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📚 Finished Reading: The Feather Thief

thefeatherthief.jpg


The Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson ⭐⭐⭐⭐. Recommended

Based on the topics (bird feathers, museums, thieves) I wasn’t very excited about this book, but it was selected as a book club book for work. I’m glad I read it, as it was very good. Like a Michael Lewis book, it reads much more like a story (or stories) of people, and it gave unique insights into deep subcultures. I don’t want to spoil it further. Recommended!

Read it and want to discuss? Hit me up!


Tagged: Nonfiction


Originally posted at Hey World

Sunday Quote 📑

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Crucial Conversations is an important book with a very helpful perspective.

If I go into an challenging discussion just trying to get my way, I’m not helping the situation. If I go into a challenging discussion acting like I care about the other person’s perspective, I’m still not helping the situation. It’s only when I actually care about their perspective that we can find a wise path forward.

Are there discussions you’ve been avoiding? Do you have the capacity to care about their perspective? Do you have courage to have the talk?

May you live a bold and caring week ahead!


Tagged: Grow


Originally posted at Hey World

Saturday Creek Stomping

We’ve had some great spring rains over the last few days. The robins are feasting, big time. I figured our neighborhood runoffs and creeks would be in rare form, as they tend to be after some good rains. So, I got my rain jacket, my "amphibious" sandals, left my phone at home, and headed off for a splash.

First fun thing I saw today was a pair of ducks that seemed understandably wary of me, but otherwise seemed to be loving the weather.

Next, I noticed somebody has been planting (grafting, maybe?) heritage raspberries along the back side of one of the runoff creeks. I couldn’t identify them at this stage, but they were labeled and had stakes to help them grow. I fixed one that had lost its support. I don’t know how safe those will be for human consumption due to the runoff from parking lots (if you have thoughts, please share!) but they should be a nice addition at least for the animal life.

I couldn’t navigate everywhere I wanted, due to the depth and speed of the water, but I had a lot of fun. This reminds me that I’d like to get some nice waders. (Any recommendations?)

On the way back, I startled a rabbit. We spent some time watching each other, and it was good. The bun was a little wet from the rain but still fluffed up, finding shelter under a neighbor’s trailer, and looking warm.

I love these little local jaunts, and hope someday to have a place where the jaunts are even better.

IMG_0546.JPG


Happy spring to you!

-Todd


Originally posted at Hey World

Sunday Quote 📑 Easter Edition

Both of these came up in my Favorites review, today:

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Hallelujah! Jesus has conquered the forces of death.

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So let us do our part to keep the resurrection going, to keep redeeming, to keep bringing life.

Happy Easter!


Originally posted at Hey World

Jelly Bean Prayer

When you take a jelly bean, examine the color, listen, and offer a short prayer.

jelly beans.png


  • Pink: Where has the Spirit been moving? Do you sense any prompting?
  • Red: What are you avoiding? Where do you need support?
  • Orange: Name a blessing. Express gratitude.
  • Yellow: What have you lost? What hurts? Cry out.
  • Green: Where is there new life? What needs redemption or resurrection?
  • Purple: Reflect on the life & teachings of Jesus. Where should you follow?
  • Black: Memento Mori. Consider your death.
  • White: Where do you sense peace? Where can you help make peace?

I invented this prayer yesterday during our now-annual Good Friday bonfire service. Thanks to my spouse for helping with the colors. 

May this be useful to you.



Originally posted at Hey World

Friday: Good Reads

Happy Friday. Happy Good Friday.

This is the Friday roundup/reminder for things I enjoyed reading this week: linked here. Stories and topics include:
  • a few minimal technology ideas
  • good news and some warnings re: the health of our planet
  • Brood X - the incoming cyclic cicadas
  • a Bruderhof take on nonviolence
  • octopod dreaming
  • warnings about the voter-suppression movements happening in the USA
  • and much more

This week, I wrote about:

Read anything you liked this week? Let me know!


Originally posted at Hey World

I recommend Readwise

If you’re an avid reader like I am, I heartily recommend Readwise.io

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Every day I read through 15 or more of the highlights (and associated notes) I’ve made from things I’ve read (books, articles, tweets). It’s a great way to retain the best information, reflect on lessons, and synthesize new ideas from different sources.

I also export my book highlights into my books pages (that’s where you will sometimes see a “exported notes and highlights” section on nonfiction). If I listened to the audiobook, I’ll hand jot some notes instead, but I opt in for seeing other peoples top highlights in Readwise for those books. Those stylized graphics I use for quotes? Also courtesy of Readwise!

