Zach Weinersmith has abridged the Bible "Beyond the Point of Usefulness." And he has given this work a Creative Commons 3.0 BY-NC license, which lets me post it right here for you (281 k, PDF). Enjoy.
Genesis: God made everything, but humans keep screwing it up; some Jews move to Egypt, which seemed like a good idea at the time.
Amos: Amos becomes, like, the 14,000th prophet to note that Israel is making God mad and when you make God mad things go bad.
Acts: Finding the market for Jewish converts to be quite limited, the apostles branch out to gentiles. In the process, Steve gets killed, but it’s okay because it gets Paul to convert. Paul does a great job, until the Romans get mad.
Seriously, download the book and you'll have read the entire Bible in 15 minutes.
Too many interesting things to read today. I've got some time between work and Bel Canto to get through them:
I have not read Bel Canto, though I understand it's loosely based on an actual historical event. I also haven't ever heard anything from composer Jimmy López before, since it only permiered last month. Friends who work for the Lyric tell me it's pretty good. I'll find out in a few hours.
After watching the state of the union address, my party (small sense) decided to watch The American President. In the first ten minutes, we watched agog as we realized that none of the principal political arguments in the U.S. have changed since 1995.
...a report from the Executive to the Legislature required by Article II, section 3. Everyone is following along, yes?
9:11pm: First applause line: "I'm going to try to make it a little shorter."
9:15pm: My companion: "Fear!" Me: "No, that's Feinstein."
9:18pm: Oh, dear. Third "fear" of the speech. Might not make it...
9:21pm: "Anyone who says America's economy is in decline is peddling fiction."
9:29pm: "There is red tape that can be cut." Bi-partisan applause, for different reasons.
9:32pm: "When the Russians beat us into space, we didn't argue whether Sputnik was up there. ... Twelve years later, we were on the moon."
9:41pm: "People of the world do not look to Moscow or Beijing to lead. They call us."
9:46pm: "If you doubt the resolve of the American people, or mine, just ask Osama bin Laden."
9:54pm: On the Guantanamo line, PBS showed Kelly Ayotte, and her lonely tear. She knows he's right. She knows her party's gone barmy. She knows she's out soon. But she's a decent senator.
9:58pm: "It doesn't work if we believe the people who oppose us are motivated by malice."
10:06pm: Overwhelming urge to watch The American President right now.
10:09pm: "The state of our union is strong. God bless America." Mic drop.
We're experiencing what everyone hopes will be the two coldest days of 2016. This morning Chicago woke up to -18°C temperatures and a forecast for more of the same through tomorrow night.
And then Wednesday it all goes back to the weirdly warm winter we've been having. The Climate Prediction Center still says we're going to have a warmer-than-average winter, and even the long-term forecasts call for high probabilities of warmer-than-average temperatures through June and beyond.
These temperatures kill my Fitbit steps, though. After a 21,000-step weekend, so far today I've barely passed 2,000, and not a lot of motivation to walk miles in this cold. (Usually by lunchtime I've hit 6,000 or so.) During the coldest days of last January I had a similarly awful record, bottoming out at 4,447 steps on January 12th. The week ending January 18th was my lowest 7-day total (60,302) until November 29th (56,109).
The Economist reports this week that the Tsujiki fish market will close at the end of November:
Squeezed between the Sumida river and the Ginza shopping district, Tsukiji is creaking at the seams. Some 60,000 people work under its leaky roof, and hundreds of forklifts, carrying everything from sea urchins to whale meat, careen across bumpy floors. The site’s owner, the city government, wants it moved.
The final blow was Tokyo’s successful bid to host the 2020 Olympics. A new traffic artery will cut through Tsukiji, transporting visitors to the games’ venues. Part of the site will become a temporary press centre, says Yutaka Maeyasui, the executive in charge of shifting the market. Our time is up, he says, glancing around his decrepit office. The site has become too small, old and crowded. An earthquake could bring the roof down.
