Stepping onto the deck at night

The USA seems to be in a bad place. What we’re doing to immigrant families and their children is horrifying. I’m concerned about the trade wars that Trump is getting us into. I’m pretty well convinced that Trump has colluded with Russia to subvert our democracy, and I think the GOP is complicit and is shirking their duty to uphold the constitution and hold the President accountable.

But each evening, I step out onto the deck with Willow before bed, and I stand in the soft humidity and look up at the stars while crickets converse, and I enjoy the relative quiet. And I think, maybe it’s all terrible, but right now, here in Missouri, maybe it’s OK? Maybe…

I’m not convinced by that “maybe.” I’m still disconcerted. But I can halfway pretend. My conscience won’t let me go entirely, but I can take some solace in the night and lie to myself for just a moment about global warning, and the rising prominence of Xi Jinping, and our president’s abuse of our allies and our citizens.

I wish I could be convinced by the night sky. I wish I could accept the peace of a still, humid evening in the Ozarks and believe that the rest of the world was like this. But we know it’s not. We know that all is not well, and that our leaders are making it worse.

It’s hard to leave the deck. Even a half a morsel of peace is a relief. I wish that I could make everything better so it didn’t feel like such a lie.

Updated – Why Chrome Concerns Me

Google has recently announced their web browser, Google Chrome, and while a variety of bloggers and news sites have begun reporting on and hypothesizing about Google’s motivation and the browser’s functionality, nobody seems to have any negative concerns regarding Chrome other than its competition with Mozilla Firefox. Some have shared their concern that this will kill Firefox as well as Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, which is a fine concern to have, but one I think isn’t major. People who care more about privacy will look at Google’s continuous data mining and give Chrome a miss. Firefox will still be used, and it’s Open Source, so it’ll continue being developed (unless Google buys it…). But again, not my main issue.

My concern is where Google states that Chrome is more than a web browser. Rather, it’s “a modern platform for web pages and applications,” with the word application mentioned 5 times in three paragraphs there. While Mozilla Firefox uses Gecko as its application engine, Chrome will use Webkit (along with Safari and Konquerer), just as Google’s mobile operating system (Android) will use Webkit.

Application compatibility and development could certainly put a dent in Mozilla Firefox’s usage statistics, but more importantly, it sends up a red flag to me. I fear we’ll return to the lack of standardization that was a hallmark of the browser wars in the early to mid 90s. As webapps become more prevalent, I fear web developers will have to begin writing apps to be compatible with Gecko, Webkit, and Microsoft, and that’s simply ludicrous. We are finally achieving standardization when it comes to HTML, and with Javascript, PHP, and ASP we’ve got languages that are understood equally by all browsers.

With Google entering the browser wars and choosing Webkit, it appears that we are establishing a lack of standardization for the future, which bothers me. Moreover, as Google moves more towards web development, with their own web browser in place I fear that they will build something akin to Microsoft’s ActiveX, where their web applications will be even more advanced and powerful, but will require their web browser to achieve that full functionality. I am concerned that Chrome will encourage Google to create proprietary web applications.

Of course, they may stick to their creed of “Do No Evil,” and my concerns may be completely unfounded. But as Google gains more power and popularity, I wonder how far they can push the definition of “Good” before losing the favour of their users. Regardless, I’ll check out Chrome so I can support it, but I doubt I’ll be switching to it full time. I already give Google my email and contacts, but adding my browsing into that… I like to pretend to have at least a little bit of privacy.

Addendum:: Google Chrome is Open Source, as is Webkit, so it’s not like THE END OF THE WORLD if they develop stuff that’s Webkit-only. It would just make me a little sad, and be a step in the wrong direction, I would think. Unless Webkit became a standard (and I’m sure someone will make the argument that Mozilla could always switch from Gecko to Webkit), and no news or rumours have arisen yet that such a move is likely in the web development community… though with both Android and the iPhone using Webkit, it certainly wouldn’t be absurd for Webkit to become so prevalent it became a standard…

Regarding Privacy:: Another update, since I mentioned this earlier. Since I’m in meetings all day, I haven’t downloaded, installed, and tried Chrome yet, but CNet takes a closer look at the Terms of Service attached to Chrome. Of particular concern to me is:

By submitting, posting or displaying the content you give Google a perpetual, irrevocable, worldwide, royalty-free, and non-exclusive license to reproduce, adapt, modify, translate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute any content which you submit, post or display on or through, the services.

