Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Biblical response to refugees...

If you have friends or family in this turbulent time who claim to be Christian but do not support helping refugees, feel free to share this with them.

The Bible has a lot to say about aliens. Not the Roswell kind, the foreigner kind. I keep seeing people who claim Christianity who are all about the massive round-up and deportations gearing up in the United States. Please allow me to help you take off that mantle. You aren't Christian by the very definition of the term. You are not being a little Christ. You are, in fact, anathema to what Jesus taught. 

The Bible does not recognize illegal aliens, only aliens

Exodus 22:21 NIV “Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt 

Exodus 23:9 NIV “Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners, because you were foreigners in Egypt. 

Leviticus 19:33 NIV “‘When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. 

Deuteronomy 1:16 NIV And I charged your judges at that time, “Hear the disputes between your people and judge fairly, whether the case is between two Israelites or between an Israelite and a foreigner residing among you. 

Deuteronomy 10:19 NIV And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt. 

Numbers 15:15 NIV The community is to have the same rules for you and for the foreigner residing among you; this is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. You and the foreigner shall be the same before the Lord:

Hebrew words for aliens:

GER – someone who chooses to immigrate and be part of the native people. A convert.
TOSHAV – a temporary dweller, a migrant.  The root means to “sit”
ZAR – simply means stranger, not part of a larger context.
NOCRI – a true foreigner who does not wish to be part of the native people, nor to keep their laws.

The word used by Jesus in the NT for the quote "When I was a stranger" *isn't* Ger. Properly translated from the Greek ξένος xenos is the Hebrew word Nocri.  Nocri means heathen or alien or foreigner . 

Make no mistake, this isn't optional for a Christian. To abandon these principals is to openly refute Christ.
 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.
Read it here

These verses echo the commands given in the Old Testament:

Leviticus 19:10 NIV Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the Lord your God. 

Leviticus 23:22 NIV “‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and for the foreigner residing among you. I am the Lord your God.’”

Deuteronomy 24:19 NIV When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The danger of shouting down voices that don't agree with you

I have my opinions. You have yours. What makes us a society is both of us finding a common ground that allows for our disagreement. Forcing you to agree with me by attacking you makes no sense. That isn't how we can build a society. But we must focus on each other if we are going to build something together. For good or ill, we must do this. It isn't optional. We have to find common ground. The only other option is a continued polarization that will eventually lead to the violence that inevitably follows the disintegration of a society.

It is easy to proclaim what you believe. It is hard to listen to anyone else who doesn't immediately parrot what you say. It is harder still to listen to a voice that disagrees with you. Hardest is trying to find that common ground with someone whose beliefs are anathema to our own. This is what we *must* do if we are to build the society that was intended by our nation's founders. It is the only way a democratic society can actually exist. If we practice marginalization, polemics, fear-mongering, racism, xenophobia or any other of the classic hallmarks of an election year, eventually we will destroy all chances of a democratic society.

The scariest part of an election year for me is the further division of an already deeply divided populace.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

My Hero

My mind is screaming "Hero - Foo Fighters." I just spent the day with mine. Emotions are bouncing like flubber in my head. As one friend puts it, I am officially wazzed out. I want to scream at God, at the world and at the devil to leave him alone and give him a break.

My hero fights every day and with every breath. I don't know anyone with his courage and strength. He struggles and claws through all of his doubt and depression and holds tenaciously to the idea that things can and will be different someday. My hero never gives up.

He collects hugs and kisses from my kids like diamonds and hides them in his heart for later. He is going to need them again and again. I will refuel him every chance I get. But for today, they added up to a big toothy grin that stretched his face wide and happy. Today, I gave him a small respite. The ache of leaving is already starting to settle in. Tomorrow's breakfast will come too soon. 

My hero is a paranoid schizophrenic. He fights every day to keep himself balanced. He fights every day to not lose hope. He wants so badly to have a job, to have some kind of normalcy. He fights to let go of everything that this stupid disease has taken from him. He fights for peace.

He is not dangerous. He is not weird. He is funny and smart and he is my touchstone for so many things in life. He is absolutely my hero.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Career path, honesty and the phrase "It's just business..."

I am being offered a relocation package to stay with my current employer. I am one of the fortunate developers in my department. Most are not being offered anything. The atmosphere around here is a mix of fear, anger and a tinge of jealousy. Friends have a bitter edge to conversations. We have been told that this transition is the best for my company and have been asked to wear a company-first hat during this transition. We are being told that it isn't personal and that "it's just business." Oddly, the people being selected are the furthest removed from the local power-structure; the least influenced by the thoughts of the local leaders. We are the least guilty of association. So there is something very personal happening here.