I'm planning to re-visit Tokyo in October, so I might just get in under the wire. When I visited in November 2011, I didn't get up early enough to watch the fish auction (which starts around 4am); this autumn, I may force myself to see one of the last ever.
So says Australian recruiter Greg Savage in a viral post from 2011 just now making another round on click-bait sites:
In recent years it seems that a meeting set to start at 9 am, for some people means in the general vicinity of any time which starts with the numeral ‘9’. Like 9.30 for example.
People drift in at 9.10 or 9.20, or even later. And they smile warmly at the waiting group, as they unwrap their bacon sandwich, apparently totally unconcerned that others have been there since five to nine, prepared and ready to start.
It’s simply that some people no longer even pretend that they think your time is as important as theirs. And technology makes it worse. It seems texting or emailing that you are late somehow means you are no longer late.
You are rude. And inconsiderate.
Savage takes a hard line where few others would in some cases. For example, he hates that people arrive late to dinner parties, but anyone who's hosted one would really prefer people not show up exactly on time. And he may not fare well in cultures that have more flexible views of time, like much of the Middle East. If someone sets a 3pm appointment in Mexico, as an English-speaking Westerner it might be helpful to (tactfully) clarify what cultural effects will act on that appointment time, or you might be waiting for a long time.
The Dept of Homeland Security says we can still use our drivers licenses at airports until 2018:
The shift gives breathing room to Illinois, which had expected its driver's licenses and IDs to be inadequate for air travel, including domestic flights, as early as this spring.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security last fall declined to give Illinois a third deadline extension for meeting the Real ID Act standards put into place in 2005. As a result, it was expected that Illinois travelers by the middle of this year would need to present a passport or be subject to extra security checks unless Illinois was able to get another extension for compliance.
Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White still plans to seek another compliance extension, said spokesman David Druker. Also, White's staff is talking with members of the General Assembly about potential legislation to fund the changes necessary to bring the state's ID cards up to the federal standards.
The cost for that effort is estimated at $50 million to $60 million. The costs, as well as concerns about protecting individual privacy, have been stumbling blocks so far.
Meanwhile, the Secretary of State's office can't even mail out reminders to drivers to renew their vehicle registrations, because governor Bruce Rauner doesn't want to pay taxes.
And it's -10°C today. Moan moan moan.
Dan McLaughlin, writing for the conservative Federalist, examines the 2016 Republican primary race in terms of military strategist John Boyd's philosophies:
Boyd’s core insight was about the interactive and disruptive nature of speed on human decision-making: success in conflict can be rapid and dramatic if one can “operate inside the OODA Loop” of the opponent. Operating inside the opponent’s OODA Loop means presenting him with a constantly shifting battlefield that keeps him off-balance and disoriented so he is unable to process information and make and implement sound decisions before the situation changes again.
So, what does this all have to do with Donald Trump? Quite a lot. Few candidates in recent political memory have been so effective at altering the reality around them in a way that crashes their opponents’ OODA Loops.
As a major-party nominee, moreover, Trump would lack the ambiguity he has deployed against Republicans, and in a two- or even three-candidate race, he could not exploit the collective action problems and Hobbesian scramble for free media that have enabled his rise. Indeed, few of the factors that have allowed Trump to trigger fear in his Republican opponents would even apply in a general election, and Clinton’s team would have plenty of time to prepare a counter to the things he has been doing so far.
That’s not to say that Trump’s celebrity and attention-grabbing power would present no opportunity to win (he would only be the nominee if he’d already figured out how to solve the low-turnout proclivities of his natural base), but ultimately, he could not deploy the same approach without major adaptations. Trump would have to prove himself flexible and open-minded enough to the dynamic general election system to attract the necessary 70 million voters. His ability to do so remains very much unproven.
I don't always read the Federalist, but this analysis made a lot of sense to me. It's a long read—and worth it.
As the work week slowly grinds down, I've lined these articles up for consumption tomorrow morning:
And now it's off to the barber shop. And then the pub.