heuvelt. Reasonably well-written, seemingly well-researched story set in Thailand. Extremely boring and I’d have to read it again to identify the point. Not interested enough to bother. Neither science fiction nor fantasy.

“Selkie Stories Are for Losers” by Sofia Samatar. The structure is piecemeal, the story is tedious, pointless, amateurish, and narcissistic. On the plus side, it is, unlike the others, identifiable as fantasy. Bad fantasy, to be sure, but fantasy.

“The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere” by John Chu. Homosexual angst story about a Chinese man afraid to come out about his white boyfriend to his family, written by a homosexual Chinese man. It would appear someone took the advice to “write what you know” a little too literally. The writing isn’t bad and it would be the best story of the lot (which isn’t saying anything at all) if it had anything to do with science fiction or fantasy. Which it doesn’t.

Read the whole thing.

Just for the purpose of comparison and contrast, allow me to list short stories who won the best short story category of Hugo Awards back in the day.

If you are not familiar with these stories, please turn in your science fiction fanboy card and report to the depersonalization chamber. Either that, or look up and read these stories. All of them have been anthologized countless times.

  • “Allamagoosa” by Eric Frank Russell [Astounding May 1955; Sci Fiction, 2004-09-15]
  • “The Star” by Arthur C. Clarke [Infinity Nov 1955]
  • “Or All the Seas with Oysters” by Avram Davidson [Galaxy May 1958]
  • “Flowers for Algernon” by Daniel Keyes [F&SF Apr 1959]
  • “The Long Afternoon of Earth” aka “Hothouse” by Brian W. Aldiss [F&SF Feb,Apr,Jul,Sep,Dec 1961]
  • “The Dragon Masters” by Jack Vance [Galaxy Aug 1962]
  • “No Truce with Kings” by Poul Anderson [F&SF Jun 1963] (2) “Savage Pellucidar” by Edgar Rice Burroughs [Amazing Nov 1963] (3) “A Rose for Ecclesiastes” by Roger Zelazny [F&SF Nov 1963]
  • “Soldier, Ask Not” by Gordon R. Dickson [Galaxy Oct 1964]
  • “‘Repent, Harlequin!’ Said the Ticktockman” by Harlan Ellison [Galaxy Dec 1965]
  • “Neutron Star” by Larry Niven [If Oct 1966]
  • “Light of Other Days” by Bob Shaw [Analog Aug 1966]
  • “The Last Castle” by Jack Vance [Galaxy Apr 1966]
  • “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream” by Harlan Ellison [If Mar 1967] (2) “The Jigsaw Man” by Larry Niven [Dangerous Visions, 1967]
  • “Nightwings” by Robert Silverberg [Galaxy Sep 1968]
  • “Dragonrider” by Anne McCaffrey [Analog Dec 1967,Jan 1968]
  • “The Beast That Shouted Love at the Heart of the World” by Harlan Ellison [Galaxy Jun 1968] (2) “All the Myriad Ways” by Larry Niven [Galaxy Oct 1968]
      • That same year, the winner for Best Dramatic Presentation was 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) [Paramount] Screenplay by Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick; Directed by Stanley Kubrick; based on the story “The Sentinel” by Arthur C. Clarke
      • And, likewise, that same year, a Special Award was given to Neil Armstrong, Edwin E. Aldrin, and Michael Collins – for The Best Moon Landing Ever.

That Special Award, to my knowledge, has never been granted again, because we are the generation that had the moon and lost it.

As for the gap between “The Dragon Masters” or “Nightwings” or even “Dragonrider” versus “If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love”, when I contemplate the depth of the fall, grief and awe dumbfounds me, and words fail, so I turn to a wordsmith greater far than I to speak for me, and for us:

…’My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away…

by John C Wright at July 18, 2014 02:25 PM

The Art of Non-Conformity

Giveaway: Tiny Time Machines “Now” Watch

Every Friday is giveaway day. Comment to win!


I saw someone wearing this watch at an event and loved it right away. I asked if I could take a picture of it, which I then posted to Instagram. “My arm is on Instagram a lot,” he said.

I went to the website and learned that the watches only cost $25 … and they give half their profits to charity. How awesome is that? I bought one for myself, and I’ll buy a second one for a lucky reader. Enter to win below.

What you need to know:

  • It’s pretty basic. Comment and win a free watch
  • This giveaway is available worldwide
  • To win, tell us what helps you to live in the present
  • Our cats and biased judges will pick someone on Sunday night at 6pm PST

Enter this week’s giveaway below, then check back on Sunday night. We’ll announce the winner and send them the prize!

Update: Comments are now closed. Congrats to Kira Elliott, selected by cats and a random number generator to win this great bag! Everyone else, thanks for entering. We’ll have another giveaway next week.


by Chris Guillebeau at July 18, 2014 02:22 PM


Kevin Vanhoozer on N.T. Wright and Justification (Video)

This last week we talked about N.T. Wright and his Reformed critics on Mere Fidelity. I mentioned Kevin Vanhoozer’s lecture/chapter on N.T. Wright’s approach to justification in light of Piper and other Reformed criticisms. As usual, it’s fabulous and dead-on. Maybe grab some popcorn and a Bible or something.

Soli Deo Gloria

by Derek Rishmawy at July 18, 2014 01:54 PM

Front Porch Republic

A Quaker for Peace

From The American Conservative, my remembrance of Robert D. Stuart Jr., whose family knew oatmeal.

The post A Quaker for Peace appeared first on Front Porch Republic.

by Bill Kauffman at July 18, 2014 01:03 PM

Crossway Blog

July’s New & Notable Books

Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds

Jen Wilkin (Foreword by Matt Chandler)

Offering a clear and concise plan to help women go deeper in their study of Scripture, this book will equip you to engage God’s Word in a way that trains your mind and transforms your heart.

“This book has served to clear the fog in my heart and mind when it comes to studying God’s Word, and I absolutely cannot wait to purchase many more copies for the women in my life who I know will love it too!”
Bethany Dillon, singer/songwriter

Learn More | Excerpt | Buy Now


The Wonder-Working God: Seeing the Glory of Jesus in His Miracles

Jared C. Wilson

Following up where The Storytelling God left off, this book by Jared Wilson examines Jesus’s miracles as recorded in the Gospels, defending their historicity, explaining their meaning, and highlighting their significance for Christians today.

“Christianity is supernatural. We read the Bible and see God doing things that can’t be explained rationally. I love this book, because Jared Wilson helps us worship the miracle worker, and not settle for just wanting and worshiping miracles.”
Darrin Patrick, Lead Pastor, The Journey, St. Louis, Missouri; Vice President, Acts 29; Chaplain to the St. Louis Cardinals; author, The Dude’s Guide to Manhood

Learn More | Excerpt | Buy Now


Matthew: A 12-Week Study

Drew Hunter

In this 12-week study, pastor Drew Hunter leads readers through the Gospel of Matthew, helping them come face to face with Jesus Christ, Israel’s long-awaited Messiah. Part of the Knowing the Bible series.

“Skilled authors and notable editors provide the contours of each book of the Bible as well as the grand theological themes that bind them together as one Book. Here, in a 12-week format, are carefully wrought studies that will ignite the mind and the heart.”
R. Kent HughesSenior Pastor Emeritus, College Church, Wheaton, Illinois

Learn More | Excerpt | Buy Now


Philippians: A 12-Week Study

Ryan Kelly

Designed for individuals and small groups alike, this 12-week study through the book of Acts explores the history of the early church after Christ’s ascension. Part of the Knowing the Bible series.

Knowing the Bible brings together a gifted team of Bible teachers to produce a high quality series of study guides. The coordinated focus of these materials is unique: biblical content, provocative questions, systematic theology, practical application, and the gospel story of God’s grace presented all the way through Scripture.”
Philip Graham Ryken, President, Wheaton College

Learn More | Excerpt | Buy Now


Proverbs: A 12-Week Study

Lydia Brownback

In this 12-week study, author Lydia Brownback leads readers through the book of Proverbs, uncovering its wisdom for godly living that both glorifies God and leads to blessing for his people. Part of the Knowing the Bible series.

“This Knowing the Bible series is a tremendous resource for those wanting to study and teach the Bible with an understanding of how the gospel is woven throughout Scripture.”
Bryan Chapell, President Emeritus, Covenant Theological Seminary; Senior Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church, Peoria, Illinois

Learn More | Excerpt | Buy Now


The Big Picture Story Bible (Paperback Edition)

David R. Helm; Illustrations by Gail Schoonmaker

Designed for kids ages 2–7, this best-selling children’s Bible presents the remarkable true story of God’s love for the world from both the Old and New Testaments with simple words and striking illustrations. Now available in paperback.

“Christians parents looking for a Bible storybook they can trust will welcome The Big Picture Story Bible. Parents, grandparents, and others will see this book as a friend as they teach their children the things of God.”
R. Albert Mohler Jr., President and Joseph Emerson Brown Professor of Christian Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Learn More | Excerpt | Buy Now


The Song of the King (Redesign)

Max Lucado; Illustrations by Chuck Gillies

Freshly redesigned with a new cover, this classic children’s tale by best-selling author Max Lucado will enchant a new generation of young people. Follow along as Carlisle, Alon, and Cassidon—three heroic knights—embark on a treacherous journey to win the hand of a beautiful princess. Their only guide on their quest is the king’s song—a beacon meant to direct their steps toward the ultimate prize.

