Categories
brain productivity

Five useful questions | Seth’s Blog

I am a longtime reader of Seth Godin’s daily blog, but sometimes a post knocks it out of the park. Five useful questions is one of those. It’s short so I’m only listing the questions here.

  • What’s the hard part?
  • How are you spending your time?
  • What do you need to know?
  • What is the scary part?
  • Is it worth it?

At only 167 words, you really should go read the whole thing.

Categories
culture

Opinion | Swiss Army knife or AR-15? The judge is right that there’s no difference! – The Washington Post

Opinion | Swiss Army knife or AR-15? The judge is right that there’s no difference! – The Washington Post:

What two items could be more directly and obviously comparable than an AR-15 and a Swiss Army knife? I can’t think of how many times I’ve used an AR-15 to open a bottle of wine. Whenever I need a toothpick but cannot find one, I just whip out my AR-15. Conversely, whenever I am entering a theater of war, I always remember to pack my Swiss Army knife. That way, if anyone comes at me, I can offer to help them open a bottle, which will be so confusing to them that perhaps I can just get up and walk away before anyone notices I have gone. I very much understand how things work in theaters of war.

I was thankful during the pandemic to find Alexandra Petri writing for the Washington Post. Her delightfully absurd (in the spirit of Monty Python) opinions always provoke anything from giggles to guffaws. Must see! Would read again!

Categories
culture politics

More News Isn’t Good News

Several weeks ago I signed up for journalist Dan Rather's free mailing list (there is a paid version too). As a recovering journalist, something he wrote recently touched on a topic I often consider; the endless and ever-expanding explosion of news content.

For all the outlets, all the niches, all the competition, what does this change do for how we are getting our news? And how is it changing? Are we better informed? Hearing from more diverse voices? More overwhelmed? More distracted? More confused? How do each of you sort through the news? What sources do you turn to? These are the questions on which I would love to hear your feedback.

That's a lot to unpack. During my childhood, before I cared for such things, news came from three TV stations sharing updates at 6 and 11 p.m. There were two daily metro newspapers (the liberal Free Press in the morning followed by the more conservative Times in the afternoon).

My gut tells me that while the number of crimes and violent acts has increased since the 1970s, the percentage of criminals relative to a larger population isn't much greater today. Our generation's curse is seeing all of the news from everwhere. The growth of the internet and 24-hour cable news networks has transformed what used to be local drama into national tragedies. Any freakish thing that happens has the potential to become headline news around the world.

I have to answer "Yes!" to Dan's questions about being overwhelmed and distracted. There is so much more than local news reported on our TVs and other media.

Dan continued with a broad question. Has your news consumption changed with the new presidency?

Feel free to respond in any way you wish, but I would like to specifically ask if your news consumption has changed with the new presidential administration. Do you read or watch less news? More? Different sources? More or less on social media? Look for more news that isn’t about politics?

Again, "Yes!"

During the five years of the Trump era I felt it was a civic duty to tune into the news if only to see how he had harmed America during the night. I rarely watch the news now because that fear is no longer stuck in my brain. I sleep better knowing our president is focused on governance, not Twitter statistics and adolescent social media clout.

Cabin Week

Julie and I took a much needed break from responsibility and stayed at Mayfly Cabin built on a bluff overlooking Fightingtown Creek in Epworth, Ga.

It is perfect for the two of us. Small footprint with spacious interior and amazing decks and stairs leading down to rushing water below. We spent a lot of time halfway down those stairs on a large deck with a fire pit. Back up at the house there is a hot tub on the lower deck. The top deck is a screened porch stretching across the entire back of the cabin.

Everywhere we hear the water below and the song of the wind blowing through the pines and rhododendron. It is glorious.

blue ridge woods
Enjoy an album of photos like this one on Flickr.
Categories
technology

Mac Open Web

Are you new to the Mac and looking for cool apps? Even if you’re an oldtimer like me, you’ll likely find something new and useful at Mac Open Web.

I found this site again after reading How to Support NetNewsWire on GitHub. NetNewsWire is an outstanding open source RSS reader. You should check that one out first.

Categories
art culture nerd writing

Poe

Tonight I reread some Edgar Allen Poe, one of my favorite writers since I was a child. I remember being heartbroken while riding home from vacation with my parents. The blood drained from my face as I screamed. I left a volume of Poe behind in a drawer, to be read never more.

Now, I have two copies of Poe on the shelf. Tonight I read:

  • The Tell-Tale Heart
  • The Cask of Amontillado
  • Some Words with a Mummy

Good times.

Categories
life politics

2020 is Dead, Long Live 2021

History will remember the obvious horrors of 2020 including, hopefully, Trump’s reign of lunatic terror, pathological narcissm, and denial. It’s up to people like me and you to remember the effects of this terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year.

Bad News First

I personally know people who suffered or died from a virus that could have been limited if our Republican-majority government hadn’t embraced conspiracy theories or deafening silence.

Hindsight is blind in matters such as these, but I believe many or most of the more than 300,000 dead could be alive today if, beginning in January, Trump and his defenders had led by proper example to encourage the obvious needs for social distancing, mask-wearing, and handwashing.

