A Stupid Poll About Writing

I received an email asking to promote the results of a poll, as seen in this post from the Daily Beast. Even though I’m actually doing what was requested by linking to it in this post, I responded to the email and declined because I’m not into charities I’m not personally involved with, and because the ham-handed interpretation of the poll was ludicrous.

Here’s my email response:

Thanks for reaching out to me, semi-personally, but the poll results are garbage. Not that it’s necessarily Grammarly’s fault, since polls are a wildly inaccurate at quantifying a complex series of attributes that comprise an intuitive-knowledge sort of area like language or writing. But it also presumes a standard of what “better writing” could be that not everyone may agree with. Yet, since it fits conveniently with TDB’s leftoid, feminine-primary readership, it works out in your favor.

Good luck, and I hope Grammarly sells the appropriate number of subscriptions this month.

An important contextual note on the “feminine-primary” phrase. There’s nothing wrong that I can see, by definition, about women (or men) getting together by themselves, separate from the other sex. Societies around the world have been doing that since time immemorial because there is benefit to it. Whether that could be called “x-primary” organization in the modern sense matters little. This isn’t a technical, academic paper.

But the wholesale “gathering together” of one sex has been met with more politicized/socialized approval for a good many decades, to the detriment of the other sex. An artificial and “forced”, as opposed to naturally-occurring and self-organizing, favoring of one over the other will always cause an imbalance in a binary system. The subject was already on the docket given the nature of the poll and the title of the post so it’s not an untoward gesture to give it a mention.

An Update on the Works In Progress

I am currently on the first draft stage of Retardo Montalbán, and I have onboarded Jill Domschot as the semi-formal editor of the project. We have a verbal agreement for services and payment, where I will remite payment at the end of her editing duties. So this public post carries with it the accountability factor—mostly on my end—to uphold my part of the bargain in good faith.

Before I go deep-diving into Retardo I’m going to finish the dead tree version of Bored in the Breakroom. The ebook version is still free and I don’t foresee it ever being not free, but the print version will have bonus stories and will obviously carry a cost. But that cost is heavily in your favor after the dolphin apocalypse arrives and there is no electronic grid to speak of.

N.T. Wright on Christian Art

When you see a beautiful chalice, it has a double beauty. If it’s well made, it has beauty for what it is. But if you know what it is, it also has beauty because you know what it’s meant to be filled with. The present world is like a chalice. God has made it as a thing of extraordinary beauty. But…we know what it’s going to be filled with. We should therefore celebrate the present beauty of the world, not in the sentimental way that denies the presence of evil and chaos and horror and death…Christian art ought to be able to say that the world is a place of great beauty, and also a place of great pain; but to do so in the light of the fact that the world shall one day be full of the glory of the Lord.

Living In Taupeville

Once in a while, Relevant Magazine will post something not so completely drenched in Millenial Christian cheese sauce that it’s worth noting. Via Wintery Knight, “What If Having an Extraordinary Life Isn’t the Point?“:

Some have grown tired of the constant calls to radical change. They are less sure they want to jump on the next bandwagon or trail-blaze new paths. And yet, in a culture of revolutions and free choice, little trust and tradition have been preserved to give people the stability and community they desire. We have become caught between these two poles of desiring some kind of normalcy and yet desiring absolute freedom and autonomy.

The new redemption: salvation by fireworks. Someone should point out to SOMA-junkie Christians (I’ve known plenty) that 99% of all of Judeo-Christendom throughout history, by nature of what is ordinary versus extraordinary, have lived unremarkable lives. Unremarkable, that is, to the rest of humanity. No one cares or is affected by how awesome I thought the stars were last week, except maybe those who might read something I would post about them. But the affect on me was undeniable. Check the frame of reference: extraordinary to me, utterly pointless noise to the rest of the world.

C.S. Lewis’ idea that we live in the shadowlands was an accurate statement for his time, but in this Age of iPhone a new lens is needed. We live in a dun-colored small town—Taupeville&—where we live restless, comfortable lives of drab, monochrome unimportance, looking for the newest carnival of lights around the corner.

The Paradox of Obedience

Jill’s post about the simpy interpretation of this survey of the hierarchy of values among religious people gave me agita—not anything Jill said but the fact that a self-styled smartypants can’t process the inapplication of the simplicity of surveys*. This is a roundabout way of saying people and their belief systems are too complex for a set of numbers and single words. People are shifting latticeworks, not straight lines going up or down.

I made comments on her post but the agita still festered. I think I may know why. It has something to do with the idea that everyone, everywhere exhibits obedience to something. Saying that people are obedient is as helpful as saying people eat. The questions remains: what do people eat? Or in the survey’s case: to what are people obedient to, and to what degree, and within what context?

Then came this, and I don’t trust a damned survey to provide a proper context. Obedience, obviously towards God, should in reality probably be the highest ideal for Christians, if we are going to bother talking of ideals in this way. This is especially true if we’re being honest about the type of being God is illustrated in scripture: a being characterized as an eastern-styled monarch, something of a warrior-king. We in the west think of a king as a president with fancy clothes and an accent, when in actuality the tribal king was someone unto whom complete, unwavering, unquestioning devotion was rendered. Thy word is law. It was recognized as such a relationship—equally, symmetrically—on both sides, an important element missing in liberal ruled vs. ruler dichotomies. Both parties willfully entered into the covenant, none of this Rawlsian social contract garbage that people use to justify tyranny.

So with this in mind, if we’re viewing God properly, a paradox worthy of a Chestertonian phrasal turnabout emerges. Obedience necessarily involves disobedience, disobedience to other agents, powers, authorities, inclinations, paradigms, frameworks—even religious ones. The more absolute the obedience the greater the potential disobedience to everything else that could warrant such a similar devotion. The most singularly obedient person could be the most disobedient person one could know.