A powerful illustration of the Christian life, this beloved book will draw children in and teach them important lessons related to endurance, temptation, and the faithfulness of God.

Learn More | Buy Now


by Matt Tully at July 18, 2014 01:00 PM


quvi: Build your own video downloader

I have quvi in my list of applications and I’m not sure how or why it got there, but that’s what ls vimwiki/ | shuf -n1 selected for me today.

I don’t have a lot to show for quvi, because as I understand it, quvi and its related libraries are really just the tools to build your own video downloader.


quvi does, technically, handle all the important tasks that you might otherwise assign to just one tool, like youtube-dl or one of these.

I can see the usefulness in this. If a particular site has eccentricities that aren’t handled by other video downloaders, quvi allows you to take matters into your own hands.

No good can come of that. :shock:

Just kidding. :D I do believe that between the four tools — info, scan, dump and get — quvi has all the major tasks in hand. Which really just means it’s up to you to assemble all the pieces into a workable order.

When you do, let us take a look at it. I promise we will be fair. :twisted:

Tagged: download, manager, video

by K.Mandla at July 18, 2014 12:15 PM

colorwrapper: Quite obviously, the author had me in mind

Boring. Dull. Uninteresting.

2014-07-17-6m47421-date-pstree 2014-07-17-6m47421-netstat

Exciting! Interesting! Readable!

2014-07-17-6m47421-colorwrapper-01 2014-07-17-6m47421-colorwrapper-02

I get razzed occasionally about my preference for color in … well, in just about anything that passes through the console. I must not be the only one, for as many colorize tools as there are.

colorwrapper — instead of screening program output for colorizable (is that a word?) strings, or requiring you to select a color scheme from a list — uses an executable preset profile to catch and colorize the results of a command. (I’m avoiding the word “wrapper” here, just for clarity.)

I don’t know how to explain that properly. But here’s a snippet from the profile that produced the colorized version of pstree, above.

path /bin:/usr/bin:/sbin:/usr/sbin:
ifnarg -G:-U
base cyan
digit green+:default
match white:default |
match white:default )
match white:default init

I trimmed away a little bit for the sake of space. But I think you get the idea — the profile tells colorwrapper what to pluck out, and where the colors appear.

By default, colorwrapper comes with a huge list of profiles for commonplace Unix-y commands, and if you take a little time you should be able to either edit those to your particular color scheme, or to produce some of your own. For what I’ve seen of colorwrapper, the markdown is fairly intuitive.

This is something we’ve seen before, in programs like rainbow. Compare what rainbow does with ping, to what colorwrapper does:


Not everything is green and cyan with colorwrapper, by the way. It depends on the tool and the profile. ;)

A few caveats, because there always are some: colorwrapper is pushing toward five years without an apparent update; I mention that out of a sense of obligation and because I know there are some folks who won’t touch a program older than a few weeks, regardless of how well it works. Whatever. :?:

That does suggest though that some profiles (I didn’t check them all) might not be current with what the tool can do. The author talks about colorizing top, for example, and as we all know, top has its own built-in color scheme system. We all know that, right? RIGHT?! :evil:

Second, I am sure you noticed that there was a slight difference between the output of straight pstree and colorwrapper’s version of pstree. You might want to step through the profiles you like best, to make sure the output you prefer is what appears with colorwrapper.

Also, if you want to give colorwrapper a test run before committing, notice that the make command has an option for localinstall which will drop everything into $HOME/.cw … which makes it easier to get rid of, when you realize K.Mandla is stark raving mad. :roll:

I’ll leave the rest for you to discover. The home page for colorwrapper is particularly sparse, but the bundled documentation is quite good. Watch for headers and footers too, which throw an added color element into the equation. Have fun! :)

Tagged: color, colorize, filter

by K.Mandla at July 18, 2014 12:00 PM

sacha chua :: living an awesome life

Hacklab open houses and connecting through cooking

I joined Hacklab (a small makerspace here in Toronto) early in 2013. I thought of it mostly as a way to meet people who are working on interesting projects, hang out, and learn together. It’s been working out well, and I’m gradually getting into helping the community more.

Hacklab hosts an open house every Tuesday evening. It’s a good opportunity for prospective members to check out the place and chat with people about their projects. We usually put together a vegan dinner donated by the person cooking it so that it’s free for the members and guests (although sometimes people pitch in for groceries). There’s no fixed schedule; people just volunteer to cook whenever they want. When I’m there, I often volunteer. I treat it as a vegan cooking lesson / soup kitchen / party. Sure, I’m teaching myself, but it’s still an excuse to try new recipes. I think the people there are worth supporting, and cooking is a much more efficient use of money than having people go out to dinner. Besides, other people often help with preparing the ingredients, and we can chat while doing so.

Here are some easy dishes that we can make with ingredients from nearby grocery stories:

  • Gazpacho: tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onions, garlic; serve with bread
  • Pasta salad: peas, tomatoes, olives, cucumbers
  • Curry: potatoes, carrots, green beans, tofu, onions; there are plenty of spices in the cabinet
  • Ratatouille: potatoes, zucchini, peppers, onions, garlic; serve with bread
  • Lentil dal: tomatoes, lentils, ginger, garlic, onions

I think I’ll make recipe cards with serving numbers and cost estimates. That will probably make it easier to come up with dinners on the fly, and it might encourage other people to cook too.

We’ve been slowly improving the Hacklab kitchen. The addition of pots, a rice cooker, and lots of cutlery helped a lot. (It was difficult to cook and serve before those things!) Last week, I replaced the rather ineffective and hadn’t-been-washed-in-ages kitchen towels with two sets I’d made from some fabric we had at home. I’ll add the towels to our weekly laundry cycle, so things actually get washed. Storage is still an issue. The fridge is used mostly for drinks, so we try to not have any left-over ingredients or servings.

I’m not currently working on super-geeky projects that involve other members or the equipment that’s there. (It would be interesting to do more with the laser cutter, 3D printers, or the new mill!) But cooking gives me a way to help other people, so that’s something.

I think I like this approach of taking responsibility for making Hacklab a little bit better for people. You get as much out of a community as you put in, and these little domestic touches can help make a place feel more like home. (I’m going to keep nudging people to put their dishes in the dishwasher, though! ;) )

So why does this feel easy compared to, say, having people over for a party or potluck at home? The kitchen at home is better-equipped, and both groceries and left-overs are easier to deal with. Maybe it’s because I can decide whether or not to go to Hacklab on the day itself. I can leave whenever I want, too. There are usually lots of people at Hacklab and they’re good at keeping themselves occupied or talking to each other, so I don’t have to worry about any awkward moments or entertaining just one person. There are lots of things going on in the area, so people can always step out for a different meal or take a breather in case there aren’t any seats or in case things are overwhelming. Hmm, maybe if I invite people to catch up at these open houses instead of waiting until I work up to having parties at home… Not everyone all at once, maybe one or two invitations at a time. Hacklab’s a bit loud, but we could always go for a walk if needed. That might work. Who knows? They might meet interesting people there too.

The post Hacklab open houses and connecting through cooking appeared first on sacha chua :: living an awesome life.

by Sacha Chua at July 18, 2014 12:00 PM

Crossway Blog

Video: Jen Wilkin on Staying Motivated in Bible Study

WOWM - Personal Story

This video with Jen Wilkin is part of Women of the Word Month, a free 31-day campaign designed to encourage and equip women for transformative Bible study. Learn more or sign up at

In this video, author and Bible study leader Jen Wilkin offers some advice for staying motivated in our reading of God’s Word and explains the limitations of topical Bible studies.

Jen Wilkin on Staying Motivated in Bible Study
from Crossway on Vimeo.

Jen Wilkin is a speaker, writer, and teacher of women’s Bible studies. During her thirteen years of teaching, she has organized and led studies for women in home, church, and parachurch contexts. Jen and her family are members of the Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas. She is the author of Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds.


Related Posts

by Matt Tully at July 18, 2014 09:00 AM

Table Titans

Tales: Game Over?


One summer we'd just finished an enormous home campaign that had run for almost a year, but my friends and I were itching to play some more. Our DM agreed and dug out a pre-written one-shot. He spent a little while thumbing through supplements before declaring we were ready to play.

We sat down…

Read more

July 18, 2014 07:00 AM

Beeminder Blog

How I Use Beeminder

person at a desk in the middle of a field with a big blue sky

This is a case-study post by our own Philip Hellyer which also expands on our previous post, Beating Beeminder Burnout. Despite not being a Quantified Self person, Philip is arguably a harder core Beeminder user than the founders (who are quite intense!). Some people view Beeminder as a Quantified Self tool with commitment contracts as icing on the cake. Others view the Beeminder graphs and data as purely a means for implementing flexible commitment contracts. Philip is in the latter camp but we think everyone will draw inspiration from this post. Not to mention from his gallery of goals.

When I first introduce people to Beeminder, they either recoil in horror or they want to dive right in. But the easiest way to defeat a new system is to overload it [1], so if you read this blog post and then immediately create a bunch of goals, I’ve probably failed.

