Isabella’s New Computer

Yes, we got Bella a new computer and it’s not a Mac. No, I have not apostatized or lost my mind. I am still a dyed-in-the-wool lifelong Apple fanatic and shareholder who always chooses the Apple product. So why a Chromebook?

A couple of simple reasons. First, we’ve been thinking of getting her a computer of some kind for her own. She’s 12 years old now and starting to do work that requires regular access to a computer for writing and other needs. For one thing, her writing ability outstrips her typing ability, meaning her ability to compose something in her mind is far greater than her ability to type it out, so we need voice-to-text typing.

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Why Non-Swing State Conservative Voters May Want to Vote Trump Anyway

I have publicly stated before that I didn’t plan to vote for Trump or Clinton or Johnson or Stein, that I might throw away my presidential vote this year.

After all, I live in Massachusetts, which has absolutely no chance of giving its electoral college votes to anyone but Hillary Clinton. As a pro-lifer, I won’t vote for Clinton or Johnson or Stein and while Trump has made some noises about being pro-life and appointing strict constructionist Supreme Court Justices, there’s too much crazy in his baggage train.


However, a scenario has come to my attention that may make it more important that I cast a vote for Trump for the good of the country, even though it won’t affect the electoral college.

The FiveThirtyEight blog has an article that posits the circumstances in which Trump could win the Electoral College and lose the popular vote. I can’t think of anything worse for our country. If you thought the liberal reaction to Bush winning that way in 2000 was bad, it will be over the top in 2016. Our already fractured country will just dissolve into bits as liberals and Trump-haters of all stripes declare his presidency illegitimate and seek to overturn it or neuter it or overthrow it. It would tear us apart.

We need to make sure that if he wins, it’s both the popular and electoral college.1

  1. And, no, I won’t vote for Hillary for oh so many reasons, but not least because she loves abortion.

Rotisserie v. Home-cooked Chicken

There are several rules for smart shopping at the grocery store, but one is to pay attention to the price per pound. Consumers are often tricked into thinking they’re getting a deal when they’re comparing two items that seem the same, but are actually different.

That’s the case with those rotisserie chickens at the supermarket. They look like a good deal, the same price as the raw whole chickens, but pre-cooked. But are you really getting the same thing?

Though it may not seem that way to the consumer’s eye, rotisserie chickens tend to the small side—maybe two to two and a half pounds. The broiler chickens that sell for the same price are more like four and a half pounds. Even after they’ve been cooked—a process that, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, reduces their weight by a little more than 20%—broiler chickens are still much bigger.

After buying rotisserie and uncooked chickens at a bunch of national chains and then comparing the per-pound cooked cost, except for Costco and Smart & Final, the savings from home cooking could be substantial.

On the other hand, as a takeout meal, it’s a better deal than a lot of fast food places and potentially healthier too.

Bedside Manner

Does kindness in healthcare matter? Figuring out whether it makes a measurable difference in medical outcomes is difficult, but more than four decades of exposure to the healthcare system, including five surgical childbirths and a miscarriage for Melanie, leaves me with the indelible impression that the system is weighted toward treating patients like objects with a problem to be solved, rather than individual persons to empathize with.

At the moment, the best answer to the kindness contrarian is: Even if the evidence in favor of the therapeutic benefits of empathy is weak, there is no evidence that refutes the idea that empathy improves care. And too many patients have stories of how unkindness or the sheer obliviousness of doctors can be devastating and indelible.

That said, my current doctor is great one-on-one, much better than my previous doctor, who got visibly annoyed when I asked questions.

Apple’s Strange Bedfellows

I find it highly ironic that as politically liberal as Apple’s corporate culture and executive team is, they find themselves being opposed by uber-liberal moonbat Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-MA, even as Apple CEO Tim Cook holds fundraisers for conservative GOP leader, Rep. Paul Ryan. Politics does make strange bedfellows.

Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren today gave a speech where she accused Amazon, Apple, and Google of attempting to “snuff out competition” by locking out smaller companies, reports Recode.

“Google, Apple and Amazon have created disruptive technologies that changed the world, and … they deserve to be highly profitable and successful,” Warren said. “But the opportunity to compete must remain open for new entrants and smaller competitors that want their chance to change the world again.”

Uncatechized Catholics reject Church teaching

In the Boston Globe‘s coverage of Laetitia Amoris, Pope Francis’s apostolic exhortation on the family, they include the results of a poll of Catholics on Catholic teaching about marriage, sex, and family. Surprise! They disagree with Church teaching.

Indeed, “Amoris Laetitia” clearly states that same-sex unions “may not simply be equated with marriage” and that children need both a mother and a father. That reflects long-held Catholic teachings. …

The papal exhortation also proposes no changes to the church’s opposition to artificial forms of birth control, a prohibition that polls suggest all but a small fraction of American Catholics ignore.

Meanwhile, water remains wet. And the anti-Pope Francis crowd among some conservative Catholics continue to criticize him for undermining Church teaching, when he isn’t, apparently because they believe the media and pundits when they say he is.  

Working the Night Shift or Is It Just a Gimmick?

Night Shift

One of the new features of Apple’s iPhone and iPad operating system, iOS 9.3, is a feature called Night Shift. If enabled, at a specific time of night before you go to bed, the screen will begin to shift the color spectrum from the blues to the oranges.