For daily reviews, I’m #54 on the leaderboard and determined to get to the top.


Originally posted at Hey World

📚 Finished Reading: Harrow the Ninth

Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Tagged: Fiction


This is the second in a series of mega-horror, murder-mystery, sci-fi, fantasy, all-the-genres books.

You may not guess it based on giving it 4 stars, but it took me a long time to get through this book. Why? Because it’s tough.

Look, I’m not dumb, but this book often made me feel almost-dumb. With a plethora of fringe vocabulary, deep mysteries, strange perspectives, unreliable narrators, and a significant plotline that appears to contradict the whole first book…it was a challenge to wrap my head around.

Here’s the thing though: I like to be challenged in my reading. It’s just that this was a fiction book and therefore a “before bed” read, meaning I often didn’t get far with it before going to sleep.

It takes about 4/5ths of the book before things start to come together, but it’s worth the wait.

I’m looking forward to book 3!

Further reading:
Gideon the Ninth, the first in the series. Also ⭐⭐⭐⭐



Originally posted at Hey World

Guiding Principles

Have you ever written Guiding Principles?

Guiding principles are a set of statements about how we will act, based on what we believe.

Maybe you have them for an organization where you work or volunteer? Maybe you have some for your church or other group?

In my world, I also wrote 6 Guiding Principles for my team at work (written with my team at work), aligned to our corporate Guiding Principles, but adding more specifics based on the type of work my team must do.

I also have a personal document where I am writing and evolving my own Guiding Principles and Operating Procedures. (Operating Procedures work similarly, but are aimed at a more detailed level, helping to forge habits by having a pre-defined decision on how to act in particular situations.)

As part of my Monday morning weekly planning, I look over my Guiding Principles as a way of reminding myself what’s important and how to act accordingly. 

Do you do anything like this?
Would it be valuable to share more about my principles?


-Todd


Originally posted at Hey World

Security Tax

In one of the early days of the I am the Cavalry movement, I heard this useful phrase from someone who has done a great deal of work in healthcare:
 
"If you can’t afford to protect it, you can’t afford to deploy it."

Unfortunately, many services treat basic privacy & security features as an add-on, rather than table-stakes for operating.

One frequent model is for services to market themselves at the user level, grow a userbase, and then charge organizations to manage access and security. (Yammer and Slack grew this way, for example, as have many others.)

I recently came across this resource that is specifically fighting the SSO (single-sign-on) security tax.

They explain why SSO should be a default in many services, or at least a reasonable upcharge. There’s also a table of data showing the delta between normal price and SSO-included price. Take a look!

Now, I’m not saying all services require SSO. I’m not saying all services need advanced security & privacy features. But each SaaS provider should look at the incentives they are creating, consider the needs of their users, and act accordingly.


tagged: @security


Originally posted at Hey World

Lean Security - Introduction

A little while back, I was having a conversation with my company’s CTO. We were discussing what engineering behaviors we wanted to encourage to continue to promote trust and safety.

How do we build in helpful behaviors? How do we make doing the right thing easy? How do we make things repeatable, scalable, and resilient? How do we spend our time on the most valuable things?

There are, of course, multiple interesting answers to these questions and many things our teams are doing to excel in these areas. But one of the things that came out of this discussion was that our CTO was having engineering leaders go back and read the (now classic) book, Lean Software Development: An Agile Toolkit by Mary and Tom Poppendiek.

So, I decided to do the same, and I also planned to share the lessons with my direct team (of Business Information Security Officers) and the broader team of Risk & Security. One of the BISOs on my team (who has also read the book) has also volunteered to work with me on materials. We’ve got a great partner, too, who will help us turn the lessons and principles into handy resources that the broader team can use.

So what is this writing for, then? This is my out-loud pre-work before we make those materials for the team.

I’m calling this series “Lean Security” instead of “Lean Software Development” because I’m coming at it from these two angles:

  • What do risk & security professionals need to understand about their product & engineering customers?
  • What elements from Lean Software Development also apply to security practices & products?

We have to be careful with the second bullet. Why? This is covered in the introduction of the book:

Lean Software Development.png


What’s the difference, you might ask?

Lean Software Development (2).png


With that in mind, we’ll focus on the principles. We’ll reflect on how security practitioners can be good partners with alignment to people practicing Lean Software Development. We’ll reflect on what security Practices we might follow to carry out lean Principles.

