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Matt Warren

Matt Warren's Public Library

18 Apr 14

"Images of Jesus’s Crucifixion did not appear in churches until the tenth century. Why not? This question set us off on a five-year pilgrimage. Initially, we didn’t believe it could be true. Surely the art historians were wrong. The crucified Christ was too important to Western Christ­ianity. How could it be that images of Jesus’ suffering and death were absent from early churches?"

in list: (LG) History

  • We had learned in church—and in graduate school—that Christians believed the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ saved the world and that this idea was the core of Christian faith.
  • In Proverbs of Ashes, we challenged this idea because we saw that it contributed to sanctioning intimate violence and war: The doctrine of substitutionary atonement uses Jesus’s death as the supreme model of self-sacrificing love, placing victims of violence in harm’s way and absolving perpetrators of their responsibility for unethical behavior.
  • We were unprepared for the possibility that Christians did not focus on the death of Jesus for a thousand years.

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15 Apr 14

"The Pew Research Center has an amazing new report about America's shifting demographics that shows how the country is getting older, less white, and more liberal. The entire report is worth your time, and it includes some beautiful animated visualizations to put the demographic changes in context."

in list: Generations

  • one such visualization shows the dreaded age distribution phenomenon that's projected to occur over the coming decades as Baby Boomers become the oldest generation. When charted with the oldest folks up top and the youngest people at the bottom, societies tend to have age distributions shaped like pyramids, like so:

  • But all those births a couple of generations ago threw the pyramid out of whack, which will have a lasting, noticeable impact. Here's a handy gif Pew made showing that problem playing out over a century:

14 Apr 14

"The middle class shrunk, American culture became atomized and a nation’s beloved department store was the casualty"

in list: Generations

  • In 1972, the year Sears began building the world’s tallest building in downtown Chicago, three out of every four Americans visited one of its locations every year — a larger proportion than have seen “The Wizard of Oz.” Half of all households held a Sears credit card — more than go to church on Christmas. Sears’s sales accounted for 1 percent of the Gross National Product.
  • In an internal merchandising plan written later that decade, a Sears executive identified the company’s audience, and its identity: “Sears is a family store for middle-class, home-owning America. We are not a fashion store. We are not a store for the whimsical, nor the affluent. We are not a discounter, nor an avant-garde department store…We reflect the world of Middle America, and all of its desires and concerns and problems and faults.”
  • Unfortunately, it’s been all downhill for middle-class, home-owning America since then, and it’s been all downhill for Sears, too.

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08 Apr 14

"Ever since the end of the Cold War, there has been an assumption that conventional warfare between reasonably developed nation-states had been abolished. During the 1990s, it was expected that the primary purpose of the military would be operations other than war, such as peacekeeping, disaster relief and the change of oppressive regimes. After 9/11, many began speaking of asymmetric warfare and "the long war." Under this model, the United States would be engaged in counterterrorism activities in a broad area of the Islamic world for a very long time. Peer-to-peer conflict seemed obsolete."

in list: Geopolitics

  • There was a profoundly radical idea embedded in this line of thought. Wars between nations or dynastic powers had been a constant condition in Europe, and the rest of the world had been no less violent. Every century had had systemic wars in which the entire international system (increasingly dominated by Europe since the 16th century) had participated. In the 20th century, there were the two World Wars, in the 19th century the Napoleonic Wars, in the 18th century the Seven Years' War, and in the 17th century the Thirty Years' War.
  • Those who argued that U.S. defense policy had to shift its focus away from peer-to-peer and systemic conflict were in effect arguing that the world had entered a new era in which what had been previously commonplace would now be rare or nonexistent.
  • The radical nature of this argument was rarely recognized by those who made it, and the evolving American defense policy that followed this reasoning was rarely seen as inappropriate.