The idea is that prior to the advent of artificial light, we existed in circadian rhythms, getting sleepy when it was dark and waking when the sun came up. And even if we stayed awake after dark, we did so by firelight and candlelight. The warm orange-ish light of incandescent light bulbs kept up that fiction for the instincts in the depths of our brains. But, according to these theories, the blue (“day”) light of our computer screens and smartphones and Kindles and iPads have started to mess with us. As a nation, we’re getting terrible sleep, they say, due to everyone staring at their blue screens right until bed. (Although I think I and many other parents get terrible sleep because our children keep waking us.)

So here come these tools to help us adjust to bedtime. In addition to Apple’s Night Shift in iOS 9.3, we have the Mac app Flux, which has been around a lot longer. This app does a bit more than Apple’s Night Shift, giving fine-grained control over the color temperature shift and when and how it shifts. I had tried it before and then deleted it because the orange pall it cast over everything was too much for me to bear. But with Night Shift coming along, I’m trying it again.

But there’s one problem with the idea that this is going to fix our “blue” light issue: The one giant screen we’re all looking at before bedtime. Yes, our televisions.1

Does watching TV undo all the alleged good of Night Shift and Flux? Is there even any science to back any of this up? Or are we all just putting an orange hue over all our screens for no good reason?

Actually, it may be useless gimmickry after all.

  1. My backlight Kindle Paperwhite is also blue LCD as well and I’m looking at that even as I’m in bed. ↩︎

Kids, cars, and seatbelts … Surprise!


My children always act like it’s a surprise that when we’re in the car, we’re actually going somewhere.

Every time the kids get in the car, my instructions are the same: “Get right in your seats and buckle up. Right away.” Then I continue our usual laborious loading process. By the time I’m in my seat, buckled, with the car running, it’s been several minutes. Then I put the car into reverse and hear the same thing every time.

“Wait! I’m not buckled!” It’s like this is their first time in a car. Oh no, why is it moving, what’s going on with this crazy moving box on wheels? What kind of insane contraption is this conveyance I don’t remember ever being in before (although we were just in it yesterday)? I’m a marble in a pinball machine, why oh why am I not strapped to something?

“We need to go now!,” I growl at them. “You better be buckled by the time we’re in the street.” Wailing. Tears. Gnashing of teeth (mine). Paroxysms of abject terror (theirs). Finally, eventually, they get the buckles on and everything is fine the rest of the trip.

Until we get in the car to come home.

Catholics: You need to use your words

Pope Francis celebrated Mass in Rome last week for the employees of the Institute for Religious Works. Following his pattern, he didn’t focus directly on issues related to the “Vatican Bank” that have been in the news, but instead approached broader themes of Catholic discipleship. In particular, he preached, in his very direct manner, that the Church is not a babysitter.

He was saying that the Church doesn’t exist to be like a mother whose only concern is getting her fussy children to sleep so she can have some peace and quiet, instead of also being concerned with raising them into fully functioning adults who can stand on their own two feet someday to make their way in the world. And thus the Church isn’t here to make people in the pews comfortable, to give them comforting, vague words that God loves them just as they are, sing some songs, and then send them on their merry way until they show up for another hour next Sunday.

Instead, the Church is here to proclaim the kingdom of God and to send her children forth into the world, making disciples of all nations.

“Oh, I can’t do that. I don’t have time. Or the strength. Or I’m too afraid,” you can hear people say. Wrong!

According to the article in L’Osservatore Romano describing the homily, “Whoever knows Jesus has the strength and the courage to proclaim him. And whoever has received baptism has the strength to walk, to go forward, to evangelize and ‘when we do this the Church becomes a mother who generates children’ capable of bring[ing] Christ to the world.”

This is the essence of the New Evangelization. It’s also the essence of the “Rebuilt” movement starting around the Church of the Nativity in Baltimore that has now become a book[1]. Catholics have to stop being consumers in the pew, always interested in what we “get” out of Mass, concerned with what the Church gives us, but also demanding that the Church stop bothering us with difficult teachings on sexuality, the culture of life, and the like. Instead, we have to become fully realized Catholics who seek out the lost, who invite them to explore a relationship with Jesus Christ, who is the source and summit of a well-lived life.

And given that somewhere around 80% of self-identified Catholics do not join us in worship on any given Sunday, we don’t even have to venture far outside our family to find people to invite.

Pope Francis concluded his homily: “Let us ask the Lord for the grace to become baptized persons who are brave and sure that the Holy Spirit who is in us, received at baptism, always moves us to proclaim Jesus Christ with our life, our testimony and even with our words”.

And I would say that for too many of us, myself included, we think that we’re witnessing enough with our life that we don’t have to use words, and if we’re honest it’s because we’d rather not use words in order to not be made uncomfortable. Sorry, but like I tell my toddler, “You need to use your words,” because, friend, the witness of your life isn’t doing job. Maybe when we’re all like St. Francis or Bl. Mother Teresa, actions will speak louder than words, but for most of us they don’t.

  1. We did several episodes of The Good Catholic Life radio program, including one that I was on, about the Rebuilt phenomenon. You can find shownotes and audio recordings on the website.  ↩

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