It’s all fun and games until you find pumpkin pie in your gym shoes. Happy Thanksgiving, my amigos. 🤙🏽

🛫 in St. Louis for my second post pandemic work trip. It’ll be a mad dash to the end of the semester. So very grateful to do in person academic things again.

Early day. Heading to the airport for my second in-person confrence this fall. It’s starting to feel like normal. St. Louis if a fun town but I think I’ll be too far from the museum to visit. Alas, I’ll be near the arch.

So tired I shampooed with conditioner and conditioned with… well, yeah.

Tomorrow I start teaching Camus’s The Plague, and so began re-listening to a podcast my colleague and I did on the novel early in the pandemic. I’m surprised to say, it holds up 18 months later.

22 “short” papers graded in a single night. Oof. I got behind and needed those done because midterm essays for another class are coming very soon.

Look. My oldest doesn’t like peanut butter or chocolate. So I’m doing him a favor by taking all his Reese’s cups and pieces. It’s an act of parental sacrifice.


Interestingly enough, this is the first time I’ve not liked VSCO black and white conversion, but also the first time I used Halide macro mode and yeah, it’s rad.

Morning hike with the kiddos at the “A” mountain in Tempe. Was super proud of the kiddos, especially the one with a broken arm who, less than a week ago, said he couldn’t do anything anymore.

It took an entire week but the kindergartner had a splendid day at school. He’d been apprehensive, worried, and scared. But today, it was an unqualified success. He was so proud of himself.

Pensive on his way to school.

He’s still a little scared and doesn’t go into the classroom right away, but today was a good day. He got a sticker, and the teacher had a pencil grip that helps him write with his cast.

We started kindergarten today!

I’d like to say it was a hit, but I can’t. First day jitters with the kiddo. We’ll do better on Monday.

A fasle start on post-pandemic date night.

So last Saturday we got a date night, courtesy of my wife’s sister who was in town. It was our first since the before times.

But less than hour into it, my sister in law called and gave us some bad news!

My oldest was doing a “trick” on the monkey bars for his uncle and fell.

To be honest, it was hard for me to see the kiddo in so much pain and to be uncomfortable these past few days, but we are rounding the bend. Update in 5 weeks, doc said.

Here’s a (possibly) mind-blowing fact: just about every time you load a web page on a browser, or click to a new experience inside an app, there’s code being run that sends your data to an ad exchange, which then broadcasts that data to hundreds of potential bidders (themselves connected to countless actual advertisers). For every click of yours, picture a dense bundle of data going into the cloud and instantly duplicating into hundreds of copies to thousands of servers, each one accessing millions of rows of data to figure out who you are. That’s the pulsing, arterial information flow of the modern mobile internet, and it beats billions of times a day.

“To Catch A Priest,” The Pull Request

Reading with grandpa. 📷

My dad drove out to visit us; it’s been two years since we’ve seen him. The big kids were stoked to share their books with him. Dad was more stoked to read the books with them.

Portrait of the missus and the baby. Took this quick snapshot while the three brothers were playing in the splash pad after we got hamburgers and went to the park. 📷

Finally got around to importing my CD (!) archive of old iPhotos libraries into Lightroom and came across this gem of an iPhone 3G screenshot.

On Friday, we got our first date night since the before times thanks to my mom who came to visit.

Got some developed that has been sitting for a few months. This shot, cropped from 6x6 medium format, was among the gems.


My mom came into town this weekend and is enjoying every minute she can with her grandkids.

Oof. The 3yo just spilled cup of noodles on himself after insisting he could “do it himself.” Poor kiddo.

We did a mini adventure this morning.

The baby was up all night, so she wasn’t having it,

But her brothers, had a great time.

Home now, out of the afternoon heat.

Walking a grumpy baby back to sleep at 3 AM, for the win.

For the amount of money folks pay for internet service, you’d think the help desk would be more competent when the internet goes out. Alas, you’d be wrong.

@manton, on Twitter

Whenever I dip my toe into what’s going on with Twitter, I’m always struck by how the outrage level is always a “10”, no matter the topic.

I think was Bruno Maçaes who put it best, Twitter is where we reenact the French Revolution every day.