This means uprooting my kids, who have never known anything other than what they have now. It means losing my support network of friends and family. Facebook doesn't equate here. Hard to hug a byte. I am being moved to a city that I don't know and into a culture that is completely foreign to me. It means an entirely different job role and working with a power structure that I have never had a great deal of success with. I am still one of the lucky ones.

I foresaw this in February when I was asked to update my corporate profile with what amounted to my resume. I asked questions early enough and when I caught the vagueness of answers that were both deceptive and dishonest, I went into action. I saw the writing on the wall. A beast as large as the Fortune 500 one I am leashed to now does not move in days, it moves in years. They knew quite some time ago what they were doing. My caution paid off. I was able to generate interest and got interviews. So now, I am able to go into this forewarned and forearmed. I walked into the relocation meeting with two job offers and one in the wings. All for the sake of leverage. All so I don't get caught out and have to start selling real estate just to provide for my family.

As an employer, do I really want to put my active producers in such a hostile and adversarial role? Is it safe? Do I want my subject matter experts having six months lead time to sabotage my company? When a company this size starts a move like this, it can't be hidden. There are signs; everything from the quality of the toilet paper to the closed door meetings with phrases like "excited about the new direction" coming out of every manager's mouth. Its obvious. Corporate lies usually are. What they are really saying is that it is time to move on.

Here is my approach. Keep my head down and be pleasant. Do the best work I can. That is my lie. Of course this upsets me, but if they think I am disgruntled and not a "team player" I don't stand a chance of keeping a job. So I chisel a mask and invest enough energy in it to get through, then I look for the exit. At best I keep a job, at worst I exit on my terms. This is the best I can do. The only way to avoid this game is to play a different game. Can-you-kill-me-before-I-escape is the cleanest name I can come up with.

Big changes are heading my way and they are not designed by me. But then again, who ever really designs their own massive life-changes?

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Ten "Dude" Commandments for workplace equality: A non-feminist approach

I. Thou shalt not be a ass-hat! To anyone. Ever. If your words or actions marginalize anyone, are just an angle to get laid, make you look cool at the expense of others, make fun of someone, or end up having to be defended as a result of being offensive, then you are being a ass-hat. Don't. Make no mistake, it is going to boomerang. Learn what workplace etiquette means. This is for your own good as well as everyone else's.

II. The office is never a dating pool. This should be self explanatory. Think about your last huge blowout fight with your significant other and then think about it happening at your office. It can cost you your career and more.

III. Learn to be wrong every time you are challenged..You may have a Ph.D from MIT, but that doesn't mean you are always right. And if you don't have that, there is a far better chance that you aren't right. So instead of immediately dismissing an idea that isn't yours, try that idea on as the right answer. Give it your best shot to defend it. It might be a better idea. And it might surprise you who gives you that idea. Listen to them all.

IV. Keep the fights in the office to fights about the office. Tons of people have hills they long to die on. Religion, politics, equality, whatever. Don't take the bait! You have strong opinions about something. We get it. Bringing up a hot-button issue at work can disintegrate a team quicker than a fart clears an elevator. It also exposes you. Fight for what you believe in, but leave the personal battles in your personal time.

V. Never join a negative group. Gossip, bad-mouthing, trash-talk, sexual innuendo all fit into negative groups. If there is a clique that is in power and they are based on this, it is better to find a new job, school, or religion than join. This isn't office only. Those laughs and that coarse camaraderie may feel good, but it will tear away somewhere else in your life.

VI. Promote other people, even if you don't like them.You are at work, you don't get to pick all of your co-workers. Some of them are going to rub you the wrong way. Does that mean that person can't be the next genius who makes your stock option treble in value? Congratulating someone on a win or singing someone's praise can be great for building bridges. Get over yourself.

VII. Call people on their bull crap. Laughing at a joke may only be reacting to embarrassment, but if you don't turn that laugh around, you are co-signing the bull crap. It is easy to sit by and do nothing while someone else is getting a raw deal. In that kind of place, it is easy for *anyone* to get a raw deal. It harder for a raw deal to happen if an ass-hat knows that he or she will be met by resistance. It takes people willing to make the office a safe place to do the one thing we are all their to do in the first place; WORK. Follow your company policy, but speak up.

