Faith, Hope, Love

Posted on October 19, 2015

What if Christians actually lived the way Jesus commanded us to?

Love your enemy.

I’m afraid we’ve gotten a bad name, mostly because we haven’t been living the way Jesus told us to. Mahatma Gandhi is quoted as saying:

“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

What does it take to be like Christ? There are many verses in the Bible that instruct us on how we should live our lives. One of my favorites is Matthew 5, versus 38–48:

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42 Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

These versus are easy to read, but hard to act out. Let someone slap me? Let someone sue me and give him more than what he asks for? Love people who hate me? Maybe I should bake two cakes for the gay couple who asks me for one. Jesus sets a high bar for his followers. I’m not perfect, far from, but I do try to be just a little bit better than the man I was yesterday. Everyday, just a little bit better. How important is love in being a better person? 1 Corinthians 13 explains further.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Without love, I am nothing. If we do all these acts without love, they are worthless. But how can I love someone who wants to do me harm? What kind of love is he talking about? The next few versus in 1 Corinthians 13 explain exactly what love is.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

This next year we are going to be electing a new President in the United States. Election seasons always bring with them divisiveness, but it feels to me like it’s gotten worse in the past few years. As a Christian I feel a certain pressure from other Christians to vote conservative, but when I consider the options I always go back to Jesus’ command to his followers to love each other, to love their neighbors, and to love their enemies. Paul expands on the idea in Romans 12.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.

Paul follows it up with a verse that I’ve taken to heart and try to live my life by:

18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

So, I should love the people around me, say good things about people who are harsh with me, and live peacefully with everyone. Does that sound like the standard conservative rhetoric? Well, not to me.

But what if I’m really upset with someone? The world is going down the drain and everything I believe in this country is being questioned and I feel personally slighted. What then?

19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Never avenge myself. Even if I’ve been wronged, even if I’m put in a situation I don’t agree with, even if I’ve been slapped across the face. It’s not up to me to take an eye for an eye. The Bible very clearly says that is up to God.

On the matter of the clerk who took it upon herself to stop issuing marriage licenses. This is the test for determining where the motives of someones actions originate. Is what is done, done in love? Does the action adhere to the instructions from Jesus? Is it Christian to deny a gay couple a marriage license? If your action does not begin and end with love, but instead you are taking a small amount of vengeance out on someone you have perceived as wronging you, doesn’t that explicitly go against the plain teaching of the Bible?

The Bible explains to us how we should live our own lives. It does not tell us to judge everyone else on how they are not living up to God’s standard. Here’s news, no one is. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Christians, including myself, consider homosexual relationships a sin. But, we also consider cursing to be a sin. My understanding is that God does not rank sin, so mine is just as bad as anyone else. The occasional curse word that I might drop under stress is just as much an affront to God’s holiness as homosexuality.

The argument is not if homosexuality is wrong or not, it’s that each of us are at a different stage in our journey. Some of us are not saved yet and are living in darkness, some of us have been saved by faith in Jesus are are undergoing the slow, transformative process of sanctification.

I don’t think that what the clerk did was right, but I can’t judge her anymore than I can the couples she was denying marriage licenses to. All I can do is watch the world and wonder, what if we all lived the way Jesus told us to? What a magnificent world that would be. What if we could all act with selfless love towards one another? Perhaps, just maybe, Christians should be the light of the world, showing the amazing, transformative power of salvation though Christ. Maybe we could all do a little more of that and a little less judging.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

The greatest of these is love.

Moby Dick

Posted on October 12, 2015

I’ve been slowly working through my list of books, and Saturday I finally knocked another one off the list, Moby Dick. Herman Melville’s whaling epic took me a while. Inside those 663 pages, there’s probably a good 300 page book, as it is, Moby Dick covers both the human condition and the intricacies of butchering a whale in the middle of the ocean.

I found brief flashes of masterful prose in the book, some familiar quotes from Star Trek movies, and, surprisingly, I found bits of humor towards the start of the book. When Ishmael and Queequeg meet, Ishmael is already in bed when Queequeg comes into the room, undresses and crawls into bed next to him. Ishmael is scared stiff of the strange foreigner, and tries to stay quiet until Queequeg does something to frighten him, Ishmael jumps, and Queequeg jumps, and the entire scene reads like a comedy.

The comedy doesn’t last long though. Once onboard the Pequod the book turns to symbolism, quite a lot of it frankly over my head. I understand the main points. Captain Ahab, driven mad with desire for revenge against the whale that took his leg, sacrifices everything he has and everyone he knows in his monomaniacal pursuit of a single whale in the great, wide ocean.

He does finally find his whale, but between the time that they set sail and the time they finally catch up to the whale, there is a long period of general whaling. In this, we get to find out about the differences between the Right Whale and the Sperm Whale, and why the Sperm Whale is the most fearsome beast in the ocean, and how to kill one when you find it. Not only that, but how to decapitate the whale once killed, strip the blubber from its hide, and stock up the spermaceti for transport. All of this I could have done without.

