Object oriented sanity

Sometimes when a principle is stated, it seems like it must be perfect and unmodifiable. In object-oriented design, we have the SOLID principles (you can google that) which are taken sometimes to be software gospel. I like this caution from Joel Spolsky’s blog (emphasis mine):

One of the SOLID principles, and I’m totally butchering this, but, one of the principles was that you shouldn’t have two things in the same class that would be changed for a different reason [PDF]. Like, you don’t want to have an Employee class, because it’s got his name which might get changed if he gets married, and it has his salary, which might get changed if he gets a raise. Those have to be two separate classes, because they get changed under different circumstances. And you wind up with millions of tiny little classes, like the EmployeeSalary class, and it’s just… (laughs) idiotic! You can’t build software that way! The way real software works is that you create these very imperfect things, and they work great. They really do. And then you have a little problem, and you go and you fix the little problem, because it’s code, and you have an editor, and you edit it. These classes are not going to go wander off flying in the universe all by themselves and need to work perfectly and unchanged until the end of time.



How to interpret the Psalms in a Christ-centered way

This is from W S Plumer’s commentary on Psalms (1867):

We might therefore agree with Morison, that we “perceive no infallible guide but in the comments and appropriations of Christ and his apostles;” and yet with consistency we might with him say, “That many of the Psalms have a double sense attached to them cannot be fairly disputed.” And there is much truth in the remark of Dr. Allix, that “although the sense of near fifty Psalms be fixed and settled by divine authors, yet Christ and his apostles did not undertake to quote all the Psalms they could quote, but only to give a key to their hearers, by which they might apply to the same subjects the Psalms of the same composure and expression.”

Nothing heretofore said was designed to oppose the rule of interpretation laid down by Melancthon, that we must always seek the grammatical sense of Scripture; nor that laid down by Hooker: “I hold it for a most infallible rule in expositions of sacred Scripture, that where a literal construction will stand, the farthest from the letter is commonly the worst.” Let us then in all cases admit the literal or primary sense of Scripture. But this should not hinder us from also admitting in many cases the spiritual or secondary sense. A thing spoken of David may be literally true of him. Thus we have the primary sense. But David was a type of Christ, and what he says primarily of himself may have a secondary fulfilment in Christ, and so we get the spiritual sense. Without admitting thus much, how is it possible ever to apply the doctrine of types in persons to the antitype? When we have a figure, the first thing is to discover the foundation and sense of the figure; the next is to apply it to the matter in hand.

This is not giving unbridled license to the vagaries of men of no judgment. Vitringa was right when he condemned what has often passed under the name of spiritualizing : “I do not deny that many men of uninstructed faculties and of shallow judgment have, in almost every age of the Church, commended to persons like themselves, under the name of allegorical interpretations of Scripture, certain weak and stupid fancies, in which there is neither unction, judgment, nor spiritual discernment: and have sought for those mysteries of theirs which spring from a most frigid invention, either in improper places, or promiscuously in every place, without any discrimination of circumstances, without any foundation in allegory, or in verisimilitude of language: so that I do not wonder that it has occurred to many sensible persons to doubt, whether it would not be better to abandon this study altogether, to the skillful use of which experience teaches us the abilities of but very few are adequate, than to expose Holy Scripture to the senseless experiments of the unskilful, so as to cause great injury to itself, and to excite the applause of the profane.” The truth is that nothing is of more importance to the interpreter of Scripture than good common sense. A foolish or fanciful man will misapply the best rules of exposition. In vain do we expect wisdom from those who lack sobriety.

Martin Bucer: “It would be worth a great deal to the Church, if, forsaking allegories, and other frivolous devices, which are not only empty, but derogate very much from the majesty of the doctrine of Christ, we would all simply and soberly prosecute that which our Lord intends to say to us.”

Nor can we rightly apply to Christ the penitential Psalms, or represent him as asking forgiveness. In himself he was holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, perfectly innocent, having nothing to repent of. And if sin imputed to him was to him forgiven, then it was not atoned for by him. Indeed, forgiveness is non-imputation. Nor can we ever apply to Christ those parts of the Psalter which plead for the subduing of corruptions. He had no corruptions to subdue. Yet the remark of Hilary is of great weight: “The key of the Psalms is the faith of Christ.”



