November Flashbacks

Once a month I’m doing flash­backs to past eras in my blog.

One Year Ago: November 2016

A year ago the shock to the sys­tem was Trump’s elec­tion. One reac­tion of mine was a promise to blog more; I set up the sys­tem but I’m still not as fric­tion­less about it as I’d like.

Wak­ing Up to Pres­i­dent Trump: We do not get to choose our era or the chal­lenges it throws at us. Only some­one with his­tor­i­cal amne­sia would say this is unprece­dent­ed in our his­to­ry. The enslave­ment of mil­lions and the geno­cide of mil­lions more are dark stains indeli­bly soaked into the very found­ing of the nation. But much will change, par­tic­u­lar­ly our naiv­i­ty and false opti­mism in an inevitable for­ward progress of our nation­al sto­ry.

Five Years Ago: November 2012

Five years ago I wrote about how I had been blog­ging for fif­teen years. Do the math: it’s now 20 frig­ging years since I start­ed blog­ging.

Fif­teen Years of Blog­ging: I keep double-checking the math but it keeps adding up. In Novem­ber 1997 I added a fea­ture to my two-year-old peace web­site. I called this new enti­ty Non­vi­o­lence Web Upfront and updat­ed it week­ly with orig­i­nal fea­tures and curat­ed links to the best online paci­fist writ­ing. I wrote a ret­ro­spec­tive of the “ear­ly blog­ging days” in 2005 that talks about how it came about and gives some con­text about the proto-blogs hap­pen­ing back in 1997.

Ten Years Ago: November 2007

Free­lanc­ing and work­ing the overnight shift at Shoprite, I won­dered if my Quak­er­ness was hope­less­ly use­less to my new cir­cum­stances.

Who are we part one (just what pam­phlet do I give the tat­tooed ex-con?): I love the fel­low who gave the mes­sage and I appre­ci­at­ed his min­istry. But the whole time I won­dered how this would sound to peo­ple I know now, like the friend­ly but hot-tempered Puer­to Rican ex-con less than a year out of a eight-year stint in fed­er­al prison, now work­ing two eight hour shifts at almost-minimum wage jobs and try­ing to stay out of trou­ble. How does the the­o­ry of our the­ol­o­gy fit into a code of con­duct that doesn’t start off assum­ing mid­dle class norms.

Twenty Years Ago: November 1997

Four years before 9/11, I was ask­ing how we could break the cycle of ter­ror­ism.

How Come the U.S. Trains All the Ter­ror­ists?: It would seem a sim­ple case of U.S. mil­i­tarism com­ing home to roost, but it is not so sim­ple and it is not uncom­mon. Fol­low most trails of ter­ror­ism and you’ll find Unit­ed States gov­ern­ment fund­ing some­where in the recent past.

Expanding the Quaker writing pool

Shhh: there have been a few times late­ly when I wish we had more options when choos­ing arti­cles forFriends Jour­nal issues. Yes yes, we did notice that the fea­ture arti­cle con­trib­u­tors for the Octo­ber issue on “Con­science” were all old­er men and that the top­ics were per­haps a bit too famil­iar for Friends Jour­nal (non­vi­o­lence, civ­il dis­obe­di­ence, con­sci­en­tious objec­tion). They were all great arti­cles. And I think clich­es can be impor­tant (see foot­note below) for a pub­li­ca­tion like ours. But yeah.

I had hoped the idea of con­science would leap up to new writ­ers, espe­cial­ly in our cur­rent polit­i­cal cli­mate, and that the arti­cles might serve as a bridge between 1960s Quak­er activism and today. Some­times our themes inspire writ­ers and some­times they don’t.

I’ve occa­sion­al­ly writ­ten Quak­er­ran­ter blog posts about upcom­ing sub­mis­sion oppor­tu­ni­ties but I’d like to make it more offi­cial and post these every month from the Friends Jour­nal web­site. We’re call­ing the fea­ture “From the Editor’s Desk.”

I’d also like you all to share these with peo­ple you think should be writ­ing for us, espe­cial­ly if they’re new writ­ers com­ing from dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives. Diver­si­ties of all kind are always wel­come.

