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Is the iPhone XS Max 512 GB Expensive?

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Not compared to a MacBook Pro. Interesting comparison.

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rtreborb
6 days ago
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Great tweet
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Why You Should Go to Church Even When You Don’t Feel Like It

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David Sunday, pastor of New Covenant Bible Church in St. Charles, Illinois:

Friends, do you realize how vital it is to gather here together on the Lord’s Day, Sunday after Sunday? Satan loves to isolate us. This is a killer! Don’t neglect to gather together with God’s people in worship! You’re here today—but your presence here today is not just for today. It’s for five years from now. Twenty years from now. It’s for a time when you may find yourself alone in a cancer ward; or isolated from Christian fellowship in a desolate place; or in prison for your faith; or in terrible turmoil within your soul; or alone at home, in the middle of the night, after you’ve buried your loved one in the ground.

You cultivate the means of grace today for sustenance you may need way down the road.

There are seeds that are being planted today in your heart that may not blossom into full fruit until many days from now.

But your attendance in worship, your participation in baptism and the Lord’s Supper and confession and praise and thanksgiving and singing and intercession and hearing the preaching of God’s Word—it’s all being woven together by sovereign grace.

Through all these ordinary means of grace, God is weaving a tapestry of remembrance to sustain you in days to come, when your soul may be famished, when you may feel lost and alone—God will remind you then of something you heard, many years before; he will bring to your remembrance a song you had long since forgotten; a person who had taught you the Word of God; a face whose radiance in worship always inspired you; a faithful follower of Jesus who now has gone before you into his glorious presence—God will take sermons you’ve heard, and bear fruit from them in your life decades from now. You may not recall the exact content. But the good seed of God’s Word is being planted in the soil of your heart, and it will bear fruit in its season, just when you need it.

That’s why we meditate on the teachings of God in Scripture day and night. That’s why we gather in the house of God with the people of God week by week. We don’t do it just for the immediate benefit. We take the long view. We cultivate these rhythms of grace, we practice these disciplines of worship, so that when the years of drought come, we will remember: we will recall when our souls pour dry the days of praise within God’s house. And the very remembrance will sustain us.

The entire sermon, entitled “Preach the Gospel to Yourself When Your Soul Is Downcast,” is outstanding.

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rtreborb
12 days ago
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CodeSOD: Why I Hate Conference Swag (and What can be Done About it)

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Hey everyone - I'm at a conference this week I'd like to cover a WTF that I've been seeing this week - VENDOR SWAG.

IGC Show trade show floor Aug 2016

Ok, if you are one of those poor souls who are always heads down in code and never attend workshops or conferences, this won't make much sense to you, but here's the deal - companies will set up a booth or a table and will pass out swag in exchange for your contact info and (possibly) a lead. To me, this is easily the dirtiest transaction one can make and rife with inequalities. Your information is super valuable - as in possibly generating thousands or millions of sales dollars. The 'gift' will be SUPER cheap by comparison.

How cheap? WELL, here are some examples:

  1. Pens - My bag runneth over with pens. Really, I'm fine, I don't nee any more. Also, if you must make that your swag, don't make me 'work' for a pen. Really? I'm not going to sit through a session about hybridized lizards in the cloud for your crummy mass ordered pens.

  2. Buttons - If the button is made of money, and doesn't have a pin in the back, and it's actually just a $5 bill, then yeah, sure. Other than that? Big nope.

  3. Poor quality shirts or outright badly designed shirts - I know what I'm talking about here. Give me a shirt that YOU'D like to wear, and I don't mean just because you work there. Also - when you hand me a shirt that's made out of tissue paper thin material, it's like "Hey, let's not kid each other - you're just going to turn this thing into a rag."

  4. Four words - Fun Size Candy Bars - If you do this, I hate you on sight. You didn't plan ahead and ended up hitting Target on your way from the airport. Just because vendor halls are like Halloween trick-or-treating doesn't mean you have to handle it that way. Shame on you and your company for dialing that one in.