“The easiest way to defeat a new system is to overload it”

There are two obvious ways to overload a system: volume and intensity. In Beeminder terms, volume is creating more goals than you’re able to keep current, and intensity is setting too aggressive a slope.

You might want to lose 20 pounds by next month, but the behaviour change would almost certainly be too extreme to sustain over time. You’ll be better off creating easier goals, things that help get you moving in the right direction. There will be plenty of time and techniques for making your goals more aggressive.

Spirit of the Bee

I want to adhere to the spirit of my Beeminder goals, because there’s a real-world goal behind them, something that I actually want to achieve or become. That’s important to remember — there is something real behind the measurements and the graphs.

Bethany spoke at a Quantified Self [2] conference this year, so maybe I should confess that I’m pretty much a non-quantified person. I have a deep suspicion that the things that are easily measured are not the most important things to focus on.

I also don’t want to become an obsessive measurer. Sure, I have weight and fitness goals, but if meeting those means that I have to become an obsessive calorie-counting machine, I’m not sure it’s worth it. That degree of quantification is not part of my vision. I’d much rather become the kind of person who naturally wants to eat better and exercise more, in a sustainable lifelong way.

Beeminder is just a tool that I can use to help. It’s one of the most powerful tools in my productivity arsenal, and it’ll stay that way if I can keep myself from sabotaging it.

Outcomes vs Activities

“Weight is an outcome — it’s the result of eating better and exercising more”

Beeminder goals naturally tend to be activities: things you can actively do, or not do. [3] They’re easy to count, and sometimes we can automate the data collection. If you’ve used our Fitbit or RunKeeper integrations, you know what I mean — just go for a walk or a run and the graphs take care of themselves.

A couple of months ago there was a weight loss discussion on Akratics Anonymous that completely changed my thinking. The essence is this: your weight is an outcome, it’s the result of eating better and exercising more — activities!

For weight loss, I’ve always had Beeminder goals for both of these things. A nice gentle downward slope to keep my weight moving in the right direction, and more aggressively tracked activities. [4]

What I hadn’t done was notice that some of my other goals were actually outcomes, not activities. No wonder I had trouble staying on those roads!

One reason that outcomes are hard to beemind aggressively is that they’re often less predictable. You only discover that you’re on a weight beemergency day when you stand on the scale in the morning. But you can see your go-to-the-gym activity goal beemergency approaching and plan for it.

All My Goals

How do I beemind me? Let me count the ways.

  1. I have outcomes, quantifiable high-level goals, that are loosely and leniently beeminded to ensure that they move in the right direction. Ideally these outcomes are supported by more specific activity-based goals. [5]

  2. I have productivity goals, in the general sense. Goals that force me to focus for periods of time on a specific task. Goals that force me to think a day or so ahead about what I should focus on. Goals that encourage me to actually use whatever to-do system I’ve got going at the moment. [6]

  3. I have relationship goals, for want of a better term. My mother is really happy that I phone her more often than I’ve ever done before. My girlfriend is really happy that I do more things around the house. There are mechanical solutions to the mechanical problems of life, and you can use them to help ensure that the mechanical stuff doesn’t interfere (too much) with the togetherness.

  4. I have learning goals. Remembering to practice a language, or use anki, or regularly use any learning resource. I’m thinking of adding a book-reading goal, because I’m pretty good (right now) at keeping up with my online reading, but less good with physical books.

  5. I have temporary goals. These are usually tied to real-world events like writing an exam or speaking at a conference. Without Beeminder, I wouldn’t put in nearly enough preparation time, or start studying early enough. It’s also useful to set an end date for testing out a goal, or a more aggressive slope, “just for the next month”.

  6. I have review goals. How did this week go? What’s better? How about this month — have I progressed any of my ambitions for the year? These are reviews that I would not do regularly without Beeminder, and it’s amazing what I remember when looking back over the past few days.

  7. I even have goals about goals. If you’re anything like me, you avoid doing stuff even when it’s a beemergency day. That can make for some very late nights, and for anti-social evenings. So I have a goal that encourages me to deal with my beemergencies earlier in the day.

I haven’t mentioned weight or health or fitness. That’s because for me, my weight goal is an outcome, and the FitBit and RunKeeper and gym-going goals are all activities that support it. So too is the eating better goal.

Right now I have 27 active goals, and I’m thinking of adding a couple more. This is not as insane as it sounds, though I don’t recommend it to anyone who hasn’t been beeminding for at least half a year.

Dealing with Volume

Updating that many goals could be a nightmare, and sometimes they conspire to come to a beemergency day all at once. [7] For you, I did a count:

I have 8 goals that get updated most days, 4 that get updated every few days, 9 weekly, and 4 monthly. That sounds like a lot of updating, but we have a secret weapon: autodata.

3/4 of my daily goals and 1/2 of my weekly goals are automatically updated. I stand on my Withings scale and my weight outcome goal gets updated. I go for a run and my Runkeeper goal gets updated. Easy.

In contrast, my monthly goals all rely on manual data entry. But that’s ok, because by definition once-a-month goals don’t need updating very often. The more often something needs to be updated, the more you should try to find a way to tie doing-the-activity directly to updating-the-graph. [8]

I did the math [9], and it seems that on average I manually update 4 goals each day. Those 4 updates per day are enough to keep 27 goals ticking over.

The other way that I cope with volume is by reducing the slope of my roads. Because I can’t handle non-stop beemergency days, and because priorities change.

Do More Doing More

“Whenever I have a safety buffer, I fall off the road when the safe days run out”

The biggest problem with beeminding something leniently is that it’s easy to build up a huge safety buffer. Any time that I have too much of a buffer, I inevitably fall off the road when the safe days run out. [10]

So I need a way of making sure that I make some progress every now and again, even on roads with fairly flat slopes. Everyone has access to the Retroratchet feature: hit the button and your safety buffer gets reduced.

My favourite Beeminder feature right now is auto-ratchet. This is an automated version of the manual retroratchet, and is currently part of the premium subscription plans. [11]

Auto-ratchet means that no matter how much I do in a given week, my yellow brick road won’t let me have more than so-many-days of safety buffer. For me this is an ideal situation, because it sets a minimum frequency on the goal.

When I go on holiday and need to pause a goal, I use the “take a break” feature to schedule a flat spot for the goals that need it.

Tread Carefully

Beeminder is a powerful tool and, like all productivity hacks, works best if you surrender the right amount of agency to the system. Overload it or ignore it, and the tool stops working. This is a marathon, not a sprint. [12]

Here are the keys to sustainably beeminding my life:

  • Keep the real world goal in mind when writing your fine print
  • Beemind outcomes leniently, and activities more strictly
  • Automate as many goals as you can, so that doing equals updating

For those of you who have been beeminding for a while, what advice do you have for anyone just starting out?


[1] As Alan Baljeu points out,

The best way to sink any time management system is to overload it right at the beginning. Final Version is pretty resilient, but at this stage you aren’t. So build up the list gradually. My advice is to start off with the tasks and projects that are of immediate concern to you right now, and then add more as they come up in the natural course of things.

[2] Beeminder was a sponsor of the conference, so we’ve got a deep bias towards accurate data. Watch Bethany’s QS talk to see what we mean.

[3] I believe Nick Winter was the first to make the distinction between input-based and output-based goals in his brilliant guest post, Spiraling Into Control.

[4] If you’ve joined Beeminder with a goal of losing weight, I’d encourage you to add two more: a goal of exercising more, and a goal of eating better. You don’t need to be specific: I have a “daily sweat” goal that gets a point every time I do something, anything from doing pilates, going to the gym, taking a long walk, dancing, or teaching a flying trapeze class. It’s all good.

[5] There’s an awesome post at LessWrong about the value of setting goals. Beeminder helps remind me of what I wanted to do, helps me to overcome the inertia of not-starting. At its best, Beeminder helps me achieve the Buddhist non-striving that the post author struggles with.

[6] Someone asked me whether Beeminder was a good GTD tool. That’s a whole other blog post, but the answer should be obvious. Beeminder makes a great meta tool, to make sure that you’re doing your weekly reviews, processing your inboxes, and even checking off tasks. But it’s a lousy place to remember specific non-recurring tasks. Our own Andy Brett built a GTD tool that handles that part. And it charges you money if you don’t complete your tasks on time. It’s a nice complement to Beeminder, but unfortunately only an iOS app so far.

[7] On Saturday I had 7 beemergency days, but I won! — all of them were orange-or-better before dinner. My normal average is about 4, including the almost-daily habit activities.

[8] If you’re handy with code, there’s a Beeminder API. Some of my autodata is of my own hackery, some of it is thanks to the efforts of others, and some of it is from the standard integrations that you see on our home page.

[9] In the UK people often say “maths”, but according to Lynne Murphy, the standard reasoning behind that affectation doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

[10] I’m so against building up a safety buffer that nearly all of my goals are set to “no mercy” so that I don’t get a week of flatness when I derail. But sometimes life conspires to make that too hard, and I’d really like to have had a flat week before the slope resumes. My fine print for all of those goals says that I can claim a flat spot after any derailment. I’ve never yet invoked the clause, but I’m not sure that I would be brave enough to tick the “no mercy” box without putting the caveat in place.

[11] Yes, we pay full price for our own plans. How else could we judge whether they provide us value for money?

