Reflections

Best Dog Ever (November 5, 2017) - Not long after we moved into our first house my wife and I got a dog.  Riley was a free puppy found via a classified ad in the local newspaper.  He was a German Shepherd-Rottweiler mix and a very sturdy mutt.  The puppy grew into a confident dog, who was protective without being aggressive, and… Continue reading Best Dog Ever
Our Bias Can Cost Us (September 30, 2017) - Our ability to deceive ourselves seems to be quite resilient.  There is this thing called “confirmation bias” where we search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that validates what we already think.  And researchers in Europe recently found the following: We tend to pay more attention to information that confirms our own… Continue reading Our Bias Can Cost Us
Smartphone Apps and Your Conflicts (July 2, 2017) - Reconciliation is supposed to be a defining characteristic of Christian community.  But the social media and messaging apps that smartphones weld into everyday life might actually get in the way. The previous post highlighted a CBS News report* detailing how app developers attempt to deliberately manipulate the way our brains work.  The goal is to keep… Continue reading Smartphone Apps and Your Conflicts
Bedouin Tent, Syrian Desert A Caution for Visionaries (December 28, 2016) - This will never do. Or such was likely the first thought of an old desert tribesman on seeing the line of petitioners winding through the encampment.  The line ended at the tent of his son-in-law. The younger man had done well for himself.  When they parted he was an exile.  He returned now as the… Continue reading A Caution for Visionaries
Mark Buchanan on Reconciliation (November 12, 2016) - Reconciliation is what Christianity is supposed to be about.  Just over a year ago I posted about shredding the toxic lists we keep of the wrongs others have done. Here’s another view of it.  I just listened to a podcast by Claire Perini and Mark Buchanan at Regent College in Vancouver, BC.  They unpack what… Continue reading Mark Buchanan on Reconciliation
What Political Behavior on Facebook Might Actually Reveal (November 7, 2016) - Politics has taken on a whole new corrosive aspect: Turning friends into foes on social media is a new kind of political statement.   Source: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton supporters are unfriending each other on Facebook – MarketWatch Stuff seems to leak out in our behavior online that says things about us we did not… Continue reading What Political Behavior on Facebook Might Actually Reveal
Not in Front of the Children (October 18, 2016) - We are often more concerned with the appearance of our personal behavior than the actual substance.  So we hold grudges and carry on our personal warfare with each other out of sight.  Or so we think.  Not so fast, suggests this article from The Atlantic.  It discusses the effect of parental conflict on children: “They… Continue reading Not in Front of the Children
Thought Leaders (September 9, 2016) - I’ve watched a bit of TED and there’s been quite a lot of good stuff on it.  As I’ve noted previously, the format of TED successfully makes use of the shrunken attention spans of modern culture.  But the packaging that makes TED work also suggests its effectiveness has very little to do with the actual… Continue reading Thought Leaders
War in Heaven (May 1, 2016) - There is an odd bit of gangland slang that was popularized in the late 1980s where bystanders hit by stray bullets were referred to as “mushrooms.” They “popped up” in the line of fire.  At the time the actual incidence appeared to be relatively low[*] but there was justifiable public outrage over the apparent disregard… Continue reading War in Heaven
The Universe Looks Mighty Lonely (and we don’t like it). (April 3, 2016) - We like the idea that someone else is out there.  Someone intelligible to us.  The crowded, fictive universes of Star Wars and Star Trek are fun to imagine.  They are also easy to imagine, possibly in part be because of the influence of the mediocrity principle, which has been rattling about in modern cosmology for… Continue reading The Universe Looks Mighty Lonely (and we don’t like it).
Artificial Intelligence Is Just That – Artificial (March 24, 2016) - And since we’re on the subject of trolls: Microsoft’s teen chat bot Tay spewed racist comments on Twitter so the company shut her down after less than a day. Source: After racist tweets, Microsoft muzzles teen chat bot Tay – CNN Money “Tay” was apparently supposed to be a natural language learning AI.  Microsoft blame… Continue reading Artificial Intelligence Is Just That – Artificial
An Unsmiling Concentration on Self (March 13, 2016) - People have been debating cosmological and theological points for thousands of years (sometimes violently) but the Internet has introduced something new.  It has made it possible to argue in an extended way without face-to-face interaction, and to do so anonymously.  In the past pamphleteers and book authors sometimes published under pseudonyms because of the personal… Continue reading An Unsmiling Concentration on Self
The Wisdom of Jack (December 1, 2015) - There is this scene in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie where Jack Sparrow tells Will Turner his father was a pirate. Will experiences a bit of cognitive dissonance with the revelation.  This is not what he thought his father to be.  He reacts by drawing his sword and Jack responds by knocking Will… Continue reading The Wisdom of Jack
Shredding The Lists (November 1, 2015) - There is this difficult story in Matthew’s Gospel about a slave who owed a staggering sum of money – something probably in the neighborhood of sixteen years wages for a worker of the time. The king to whom the debt was owed put the ledger into the shredder and forgave the account. But the slave… Continue reading Shredding The Lists
Between The Lanterns (October 10, 2015) - This past summer my wife and I were camping by ourselves – our grown children had visited and left so we had a couple of nights alone. We like to sit by a campfire but unusually dry weather dictated a burn ban, which relegated us to sitting and reading by a pair of lanterns on… Continue reading Between The Lanterns