True - I can, and certainly do, just say "no thanks" to that miniature Butterfinger swag ought be good. An equal exchange that's not more like selling your soul for a pen.

So, with that said...the solution? Enter Virtual Swag or vSwag.

This year, I participated in my first Hackathon ever and our team's theme was Blockchain. After registering we were given a while to prepare which I took advantage of to research the topic and for me, that was pretty fun (but actually we only just made a team after arriving).

The way we planned it, conference attendees can collect vSwag tokens from vendors and redeem them for swag items.

Below is the Solidity file I fudged together based heavily on the Ethereum Crowdsale example, not knowing anything before the Hackathon (hence my 'horrible' comment). Now, if you actually know what you're doing (not me) and want to contribute, the project is out on Github or if you want to skip to the good stuff (and like memes) check out the PowerPoint (*chef kiss*).


pragma solidity ^0.4.18;

/* This is horrible code. */

contract vSwag {
    address public vendorName;
    uint public swagGoal;
    uint public amountRaised;
    uint public deadline;
    uint public price;
    //token public tokenReward;
    mapping(address => uint256) public balanceOf;
    bool swagGoalReached = false;
    bool vSwagClosed = false;

    event GoalReached(address recipient, uint totalAmountRaised);
    event SwagswagToken(address backer, uint amount, bool isContribution);

	 /* This creates an array with all balances */
   // mapping (address => uint256) public balanceOf;
	
    /**
     * Constructor function
     *
     * Setup the owner
     */
    function vSwagConstructor(
        address ifSuccessfulSendTo,
        uint swagGoalInEthers,
        uint durationInMinutes,
        uint etherCostOfEachToken,
        address addressOfTokenUsedAsReward
    ) public {
        vendorName = ifSuccessfulSendTo;
        swagGoal = swagGoalInEthers * 1 ether;
        deadline = now + durationInMinutes * 1 minutes;
        price = etherCostOfEachToken * 1 ether;
		balanceOf[msg.sender] = 1000;              // How much swag coin you got, captain?

    }

	/* Send swag */
    function transfer(address _to, uint256 _value) public returns (bool success) {
        require(balanceOf[msg.sender] >= _value);           // Check if the sender has enough
        require(balanceOf[_to] + _value >= balanceOf[_to]); // Check for overflows
        balanceOf[msg.sender] -= _value;                    // Subtract from the sender
        balanceOf[_to] += _value;                           // Add the same to the recipient
        return true;
    }
	
    /**
     * Fallback function
     *
     * The function without name is the default function that is called whenever anyone sends funds to a contract
     */
    function () payable public {
        uint amount = msg.value;
        balanceOf[msg.sender] += amount;
        amountRaised += amount;
        transfer(msg.sender, amount / price);
       emit SwagswagToken(msg.sender, amount, true);
    }

    modifier afterDeadline() { if (now >= deadline) _; }

    /**
     * Check if goal was reached
     *
     * Checks if the goal or time limit has been reached and ends the campaign
     */
    function checkGoalReached() public afterDeadline {
        if (amountRaised >= swagGoal){
            swagGoalReached = true;
            emit GoalReached(vendorName, amountRaised);
        }
    }


    /**
     * Decrement Swag
     *
     */
    function safeWithdrawal() public afterDeadline {
        if (!swagGoalReached) {
            uint amount = balanceOf[msg.sender];
            balanceOf[msg.sender] = 0;
            if (amount > 0) {
                if (msg.sender.send(amount)) {
                   emit SwagswagToken(msg.sender, amount, false);
                } else {
                    balanceOf[msg.sender] = amount;
                }
            }
        }

        if (swagGoalReached && vendorName == msg.sender) {
            if (vendorName.send(amountRaised)) {
               emit SwagswagToken(vendorName, amountRaised, false);
			} else {
				//something something...give back swag coin
                swagGoalReached = false;
            }
		
        }
    }
}

So, vendors, hear me now - steal this idea!