[12] Though for most purposes, top marathoners are running at a sprint. In 2011, the London Marathon record was established at a pace of 17.75 seconds per hundred metres. It’s a 2-hours-long sprint that most people would struggle to keep pace with on a bicycle. Their times for a full marathon would be a decent amateur time for a half marathon. Can you tell that I’m in awe?

by Philip Hellyer at July 18, 2014 06:58 AM

The Outlaw Way



1)Establish a 1rm Deadlift.

The post 140718 appeared first on The Outlaw Way.

by John Dill at July 18, 2014 05:37 AM

One Big Fluke

Inside the Gopher's Studio

A highlight from GopherCon earlier this year was "Inside the Gopher's Studio":

It's all good to watch, but especially this gem from Rob Pike at 3:49:

"Most people don't know that when I got to Bell Labs Bjarne Stroustrup was my officemate. Uh-- we didn't get along."

Set YouTube to 0.5 speed to make it sound like a drunken story at the bar (in vino veritas).

by Brett Slatkin ( at July 18, 2014 03:29 AM

Somehow came across the Padovan sequence when looking up variations on coprimes.

Looks like a nautilus, which also happens to be my favorite magazine right now.

by Brett Slatkin ( at July 18, 2014 02:57 AM

More examples of perceptual diffs

I've found a few more examples of people using perceptual diff tools to do visual regression testing.

Saw this week that Twitter's trying out dpxdt as well.

by Brett Slatkin ( at July 18, 2014 02:52 AM

CrossFit Naptown

How to Watch the CrossFit Games

Friday’s Workout:

20:00 Every Minute on the Minute
1 Clean
2 Front Squats
1 Jerk
*work up to as heavy as technique allows



Watch CFNT Blue Compete in the CrossFit Games!

On Wednesday July 23rd, the CFNT Blue team will be competing in the opening workout of the 2014 CrossFit Games. The support our community showed at the Regional event in Cincinnati and throughout the fundraising process has been so heartwarming. We have said it may times already, but it deserves to be repeated again, THANK YOU!!! We are halfway home in terms of achieving the goals we set out for ourselves after a 4th place finish at regionals in 2013, qualifying for the Games and finishing in the top 10 in 2014. Since most of you do not have the ability to drop everything and come on out to Cali for a week… is your way to stay on top of the competition and watch as we take on the fittest teams in the world. There will be coverage on ESPN every evening and live streaming during the day on ESPN3 and the CrossFit Games site (the same coverage that many kept up with over the regional weekend). Click on the link for full information on media coverage!



by Anna at July 18, 2014 01:39 AM

Front Porch Republic

Localist Roundup: Coping With Loneliness

According to this piece, millennials have some interesting tensions in their political views.

Meanwhile, this article bemoans the way that parking  has taken over cities.

This article describes an epidemic of American loneliness and a somewhat disconcerting attempt to solve it.  Meanwhile this piece describes two people who dropped “off the grid” entirely.

This piece describes how technology specialists are showing interest in the urban farm movement. And in this article, an author gives some reasons for why seafood should be kept more local.

The post Localist Roundup: Coping With Loneliness appeared first on Front Porch Republic.

by Josiah Duran at July 18, 2014 12:38 AM

July 17, 2014

CrossFit 204

Workout: July 22, 2014

Nice lockout, Chris!

Nice lockout, Chris!

3 rounds of:

25 deadlifts (155/115 lb.)

50 double-unders

20 chest-to-bar pull-ups

Time cap: 18 minutes

by Mike at July 17, 2014 11:26 PM

Workout: July 21, 2014



Press 3-3-3

Jerk 2-2-2


Jerk 2-2-2-2-2-2 (technique)

by Mike at July 17, 2014 11:24 PM

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

Matt Walsh Letter to his Daughter

Nearly every time I read a Matt Walsh column, I believe it to be the best one ever. He is a strong and powerful writer, and he tells the truth. His latest is darned good and strikes very near and dear to my heart. It is about female beauty.

Dear Daughter,

I hope you never notice the magazine rack at the supermarket.

I hope you never see the billboards on the highway or the ads on the side of the city bus.

I hope you never learn about Hollywood and the fashion industry.

I hope you never listen to pop music.

I hope you never walk down the makeup aisle.

I hope you never hate your own appearance.

I hope you never pick up the habit of putting yourself down whenever someone compliments you.

I hope you never feel the pressure to physically conform to the perverse standards of a disordered world.

I hope you always stay exactly as you are right now. Innocent, carefree, unencumbered, pure.

But these could only be the hopes of a foolish idealist like your Dad. I can rub the genie lamp and make a thousand stupid wishes, but you will grow. You will start to learn about the culture that surrounds you. You will form opinions about yourself. Your vivacious, bubbly happiness will give way to more complex emotions. You will develop new dimensions.

In these times, here in your very early life, you only cry because you’re hungry or tired or you want me to hold you. One day, though, your tears will come from a deeper place.

And, when that day comes, I want you to remember one thing: you are beautiful.

Beautiful. A work of art — full of life, exploding with a unique, dynamic, vibrant energy.

Beautiful. Eyes like the morning, a strong and powerful spirit, a face that brims with joy and hope. Beautiful because you were formed by God.


That’s the game.

Never play it.

That’s the lie.

Never believe it.

Never believe it.


Read the whole thing:

by John C Wright at July 17, 2014 10:00 PM

The Brooks Review

∞ The E39 BMW M5

This post on Jalopnik by Doug DeMuro caught my eye, as he discussed a little bit about the E39 M5 — a car dear to my heart as it is my daily driver. In fact, I drive a 2002 as was the vintage which DeMuro wrote about it. In the post, which is largely irrelevant for the sake of this post, he said one thing that got me thinking:

But most enthusiasts tend to agree there was something really special about the third-generation model, the “E39,” which was sold from 2000 to 2003. And it’s easy to see why: the E39 M5 looked perfect. It had the right power. It was the right size. It was solid and well-built. For many BMW fans, the E39 is the best M5 that ever existed.

The original E28 M5 looked the best of all of them, but it was not really fast at all. It was certainly sporty, but fast it was not. The E34 M5 (which I never drove, but I did own an E34 525i) was again not a tire burner, and seemed like a half-assed attempt at an M5. It was quick, for the 90s, but once again not a fast car.

And then BMW dropped the E39 which has 394hp. For reference the E34 M5 had 311hp. The shift was massive, as the M5 brand went from being a sporty sedan, to being a very fast sedan.

My god is it fast.

From there BMW upgraded the M5 line with even more staggering performance: E60 V10 powered 500hp, and the current F10 turbo-charged V8 with 560hp.

Ever faster, ever crazier.

So why then does the E39 reign supreme for so many?

It would make sense that most people looking at getting an M5 would gravitate towards the newer E60 or F10 models — and they are fantastic — but they are very different cars than the E39. If the first two M5 models were made to be sporty four door cars, the latter two models are certainly made to be supercar-esque four door cars.

The E39 is neither a sporty sedan, nor is it on the level of supercars.

No, the E39 is what I call a true driver’s car — the closest you can get to it today is probably the BMW M235i — though I have not driven one.

The original M5s didn’t have enough power to really do anything extreme with, just enough to have some fun driving around town — and keep in mind these were made in the late 80s and 90s, a time when cars just weren’t that crazy fast.

The last two model M5s have so much power than you actually have to go in and set how much power you want. They are insane cars, and they are made to be the one car you need from board meeting to race track — and for the most part the F10 does this very well.

The E39, though, just has all 394HP available all the time. It’s enough power that you can do a burn out through first and second gears, that if the traction control is on, it will continue to cut power to the wheels under full acceleration well through third gear (because even with $2,000 worth of tires on your car and hot asphalt, it’s too much power not to spin the tires).

It’s a car that simply presents itself and says: here I am, this is all of me, you will love it.

The gear box is manual, 6-speed, and not the “manual” that is all electrically controlled. It has a clutch, and that clutch is one you must operate, it has a gear stick, which you must move around.

There actually isn’t much about the electronics that one needs to change in the E39. Only two buttons ever need to be pushed to change how the car actually operates: DSC, and SPORT.

The DSC button is your traction control, and then some, controlling the wheel spin and being able to apply brakes if you are about to flip the car. The latter, SPORT mode, makes the steering heavy and the throttle twitchy (I think it is supposed to make the ride firmer, but I can’t notice it) — but does little else. SPORT mode is a little to heavy on the steering and a little too twitchy on the throttle to really drive with on normal roads. And I don’t have a death wish so DSC is kept on.

Basically then, the E39 M5 is a car you get in and drive. The only adjustment one makes is to the seats — which are fantastic. You needn’t want for more power because the car couldn’t use it. You needn’t want more buttons, because they would get in the way.

And I drive the car like shit. It’s rather hard to get a smooth shift between first and second gear unless you are driving flat out — and I’ve talked to several E39 M5 owners about this, they all seem to agree. 1 In other words this is a car that is perfect, and therefore shows your flaws as a driver — as opposed to being a car which can very easily hide the flaws that you as a driver have.


And it was simple. This is where the argument gets a little difficult. I loved the new F10 M5 – especially in manual form. But the E39 M5 is a car that, ten years on, is more attractive due to its simplicity. There was one button – sport – to sharpen it‘s throttle mapping. Everything else was purely analogue. A formula used in the E46 M3 and 1M brilliantly.