Here’s the refresher of the Principles:

  1. Eliminate Waste
  2. Amplify Learning
  3. Decide as Late as Possible
  4. Deliver as Fast as Possible
  5. Empower the Team
  6. Build Integrity In
  7. See the Whole

Future posts in the series will cover each principle.

I’m happy to hear your thoughts, questions, or insights along the way!


tagged: Security



Originally posted at Hey World

Sunday Quote 📑

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This is a quote I have in my favorites simply so that I get the reminder frequently.

In another of his books (Food Rules) Pollan also says:

The banquet is in the first bite

and

No other bite will taste as good as the first, and every subsequent bite will progressively diminish in satisfaction.

and

…as you go on, you’ll be getting more calories, but not necessarily more pleasure.

In many attentive eating paradigms (the works of Michael Pollan, mindful eating, intuitive eating, Naturally Slim, etc.), there is a focus on really paying attention to and enjoying what we are eating.

Part of the unhealthy habits many of us have learned around food contribute to food moving from something to savor to something to consume. Like other parts of consumer culture, we look for the latest “advances”, the best bang-for-our-buck, the quickest thing, the most popular thing, the best advertised thing, or the super-utilitarian-just-get-the-nutrients-in-me thing.

Whichever of these we drift towards, our relationship with food moves away from thinking of food as something to enjoy in-and-of-itself, shifts away from cultural food traditions (with all their accumulated wisdom), and shifts away from (non-performative) eating with our community.

This reminder, then, is a simple call back to paying attention to what is being eaten. 

Take a small bite.
How does it smell?
How does it feel?
How does it taste?
Does it change as I chew or as it lingers in my mouth?

Following this paradigm, a few things happen:

  1. I enjoy my food much more
  2. I’m amazed how the tiniest of bites can give as much (or more) satisfaction as a large one
  3. I realize that after more than a few bites of anything, I’m not enjoying anymore, but merely consuming
  4. I realize my fullness much more quickly
  5. I can eat my foods in any order I want, because I won’t overdue it with anything on my plate, but know I will move on once I am no longer enjoying that item

Now, there is one big exception to this “intuitive” approach to eating. Some of these programs handle it, others may not. 

SUGAR is basically a drug.

Sugar makes us more hungry. Seriously. Because of the way fructose and glucose work in the body, having sugar (and even simple carbs, which are effectively glucose) causes our bodies to store fat and ramp up our appetite. So, “intuition” gets short-circuited by our biological processes.

Pollan has lots of advice to help avoid this trap. Naturally Slim advocates cutting sugar. I’m not sure if Intuitive Eating handles it. (email me if you know?)

Because I used a Pollan quote related to dessert, let me pair it with these other practices from Food Rules, in order to present the more-complete picture. Bold is Pollan’s wording, italics are my comments.

  • 4 Avoid food products that contain high-fructose corn syrup.
  • 5 Avoid foods that have some form of sugar (or sweetener) listed among the top three ingredients.
  • 35 Eat sweet foods as you find them in nature. (e.g. whole fruit with fiber)
  • 37 “The whiter the bread, the sooner you’ll be dead.”
  • 39 Eat all the junk food you want as long as you cook it yourself. (e.g. if you want pie, chips, or ice cream you gotta make it from the raw ingredients!)

In the week ahead, this is a good reminder for me to be mindful. To eat rather than consume. May it be helpful for you, as well.

tagged: @Eat

-Todd


Originally posted at Hey World

Pen Pals

At the end of 2020, I started exchanging correspondences with people. It was a delight…at first.

It’s fun to put real pen to real paper. It’s fun to give and receive. It’s fun to find something in the mail.

I found myself feeling a bit overwhelmed with the prospect of writing back, over time. As I contemplated this, I realized that I felt mounting expectations from longer correspondences, and the idea of having to cover things just so or in a specific way. So here’s the rule I’m using to get me back into it:

  • Postcard only

I’ve got plain craft postcards that will be my default, though I have some other postcards I could use, too. This constraint will help with my creativity and responsiveness. I may open back up to longer letters as I’m back in the flow, but this is how I’m getting back to it, for now.

So, if you’re one of those folks waiting to hear back, it will hopefully not be much longer! I plan to finish any open threads this Sunday.

If you want to become pen pals, send me an email first and we’ll work it out.


-Todd


Originally posted at Hey World

My Keto Question on the Peter Attia Drive Podcast 🎙

One of my favorite podcasts is The Peter Attia Drive. Every episode they go deep into topics related to health and longevity. These are not always biological and medical, sometimes topics can go into psychology, personal development, etc.

