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. 🙂

Bartender

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.

Fantastical

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.

Cardhop

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.

Favioconographer

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).

Karabiner-Elements

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).

BetterTouchTool

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

Tunnelbear

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.

Evernote

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.

Ulysses

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.

Todoist

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

1Password

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.

Airmail

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?