I’ve driven a lot of very nice cars, simply because my father has owned a great many (and collected M-series BMWs for quite some time) and, of all the cars I have driven, none feel like the E39. There have been faster cars, there have been nicer cars, but none that strike the balance as lovely as the E39 M5.

Mine had 13,000 miles on it when I bought it two years ago, it now has 24,000 miles on it. I suspect I will still be happily driving it when it hits 250,000 miles.

It will never be the fast or slowest car on the road. It will increasingly show its age. But it will always be a fantastic car to drive.

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

  1. A couple of E46 M3 owners agreed with this as well.

by Ben Brooks at July 17, 2014 08:34 PM


Data flow in a property centric game engine


I stopped taking on contracts about a year ago to focus on building my own indie game. I decided to build my own engine, and I know, I know, indies shouldn't build their own engine, but let's ignore reason for now and instead focus on something else. I wanted to build a property centric engine, using composition for pretty much everything rather than inheritance.

So what does it mean when you say you have a property centric model? In contrast to using inheritance, a game object might no longer be a renderable, physics-simulated, camera-trackable, weapon-carrying, and enemy-discoverable object. Instead it has the corresponding properties.

So what? Potato, pot-ah-to, right?

Well, not really. When a player is playing the game, they see distinct objects, perhaps a couple of monsters, wielding broadswords, strolling down Sunrise Lane or, who knows, maybe a heavyset man in a suit and a hard-hat blocking off the George Washington Bridge. Basically, what the player sees is this:

Fruit Salad

However, the advantage of having a property centric engine, is that instead of dealing with it this way, we have the option of organizing our things somewhat differently. What if we instead dealt with our entities like this?

Sorted Fruit Salad

That is, we have monsters, we have broadswords, and we have Sunrise Lane. (As a side note, these images makes me think of scatter/gather I/O, am I alone here?) Of course, the analogy is greatly simplified, and -- as I hinted at above -- we'd have a great number of different properties of which only a few are directly related to actual visible objects and their shape. I like this layout and the way it allows us to deal with all instances of a property at once.

The bridge

So how do we create the bridge between the engine's sorted and ordered view of the world, and the player's view? An object is bound to have dependent properties, for example, a rendering geometry property which depends on the physical simulation property, so we need to somehow combine them to give the illusion of being independent objects, rather than independent properties.

Data exchange

My research into a property centric design was driven by a fascination for data oriented design, and specifically the "where there's one there are many" mantra. I got obsessed with arrays of raw data, of lean structures. I wanted this to be the core of my engine.

Each property is handled by a separate manager, which takes care of both memory allocation and 'ticking' or updating the properties each frame, and it's free to move data around and sort it as it sees fit. The data itself is dumb, straight arrays of floats or perhaps structured in groups of vectors or quaternions, or similar smaller groups of data which is generally accessed together.

Raw data in this structure-of-arrays layout can't really do inheritance (in the traditional OOP sense) even if I wanted to, so the property centric model became the natural choice.

Read and write data

With arrays of raw data, the easiest solution to fetch information from, or pass information to, a different component is to simply read or write the data directly using pointers. This also has the advantage that there can be no immediate side-effects as we're not calling any functions, and we're certainly not calling any virtual functions. This approach has several draw-backs, but what it lacks in flexibility, it makes up for in a lack of complexity, so we'll need to be aware of the limitations and work accordingly. I've often found that having to adapt to a simple mechanism has a tendency to make it more robust too, so there's also that aspect.

We're effectively passing messages back and forth, quite similar to a data bus. We don't need to know who receives the data, or who sent it, all we care about is that it is formatted correctly, and how to slap a destination address on it, which is a nice characteristic.

Semi-standardized memory blocks

If we define a set of standard memory blocks, and try to use these as often as possible in our properties, chances are we don't need to worry about data formatting very often. If you look closely, you'll notice that data that you typically would want to pass around is probably already using a small defined set of data types. For example, I have a type called f3 which is simply an array of three floats (a not an all too uncommon type when dealing with three dimensional space), and I use fixed time steps interpolating between the previous and the current step of the simulation, thus the most common type in my engine is f3[2]. I also place the 'current' value first so I can use the same reference to read both f3 and f3[2], where I need it. I guess this could technically be considered a very naive implementation of (multiple) inheritance, but let's not go there. It does allow us to interact with objects we know very little about though, so I guess you could call it something similar to polymorphism if you wanted to, and you're an ad-man with affinity for buzz-words.

We still need to know the 'interface' or data layout of our components. Assuming we're using standardized data-blocks, this can be extracted out of the manager logic, and into a wiring phase which is done by a higher level game object. The game object code creates the properties, passing references to the appropriate data blocks as input, and all managers can remain completely oblivious to how they're connected.

Wiring it up

It was important to me that each manager would be free to reorganize or sort its data arrays as it saw fit, so I couldn't use raw pointers without forcing every manager to keep track of who's referencing which of the properties it's managing (in order to keep them up to date on the new address). As the number of references can be pretty arbitrary depending on where a specific property is used, I chose to insert an indirection instead, i.e. a lookup table.

Furthermore, I elected to go with a handle scheme instead of straight up pointers into the lookup table. The lookup table still stores pointers into the property data though. Using handles for the lookup has a couple of advantages, the first thing that comes to mind is that we can eliminates the problem of dangling pointers by keeping a version counter in the handle, which is nice. Second, I cut my handles to 32 bits, which is half the size of a pointer on a 64 bit system. And third, I reserve 8 bits of the handle for offsets into the data being pointed to, which lets me store one pointer per property structure, while still allowing a handle to 'point' somewhere within that structure. This is useful when I'm storing, for example, both origin and orientation together, and for a particular case I'm only interested in orientation. The offset handling is hidden in the lookup table functions, so as long as we set it correctly during wiring, the user of the handle doesn't need to worry about it, giving us a bit of flexibility and reducing the sheer number of properties that otherwise would've needed to be registered and kept in sync. The observant reader might notice that this limits the maximum size of the data structure to 256 bytes, but as mentioned earlier, I want these to be as small as possible and only contain the data which is generally accessed together. So really, 256 bytes ought to be enough for everybody...

I don't have graphical UI with little squiggly lines representing wires connecting an input of some property to the output of some other; but in my mind that's what's going on, I arbitrarily connect data 'slots' to one another and the property managers are none the wiser. As an example, this is how I picture what the wiring looks like when setting up the player camera.

Player camera wiring

The ID of the network entity to track is provided by the server, the camera logic doesn't know what kind of object we're tracking, is only given the origin property. During gameplay, it's not even a server object directly, but a client side prediction property. The rest of the wiring applies an offset (the transformation) to the entity origin before feeding it into a PID controller, controlling a linear momentum property. The output is fed to rendering views as well as ground synthesis (only generate ground mesh where we can actually see it) and directional lighting (the shadow map rendering needs to follow the camera around). Each of these boxes represent separate property managers which, when called, update all the instances of that property, e.g. the PID manager updates all PID controller instances, it doesn't matter if they're being used to control the player camera or moving UI elements around.

Where'd the game logic go?

You'll notice I haven't really talked about game logic. It hasn't magically disappeared just because the game engine has a particular architecture, it's still there. The fact is still that the player will see compound game objects on screen, such as a soldier, and you will need something to keep track of the relevant properties. I still have a soldier game object. The difference is, there's no soldier-update (or -tick, or -think, whatever you want to call it), there's pretty much only a create and destroy for client and server side respectively. The create function initializes the appropriate properties, after that the property managers take over and deal with the frame-to-frame work. I'm sure you can think of other functions you'd want for special game logic stuff, but the important notion is that there's no frame-by-frame update function.

Actually, I lied. I have a soldier-update function. But it is a specialized soldier property which handles animations on the client side, with dependencies on the server object property, if the object starts moving it'll trigger walk cycle animations, do some simple forward kinematics to aim the gun in the right direction, and so on. It does not move the soldier around on screen, that's a redraw property wired to a server object property via a client-side prediction property.

Wrap up

I find this design has a certain charm, it keeps the implementation of each property manager focused on doing a single thing, and doing it efficiently.

Additionally, if you focus on keeping your data in a raw format like this, you'll end up with very lean data. It'll make you think about that and how to organize it. You won't end up with objects where, alongside your couple of vectors worth of data, you have a virtual table pointer, references to a couple of engine sub systems, and so on and so forth. Don't underestimate how objects may balloon thanks to a couple of references, especially if you're on a 64 bit architecture, and you're creating maybe a million instances.

Two problems that stand out are particularly affected by the design choice are concurrent access to lookup tables and shared data, if we run updates of separate property managers simultaneously. Note that this doesn't stop us from dividing the list of properties to update over several threads. Related to this is ordering, if we run property manager updates sequentially, and cannot wait for the next frame to let the value propagate, we'll need to be clever about in what order we run our updates.

All in all, it's a neat set up, and it really appeals to how my brain works. So should I have built my own engine? Probably not. It's been a cool ride though, and I've learned a tremendous amount. It hasn't been without its share of dark moments, but perhaps that's a topic for a different post.

Feel free to let me know what you think, either in the comments below or poke me on Twitter, I'd love to hear it.

