Growing a Language, by Guy Steele is without competition the single best technical talk I have ever seen.
Growing a Language, by Guy Steele is without competition the single best technical talk I have ever seen.
I don’t often get to compose anymore, but every once in a while I still have opportunities. Here’s the processional I wrote for my little sister’s wedding—a trio for cello, oboe, and piano.
(Unfortunately, almost no one heard this, because it started raining—outdoor wedding—and the sound guys didn’t know to turn up the volume.)
A month ago, Alan Jacobs asked about quality conservative Christian podcasts. Here’s a big part of why there are so few (at Mere Orthodoxy):
As a Christian in the world of podcasting—I have both a “two dudes talking” show (Winning Slowly) and also a “one dude talking with maybe a brief musical intro and outro” show (New Rustacean)—I found much to agree with, but also much to clarify and a few things to disagree with…
First, a set of theses on podcasting as a medium. Some of these are obvious; none are intended to be tendentious. Some of them warrant further explanation—for which, see below….
After which, 32 theses (and another ~3,000 words) on the constraints and challenges of podcasting as a medium.
Aside: the format of this particular piece is heavily inspired by Jacobs’ own “79 Theses on Technology. For Disputation.”
Up the ante, you say? Sure, we’ll tackle the small, easy problem of systemic force and individual agency this season on Winning Slowly.
5.01: A Ph.D.-Level Math Problem—Structures and systems, agency and individuals: three axes (and a sub-axis) for thinking about the world we live in.
We introduce our system for thinking about the “structure/agency” or “systems and individuals” problem: how do the systems and structures of our lives shape us? How do we shape them? How free are we, and where are the places where more freedom is good, and the places where it might actually be bad? How do we confront the structural issues we face, or strengthen and preserve the good systems we do have in place?
It turns out the fastest way to get me to write 1,700 words on hermeneutics is to misread Tolkien.
I am reading John J. O’Keefe and R. R. Reno’s Sanctified Vision for the independent study on hermeneutics and theological method I am doing this summer. I have found the book fairly helpful overall, and think the authors are right to commend the church Fathers as models for Biblical interpretation in many ways. The authors do good (albeit somewhat tendentious) work arguing for whole-Bible/“intensive reading” strategies and the validity of typology as part of theological method. When they come to allegory, though, their argument almost immediately goes off the rails with a deeply misguided interpretation of The Lord of the Rings….
You can read the rest over at Mere Orthodoxy.
I always appreciate Ben Thompson’s takes, but this—on the Thiel/Gawker imbroglio—is one of his best posts ever.
This blog post on recent compiler work in Rust is incredible: great work, and great technical writing. 💙 Rust.
Dear Republicans: your opposition to net neutrality might be justifiable as something other than kowtowing to megacorporations if you ever got around to proposing something else. As is, all you’re doing is propping up some of the nastiest, most anti-consumer companies in the country and sustaining monopolies and duopolies, supposedly in the name of “free markets”.
N.b. This isn’t intrinsically a partisan issue. It’s become one, but mostly because Republicans have felt compelled to do the bidding of the telecom industry for… reasons.
The only thing worse than a government monopoly is a private monopoly.
If Republicans wanted to push for local loop unbundling in place of net neutrality, almost everyone would be for it. (The exception: telecom companies.)
Internet acquaintance and generally solid thinker Derek Rishmawy hits this nail right on the head:
And here’s where I just want to say, if your first instinct when you watch or read about these videos is to think, “Geez, are you telling me they lied to get the footage of these people sorting through these fetal parts, or discussing prices non-chalantly over lunch? Woof. That’s a bridge too far”, then you’re reading the story wrong.
Ooh, look! A beta for Reeder 3! Shiny!
Another one in the music industry—but in this case, companies taking the long view and advancing the good of the whole community, rather than just their own bottom line. (Spreadbury, the guy behind SMuFL, was one of the team laid off in the aforementioned layoff from the Sibelius team, and now heads the product development for a new notation software tool from Steinberg.)
Avid: charging Sibelius users more money than ever for less value than ever, after laying off their dev team a couple years ago just to maximize profits.
This is not Winning Slowly material here, folks. They lost me (and many other) customers along the way, and they’re headed further down that road here.
Subscription models for software can be valuable and reasonable—but the providers have to justify them with product to match. Avid isn’t, and hasn’t been. I’ve no doubt they’re continuing to profit in the short term, but this will no doubt erode their market position and waste an amazing product in the long term. Greed destroys good things.
