I was reading a book on the history of marriage, and it mentioned a handful of essays that were written in the US in the late eighteen century on the subject of marriage. Wondering what they had to say about the matter, I turned to Google and found one of them. What follows is the text to “On the choice of a wife” by John Aiken, which forms a chapter in his book, Letters from a father to his son, on various topics, relative to literature and the conduct of life : written in the years 1792 and 1793. It only seems to be available online in this scanned copy of the book or on Google Books. In the course of searching for this, I also discovered H. G. Wells’ On the choice of a wife, which is a much shorter and more amusing document. Anyway, without further ado, here is some late eighteenth century advice on what to look for in a wife.
There is no species of advice which seems to come with more peculiar propriety from parents to children, than that which respects the marriage state; for it is a matter in which the first must have acquired some experience, and the last cannot. At the same time, it is found to be that in which advice produces the least effect. For this, various causes may be assigned; of which, no doubt, the principal is, that passion commonly takes this affair under its management, and excludes reason from her share of the deliberation. I am inclined to think, however, that the neglect with which admonitions on this head are treated, is not unfrequently owing to the manner in which they are given, which is often too general, too formal, and with too little accommodation to the feelings of young persons. If, in descanting a little upon this subject, I can avoid these errors, I flatter myself you are capable of bestowing some unforced attention to what an affectionate desire of promoting your happiness, in so essential a point, may prompt.
The difference of opinion between sons and fathers in the matrimonial choice may be stated in a single position—that the former have in their minds the first month of marriage, the latter, the whole of its duration. Perhaps you will, and with justice, deny that this is the difference between us two, and will assert…
The furore over bikes on the road that Shane Warne instigated has not yet gone away. The main development since my last post on mandatory registration and number plates has been the emergence of the account of the cyclist himself and eyewitness reports. It sounds like Warne wasn’t close to being as innocent as he made himself out to be, but this story has become bigger than Warne’s altercation for it has reignited in the media the long-running tension between drivers and cyclists. Bridie O’Donnell — a professional cyclist — wrote a very sensible response to Warne, Miranda Devine wrote an inflammatory piece about the “silent two-wheeled menaces on our road”, Crikey responded to Devine, various cycling groups put out press releases, and thousands more discussed these things online.
Today I want to talk about the way we divide each other into groups. It is a known quirk of humans that we easily form groups and then see other groups as wrong and inferior, just because they are not us. We label them and stereotype them, and sometime after groups are formed and opposition has begun we create logical reasons to support that opposition. This group identification behaviour isn’t completely bad — without it we wouldn’t have sports teams, and more importantly, it makes an incredibly complex world possible to understand — but especially in the connected and pluralistic world we live in today, it leads to all sorts of problems since we are very exposed to “others”. There are countless examples of this grouping behaviour. Many of them are innocuous, such as Android versus iPhone, Ford versus Holden, Star Trek versus Star Wars, road cycling versus mountain biking etc., but others are more serious — think of all the ethnic strife around the world, and racism more generally. Consider also the typical attitudes we have towards four-wheel drive owners, rich people, poor people, accountants, people who live in Frankston… This is not to say that there are no other reasons for these conflicts, but the way we group people together underlies many things.
This behaviour also explains much of the controversy over bikes on the road. There are large sections of the community who strongly dislike cyclists, mostly because everybody around them also dislikes cyclists. There are social commentators like Miranda Devine who are quite comfortable labeling all cyclists as menaces. There are public figures like Shane Warne who… continue reading
Shane Warne has managed to get himself embroiled in controversy again. This time it’s with cyclists. Firstly he wrote a series of tweets last week where he called for cyclists to ride in single file, show number plates, and pay registration. Unsurprisingly there were a lot of responses, some of which he retweeted. The classiest of them wasn’t from the wife of a certain famous Australian cricketer suggesting that he “just throw a cricket ball at them if they really annoy u”.