Van Til’s “Why I Believe in God”

The idea of “neutrality” is simply a colorless suit that covers a negative attitude towards God. . . . Every fact in this world, the God of the Bible claims, has his stamp indelibly engraved upon it. How then could you be neutral with respect to such a God? - Cornelius van Til



Android 1: Why Android?

“Apple’s iPad: New device, old restrictions” - 1/28/10

“Apple bans the word ‘Android’ from App Store’ - 2/5/10

“Apple says ‘No’ to Manhattan Declaration 2.0″ - 12/23/10

“VLC media player app pulled from Apple App Store” - 1/10/11


As a Palm user, I’ve wanted to join the next stage of the mobile revolution for years. I bought a Palm Centro when they were just being phased out, and used it for three years without a data plan.  In the meantime, my iPod Touch was usually with me as a substitute for a true smart phone. Whenever I could get a WiFi connection, I had the best of both worlds: connectivity and low cost.

But I wanted to converge that old phone, with its wonderful Calendar, Contacts and Notes, always completely synced with Outlook, and the new iPhone style of computing. I wanted a real smart phone with a data plan.

The only question was which one to get. The Palm Pre was interesting, and I liked the slide out keyboard, but despite being and old time Palm user, it never seemed like a contender. I hated the small screen after getting used to the iPod Touch.

That left Apple and Android.

Apple had every advantage. I had won an iPod Touch as a company prize, the first year they came out. So I had a three year head start with the iPhone ecosystem. I had bought apps, I had played games, I had surfed the web. I liked the platform. (My wife just bought the iPod Touch 4, so we’re still in that game too.) The one think I could never get iPod to do was become my PDA.  It didn’t seem to be built for people to organize themselves. The calendar was not much good, the contacts were not good, the notes were extremely pitiful, even by Palm’s low standards (no categories). Most of all, you could barely sync to the PC. All syncing had to happen through iTunes… which foreshadows the sinister problem that leads me to Android. (I had to buy a whole new PC to eventually run iTunes at an acceptable speed.) So I ended up using the Palm Centro for the PDA for years, while using the iPod Touch for all the fun data stuff.

But now, in late 2010, it was time to make that jump. The Apple iPhone 4 almost pulled me back in, but in the end Apple has some huge obstacles to overcome.

Not a problem: AT&T.  I was already an AT&T customer.  Check.

Not a problem: cost.  Any decent Android phone was going to cost me as much as the iPhone. Might as well get used to it.

Not a problem: Apps.  Apple has the advantage in apps.  Android is going very well (another blog post), but Apple is clearly ahead.

So what are the problems with iPhone?

CLOSED SYSTEM.  It all comes down to this, but this one beast has many different tentacles.

     CLOSED FILESYSTEM. The iPhone has an internal filesystem, but unlike most other computers (handheld and otherwise), it is basically not accessible.  (I am assuming in all cases that the user is not “jailbreaking” the phone.)  This means that different apps have different filesystems that are internal to themselves, and not visible to each other. This is why iPhone apps either “support DropBox” or they don’t. Android apps all support DropBox, because they all write to the same filesystem. I know that with iPhone Explorer you can finally get to the files, but this doesn’t mean that apps can see each other’s files.

     CLOSED MEDIA. Apple hasn’t forgotten they are selling you a music player. Try replacing the music player on your iPhone or iPod Touch. Can’t be done because Apple won’t allow it.

     CLOSED SYNCING. I hated this for three years. iPhone and iPod Touch tie you to iTunes. Enough said. iTunes is a good music player. It is terrible at everything else. I never trusted it to sync my contacts, notes, or calendar.

