Shame on Y Combinator


Thiel, a non-employee (a “part-time partner”), is directly supporting Donald Trump at a massive scale — over a million dollars! — after we’ve learned even more of Trump’s horrendous statements, positions, and past actions than we could’ve ever imagined.

This isn’t voting for an economic or social policy — this is literally paying a huge amount of money to directly support a racist, sexist bigot with rapidly mounting allegations of multiple sexual assaults.



To put them in perspective, I think of being on an airplane. The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. “Can I interest you in the chicken?” she asks. “Or would you prefer the platter of shit with bits of broken glass in it?” To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked.

The New Yorker

Alien Algorithms


Algorithms form a constructed digital bureaucracy, where nobody in particular is to blame and everyone passively accepts their fate as directed from algorithmic gods on high. Seen that way, big data is a potent tool, and I expect insiders will make use of it whenever then can. Never mind that it can create systems that undermine their original goals: Instead of getting rid of bad teachers, for example, the value-added model created an atmosphere that has seen teachers flee. We are now confronting a nationwide teacher shortage.

‘Back to the Future’ Writer: Biff Tannen Is Based on Donald Trump


So, Bob Gale—writer of Back to the Future Part II and man who helped predict the IMAX theater and the self-checkout line—in these past few months, were you thinking what we’re all thinking?

“We thought about it when we made the movie! Are you kidding?” he says. “You watch Part II again and there’s a scene where Marty confronts Biff in his office and there’s a huge portrait of Biff on the wall behind Biff, and there’s one moment where Biff kind of stands up and he takes exactly the same pose as the portrait? Yeah.”

Of course, in the movie, Biff uses the profits from his 27-story casino (the Trump Plaza Hotel, completed in 1984, is 37 floors, by the way) to help shake up the Republican Party, before eventually assuming political power himself, helping transform Hill Valley, California, into a lawless, dystopian wasteland, where hooliganism reigns, dissent is quashed, and wherein Biff encourages every citizen to call him “America’s greatest living folk hero.”

“Yeah,” says Gale. “That’s what we were thinking about.”

The Daily Beast

Girardian Lectionary: Proper 24C


Does Jesus really think that God is like an unjust judge? Indeed not. But he knows how all of us are inclined to have an unjust judge well installed into our consciousness. In fact as part of our socialization we acquire a voice or set of voices which seem to be completely impervious to anything. This voice or voices, should we be so bold as to want something, will quickly send down little messages to us: “Shouldn’t want that if I were you — better not to want much, so as not to be disappointed”, or “Getting above our station are we?” or, as in the famous Oliver Twist scene, “More?!!” And the point of these messages is to shut down our desire — to get us to mask our discontent with remaining mere puppets of our group. Our unjust judge is internal to each one of us, a glowering “no” in the face of our potential happiness.

James Alison

Divine Indigestion


Today, if a novel is accepted into the American canon, it is as a masterpiece of individualism that subsumes material and social being into the spirit of a lone genius. If a social world is present in a novel of repute, our critics gobble it up and excrete it as imagination. In the early twenty-first century, realism has come to be synonymous, in the blinkered American critical consensus, with a curiously antisocial novel. It never occurs to critics that realism could only seem real because of the dilapidation of collective dreams. Nor do critics worry that the “social issues” presented in our novels rarely attain the complexity of cable television. Or that a novel genuinely concerned with social life (or even the social role of a single person) could itself, against this backdrop, be idiosyncratic. It’s sad, in other words, that the novels of Jonathan Franzen register to most as sociopolitical literature. Freedom isn’t a social novel on the level of Wharton. It’s a decelerated twenty-four-hour news channel.

Jonathon Sturgeon

Tumblr v. WordPress


I’ve been exploring migrating my Tumblr ( to WordPress. As part of that endeavor, I rolled up a new WordPress instance (Naumionus) and began tumblelogging there. I’ve been on Tumblr since February 2007, almost 10 years of Tumblr! Some recent developments have compelled me to contemplate moving off the platform.

So, after a week or so of experimenting and tinkering with WordPress as a new tumblelog platform, here are some observations and in conclusion, my future blogging roadmap, as it stands in this present moment. I’m going to examine the platforms side-by-side in comparison, with my thoughts on various aspects of each platform.


Obviously, Tumblr excels here. Basically, you just click on a button and bam, you’re off. It couldn’t be more simpler.

WordPress isn’t much more difficult. It did take some searching and scrawling to find an appropriate template, and then customize it. (But Tumblr requires a template select and tweak step too.) And then getting a few plugins installed and initalized.

No big deal. But advantage Tumblr here.


I hate the way WordPress works, with code and layout interspersed. And it’s spread across a bundle of files. It’s abhorrent and touches pain points in just about every developer oriented bone in my body. I much prefer the Tumblr template model with the big caveat (the one that propelled me on this quest) — the auto-injection of content into the middle of my Tumblr template.