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28 Mar 14

From Nick Lalone in Buzz. "John Derbyshire has been fired from the National Review for an openly racist column on how white people should advise their children with respect to “blacks”: for the most part, avoid them. Because on the whole, they are unintelligent, antisocial, hostile, and dangerous. Or as he puts it, avoid “concentrations of blacks” or places “swamped with blacks,” and leave a place when “the number of blacks suddenly swells,” and keep moving when “accosted by a strange black” in the street. The language is alarmingly dehumanizing: black people come in “swamps” and “concentrations” (and presumably also in hordes, swarms, and just plain gangs). And it’s clearly meant to be a dismissal of the notion — much talked about recently in light of the Trayvon Martin shooting — that African Americans should be able to walk down the street without being shunned, much less attacked."

in list: Generations

  • the summary dismissal of the column – without substantive rebuttals to claims that are so racist as to seem to be beneath public discourse – means that he can play the role of victim of political correctness gone amok.
  • Derbyshire claims that his ideas are backed up by “methodological inquiries in the human sciences,” and includes links to sites that provide all the negative sociological data about black people you’d ever need to justify your fear of them, including the claim that “blacks are seven times more likely than people of other races to commit murder, and eight times more likely to commit robbery.”
  • So he can cast himself as someone who had the courage to tell it like it is – with all the sociological data backing him up – only to be punished for this by the reactionary hypocrites who control the public discourse.

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25 Mar 14

"As I discussed last week, the fundamental problem that Ukraine poses for Russia, beyond a long-term geographical threat, is a crisis in internal legitimacy. Russian President Vladimir Putin has spent his time in power rebuilding the authority of the Russian state within Russia and the authority of Russia within the former Soviet Union. The events in Ukraine undermine the second strategy and potentially the first. If Putin cannot maintain at least Ukrainian neutrality, then the world's perception of him as a master strategist is shattered, and the legitimacy and authority he has built for the Russian state is, at best, shaken. "

in list: Geopolitics

  • Whatever the origins of the events in Ukraine, the United States is now engaged in a confrontation with Russia.
  • At most, the Russians have reached the conclusion that the United States intends to undermine Russia's power. They will resist. The United States has the option of declining confrontation, engaging in meaningless sanctions against individuals and allowing events to take their course. Alternatively, the United States can choose to engage and confront the Russians. 
  • A failure to engage at this point would cause countries around Russia's periphery, from Estonia to Azerbaijan, to conclude that with the United States withdrawn and Europe fragmented, they must reach an accommodation with Russia.

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04 Mar 14

"Editor's Note: In place of George Friedman's regular Geopolitical Weekly, this column is derived from two chapters of Friedman's 2009 book, The Next 100 Years. We are running this abstract of the chapters that focused on Eastern Europe and Russia because the forecast -- written in 2008 -- is prescient in its anticipation of events unfolding today in Russia, Ukraine and Crimea."

in list: Geopolitics

23 Feb 14

Bill Moyers: "There is the visible government situated around the Mall in Washington, and then there is another, more shadowy, more indefinable government that is not explained in Civics 101 or observable to tourists at the White House or the Capitol. The former is traditional Washington partisan politics: the tip of the iceberg that a public watching C-SPAN sees daily and which is theoretically controllable via elections. The subsurface part of the iceberg I shall call the Deep State, which operates according to its own compass heading regardless of who is formally in power."

in list: Geopolitics

  • The conventional wisdom has it that partisan gridlock and dysfunction have become the new normal.
  • But it is also imperative to acknowledge the limits of this critique as it applies to the American governmental system.
  • the present objective of congressional Republicans is to render the executive branch powerless, at least until a Republican president is elected

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18 Feb 14

"Last week, several events took place that were important to their respective regions and potentially to the world. Russian government officials suggested turning Ukraine into a federation, following weeks of renewed demonstrations in Kiev. The Venezuelan government was confronted with violent and deadly protests. Kazakhstan experienced a financial crisis that could have destabilized the economies of Central Asia. Russia and Egypt inked a significant arms deal. Right-wing groups in Europe continued their political gains. "

in list: Geopolitics

  • At different times, lesser events have transfixed Americans. This week, Americans seemed to be indifferent to all of them. This may be part of a cycle that shapes American interest in public affairs.
  • The United States was founded as a place where private affairs were intended to supersede public life.
  • Public service was intended less as a profession than as a burden to be assumed as a matter of duty -- hence the word "service."

