Several of my friends have pointed out that today, 12/13/14, is the last day during this century in which we will have a date that is made up of sequential numbers. A date may be entirely arbitrary in the grand scheme of things, yet it makes me rather melancholy thinking that most of us will not see another day that has one of the interesting numerical patterns in it that have shown up throughout the year during the first thirteen years of the new millennium.
Enjoy 12/13/14 while it lasts!
An apt observation from Philip Yancy in a recent Christianity Today interview:
Sociologist and researcher Amy Sherman has said that Christians tend to have three models for interacting with society: fortification, accommodation, and domination. To put that in layman’s terms: We hunker down amongst ourselves, water down our witness, or beat down our opponents. For many reasons, those aren’t New Testament models.
So what should we be? We need to create pioneer settlements that show the world a different, grace-based way of living.
Gruber makes a good point — the handringing that law enforcement figures are doing with regards to iOS's new encryption suggests that Apple may have successfully interfered with the government's attempts to constantly collect everyone's data. I'm encouraged.
Happy Independence Day! If you are still looking for some fireworks to use for today, check out my 2010 post on St. Charles fireworks stands which mentions the details on my two long time favorite stands, one of which I've been shopping at since the early 2000's and one since it opened in 2007. Both have their own, interesting inventories of fireworks, a few of which have become family favorites that are must haves each year. Both offer massively better bang for your buck (pun intended) than the big chain stands. Here's a sample of new and old favorites:
- From Red Dragon: Lava Lamp, California Sunrise, Pacific Paradise, Funky Fountain, Havana Heat and 2 Cool.
- From Powder Monkey: Attack, Evil Stairs, Bees in a Thicket, Angry Alligators and Smoke and Mirrors.
Also consider some classics that have been around for decades and virtually all tents stock, such as Happy, Golden Silver Flowers/Flowering Peach, 96 Shot Colored Pearl, Cuckoo, and (naturally) long lasting mammoth smoke.
I hope everyone has a blast today!
CXXXIV. Softly, soothingly,
The winter wind sails about
Answers not questions.
CXXXV. Awakened long past,
A postage stamp sits unsent,
Bought on a cold day.
CXXXVI. O fair wind which blows,
Here and there unanswered, flows.
By whom have you passed?
To all of my friends in the blogosphere, I hope you have the merriest of Christmases. May Christmas Day be a joy for you as we reflect on the joy of Christ's coming and may the days beyond glow richly with that same good news.
Jayson Stark writes:
So settle in for a memorable evening — as two tough, talented baseball teams empty their tanks for the right to keep playing, and keep dreaming. Yeah, it's “just” Game 5 of a tremendous National League Division Series. But in truth, you know, and we know, and they know, it's much, much more.
It is going to be quite an evening.
I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.
I must confess I didn't see this coming:
The Vatican has taken another step in its efforts to embrace social media by offering “indulgences” to followers of Pope Francis' (@Pontifex) Twitter account. Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera reports that the church will reduce the time Catholics have to spend in purgatory if they follow official Vatican events on TV, radio, and through social media.
Can't you just imagine @DrMLuther nailing an iPhone with the #95Thesis displayed onto the door of the Wittenberg cybercafe? Charles V would have had a much easier time if he could have just tracked trending hashtags.
A fascinating op-ed in the New York Times from Malte Spitz:
In Germany, whenever the government begins to infringe on individual freedom, society stands up. Given our history, we Germans are not willing to trade in our liberty for potentially better security. Germans have experienced firsthand what happens when the government knows too much about someone. In the past 80 years, Germans have felt the betrayal of neighbors who informed for the Gestapo and the fear that best friends might be potential informants for the Stasi. Homes were tapped. Millions were monitored.
Those last two, short sentences sound familiar?
Three weeks ago, when the news broke about the National Security Agency’s collection of metadata in the United States, I knew exactly what it meant. My records revealed the movements of a single individual; now imagine if you had access to millions of similar data sets. You could easily draw maps, tracing communication and movement. You could see which individuals, families or groups were communicating with one another. You could identify any social group and determine its major actors.
All of this is possible without knowing the specific content of a conversation, just technical information — the sender and recipient, the time and duration of the call and the geolocation data.