VIII. Do not judge. I hate how trite that sounds. I hear it all the time, but it makes morality sound passe and even out of place. Morality is actually my source for this blog. In a business though, where the body we join is diverse in almost every aspect, we can't afford to leave people out because they don't fit one of our pictures of right. It will leave us ultimately as a party of one. Yes, our morality matters. I don't know of a moral code in existence that says it is okay to be an ass-hat.

IX. Don't steal post-it notes. Well, that is really just an example of the "Small things, Large things" axiom, but it is solid advice. If you give yourself a little permission to do something a little bad, you will crumble when it comes to something big. Self-justification is an almost instant promotion to ass-hat.

X. Fight ass-hats. We are pushing talent out of  technology faster than we can train the replacements. Whether its a bias on culture, race, religion, gender, sports teams, fraternity status, physical fitness, sexual orientation; bias kills a team. If we are going to keep the tech industry in the US healthy and growing, diversity isn't what needs to go away. Ass-hats need to go away.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Going back to my roots in more ways than one

The entrepreneurial bug has bitten me and I can't shake it. I keep starting projects that I think could be turned into something, but no lightning strikes yet. I am not shaken and my vision is clear. I will start something cool. When I do, it will likely be a mix of my tech savvy and my passions.

Anyone who knows me knows how ADHD  eclectic that range is. The thing I am working on right now is something that combines several of those passions and I am using some of my new skills that are actually quite old. 

I started doing web stuff in the mid 90s and started doing JavaScript in the late 90s to early aughts. JavaScript sucked, wasn't safe and almost never delivered the same results between browsers. DOM manipulation was wizardry that took enormous effort and was seldom worth the effort. CSS wasn't a standard, it was a notion. I wrote a booking engine for that used what would become known as AJAX that I ultimately had to abandon because I had to write a version per browser. I hated web. I wanted out.

Then, I went C#. I worked without much soul for quite a few years. I learned all of the "right" way of doing things. Finally, I have come full circle. 

Now the project I am starting has moved back from C# land and into Web 2.0 SPA land. My world is over-flowing with buzzwords that end in -ify and -tly. Open source champions are made overnight on GitHub. It is intoxicating to see the amount of energy being poured into something I was once very passionate about.

As I develop the app, I will give snippets and lessons learned here. All 40 of you who read it may find it dull or maybe not. Let me know :D

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Women in software

I guess I have had my head in the sand as usual about a problem that is at a crisis level in my industry.It has been a few years since I went to a conference and I typically get along with folks at conferences pretty well. I have never had a big issue with walking up to someone and chatting them up. Making connections is part of the charm of a conference.

This year, I noticed something disturbing. Several of the women (whose names and companies were advertised on their badges) that I tried to talk to seemed stiff, almost fearful. I understand some stranger-danger but these encounters were beyond that. These were more than cautious, they were fearful.

I didn't understand. As a happily married father of three, I look my age and my description. I wasn't flirty or leering. And yet, when I approached a female at this conference to have a simple conversation, there was a wall. I had to ask, "What gives?"

When I followed some of my favorite speakers on Twitter, I got my answer. It sucks to be a female in the software industry. The more I searched, the more embarrassed I became. I thought we had made progress in the last few decades, but I guess I was wrong. I thought we had fought our way out from under the sexual fog of misogyny and dominance in the tech sector. What I found is ridiculous. Dov Charney would blush at some of the crap that women endure to follow their passions in software.

Like I said before, I am a father of three. Two are girls. My blood went to insta-boil! If a boy treated my daughter like some of the examples I heard, I would be facing jail time. So gents? Here is a good rule: Just because you like it, doesn't make it fun. Fun should be victimless. If your fun leaves someone else feeling vulnerable, used, cheap, judged, second-class or in any way less than you, you need your ass kicked.

It isn't just gender. It isn't just race. If you are always looking for a boundary just so you don't cross it, you are already going too far. You are hurting your business, your family, your honor, your name, your children, your city, your beliefs, your image, your ability to ever work for my company or ever have me spend a red cent at yours. Stop!

My industry needs to start a conversation. I understand this is a two way street and there are certainly examples of women hurting the culture by being provocative. So what? My integrity isn't about who they are, it is about who I am. People unfit for a winning culture will wash out after we build the winning culture, not before. If we want a culture that can be looked to for sustainability, integrity and desirability, we have to look in the mirror before we act. We all learned this a long time ago: Follow the golden rule. Put yourself in the other person's shoes before you act or open your mouth.