Today he had an altercation with a cyclist which he then tweeted about. It’s not clear what happened exactly (and trying to reconstruct the incident from only one perspective is bound to give an incomplete story), but it sounds as though a cyclist hit his car (as in a punch, not a crash), held onto his car, hit his car again, exchanged verbal abuse with him, stopped in front of him and held up traffic, and finally Warne slowly drove around the cyclist and went on his way. Warne also mentioned that he reported the incident to police and finished by restating his belief that cyclists should pay registration fees and have number plates. The thing I wonder the most about this story is why the cyclist hit Warne’s car: I’ve never heard of a cyclist hitting a car for no reason — such reactions tend to happen because the cyclist barely escaped a trip to hospital moments before, even if the driver was oblivious to the situation. But that’s not the point of this post… Update: here is the cyclist’s account of the incident.
In the discussions that have followed, it is clear that there are a lot of people who don’t understand vehicle registration fees and how they relate to road funding. This is demonstrated by both the common “cyclists don’t pay registration fees to be on the roads, therefore they aren’t entitled to use the roads” and the frequent response “the vast majority of cyclists also drive and therefore do pay”. Let’s look at some numbers.
In 2006–07 $16.2B was collected directly from motor vehicle users. Only $3.9B (24%) of that came from vehicle registration fees. The majority (56%, or $9.2B) came from fuel excise, and the remaining 20% came from a combination of stamp duty, driver’s license fees and… continue reading
Joshua 10:12–14 has long been understood to be referring to a day significantly longer than normal. Here, I’m going to explain an interpretation that doesn’t involve any any miraculous physics. Here’s the passage in question:
At that time Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel,
“Sun, stand still at Gibeon,
and moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.”
And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped,
until the nation took vengeance on their enemies.
Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stopped in the midst of heaven and did not hurry to set for about a whole day. There has been no day like it before or since, when the Lord heeded the voice of a man, for the Lord fought for Israel.
As far as miracles in the Bible go, Joshua’s long day is one of the biggest. Since the sun and moon moving across the sky are caused by the earth’s rotation, stopping them in the sky requires the earth to stop rotating, and if you’ve ever been in a decelerating car, you’d know you can’t stop an object without affecting things sitting inside that object. In the earth’s case, there are some massive bodies of water that wouldn’t be very happy if you suddenly stopped the basins they normally stay in. Bearing in mind that, at the equator, the surface of the earth is moving at about a thousand miles an hour, it’s not hard to see such an event causing waves that would destroy the world. And this is to say nothing of the forces on the tectonic plates (expect massive amounts of geological activity), winds stronger than any hurricane all over the world, and the same force applied to you and everything around you. That said, God is powerful enough to stop all these things from happening, but that’s why this event would be a very big miracle.
However, there are reasons to believe that such an event is not what is being described here. Rather, according to John Walton’s essay “Joshua 10:12–15 and Mesopotamian Celestial Omen Texts”, Joshua is asking the Lord to make both the sun and the moon visible on… continue reading
James 2 and what it says about justification by works and faith made a lot more sense to me when I read this (in Carson and Moo’s “Introduction to the New Testament“):
James’s teaching in chapter 2 may be harmonized with Paul in at least two different ways. The first, and more popular of the two, argues that James is using the verb “justify” in the sense of “vindicate before people” (the verb is used this way in, e.g., Luke 7:29). Paul and James, then, are talking about different things: Paul of the declaration of our righteousness, and James of the demonstration of our righteousness. Another possibility is to take “justify” in James to mean “vindicate at the last judgment,” a force the word often has in Judaism (see Matt. 12:37). On this view, both Paul and James are referring to the sinner’s righteousness before God, but Paul is focusing on the initial reception of that status and James on the way that status in vindicated before God in the judgment.
I’d heard lots of explanations of the passage before, yet I’d never thought that James could be using “justify” in a different way to when we talk about “justification by faith alone”. It’s hard to read those big theological words without importing all the usual theological meaning we normally attach to them. I think it’s interesting that in the ESV, Luke 7:29 contains “they declared God just”, but the footnote says it’s literally “they justified God”.