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11 Feb 14

"The struggle for some of the most strategic territory in the world took an interesting twist this week. Last week we discussed what appeared to be a significant shift in German national strategy in which Berlin seemed to declare a new doctrine of increased assertiveness in the world -- a shift that followed intense German interest in Ukraine. This week, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, in a now-famous cell phone conversation, declared her strong contempt for the European Union and its weakness and counseled the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine to proceed quickly and without the Europeans to piece together a specific opposition coalition before the Russians saw what was happening and took action."

in list: Geopolitics

  • This is a new twist not because it makes clear that the United States is not the only country intercepting phone calls, but because it puts U.S. policy in Ukraine in a new light and forces us to reconsider U.S. strategy toward Russia and Germany.
  • Nuland's cell phone conversation is hardly definitive, but it is an additional indicator of American strategic thinking.
  • Previously, the United States was focused heavily on the Islamic world and, more important, tended to regard the use of force as an early option in the execution of U.S. policy rather than as a last resort.

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10 Feb 14

"The name "Ukraine" literally translates as "on the edge." It is a country on the edge of other countries, sometimes part of one, sometimes part of another and more frequently divided. In the 17th and 18th centuries, it was divided between Russia, Poland and the Ottoman Empire. In the 19th century, it was divided between Russia and Austria-Hungary. And in the 20th century, save for a short period of independence after World War I, it became part of the Soviet Union. Ukraine has been on the edge of empires for centuries."

in list: Geopolitics

  • Uzhgorod today is on the Slovakian border, about 30 miles from Poland, 15 miles from Hungary and 50 miles from Romania. When my father was growing up, the borders moved constantly, and knowing these languages mattered. You were never sure what you'd be a citizen or subject of next or who would be aiming a rifle at you.
  • perhaps nowhere was there as much suffering from living on the edge than in Ukraine. Ukraine was caught between Stalin and Hitler, between planned famines and outright slaughter, to be relieved only by the grinding misery of post-Stalin communism. No European country suffered as much in the 20th century as Ukraine. From 1914 until 1945, Ukraine was as close to hell as one can reach in this life.
  • Ukraine was, oddly enough, shaped by Norsemen, who swept down and set up trading posts, eventually ruling over some local populations.

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09 Feb 14

"Imagine a world that never knew Ronald Reagan:  

No Scalia, No Rumsfeld, No Cheney.  No Bushes and all of their appointments and disasters.  No funding of dictators like Saddam Hussein (Reagan propped him up big time) or psychopaths like Osama Bin Laden (that worked out well)."

This is one hell of a rant.

in list: Politics is Hard

  • OBAMA:  
     Our troops were repeatedly attacked in Afghanistan, yet when Obama came into office, he increased troop strength by 68,000.  (Along with an actual plan, unlike his predecessor.)  His track record of killing terrorists far outweighs his predecessors.
  • REAGAN:  
     Reagan retreated from Lebanon immediately after the 1983 terror attack by Hezbollah that resulted in the murder of 243 Marines.  According to the 9/11 Commission Report (p. 68), Reagan's cut and run INSPIRED Bin Laden, who viewed the United States as a “paper tiger” because of its rapid withdrawal after the attack.
  • REAGAN:  
     Reagan APPEASED terrorists.   Here he is with the Taliban:


     photo reagan-appeasing-terrorists_zps2db014fa.jpg

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07 Feb 14

"Using Exchange, I’ve created a rule and after I finished creating it I got a warning that the rule would be “client-only”. It also added the condition “on this machine only” by itself. I’ve disabled that condition but the rule still isn’t ran when Outlook is closed.

How do I turn it into a server rule?"

in list: (LG) Jobhacking

  • When the rule contains an action or condition/exception that can only be performed by Outlook, then the rule turns into a client-side rule. If this action/condition/exception is also dependent on a specific configuration of Outlook then the rule will get the “on this machine only” condition as well.
  • Client-side only rule warning 
    Warning when creating a client-only rule

in list: (LG) Technology

  • Digital startups are bubbling up in an astonishing variety of services and products, penetrating every nook and cranny of the economy. They are reshaping entire industries and even changing the very notion of the firm. “Software is eating the world,” says Marc Andreessen, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist.
  • “Anyone who writes code can become an entrepreneur—anywhere in the world,” says Simon Levene, a venture capitalist in London.


