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That's a lot of music...

https://musicbrainz.org/user/sbontrager/collections

Just ripped release (not record, since some releases have multiple records) #2000. That count is low, given some are filed in other categories. Several have been ripped multiple times. I tend to re-do my favorites when I upgrade my gear.

That said, it still is a psychological milestone for me. It feels "almost done" since I'm down to ~20% left. This project has taken years.

The limits of tolerance

http://www.christiantoday.com/article/the.true.censors.are.the.liberals/82720.htm

The argument is, in brief, completely ignorant to what tolerance is and how it operates in a liberal society. This isn't the first time I've heard this argument. It is quite a common trope these days coming from people who think that liberals propose that we must be absolutely tolerant, including tolerant of intolerance. This simply is not the liberal position.

A tolerant society must have limits of tolerance. We cannot tolerate intolerance. The tolerant relationship must be explicitly reciprocal. That is, we will tolerate you so long as you tolerate us. As soon as you call for any part of "us" to not be tolerated, you will not be tolerated. We will respect your religious rights so long as you respect those of others. We will respect your freedom of speech so long as you respect that of others. When you call for others to have their religious rights limited, or the speech of others to be limited, you do not belong and will not be tolerated.

When The Drumpf calls for the expulsion of undocumented migrants or blockade of Muslims, he is being intolerant and deserves tomust be rejected by the tolerant society. Tolerance only works when it is fully reciprocal.

As individual Muslims are intolerant, we are right to reject them. As individual Christians, Buddhists, Jains and Republicans are intolerant, we must be intolerant of their intolerance.

Violence, in defense of a breach of reciprocal intolerance has a place. It should be state sanctioned violence by the proper authority for committing violence (i.e. the police). It should not be mob violence. But protesting intolerance in the defense of tolerance is not self-refeferentially incoherent, no matter what those on the right may think.

Geek culture and narcissism

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/star-wars-and-video-game-geeks-more-likely-to-be-narcissists-study-finds-a6785891.html

First: bad article and a great example of how not to do science reporting. Give me the numbers or hush.

Second, this is both really obvious and really counter-intuitive, depending on context.

Geeks (nerds, outsiders, weirdos of all ilk), I would expect, have probably the same rate of narcissistic tendencies as the general population. 6.2%, but I think narcissism is a spectrum disorder and about 1-2% are true narcissists or have gone off into psychopath land, and another 5 or so percent are drifting towards narcissism. Of course, this is pretty close to the same percentages as narcissists in Methodist clergy and other religious groups. So, geeks, pastors, "normal people" all seem to have about the same distribution in my experience and research.

At a Geek convention, however, I would bet that those in cosplay, those who are experts in some subject, etc, all exhibit far higher rates of narcissism than the general population and the same population at other times. Conventions of like-minded people (especially those who normally see themselves as outsiders) brings out the competitiveness, chest-thumping and bra-size measuring traits which normally get suppressed. So, I think the study is flawed by the environment in which it was conducted. The "I'm more of a fan than you" vibe of conventions will cause people to display more narcissistic traits than otherwise. That's kind of the point of these conventions; people need a outlet for what they repress most of the time. Festivals, masques, carnivals, ... office Christmas parties ..., these exist in every culture because we all recognize that we need a safety valve to blow off steam.

For those who have to repress their freak-flag (people who willingly dress up as Wookies?) most of the time and then once or twice a year get lauded with all kinds of adoration for what is normally aberrant behavior, of course they are going to express more narcissism in situ.

Ethical considerations

Most major ethical systems and religions have the concept of justified homicide. Buddhism and non-resistive pacifistic Christians are the notable exceptions that comes to mind. Since I'm not an expert on Buddhism, I'll refrain from commenting further there. I do know the Mennonite form of non-resitive pacifism in the Christian world, so my comments will primarily focus on that direction.