Also, the reason for why James talks about faith and works and justification in this way could be because Paul’s teaching on justification by faith alone has gone out into the church, but has been misunderstood by some, and that misunderstood teaching is what James is writing against. It makes a bit more sense that James is responding to a misinterpretation of Paul’s teaching, but before he has a chance to clarify with Paul what his actual teaching is (at the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15), than that James is writing with full knowledge of what Paul’s teaching is.
A couple of weeks ago I bought my first ever Apple product, a 13” MacBook Air. Before I bought it, I had a desktop running Windows 7 and a tiny little netbook. The desktop is great, but it isn’t exactly portable, while the netbook really only gives a lightweight computing experience. Now that I’m working for myself, I have the freedom to work anywhere I want, but I also need the ability to work wherever I am. Getting a laptop was the obvious solution.
I have been thinking that I might get into iOS app development (for iPhones and iPads) sometime in the near future, and having a Mac of some sort is necessary for this. This was the first major reason I had for why I should get one. I have had vague thoughts for the last five years that, if I was to get a laptop, I would get an Apple, mostly because they’re aesthetically nice, and OS X can’t be too bad. But that’s hardly a compelling reason to spend upwards of $2000 when you’ve just quit your job.
Another major reason for getting one is that Windows and OS X render type different, and since I make websites that use all sorts of fonts, knowing what they look like on different platforms is quite important.
I was initially thinking that a 15” MacBook Pro would be the ideal choice, but I didn’t realise that the Airs were as good as they are. The main attraction of the 15” Pro over the 13” Pro is that it has a higher resolution screen, because the 13” Pro has a really quite low resolution screen (1280×800). But then I noticed the 13” Air and it looked quite nice. It had the same 1440×900 screen as the 15” Pro, and although it wasn’t as powerful, it certainly didn’t look slow on paper.
So then I had two options: the 13” MacBook Air, and the 15” MacBook Pro. The main differences, as far as I was concerned, were:
- The Pro cost $650 more.
- The Pro came with a 500GB HDD, while the Air had a 128GB SSD HDD (both of these could be made larger, and I could get an SSD with the Pro if I wanted to pay more).
- The Pro had a real graphics card.
- The Pro weighed…
I just found this short note I wrote way back in 2007 sitting somewhere on my computer:
I heard the funniest thing on a train today.
There were two girls, about 17, dressed up, fake tans and heels.
There was a group of four ticket inspectors standing a couple of meters away.
The girls started talking about what a group of ticket inspectors would be called.
The girls got off, and just after that the ticket inspectors went into the other carriage.
But before they had gone, one of them asked “what is the collective noun for us anyways?”
And one of them replied “I don’t know… assholes?”
Yesterday was my last day of work at the company I’d been working at for the last eighteen months. The plan now is to make great things and then hopefully make money from it. The main thing I’ll be working on now is an art critiquing website that will work. (Do you have photos that you want thorough and thoughtful feedback on? You want to use my site. Update: what I planned on building when I submitted my resignation, and what I ended up making, was a website for serious cyclists to track their riding.) I’m looking forward to it existing so that I can use it. But the purpose of this post isn’t to explain that, but to explain what led me to where I am today.
Firstly, I have lots of ideas for things I would love to create. I was recently lent a book called The E-Myth which categorises people into three types: technicians (who make things and understand details), entrepreneurs (who dream up new and innovative things) and managers (who get people to work together). Each person is all of those to varying degrees, but the book claims that most people starting businesses are technicians who have a burst of entrepreneurial inspiration. But I’m confident that I’m as much of an entrepreneur as I am a technician. I have many ideas for things I want to create, and when I submitted my resignation four weeks ago, I was planning on making something completely different.