Instead, they discouraged these simple activities, hosted super spreader events, promises from the president that the disease would simply go away like a miracle. They wrapped up the year with a series of indoor holiday parties. The fallout from these gathering has yet to be seen, but based on a year of observation it can be nothing but bad.

Their lack of leadership led to most of the other bad news of 2020.

Businesses suffered. Those that are still afloat continue to struggle to keep their doors open. Those who weren’t so lucky closed their doors for good. Those of us who have appropriately hunkered down won’t know the full impact until we finally try to go to one of our favorite places only to find the lights off and the doors locked.

People lost their jobs. More than 70 million have filed for first-time unemployment benefits since the beginning of the pandemic.

Politics with Trump leading the party in power have divided the country more than I have ever seen in my lifetime. Republican supporters gave a tacit boost to white supremacism fueling disputes about whether Black Lives Matter (They do!). Police did terrible things and murdered innocent people. Our so-called law and order president pardoned his partners in crime (several of whom pleaded guilty to the crimes for which they were charged) and literal war criminals who were convicted and imprisoned for murdering unarmed civilians in Iraq.

Now, the Good News

They say you can’t make chicken salad out of chicken shit, and it’s hard to find good news in such a terrible year, but we have to work with the ingredients we have.

As an introvert, staying home hasn’t been so bad. My wife has worked from home since 2019 and I began working from home in January. Social distancing hasn’t been much of a problem for us and honestly we don’t like strangers. As for our friends, we miss them dearly and can’t wait until we can safely see them again in 2021.

We’re grandparents! For reasons of operational security I’m not giving out a lot of details. Just know that one beautiful boy is already here with one of our daughters and another is on the way with one of our sons. I’m not a huge fan of phone calls, much less FaceTime, but it has been a blessing to help us see our first grandson grow up from more than 300 miles away during his first weeks.1

Sometimes I need a strong push to complete home goals and my wife finally nudged me enough to help her build out our library/bar downstairs and it has become our safe space. It’s even furnished with gently used furniture from the best bar in Chattanooga. The tragedies of 2020 don’t weigh so heavy on us while we’re in our sanctuary reading, listening to good music, and enjoying high-quality adult beverages.

Looking Forward to 2021

As of today, December 26, 2020, Trump still refuses to concede the election he lost to Joe Biden. To recap, the loser Trump fell by a margin of more than 7 million ballots in the popular vote. That lead to landslide electoral loss for Trump (and a landslide victory for Biden) of 306–232.

Like our second grandchild, vaccines are on the way. In fact, the shots are already being administered to those on the front lines who need them most. Unfortunately, normal people like me are way down the list and I don’t expect to be eligible for the vaccine until summer 2021. Even so, it’s good to have hope again.


  1. We did manage to squeeze in one visit during his first week before pandemic numbers got horrible again 
Categories
culture politics

What Happened to Being Kind?

During a communications conference I attended years ago, two comedians leading a session about improv introduced the concept of “Yes, and….” They explained it was always easier to take someone else’s idea and build on it in a positive way. Choosing “No, but…” is a negative path, they said, and can quickly suck the joy out of improvisation. Some of the time, it could even make the participants and audience angry instead of happy.

Nobody wants that. Right?

This could be interpreted as choosing to be kind to others instead of mean. We seem to have taken a dark turn from a “Yes, and…” world to a “No, but…” society. Wearing masks for our collective health is one example. It seems like it would be easy to say, “I am wearing a mask to protect you.” The other person would say, “Yes, and I am wearing my mask to protect you, too.”

That isn’t how it seems to be going though. We have chosen to say, “I am wearing a mask to protect you.” The other person on a darker path says, “No, I’m not going to wear a mask even if it kills you, me, my family, or anyone else around me.”

They say it’s a violation of personal liberty, a violation of their right to choose.1 The way I see it, that is akin to walking around slapping strangers. We are living through a pandemic and their right to choose ends when it begins to harm others. Their so-called liberty shouldn’t impede my right to live free of sickness.

If we’re going to make it through this pandemic together, society needs Love in the Time of COVID2. We’re really in trouble if we can’t remember how to be kind to one another.


  1. Ironic, given the stance on abortion of most mask deniers. 
  2. You probably have some time on your hands. Go read something by Gabriel García Márquez. 
Categories
nerd writing

Fitting New Word for 2020

I learned a new word, one that perfectly describes Dr. Scott Atlas and many others in the Trump administration. Ultracrepidarianism is the habit of giving opinions and advice on matters outside of one’s knowledge.

Fancy way of saying, “He’s full of shit!” Now, enjoy George Carlin!

Categories
culture politics

Consider the Ouroboros

Scanning the audience who attend Trump's rallies, less-educated white voters seem to comprise his base. Could this lead to a political ouroboros of voters? An electorate that doesn't appear to understand their unrequited affinity for the president leads them on a doomed downward spiral as his economic policies swallow them whole to benefit the rich?

Consider this tweet from @KBAnderson.

The party of less-educated whites is devoted to making economic life worse for the less-educated.

The “pro-life” party has caused 100,000 unnecessary deaths.

The supposed party of Christian honor is the party of utter cynicism.

They can’t be shamed. They must be vanquished.

Yesterday was National Voter Registration Day. Please make sure you are registered and pleases go vote.