I was told there would be NO clouds in Arizona. No clouds! I demand to speak with a manager.

Got my first MRI today. Looks like a bulged disc in my lower back. Wanted to take a photo of the machine or of me in the unit but giant medical grade magnets do not play well with consumer electronics.

No, not good news at all

In China, Apple Compromises on Censorship and Surveillance

Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, has said the data is safe. But at the data center in Guiyang, which Apple hoped would be completed by next month, and another in the Inner Mongolia region, Apple has largely ceded control to the Chinese government.

Chinese state employees physically manage the computers. Apple abandoned the encryption technology it used elsewhere after China would not allow it. And the digital keys that unlock information on those computers are stored in the data centers they’re meant to secure.

That’s a wrap on spring soccer. Nacho had his last game today. His coach (and coach’s eldest) were just terrific.

I know sports are good for instilling character, but to see it happen in real time over these last few weeks—just splendid.

Pizza night so someone doesn’t give a wut wut.

2020 International Religious Freedom Report

The Department of State submits this annual report to the Congress in compliance with section 102(b) of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 (P.L. 105-292), as amended. This report covers the period between January 1 and December 31, 2020.

I wrote my dissertation explaining how the US got there, enacting a law protecting religious minorities around the world, and the book manuscript version in progress examines some of these reports in depth.

Quick break from the work, and lo! I just past 1700 elo in online chess.

(“Rapid” ~ 10-15 min games and where I play the most.)

Quick view from my building. My office is actually one of the windows off the left but this view from the top of the stairs is so much better.

Almost wrapping up spring soccer.

Big kiddo finally learning to kick big.

And he may have found his calling as goalie.

Little bro had his last game for the season.

And of course, they all get medals at their age for being good sports

Last game for big bro next Saturday.

Jobs outlook for the summer

Lot of intereesting stuff on the jobs data, From the Washington Post, via @Pratik earlier today:

It’s not a ‘labor shortage.’ It’s a great reassessment of work in America.

But Scott Sumner called it awhile ago

Because millions of unemployed workers in low pay service sector jobs earn more on unemployment than they did on their previous jobs, and because most of those jobs are unpleasant, employment will likely remain quite depressed all summer, before bouncing back in the fall. That’s not to say the economy won’t grow. The end of Covid makes it likely that sectors such as travel will pick up, but the quality of service will be lousy, perhaps the worst of my entire life.

Put differently, while the WaPo and Sumner are not talking strictly the same thing, there will be a lot of movement in the labor sector in the coming months. Lots.

Not that we needed more reason’s to distrust Google. But its kerfuffle with Roku is getting hot. From John Gruber..

I don’t have a roku, and I still use Gmail. But transaction cost of switching gets lower all the time. We need a serious YouTube competitor.

Spent most of yesterday afternoon, evening, and this morning banging my head against the desk troubleshooting why my citations were not rendering in Rmarkdown.

I was using an outdated template that breaks pandoc. 🤦🏽‍♂️

J&J slashes April target of vaccine

With domestic production of the company’s vaccine still unapproved, the government slashed its national allocation of the J&J vaccine to states by 86 percent to just 700,000 doses next week, down from nearly 5 million, a cut that Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan ® called “very concerning.”

The true, the good, and the beautiful.

Big kiddo has his initial assessment for fall classes at a classical school here in town.

Weary with toil, I haste me to my bed,
The dear repose for limbs with travel tired,
But then begins a journey in my head, To work my mind when body’s work’s expired.

—Shakespeare, Sonnet 27

I recently started reading the sonnets to the big kids as they fall asleep.

Starting Soccer, pt 3

We conclude our three part story on the boys starting soccer this spring. Paco had his first practice. Other than missing the first half of the NCAA Men’s basketball final (and let’s be honest, after how bad Baylor dominated, I didn’t miss much), I was glad the start time was a little later in the evening.

Paco did a lot better at practice than in his first game. I had mentioned previously that he struggled during the game because he didn’t understand that other kids get turns at the ball, and he doesn’t need to score a goal on every possession to have fun. We still had a few pre-practice jitters. When we arrived, Paco demurred when I encouraged him to go say hello to his coach. Eventually, with some coaxing, he finally joined his team during the warm up.