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rtreborb
12 days ago
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Best SWAG I've ever gotten from a conference? 1GB Dropbox coupon code.
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Cheating in Bird Racing

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I've previously written about people cheating in marathon racing by driving -- or otherwise getting near the end of the race by faster means than running. In China, two people were convicted of cheating in a pigeon race:

The essence of the plan involved training the pigeons to believe they had two homes. The birds had been secretly raised not just in Shanghai but also in Shangqiu.

When the race was held in the spring of last year, the Shanghai Pigeon Association took all the entrants from Shanghai to Shangqiu and released them. Most of the pigeons started flying back to Shanghai.

But the four specially raised pigeons flew instead to their second home in Shangqiu. According to the court, the two men caught the birds there and then carried them on a bullet train back to Shanghai, concealed in milk cartons. (China prohibits live animals on bullet trains.)

When the men arrived in Shanghai, they released the pigeons, which quickly fluttered to their Shanghai loft, seemingly winning the race.

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rtreborb
12 days ago
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The Sexual Revolution Hits Another Speed Bump

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Well, it looks like the sexual revolution has hit another speed bump. As it continues its long press toward completely redefining all we’ve ever believed about gender and sexuality, it has encountered a pretty significant issue. This issue appears to prove that many people are expressing loyalty to the revolution outwardly while actually denying it with their deepest and truest desires. Let’s take a quick look, then consider some of the implications.

A recent study by two Canadian researchers attempts to “describe the demographic characteristics of individuals who are willing to consider a transgender individual as a potential dating partner.” The researchers wanted to know whether people discriminate against transgendered people when it comes to romantic or sexual interest. How would they know whether such discrimination exists? Well, according to the terms of the sexual revolution, if transgendered people are truly the gender they identify with, they should be romantically and sexually desirable to those who are attracted to that gender. Thus people who were born male but now identify as women should be sexually appealing to heterosexual men. They are, after all, really and truly women, right? People who were born female but now identify as men should be considered romantically appealing to heterosexual women since they are really and truly men. Similarly, people who were born female but now identify as men, should be appealing to homosexual men. Anything less than this is evidence of a kind of inconsistency between what people say they believe and what they are actually willing to practice.

So what did this study find? The researchers concluded that transgendered people face extreme discrimination when it comes to romantic and sexual relationships. Nearly 1,000 people were asked about the genders of people they would be willing to date, and were able to choose as many of the following as they wished: cisgender man, cisgender woman, trans man, trans woman, and genderqueer. Virtually none of the heterosexuals surveyed indicated a willingness to date a transgendered person—just 1.8% of straight women and 3.3% of straight men. Homosexuals were only slightly more willing. A summary at the site them draws the following conclusions: “The high rates of trans exclusion from potential dating pools are undoubtedly due in part to cisnormativity, cissexism, and transphobia — all of which lead to lack of knowledge about transgender people and their bodies, discomfort with these unknowns, and fear of being discriminated against by proxy of one’s romantic partner. It is also possible that at least some of the trans exclusion is due to the fact that for some people, sexual orientation might be not (just) about a partner’s gender identity, but attraction to specific body types and/or judgment of reproductive capabilities.”

I believe this study is fascinating and important on a number of levels. Here are a few considerations.

First, I believe the majority of people in Western society today accept transgenderism as good and valid. They agree that some people experience gender dysphoria so that their gender and sex do not match. Most people are willing to grant that a man can be biologically female and a woman can be biologically male. Many even go so far as to celebrate transgenderism and to see its acceptance as a great victory of civil rights. However, the study seems to show that this acceptance and celebration is actually rather empty. The study has called their bluff by asking whether they believe this ideology enough to begin a romantic and/or sexual relationship with a transgendered person. The answer is a near-unanimous no. Their belief in transgenderism seems to be for other people, not for themselves.

