A Sidekick's Blog

Enough Already, Firefox!

August 14, 2014
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The fancier and “better” Firefox (Mozilla’s popular web browser) and Thunderbird (the e-mail client) get, the better I like Seamonkey! Since my upgrade to Xubuntu 14.04, Firefox crashes randomly, doesn’t communicate properly with Thunderbird, and until I figured out how to fix it, it looked like this:

All of the text in the Address bar disappeared under these blankets of solid color. Fixing it was a matter of installing a new theme in Firefox called FXChrome. But come on, man. Wasn’t this discovered a month or two ago? According to Google it was, so it could have been fixed or patched or at least mentioned in the release notes, but noooooooo.

Remember the old Netscape Suite? Great, simple, reliable browser fully integrated with a fantastic built-in e-mail client. Netscape Communicator, Netscape Composer, all that cool stuff – well it’s still alive and well, under Mozilla’s umbrella, but separate – thank goodness – from Firefox and Thunderbird. Now called Seamonkey, it’s a bit more nimble than Firefox, can use many of the same add-ons, and is free of the bugaboos that have showed up in their flagship browser and email client. It also has good ol’ fashioned clickable buttons instead of search-and-destroy menus all under some unfamiliar-looking icon. I’m writing this post using Composer.

But getting Seamonkey was a whole ‘nother frustrating effort. I don’t do the “tarball” thing in Xubuntu, even though the process is now simpler than ever. I went to the Ubuntuzilla web site (on Sourceforge) to find the repository, and that’s a vicious circle! The web site directs visitors to download the instructions, and the instructions – two sentences long – direct readers to the web site. That’s just stupid. If not for Google I would have just grabbed the tarball from Seamonkey’s web site, but I found instructions for adding the respository to Xubuntu: Open a terminal and input these two commands:

To set up the key:

sudo apt-key adv –recv-keys –keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com C1289A29

And then add the repository:

echo -e “ndeb http://downloads.sourceforge.net/project/ubuntuzilla/mozilla/apt all main” | sudo tee -a /etc/apt/sources.list > /dev/null

Then open Synaptic, reload it, and Seamonkey now appears among the available packages listed. Because it’s a repository, it will update along with everything else using the Update Manager.

I offer this just because I bet I’m not the only one a little bit frustrated with “improvements” that complicate, slow down, or outright break my most-used applications. If you prefer free, open-source software, Seamonkey is a better choice than Opera, which is proprietary. Think of Netscape and how easy it was and fun to use – and rediscover it under it’s new name.


Two Wills of God?

August 12, 2014
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It’s God’s will for EVERYONE to be saved, is it not? Absolutely. He requires all men in all times and all places to repent and believe the gospel (John 3:18), and thus to be saved from His wrath.

But of course, not everyone believes the gospel, and most of humanity is not saved. Does this mean that God’s will is thwarted by men? How can it be His will for everyone to be saved, yet also His will for so many to perish? Does He have “two wills” that conflict with each other? Not at all. Here is why:

Both the righteous and the wicked exist for God’s glory: The righteous to the praise of His mercy and love; and the wicked to the glory of His holiness and justice. BOTH glorify their Creator!

But the question of whether God truly “wants” every person to be saved or not is like the plan of God itself:

this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men… (Acts 2:23)

On one hand, murder is not God’s will! He says, “You shall not kill!” It is not His moral will that anyone should be murdered. And yet even before He created the world He had planned the murder of His only begotten Son, and it occurred exactly as God had determined and planned ages before the fact. His will was not thwarted, but rather carried out “by the hands of godless men,” for a fantastic display of God’s mercy towards undeserving sinners like me!

So while murder is “against God’s will,” we also see that the murder of His Son was God’s will. Is there a conflict between His “moral will” and His “decreative will?” On the surface it looks like it, but His decree – before creation – that the Son would be murdered to purchase a people for Himself from the fallen race of Adam, was in fact, God’s will.

Two “wills” of God?

No. One standard of morality, and one plan to redeem a people. The standard is holiness! The one single attribute of God that is repeated three times by the heavenly beings, in Isaiah and Revelation, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty…” – we never see “Loving, loving, loving” or “merciful, merciful, merciful,” but always, in both Testaments, “Holy, holy, holy.” His “moral will” is His standard. It requires perfection, purity, absolute righteousness from all living beings, period. The plan was and is to have rebellious, fallen men to demonstrate the awesomeness of God’s holiness and purity in the treatment they shall receive at His hands, whether He shows them mercy by granting them repentance and faith, or whether He shows them justice in the everlasting lake of fire.