I confess: my first response to seeing this page was a flash of anger: Hey, he didn’t just learn from my site configuration, he actually stole my site design! And then I remembered: I open-sourced the design precisely so people could do that. This was just the first time I’ve ever actually had someone reuse something I did and shared like this. It was a strange (but ultimately wonderful) feeling. I hope to have it again many more times.
In any case, I rather like the tweaks Andrew Comenga made to my design to make it his own; go take a look!
When the police beat an 87-year-old grandmother who called 911 to get medical help for her grandson who had been shot—just because they don’t believe her—and suffer no consequences for it, the “law” as such has become wicked. This doesn’t excuse riots, but it sure as heck explains them. Baltimore is broken, but primarily in a massive system of abuse. Yes, pray for peace. But remember that civic peace comes in large part through civic justice; rule of law follows the law ruling justly.
Connor Friedersdorf has a lot more; you need to read it, even though—or rather, precisely because—it is such a mess.
“I don’t want a back door,” Rogers said. “I want a front door. And I want the front door to have multiple locks. Big locks….”
Rogers suggests the adoption of “front door” access will allow for essential security measures while keeping data safe from hackers or an outside attack. But opponents of the idea note that even broken into pieces, a master digital key creates security flaws. “There’s no way to do this where you don’t have unintentional vulnerabilities,” Donna Dodson, chief cybersecurity adviser at the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technologies, told the Post.
That last bit is absolutely true. The government basically wants to make sure it can spy on anyone, any time it wants. That’s a bad, bad plan.
This is sort of a hybrid review and essay. The review proper concludes:
In short, Echoes of Eden says all the right things. Barrs has provided a healthy, sound theology of the arts, reiterating and synthesizing the helpful work of Schaeffer, Lewis, Tolkien, O’Connor, and Dostoevsky. What is more, his survey of English literature grounds that theology in concrete examples we can follow. This is a solid book.
But there was a bit more to say about this, because…
There was one thing it lacked, though: beauty of its own. As Barrs himself says, “A book that is not well-written, no matter how compelling the story is, will not be reread multiple times” (114). I doubt I will read Echoes of Eden again, because this is true for non-fiction as well. Form matters. It may not be quite true that the way we say things is just as important as what we say—better to say the truth boringly than a lie splendidly—but it comes a close second. The truth is beautiful, and we should always aim to present it beautifully.
I think you’ll find the rest interesting! Take a look.
A note: I actually meant to have this reviewed about 18 months ago. I got buried in Greek III and it totally slipped my mind! Gladly, the folks at Crossway who sent me the book were understanding.
One thing I didn’t talk about in comparing reading experiences on a Kindle and on an iPad the other day is the elephant in the room: old-fashioned books. I enjoy Kindle and iPad, but I still love books best. Turns out I’m not alone… and there might just be reason for it.
Paper books were supposed to be dead by now. For years, information theorists, marketers, and early adopters have told us their demise was imminent. Ikea even redesigned a bookshelf to hold something other than books. Yet in a world of screen ubiquity, many people still prefer to do their serious reading on paper.
Count me among them. When I need to read deeply—when I want to lose myself in a story or an intellectual journey, when focus and comprehension are paramount—I still turn to paper. Something just feels fundamentally richer about reading on it. And researchers are starting to think there’s something to this feeling.
I spent a good bit of time working on this over the last week, and I hope you’ll find it helpful.
Last week saw the premiere of Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, and with it a (predictable) storm of controversy from the evangelical community. Reviews have ranged from predictably critical to outright disdain to hostile readings, and from strongly (though not unreservedly) positive to more restrained restrained affirmation of the film on aesthetic and spiritual grounds to especially measured theological and artistic engagement. In short, the responses spanned exactly the range one would expect from the evangelical community, which is itself deeply divided on the purpose, value, and meaning of the arts—decades of conversation on the topic notwithstanding. Noah works as a sort of theological-artistic Rorschach test. We seem to find it in what we expect given its origins and our disposition.
Rather than offer another review (which would add nothing to the conversation at this point), or decry once again the predictable evangelical response to the arts, or even critique reviews with which I disagreed, I thought it might be useful instead to ask where we stand today and point to a few places we might grow from this.
I think you’ll find the rest of the piece salient and helpful.
