30 Things We Need / 30 Things We Don’t

I don’t usually like lists, but here’s one I can get behind:

Information / Wisdom (It’s better to understand than to know)
Shallow billionaires / Passionate teachers
Self-promotion / Self-awareness
Multitasking / Control of our attention (Can’t do two things at one; no-one can)
Inequality / Fairness (Income springs to mind)
Sugar / Lean protein (yes!)
Action / Reflection
Super sizes / Smaller portions (I need a smaller coffee cup)
Private jets / High-speed trains (Ontario especially suffers from a lack of transit)
Calculation / Passion (in the movies especially)
Experts / Learners (experts make problems worse)
Blaming / Taking responsibility
Judgment / Discernment (Judging is easy; discernment is hard)
Texting / Reading (Or long-form writing)
Anger / Empathy (Politics especially floats on a shallow sea of outrage; it’s so tiring)
Output / Depth (Don’t pay writers by the word!)
Constructive criticism / Thank-you notes
Possessions / Meaning (Memories and good friends don’t clutter up your house)
Righteousness / Doing the right thing
Answers / Curiosity (Yes! Don’t settle for the answer you get: Dig deeper)
Long hours / Longer sleep (This morning says yes)
Complaining / Gratitude (This is hard to do)
Sitting / Moving (Everything is built around sitting; moving a lot is difficult)
Selling / Authenticity (Although seeking authenticity is the opposite of authenticity)
Cynicism / Realistic optimism
Self-indulgence / Self-control (Ouch. This one’s for me. And banksters)
Speed / Renewal
Emails / Conversations (I remember the last really good conversation I had. It was with a stranger. I don’t really converse with my “friends” who on second though don’t really seem like friends at all)
Winning / Win-win
Immediate gratification / Sacrifice (This is starting to look like the New Testament in bullet points here)

Bullet points on the G-20

  • The G-20 site, the police build up, the protesters, the violence: It’s all artificial.
  • The site, Toronto, was chosen to showcase the city. Yet Toronto is pretty well known on the world stage. It’s not really hidden. And a summit of this type doesn’t give anyone a real positive image, you know? They could have chosen a remote Northern location (like Huntsville) to hold the G-20 and saved a billion dollars or so.
  • The police buildup wasn’t about the police buildup per se, and certainly wasn’t about the G-20. It was more about the Mr Harper’s crime & punishment mentality (that has failed so very brutally in the US), and his desire to give more powers and more equipment to the police. They got their new toys, a shitload of money, and the power to arrest people and search bags for no reason whatsoever (a policy that has failed so brutally in the UK)
  • The protests aren’t really about anything. They’re professional protesters who like to burn & break things. They bus in from other places, and the protests aren’t organic. Plus the protests were fairly small. Nothing much happened. The media are reacting like overactive children, the police are treating protesters like they’re the Vietcong, and our beloved Mayor Miller is running around flapping his hands like an angry chicken. Over a few burning police cars and a few broken windows. Compare that to, say, the 1999 WTO protest in Seattle. If anything, the protests have convincingly demonstrated that Canada is a hayseed backwater ruled by tinpot dictators and hysterical nannies.