I was a Quak­er blog­ger (and thus writer) for many years and I worked for Friends Jour­nal for part of that time but I only once sent in a sub­mis­sion before I became senior edi­tor. Why? Was I wait­ing to be asked? Was I unsure what I might write about? What­ev­er the rea­son, we need to always be find­ing and encour­ag­ing new peo­ple. Some of the most inter­est­ing arti­cles we’ve pub­lished start­ed after one of our fans shared an upcom­ing issue top­ic with some­one who was out­side of our net­work. My goal with these posts is real­ly to encour­age you all to share these in emails and on your Face­book walls so we can keep expand­ing the Quak­er writer uni­verse.

Here’s the first one: a call for writ­ers for the March 2018 issue on Quak­ers and the Holy Land.

Foot­note: Every once in a while we’ll get some arti­cle in and I’ll sigh because I can remem­ber a pre­vi­ous arti­cle that cov­ered the same ground. When I go to look it up I real­ize that the ear­li­er arti­cle was pub­lished fif­teen or more years ago. We have new read­ers every year and it’s okay to cir­cle around to core themes every decade or so. We also need to remem­ber the inter­est­ing peo­ple and inci­dents that hap­pened long enough ago because our col­lec­tive mem­o­ry is always in the process of fad­ing. I’m a peacenik long­time Quak­er so I knew Dan Seeger was the named defen­dant in a major land­mark Supreme Court deci­sion in the 1960s, for exam­ple, but I don’t assume most Friends knew this. It’s still a cool sto­ry. It still inspires. It’s impor­tant to keep the sto­ry alive.

Essential Mac Apps 2017

Oh dear: a few weeks ago Wess Daniels start­ed a Twit­ter dis­cus­sion about the new Mac app Card­hop. In the thread he asked me about oth­er apps which apps I find essen­tial. I thought I’d type up some­thing in ten min­utes but then the draft post kept grow­ing. I’m sure I still missed some. I guess I didn’t real­ize how par­tic­u­lar I am about my com­put­ing envi­ron­ment. 🙂


Okay, maybe it’s a bit OCD but I hate clut­tered Mac menubars run­ning along the top of my screen. This app was just rebuilt for High Sier­ra and is an essen­tial tool. I have most every­thing hid­den and have set up a key­board short­cut (the little-used right “option” key) to tog­gle the full menubar icon set.


This is my favorite cal­en­dar app. It sits in the menubar, ready to give a beau­ti­ful agen­da view with just a sin­gle tap. It can open up to a full view. Man­age cal­en­dars is easy and the nat­ur­al lan­guage pro­cess­ing is sub­urb.


Just released, this is Fantastical’s newest cousin, an app for man­ag­ing con­tacts from Flex­ibits. It works with what­ev­er you have set up for con­tacts on your Mac (I use Google but iCloud is fine too). Giv­en Flexibit’s track record, and Cardhop’s resem­blance to the dis­con­tin­ued Cobook, this is like­ly to be a win­ner for me.


I’ve been a Chrome user since the week it debuted but late­ly I’ve been try­ing to switch to Safari, want­i­ng its supe­ri­or bat­tery man­age­ment and sync­ing of book­marks and tabs with iOS. Many of Safari’s annoy­ances have lessoned as Apple itin­er­at­ed with each release. There are enough exten­sions now that I can get by. I am, though, one of those weird peo­ple whom John Gru­ber iden­ti­fied: wannabee Safari users who real­ly like Fav­i­cons in tabs. For­tu­nate­ly, Fav­i­cono­g­ra­ph­er has come along. There are occa­sion­al odd­i­ties (float­ing icons, icons that don’t match site) but over­all it improves the Safari expe­ri­ence enough to make it a win over Chrome.

1Blocker for Mac

Uses the built-in con­tent fil­ter­ing sys­tem built into Mac Safari. Good sync­ing with the iOS app. “Con­tent fil­ter­ing” (aka block­ing) has become an impor­tant secu­ri­ty con­cern and let’s face it: the web runs so much bet­ter with­out all the crap that some sites throw in along with their con­tent. You can whitelist sites that respect read­ers. Hon­or­able men­tion in Chrome or as an alter­na­tive for Safari is uBlock Ori­gin, a great block­er (and dis­tinct from stan­dard uBlock, which I don’t rec­om­mend).


Lets you remap the gen­er­al­ly use­less Caps Lock key. I have it mapped Brett-Terpstra style so that a sin­gle click opens Spot­light search and a hold and click acts as a hyper key (imag­ine a shift key that you can use for any key­stroke).