Timeliness: the sermon at my church this past Sunday dealt with obedience. See the video here.

More timeliness: Ed has additional relevant thoughts here. He even used the same Galatians 2 passage from the sermon video. Dig it, dig it.

*”Obedience, in many ways, goes against curiosity and creativity,” the article says. How in the world this is logically necessary is not explained, except by implication that “curiosity” and “creativity” are synonymous with disobedience, which is categorically false. I’m not surprised since modern atheism suffers from a crippling case of logical positivism than it can’t even get to any particular fallacies.

Dark Is the New Black

Spurred to action by squinty eye strain and this thread about Google Drive not having a dark theme like Gmail does, I tinkered with the CSS on the Typo theme I use here to make it mostly dark with a not-quite-white text, bucking the design trend of Apple and every website in existence that relies on white backgrounds.

There’s this guy who makes a case that dark sites “suck,” but what sucks more is being shivved with ads and graphics sprayed all over the page, especially when they are rudely stuck in your face like a dirt-encrusted middle finger, right in the midst of reading content. One of Davey’s arguments is that books are white with black text. That’s great, but pages are not glowing screens, and we’re not viewing them in low light. But judging by his author photo he enjoys seductively staring into the sun so such mild self-abuse might be a personal problem preference of his.

I may have missed something in the CSS, so if anything looks strange, let me know in the comments.

Nikola Tesla Was A Weird Guy

From My Inventions (free pdf here):

I was about twelve years old when I first succeeded in banishing an image from my vision by willful effort, but I never had any control over the flashes of light to which I have referred. They were, perhaps, my strangest experience and inexplicable. They usually occurred when I found myself in a dangerous or distressing situation, or when I was greatly exhilarated. In some instances I have seen all the air around me filled with tongues of living flame. Their intensity, instead of diminishing, increased with time and seemingly attained a maximum when I was about twenty-five years old. While in Paris, in 1883, a prominent French manufacturer sent me an invitation to a shooting expedition which I accepted. I had been long confined to the factory and the fresh air had a wonderfully invigorating effect on me. On my return to the city that night I felt a positive sensation that my brain had caught fire. I saw a light as tho a small sun was located in it and I past the whole night applying cold compressions to my tortured head. Finally the flashes diminished in frequency and force but it took more than three weeks before they wholly subsided. When a second invitation was extended to me my answer was an emphatic NO!

These luminous phenomena still manifest themselves from time to time, as when a new idea opening up possibilities strikes me, but they are no longer exciting, being of relatively small intensity. When I close my eyes I invariably observe first, a background of very dark and uniform blue, not unlike the sky on a clear but starless night. In a few seconds this field becomes animated with innumerable scintillating flakes of green, arranged in several layers and advancing towards me. Then there appears, to the right, a beautiful pattern of two systems of parallel and closely spaced lines, at right angles to one another, in all sorts of colors with yellow-green and gold predominating. Immediately thereafter the lines grow brighter and the whole is thickly sprinkled with dots of twinkling light. This picture moves slowly across the field of vision and in about ten seconds vanishes to the left, leaving behind a ground of rather unpleasant and inert grey which quickly gives way to a billowy sea of clouds, seemingly trying to mould themselves in living shapes. It is curious that I cannot project a form into this grey until the second phase is reached. Every time, before falling asleep, images of persons or objects flit before my view. When I see them I know that I am about to lose consciousness. If they are absent and refuse to
come it means a sleepless night.

Using jQuery To Translate Websites


If you would permit me a wholly web development-related post, I recently finished a translate jQuery script for my friends’ charity site, Mission to El Salvador. Technically, the script doesn’t translate the English to Spanish, but it replaces the English text and (sometimes) HTML markup.

I was forced to do it this way because WordPress isn’t really set up for different “versions” its pages. I’m sure there may be a plugin to help with that but I’m sure this was easier. The main advantage is that there’s no page reload—when you click on the language flag the translation is instant. Since the theme we use, DonateNow, already calls in jQuery, I didn’t have to worry about adding more load time. The file itself adds 65k.

I also added a cookie for the translation preference, so that your selection is remembered as you navigate through the site, and if you close the browser out. I’ve never used cookies before but the cookie scripts I found at Quirksmode worked very well for my purposes.

There was some schlepping I had to do with the content, and I probably could’ve leveraged a unique class that’s given to every page. In order to do that I would have to use regEx and I generally avoid that when I can. To save time, if you’re going from English to Spanish, in some cases I could grab the English content before switching to Spanish, set a variable, and redeploy the variable value if the user switches back over to English. The variable value is then switched out with the Spanish content.

There’s no upkeep except for updating the “Recent Blog Post” content on the lower left of the index page. Whenever a new blog post is added I would just have to change a few numbers and a whole line. Nothing huge. The blog posts, by the way, are translated with Google Translate, so there’s no script updates needed in that area. There are probably some bugs in there still but the majority of the site passes.

For those interested, the .js file is here: translate_MTES.js.

Addendum to “Universal Sufferage” Post

One additional thought related to this post.

The idea of universal suffrage as an absolute is a strange one if you are one to consider the state as a morally legitimate entity. I, for one, do not believe it is, so this argument is moot but I’m arguing this on a statist’s logical terms.

If the state is a legitimate apparatus and comprised of moral agents that can contract with others (i.e., citizens), then universal suffrage is immoral unless those in government power agree to it. Forcing the government—if that were all possible—to enter into a contract on terms with which they do not agree, without full consent of their will, is immoral in the same way forced labor is immoral; a slavery, not matter how “soft” or in which direction it is aimed, is still slavery.

Forced association through law is common and accepted in America, but the idea of a representative democracy is so logically convoluted that arguing this point is just a further avenue of confusion if you keep chasing it.