Compact Discs, No Particular Order

Rush – Test For Echo
Newsboys – Take Me To Your Leader
The Decemberists – The Tain
Air – Talkie, Walkie
The Cansecos – Self-Titled
Wilco – Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
The Flaming Lips – Flight Test
Xiu Xiu – Fabulous Muscles
My Bloody Valentine – Loveless
The Echoing Green – Supernova
Mortal – Nu-En-Jin
Van Halen – Balance
BB King – Blues on the Bayou
Benny Goodman – Greatest Hits
Audio Adrenaline – Bloom
Audio Adrenaline – Some Kind of Zombie
Bright Eyes/Son, Ambulance – Oh Holy Fools
Hillsong United – Look to You (CD + DVD)
Hagood Hardy – Alone
Jars of Clay – Much Afraid
Jars of CLay – Self-Titled
Jamie Cullum – Twentysomething
Robbie Williams – Swing When You’re Winning
Dashboard Confessional – MTV Unplugged
Newsboys – Step Up to the Microphone
Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Lift Yr Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven
British Sea Power – The Decline of British Sea Power
Third Day – Wherever You Are
Boston – Don’t Look Back
Deep Purple – Perfect Stranger
Mr Big – Self-Titled
Lynyrd Skynyrd – Legend
Nazareth – No Vibe
Deep Purple – Purpendicular
Aerosmith – Nine Lives
Europe – The Final Countdown
Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Slow Riot for the New Zero Kanada EP
Russel Watson – Encore
Sev Static – Speak Life
Cadet – Cadet
Starflyer 59 – I Am The Portugese Blues
Boards – Geogaddi
The Rapture – Echoes
The White Stripes – Elephant
Listener – Whispermoon
Jars of Clay – Who We Are Instead
The Shins – Chutes Too Narrow
The Decemberists – Castaways and Cutouts
Grandaddy – Sumday
Silver Mt Zion – This Is Our Punk Rock
Explosions in the Sky – Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Live Forever
Coldplay – Parachutes
Derek Webb – The House Show
Explosions in the Sky – The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place
DC Talk – Jesus Freak
The Unicorns – Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone

Bullet Points for a Wednesday Morning [Snowpocalypse Edition]

  • Some things are just too long to fit on Twitter. Ironically, not this point, but still.
  • I love how all the commercial radio stations have this dramatic music for snowfall coverage. We’re Canadians, ladies. We’ve seen hundreds of these “winter storms”.< We're not going to fall apart when the first snowflake hits us. By the way, this is how you know commercial news people aren't really in the business of news anymore: If they're seeking to dramatize snow, then they're in the business of entertainment. Or maybe the business of stupidity. This is why I listen to CBC Radio 1.
  • Mark Trapgillistagenstein posted this article about fossils in some place in the US. Now, I understand there’s a legitimate debate going on in Christianity between the creationists, the don’t-know-ers, and the full-on evolutionists. But this doesn’t excuse the lack of basic scientific knowledge that seems so frighteningly rife in Christian circles. Look what one creationist says in the article: “Secular scientists stumble over the complexities of the natural world and continue to adjust the age of Earth to fit their theories.” My jaw is still on the floor from this ignorant, anti-science, anti-intellectual bit of absolute tripe. I’m hoping that the guy was trying to say something else and the whole thing just came out wrong. But still:
    1. Scientists don’t adjust the age of the earth to fit their theories, exactly. Their theories are built on evidence of how old the earth actually is. To represent this as if every time some scientist takes a long hot shower and has a great idea he’ll malevolently adjust the age of the earth on a whim? That’s the height of disingenuity. Come on, even creationists have had to say that the earth looks really, really old (and come up with great reasons why God would make an old-looking earth to trick the heathen scientists into being a little more heathen).
    2. It’s called the scientific method, stupid! That little process whereby we understand at least to some degree the basic structure of the universe? The process upon which all modern technology stands? Yeah, that one. Let’s not act like adjusting theories to fit evidence (and then adjusting the age of the earth to fit the theory based on the evidence) is some strange new innovation that no-one’s heard of yet.
    3. You call trying to understand complexity “stumbling” over it? Okay! If we must play word games, then creationists stumble over the imperfections in design that a perfect Creator apparently caused. There are some stunningly stupid things about the human body that creationism just overlooks. Sure, there’s complexity that is easily solved by the addition of a Six-Day Creator into the mix, but there’s also a lot of bio-sloppiness going that makes that same Creator look just a bit daft. So which one is it? You can’t have both.
  • So I need snow tires. The tires on my car aren’t bad, but they aren’t amazing either. They’re just… all-seasons. I don’t even know why they call them all-seasons. Marketing. They should call them death-in-winters.
  • Since I bought Laura a huge-ass ring for Christmas (to celebrate 2.5ish years), I also got myself an iPod touch. Really, really cool device. I hope it paves the way for a plethora of similar mobile devices with even better features. For instance, better screens, better touch controls, better predictive typing, better multi-application switching support, etc.