Remap keys and key com­bi­na­tions. With Kara­bin­er, I can use it to have Capslock-C open a par­tic­u­lar app, for instance.


I used to think VPNs were a lux­u­ry but with peo­ple hack­ing in on pub­lic Wi-Fi accounts and the loss of pri­va­cy, I’ve signed up for this easy-to-use VPN ser­vice. One account can pow­er mul­ti­ple devices so my lap­top and phone are secured.


It’s been around for years. I cur­rent­ly have 13,000 notes stored in Ever­note, includ­ing every issue of the mag­a­zine I work for going back to the mid-1950s. There was a time a few years ago when I was wor­ried for Ever­note, as it kept chas­ing quirky side projects as its main app got bug­gi­er and bug­gi­er. But they’ve had a shake-up, ditched the dis­trac­tions and have built the ser­vice back up. Most of my projects are orga­nized with Ever­note.


There are a gazil­lion writ­ing apps out there that com­bine Mark­down writ­ing syn­tax with min­i­mal­ist inter­faces (Bear, IaWriter, Byword) but Ulysses has edged its way to being my favorite, with quick sync­ing and abil­i­ty to post direct­ly to Word­Press.


There are also a gazil­lion task man­agers. Todoist does a good job of keep­ing projects that need due dates in order.


You should be using a pass­word man­ag­er. Repeat: you should be using a pass­word man­ag­er. 1Password is rock sol­id. They’ve recent­ly changed their eco­nom­ic mod­el and strong­ly favor sub­scrip­tion accounts. While I’ve tried to lim­it just how many auto-pulling sub­scrip­tions I have, I under­stand the ratio­nale and have switched.


A great email app for Mac and iOS that can dis­play and sort your Gmail accounts (and oth­ers too). Almost too many options if you’re the kind to fid­dle with that sort of thing but easy to get start­ed and great with just the defaults.


Google and Apple and clouds

The Big-G should get a shoutout: it pow­ers the data­bas­es for my email, cal­en­dar, con­tacts, and pho­tos. All my hard­ware has migrat­ed over to Apple, helped in large part by the open­ing up of its ecosys­tem to third-party apps.

What’s also use­ful to note is that all of the data-storing ser­vices are cloud based. If my phone or lap­top dis­ap­peared, I could bor­row a new one and be up to speed almost imme­di­ate­ly. Since many of these apps run on data­bas­es run by Google, I can also switch apps or even have mul­ti­ple apps access­ing the same infor­ma­tion for dif­fer­ent pur­pos­es. There’s a real free­dom to the app ecosys­tem these days.

October flashbacks: Turns of phrases, Quaker political influence, and of course Halloween

Appar­ent­ly I once had an idea of peri­od­i­cal­ly shar­ing posts from ear­li­er eras of my blogs: flash­backs to archival posts writ­ten one, five, and ten years ear­li­er. Maybe I could man­age this once a month.

1 Year Ago: October 2016

Bring peo­ple to Christ / Leave them there: One thing I love to do is track back on cul­tur­al Quak­er turns of phrase. Here I looked at a phrase some­times attrib­uted to George Fox and find a large­ly for­got­ten British Friend who laid much of the ground­work for Quak­er mod­ernism and the unit­ing of Amer­i­can Quak­ers.

5 Years: October 2012

The secret decoder ring for Red and Blue states: Dis­cus­sion of the Quak­er cul­tur­al influ­ence of Amer­i­can vot­ing pat­terns based on David Hack­ett Fischer’s fas­ci­nat­ing (if over-argued) book Albion’s Seed.

10 Years: October 2007

An Autum­nal Hal­loween: A fam­i­ly post, pic­tures of kids post­ed to the web long before Insta­gram was found­ed.

The lost A List

As A List Hol­ly­wood stars come out to tell their Har­vey Wein­stein couch harass­ment sto­ries, I have to won­der about those who didn’t make it through after say­ing no — actress­es who saw their roles evap­o­rate and left act­ing. The New York Times head­lines pro­fil­ing Wein­stein accusers touts Gwyneth Pal­trow and Angeli­na Jolie but also intro­duces us a woman who is now a psy­chol­o­gy pro­fes­sor in Col­orado. How many bet­ter actress­es and strong-minded women would there be in Hol­ly­wood if so many hadn’t been forced out?