Post scriptum - In the works

Concurrency and multi-threading is something close to heart for me, and having a set up that works reliably in parallel without slapping a lock on everything (mind you, that approach to concurrency will bite you in the behind soon enough). I have not yet come around to implementing this part of the system, but this is what I have planned.

I've elected to go for a semi-static directed acyclic graph (DAG) model, where property updates are carried out in a breadth-first manner. Each property can only reference the layers before it, thus all properties in a layer can be updated simultaneously without risking interfering with other properties. I don't want to have a fixed, compile-time, but rather I want it to sort itself appropriately during wiring. This solves both ordering (properties depending on other properties) and concurrent access.

To achieve this, I'll reserve a few more bits in the handle to denote the 'graph depth' of the referenced property. Thus when I create a property, passing the appropriate dependencies to it, it'll examine all handles and set its own depth to maximum plus one. I'll keep all instances of the property sorted by graph depth, and during update, process single depth at a time. During each frame, I'll step through each populated layer of the graph and fire off multithreaded jobs for each property type, synchronizing after each layer. As each layer only depends on the layers before it there will only be concurrent reads which is fine. In the PID-controlled camera example above, the feed back to the momentum property would have to be queued and applied at the end of the frame (thus explicitly delaying the input by one frame), this doesn't change the current behavior though as, depending on how the updates are ordered, one of the properties are already reading one frame old data.

This implies I cannot let the property change depth without rebuilding the graph, which is non-trivial as we do not keep track of who depends on us, only who we depend on. I doesn't stop me from rewiring the dependencies of a property, but it does stop me having it depend on something in its own layer or something further down the line.

by Fredrik Alströmer at July 17, 2014 08:32 PM

The Outlaw Way


Team Outlaw Barbell is on its way to Nationals. Click Here to view the LIVE Webcast. The action starts tomorrow. Make sure to reference the Start List to check which session the lifter is in, and then the Schedule to see when they lift and what platform they will be on. The Start List and Schedule can both be found Here.

58kg Caitlin Vodopia Session A

58kg Shantai Dickerson Session B

63kg Nicole Capurso Session B

69kg Cassidy Duffield Session A

69kg Sara West Session C

75kg Laura Schatz Session C

69kg Jake Dickerson Session C

WOD 140718:


Snatch from blocks (above knee): 2rm – 2×2@90%


1a) Back Squat: 5X2@90% of Tuesday’s 3rm – rest 90 sec.
1b) Pendlay Row: 5X5 – heaviest possible, rest 90 sec.


4 rounds of:

40′ HS Walk
20 C2B Pull-ups
Row 40 Calories

*Rest 1:00 after each round.

The post 140718 appeared first on The Outlaw Way.

by at July 17, 2014 08:04 PM

The Brooks Review

Ulysses III is Half Price

Ulysses III, my favorite writing app, is 50% as part of Mac App Store’s Explore Your Creativity promotion. Go get it, it’s an app I highly recommend.

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

by Ben Brooks at July 17, 2014 08:03 PM

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


This is for my 28 second half-a-sentence appearance in an documentary:

by John C Wright at July 17, 2014 06:32 PM

Alexis C. Madrigal : The Atlantic

Malaysia Airlines Crash: Could Separatist Fighters Have Hit a Plane Flying at 33,000 Feet?

A Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 has crashed in the Ukraine, in a region that's been marked by battles between the government and a Russian separatist movement.

Before it crashed, the plane was flying at 33,000 feet, according to The New York Times

It is not clear how the plane went down. However, because of the region's instability, the immediate suspicion is that it was shot down. Both the Ukrainian military and the separatists calling themselves the Donetsk People's Republic have denied responsibility. 

Andrei Purgin, deputy prime minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic, told the Times, “We don’t have the technical ability to hit a plane at that height." Nonetheless, Anton Gerashenko, whom the Associated Press calls "an adviser to Ukraine's interior minister," posted on Facebook that the plane was shot down "by a missile fired from a Buk launcher." 

Stipulating that we don't know what happened yet to create this tragic situation, it makes sense to test the plausibility of the assertions being made. Is hitting a plane flying at 33,000 feet even within the realm of possibility, given what kinds of weapons technologies the separatists have? Maybe. AP journalists reported seeing an anti-aircraft system resembling what's called a Buk missile system in the disputed region. 

"Purgin said he did not know whether rebel forces owned Buk missile launchers, but said even if they did, there had no fighters capable of operating it," the AP wrote.

The Buk system was developed by the old Soviet Union. Its missile batteries are portable. The missiles themselves are radar guided. If one is in the area, and there are people who can operate it, it has the technical capability to shoot missiles far beyond 33,000 feet. 

A passenger jet, in particular, would make an easy target, relative to a fighter jet or a rocket. They are big and they move in very predictable straight lines across the sky. Passenger planes emit a transponder signal, too, which could be used for tracking. 

This is not to say that a particular group shot down the plane, or even that we know, definitively, that the plane was shot down.

But the point is: it may sound implausible that a group of rebel fighters could take out a 777, but, given the right anti-aircraft weaponry, it is not. 

by Alexis C. Madrigal at July 17, 2014 06:26 PM

The Art of Non-Conformity

Last Chance for 2 Weekend Nights and a $100 Statement Credit


Link: 2 Weekend Nights + $100 Statement Credit (ends tonight)


In the ongoing battle over signup bonuses, the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve card is raising the stakes. In addition to two free weekend night certificates after meeting a minimum spend of $2,500, Citi is now throwing in a $100 statement credit after spending just $100.

Basically, they’re paying users with hotel nights AND cash just to get the card.

Cardholders also receive free Hilton Gold status, which in some ways is nearly as valuable as the highest Diamond status. All Gold members receive free breakfast and internet, as well as room upgrades and Club Lounge access based on availability.

The annual fee of $95 a year is not waived for the first year, but it’s effectively paid for with the free statement credit. Then, you get two free weekend nights at most Hilton properties worldwide, including plenty of four and five-star properties that would normally be cost-prohibitive for most of us.

This is a strong offer! I have this card myself and used my own two free nights at the Conrad Hong Kong, a great property where rates are regularly $300/night or more.

The card will still be available later, but the offer for the $100 statement credit ends tonight.

–> Learn more or apply here


by Chris Guillebeau at July 17, 2014 06:25 PM

The Brooks Review

Keyboard Maestro Macros from Matt Gemmell

I like his ‘hisender’ macro, that’s clever.

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

by Ben Brooks at July 17, 2014 06:15 PM

It Is Time to Stop Rewarding Failure

Om Malik on the nightmare leadership at Microsoft:

And Nokia, the once haloed and peerless brand when it came to phones was sold to Microsoft for relative pittance. Elop heads up Microsoft’s Devices Group. Think of it this way — since Elop took over as Nokia CEO, the company has cut over 50,000 jobs (if you include today’s announcement.) That is just mind boggling. That bumbling strategy which was the hallmark of Elop’s Nokia tenure still continues — in other words, Microsoft doesn’t really have a Nokia strategy.

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

by Ben Brooks at July 17, 2014 06:07 PM


How Different Cultures Understand Time

There’s an interesting article in Business Insider about how different cultures understand time (ht Nikolay Bezhko). It includes this neat graphic.




The article is rather limited (does not mention the very relevant books by Robert Levine, Jay Griffiths and Jeremy Rifkin on the subject), but does make several interesting observations.


by Venkat at July 17, 2014 06:05 PM

The Brooks Review

∞ Mobile First

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on July 10th, 2014:

At our core, Microsoft is the productivity and platform company for the mobile-first and cloud-first world. We will reinvent productivity to empower every person and every organization on the planet to do more and achieve more.

This is a widely circulated statement, and is clear direction for Nadella that the future of Microsoft lies in two areas: mobile and the cloud. That’s smart, because that’s where the future of computing really is right now.

Microsoft already has strong support in the cloud space and is getting better, but they have been weakest in mobile as the Ballmer era strategies face planted.

Here’s Nadella today, July 17th, 2014:

The first step to building the right organization for our ambitions is to realign our workforce. With this in mind, we will begin to reduce the size of our overall workforce by up to 18,000 jobs in the next year. Of that total, our work toward synergies and strategic alignment on Nokia Devices and Services is expected to account for about 12,500 jobs, comprising both professional and factory workers. We are moving now to start reducing the first 13,000 positions, and the vast majority of employees whose jobs will be eliminated will be notified over the next six months.

In other words they are firing 12,500 from Nokia’s workforce — you know the more successful mobile division of Microsoft. That seems to contradict the strategy, but Stephen Elop explains further:

We plan to right-size our manufacturing operations to align to the new strategy and take advantage of integration opportunities. We expect to focus phone production mainly in Hanoi, with some production to continue in Beijing and Dongguan. We plan to shift other Microsoft manufacturing and repair operations to Manaus and Reynosa respectively, and start a phased exit from Komaron, Hungary.

Ok so this isn’t so much about firing the people making great mobiles devices… oh wait, no, it is about firing them, but keeping the ones thinking up those devices.

This is a rough move, essentially Microsoft doesn’t want that large of a manufacturing arm, and it’s hard to blame them for that, but it’s also really stupid timing.