15 Books

Supposed Rules: Don’t take too long to think about it. Fifteen books you’ve read that will always stick with you. First fifteen you can recall in no more than 15 minutes. Tag 15 friends, etc, etc.

1. The Horse and His Boy (C.S. Lewis)
2. Velvet Elvis (Rob Bell)
3. Surprised By Hope (N.T. Wright)
4. Women, Slaves and Homosexuals (William J. Webb)
5. Gardens of the Moon (Steven Erikson)
6. The Darkness the Comes Before (R. Scott Bakker)
7. A Short History of Nearly Everything (Bill Bryson)
8. The Tipping Point (Malcolm Gladwell)
9. Salt (Adam Roberts)
10. Blindsight (Peter Watts)
11. Dune (Frank Herbert)
12. Endless Love (Scott Spencer)
13. Collected Poems (Paul Auster)
14. New Collected Poems (Mark Strand)
15. Swiss Family Robinson (Johann David Wyss)

HT to Chris Hubbs on this one. I tag no-one.

25 Facts About Me

Thanks for tagging me, Mr Steve Talley. I’ve needed to write something lately.

1) I think that a person can hold two opposing ideas in their head without having any cognitive dissonance whatsoever. You don’t have so be special to do so, you just have to be human. I think a lot of people have a lot of this going on and don’t realise it at all.

2) I bought an iPod once, thinking I would use it. I haven’t really used it and I’m pretty glad I only sprung for the 1gb model. iPods are useless to me.

3) Since I was 7, I’ve read Swiss Family Robinson 34 times. The last time I read it was last year, in the summer.

4) Laura and I went on our honeymoon to Cuba. We forgot to bring a camera. I think we were just so overwhelmed with being married that we just didn’t think about anything else, or at least not anything very clearly. Part of me is glad that we don’t have pictures so it remains one of those pleasant memories; the other half of me knows that one day I’m going to start forgetting things and I’ll wish with 100% of my being that I had pictures at that point.

5) Sometimes I think that there are certain bloodlines that don’t deserve to be propagated. I’m glad I don’t get to make those decisions: I would be incredibly harsh on my own relatives.

6) I don’t really like children. I can picture having some one day, but I think I’ll have to be a bit of a different person to raise them properly (or at all). Thankfully it doesn’t take long for me to become a different person, which is scary when you’re married to someone. When you’re married to someone that wants kids it’s more like a catch-22.

7) Back in the day I used to believe that any person could marry any person and they’d probably get on just fine. Having been married for a while to Laura, I almost want to believe that there’s one person for everyone. I mean, sure, there are some major dimensions in each other that we don’t understand (I have, for instance, never been able to sustain one of those conversations that starts with bread and ends with how our friends’ children look nothing at all like them), but that makes it all the more interesting, right? In most other areas we’re so closely tailored to each other it almost looks like we were designed for each other. Which is freaky, and I understand in some sort of predestination sense that that is in fact true, but from a human perspective? Freaky. Yet I still can’t bear to bring myself to believe that ridiculous modern trope of “completion” and “other half” and whatever other crap so many people believe about love; I think I’ve settled on some sort of compromise in which some people are better for each other than others.

8) I love semi-colons. I really do. If you aren’t using semi-colons, you’re missing out on life. Somewhat ironically, this paragraph doesn’t have any.

9) If I could pick any age to live it, it would be the 1920s. This is also Laura’s pick, oddly enough. I think, though, that the 1920s I have in my head is very different from the 1920s as it existed in the real world.

10) There is a very active world inside my head. You don’t want to know what goes on there. Sometimes I think I’m closer to normal than I think, but when I say something odd, people react negatively; I wish I could figure out if that’s because they’re the same way and overcompensating, or because they’ve genuinely never had a strange though in their lives. I realise this entire bullet point makes me sound like I have Asperger’s. I truly hope I don’t.

11) Books annoy me. The ones I’m supposed to like in order to “get” modern literary culture are the most boring, annoyingly cloying slog-fests imaginable. It seems that I find more enjoyment from low-brow hack-work than from what so many call “art”. I guess that’s okay, but I’m still puzzled about what they see in it. If it’s not enjoyable, why read it? Or do they really enjoy it? How? Then there are those Bourne novels that I swear you have to be only semi-literate to like. I guess I’m a half-snob.

