What Does It Mean To Be Amish?

There were a group of tourists in a bus in Amish country. Getting off the bus, they saw an old Amish man standing nearby.

One of the tourists asked the old Amish man, “What does it mean to be Amish?”

The old Amish man, who we’ll call Amos, started talking about Jesus, and before too long, another tourist stopped him. He said, “We know all about Jesus. But, what does it mean to be Amish?”

Amos stopped for a moment and thought. Then, he asked, “How many of you have television sets?” Raising his hand to indicate they should do so to say they did.

Every hand went up.

Then, he asked, “How many of you think that television, on balance, has a negative impact on your life and on your communities?”

Again, every hand went up.

Finally, he asked,”How many of you are willing to give up television?”

They group looked to one another, but no hands were raised.

“That is what it means to be Amish.”

Checking Clothing Quality

“1. To quickly assess an item’s quality, hold the fabric up to a bright light…”The thicker the material, the higher the quality…”

—Alison Caporimo, “14 Expert Ways To Tell If Clothes Are Well-Made Or Super CheapBuzzfeed. May 16, 2016.

In short, check:

  • Thickness, durability of material made of natural fibers.
  • Hem allowance of one and a half inch or more.
  • Stitching, French seams with patterns matching.
  • Buttonholes and for liners, which are always a good indicator of quality.

Frauchiger-Renner Paradox Clarifies Where Our Views of Reality Go Wrong

“The experiment, designed by Daniela Frauchiger and Renato Renner, of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, involves a set of assumptions that on the face of it seem entirely reasonable. But the experiment leads to contradictions, suggesting that at least one of the assumptions is wrong. The choice of which assumption to give up has implications for our understanding of the quantum world and points to the possibility that quantum mechanics is not a universal theory, and so cannot be applied to complex systems such as humans.”

—Anil Ananthaswamy, “Frauchiger-Renner Paradox Clarifies Where Our Views of Reality Go Wrong.” Quanta Magazine. December 3, 2018.

Probably the clearest explainer you’ll find. The assumptions are that: quantum theory is universal, quantum theory is consistent, and opposite facts cannot both be true. This thought experiment suggests that at least one is false, and depending on which one either leads to positions that quantum theory collapses into classical physics at scale, observer perspective changes results, or the many worlds hypothesis.

Simple Risk Measurement

“Simple Risk Measurement is written to help you measure complicated risks using a process that’s simple enough to work out on the back of a napkin and powerful enough to organize a rocket launch.

If you are an engineer motivated by the reduction of risk and are frustrated by how to measure your progress, you may find this documentation useful. Simple Risk Measurement can get you started towards a comprehensive and scientific approach to risk. It is designed to enhance subject matter experts who work with risk, especially those who mitigate complex risks on an ongoing basis…

…This approach is very simple to trivialize into a few steps.

  1. Define a risk scenario: A well defined, undesirable future event that we want to measure.
  2. Gather the evidence: We gather facts, reference classes, models, experiences, and opinions.
  3. Estimate the outcomes: We estimate of the probabilities / impacts the scenario may have.
  4. Make a decision: We make decisions with this information, and measure again if needed.
  5. Keep Score: As outcomes occur, we check our work, improve our methods and reduce our uncertainty.”

Simple Risk Management

Setting DNS Manually on Ubuntu Linux

Introduction: Domain name servers (DNS) provide the numerical addresses for sites on the Internet. When you type cafebedouin.org into your browser, your computer queries a DNS name server to get a numerical address. This numerical address is then used to contact the site.  Normally, configuring DNS is handled behind the scenes by Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DCHP) automatically.

For some situations, you’ll want to set a different DNS server than the one set by DCHP. Maybe your Internet Service Provider (ISP) uses their own DNS server that is slower than Google’s DNS server. Maybe you use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) and want to stop DNS leaks to your ISP.

In Linux and other UNIX-like operating systems in the past,  you would change configuration files, such as /etc/resolv.conf or /etc/dchp/dhclient.conf, to set DNS manually. 

The problem: Changing resolv.conf and dhclient.conf configuration files does not work in Ubuntu.

The solution: Starting with 17.10, Ubuntu uses netplan to set DNS. On my test machine, netplan’s configuration file looks like this:

version: 2
   renderer: NetworkManager

It is possible to manually do the job of DCHP in netplan, but it’s complicated. If your objective is to just change the DNS servers, there is an easier way to do it. Use Network Manager.

There are files in the directory /etc/NetworkManager/system-connections that define how DCHP should work for each network connection. To the files listed in that directory, add the following with DNS server IP addresses under [ipv4]:


The DNS servers in this example are from FreeDNS and DNS Watch.

After adding the DNS IP addresses, separated by a semi-colon, then from the command line, do: sudo service network-manager restart

Once completed, you should be on your DNS server of choice. It’s a little inconvenient to have to add these lines to each network-connection file, and there might be a better way. But, this will work.

Arbitrary Image Stylization in the Browser


Arbitrary Image Stylization in the Browser is an algorithm that will take any two pictures and apply the style of both of them to a third picture.

For an example, I took two posters from the Spanish Civil War that are out of copyright, i.e., Victoria and Izquierda, and I applied those styles to the official picture of President Trump on Wikipedia. The following was the result:


I did something similar with my avatar.


It took a couple of minutes to run on my computer. It helps to close a few tabs. The results were consistently interesting. Recommended.