This bit by Alastair Reynolds is an excellent summary of the position to which I have slowly come over the last few years of reflection on the question of physical death before the Fall. It shows the influence of patristic thought in the best way possible, and also demonstrates a great handle on the bigger picture of salvation history in the whole of the canon.
A few salient quotes. First, on moral and physical perfection:
Perfection was not the creation’s natural state, but its intended destiny (and salvation is not a ‘rebooting’ of creation to its primary state, but the restoring of creation to the future that God originally intended for it)….
With perfection, our wills will be so capable of apprehending our good that we will no longer be capable of willing to do evil, not by virtue of some external compulsion, but by virtue of mature wills and natures and their appropriate mutual correspondence.
And then from the conclusion, which I positively loved:
First, Christ’s obedience is not about ‘innocence’ but about ‘perfection’. Christ brings humanity to the height and fullness of its divinely intended moral stature. He gives us, not merely innocence or obedience, but full maturity.
Second, humanity was always intended to die and rise again to a more glorious form of life. Christ death and resurrection achieves this destiny.
Third, as the last Adam, Christ will pacify and tame the entire creation, ruling until every enemy is placed under his feet.
Fourth, as we are in Christ, the bad character of death is minimized. We are not unclothed to be left naked, but in order to be more fully clothed, to have death swallowed up in life. We are still subject to the hostile attacks of the world and to the possibility of death within it, but Christ is the Tree of Life and we have unrestricted access to him. Death is no longer the alienating power that it once was.
This is a great read, start to finish. “Death Before the Fall”
My latest piece over at Mere Orthodoxy (and the first such in too long):
It has been common these past few years to speak of “incarnational theology” as a way of describing the Christian mission to the world: we ought to “incarnate” Christ to the world as Christ “incarnated” the Godhead to us. There is much to appreciate in this sentiment…. Yet for all that, I think that applying the language of incarnation to believers is a serious mistake.
The Incarnation matters, and it matters as more than a means of getting Jesus to the cross so that he could die for our sins. We evangelicals too often reduce everything to penal substitutionary atonement. Yes, the atonement is incredible and amazing. It is one of the central affirmations and joys of the Christian faith: our sins are paid for! Glory to God! But Jesus did more than that, and he is worthy of yet more praise. He did not stop at paying the price for our sins while leaving our bodies subject to corruption. He did not content himself with performing a judicial act while leaving our wills broken, certain to turn again to the same sin that led to our death in the first place.
I think this is the best thing I’ve written so far this year; I hope you find it stimulating.
Christ and Pop Culture has some great follow-up on the link I posted last week:
If you run in certain Facebook circles, you’ve likely already read that North Korean leader Kim Jung-un has called for the execution of 33 North Korean Christians. According to the widely circulated reports, these 33 people were detained after it was discovered they had ties to Kim Jung-wook, a South Korean missionary whose arrest for religious activity last year has made international headlines….
But here’s the thing: No one can verify this call for executions actually took place.
A great example of journalism done right, and of how Christians ought to carry ourselves in the public square. It matters whether our facts are right or not— even when the “message” might be right either way. The whole thing is worth your time.
Great piece here from Alan Noble, who is increasingly showing himself to be one of the sharpest guys around.
It seems inevitable that our country will try to combat generational poverty and all its great harms by investing heavily in early childhood intervention. We already see signs of the State moving towards such programs with President Obama’s 2013 State of the Union address and Mayor de Blasio’s expanded pre-K. Tragically and despite enormous costs, de Blasio’s pre-K initiative in New York will most likely have very modest results, particularly since it begins intervention at age four, so late in the child’s mental development. The question for the church is, will we allow the state to take the initiative, or will we take up this task and engender the kind of deep, redemptive healing that the state can only dream of?
The Washington Times reports:
North Korea tyrant Kim Jong-un has reportedly ordered that 33 Christians believed to be working alongside South Korean Baptist missionary Kim Jung-wook be put to death.
N.b. the source is Breitbart, which I usually take with a very large grain of salt—but this is not exactly surprising for Kim Jong-un or North Korea, so it is deserving of further investigation and prayer in any case.
Pretty damning of the current (lack of a) regulatory regime, if you ask me:
According to a recent study by Ookla Speedtest, the U.S. ranks a shocking 31st in the world in terms of average download speeds. The leaders in the world are Hong Kong at 72.49 Mbps and Singapore on 58.84 Mbps. And America? Averaging speeds of 20.77 Mbps, it falls behind countries like Estonia, Hungary, Slovakia, and Uruguay.