12) I wish I could have one of those Star Trek experiences where you inhabit someone else’s body and then gain a better understand of what it’s like to be them and the plot resolves while you glow with new-found empathy. That never seems to happen, so I’m trapped over here trying to understand why you suck so much.

13) I’m a snob. I’m a snob about being a snob, though, so I think snobs suck pretty hard. This goes back to bullet point #1, maybe?

14) Growing up, I wasn’t allowed to watch much television, listen to much radio (except for 1010, and even then just the conservative talking heads, a phrase which on second though really doesn’t apply much to radio), listen to much music, or generally experience culture in any way. This is fine; I don’t begrudge my parents this at all because so much of it seems like crap to me. Yet its left me with this culture void where I don’t get jokes about the 80s and 90s, don’t understand the references, and what little I do know is basically from modern pop-culture referencing older pop-culture. I only started listening to popular music something like 10 years ago, and most of that was Christian music, most of which was complete shit. (If you want a reason to dislike Christian music you’re unable to find any reasons in scripture — because it isn’t there, you nitwit — try disliking it because almost the entire genre is offensively without artistic or any other value.)

15) I’m like to make people laugh. I identify strongly with the character of Chandler Bing on Friends, but not simply in “humour as a defense mechanism” sort of way. If you’re looking for a real me underneath the humour you’re liable to be very disappointed. I can be serious at the drop of a hat if that’s what’s called for, but at the end of the day cracking jokes is part of my identity. It helps that Laura has a wonderful sense of humour; I’ve dated girls who didn’t find me the least bit funny, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s pretty much a moral failing on their part.

16) I used to be that guy with the strong opinions, but I’m not that guy anymore. Okay, I am, but I have strong opinions on different things now. All those arguments we used to have in church on minor theological point? I’m sure they’re important and I’m sure someone has to hash those things out, but those things aren’t important to me anymore. This doesn’t mean that I’ve become some sort of post-modern weed-smoking hippie guru chanting nonsense at the moon (I’m pretty sure that’s Sigur Ros, actually), but I’m not entirely convinced that life is a series of either right or wrong decisions whose gravity can only be measured insofar as you can tease out the logic and argue the facts. Some things just aren’t wrong or right because they weren’t made wrong or right. Some things are definitely wrong and some things are definitely right. Those are the important things.

17) I disagree with President Obama on many issues. Yet it seems to me that his time in office is a needed relief from the Bush administration. Bush’s terms were so awful that words almost don’t do them justice. Plus, any of the words that I could use are almost certainly not fit for public consumption.

18) There are times when I think I do too many things almost well enough to do publicly, but none well enough to be proud of. If I’m any indication, all those Renaissance Men were driven to distraction by the desire to do everything.

19) I haven’t a clue what to write here.

20) I wish creativity could be turned on like a tip. I admire and dislike those people who can effortlessly bang out a decent tune, but I’m glad I’m not one of them. I like having to wrench out words like prying up flagstones.

21) I own three cats. Or three cats own me. You decide.

22) I love Monty Python SO MUCH.

23) We have about two meals of real food left in the house. I fear we may starve soon.

24) I have never watched a horror movie in my life and I don’t intend to.

25) I got spam (actual spam!) for Christmas from my brother-in-law. It’s not good stuff.