     CLOSED APP REVIEW PROCESS. Apple has a mysterious, and slow, application approval process that often hinders updates for weeks. Worse, it exercises complete control over what can, and cannot be, an app for the iPhone. Entire classifications of software are banned, such as emulators, music players, Flash, etc. Many detailed exclusions exist. But much more sinister is Apple’s control over content. I had already turned against apple when they banned all software developed outside their software development kit, specifically Adobe kits built with Flash (they have since relaxed this ban), but the last straw came last fall when they banned a previously approved app, the Manhattan Declaration. 
     Now the Manhattan Declaration is a document, and an organization, which exists to promote Christian cooperation in the political sphere to defend traditional marriage, the right to life, and religious liberty. Some Christians believe in signing it and others don’t. But Apple banned it because gay activists targeted it as “homophobic” because it promotes traditional marriage. This exposes the ugly and dangerous side of having a single corporation become our e-reader and music player and media presenter. You get to live with whatever their worldview is, instead of practicing your own. I choose not to participate in this Big Brother scenario.
     Android is more like Palm was, and it is more like the PC has always been: open. You write an app, you install it. You can sell it in the Android Market (i.e. their app store), or you can sell it on Amazon or just distribute it yourself. This is how computing should be. This is how information should be.




Church hopping

A church that “works” for me…

Do we need to lose that critical consumerist attitude to church? Why do Christians need to seek out the most spirited preaching, the most dynamic music, the most professional children’s program and the most comfortable group of peers? Maybe we need to work on cultivating a servant-heartedness that commits voluntarily to a small church where the preaching is faithful (if not fervent) and the music acceptable (if not awesome), but where there are opportunities aplenty to use our God-given gifts to edify Christ’s body. After all, Jesus’ humble other-person-centeredness is what we are called to emulate (Phil 2.1-5, John 13.12-17).

- Rowan Kemp in The Briefing, July-Aug 2010



Newton on complaining

For Christians, all things work together for good. John Newton put it this way:

If we were not creatures we might have a right to choose, if we were not sinners we might perhaps venture to complain of sufferings. If the Lord were not wise he might mistake our case; if He were not good he might deal hardly [harshly] with us. If this life were our all, delays and crossings for one, two or three years would be of great importance. But reverse all these suppositions, say that we are creatures, sinful pardoned creatures, bought with the blood of Jesus, that our Saviour is our shepherd, that He is infinitely wise and good in himself, and has engaged his wisdom and goodness in our behalf; that He suffered for us, and calls us by grace that we may suffer for him (Acts 9:16); say farther that every event we are concerned in is under his immediate direction, and all to work for good; that what we call heavy is light and the long and tedious but momentary, as to our true existence and compared with the weight of glory, and the length of eternity to which they lead. Let all these truths be planted like so many cannon in your defence and see whether self will and unbelief will dare to look them in the face.

Wise Counsel, p 124-125



Truth is of utmost importance (Colossians 1:5)

One of the great difficulties is to keep before the audience’s mind the question of Truth. They always think that you are recommending Christianity not because it is true but because it is good. And in the discussion they will at every moment try to escape from the issue ‘True- or False’ into stuff about a good society, morals, or the incomes of Bishops, or the Spanish Inquisition, or France, or Poland - or anything whatever. You have to keep forcing them back, and again back, to the real point. Only thus will you be able to undermine … their belief that a certain amount of ‘religion’ is desirable but one mustn’t carry it too far. One must keep on pointing out that Christianity is a statement which, if false, is of no importance, and, if true, of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important.

C. S. Lewis, God In The Dock, p. 101



“Not yours to give…” - Davy Crockett

With the socialist health care bill ready to pass, I wonder if anyone would listen to the words of Davy Crockett, US Representative.

Originally published in “The Life of Colonel David Crockett,”
by Edward Sylvester Ellis.


One day in the House of Representatives a bill was taken up appropriating money for the benefit of a widow of a distinguished naval officer. Several beautiful speeches had been made in its support. The Speaker was just about to put the question when Crockett arose:

“Mr. Speaker–I have as much respect for the memory of the deceased, and as much sympathy for the sufferings of the living, if suffering there be, as any man in this House, but we must not permit our respect for the dead or our sympathy for a part of the living to lead us into an act of injustice to the balance of the living. I will not go into an argument to prove that Congress has not the power to appropriate this money as an act of charity. Every member upon this floor knows it. We have the right, as individuals, to give away as much of our own money as we please in charity; but as members of Congress we have no right so to appropriate a dollar of the public money. Some eloquent appeals have been made to us upon the ground that it is a debt due the deceased. Mr. Speaker, the deceased lived long after the close of the war; he was in office to the day of his death, and I have never heard that the government was in arrears to him.