I thought of this after read­ing by a tweet from the actress Rose Marie. She’s best known as one of the jovial side­kicks from the 1960s’ Dick Van Dyke Show. Not to dimin­ish the rest of the cast, but Rose Marie is one of the best rea­sons to watch the show, espe­cial­ly dur­ing those rare moments she’s allowed to step out from her character’s wise­crack­ing spin­ster per­sona and sing or act. On Twit­ter, she shared that she lost a music con­tract in the 1950s because she wouldn’t sleep with a pro­duc­er.

What if a tal­ent­ed actress like Rose Marie had been giv­en more oppor­tu­ni­ties and wasn’t just known for a sup­port­ing part in a old sit­com? What if the psy­chol­o­gy pro­fes­sor had got­ten the Shake­speare in Love lead? (Imag­ine a world where Pal­trow was only known to 800 or so Face­book friends for too-perfect fam­i­ly pics and memes from dubi­ous health sites.)

Dis­claimer: This is a minor point com­pared with any actress­es who weren’t able to deal with the harass­ment and the indus­try silenc­ing machin­ery. I’m sure there are tragedies that are more than just career piv­ots.

Quakers acting badly

Friends don’t have a par­tic­u­lar­ly good track record with regards to con­tro­ver­sy. There’s no rea­son we need to pre­tend to be talk­ing his­tor­i­cal­ly. We’ve had two major year­ly meet­ings break up in this sum­mer (meet Sierra-Cascades Year­ly Meet­ing and North Car­oli­na Fel­low­ship of Friends), with at least one more “at bat” for some future long hot sum­mer.

Con­tro­ver­sies flare up in many places. Friend Sa’ed Atshan just broke his media silence to talk about the can­ce­la­tion of his talk at Friends’ Cen­tral School in Feb­ru­ary and the sub­se­quent walk-outs, fir­ings, and lit­i­ga­tions. The con­tro­ver­sy around Avis Wan­da McClinton’s dis­own­ment by Upper Dublin Meet­ing con­tin­ues to incense large num­bers of Philadel­phia Friends, with fuel to the fire com­ing from the role that the Undo­ing Racism Group does or doesn’t have in the year­ly meet­ing struc­ture. Last year a major­i­ty of Friends of col­or boy­cotted pub­lic events at the FGC Gath­er­ing over frus­tra­tion at the site selec­tion process and the under­ly­ing issues extend to oth­er Quak­er venues.

The most-commented recent arti­cle in Friends Jour­nal is “It Breaks My Heart” by Kate Pruitt from the online June/July issue. Many read­ers relat­ed to her sense of alien­ation and loss. Two com­ments that hit me the hard­est were:

Not all Friends are found in Quak­er Meet­ings. You’re bet­ter off with­out your meet­ing.

Gone now is the hope… of find­ing com­mu­ni­ty among Quak­ers. To be frank, why both­er? There’s plen­ty of bro­ken­ness right where I am.

And I get enough “Why I’m leav­ing Friends” man­i­festos in my email inbox every month that I could turn it into a reg­u­lar Friends Jour­nal col­umn.

It seems to me that are a num­ber of under­ly­ing issues that tie these con­tro­ver­sies togeth­er. What do we do when a group of Friends starts act­ing in a man­ner that seems con­trary to our under­stand­ing of Quak­er tes­ti­monies and prac­tices? How do we bal­ance love and judge­ment when con­flict aris­es among us? When do we break out of Quak­er nice­ness? Maybe even more chal­leng­ing, how do we main­tain our integri­ty and account­abil­i­ty when con­tro­ver­sy breaks us into camps will­ing to engage in exag­ger­a­tion? And just what do we say when the out­side pub­lic only gets half the sto­ry or thinks that one side is speak­ing for all Friends?

So this is a plug for sub­mis­sions for December’s Friends Jour­nal.  The theme is “Con­flict and Con­tro­ver­sy” and the sub­mis­sion dead­line is Sep­tem­ber 9. We’re not look­ing for blow-by-blow accounts of being mis­treat­ed, and we’re not ter­ri­bly inter­est­ed (this time) in man­i­festos about Quak­er cul­tur­al norms. I’m less inter­est­ed in spe­cif­ic issues than I am the meta of dis­cern­ment: How do indi­vid­u­als or small groups of Friends move for­ward in the heat of con­tro­ver­sy. What do we do when the easy solu­tions have failed? How do we decide when it’s time to break out of Quak­er nice­ness to lay down some truth — or time to kick the dust off your san­dals and move along?