He’s starting to get the hang of the concept, and when he’s on, he’s actually very good. I won’t post the video but during the scrimmage, he handled the ball well and scored a goal.

March Madness 2021

I had Michigan winning the tournament (and as a very loyal Ohio State alumnus, I had good reason not to and wasn’t sorry when they lost). @maton on the other hand,

I picked Baylor to make the championship game (and win it) but pretty much nothing else in my NCAA bracket went right this year. Meanwhile, the NBA season feels like a sprint to the playoffs… The west play-in tournament is going to be tough. 🏀

Starting Soccer, pt 2b (Opening Day!)

It wouldn’t be a full morning of soccer without the big kid’s first game. Our theme of jitters continued. In fact the pattern was the same: lots of eager excitement, followed by extreme shyness just before the game started, tears in and throughout the game, with moments of courage and elation.

Nacho got to play goalie for a bit of the first half and was surprising good. But he was also scared of the ball. Although that isn’t exactly a good virtue for a goalie, he nevertheless did his best.

After the game, he was slapping high fives with his team-mates and told us that he really loves playing soccer “even though I cried a little.” For us, that’s really all that matters—getting him to enjoy the competition, over come low-stakes fear, and learn to love the game.

Starting Soccer, pt 2a (Opening Day!)

Today are the first games for the boys. Paco went first. Although we missed our first practice this week because we never received the email from the city league, Paco was very excited to get started.

Of course, no game would be complete without butterflies. Paco ran out to start and immediately returned, crying, after the first scrum for the ball. He didn’t like that he didn’t get the ball. Then he said that everyone was too fast. (Paco is actually among the fastest of kids his age.) The shyness is new for him, as he is usually the the first to introduce himself.

Thankfully it was an aberration from our usual Paco. He got back in there and gave it another go. This jittery shyness is a theme, I bet and both kids will overcome it eventually.

Spring Soccer, pt. 1

Today Nacho had his first soccer practice. He wanted to do a sport for more than a year and just as we began to look at youth sports last spring, the world shut down. So he was, to put it lightly, more than thrilled to start soccer.

He struggled a few times. Thrice he came running back to me asserting he wanted to quit. Thrice he went back and kept at it. I was proud to see him persevere through his frustration.


I spent part of my weekend working on the back yard. When we bought our home last summer, both the front and back had been neglected for a long while. What green did cover the ground was a mix between crabgrass and nutsedge. After months of spaying herbicide to kill what was up, watering until new weeds emerged before repeating the process, I was finally down to the last few stubborn weeds.

Not long after I started the two older kids decided that they wanted to help. First came the eldest with his toy shovel asking what I was doing. I explained that the remaining weeds had roots that went deep into the ground and needed to be dug up by hand. He began to help by digging around some of the smaller weeds. Of course, little brother realized there was fun to be had. I couldn’t help but recall all the times I decided to “help” my dad when he was doing yard work and reflected on how he must have felt having to stop work to teach me how to pull weeds correctly or make sure I was doing ok. But those were some of the earliest, and still fondest, memories of doing something with my dad.

I forgot to snap a photo of the full bucket when we finished. But it was a real threat to do something with my older two boys.

Family photos

My wife has been wanting family photos for a while. Back in 2019, we agreed that “next year” we’d do it for our Christmas cards. Of course, that didn’t happen. A few weeks ago a member on one of her Facebook groups said she wanted to do free photo sessions to give back and get back into a rhythm for when the world opens up. Needless to say, we’ve very happy with the outcome.

Lucia 2

Thanksgiving 2020

Neither isolated nor alone. And while we miss our extended families and friends, it was a beautiful meal and day of thanks.

Coffee after Mass

Went for a quick coffee after Mass with the big kid. He got a hot chocolate and really enjoyed the time hanging out with me. Although he won’t say it, I think his favorite part was ordering for himself instead of standing passively while I do for him.

Just out of frame are our masks. This location has large sliding doors that are open in the winter when the Arizona weather is finally bearable. But it also means on a day like today we could actually sit down, and just enjoy some time together.