“Every man in this House knows it is not a debt. We cannot, without the grossest corruption, appropriate this money as the payment of a debt. We have not the semblance of authority to appropriate it as charity. Mr. Speaker, I have said we have the right to give as much money of our own as we please. I am the poorest man on this floor. I cannot vote for this bill, but I will give one week’s pay to the object, and if every member of Congress will do the same, it will amount to more than the bill asks.”

He took his seat. Nobody replied. The bill was put upon its passage, and, instead of passing unanimously, as was generally supposed, and as, no doubt, it would, but for that speech, it received but few votes, and, of course, was lost.

Later, when asked by a friend why he had opposed the appropriation, Crockett gave this explanation:

“Several years ago I was one evening standing on the steps of the Capitol with some other members of Congress, when our attention was attracted by a great light over in Georgetown. It was evidently a large fire. We jumped into a hack and drove over as fast as we could. In spite of all that could be done, many houses were burned and many families made houseless, and, besides, some of them had lost all but the clothes they had on. The weather was very cold, and when I saw so many women and children suffering, I felt that something ought to be done for them. The next morning a bill was introduced appropriating $20,000 for their relief. We put aside all other business and rushed it through as soon as it could be done.

“The next summer, when it began to be time to think about election, I concluded I would take a scout around among the boys of my district. I had no opposition there, but, as the election was some time off, I did not know what might turn up. When riding one day in a part of my district in which I was more of a stranger than any other, I saw a man in a field plowing and coming toward the road. I gauged my gait so that we should meet as he came to the fence. As he came up, I spoke to the man. He replied politely, but, as I thought, rather coldly.

“I began: ‘Well, friend, I am one of those unfortunate beings called
candidates, and—

“Yes I know you; you are Colonel Crockett. I have seen you once before, and voted for you the last time you were elected. I suppose you are out electioneering now, but you had better not waste your time or mine, I shall not vote for you again.”

“This was a sockdolager…I begged him to tell me what was the matter.

Well, Colonel, it is hardly worth-while to waste time or words upon it. I do not see how it can be mended, but you gave a vote last winter which shows that either you have not capacity to understand the Constitution, or that you are wanting in the honesty and firmness to be guided by it. In either case you are not the man to represent me. But I beg your pardon for expressing it in that way. I did not intend to avail myself of the privilege of the constituent to speak plainly to a candidate for the purpose of insulting or wounding you. I intend by it only to say that your understanding of the Constitution is very different from mine; and I will say to you what, but for my rudeness, I should not have said, that I believe you to be honest.
But an understanding of the Constitution different from mine I cannot overlook, because the Constitution, to be worth anything, must be held sacred, and rigidly observed in all its provisions. The man who wields power and misinterprets it is the more dangerous the more honest he is.’

” ‘I admit the truth of all you say, but there must be some mistake about it, for I do not remember that I gave any vote last winter upon any constitutional question.’

“ ‘No, Colonel, there’s no mistake. Though I live in the backwoods and seldom go from home, I take the papers from Washington and read very carefully all the proceedings of Congress. My papers say that last winter you voted for a bill to appropriate $20,000 to some sufferers by a fire in Georgetown. Is that true?

Well, my friend; I may as well own up. You have got me there. But certainly nobody will complain that a great and rich country like ours should give the insignificant sum of $20,000 to relieve its suffering women and children, particularly with a full and overflowing Treasury, and I am sure, if you had been there, you would have done just as I did.’