They’ve had many deep dives on various issues of metabolism and metabolic syndrome, something that we are seeing is at the heart of many modern chronic diseases. I was connecting the dots among a few episodes, and had some questions, which I submitted.

On the latest Ask Me Anything episode, they addressed my question. I’m copying that part of the show notes here, under fair use. If you want to hear the AMA episode(s) or get access to show notes and other benefits, please become a subscriber.


From AMA 21:
     
Electrolyte supplementation during fasting and keto, and why uric acid may increase [59:30]

After listening to the Dom D’Agostino AMAs (Part 1 and Part 2) and the Rick Johnson episode, a subscriber has a question about electrolyte supplements as well as about salt and uric acid and ketogenesis:

If salt does this conversion to fructose in the body, how is that affecting keto?

  • “Good question. I don’t think I know the answer.” says Peter
  • As a general rule, the salt supplementation in keto is really not necessary for everyone, and personally for Peter, he doesn’t find it necessary during his brief periods of keto (and even when he’s short periods of fasting)
  • However, during the longer fasts, Peter does need sodium, but that’s because he’s not eating food and he’s trying to just get sodium back to normal levels
  • In keto, he does not supplement sodium at all, but he does supplement magnesium
  • Again, when he’s fasting, he needs more magnesium and sodium, but that’s just to bring him up to what he’s not getting with his nutrition

Potential change in uric acid
  • Peter says why uric acid may increase is an interesting question and he’s not sure he knows the answer
  • But he has some thoughts on it…
    • First, we clearly see uric acid spike during a fast
    • And, there’s probably also an increase during ketosis
      •  Is it transient in ketosis?
      •  If so, is it because uric acid and BHB are competing for the same transporters in the kidney? ⇒ That would obviously explain why you would see it in a fast
    • An alternative explanation, which doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive, is that uric acid is going up because of the turnover of DNA that would take place during a fast, vis-a-vis autophagy and things like that.


Originally posted at Hey World

Processing my Leadership Competency Survey

Yes, I’m processing these “out loud” on the Internet. Writing helps me work through it and keeps me honest to myself. I won’t share all the details, but will share a few notes along the way.

The Background:
All the leaders in my broader group (think: my boss’s boss’s group, about 800 people) are going through a leadership curriculum. As part of this, we had a leadership competency survey that went to our manager, a small number of self-selected peers, and a small number of self-selected stakeholders. There were 27 questions rated 1-5, with 3 questions for each of the 9 competencies that were being measured.

Initial Observations:
  1. Benchmark: One of the first things I looked at was whether I exceeded the benchmark score. This was not simple vanity: it’s at the top of the report. The summary shows how I scored myself overall, how each of the respondent groups rated me overall, and how the broader respondents rated everybody (the benchmark). I’m happy to see that I exceeded the benchmark, but without a view of the distribution I can’t tell for sure how significant the difference is. I realize I should not spend too much time here, as it’s comparative with others and not necessarily fruitful.
  2. Perception Gaps: Next, the survey advises to be wary of gaps between the self-rating and those of respondents, or between types of respondents. They suggest that 1 point (in either direction) is cause for concern. I’ve made progress here! In other community assessments (e.g. EQ360) in years past, I significantly underrated myself. I’m pleased that I still erred towards under-estimation, and that the margin of under-estimation has dropped to 0.28 points (on that 5-point rating scale). My goal is to continue to get that closer to 0, but as long as there is an error, I’d rather it be on the side of under-estimation. I had no major gap between respondent group types, which indicates I’m not overly-prioritizing some audiences over others. Later in the report we’ll look at gaps on specific rating areas.
  3. Competencies: Across the 9 competencies, mine were all clustered around the same rating (only 0.27 difference between my best and worst), with scores I’m happy with. The only surprising result here was “Dare to Be Curious” being my worst. Why? Because curiosity is one of my primary approaches, especially in challenging moments or situations. Looking at the three questions that contributed to that competency rating, my lowest result (4.6) was for “Asks the ‘right’ questions to size up or evaluate situations”. I know that sometimes I go too quickly to brainstorming and solving instead of asking coaching-style questions. I’ll continue to work on this practice. Here is the ranking of my competencies, in order:
    1. Model the Way
    2. Value Every Voice
    3. Respect Differences
    4. Connect with Purpose
    5. Improve and Grow
    6. Partner for Success
    7. Embrace Transparency
    8. Make it Happen Today
    9. Dare to Be Curious

Breakdown:
I like the way they’ve looked at the four quadrants based on self-rating and respondent rating. E.g.:
quadrants.png
Note: These are analyzed at the 27-question level, not the 9 competencies.