What I did find interesting was the relationship between Ahab and his first mate, Starbuck. By the end of the book Starbuck wants desperately to return to Nantucket, and call off the hunt for the whale. Ahab, driven solely and completely by his need to kill the white whale refuses. Starbuck considers killing the captain, sneaks into his cabin with his gun and contemplates murder, but he can’t do it. Starbuck can’t allow himself to take another mans life, even if it would have meant saving the lives of everyone else on the ship.

Ahab’s obsession destroys him, and his entire crew, except the one who survived to tell the tale. In the end, Ahab knew he was beat, but he refused to give up.

“Towards thee I roll, thou all-destroying but unconquering whale; to the last I grapple with thee; from hell’s heart I stab at thee; for hate’s sake I spit my last breath at thee. Sink all coffins and all hearses to one common pool! and since neither can be mine, let me then tow to pieces, while still chasing thee, though tied to thee, thou damned whale! Thus, I give up the spear!”

The purity of Ahab’s obsession is best captured in this famous quote:

“All that most maddens and torments; all that stirs up the lees of things; all truth with malice in it; all that cracks the sinews and cakes the brain; all the subtle demonisms of life and thought; all evil, to crazy Ahab, were visibly personified, and made practically assailable in Moby Dick. He piled upon the whale’s white hump the sum of all the general rage and hate felt by his whole race from Adam down; and then, as if his chest had been a mortar, he burst his hot heart’s shell upon it.” - Moby Dick, Herman Melville

Ahab felt that all wrong, all evil, all torment for all of history was the fault of Moby Dick. Crazy, right?

That’s one of the issues I have with the book though. Melville kept telling us how mad Ahab was, but for most of the book he just seemed like a jerk. Obsessive, yes, but crazy? It would have been more interesting to see more of the inner workings of Ahabs mind in the earlier and middling parts of the book than at the end.

I’m glad to have read the book, but I’m not sure I’ll ever read it again. It took months for me to get through, I just kept losing interest. Like McNulty likes to say, there’s probably a fantastic 300 page book inside the 660 pages of Moby Dick.

Standing Around

Posted on September 24, 2015

I was having problems with my lower back, not an uncommon issue, especially for those of us who spend our day staring at a computer screen. My problem was exasperated by my poor posture in my chair. I tend to slouch after a couple of hours, and then slowly slide lower and lower into my chair until, at the last moment before I fall out of it, I reposition myself and sit up again. I also run in the morning, and I rarely have time to stretch properly after a run, a bad habit that needs to be addressed. By the end of the day I’d stand up and crack my lower back three or four times, and know that if I turned in the wrong way I would be out of commission for a week or so while my back untwisted itself.

During a trip to our main office in San Diego back in January, I noticed that quite a few people were using VARIDESK adjustable standing desks. Intrigued, I asked around, and after several months of neglect I made the appropriate arrangements. Work was kind enough to furnish me with a VARIDESK ProPlus 36 about three weeks ago, and I’ve been standing most of the work day since.

I don’t stand the entire day, and when I do stand I’m not always typing. I do tend to spend a lot of time at the keyboard, but I notice that I tend to take more breaks to walk around and think things through before returning to the keyboard again. At the end of the day, I’m physically tired, and mentally exhausted. Switching to a standing desk leaves me with a feeling of accomplishing something by the end of the day, and while I’m not sure if I’m being more productive with the standing desk, I do feel that I’m not being noticeably less. The benefit to me is more in how I feel after getting home, I’m ready to rest and be with the family.

The standing desk is adjustable, and takes up a big corner of my normal desk. While it is perfectly comfortable to work on standing up, I now prefer to take my MacBook out of it’s BookArc and work on an empty space beside the adjustable desk and not use the external monitor while sitting down. Mainly because the desk is so big that when it is in the down position it hangs over the inside corner of the desk, and puts the keyboard at an uncomfortable position. Personally I find this to be motivation to spend more time standing.

After three weeks my back is bothering me less, and I don’t have a problem standing for several hours at a time. The long term benefits are yet to be seen, obviously, but my hope is that the standing desk returns a few precious moments of health to my upcoming later years. Meanwhile, I expect to spend a lot of time standing around.

NetNewsWire 4

Posted on September 05, 2015

I’m not sure if I discovered Daring Fireball through NetNewsWire, or NetNewsWire through Daring Fireball. Either way, in my mind the two are inexorably linked to my introduction to the Mac community. A group of people who value usability and good design, typography, readability, and simple good sense. Before the Mac, my thoughts on software were that it was either written by thousands of contributors across the globe, or thousands of drones in basement cubicles. What I learned through NetNewsWire was that individual craftsmen made the best software, and I could get to know them through their work. I started making it a point to follow the people who made the software I used.