Since my own content is copylefted under Creative Commons, I don’t particularly like the idea of Google serving up my content in any sort of advertisement and potentially making money from it.

An Update from Lilia

Most of you probably don’t know Lilia, but she has become a good acquaintance of mine. I’d like to call her a friend, but I only see her once every couple of years and the rest of our inconsistent communication is via blogging. At any rate, she’s a great person, and I really admire her. Lilia is currently in Colombia, teaching English and music (mostly music/worship) at a Christian school there. If you haven’t heard about the recent events in Colombia, things are getting a little heated there. Lilia updated her blog this morning, and I wanted to pass it along and ask all of you who happen to be the praying types to pray for her and the people in Colombia.

It’s sort of a reminder that there are terrible things happening everywhere… it’s not like this one deserves more prayer than the others. But it is a reminder to be diligent in our awareness and our prayer for all the people in the world who are in need.

Stirrings in Colombia


For those of you who might not be up-to-date with Colombian news, I thought I might fill you in on some interesting things that happened over the weekend.

For a while now, Colombia has been accusing Ecuador of housing the FARC, a group of guerrilla marxists. They are the ones in charge of the drug trade here. On Friday night, Colombian military was able to “take out” the #2 man in the FARC… 2 miles inside of the Ecuadorian border. They made an apology for invading Ecuadorian airspace, and continued in their belief that Ecuador is housing the FARC.

Well, the events that have transpired are rather frightening. Everyone here knows that Chavez is out of his mind, and yesterday morning, he place 6,000 troops and some tanks on the Venezuelan-Colombian border, emptied the Venezuelan embassy, Ecuadorian embassy, and now the Panamanian government, known to have leftist ties with Chavez has emptied their embassy as w ell. During this raid, the Colombian government found a computer containing information of a meeting between the President of Ecuador and the FARC leaders. So, on 3 borders we have countries who don’t like us… really don’t like us.

There are talks of a possible evacuation in the next few weeks.

The Colombian and American governments know exactly where the FARC are located, and some are hoping that this would solve the Chavez/FARC problem once and for all.

Yesterday at church, we prayed for a long time for peace… something relatively new to the Colombians anyway. Just in the last 10 years, the Colombian military has been able to protect the people from the atrociousness of the FARC. Living here, you hear so many stories about the FARC and what they did and still do to people. It would be amazing if that threat no longer existed for the Colombian people.

Pray for us. Pray for the BEST for Colombia.


Terrorists are people too

I’m not sure how I feel about the most recent actions of Hamas. The Palestinians in the Gaza Strip were starving, without fuel or medicine, and had been under siege for months. And yet it is a terrorist organization that has given them a temporary reprieve so that the hungry might eat again and the sick might be tended.

What they did was a good thing, and President Mubarak [of Egypt] was honourable in allowing the Palestinians to pass, shop, and greet old friends. The smugglers are out of work, and I feel a bit bad for them, but it’s good for the majority of the people…

But seriously, this is Hamas. They’ve bombed civilians in Israel and regularly fire rockets into residential areas. They’re self-professed terrorists working to bring down the Israeli state at all costs. They’re number 12 on our List of Designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations. But in this situation, they’re the good guys.

As I was thinking about it yesterday, it once again drove home for the me the realization that even evil people (or would it be more accurate to call them people who perform evil acts?) are people too. They have hopes and dreams, families they love and want to protect, and often they have good intentions. They love and weep just as we, my friends, do. I neither justify nor approve of their response to their circumstances, but I cannot hate them. If anything, I pity the situation in which they have been thrust. I am sorry they feel their actions are necessary.

And I have to recognize when they have done a good thing. Good in the name of evil is still good, just as evil in the name of good is still evil… but they have done a good thing. Regardless of their terrorist status, I am glad they have helped these people and kept them from starving. I just pray that this action by them will not lead to more violence and deaths.