    Here we go again, you may think: yet another dotcom bubble that is bound to pop. Indeed, the number of pure software startups may have peaked already. And many new offerings are simply iterations on existing ones.

  • The danger is that once again too much money is being pumped into startups, warns Mr Andreessen, who as co-founder of Netscape saw the bubble from close by: “When things popped last time it took ten years to reset the psychology.” And even without another internet bust, more than 90% of startups will crash and burn.

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in list: Generations

  • We like to tell ourselves that America is the land of opportunity, but the reality doesn't match the rhetoric—and hasn't for awhile. We actually have less social mobility than countries like Denmark.
  • Think about it like this: Moving up matters more when there's a bigger gap between the rich and poor. So even though mobility hasn't gotten worse lately, it has worse consequences today because inequality is worse.
  • There isn't one or two or even three Americas. There are hundreds.

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in list: Admin Toolbox

  • LG gave the Nexus 5 a 2,300 mAh battery, an increase of less than 10 percent over the Nexus 4. That has left some Nexus 5 owners complaining about middling to poor battery life. Luckily, there are several ways that you can enjoy the Android 4.4 KitKat release without worrying so much about battery life.
  • 1.) Lower the display brightness, turn off auto brightness
  • If you go into Settings and then navigate to Battery, Android 4.4 KitKat offers a list of apps and the percentage of battery that they use.

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06 Feb 14

"Twenty years ago, in February 1994, I published a lengthy cover story in The Atlantic Monthly, "The Coming Anarchy: How Scarcity, Crime, Overpopulation, Tribalism, and Disease are Rapidly Destroying the Social Fabric of Our Planet." I argued that the combination of resource depletion (like water), demographic youth bulges and the proliferation of shanty towns throughout the developing world would enflame ethnic and sectarian divides, creating the conditions for domestic political breakdown and the transformation of war into increasingly irregular forms -- making it often indistinguishable from terrorism. I wrote about the erosion of national borders and the rise of the environment as the principal security issues of the 21st century. I accurately predicted the collapse of certain African states in the late 1990s and the rise of political Islam in Turkey and other places. Islam, I wrote, was a religion ideally suited for the badly urbanized poor who were willing to fight. I also got things wrong, such as the probable intensification of racial divisions in the United States; in fact, such divisions have been impressively ameliorated."

in list: Geopolitics

  • Civil society in significant swaths of the earth is still the province of a relatively elite few in capital cities -- the very people Western journalists feel most comfortable befriending and interviewing, so that the size and influence of such a class is exaggerated by the media.
  • The End of Imperialism. That's right. Imperialism provided much of Africa, Asia and Latin America with security and administrative order. The Europeans divided the planet into a gridwork of entities -- both artificial and not -- and governed. It may not have been fair, and it may not have been altogether civil, but it provided order. Imperialism, the mainstay of stability for human populations for thousands of years, is now gone.
  • The End of Post-Colonial Strongmen. Colonialism did not end completely with the departure of European colonialists. It continued for decades in the guise of strong dictators, who had inherited state systems from the colonialists. Because these strongmen often saw themselves as anti-Western freedom fighters, they believed that they now had the moral justification to govern as they pleased.

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06 Feb 14

"Even with the prevelance of digital devices, there is still much to be said for the time-tested pen and paper. That is why there will always be a market for companies such as Livescribe who try to bridge the digital and analog divide with their latest product, the Livescribe 3 Smartpen."

05 Feb 14

"Find out which new settings are draining your Nexus 5 or other Android 4.4 phone's battery life."

  • Many apps -- not just the mapping types -- have recently found a way to incorporate location-tracking into their offerings. From check-ins to finding "nearby" business, these apps eat into your battery life as they work to pinpoint your location.
  • KitKat attempts to solve this issue with a new Battery Saving GPS mode, which minimizes the number of reference points used to find your location. Because it's still pretty accurate, it's a good default choice.
  • To enable this mode, head to Settings > Location > Mode, and enable Battery Saving.

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