So is it His “will” for everyone to be saved? That is the standard He holds all men to. He requires faith in Christ of all men (John 3:18). But His plan was to demonstrate BOTH His justice AND His love. The wicked demonstrate His justice, and the redeemed His mercy and love. There is no contradiction between God’s standard and His plan. They are consistent both with who He is and with how He has revealed Himself in His written word.

 


Trusty Tahr – The Hard Way

August 11, 2014
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I waited a while to try Linux Mint 17 Xfce, and it looks like it may be quite a while longer – or never – before I do. After a full day of seeding the torrent (because I try to upload at least double whatever I download, to be nice, y’know), multiple kernel panics prevented me from installing it – and left my old Xubuntu 12.04 unable to boot up! Rawr!

Not a big deal, I did a full backup before trying it anyway, and I still have my tried-and-true Xubu Precise CD, so in it went, a fresh install of my old favorite. Just for lulz, I decided to try the upgrade process to the newest LTS, Xubuntu 14.04. I’m glad I did!

A fresh install from their DVD would have been much easier and faster, but I’ve never even tried the LTS-to-LTS upgrade process before, so I updated Precise and waited for the “a new LTS release is available” banner to appear in the Update Manager, but to my surprise, there was none! It usually appears after the first point-release, usually in July of the year it is released. But this time, nothing. But sly little sidekick that I am, I resorted to Linux’s Great Secret Weapon – the dreaded Terminal (cue the screeching violins)!

sudo update-manager -d

One little command. Bingo! Up pops the Update Manager with the new banner offering an upgrade to the newest Long-Term-Support release. One single click on the Upgrade button and the magic happens – albeit slowly and tediously even on a fast Internet connection. The whole process presented only one little bugaboo: A warning that two applications needed to be disabled in order for their newer counterparts to function in the upgraded OS: Screensaver (which I don’t use anyway), and one I had never heard of called xlockmore. So I clicked to disable the screensaver and used the terminal to kill xlockmore, whatever that is:

pkill xlockmore

and the rest went without a hitch, but took about an hour. I had formatted my /home partition along with everything else, so there were no special settings or preferences to guess which might apply in the new-and-improved Xfce 4.12 desktop, and not much to clean up after the upgrade. Reboot, done. And wow.

It’s a liiiiiiiitle bit slower than Precise so far. Most users with computers newer that 12 or 15 years probably wouldn’t even notice any difference. I applied my usual changes – replacing Abiword and Gnumeric with LibreOffice, but Xubu has most of my favorite applications already installed. Great minds think alike, what can I say? Being a college boy I need the heavy duty office suite now. Then I tossed in my little note-taking app (Xournal), multimedia codecs, and the fancy new Ubuntu icon set. I turned off startup stuff that I don’t use (power manager, screensaver, bluetooth) to speed things up a bit. I hate the Software Center, so away with that bloated monstrosity and in goes Synaptic Package Manager in it’s place. Standard Robin adaptations to a newly installed Xubu. Wanna see? I knoooooooow you can’t wait, so here:

That’s one of the spiffy new wallpapers that ships with Xubuntu 14.04. I got my nifty neato li’l desktop weather applet, a calculator, and a few of my most-often used applications on a sweet-looking bottom panel. The top panel is just the way I like it – nearly identical to the default settings that Xubuntu ships with. I got bragging rights now I guess, since I’ve never upgraded “the hard way” before. Not that this was hard or anything for goodnessakes. What, two terminal commands and a few mouse clicks is hard? Not for this delighted li’l sidekick.

Heartfelt thanks to Canonical and the Xubuntu development team for this wonderful, long-term-support edition of the best desktop Linux distro ever!


Ubuntu Help?

August 6, 2014
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Ubuntu Forums is one of the the official places that users of Ubuntu, Xubuntu, Kubuntu, Lubuntu, Voyager Linux, and others can go for help, to help others, or just to chitchat about Linux and Ubuntu.

 

But they do have one continuing issue:  They frequently have to add new moderators in this busy online community, and when they do, all too often the new moderators have to assert their authority.  I was censured in one thread because a moderator simply didn’t like what I said (his words, not mine).  Now today I got a private message from another moderator regarding a link to this blog in my signature.  The link has been there since I created my account there, but today all of a sudden it’s “against the rules.”  He writes:

 

*Links:* You may post links to sites with content that is  acceptable 
according to this code of conduct. This is most useful when  giving 
tech support and explaining a topic and then linking to a wiki  page 
or Linux site with more information. 
You may also link to your  personal site."

The link to your site introduces a religious element to all 
of your posts and violates the second quote 
in that it links to a subject forbidden on the forum.