Power ranger or Luchador?

The Halloween costumes get a lot of use when you’re a toddler.

The Crypto State?

Bruno Maçaes, writes at City Journal

But here are my provisional suggestions on how things could go. The critical issue is, of course, taxation. It is here that crypto issues the more determinate challenge to the core powers of the modern nation-state. Some in the crypto space believe that the slow erosion of the state’s tax powers will eventually determine its final collapse, at least as we know it today. Others have told me that they expect all nation-states to disappear over the coming decades, with the notable exception of China, which alone, they maintain, has the political and social resources to penetrate or disable fundamental choke points in the crypto system. China is responsible for something between half and two-thirds of global Bitcoin mining, but local authorities have made it clear that they regard the crypto space with enormous suspicion. In 2017, China banned fund-raising through initial coin offerings, and all digital-currency exchanges were shut down. If Beijing decides to cut off the Bitcoin network in China, it could make it hard for mining pools to sync their data on blockchain with the rest of the world.

The Chinese case does offer a possible template for the ongoing power rivalry between crypto and nation-states. In this scenario, crypto systems would double down on their technological superiority, while states would necessarily appeal to their secret weapon: the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force. But a second scenario seems much more plausible, at least outside China. Public authorities and crypto systems could reach a grand bargain or agreement, whereby the state would be able to tax crypto-assets in exchange for security guarantees for crypto. Legacy institutions and structures in the political world aren’t going away anytime soon, so it’s critical for blockchain projects to be able to interface with them. I believe that legacy systems can also benefit from this. The Swiss canton of Zug has taken initial steps in this direction: recently, it announced that beginning in 2021, taxes can be paid using Bitcoin and Ether.

Why the debate might have been the best in 20 years

It’s been a busy news week, and I forgot to post this. I wrote up a short piece arguing what has been a minority view on the debate. While the debate may have been overshadowed by the growing number of cases inside the upper-reaches of American government, I still wanted to get this note out here.

Sunday prayer

A quiet moment at the end of Mass when the big kid started to figure out that everyone uses the time after Eucharist for quiet reflection. He asked Jesus to make his brain smarter so he could get better at Chess—that’s a good start, I think.

Analog Maps

Great photo from, and reminds me of the time I was in Australia in 2004. My friend and I had a map out looking for a place we needed to be at. A local offered to show us, walked 1.5 miles opposite of where he needed to be.

We’ve lost that with digital maps and it’s not entirely clear how we get it back.

Ruy Lopez

We’re working on chess this morning after the wife found a free chess set at a garage sale. My 4yo has been begging to learn and he’s finally sitting still enough to learn how to move pieces.

Mating pattern

I had just previously ripped open the kingside castle with a pin, and the (slightly, but nevertheless) higher ranked player gave me the mate instead of flagging on time.

This too is real. The din ceases.

Memory closed down its dark waters.

And those, as if behind a glass, stare out, silent.

Czeslaw Milosz. Berkley, 1985

The Sun

All the colors come from the sun. And it does not have
Any particular color, it contains them all.
The whole Earth is like a poem
Well the sun above represents the artist.

Whoever wants to paint the very gated world
Let him never look straight up at the sun
Or she will lose the memory of things he has seen.
Only burning tears will stay in his eyes.

Let him kneel down, lower his face to the grass,
And look at light reflected by the ground.
There he will find everything we have lost:
The stars and the roses, The dusks in the dawns.

Czeslaw Milosz, 1943

In Book 1 of Politics, Aristotle remarks that man is born naturally with weapons, or arms, to be used by prudence on behalf of justice. He seems to suggest that the virtue of human reason must understand when persuasion is necessary, and when only force can defend of justice.

Twilight of the Never Trumpers.

The central problem both parties face is not a matter of tone or rhetoric in the midst of the chaos and confusion—rhetorical and otherwise—caused by the fall of the old modes and orders. The salient fact of the moment is that the race is on to rethink and reground policy in light of our Republic’s founding principles.

Much wisdom here. I do not think many among the party elite have yet figured this out, but I do think this is an accurate diagnosis of our day. Or, at least, it is among the better attempts than I have seen elsewhere.