Daybook Queens Birthday.

Last night, on the day when the diverse sexualities have their official celebration day, Brian Tamaki apologised for the mean things he had said to them. This was not enough for many of the rainbow community, who immediately turned on those who had discussed their experience with him and supported him in making this statement. Today I’ve been thinking on how Tamaki responded. Tamaki is a Pentecostal preacher from South Auckland. His congregation is working class, and at times express themselves in a manner the elite do not like. That, to me, is not an issue: I grew up in the areas where he now has his churches. There is no place for snobbery within the church.

My issue, as with many cultic preachers, is that he preaches a prosperity gospel and gets too involved in politics. He needed to be a little less proud. No man should appoint themselves apostle, or bishop. Scott Morrison has the correct attitude: he prays and worships as fervently, then goes to work and does not preach but does the best job he can as Prime Minister of Australia. There is a tendency to imply that there is more to the gospel than what we have, and become over spiritual, and all too often that chasing of power melds into gnosticism. In particular, our modern worship of self esteem leads fairly directly to a false faith, where the scriptures that we don’t like we simply ignore. This grieves the spirit, for our conscience is not pricked, and we do not develop a godly sorrow for our sins.

There is a reason that every week at present we have a Sonnet from that great Puritan woman, Anne Locke. There is a reason that the structure of my church includes external people, who monitor for scandal and error. We are all fallen, true. We can all make errors, true. But in chasing power, fame and believing our personal revelation, we can easily be deceived.

The Church advises against studying the occult, partly because it can lead to temptation, but mainly because it is a waste of your time.  Nothing ‘discovered’ by the magicians over the centuries has proved to be of any practical use, and the goals which it promises to satisfy are usually (if not always) bad for one’s soul.  You get what you want but not what you need.  But even error can lead to truth, and in understanding the basics of the magical process we can reaffirm the scientific.
At the core of magic is the concept of ‘secret knowledge’.  The ‘Seals of Solomon’ or the ‘Keys of Cthulhu’ – some set of symbols, or words, or practices, which are utterly arbitrary – they completely lack any historical etymology – but which claim to be the building blocks of reality, and by using them powerful feats can be accomplished.  In a sense, this is similar to the scientist’s attempt to read the Book of Nature – to learn the letters and grammar which underlie reality – but unlike the scientist, the Occultist looks to inner revelation to reveal these secrets – to the particular, to their unique self – rather than trusting in the outside world and God’s universal revelation.
What is actually occurring is that the Occultist is in communication with the demonic.  Whatever trickster spirit he’s talking to is making up signs and rituals at random (one suspects that many of them may involve inside jokes, which only the demons understand).  In performing these rituals the Occultist is simply entertaining the demon – who then goes off and does whatever it is that they claimed the magic would do.  The ritual was never necessary; it was simply the price extracted by the demon.  The goal was directing your will towards an unworthy end, or to get you to perform evil acts in pursuit of a good end. 

D. J. Aurini, Stares at the World.

If you are not doing evil acts, you may find yourself aligned with those who do, for often they become activists, leaders, producers of lists of badthinkers, deplatformers, and regulators of speech: in part to hide what they are doing.

In this situation, my sympathy is with those people of goodwill who aligned themselves with Tamaki — knowing that he is listened to by many of the poor and marginalized in the deprived parts of our biggest city — in the hope that they could help some people accept who they are. This was risky: true leadership. And the wormtounges used them to signal their virtue, and damned them. Tamaki — well he relies too much on personal revelation. I’d rely more on the word of God, and test every spirit and thought against that.

Onto other interesting stuff. The Pinebook Pro is still being tested, and you can’t pre order it yet. Fortunately, they are paying attention to the things that drive me crazy: keyboards. I touch type. Most laptop keyboards don’t give enough feedback — including apples, to the point that I have a mechanical keyboard at work for when I use the old macbook the university gave me in the office. Given that, I am heartened to read this.

In light of this, here I will focus on the two things that are rarely discussed but probably of vital importance to most users: the keyboard and trackpad. You will be happy to hear that the new ISO keyboard has a nice feel to it, has a soild click-y tactile plunge, the keys have a relatively long key-travel, and in my testing the keyboard has not exhibited any issues – indeed, I am writing this blog entry on the Pinebook Pro as a part of my testing. The trackpad is also a major improvement over the one found on the original Pinebook. For one, it is an actual point-to-point trackpad (and not an emulated mouse) and the coating / material that it is made out of is smooth and feels almost metallic to the touch. Now, if you’re coming from a high-end laptop, such as the Macbook or Dell XPS, then the trackpad will probably not going to blow you away; that said, I have compared the trackpad on my prototype up against similarly priced laptops as well as laptops twice the price, and frankly speaking it is on par with just about everything that is out there.

Lukasz Erecinski, Pine64

It is worth reading the link, as the Pinephone is also discussed. Watch that space. Android is imploding at present. I’m using a phone that runs an Android clone — because it is Chinese, and Huawei is about to unveil its own OS. Open source means you can clone and split projects and you are still able to get updates provided you contribute back to the source material. It means that trade bans and intellectual OP cartels are not an issue. Google will have to innovate, and their new Pixel phones are fairly uninspiring. (As an aside — given that the smartphone is the new consumer camera — the high megapixel new Android phones show people “warts and all”. This is curing people of selfie-itis). There are a couple of corollaries. The first is that you should not be getting any smart devices that rely on only one OS. You want things that are self contained, or better, mechanical. Automatic watches are cheap.

The second is that spending a lot of money on a cellphone is a waste of time. Buy refurbished. Run your cellphone until it dies. Don’t upgrade. There is no utility — apart from those who would monitor us, and they are not our friends. Besides, they make us dumb.

To the best of his knowledge, Barbetta’s study is the largest and most rigorous examination of Twitter’s effect on student achievement, with applications to learning and information retention in other areas of life.

The investigation drew on a sample of roughly 1,500 students attending 70 Italian high schools during the 2016-17 academic year.

Half of the students used Twitter to analyse The Late Mattia Pascal, the 1904 novel by Italian Nobel laureate Luigi Pirandello, which satirises issues of self-knowledge and self-destruction. They posted quotes and their own reflections, commenting on tweets written by their classmates. Teachers weighed in to stimulate the online discussion.
The other half relied on traditional classroom teaching methods. Performance was assessed based on a test measuring understanding, comprehension and memorisation of the book.Using Twitter reduced performance on the test by about 25 to 40 per cent of a standard deviation from the average result, as the paper explains.
Jeff Hancock, the founding director of the Stanford Social Media Lab, described these as “pretty big effects”.
Notably, the decline was sharpest among higher-achieving students, including women, those born in Italy and those who had scored higher on a baseline test. This finding, the paper notes, bolsters the conclusion that blogs and social networking sites actively impair performance, rather than simply failing to augment learning.
A spokesman for Twitter declined to comment on the study.
The company does not purport to make its users smarter. But its mission statement sets forth goals not so different from those of a literature course – “to give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly without barriers”.
And in describing the platform as a “digital public square”, Twitter’s chief executive Jack Dorsey appeared to embrace civic and social aspirations, saying last year that the standard to which the company should be held is “building a systemic framework to help encourage more healthy debate, conversations, and critical thinking”.
Barbetta said more results were necessary to draw definitive conclusions about the “possible negative effects” of Twitter on learning. “As results accumulate, we definitely should be more wary about how we use social platforms,” he said.

Straits Times

I use pen and a notebook to plan. So should you. A hacker has to physically find paper, and no one (including me) can read by crabbed hand when I’m brainstorming. Write it up to communicate — internally or externally.

And practice a legible hand and a readable shorthand.