  1. Strengths: These are the top 5 areas. As with StrengthsFinder I should lean into these. I am glad all of these are in the Strengths section:
    1. Welcomes the contributions of team members
    2. Treats people with respect
    3. Keeps others informed about decisions that affect their job
    4. Openly discusses my career path goals with me
    5. Demonstrates strong business/personal ethics
  2. Areas for Improvement: These are my bottom 5 areas. These are questions where the answers are a little painful and represent my biggest development opportunities. I’m not going to beat myself up about these, because even my worst was a good score (4.56 out of 5), but they are still places where I can and will continue to grow.
    1. Fosters an environment where employees want to do their best
    2. Asks the “right” questions to size up or evaluate situations
    3. Understands how to get things done through formal/informal processes and procedures
    4. Openly shares mistakes, shortcomings and failures to help others learn and avoid similar issues
    5. Has the ability to link long-range visions and concepts to daily work
  3. Hidden Strengths: Earlier, we talked about how being off by a whole point could be a gap in perception. Well, these are the two questions where I scored myself a point less than my respondents (I gave myself a 4 and they gave me a 5). I should update my perspective in these areas:
    1. Treats people with respect
    2. Keeps others informed about decisions that affect their job
  4. Blind Spots: none! There were no questions where I gave myself a point more than the respondents did. I’m very happy to see that. 

This was a good experience to go through. I’ll look to lean in more to my strengths, continue to work on my areas for improvement, and update my perceptions of my skills.


Originally posted at Hey World

Sunday Quote 📑

No Time to Spare.png


As is often the case, Le Guin shares an insight that is simultaneously cutting-and-beautiful.

What she’s described here gets at why I like and prefer the term


This post was cutoff because we are still debugging crossposting from Hey.com. See the original here.

How I take my daily notes in Craft

I’ve used Evernote, Roam, Obsidian, Notion, Bear, Drafts, IA Writer, various Zettelkasten tools, and many other systems to try to organize all my notes. But none of them have worked for me like Craft.do has.

I can’t put my finger exactly on why it’s the winner, but it’s some combination of features, speed, visual appeal/distinctiveness, and customer-responsiveness. (The price point is great, too!)

I have three different workspaces:

  1. My second brain/public notes/digital garden (link)
  2. Personal notes & tasks (what we’re here to talk about today!)
  3. A shared space for home & family1

So, how am I handling my personal notes & tasks? Let’s dive in.

Considerations

I want notes to be easy-to-enter. I want them to accommodate both daily planning, ongoing note-taking, and tie-ins to project, people, or topic pages.

I like the idea of Leuchtturm’s 5-year journals, which give the ability to look back on what I was doing this day in previous years. But, for me, it’s hard for me to to keep a good habit of writing in them.

The Setup

I created a top level page (a “Document”, in Craft parlance) called “Dailies”. I made it one of my Starred Documents for easy access.

“Dailies” has sub-pages for each month. Each of those subpages has day subpages. Here’s what that looks like.

Let me explain a few things you’re seeing here.

First, sub-pages show a bit of their internal content, by default2. I didn’t start until the 10th of January, so that’s why you’ll see January’s first internal entry being “10”.

Second, you’ll see March is empty but April is not. This is because I created the April 1st entry ahead of time, because I have something planned (for April Fools). This is an intended feature of my system: the ability to put a note or task on a future date, so that I see it when I get there.

Third, you’ll see the bottom of this page (and all pages) have a “Links To This Page” section. These are backlinks, an important feature. Craft supports linking to pages, subpages, and lines/blocks to show the backlinks on the page that is being referenced elsewhere.3

The Month

Ok, so what does it look like when we dive into a month? Here’s that April view.

I went ahead and created the 2nd through 10th subpages, so you can see how the month view shows up. There’s nothing particularly exciting about the monthly subpage. It’s just a container.

But, as you can see with April 1st, I’m setup so that there’s a little preview of the top content for each day.

Let’s move on to…

The Day

Ok, this is the heart of it, then. Here’s how I might take notes for a day:

Again, a few points to note:

You can see in the upper left the hierarchy of notes I’m “in”. This is in my Dailies page, February subpage, and 19th page.

To get that year-over-year view, I’m using a toggle list feature to create a section for the year (and then for future years). This allows me to open the toggle and review previous years when I first open the note in future years, but then close the toggle to focus on the current date/year.

My notes are a combination of things I want to accomplish, things I’m considering, and micro-journaling of what I do throughout the day.