Justified homicide is the killing of another human that is not morally or legally culpable. The typical case is self-defense. If you are being attacked, most ethical systems say that you may defend yourself using the minimum amount of force required to end the attack. Sometimes the minimum amount of force is deadly force. Killing someone attacking you, from whom you cannot flee or on whom less-than-leathal force would not stop the threat, is permitted. Not only would a jury not convict, no DA would bring the case.

Accidental killings, manslaughter, can fall under the category of justified killing in some circumstances. If you have to choose between swerving your car to avoid jaywalking pedestrians to the right or left, but cannot avoid all people--and you aren't violating any traffic laws yourself--the manslaughter would be non-culpable.

In some systems, protection of property is permitted, you may kill someone who threatens your property without threatening your life. If a person breaks into your house in Texas, you may shoot to kill without first ascertaining if they are a bodily threat to you. In Islam property rights are absolute and killing to protect property is permitted. I don't know of a common Christian group that asserts that you can kill someone else to protect your property if they are not also a threat to your life. Less-than-lethal force is permitted across many, if not most, systems to protect property.

In the common American (by this, I mean the United States) framework, handguns are explicitly licit. That is, we assume that people may preemptively arm themselves in a manner which assumes that lethal force is going to be a valid option.

[unfinished]

Point: it is morally intuitive that there are cases where the killing of another human being is either justified or non-culpable. It is woven into our legal and moral system, enshrined in the self-defense and stand-your-ground laws. Does abortion ever fit these categories of non-culpable or justified homicide? I think so.

Thoughts on capitalism

On my drive in to Church this morning the thought entered my mind that capitalism has a fundamental delusion at its core. Those who buy into the system are trained from birth to see anything good that happens to them as their own doing and anything bad that happens as "the market" malfunctioning. Neither is very true. So much of our lives are simply out of our control and "success" is often just blind luck in the form of good hair and teeth (i.e. the genetic jackpot).

Those at the margins, on the fringe, tend to believe that they deserve to be poor. They believe that they are poor because they don't work hard enough (even though they work harder than the wealthy) or aren't smart enough, or… or…

That is to say, capitalism tends towards the creation of rich narcissists and poor people who suffer from Stockholm syndrome. We have a psychological need to explain randomness and chaos which cannot really be explained. When you start with a position of "I am worthy" you exaggerate your role in anything good that happens to you and shift the blame for anything negative to external forces. When you start with the assumption that you are not worthy, you accept anything negative that comes your way and assume anything good is transitory; which causes you to make financial decisions based on fundamental scarcity (no savings, investing, etc).

A more realistic framework would be to acknowledge that we are all tangled up in a web of complex interrelationships far beyond our ability to understand. We get lucky sometimes, other times we get unlucky. Sometimes we really do something to merit the positive things that come our way (for non-theological values of merit) or make a decision which causes our own poverty. But usually not.

This isn't a call for communism. It suffers a completely different set of delusions which happen to stem from the same deep psychological foundation. Namely, the delusion that communal decisions are better than individual ones (they aren't, nor are they worse on balance--mob mentality cancels out democratic discernment with alarming parity).

What would a psychologically and theologically responsible economic framework look like? It would need to take into account fallen and redeemed humanity, our spiritual senses (variously operating), etc. Raw competition and central planning both fail, both must be balanced; corporate discernment and individual reason (and here we see the curious mess with democratic capitalism and despotic communism--both oxymorons?) need to be balanced.

Too much 20th century theology, esp. Barth and Rahner, in the past month.

Aira lust

http://www.sonicstate.com/news/2015/08/12/mx-1-firmware-fix-allow-non-aira-usb-devices-/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+SonicstatecomNews+%28Sonicstate.com+News%29

still just audio for Roland gear, getting closer to perfection though. I want the TB-3, System-1 and MX-1... when I fall into a big bucket of money.
This isn't as tidy as I'd like it. I'm not sending it as-is. But I would like to save it and I think there is a nugget or two in there I'd like to pursue later. This stems from a conversation with a person who'd like me to "preach about hell" more and is upset that I politely rejected his call.