It is not the amount, Colonel, that I complain of; it is the principle. In the first place, the government ought to have in the Treasury no more than enough for its legitimate purposes. But that has nothing with the question. The power of collecting and disbursing money at pleasure is the most dangerous power that can be entrusted to man, particularly under our system of collecting revenue by a tariff, which reaches every man in the country, no matter how poor he may be, and the poorer he is the more he pays in proportion to his means. What is worse, it presses upon him without his knowledge where the weight centers, for there is not a man in the United States who can ever guess how much he pays to the government. So you see, that while you are contributing to relieve one, you are drawing it from thousands who are even worse off than he. If you had the right to give anything, the amount was simply a matter of discretion with you, and you had as much right to give $20,000,000 as $20,000. If you have the right to give to one, you have the right to give to all; and, as the Constitution neither defines charity nor stipulates the amount, you are at liberty to give to any and everything which you may believe, or profess to believe, is a charity, and to any amount you may think proper. You will very easily perceive what a wide door this would open for fraud and corruption and favoritism, on the one hand, and for robbing the people on the other. No, Colonel, Congress has no right to give charity. Individual members may give as much of their own money as they please, but they have no right to touch a dollar of the public money for that purpose. If twice as many houses had been burned in this county as in Georgetown, neither you nor any other member of Congress would have thought of appropriating a dollar for our relief. There are about two hundred and forty members of Congress. If they had shown their sympathy for the sufferers by contributing each one week’s pay, it would have made over $13,000. There are plenty of wealthy men in and around Washington who could have given $20,000 without depriving themselves of even a luxury of life.‘ “The congressmen chose to keep their own money, which, if reports be true, some of them spend not very creditably; and the people about Washington, no doubt, applauded you for relieving them from the necessity of giving by giving what was not yours to give. The people have delegated to Congress, by the Constitution, the power to do certain things. To do these, it is authorized to collect and pay moneys, and for nothing else. Everything beyond this is usurpation, and a violation of the Constitution.

” ‘So you see, Colonel, you have violated the Constitution in what I consider a vital point. It is a precedent fraught with danger to the country, for when Congress once begins to stretch its power beyond the limits of the Constitution, there is no limit to it, and no security for the people. I have no doubt you acted honestly, but that does not make it any better, except as far as you are personally concerned, and you see that I cannot vote for you.’

“I tell you I felt streaked. I saw if I should have opposition, and this man should go to talking, he would set others to talking, and in that district I was a gone fawn-skin. I could not answer him, and the fact is, I was so fully convinced that he was right, I did not want to. But I must satisfy him, and I said to him:

Well, my friend, you hit the nail upon the head when you said I had not sense enough to understand the Constitution. I intended to be guided by it, and thought I had studied it fully. I have heard many speeches in Congress about the powers of Congress, but what you have said here at your plow has got more hard, sound sense in it than all the fine speeches I ever heard. If I had ever taken the view of it that you have, I would have put my head into the fire before I would have given that vote; and if you will forgive me and vote for me again, if I ever vote for another unconstitutional law I wish I may be shot.’

“He laughingly replied; ‘Yes, Colonel, you have sworn to that once before, but I will trust you again upon one condition. You say that you are convinced that your vote was wrong. Your acknowledgment of it will do more good than beating you for it. If, as you go around the district, you will tell people about this vote, and that you are satisfied it was wrong, I will not only vote for you, but will do what I can to keep down opposition, and, perhaps, I may exert some little influence in that way.’

If I don’t, said I, ‘I wish I may be shot; and to convince you that I am in earnest in what I say I will come back this way in a week or ten days, and if you will get up a gathering of the people, I will make a speech to them. Get up a barbecue, and I will pay for it.’

No, Colonel, we are not rich people in this section, but we have plenty of provisions to contribute for a barbecue, and some to spare for those who have none. The push of crops will be over in a few days, and we can then afford a day for a barbecue. This is Thursday; I will see to getting it up on Saturday week. Come to my house on Friday, and we will go together, and I promise you a very respectable crowd to see and hear you.

” ‘Well, I will be here. But one thing more before I say good-bye. I must know your name.

” ‘My name is Bunce.’

” ‘Not Horatio Bunce?’

” ‘Yes.’

” ‘Well, Mr. Bunce, I never saw you before, though you say you have seen me, but I know you very well. I am glad I have met you, and very proud that I may hope to have you for my friend.’

“It was one of the luckiest hits of my life that I met him. He mingled but little with the public, but was widely known for his remarkable intelligence and incorruptible integrity,  and for a heart brimful and running over with kindness and benevolence, which showed themselves not only in words but in acts. He was the oracle of the whole country around him, and his fame had extended far beyond the circle of his immediate acquaintance. Though I had never met him, before, I had heard much of him, and but for this meeting it is very likely I should have had opposition, and had been beaten. One thing is very certain, no man could now stand up in that district under such a vote.