All of these lines can be subpages themselves (meaning I can go into it and take more notes), or can contain links to other pages, subpages, or blocks within my workspace. I often link to pages I’ve created for projects, people, or topics. (and then on that page I can see backlinks to this reference!)

The tasks can be checked off and completed.

Finally, just as I’ve linked out to other places, I have backlinks inbound to this date from other places. I can follow those links to see the connections.

Not pictured: I can add in-app sketches, scanned notes, documents, or images to my daily page.

Other Factors

I also keep a document that is my intake document, so all items that come in from OSX or iOS sharesheet go there first.

I have templates, including day start, week start, and week end. These include processing that intake inbox, making sure new notes have the correct home, and completing my planning and review activities.

Conclusion

I’m finding this process works very well for me. It’s easy to stick with. It let’s me keep everything in one place. It lets me find and search for what I need, easily. It’s not ugly. It’s fun to work with.

Would something like this work for you? What questions do you have?


  1. Note: the 2nd and 3rd spaces will move to “Craft Connect” and “offline spaces” for additional privacy and control, when those become available in the near future. [return]
  2. Though as with much in Craft, you can edit how things are visualized, more-so even than in some word-processing documents, and including in some ways that are unique to Craft. [return]
  3. You can’t see unlinked references to a page, yet, but this is a feature they are considering. [return]

43

Photo by Hans Eiskonen on Unsplash

There are six things that the Lord hates, even seven things that are an abomination:

haughty eyes,

a lying tongue,

and hands that shed innocent blood,

a heart that devises wicked plans,

feet that are swift to run to evil,

a false witness who pours out lies,

and a person who spreads discord among family members.

Proverbs 6: 16-19


43: the number of senators who were too scared or too shortsighted to vote in favor of conviction.

Unfortunately, it’s not surprising that the vote did not pass. More interesting is that there were actually 7 brave senators who did the right thing. In the modern USA, tribal affiliation & licentious grandstanding are much more important than truth, liberty, or justice.

“This is not who we are”, people said after mobs attacked congress. But unfortunately, it is part of who we are. And the result of this vote is another signal that it is part of who we are and who we will continue to be.

That is why I said “shortsighted”: far too many people are continuing to normalize lying and violence as acceptable means to achieve political goals. This is the road to ruin.1

This vote (and continued denialist behavior) all-but-guarantees that we will have more political violence. Further, the next populist & would-be-autocrat is unlikely to be as bumbling as 45, and much more capable at helping the powerful & politically-connected at the cost of everyone else.

All with good will towards humanity should seek to prevent the rise of the next dangerous populist, and to limit the harm that they can do if they gain power.

Here are some of the things Christians are called to do:

  • Speak truth and refuse conspiracy, lies, and false witness2
  • Love our neighbors and the people we encounter, especially ones unlike us3
  • When we feel a loss of power & privilege, feel maligned, or have been harmed: love our enemies & persecutors and pray for them4
  • Seek the good of the poor, the prisoner, the ailing, the oppressed5, the widow, the orphan, and the foreigner6
  • Dismantle our weapons and create tools that support life7

  1. Lying and violence are especially being normalized for groups that already have great power, with peaceful protests from among the marginalized being attacked and labeled as terrorism. This combination is not only the road to ruin but the road to fascism. [return]
  2. Exodus 20:16 [return]
  3. Luke 10: 25-37 [return]
  4. Matthew 5: 43-48 [return]
  5. Luke 4: [return]
  6. Zechariah 7: 8-10 [return]
  7. Isaiah 2:4 and Micah 4:3 [return]

Questions for people who say “politically correct” and “cancel culture”

  • Do you think it’s wrong to extend basic decency to people in the way we talk to them and about them?
  • Do you think it’s wrong for there to be consequences for our behavior?
  • Do you agree actions (especially harmful actions) have consequences, but are afraid there are too many, too much?
  • Do you personally know someone who has lost their livelihood due to a truly minor offense?
  • Are you allowing people to manipulate you into being more scared of consequences than you need to be?
  • Why do you suppose someone might be pushing to create fear, paranoia, and sense of persecution?
  • What ends might that push be serving?

Knowing My Strengths

Do you know your top strengths? When it comes to personal assessments, the Strengthsfinder (or Clifton Strengths) is my favorite. Based on research from Gallup, Strengthsfinder looks at 34 different themes, and helps you understand what your best approaches are.

You can get the Strengthsfinder 2.0 book here. It includes a code to take the short assessment and receive your top 5 strengths. (You can also unlock more of your strengths on their site.)