Please remove the link immediately.

Emphasis mine on the links to a personal site, which is all the link was.  Am I not allowed to write about what I wish on my own blog now? Or can UF users no longer link to personal blogs that don’t comply with the rules of Ubuntu Forums?  Fine, I removed the link and told the idiot to delete my account. Fortunately there are other better places for users of the Ubuntu family to go where the moderators are not so heavy-handed and anxious to assert their authority. For chitchat as well as tech help, there’s discourse.ubuntu.com, a friendly place with a new and attractive interface. And there is Ask Ubuntu, and some great personal blogs like OMG Ubuntu. That one hasn’t been outlawed yet by an overbearing jerk, but because it may not fully comply with the rules of some other completely different web site, it could be.

Ubuntu Forums remains an official help forum for Ubuntu family users, and a lot of them have been helped there.  But it’s good to know there are alternatives, since many of us who used to go there to help others are abandoning the site because of the overbearing, drunk-with-new-power moderators who interpret the “code of conduct” according to their own personal preferences. Judging by a look at other Linux forums like LinuxQuestions.org, Linux.com, and LinuxForums.org, it looks like many more users are looking elsewhere for the support we used to be able to count on UF for. 

 

 


Reformed Blindness?

July 31, 2014
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I just wordlessly quit a Reformed forum that I deeply respected until recent days, when a mystifying blindness to the obvious truth about the present conflict in Gaza became all too obvious.

I am not a Dispensationalist. I don’t believe that the little nation of Israel has a future role in bible prophecy and I’m not looking for a rebuilt Temple there, nor for Jerusalem to become the capitol city of Planet Earth. I do not support Israel out of any heterodox belief that they remain “God’s chosen people.” In fact, no one – Jew or Gentile – comes to the Father except through Christ alone. And no one without Christ can be counted among God’s “chosen people.”

But my theological beliefs about Israel and the Jewish race do not blind me to the simple, proven, obvious FACTS about the present conflicts involving the tiny democracy that has been the only true ally of the United States (my home country) in the Middle East since its birth:

There is only one nation in all of the Middle East where it’s Palestinian citizens enjoy

  • the right to vote
  • the right to own land
  • the right to run for public office

It’s Israel! NONE of the surrounding “Arab” nations treat their Palestinian citizens with such consideration. To them, Palestinians are trash. They are regarded as gypsies, vagabonds, undesirables. Even if they join in the “Death to Israel” chants with their Arab “brethren.”

Israel defends it’s citizens – all of it’s citizens – with state-of-the-art weapons of war. Hamas, by contrast, defends it’s offensive rockets using it’s citizens as human shields. Women and little children are favored for use as human shields because of their value as media pawns, being used to make it appear as though Israel is targeting them. Those tunnels that Israel is destroying were built by captive little boys under threat of rape by their Hamas masters. These are FACTS, overwhelmingly well documented. Hamas holds it’s own children hostage and does not seek peace at all, but the complete annihilation of Israel and of the Jewish race.

Yet in the so-called Reformed community, most obviously and recently in the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (PCUSA) but in equal measure in the broader and supposedly more orthodox Reformed community, a baffling blindness to these facts is shown in discussions and decisions, like the one in which the PCUSA voted to divest itself of companies and churches doing business with Israel in the “disputed territory.”

Even in the forum I just quietly abandoned (although I did click the “delete my account” link), respected Reformed folk urge “tolerance” for Islam, which plainly teaches that all non-Muslims should be forced to convert or be enslaved, taxed into indentured servitude, or outright slaughtered. Throughout it’s bloody history, Islam has been spread chiefly by the sword and by terror rather than by anything similar to Christian evangelism. Tolerating Islam today is akin to tolerating and appeasing Nazism in the 1930s.

What I honestly wish to know is WHY such overwhelmingly obvious, daily observable facts are deliberately ignored and even refuted by so many in Christendom. I can think of only one reason (plain ol’ anti-Semitism), but surely there must be some reasonable explanation for such willful blindness to the plainly obvious.

There can be absolutely no biblical, Christian basis for repeating history yet again by standing still and mute in the face of terror and tyranny as has been the case every other single time in history that tyrants have enslaved and slaughtered thousands and millions of peaceful people. This willful ignorance is every bit as mystifying to me as the liberal American bias in favor of Islamic jihadists – the very same people who would use Sharia law to outlaw every beloved liberal cause, from gay “rights” to the right of women to vote. If their jihadist friends get their way, liberals will be the first to die in defense of their favorite causes. When Christians oppose homosexuality, we are “homophobes.” Yet when Islamic jihadists do the same, it is somehow noble and good. This is beyond willful ignorance, it’s outright suicidal stupidity.

