Category Archives: Religion

Things sent to me: followers

Twitter and Facebook are rank amateurs at recruiting followers.

Jesus asks that you follow him

Follow me, but not on your cell phone.

Things sent to me: politics and religion

The First Amendment to the Constitution is often cited to mean all sorts of things. It is a lengthy sentence, but just a sentence:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The first clause, up to the first comma, makes a simple sentence: Congress (and by extension any other government body) can make no law regarding the establishment of religion. Nothing for any given religion, nothing against any religion: no law.

The second clause, up to the semicolon, causes massive confusion: or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. OK, the government can’t write a law preventing the free exercise of religion. This is often cheerfully misunderstood by groups that claim Congress (or the Courts) have “banned” Christianity from schools. No — the Courts have held that the first clause still applies: if a school district sets aside a time of prayer, they are, in fact, acting as a government body to regulate religion, which is banned by that very simple first clause. The free exercise of religion requires no law; any student is free to pray any time they feel like it, most often before tests.

The rest of the sentence is very important, but not to the current wave of political rhetoric that complains about religion being taken out of Christmas, or Thanksgiving, or schools, or political gatherings. There is no law requiring you to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and include the clause mentioning “under God” which was added to the Pledge in 1954. Francis Bellamy, who wrote the Pledge in 1892, was a Christian Socialist and didn’t think it necessary).


Obama is not a brown-skinned anti-war socialist. (Sign held by one of the Occupy Wall Street protesters.)

There is no particular religious connotation to Thanksgiving; yes, the Pilgrims were thankful that the Indians didn’t let them starve, but there is no requirement to celebrate Indian animist beliefs. There is no attempt to take religion out of Christmas; it is an overtly religious holiday, and the government neither tries to add anything religious to it or take anything religious away from it.

Before you advocate prayer in school, give some thought to what the First Amendment means, and the implications of changing it.


Be careful what you wish for when you attempt to politicize the First Amendment.

Mac dates


I’m always looking for important dates in Macintosh history, for no good reason.

January 1, 1904: if you have an original Mac and the battery goes dead, this is the starting date.

August 11, 1950: birth of Stephen Gary Wozniak, better known as Steve Wozniak.

February 24, 1955: birth of Steven Paul Jobs, better known as Steve Jobs.

October 28, 1955: birth of William Henry Gates III, better known as Bill Gates.

August 27, 1956: birthdate of Ray Montagne, designer of the CUDA chip in old Mac. If your Mac displays this date, you have a Mac that has ADB (Apple Desktop Bus) chips and your battery is dead. An excellent example of a system-level Easter egg.

December 31, 1969 or Jan. 1, 1970: you have a dead battery on a machine that runs Mac OS X. Unix counts time in seconds, starting with one second past midnight on Jan. 1, 1970, is the start of the clock (the “zeroeth second”).

April 1, 1976: you have a dead battery and your machine has reverted back to the day that Apple, the company, was formed. Another stellar example of a system-level Easter egg.

January 1, 1983: Lisa introduced

January 1, 1984: Lisa 2 introduced

January 22, 1984: Macintosh introduced via a commercial during Super Bowl XVIII

January 24, 1984: Macintosh (original) for sale; System 1.0 released

May 5, 1984: System 1.1 released

September 10, 1984 Macintosh 512K introduced

January 1, 1985, Macintosh XL introduced

April 1985: System 2.0 released

September 1985: System 2.1 released

January 16, 1986, Macintosh Plus introduced
System 3.0 released

February 1986: System 3.1 released

April 14, 1986, Macintosh 512Ke introduced

June 1986: System 3.2 released

January 1, 1987, Macintosh Plus (Platinum) introduced
System 4.0 released

February 3, 1987, Macintosh SE introduced

March 2, 1987, Macintosh II introduced
System 4.1 released

October 1987: System 4.2 released

April 1988: System 6.0 released

September 19, 1988, Macintosh IIx introduced
System 6.0.1 released

January 19, 1989, Macintosh SE/30 introduced

March 7, 1989, Macintosh IIcx introduced

August 1, 1989, Macintosh SE FDHD introduced

March 19, 1990, Macintosh IIfx introduced

October 15, 1990, Macintosh LC introduced
Macintosh Classic introduced
Macintosh IIsi introduced

February 11, 1991, Macintosh Portable introduced

April 1991: System 6.0.8 released

June 1991: System 7.0 released

October 21, 1991, Macintosh Classic II introduced
Quadra 700 introduced
Quadra 900 introduced
PowerBook 100 introduced
PowerBook 140 introduced
PowerBook 170 introduced
System 7.0.1