The research behind the strengths shows that we can make a much bigger difference by leaning into our strengths than by focusing on our weaknesses. While we might need a certain level of baseline proficiency for some roles & responsibilities, after meeting those requirements, our time is most impactful if spent on the ways where we do our best.

My top ten strengths are the following:

  1. Activator (I)
  2. Intellection (S)
  3. Analytical (S)
  4. Ideation (S)
  5. Command (I)
  6. Connectedness ®
  7. Input (S)
  8. Strategic (S)
  9. Learner (S)
  10. Self-Assurance (I)

You may be wondering about the letter after each (or the corresponding color above). Let me explain that first. The 34 strengths are grouped into 4 categories of themes, based on how they relate to leadership.

  • “I” stands for “influencing”. My #1 strength and 2 more of my top strengths are related to influencing.
  • “S” stands for “strategic thinking”. A whopping 6 of my top strengths are related to strategic thinking.
  • “R” stands for “relationship building”. Connectedness is my top strength related to relationship building and Individualization (not pictured) is my second highest.
  • “E” stands for “executing”. Belief and Responsibility (not pictured) are my top strengths related to execution.

With all that explained, what is the overall summary of my top strengths, and what do they say about the way I best approach life?

Strategic Thinking is a major theme

There are 8 themes related to Strategic Thinking, and they dominate my top strengths.

If you know me at all, you’ve probably noticed that I’m continually learning, collecting insights, sifting through information to find the signals in the noise, clarifying situations, engaging in deep conversations, imagining possible futures, brainstorming, asking tough questions, analyzing paths of possible success & failure, and spending time in intentional reflection.

My Strategic Thinking strengths mean that I can be a major help when it comes to creating a vision, breaking new ground, developing new ideas, setting direction, focusing our attention on what matters, changing systems, and accounting for changing factors.

But there’s always a downside, right? With so many strengths related to Strategic Thinking, there is a chance that nothing comes of all that thinking. Analysis paralysis. Theory without practice. Cheap talk.

All this strategic thinking needs to actually be useful.

So what are we going to do about it?

We need an antidote for thought-without-action. Luckily, Activator, my #1 strength, is just what the doctor ordered! The Activator theme is precisely about turning thoughts into action.

Leading from this strength means I’m always looking at what’s next, bringing energy and excitement to it. Having a vision of a future is great, but it starts to become reality when I’m spurring myself and others to actually get moving in that direction. I don’t leave important conversation without concrete next steps, even if those steps are small ones. Building on that excitement and momentum is key to getting change happening.

Activator, combined with my Strategic Thinking strengths, means I’m eager to actually test out theories and get rapid feedback. We can get real data to know if the approach needs to change, move full speed ahead, or be shelved to make room for something better. Innovative ideas plus rapid feedback cycles are how we evolve.

My so-far-unmentioned top talents also relate to Activator, too. With Connectedness, I am often bringing people together and sharing the broader picture, both of which helps people rally around the cause. Command and Self-Assurance mean people often look to me to make tough decisions in risky situations, reassure or inspire them, and help remove roadblocks & barriers. These, too, help us make progress even with things are hard.

But again, there is a drawback to all this quick movement, motivation, and momentum. I can impatient and tough. I have to be careful not to set too high of standards or push too hard, or I risk burnout and hurting relationships. To counter this, I must repeatedly go back to the Strategic Thinking strengths: pushing hard only where it makes a big & lasting difference, making sure we have time to recharge & reflect, and adapting systems to make changes more sustainable.

What about you?

Do you know your strengths? How do you use them?

on Cakes and Violence

Let’s consider these two opinions together:

  • A business shouldn’t have to sell a cake (or pizza, or medicine) to someone whose personal choices they don’t agree with
  • Social media companies shouldn’t be able to kick people off their platform, even if when they promote violence

We’re hearing from people who support both of these opinions at the same time. I’d like to briefly examine how this is the worst of four possible options.

Let’s look at each option:

Option 1: Neither Cakes nor Violence

Private businesses are not required to serve anyone. This is internally consistent. You can choose to do what you want with your own property and business, so long as your aren’t infringing on others’ rights. This is the “default” mode for liberal democracy & libertarianism.

Option 2: Both Cakes and Violence

Private businesses are required to serve everyone. This is also internally consistent. This treats businesses like a public good rather than private asset. For things like social networks, that means they act more like a public utility than private business (and may even be state-run and state-owned). This is the “default” mode for social democracy & state socialism.