Second, the study shows that the ultimate agenda of this phase of the sexual revolution is not merely to allow transgenderism, and not merely to accept it, and not even merely to celebrate it. The ultimate agenda is to believe in it to such an extent that a heterosexual man will be attracted to a person who identifies as female despite that person having male body parts. It’s really about the eradicating gender and sexual distinction altogether. A person today can wave the rainbow flag and march in the parade but still be considered a bigot if he or she or ze does not feel sexual attraction to transgendered people.

Third, the study shows that for the sexual revolution to be fully successful, it will need to unhinge reproduction from biology. And, as it happens, I’ve seen a number of articles lately making the case that it’s time to stop considering “traditional” reproduction as normal or normative. They insist we need stop correlating sex and reproduction, wombs and reproduction, breastfeeding and reproduction, and so on. Instead, reproduction should be spoken about in such broad terms that the range of “normal” is expanded to include IVF, three-parent babies, surrogacy, and so on. Technology and ideology should ensure we allow no “judgment of reproductive capabilities” in our romantic or sexual preferences, since men will no longer need women and women will no longer need men to reproduce in a way that’s considered perfectly mainstream.

Ultimately, the study shows that getting people to pay lip service to a revolution is far easier than getting people to fully embrace it in their hearts, their lives, and their bedrooms. Perhaps this is more than even this revolution can accomplish.

alt

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rtreborb
27 days ago
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Which cities have people-watching street cafes?

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D. asks me that question, citing Morocco, BA, and Paris.  Here are a few factors militating in favor of such cafes:

1. The weather should be reasonable.  This militates in favor of Mediterranean climates, with Paris eking through nonetheless.  It hurts much of Asia.

2. The broad highways and thoroughfares should be removed from where the cafes might go.  This factor harms Los Angeles, which otherwise has excellent weather, and helps La Jolla.  Note that BA and some of the larger Moroccan cities were designed and built up around the same time, based on broadly European models, and to fit early 20th century technologies.

3. Street crime must be acceptably low.  Bye bye Brazil.

4. Pollution should be fairly low, otherwise sitting outside is unpleasant.  This harm many Indian and Chinese cities.

5. Streets must not be too steep.  Sorry La Paz, and yes here at MR we adjust steepness coefficients by altitude.

6. Skyscrapers must not be too plentiful.  This harms Manhattan, because the sunlight is mostly blocked.

7. Explicit or implicit marginal tax rates on labor should be relatively high.  Another boost for the Mediterranean.  And is cafe culture therefore correlated with smoking culture?

7b. Explicit or implicit land rents should be “low enough.”  After all, they have to be willing to let you sit there all day.  Just try that in midtown Manhattan.

8. The cities should have mixed-use neighborhoods, well-connected to each other by foot, conducive to many diverse groups of people walking through.  This hurts many parts of the United States and also some parts of Latin America.  It is a big gain for Paris.

9. The city dwellers need some tradition of “being alone,” so that these individuals use the cafe to connect to the outside.  You will note that in many parts of Italy, the people-watching street cafe is outcompeted by the “stationary street conference, five guys who know each other really well yelling at each other about who knows what?”  They never get around to that cafe chair.  So the city needs some degree of anonymity, but not too much.  This harms some of the more traditional societies found around the Mediterranean.  On the other side of the distribution, too strong a tradition of television-watching hurts cafe life too.

10. Another competitor to the people-watching street cafe is the zócalo town square tradition of Mexico.  I myself prefer the centralization of the zócalo (though admittedly it does not scale well fractally).  So the city also has to fail in providing just the right kind of parks and park benches and focality in its very center.  Surprise, surprise, but dysfunctional local public goods are by no means unheard of around the Mediterranean, Paris too, BA, and cities such as Casablanca.

What else?

The post Which cities have people-watching street cafes? appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

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rtreborb
58 days ago
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skorgu
58 days ago
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