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Happy Fourth of July!

By Tim Butler | Posted at 9:13

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!

Late Night Haiku XLVII

By Tim Butler | Posted at 23:48

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?

Merry Christmas!

By Tim Butler | Posted at 1:12

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.

5.

By Tim Butler | Posted at 0:03

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.

30

By Tim Butler | Posted at 0:28

I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

—T.S. Eliot

Social Media and Purgatory

By Tim Butler | Posted at 0:11

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 German Take on the NSA

By Tim Butler | Posted at 19:25

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.

The Whistleblower

By Tim Butler | Posted at 15:44

The whistleblower, who revealed the shockingly disturbing surveillance techniques that the National Security Administration has been engaging in, has revealed himself as Edward Snowden.

For him, it is a matter of principle. “The government has granted itself power it is not entitled to. There is no public oversight. The result is people like myself have the latitude to go further than they are allowed to,” he said.

I'm sure the government will go after him. I hope the public makes it clear it won't tolerate the government doing so.

Focus Groups

By Tim Butler | Posted at 18:51

Tom Kowaleski recounts the story of the Viper's development:

Viper was a major part of my education in the automobile business. I worked at Chrysler in the '80s and '90s, and the Viper's development – indeed, its whole story – was critical to Chrysler's revitalization and comeback into credibility. The Viper program was done on a shoestring. It came to life as the result of four incredibly strong personalities agreeing on a single vision. It was a car no consumer research would ever support. It was a car one no one else would ever think of building. Yet, it became the flame that started the fire of belief in the next life of Chrysler.

Focus groups never create great things. Focus groups only find what is acceptably mediocre.

The Texas Bible

By Tim Butler | Posted at 11:00

John Dyer writes:

Fast forward 20 years, and just about any time I teach from the Scriptures I have to point out a place where the English Bible says “you,” but the original Hebrew or Greek indicates you plural rather than you singular. This means the original author was addressing to a group of people, but a modern English reader can’t detect this because in common English we use “you” for both singular (“you are awesome”) and plural (“you are a team”). This often leads modern readers to think “you” refers to him or her as an individual, when in fact it refers to the community of faith.

Relating the Greek second person plural pronoun to “y'all” seems to be a required part of a beginning Greek class, at least if anyone in the class is from the south. Rather creative of Dyer to make a plugin to actually “fix” Bible translations so that they use it.

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