Kirk Israel's commonplace and blog. Quotes and links daily since 2001.

Why do people get angry when I try to share the word of God with them? I only do it because I care about them deeply and don't want them to end up in hell. I feel like some people avoid me because of this. Is there any way to get through to them?


The entire process is not what you think it is.

It is specifically designed to be uncomfortable for the other person because it isn't about converting them to your religion. It is about manipulating you so you can't leave yours.

If this tactic was about converting people it would be considered a horrible failure. It recruits almost no one who isn't already willing to join. Bake sales are more effective recruiting tools.

On the other hand, it is extremely effective at creating a deep tribal feeling among its own members.

The rejection they receive is actually more important than the few people they convert. It causes them to feel a level of discomfort around the people they attempt to talk to. These become the "others". These uncomfortable feelings go away when they come back to their congregation, the "Tribe".

If you take a good look at the process it becomes fairly clear. In most cases, the religious person starts out from their own group, who is encouraging and supportive. They are then sent out into the harsh world where people repeatedly reject them. Mainly because they are trained to be so annoying.

These brave witnesses then return from the cruel world to their congregation where they are treated like returning heroes. They are now safe. They bond as they share their experiences of reaching out to the godless people to bring them the truth. They share the otherness they experience.

Once again they will learn that the only place they are accepted is with the people who think as they do. It isn't safe to leave the group. The world is your enemy, but we love you.

This is a pain reward cycle that is a common brainwashing technique. The participants become more and more reliant on the "Tribe" because they know that "others" reject them.

Mix in some ritualized chanting, possibly a bit of monotonous repetition of instructions, add a dash of fear of judgment by an unseen, but all-powerful entity who loves you if you do as you are told and you get a pretty powerful mix.

Sorry, I have absolutely no wish to participate in someones brainwashing ritual.

Interesting point. I think too about other ways some religions really work for that don't-get-comfortable-with-them approach... even non proselytizing ones like Judaism, maybe all the food restrictions are there in part to discourage sitting together to break bread... (Also I think of E.O. Wilson's remark "The illogic of religions is not a weakness in them but their essential strength. Acceptance of the bizarre creation myths binds the members together.")

(I'm thinking about how my history with The Salvation Army fits into it. From its origin in the mid-1800s on through the mid-1900s, it was doing a TON of streetpreaching, going to the pubs and using brassy music and fervent words to bring people away from the devil and demon rum, and its tales of its own history were full of successful conversions. The church was more sedate by the time I got there. (Or as it asked itself, "Has The Fire Gone Out?") but non-crowd-blending trappings like the militaristic uniforms remained, at least for those most intensely involved in the church... but generally, only on Sundays, while historically some folks might wear the uniform daily.)
A line on the Judge John Hodgman podcast makes me think about how my demographic, "Generation X", is sandwiched between larger groups. I guess it makes me feel a little special. Here's a piece explaining us so you can market to us and here's a nice rant Generation X is sick of your BS.

For all the complaining, it's been a great generation to be a techie in, at least for the dudes: growing up with home computers in the 80s, then riding the first dot com boom... if you survived the post-Y2K implosion you were probably in good shape.

it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and be thought a fool, speaking requires too much effort when you could be using that energy to think of all the fool activities to do, such as eating a poison berry and falling down a well.

It's one thing to say, 'I don't fear death', but to laugh out loud somehow drives the idea home. It embodies our theology.
Rev. Laura Gentry

Today my Yoga teacher said that there's 2 types of tired, one where you require sleep, the other when you require peace. I really felt this.

You know what's cool? Concrete. It's liquid rock!
Slate continues a really excellent series on computer programming, Hello, "Hello, World", about the glory of that little program and the hubris programming can generate...
Interesting piece on the oddball time signature of The main song from the movie Terminator... basically it's topsy turvy because of difficulty setting up loopers (I often wonder about that, people who use realtime looping devices, how they get a clean even looping.)
"Hey, you know, I've been thinking," Toby said. "You know that I'm dying, right?"
Toby had never said anything like that before. Nothing so big. So definite. I felt numb. Like cold, hard concrete had been poured into all the little spaces in my head where I'd been hiding maybes.
"I guess."
"Do you see what that means?"
"I think so." "
Tell me."
"It means you won't be here much longer."
Toby nodded. "Yes, there's that, but, also, do you see? It means I can do whatever I want. We can do anything we want."
Carol Rifka Brunt, "Tell The Wolves I'm Home"
October 16, 2019
Simon Pitt writing on "Computer Files Are Going Extinct" (or "The Death of the Computer File.doc") had this nice line:
Years ago websites were made of files; now they are made of dependencies.
I would nitpick and say "files plus browsers and maybe a scripting language", but I think Pitt points to a major sea change. For me, coding is still about files - nouns - and then very well tested trustworthy verbs of the browser itself, and not too many intermediaries. Now coding is so much verb, so much process, and younger programmers put raw DOM into the same "low level stuff I don't need to think about much" level as an older CGI hacker might put assembly language.

The rest of the article was kind of delightful for us old-timers, reviewing how services and streams and what not have replaced quasi-physical files.

And I think that's a bummer. I'm currently reading Barbara Tversky's "Mind in Motion: How Action Shapes Thought". It really emphasizes how there's a physicality to our thoughts, that we turn to metaphors of space and motion all the time to make sense of our experiential data - and with files and folders, there was a physical nature to our filesystems as well. I kind of hate the iPhone's "all your photos as a big stream" approach to life, or using "smart folders" to take a giant heap of information. Folders can be clutzy and coarse grained, but there was a flexibility and sense of stability to them that the modern replacements lack.
Nice piece from Slate, The 36 Bits of Software That Changed Our Lives (Of course, a casual geek might wonder if that should be 32-Bit, but 18- and 36-bit machines were a thing back in the day...)
Pumpkin Carving at Millers!

Melissa's is the top left, mine is a custom design in the top middle... I tried to use the stem as an elephant's trunk, but I think the result was more "monstrous owl"....

Miller was totally on brand tho...

October 14, 2019
JP Honk played PRONK!
October 13, 2019
"Hey Ted, thanks for lending me 'All Man.' I read the whole book last night, and it's really put me in touch with my true inner 'Brute Force.' It changed my life overnight."
"That's fantastic, Reuben. Y'know the chapter by Charlton Heston really helped me to admit that I've always like swimsuit calendars, and that I never wanted to be 'a sensitive male.'"
"Hey you wanna go find a parking lot and beat the hell out of some total stranger?"
"Chill out, Spartacus"
Max Cannon, "Red Meat"
One of my favorite comics from college - I still use "Chill out, Spartacus" when someone is being needlessly aggressive.