March 23, 1992, Macintosh LC II introduced

May 18, 1992, Quadra 950 introduced

August 3, 1992, PowerBook 145 introduced
System 7.1 released

October 19, 1992, Macintosh IIvi introduced
Macintosh IIvx introduced
PowerBook 160 introduced
PowerBook 180 introduced
PowerBook Duo 210 introduced
PowerBook Duo 230 introduced

February 10, 1993: Macintosh LC III/III+ introduced
Macintosh Color Classic introduced
Centris 620 introduced
Centris 650 introduced
Quadra 800 introduced
PowerBook 165c introduced

March 22, 1993, Workgroup Server 80 introduced
Workgroup Server 95 introduced

June 7, 1993, PowerBook 145b introduced
PowerBook 180c introduced

June 28, 1993, Macintosh LC520 introduced

July 26, 1993, Workgroup Server 60 introduced

August 16, 1993, PowerBook 165 introduced

October 10, 1993, Macintosh Color Classic II (last “classic” Mac) introduced

October 21, 1993, Macintosh TV introduced
Quadra 605 introduced
Quadra 610 introduced
Quadra 650 introduced
PowerBook Duo 250 introduced
PowerBook Duo 270c introduced
PowerBook 520 introduced
PowerBook 540 introduced
System 7.1.1 released

February 2, 1994, Macintosh LC550 introduced
Macintosh LC 575 introduced

March 14, 1994, Power Macintosh 6100 introduced
Power Macintosh 7100 introduced
Power Macintosh 8100 introduced
System 7.1.2 introduced

April 26, 1994, Workgroup Server 6150 introduced
Workgroup Server 8150 introduced
Workgroup Server 9150 introduced

May 16, 1994, PowerBook 520c introduced
PowerBook 540c introduced
PowerBook 550 introduced
PowerBook Duo 280 introduced
PowerBook Duo 280c introduced

July 18, 1994, Quadra 630 introduced
PowerBook 150 introduced

September 1994: System 7.5 released

March 1995: System 7.5.1 released

March 1995: System 7.5.2 released

June 1995: System 7.5.3 released

September 27, 1996: System 7.5.5 released

January 7, 1997: System 7.6 released

April 7, 1997: System 7.6.1 released

July 26, 1997: Mac OS 8.0 released

January 19, 1996: Mac OS 8.1 released

October 17, 1998: Mac OS 8.5 released

December 7, 1998: Mac OS 8.5.1 released

March 16, 1999: Mac OS X Server 1.0 “Rhapsody” released

May 10, 1999: Mac OS 8.6 released

October 23, 1999: Mac OS 9.0 released

April 4, 2000: Mac OS 9.0.4 released

January 9, 2001: Mac OS 9.1 released

March 24, 2001: Mac OS X 10.0 “Cheetah” released

June 18, 2001: Mac OS 9.2 released

August 21, 2001: Mac OS 9.2.1 released

September 25, 2001: Mac OS X 10.1 “Puma” released

December 5, 2001: Mac OS 9.2.2 released

August 24, 2002: Mac OS X 10.2 “Jaguar” released

October 24, 2003: Mac OS X 10.3 “Panther” released

April 29, 2005: Mac OS X 10.4 “Tiger” released

October 26, 2007: Mac OS X 10.5 “Leopard” released

August 28, 2009: Mac OS X 10.6 “Snow Leopard” released

July 20, 2011: Mac OS X 10.7 “Lion” released

[time passes…]

Tuesday January 19, 2038: the world ends, as the 32-bit versions of Unix reach the maximum number of seconds supported by the clock, and reset to zero. Or possibly the world starts again. This will happen at 3:14:07 UTC (seven seconds after 3:14 a.m. in Greenwich, England).

Flash Forward


There is a new ABC TV series called “Flash Forward.” It is an exercise in non-sequiturs, or possibly pre-sequiturs. Each episode consists of short vignettes, from the past, present or future, in which the characters try to figure out what is happening now and what will happen at a specific future time, with references to things in the past.

Normally, this would be simple fiction, but there is a science fiction element. A tachyon wave (or some other quantum event escaping into the non-quantum universe) allowed everyone on the planet to see what they were doing for a few minutes in the future. Some people saw nothing, and presumably will die between now and then. Others saw actions and activities they don’t understand. Others saw actions and activities they are desperately trying to prevent from becoming real.

It is an interesting plot device, with ample room for discussions of determinism (which it mentions only in passing), predestination, inevitability, and a whole bunch of other big words that we as humans shy away from addressing, unless we are philosophers, historians or divinity students.

It is vaguely based on a science fiction novel, Flashforward, by Robert J. Sawyer. Many of the characters are the same, but in the novel the flash forward is a view in about 21 years. ABC wimped out of trying to figure out what Geneva, Switzerland would look like in 21 years, and settled for envisioning Los Angeles after a few months.


[Added later: and then the network canceled it in mid non sequitur.]