Option 3: Cakes but not Violence

Private businesses can’t choose who to serve based on who people innately are (or perhaps even based on what those users/customers believe), but they can otherwise reject service to those that break rules of the business or break rules that endanger the polity/society. This is the “default” mode in progressive democracy.

Option 4: Violence but not Cakes

Private businesses can reject service to people based on identity, but may be required to provide service to those that are endangering others. This is the “default” mode of fascism.

Personally, I prefer option 1 (with some additional safeguards/protections) over 3 over 2 over 4. But regardless of your preference for options 1 through 3, I hope it is clear that option 4 is the most inconsistent and dangerous of all of the positions.

2020: 🎶 Review

To view other 2020 review posts, visit the main post here.


I love music. And though I listen to less than I used to (due to more meetings and more podcasts & audiobooks) I still really enjoy listening to music when I can. I explore new sounds and visit old favorites. I play music for different moods & contexts. I curate playlists with a unique style of sound. I still think of my music sometimes like I would when I was a DJ.

After Google killed yet again another one of their best products (Google Music) and replaced it with something worse (YouTube Music) I again started working on going back to the tried-and-true-but-takes-more-work method of owning and managing my own music.

I prefer to source my music from Bandcamp. I like Bandcamp because they seem to treat the artists better than other sites, and they allow you to manage and re-download or stream the music you have bought through Bandcamp. They also have many features for music discovery. On many Fridays throughout 2020, they removed their cut entirely and let the full purchase price go to the artist/label. I think they do this every once in a while even in non-awful years, too.

I also re-signed up for iTunes Match. Apple has somewhat hidden this service, because they want you to use their streaming service. However, it’s still there (look under “Features” at the very bottom of the main iTunes store page) and is a nice option to make your library available on all your devices. It takes all your apple music, plus anything you have in your chosen music folder (e.g. from CD rips or Bandcamp purchases) and either matches it to the iTunes version of the song, or uploads a copy for your devices to use, if they don’t think they have it. It costs much less than streaming services, too.

With this move, I also started “scrobbling” again. This is a method where you ping a scrobbling service with each song you play, and it keeps track of your listening stats. I use last.fm, though there are other compatible services available. I didn’t start scrobbling again until I was adjusting my setup during the year, so my numbers don’t represent the full year. That said, I can at least see what I’ve been listening to later in the year.

Overall

I scrobbled 5653 plays, and my top genres according to my last.fm report were:

- Industrial
- Electronic
- Metalcore
- Industrial Metal
- Rock

Artists

I listened 1230 different artists! The top 10 were:

Some of these top 10 could arguably even be smashed together. Argyle Park, Circle of Dust, and Celldweller are all bands from Klayton (aka Klay Scott aka Scott Albert). In addition, Rhys Fulber of Front Line Assembly is a prominent contributor (as producer, electronic musician, or remixer) to many of the Fear Factory albums & songs that I listened to.

Most of the bands listed this year I’ve listened to for years, but Seeming is new. I found Seeming on Bandcamp this year and and have been enjoying some of their catalog, especially their newest. On that front…

Albums

I listened to 1819 different albums! The top ten were:

The 4th one there is kind of a cheat, as it’s really 3 Haste the Day albums re-issued in 1. Based on the counts, you can see there was really nothing that I listened to on repeat all year, but several of these albums had multiple playthroughs, as well as scrobbles from listening to my “loved tracks” automatic playlist.

I reviewed NOENEMIES and Analog Fluids of Sonic Black Holes earlier this year, and shared some thoughts and favorite tracks.

Igorrr is the undisputed king of wild genre mashups, and Spirituality and Distortion once again shows continued evolution in their art. In any given track you may find a combination of baroque music, metal, opera, electronic music, eastern musical styles, western music styles, hand-made instruments, and various other influences. Watch & listen to “Downgrade Dessert” for one of the more “normal” but amazing tracks on the album.

Tracks

I listened to 3917 different tracks! The top ten were:

The top 3 tracks I definitely listened to on loop at some point in the year. Both “Computorr” and “Go Small” could be theme songs for 2020.

“Computorrr” (listen) is a gltchy, sample-filled, frenetic track that should have you dancing around and thinking about how technology works in our lives.

“TV got your brain”

“I want to get online”

“I need a computer”

“We work with anybody else who’s fighting the system”

“Go Small” (watch & listen) is a simple, haunting, independent, somewhat-melodramatic track that evokes many feelings of the year.

“when the world is drowned in flames write something you can understand”

“the earth is radiantly suicidal if there’s any play in favor of survival, it’s: go small


What did you listen to this year? Any recommendations?.