Trevor Stinson

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Better Worlds 15: Wunderfrau

Wonder Woman is a significant milestone for superhero movies: a DC movie that all three of us were interested in talking about.

I have not liked DC movies up to this point, but I’m happy to say that Wonder Woman was pretty good. There was even one point in the movie where I thought it was about to become one of my favorites… but it didn’t quite get there. As explained in the latest Better Worlds episode, of course.

Task manager nachos

My life is quantifiably better when I’m using a task manager. Here’s a low stakes, but concrete example: I had nachos today because a reminder on my watch told me the cheese was going to expire tomorrow. Without the reminder, the cheese would have gone bad and I would have had to throw it away.

I’ve tried a bunch of task managers, but only one has held my attention: Things by Cultured Code. Anyone who is looking for a task manager is looking for a specific ratio of power and simplicity, whether they realize it or not. Things is the one that hits the sweet spot for me. It’s been a long time since Cultured Code has done a major version update to Things, but that hasn’t stopped them from adding great features to Things 2, including the best sync I’ve seen anywhere and the only Apple Watch task manager complication that makes any sense.

Things 3 is launching sometime next month. I have no idea what this update will include, but I know it’s going to bring me a lot of nachos.

Announcing Better Worlds: A New Podcast

My friends Matthew Baugh, Dustin Swarm, and I have been working on a new project, and I’m excited to tell you about it. It’s called Better Worlds, a new podcast about geek culture. We’ll talk about sci-fi, fantasy, movies, books, board games, video games, and other things we like. We soft-launched the podcast on December 22 and then released our first full episode on Christmas Eve with discussion of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Check it out and let us know what you think. You can find us on Twitter at @betterworldsnet.

Better Worlds show art

Lucasfilm's executive team is more than 50% female

This is not an affectation or a political statement. It actually makes the company and its stories better:

“When you have a balance of men and women, there are all sorts of things that enter into the discussion,” [Kathleen Kennedy] says, calling the Rey-Jyn doubleheader a “coincidence” that the studio (and parent Disney) embraced. “Because women are always in story meetings, [no one has] to go, ‘Hey, what would a woman think?’” says creative executive Rayne Roberts. “The reason Rey is strong and technically capable and compassionate and driven is that the women who were in that room, including Kathy, reflect those qualities.”

Jason Snell on the Touch Bar's Now Playing Control Strip item

While I appreciate the idea of the Now Playing Control Strip item, I don’t particularly like the way it’s implemented. When I expand it while playing audio from iTunes, there’s an iTunes icon, a very large scrubber, and playback controls. I can appreciate the iTunes scrubber as a fun demonstration of alternate interfaces on the Touch Bar, but for the life of me I can’t imagine how often I’d want to scrub through the contents of a song.

A very large scrubber might not be useful for straight listening, but it could have a lot of utility for a musician. iTunes’ scrubber can be frustratingly small for learning or charting songs.

Getting to the Five

We have a system for planning our worship services: We number our songs 1–5. This might not sound inspired, but it’s something we’ve learned from our mother church in Elgin, and it points us in the right direction. Each number corresponds to a part of how worship was arranged in the Temple.

Here’s the most important part: everything leads to the Five. The Holy of Holies. This is the place where we stand in awe of God, or fall to our face when confronted with His holiness. It’s where we sing directly to Him. We stop singing about what we’re doing (“Let our praise be Your welcome”) and focus solely on who God is (“Hallelujah, the Lamb of God!”).

The other rules of worship planning can be treated as guidelines, but there is one rule we never break: “Always get to the Five.” The other numbers can be switched around sometimes, or we may only do four songs. But we always get to the Five. When we gather to worship, we are here to meet with God. All else is secondary.

Are Addison And Meredith Parents Yet dot com

An obvious addition to my portfolio.

Why anyone can (and should) worship God by singing

Bob Kauflin on Worship Matters:

Our confidence and comfort in singing comes from this: Jesus, our great high priest, makes all our offerings acceptable to God through his perfect life of obedience and his perfect sacrifice of atonement. The Father loves our singing not only because it’s sincere, but because when offered through faith, it sounds just like his beloved Son.

This is for anyone who stands silent in church thinking they shouldn’t sing because it doesn’t sound good. There are reasons excellence is important if you’re leading others in worship. But if you’re in the congregation, then please don’t let a lack of skill hold you back. Join in with what’s happening around you. Be encouraged that God welcomes your voice along with the rest. God doesn’t accept us because of any righteousness of our own. In the same way, he doesn’t accept our worship because of how it sounds. It all hinges on Jesus; not on us.

Isaac Asimov's vision of 2014 from the 1964 World's Fair

The most interesting part of this is not what Asimov gets right, nor the places where he is humorously optimistic. Rather, the best parts are where he is correct about our shortcomings. For example, he did not think that 50 years would mean really good robots:

Robots will neither be common nor very good in 2014, but they will be in existence. […] the I.B.M. building at the 2014 World’s Fair may have, as one of its prime exhibits, a robot housemaid; large, clumsy, slow-moving but capable of general picking-up, arranging, cleaning and manipulation of various appliances.

General Electric at the 2014 World’s Fair will be showing 3-D movies of its “Robot of the Future,” neat and streamlined, its cleaning appliances built in and performing all tasks briskly. (There will be a three-hour wait in line to see the film, for some things never change.)

He also wasn’t too far off regarding the state of our agricultural ambitions (see Beyond Meat for what I mean by ambitions):

Ordinary agriculture will keep up with great difficulty and there will be “farms” turning to the more efficient micro-organisms. Processed yeast and algae products will be available in a variety of flavors. The 2014 fair will feature an Algae Bar at which “mock-turkey” and “pseudosteak” will be served. It won’t be bad at all (if you can dig up those premium prices), but there will be considerable psychological resistance to such an innovation.

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