My criticism isn’t the easy play that they are firing 12,500 Nokia employees after claiming to be mobile first — it’s that they made these announcements too close together without laying out their strategy going forward clear enough. 1

And that is a problem of the worst kind: it is a leadership problem. A lot of people are liking Nadella, but I’ve never been fond of him being CEO and I think this moment is the most crucial for him. So far, he is not handling it well.

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  1. Nadella’s memo amounted to little more than a pile of bullshit.

by Ben Brooks at July 17, 2014 04:58 PM

Front Porch Republic

Place and the Role of Planning

city planning

[This post is adapted with permission from “The Space Was Ours Before We Were the Place’s,” an essay in the anthology Why Place Matters: Geography, Identity, and Civic Life in Modern America, edited by Wilfred M. McClay and Ted V.…

Read Full Article...

The post Place and the Role of Planning appeared first on Front Porch Republic.

by Wilfred McClay at July 17, 2014 04:21 PM

512 Pixels

World's Greatest Finale →

Yesterday marked the end of The Prompt:

The young men (and Stephen) of The Prompt gather one last time and discuss Overcast and IBM.

Be sure to listen to every last second of the file, becuase there's a great surprise at the end.

Over 57 episodes, Federico, Myke and I generated just shy 3 GB of MP3 files that would take someone 3 days, 47 minutes and 35 seconds to listen to. I couldn't be prouder of our work on 5by5, and couldn't be more excited about the future. Stay subscribed to the feed; we'll be back with something new soon.


by Stephen Hackett at July 17, 2014 03:39 PM

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

And She Acted Like a Girl

This is a comment from another thread by Mduz, which is too good not to share. Needless to say, I agree wholly with the sentiment:

On the JL cartoon, Wonder Woman was most appealing as a character when she was trying to lasso Batman or babying tiny infant Etrigan, least appealing when she was being pissy and murderalising people on the street. In fact, the scene where she’s getting the crap beaten out of her by Mongul (or whatever his name is) is one of the ones I remember most, because Damsel in Distress, super-powered or no, makes you care. If you’re not going to capitalise on the girlness of a girl character, then there’s no reason for her being a girl in the first place.

They should take a lesson from that Starfire on the Teen Titans cartoon. She was the Superman of the group, but yet incredibly sweet and likeable, because she was so girly, and she acted like a girl.

What’s annoying about these prog-stunts is that when they flop, they’ll inevitably start looking for any excuse other than “we’re sh*tty writers”. It’ll have to be sexism, or ‘the world isn’t ready for such advanced notions’, or something.

Wonder Woman is a babe, but if you just have her running around stabbing people saying how much she likes blood, she’s gonna be tedious. (And the scene in “War” with her talking to strawman Republican/conservative/badman was almost as cringeworthy as Lois Lane’s speech about ‘girls who don’t know their own strength’ in Unbound (which is probably the worst DC movie so far. Boy I hated Lois in that one. In fact, all the characters were pretty losery.))

Still, I’m just waiting for DC to stop calling Superman the ‘big blue boyscout’ (he’s a grown man, you dweebs) and maybe create an animated series about him punching the stuffing out of planets and alien armadas and fixing inter-dimensional plumbing, while everyone weeps tears of exaltation at his hyper-masculine awesomeness.


by John C Wright at July 17, 2014 03:38 PM


Mere Fidelity Podcast: On Marriage and Donated Gametes

This week’s conversation continues through our reading of Oliver O’Donovan’s Begotten or Made? with a conversation about the ways in which the possibility of gamete-donation by third parties to married couples has reshaped our understanding of marriage and its goods. That might sound boring at the front end, but it’s actually quite lively and increasingly relevant in our culture today.

I’d encourage you to open up the show notes here for the very long quote we read at the beginning. Also, see Alastair’s discussion with a listener in the comments there as well.

Soli Deo Gloria 

by Derek Rishmawy at July 17, 2014 03:09 PM


Linkbait 31


  • What's the deal with the Amazon Fire Phone? Why does Amazon bother to enter the phone market? First decent theory I heard: in order to test the integration of online stores on mobile devices. So far, people don't shop online via mobile devices (they look at stuff, sure, but they don't buy). How do we change that? Amazon wants to find out, and needs a couple of thousand test subjects as well as a device under its control. Hence the Fire Phone.
  • Useful overview of upcoming Androids and their possible default browsers. (I'm not nearly as sanguine as Firt is on the chances of Google Chrome being installed on these new devices, but I could be wrong.)
  • How it becomes progressively harder to gather user data, especially by intermediaries such as operators, because data gets more and more obfuscated (i.e. its origin is hidden or hard to detect).
  • Tomi wonders what Samsung’s Tizen strategy is, or whether it has such a strategy. He concludes that Tizen is more like a hobby project from some top Samsung managers. I suspect that they lost an internal political battle, and that that’s why Samsung announced Tizen phones (or watches), and then un-announced them again. In any case, Tizen is not going to amount to anything if its product placement is so broken.
  • And it seems Microsoft is going to ditch Nokia X after all. I predicted the opposite, and I still think I have a point, but I was clearly wrong.

by ppk ( at July 17, 2014 02:44 PM

The Brooks Review

The Brooks Review Podcast: Episode Three – The Real Complaint

This week I am joined by Jonathan Poritsky to talk about media. We touch on Hollywood being out of touch with technological reality, the ins and outs of streaming with Hulu, Netflix and everyone else.

Thanks to my sponsors, Dark Sky and Timelytics — two fantastic iOS apps.

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

by Ben Brooks at July 17, 2014 02:31 PM

Justin Taylor

Teaching Science to Kids

noeoThe new Noeo (pronounced no-eh’-o) science curriculum looks look a great way to help your kids learn science:

This science curriculum is designed especially for teaching science at home. Its multiple-textbook structure is best described as a balance between the classical method and the Charlotte Mason approach. In contrast with a single textbook approach, we think the variety of study materials and activities will encourage more interest in science, particularly with younger students. All of these books have been carefully selected by Dr. Randy Pritchard (a practicing veterinarian and homeschooling father of two boys) to guide children into discovery of the complexity, order, and wonder of God’s design.

The Level 1 courses are for grades 1-3, the Level 2 courses are for grades 4-5, and the Level 3 courses are.

You can read an FAQ here.

For some videos, links to sample of the instructor’s guides, and the contents of the kits, see below:

Biology 1

Major Topics

  • Invertebrates
  • Fish
  • Mammals
  • Birds
  • Human Body
  • Major Ecosystems
  • Plants and Trees
  • Weather

Major Scientists Covered in Biology 1:

  • Louis Pasteur
  • John James Audubon

Contents of Biology 1 Kit

The Young Scientists Club Biology 1 Experiment Kits

  • Kit #4 Weather
  • Kit #10 Bacteria and Fungi
  • Kit #17 Heart and Lungs
  • Kit #18 The Digestive System
  • Kit #19 Bones and Muscles
  • Kit #20 The Senses

Chemistry 1

Major Topics

  • Atoms
  • Molecules
  • The Periodic Table
  • Chemical Elements: Solids, Liquids, and Gases, Polymers and Plastics, Rocks and Minerals

Major Scientists Covered in Chemistry 1:

  • Marie Curie
  • Democritus
  • Dmitrii Mendeleev

Contents of Chemistry 1 Kit:

Includes The Young Scientist’s Club Chemistry 1 Experiments Kit

  • Kit # 1 Recycling
  • Kit # 5 The Three Phases of Matter
  • Kit # 7 Minerals
  • Kit # 8 Crystals
  • Kit # 9 Fossils
  • Kit # 11 Weight and Volume

Physics 1

Major Topics Covered in Physics 1:

  • Forces and Motion
  • Light and Color
  • Levers
  • Wheels and Pulleys
  • Electricity and Magnetism
  • Inventions
  • Sound
  • Flight
  • Space

Major Scientists Covered in Physics 1:

  • Albert Einstein
  • Benjamin Franklin
  • Michael Faraday
  • Galileo Galilei


The Young Scientists Club Physics 1 Experiment Kits

  • Kit # 3 Magnets
  • Kit # 16 Flight
  • Kit # 21 Light
  • Kit # 22 Mirrors
  • Kit # 33 Forces


Biology 2

Major Topics 

  • Microscopic World
  • Biological Classifications
  • Insects
  • Fish and Other Water Creatures
  • Birds and Other Flying Creatures,
  • Reptiles and Amphibians
  • Mammals
  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Human Body
  • Plants
  • Seeds and Flowers
  • Fungi


The Young Scientists Club Biology 2 Experiment Set

  • Kit #28 Seeds, Fruits, and Other Plant Parts
  • Kit #29 Eggs
  • Kit #30 Owls

Chemistry 2

Major Topics Covered in Chemistry 2:

  • Atoms and molecules
  • Solids
  • Liquids and Gases
  • Mixtures and Compounds
  • Elements
  • The Periodic Table
  • Geology

Major Scientists Covered in Chemistry 2:

  • Antoine Lavoisier
  • John Dalton
  • Amedeo Avogadro
  • Dimitrii Mendeleev

Books contained in the Kit (click each title for more details)

The Young Scientists Club Chemistry 2 Experiment Kits

  • Kit #12 Acids and Bases
  • Kit #13 Water
  • Kit #15 Air
  • Kit #34 Surface Tension
  • Kit #35 Polymers