Over the past year and a bit I have spent over three hundred hours making quite a few things. But I want more time — the fifteen hours or so I can find in a good week isn’t nearly enough. And, to add to that, I find my own ideas far more interesting than what I work on at work. This has nothing to do with my current job in particular — I can’t imagine that I’d feel much different if I worked at one of the places consistently recognised as the best places to work, such as Google or Adobe. Quitting work to be able to concentrate on my own things has sounded quite appealing for some time. As a caveat to that, I am aware that I’ll need to concentrate on just one of my ideas if I hope to turn it… continue reading
The short answer, based on my reading of his manifesto, is “no”.
Many people have labeled him as an insane, psychotic madman. Even his lawyer has said that he is most likely insane. However, this is not the impression that I get of him.
Taking inspiration from a number of authors, he has very strong anti-Islamic views. Although one may not agree with these, nothing about them makes Breivik insane. And as negative as his views might be, they’re not much more than a strong version of view that is not that uncommon. It’s not hard to find people who are far more critical of Islam than the average Westerner, or who are deeply disenfranchised with the way Europe is heading. There is a reason that a lot of his manifesto is copy and pasted from other works:
I have written approximately half of the compendium myself. The rest is a compilation of works from several courageous individuals throughout the world.
Even if Breivik has misrepresented some of his authors, this shouldn’t affect one’s assessment of his sanity. He’s hardly the only person to have [mis-]used another’s words for their own purposes.
It seems reasonable to me that, given how much time he spent on his manifesto, Breivik could have easily formed his opinions without the aid of any madness. He was working on the manifesto since 2002, including three years full time:
I’ve spent a total of 9 years of my life working on this project. The first five years were spent studying and creating a financial base, and the last three years was spent working full time with research, compilation and writing. Creating this compendium has personally cost me a total of 317 000 Euros (130 000 Euros spent from my own pocket and 187 500 Euros for loss of income during three years). All that, however, is barely noticeable compared to the sacrifices made in relation to the distribution of this book, the actual marketing operation;)
Can you guess what the “marketing operation” is? (Do you like the winking smiley?)
Furthermore, his strong opinions make even more sense given the way he tried to limit contact with others, especially near the end of the project. This deliberate isolation surely would have helped nurture his ideas. He was incredibly focused and judging (in the Myers-Briggs sense of the word), but… continue reading
It is popular to link violent crimes with violent video games. It didn’t take long for reports to claim that violent computer games were found at Breivik’s house. Nor did it take long for some to use this for their political advantage. However, since Breivik has published a 1500 page manifesto detailing all sorts of things, it is worth looking at this to see what he himself says about games.
Firstly, it should be noted that, despite the length of the document, there are very few things on games. There are massive sections on Islam and it’s evils, on how Europe (that is, “Christian Europe”) will be destroyed if the Islamic invasion isn’t stopped, on the current suicidal political structures, and on how the war against Islam should be fought, but there are only a few references that have anything to do with video games. It is ridiculous to suggest that video games provided any inspiration for Breivik’s actions.
As for what he does write in the manifesto, let’s start in a profile of himself, where he lists his hobbies and interests, some of which are games:
I took a year off when I was 25 and played WoW PvE hardcore for a year.
Conservatism - Alliance, human female mage – PvE, Server: Silvermoon
Conservative - Horde, tauren female resto druid – PvP, Server: Silvermoon
I raided hardcore and was a guild leader in a couple of hardcore guilds: Virtue, then Unit, Nordrassil – Rank 1 Alliance PvE. We transferred the guild to Silvermoon. I grew tired of running the guild and sorting recruitment issues so I joined Nevermore, another hardcore guild on Silvermoon (Rank 3). Silvermoon is the most progressed Alliance server in the world out of more than 300 servers (10 million + players worldwide) so the competition is extremely hard. This means we were one of the most progressed guilds in the world at one time. I can honestly say running a hardcore WoW guild is equally challenging to running your own business with 7 employees or more. It requires an extreme amount of work in order to be successful and get server first kills. It was a good experience and something I wanted to do at least a limited amount of time during a period of my life.
I’m currently playing Modern Warfare 2 casually.
And in another section:
I spent three years were I…