I think you greatly underestimate the “why this and not that?” argument. Why are the vast majority of Christians Christian? Why are almost all Jews Jewish? Because we were born into a family that was this and not that. Converts are rare, exceedingly so. A just and loving God wouldn’t damn us because of something so completely out of our control as into which family we are born. If you think that God will damn billions and billions of people because /we/ fail to convince them that this book, rather than that book, is inspired, we worship different Gods. The God I know isn’t like that at all. His ways may be infinitely higher than my ways, but what I know of his ways in Christ isn’t /THAT/.

This isn’t me relying on my own understanding, but on my experience of who God is through Christ (primarily as revealed in scripture and in the traditions of the Church). Scripture without Christ illuminating it and the Holy Spirit filling us as we read is just dead words; only when lived in Christ does scripture become something more than old words used to bolster our own opinions. Or, to put it as John Wesley once said, Satan knows the truth of the Bible, he just hates it. Scripture not seen and lived through the lens of Christ is worse than a pretext. Scripture alone saves no one. Christ alone saves.

Which leads me back to the question I opened with. Why the Jewish and Christian scriptures and not the Gita, Quoran or the Sutras? How do we decide which is the true word of God? Any argument made in favor of this book applies equally well to that book; any argument against my book works as an argument against your book mutatis mutandis. Only Christ, in my assessment, gives the Christian scriptures any authority or meaning. Those who have never encountered the risen Lord cannot recognize scripture as anything other than old (or superstitious, or deceitful) words. I know this probably seems absurd from inside, but it is incumbent on us, as insiders, to have emotional and cognitive empathy with those who are not. Recognizing the truth, we must recognize that recognizing the truth is not merit on our part, but grace. We did not earn it. So long as we fail to recognize that scripture is meaningless to those who do not know Christ, we will continue to fail in all our efforts to share God’s love. Why scripture? Why this and not that (or nothing?), because Christ. Arguments which start with scripture will not convince the vast majority of people in the world. Only encounters with the risen Lord, in all his love, will lure and lead those outside in. Evangelism which starts by throwing the book at people will only run the people off.

We must do better. Let’s look to Jesus and his use of scripture as our model, but recognize that his was a culture infused with the Jewish scriptures. Ours is not that culture. Most people are not raised on the stories of the Bible, they are meaningless to them. Or worse, they are seen as damaging and damning stories from long-rejected cultures (Freud, Neitzsche, Althauser, et. al, the prophets of our age). Acting as if these are assumed by everyone to be life-giving is folly. Folly which makes people hate, all the more, the truth of the Gospel.

Br. Scot

great paper

https://www.usenix.org/system/files/conference/soups2015/soups15-paper-ion.pdf

Yes, I use 2-factor auth where I can (Yubi U2K key, Google Authenticator app).
Yes, I use a password manager (OS X's keychain, a greatly underrated password manager; from the psychology that "built in == inadequate"). No, I do not know most of my passwords, most are completely random.

No, I don't delete cookies. Yes, I do check URLs and https status (and I know when to ignore it). I don't run AV software anymore, except Microsoft's built-in stuff. I've not actually caught a virus in years.
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/puc-plus-universal-bluetooth-midi-interface#/story

I'd googled around to find one of these when I was looking at getting an EWI. Finding nothing, I thought about getting a Rasberry Pi and building one. This is a much less expensive and time-consuming solution. When I get my next paycheck I'm going to back this project.

tear and snot filled day

Today was one of those pastoral days where I feel completely inadequate to the task. I've picked up a lot of the pastoral counseling responsibilities. Other than years of therapy for myself, I have no formal training for it.

I know how bad things are for people, I've lived through small slices of it, but to get hit with it three times, from three different people, today was overwhelming. I think I need a couple-few more boxes of tissues in my office.

I've had more frank conversations about race, rape, death and abuse in the past 7 days than I ever imagined possible. I found myself thinking, "I'm going to go bury myself in a systematic theology book for a few days… theology is so much easier than pastoral care."

May I rest now?

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