“At the appointed time I was at his house, having told our conversation to every crowd I had met, and to every man I stayed all night with, and I found that it gave the people an interest and a confidence in me stronger than I had ever seen manifested before.

“Though I was considerably fatigued when I reached his house, and, under ordinary circumstances, should have gone early to bed, I kept him up until midnight, talking about the principles and affairs of government, and got more real, true knowledge of them than I had got all my life before.

“I have known and seen much of him since, for I respect him - no, that is not the word - I reverence and love him more than any living man, and I go to see him two or three times every year; and I will tell you, sir, if every one who professes to be a Christian lived and acted and enjoyed it as he does, the religion of Christ would take the world by storm.

“But to return to my story. The next morning we went to the barbecue, and, to my surprise, found about a thousand men there. I met a good many whom I had not known before, and they and my friend introduced me around until I had got pretty well acquainted - at least, they all knew me.

“In due time notice was given that I would speak to them. They gathered up around a stand that had been erected. I opened my speech by saying:

Fellow-citizens - I present myself before you today feeling like a new man. My eyes have lately been opened to truths which ignorance or prejudice, or both, had heretofore hidden from my view. I feel that I can today offer you the ability to render you more valuable service than I have ever been able to render before. I am here today more for the purpose of acknowledging my error than to seek your votes. That I should make this acknowledgment is due to myself as well as to you. Whether you will vote for me is a matter for your consideration only.

“I went on to tell them about the fire and my vote for the appropriation and then told them why I was satisfied it was wrong. I closed by saying:

And now, fellow-citizens, it remains only for me to tell you that the most of the speech you have listened to with so much interest was simply a repetition of the arguments by which your neighbor, Mr. Bunce, convinced me of my error.

It is the best speech I ever made in my life, but he is entitled to the
credit for it. And now I hope he is satisfied with his convert and that he will get up here and tell you so.’

“He came upon the stand and said:

Fellow-citizens - It affords me great pleasure to comply with the request of Colonel Crockett. I have always considered him a thoroughly honest man, and I am satisfied that he will faithfully perform all that he has promised you today.’

“He went down, and there went up from that crowd such a shout for Davy Crockett as his name never called forth before.

“I am not much given to tears, but I was taken with a choking then and felt some big drops rolling down my cheeks. And I tell you now that the remembrance of those few words spoken by such a man, and the honest, hearty shout they produced, is worth more to me than all the honors I have received and all the reputation I have ever made, or ever shall make, as a member of Congress.

“Now, sir,” concluded Crockett, “you know why I made that speech yesterday.

“There is one thing now to which I will call your attention. You remember that I proposed to give a week’s pay. There are in that House many very wealthy men - men who think nothing of spending a week’s pay, or a dozen of them, for a dinner or a wine party when they have something to accomplish by it. Some of those same men made beautiful speeches upon the great debt of gratitude which the country owed the deceased–a debt which could not be paid by money–and the insignificance and worthlessness of money, particularly so insignificant a sum as $10,000,  when weighed against the honor of the nation. Yet not one of them responded to my proposition. Money with them is nothing but trash when it is to come out of the people. But it is the one great thing for which most of them are striving, and many of them sacrifice honor, integrity, and justice to obtain it.”



Location based services are based on a flawed lifestyle

buzzd may be good for finding drinking buddies - but forget about locating coffee

Good article on the basic limitations of “location based services.” Best quote: “Sounds great. Assuming you’re a 19 something bar hopper. ” That’s the problem with all these things: they assume a young, urban lifestyle which is at odds with real life.

NEWS FLASH: you won’t be young and hip for very long. Soon, you will want something more permanent.



What, me read? The post-literate culture

I guess everyone who cares about our civilization needs to read Thomas Bertonneau’s new essays on the students in his literature classes. This is frightening for anybody who is going to have to navigate through this new illiterate world we have built.

Essay #1

Essay #2

Essay #3

I found these essays referenced in a World Magazine overview article.