When I similar baseless calls among Christians for “tolerance” of tyranny, false religion, child rape, and calls for genocide, I am more than merely baffled. My disdain is beyond disappointment, it’s outright disgust.


Don’t We All Worship the Same God?

July 23, 2014
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Robin:

One Baptist minister I know called for the hospital chaplain before his surgery. An Orthodox Rabbi responded and the Baptist pastor asked for prayer. “After all,” he said, “we worship the same God.”

Really? Christians worship the Man, Jesus of Nazareth AS GOD, so we not? The Second member of the one Triune God. Orthodox Jews do not worship the Christian Triune God at all. Nor do Mormons. Do these differences matter? My Presbyterian friend Greenbaggins explores the importance of exploring our differences and why they matter:

Originally posted on Green Baggins:

This is a fairly common occurrence. The person you meet who has been in about 5 different denominations tells you that all those denominations worship the same God. The implication (stated or unstated) is that we should stop fighting anything, since we all worship the same God. To them, no other doctrines seem to matter except the doctrine of God. Now, there is a grain of truth to this plea. We should never ignore common ground that we have with people from other denominations, as that is usually a good place to start, and shows good will. However, the unity that is usually (and rightly!) desired by people who believe in the same God cannot be achieved by simply stifling debates and lowering other doctrinal matters to the status of insignificance. This unity cannot happen by simple fiat. It is in fact naive to think this way. In fact, the…

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The Plight of Christians in Mosul

July 23, 2014
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Robin:

There will probably be no mention of this in the press, but y’all need to be aware of it – especially Christians!

Originally posted on Martin Marprelate:

John 16:2. ‘Yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service.

Romans 8:36-37. ‘As it is written, “For Your sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”
Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.’

Many readers will perhaps have heard that the Islamic terrorists in Iraq who go by the name of ISIS have given Christians in the town of Mosul just a few hours either to convert to Islam, pay Protection Tax or face extermination. The allotted time expired around lunchtime today (July 19th). Many hundreds of Christians have fled Mosul and are now refugees in their own lands where Christians have dwelt since long before the birth of Mohammed.

In the light of this, there are three things which Christians in the West need to…

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By the Book

July 9, 2014
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We Sidekicks are not at liberty to decide how best to serve our Hero. My Hero has written a Book that He expects me to understand and put into practice.  Most Sidekicks have supervisor/mentors that have been in the service of the Hero for many years before, and who have learned to know His will and apply His teachings. They are commonly called Pastors. But once in a while a Pastor becomes enamored with all the “feel-good” fluff and excitement of being in the service of our Hero, Jesus Christ. That’s easy to do, of course. I’m guilty of that myself sometimes. But when that “feel-good” stuff becomes an end in itself, or a higher priority than faithfulness to the Hero’s Book, it’s big big trouble.

A former pastor rebuked me thusly after the umpteenth time I brought him a bunch of questions about the Book:

 

Oh, doctrine, doctrine, doctrine! You and that doctrinal stuff, Robin. Enough already! Can’t you just love the Lord?

Oh. Wow. I was stunned! Had I missed the whole point of all that bible study? Was I too concerned with my Hero’s teachings so that I missed out on just enjoying my role of serving at His side? Maybe… so I really worked hard at trying to “just love the Lord” and not being so concerned about “minutia,” as my pastor had called it. But I discovered something in the process of “trying to love the Lord” that really freaked me out:

1. – If you love the Lord, you’ll do what He says (John 14:15).
2. – You can’t do what He says if you don’t know what He says and what it means.
3. – Knowing what He says and what it means is – omygosh… DOCTRINE!

Uh-oh, how did this happen? But as it turns out, there’s no way to “just love the Lord” without studying doctrine! Dr. John Gerstner says this better than I can. Clicky here: Everyman Must be a Theologian Excerpt:

If a theologian is a person who knows God, then by reverse reasoning a person who is not a theologian does not know God. There is no shame in a layman‘s being told that he does not know carpentry, or plumbing, or medicine, or law, or teaching, or the ways of a housewife; but there surely is the greatest of shame in a layman‘s being told that he does not know God. Furthermore, there is more than shame; there is very great danger. The Scripture says that to live apart from God is death. And just as the text quoted says it is life eternal to know God and Christ, another passage in the same book says that they who do not believe in Jesus shall not see life and, furthermore, the wrath of God abides upon them: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36).