Physics 2

Major Topics

  • Energy
  • Forces
  • Motion
  • Light
  • Sound
  • Electricity
  • Astronomy

Major Scientists Covered in Physics 2:

  • Sir Isaac Newton
  • Archimedes
  • Galileo Galilei

Books contained in this Kit (click each title to see more details)

The Young Scientists Club Physics 2 Experiment Kits

  • Kit #23 – Electricity
  • Kit #24 – Circuits and Electromagnets
  • Kit #25 – Magnetism
  • Kit #26 – Static Electricity
  • Kit #31 – Stars
  • Kit #32 – Planets
  • Kit #36 – Famous Scientists and Their Experiments


Chemistry 3

Major Topics:

  • History of Chemistry
  • The Periodic Table
  • Chemical Reactions
  • Metals
  • Nonmetals
  • Mixtures
  • Compounds and Solutions
  • States of Matter
  • Acids and Bases

Major Scientists Covered in Chemistry 3:

  • Antoine Lavoisier
  • Robert Boyle
  • Robert Bunsen
  • Dimitri Mendeleev

Books in this Kit (click each title to see more details)

Physics 3

Major Topics:

  • History of Physics
  • Forces and Motion
  • Simple Machines
  • Energy
  • Electricity
  • Magnets and Electromagnetism
  • Light
  • Sound

Major Scientists Covered in Physics 3:

  • Albert Einstein
  • Archimedes
  • Nicolaus Copernicus
  • Galileo Galilei



by Justin Taylor at July 17, 2014 02:18 PM

The Art of Non-Conformity

Where Should I Go on Book Tour?

The Next Book Cover

Later this fall I’ll be visiting at least 40 cities to meet readers and talk about my new book, The Happiness of Pursuit.

I’m super excited about this tour. We’re hitting a bunch of major markets where a lot of you live, and I hope to see thousands of people out on the road.

–>Sign up for the first batch of cities (it’s free!)

I’ve also learned from more than 100 previous book tour stops that sometimes the best stops are the unexpected ones.

More than once, a co-host or especially motivated group of readers has really latched on to an event and made it extra-special. On my first tour, Lawrence, Kansas had higher turnout than Chicago. Anchorage, Alaska beat out at least one stop in California.

So if you’re out there and you’d like me to stop by*, let me know.

If you represent an organization, business, or university, there’s a form you can fill out.

But I also thought I’d ask everyone in the comments: hey, where should I go?

As we fill out the tour dates, we’ve deliberately left space for several reader-organized events.

Let me know!

*P.S. It’s not really about me. The best thing about these gatherings is everyone else who attends. At each book tour stop I usually give a short talk of about 20 minutes. Then we do another 20 minutes of Questions & Attempted Answers. The rest of the time is all about community and connection. There are usually cupcakes. Oh, and I also sign books at the end.


by Chris Guillebeau at July 17, 2014 02:14 PM

The Urbanophile

Germany Also Having Big Problems Building Infrastructure

Der Spiegel had an interesting article this week called “Angry Germans: Big Projects Face Growing Resistance.” The article (linked version is English) talks about how it is increasingly difficult to get infrastructure projects built in Germany.

Wherever ambitious construction ventures loom on the horizon in Germany — from the cities to the countryside, from the coastlines in the north to the Black Forest in the south — opponents are taking to the streets…. As the public’s enthusiasm for constant innovation has lessened, so has the appeal of these sorts of projects, and, as a result, they now inevitably come accompanied by picketers. Germany’s graying society, it seems, is so cozy and settled that it resists anything threatening to upset the status quo. In the process, it has lost sight of the bigger picture.

There are a lot of key points in this article that immediately raised parallels to the United States, where infrastructure projects are also under increasing siege. In fact, some of this reminded me of elements of the Tea Party movement. The protestors are uninterested in compromise. They are devoted, full time activists who are unrelentingly opposed to the projects in question:

[Hartmut] Binner’s form of protest has a radical undercurrent: Well-informed, confrontational and devoid of respect for authority, he is typical of the new grassroots activism spreading across Germany.
Binner’s entire life revolves around the campaign. He monitors the routes of departing and landing planes. He plays his self-designed noise simulator on market squares. He kicks off his court appearances by singing the Bavarian national anthem. “If you want to be heard as a member of the public, you need to push the envelope,” he shrugs.

These days, he sees grassroots protests, activism and political responsibility from a different perspective. “The typical protesters are gray-haired, know-it-alls and very networked,” [Freiburg Mayor Dieter Salomon] says. “But they’re not remotely interested in consensus-building, political processes and pluralism.”

Grassroots groups have become so livid, intransigent and single-minded that even the most respected politician in the country, Angela Merkel, is feeling their sting. In early May, hundreds of furious residents had gathered in central Ingolstadt to protest against the construction of a power line from Bad Lauchstädt in Sachsen-Anhalt to Meitingen in Bavaria.

This certainly reminds me of the no-compromises view of the Tea Party. Also, a number of early American Tea Party activists were unemployed, and thus able to basically be full time activists. Even the singing of national anthem has echoes of the Tea Party and their tricorn hats. I don’t want to claim there’s a philosophical or other link between the Tea Partiers and Germany, however.

Not everything lines up with the Tea Party, however. In Germany it seems to be disproportionately retirees who are the most engaged and militant:

Germany’s graying society, it seems, is so cozy and settled that it resists anything threatening to upset the status quo. In the process, it has lost sight of the bigger picture.

Many of the protestors are pensioners with no vested interest in Germany’s future. “It’s striking that the leader of the protests against the Munich runway is a 75-year-old and not someone in the middle of his working life,” [Munich Airport CEO Michael Kerkloh] points out.

Salomon’s nemesis is Gerlinde Schrempp, a determined and argumentative 67-year-old retired teacher with attitude to spare. She’s the leader of the Freiburg Lebenswert movement, which translates roughly to “make Freiburg worth living in. The movement just got elected on to the district council and is first and foremost opposed to any new building in the city.

There’s a stereotype out there of the average Republican voter as an old white guy. But the average Tea Party activist I’ve seen tends to be working age. I look at this one a bit differently. We need to see these types of controversies against the substrate of an aging population. Aging populations are not noted for dynamism, and older people’s self-interest is better served by starving investment for the future in order to save money and avoid uncomfortable change in the present. As a country whose population is projected to decline into the future thanks to this demographic inversion, we are seeing in Germany what’s likely a preview of coming attractions elsewhere around the world.

Indeed, I’m reminded of what one analyst friend of mine in Indiana has said about the property tax caps there. He sees the push to cap property taxes as driven by an aging population in a stagnant state. Old people generally aren’t earning a lot of taxable income nor are they buying huge amounts of stuff, so they are disproportionately less affected by income and sales tax hikes, whereas they often own homes and are hit hard by property taxes. Thus property tax caps serve as another income transfer mechanism from young to old, holding revenue constant. They are in part an artifact of an aging society. Disinvestment in infrastructure can be seen in the same light.

But there’s another part of this that shines a light on yet another group of opponents, namely the intelligentsia.

The term “Wutbürger” (“enraged citizen”) was coined during the Stuttgart 21 fiasco to describe people like Hartmut Binner, and much has been written about them since. They often aren’t the “common man.” According to the Göttingen Institute for Democracy Studies, they tend to be highly educated people with steady incomes and white collar jobs. And while protests movements of the past were often steered by sociologists, today their leaders are more likely to stem from the technical professions, the researchers found.

When we look at opposition to infrastructure in the United States, at least certain types of infrastructure, we see a similar profile of people (though not necessarily technical) behind it. It’s the leftist intelligentsia that oppose the Keystone Pipeline, suburban highway projects, fracking, and many other types of things, often with a militant unwillingness to compromise similar to the Tea Party.

As with Germany, this opposition is enabled by environmental reviews and public participation laws that, while they serve important public purposes, make it easy to delay projects for years through repeated objections and scorched earth litigation. Traditionally environmental lawsuits were associated with the left, but conservatives have started saying, why not us too? Hence litigation against San Francisco’s regional plan. The Hollywood densification plan was recently overturned by lawsuits, and lawsuits have plagued California’s proposed high speed rail line as well.

Whatever the project, it’s sure that somebody on the left and/or the right hates it, and thus will do everything in their power to kill it, which probably means years of delays and untold millions in increased costs.

Also as with the United States, German governments have shot themselves in the foot with a series of financial debacles:

Political and bureaucratic bodies are partly to blame for their own diminished authority. Every major venture seems to entail spiraling costs. Berlin’s new airport was supposed to cost €1.7 billion, a price tag that has shot up to well over €5 billion. Meanwhile, the €187 million earmarked for the Elbphilharmonie concert hall under construction in Hamburg is expected to exceed €865 million by the time the project is completed. Albig is well aware how bad this looks. “People see us as financially incompetent,” he says.

Until politicians can convince the public they have a handle on this, the taxpayer will remain rightly skeptical of many major megaprojects. This is doubly true since it’s very clear, as has been documented by folks like Oxford professor Bent Flyvbjerg, that in many of these cases the politicians were simply lying all along about the real costs.

I’m not sure what all the takeaways are, but there are clearly many forces operating on a global basis to inhibit the development of infrastructure in the West.

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 July 17, 2014 01:34 PM