Bullet Points for a Tuesday Evening

  • It’s rare that I blog in the evening, much less that I assemble a list of bullet points in the evening, but I haven’t had a moment to slow down today.
  • The economy may be slowing down, but business is heating up at work. We’ve had several really solid sales days. If we could keep that up — by getting the salesmen to actually be on the road selling things! — we’d be rolling in it. Part of our current success is several new contracts with Bombardier and Heroux Devtek. Our tooling is knocking them dead. Though not literally, I hope.
  • Listening to Bloc Party’s Silent Alarm is an exercise in noticing they used to be fun and interesting to listen to but are no longer fun or interesting. Several big producers and big albums later and they’re just well-coordinated noise. Remember “Positive Tension”? Great song.
  • Nathan was playing a Collective Soul song at work today. It reminded me of a more innocent time, when the Mix 99.9 played actual music, and I was dating Laura #1. Not a particularly great time in my life, but still, a more innocent time. I drove a blue Saturn! (Was it blue?) It had those seatbelts that automatically sealed you into your seat but annoyingly required the lap belt to be done up manually. In any case, the point of this point is: Collective Soul sucks. They always have, and they always will. They aren’t innovative. They’re bland. They aren’t interesting. They’re stale. If you like them, that’s fine; just don’t expect me to share your excitement.
  • How I Met Your Mother is in the download queue! Yes!
  • It strikes me that morality is, after all, innate. A priori. Arts and Letters is right on that count.
  • Part of me wants the US government to bail out the banks. Another part of me wants the US government to nuke the banks from space. I’m torn.
  • Cats can really smell up a place real quick. Especially younger cats.
  • I’m reading “Dune” again right now. It’s a lot more interesting than I remember. But it’s still ruined by its surrounding novels, the prequels especially but also the sequels. Neither Herbert’s continuing vision or his son’s diving into its past have added anything to “Dune” but taken much away. It should be the only book in the canon.
  • I got something like 4 hours of sleep last night. I rather hope some of my friends’ sleep problems aren’t catching or anything like that.
  • People using the laptop on the toilet really freaks me out. What if, right now, you were talking to someone and you had no idea they were sitting on the can? That’s uncool!
  • I’m making a main course for a thing our church does. It’s called “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” and it’s a basically a way for people to meet other people they might not know. It’s pretty much awesome, but I haven’t the foggiest clue what to make for it. Do you people have any good recipes I should make? Keep in mind I can do multiple dishes!

Bullet Points for a Tuesday Noon Hour

  • How do you motivate people to do something they don’t want to do? Say you’re moving someone from an executive to a more sales-oriented role. And they don’t want to do it. Let’s say they use every possible excuse to avoid their new job, keep finding ways to do their old job despite access restrictions, and in the meantime generally get in the way. Oh, and let’s say it’s in a company with only one level of management and that level of management is afraid of conflict. One more thing… it’s all family. How do you do that?
  • Hiring family is generally a mistake. Nepotism has no place in business, not simply because it’s unfair, but because it’s destructive. Hiring family makes you weak: You have to choose, sometimes, between your family and your business. And of course you choose family. Hiring family makes hard choices much, much harder.
  • I feel like playing Monopoly sometime soon. I don’t know why. I just developed a hankering for the game.
  • Do you find that in-line spell checking makes you spell better? I don’t mean, does it help you make fewer mistakes. That’s pretty obvious. I mean, does it make you more likely to spell things right the first time? Do you dread that little wavy red line?
  • I’ve finished drinking some coffee that John at church gave me. I’m not sure if it’s Panamanian or Columbian or what, but it’s pretty good stuff. My favourite by far is still the coffee I bought in Cuba, of all places. Who ever heard of good Cuban coffee?
  • Speaking of good Cuban coffee, the cappuccinos Laura and I had in Cuba… wow. I don’t think I’ve ever had better coffee anywhere. I’m not kidding. We got up in the morning and stumbled bleary-eyed into the heat just to enjoy one of those bad boys. And it was worth it. No matter how swelteringly hot it was outside.
  • I have been married for a year and one month. That’s… crazy. But awesome at the same time.
  • God’s plans are so much better than my plans are. Even when he works through hard means. I can attest to this personally. He turns things to good.
  • Mom just showed up at the office and is now fetching me a coffee — I hope. Either that or she forgot totally and I shall remain with no coffee left.
  • How do you make a really good pulled pork dish anyways? I’ve made a few educated guesses, but I don’t really know.