NetNewsWire was developed by Brent Simmons, one of the first developers who’s blog I made a point to follow. I followed him as he was hired by NewsGator, and after he left and went independent, and when he sold NetNewsWire to Black Pixel. Around this time RSS readers hit a rough patch when Google shut down Google Reader, the backend syncing engine used by NetNewsWire and many other RSS readers. I wasn’t too worried at the time. Several of the competing apps quickly adopted alternative syncing engines, and I expected NetNewsWire to follow suit.

It didn’t.

Black Pixel decided against supporting third party syncing engines and opted instead to build their own. In the man time, the older version of NetNewsWire atrophied. With no syncing engine the app was isolated, an island that needed to be a peninsula. I wanted to be able to skim the news on my phone or iPad and not have to re-read the same headlines on my Mac. Eventually I abandoned NetNewsWire in favor of ReadKit. ReadKit was almost as nice, but not quite. I still longed for the keyboard navigation and overall ease of use that I’d grown accustomed to. I kept checking in to see if there was progress, but very little was made public.

I’ve given Black Pixel quite a bit of grief over the past couple of years regarding their treatment of my favorite news app. In my mind it had joined the graveyard of struggling, once amazing, Mac apps along with OmniWeb, VoodooPad and Yojimbo. Apps with personality and history, but unfortunately no future. Apps that couldn’t quite make the transition to the iOS era.

I bought a new license straight away when NetNewsWire 4 was first announced. Then there were a few betas, few and far between, followed by a long period of silence. I assumed that the app was not considered profitable or important enough to warrant serious development time. Perhaps Black Pixel considered the purchase of NetNewsWire a mistake, and were happy to brush it under the table and forget. I don’t know. As far as I know that may well be the case, but today I’m running the final released version of NetNewsWire 4, complete with a custom syncing backend and a brand new iOS app.

NetNewsWire 4 feels like a return to NetNewsWire Lite. It lacks the power user features of the old pro version, like custom article styles, but it’s still snappy and responsive. I can still breeze through feeds using the arrow keys, and NetNewsWire still gives me a beautifully subtle highlight that flows through the selected feed when I hit the right arrow to open an article in Safari. Nothing else has ever felt quite right.

Quite a bit has been said about the loss of features in the new version, including wondering just who this app is aimed at. Obviously, it was aimed at me. Well, or someone like me who sees the app for what it is. A rewrite of a legacy system that drops both features and cruft to pour a new foundation to build on. NetNewsWire 4 is simple, but I doubt NetNewsWire 5 will be. Now that they have the base application solid, I hope that Black Pixel will be able to add back in the features missing from version three.

All in all I’m very happy with the few days I’ve spent with NetNewsWire 4. I don’t have anything to say about the iOS version just yet, other than to say that like it’s older brother on the Mac, iOS feels like a new start. With a solid syncing engine, a refined reading experience, and a companion iOS app, NetNewsWire has me wondering if I shouldn’t go check back on some other old favorites.

Tree history in Vim

Posted on July 31, 2015

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I’m sure it happened to you too.

Just remember. That horrible moment when you time-travelled using undo - to copy and paste that line you deleted twenty minutes ago but for some reason you really, really, need it now - and then you hit a key and insert a letter. And just like that, your way back is gone.

The only appropriate reaction to that is either eating your computer or turning into a hulk and going on a neighbourhood-destroying rampage.

Yea, as a matter of fact, that has happened to me. Great Vim tip, especially combined with saving work when switching away from Vim.

Windows 10 Shares Your Wi-Fi With Contacts — Krebs on Security

Posted on July 29, 2015

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… it does allow anyone in your Skype or Outlook or Hotmail contacts lists to waltz onto your Wi-Fi network — should they ever wander within range of it or visit your home…

Any Windows users out there might want to hold off for a few on that big upgrade.

Coming Soon – AWS Device Farm Support for iOS Apps | AWS Official Blog

Posted on July 29, 2015

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We launched AWS Device Farm earlier this month with support for testing apps on Android and Fire OS devices.

I am happy to give you a heads-up that you will soon be able to test your apps on Apple phones and tablets! We plan to launch support for iOS on August 4, 2015 with support for the following test automation frameworks:

This is very interesting news for the thousands of iOS and web developers out there. I wasn’t too surprised at the Android device testing, but this is something different.

Work - Transitional

Posted on July 28, 2015

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I could see that my 9-to–5 job wasn’t my destiny. It didn’t fulfill me or stimulate significant personal growth. It wasn’t that I was bored, but it was more like feeling out of place—I could and should do more with my talents.

I know the feeling. Right now I’ve never been happier with where I am in my career, but the feeling Kevin describes is how I felt for seven years at my previous job. I felt like I was slowly atrophying in that cubicle. Today, after making the jump to a much smaller company where I have much more responsibility, I feel like I’m doing the best work of my life. It was scary, but worth it.

What 2,000 Calories Looks Like - The New York Times

Posted on July 28, 2015

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Writers, nutritionists, doctors, chefs and Michelle Obama have all been promoting a hot new diet: home-cooked food.

Looking at this list makes me never want to eat out again. (via The Loop)


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