OTOH, WordPress has evolved to be the predominant blogging platform, so there is such a wealth of templates to choose from. Free or fee. And I found a WordPress theme suited for tumblelogging.


The big allure of Tumblr is the drop dead simple click and post mechanic. But over time, Tumblr’s bookmarklet mode, where I conduct most of my posting from, has accumulated a set of drawbacks:

  • Unable to resize the dialog box, and worse, if your text size is larger than standard, your content is truncated. I squawked about this when they introduced this “smart” bookmarklet, but I adapted, mostly but setting a minimum font size on the browser and at times using accessibility features in my OS (my vision is poor).
  • Total bookmarklet failure for a number of sites — when you click on the bookmarklet bar tab and the resultant dialog panel containing url info and highlighted text never returns. Then, I must close that tab, open up a browser tab, and manually fill in a post with all the details. Sort of defeats the raison d’être for Tumblr.
  • The act of reblogging is a far more complex one than simply posting a link or quote – often, your post type is restricted, and then there is addendum content added that grows ever more tricky to format or suppress. It’s almost impossible for me to clip from a brother/sister Tumblr blog.
  • And again, auto-inserting superfluous, redundant content that does not obey template.

WordPress also features a bookmarklet, Press This and it works well, maybe even better than the Tumblr bookmarklet. There is an extra click or two, for when I set “Category” and “Post Type” (for which Tumblr has a superior tab mechanic). But the actual edit box, which I’ll address in Editing is far better. And it’s an actual textbox, not the “smart” dialog that often mucks things up.

One big plus for Tumblr is in image posting, however. There, Tumblr auto-creates images on their server farm and creates copies in multiple sizes. The WordPress bookmarklet can pull some images from the page you’re linking or quoting, but it just prepends some HTML. Also, I installed a plugin (I may not have needed to do this?) to auto-embed YouTube videos. OTOH, Tumblr can recognize YouTube (as well as some other video sites) and auto-embeds by default. So Tumblr wins here in non-text media.

So, a tie.


No contest here, as the WordPress offers an actual editor text box, with a monospace font and a dialog that doesn’t infuriate you by constantly shifting the focus. And it’s resizable.


A mixed bag here. Some notes:

  • Tumblr hosted on Tumblr. You can point a custom domain to it or run a backup script to save your posts, but it sits on their farm.

  • WordPress (though WordPress also offers a service that will house your blog and posts) is a self-hosted affair.

  • It might seem an advantage for WordPress, but WordPress is so tied to PHP scripting and MySQL backend database. This might not seem an issue but I have defunct blogs on old blog engines, where the platform became abandonware, yet the old software will not run under new versions of PHP. Now WordPress is so popular, but anymore, I tend to think that any web output that isn’t plain HTML may not enjoy a long shelf life. This would seem to elevate a blogging engine like Jekyll — but I’ll need another post to go over its advantages and shortcomings. But suffice to say, it’s not a good candidate for a tumblelogging platform.

  • With the uncertainty about Yahoo future, Tumblr long term outlook is questionable too.

Conclusion / Future Roadmap

For now, I just can’t quit you Tumblr. So, I’m going to continue on tumbleblogging here. But I’m also going to keep active my Nauminous site. Some content will be duplicated but I foresee AZspot more devoted to shorter form posts and images. Where Nauminous will feature longer link posts & quotes.

I’ve Met “Donald Trump” and I’m Sick of You Defending Him


It’s not hard to say Donald Trump was wrong. It’s not hard to say Bill Cosby is a sexual predator. It’s not hard to say Josh Duggar molested his sisters. And then stop. Don’t say anything else. For every victim of sexual assault, just stop there.  You don’t need to add a clarifying statement. You don’t need to say “But…”  Stop.  Defend the victims.  Stand by all of us who’ve had to deal with our own “Donald Trumps.” For a quick moment of your life, for all that is good and decent and holy, empathize.

Sparking Conversation

Escaping the Bully-God of American Evangelicalism


When I say God comes to Dostoyevsky’s characters, it’s not how evangelicals describe it. It’s more a dawning of a certain truth about themselves, who they are in their brokenness, along with a sense of acceptance and an ability to have compassion on themselves. To grieve what they have done as well as to accept who they are. There’s a way in which the gospel in its purity comes through in The Brothers Karamazov: that the divine is unconditionally loving, even to the worst of people. You can feel it in Dostoevsky too, that he loves his characters, including the worst of them. Fyodor Karamazov, the father, is described in lurid ways as a despicable character, and Smerdyakov, the illegitimate son, has become sinister and malicious, in part under the blows of Fyodor, but you can feel Dostoyevsky caring for them both. He seems able to accept everybody, no matter how despicable. That’s the genuine message of Jesus, as far as I can see it.

Doug Frank