Bullet Points for Monday Morning

  • Chris asks a good question via Twitter: Is there a way to do church without burning leaders out? I think the answer comes back to something Joel Main and I talked about the other week. There are different ways to do church. We assume that church always revolves around a couple guys, but is that really how it has to work? What if the church is more of a collaborative environment where more people get involved? And what if instead of creating programs and activities with the implicit goal of getting people involved in peripheral matters, why not embed them at the heart of the whole thing? Of course the quality will go down as people with varying talent levels get involved, but church isn’t a stage show or some kind of theatre. Maybe sacrificing some polish would be a good thing. If it spared people’s marriages and drew people in and made authentic community.
  • I’m beginning to hate the word “authentic”. It’s so over-used — and by me, too, yes — that the word itself seems inauthentic. Which makes me wonder if what we mean when we say “authentic” is actually just “cool”. That thing that as soon as it become mainstream becomes uncool. Or unauthentic.
  • There are people I usually like a great deal who turn into raging idiots around politics. They become incensed that “their party” is being “attacked” and so they go on the offensive and “defend” them. This is true of both Republicans and Democrats, both Liberals and Conservatives, but it seems to be worse with those who mix religion and politics. More to the point, people who genuinely believe that the Republican party is another arm for the body of Christ seem to get more upset when their precious idol is under attack. I don’t know why this is. I know and respect many Republicans and Democrats who don’t do this. I know many who are measured and rational. But there’s always a few who seem to think they’re helping. But they’re not. They’re making arses of themselves.
  • Today I’m going to have some sort of burger for lunch. But because I took public transit — which really isn’t public, as I still had to pay for it: Why do I have to pay for public transit but not public healthcare? — I’ll have to walk there. I need an hour lunch break for exactly that reason.
  • I went to Nick’s profession of faith yesterday. It strikes me that before any of us go after the Catholic church for whatever doctrinal failings that branch of Christendom may espouse, we should clean up our own houses first. Especially when we’re still perpetuating a bunch of baroque rituals whose purposes are exemplary but whose roots are not in scripture. Even when you know the rituals aren’t grounded in scripture, and you can say as much. You can know what you like and say what you like but what you do is what matters. If you tacitly or implicitly put something on the level of scripture, you have absolutely no right to speak up against those who do so vocally and in the open.
  • I am hungry!
  • Laura and I went into Toronto for a while on Saturday and just walked around for a long time. It was fun: We don’t go to Toronto enough, it seems, even though we live on the border of Mississauga and Toronto. All this to say that one day I would very much like to live in downtown Toronto. Maybe not something as posh as Queen’s Quay, but something close to everything. It’s a grand city. Or, as Torontonians seem to blather on about, it’s a world-class city.
  • And that’s it folks! Also, I hope Obama wins. He’s the lesser of two evils, and I’m a great fan of rhetoric. Ever since I watched the West Wing, it seems, and developed a peripatetic crush on Aaron Sorkin.


Bryan asks an interesting set of questions.

1. What time do you usually leave for lunch?

Anywhere from 1130 to 1230 depending on what’s happening at work. The odd time I skip the whole dog and pony show altogether, but most days I take it.

2. How long do you usually take for lunch?

I get a half hour as mandated by Ontario law, and that’s it. Most days I’m under that. Rarely, I go over by a few minutes.

3. Ever eat lunch at home?

I suppose I could, as I live 10 minutes from home, but I dislike driving enough already thankyouverymuch.

4. What are your favorite places to eat out for Work Lunch?

Wendy’s or The Country Kitchen (part of Highland Farms). I don’t do that as often these days.

5. How often do you bring food in from home?

Almost every day. We always have something around here, even if it’s just a sandwich with lettuce, ham, provalone, horseradish mayonnaise, mustard, and pepper.

6. Are you a lone ranger or a community eater?

I don’t like eating with people. I’m solitary. Groups of larger than two — especially people I don’t know — make me long for solitude.

7. How often does your company pay for your lunch?

Never in a blue moon would my company pay for lunch. Well, there was that one time with the pizza.

8. What is your favourite lunch meal of all time?

Left-over pasta that I made. Especially angel hair noodles with a really nice sauce. The ground beef, Spanish onions, green onions, green pepper, red pepper, garlic, and diced Roma tomatoes kind. Kills me.