I was even more confused after I went back to my pastor to seek an answer to this riddle:

Robin: Pastor, how can I love the Lord without doctrine? Can you tell me about Him without referring to doctrine?
Pastor: Oh, you again… you and your book. Um, sure. Tell you about Jesus without doctrine? Well lemme see… well, He loves us, so…
Robin (interrupting): Wait, pastor, that’s doctrine! “He loves us” is doctrine! Try again, please, I really need to know.
Pastor: Oh, yeah, well, okay. Um, okay. He is building His kingdom here, and…”
Robin (interrupting again): Doctrine. Please try again? I really want to just love the Lord!
Pastor: Love is a feeling, Robin! Can’t you just feel His love and be satisfied?
Robin: Not if I truly love Him back. See here where He said… (turning to John 14:15, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” – you gotta know what they are!)
Pastor (interrupting): Put that book down! It’s not a matter of doctrine! It’s a feeling! Feel the love! Let go and let God be God!

Was it just that I didn’t get it, or had my pastor just told me to put the Hero’s book aside for a good feeling? I actually got scared. I wondered if I didn’t really love the Lord. I wondered if I was guilty of being one of those “head knowledge only” Christians that were so scorned in our church.

Only one thing to do: Go straight to the Hero for His advice.  He sent me to a new mentor, and shortly thereafter He removed my former mentor from his position. Wow. Y’see? My Hero takes good care of me!


An Oft-told Tale

June 25, 2014
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This is a rant, written by the mother of a US soldier. An Army veteran herself, she must have seen the same tragedy played out more than a few times during her service, and yet even then, she could not help her son avoid the very same tragic trap.

And we couldn’t help our son avoid the very same fate. And we did try, as far as any parent can, to warn our son and at least try to equip him emotionally for the incredibly heart-rending psychological warfare he endured for almost two years.

WARNING: “Adult” language follows, so either stop reading now or just brace yourself and accept the fact that there are sometimes appropriate occasions for strong language:

To ALL male Soldiers
Please watch out and beware.
Theres many girls out on the hunt
And they’re scattered everywhere!!!
They fill your head full of lies
And expect you to believe That they’re full of sugar and love for you,
A notion easy for you to conceive.
They say all of the right things
And use their feminine charm,
But deep inside they’re figuring ways
To cause you emotional harm.
Like this girl I know who used my son
For everything she could get.
She’s sneaky, wretched and full of crap
And she claims she isn’t finished yet.
What means the most from what shes shown
Is money and new tattoos.
Oh yeah, we cant forget to add
The weed and all the booze!

While my son was at work one day
She made a statement with a twist:
Before he came home to an empty house
She sold everything on Craig’s List!
All the furniture and most of his clothes
She disposed of everything
Like his 50+inch flat screen TV
And even his wedding ring!
When he came home the rooms were bare
No traces to be seen.
That conniving heifer took it all
Even the damn T.P!
The thieving cheating stinking whale
Apparently thought she had balls
She came back once more while he was in the field
To ensure she got it all.
An act of pure evil is what she is
She’s Satan’s spawn for sure!
It angers me every time I think
Of what my son tried to endure.
In another jab, to solidify her status
As a heartless, spineless twit,
She even took his ENGINEER RING
That he was so proud of and happy to get.
I wish I could go back in time just once
To put a stop to all of this.
I’ve got a mean right hook and an upper cut
I promise you I will not miss!
Karma is a bitch they say.
You’ve shown that you are too.
To harm a young mans military career
There’s nothing you wouldn’t do.
But I’ll be damned if I allow
You to break another’s heart
I felt that you’d be trouble alright
Right from the very start.
The game you play with young mens emotions
Shows you have no class.
You’re nothing but a selfish witch
So Honey, kiss my ass!!

Written By: Randie Parker,
Louisville, Ky
Proud Army Veteran,
Proud Army Momma
used by permission

 


An Irenic Conversation

June 24, 2014
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Robin:

What DIDN’T happen at this year’s PCA General Assembly matters too.

Originally posted on Green Baggins:

by Reed DePace

Last year after GA I made a post expressing concern about the apparent unwillingness to discuss differences. Here is a post from TE James Hakim making the same point in a gentle and peaceful way:


An Irenic Conversation

Husband: as you know, I like to hear your concerns and address them.
Wife: I’m so glad, because I have this list of concerns, based on our current situation
Husband: I’ve reviewed your list, and note that we addressed some of these things 37 years ago and others 15 years ago. Since we said the correct things at those times, it would be out of order for me to reaffirm similar things again. Besides, if we talk about it again, I might get into trouble for saying the wrong thing this time.
Wife: Oh… well… I’d really still like to talk about
Husband: [interrupting] I’m…

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