Earn Tokens, Pay No $

I have been a Coinbase user for a couple of years now and just learned of a cool program Coinbase offers: Coinbase Earn. Coinbase Earn says you can: “Earn Crypto While Learning About Crypto”. Since launching in December 2018 and has taken me so long to discover this program, I want to share the knowledge by posting about it to spread the word the best I can!

The Coinbase Earn product allows users to learn about select cryptocurrencies and the needs they address. As of this writing, there are earn and learn courses for are 3 cryptocurrencies: BAT, ZEX, and ZRX. Also, as of this writing, a waiting list exists for enrolling in the program for each cryptocurrency. I put myself on the waiting list for all 3. I will update this post after I have finished each of the courses. Also, this post will update if any new courses become available.

On the waiting list to earn cryptocurrency

To find this product, go to Coinbase and scroll to the bottom of the page. Press on the link for ‘Earn’ and you will be taken to the Coinbase Earn product. You are then presented with a choice of cryptocurrencies to learn about. Even though this author was unable to immediately take any of the courses all is not lost. The cool thing is that short videos are available to preview on each of the cryptocurrencies.

The preview videos highlight the need that each particular cryptocurrency addresses. For instance: one of the videos notes that the Brave browser id faster, more secure, more private. One of the videos notes that 70% of the revenue generated by ads goes the user that views the ad! I am a huge fan of Brave. You can read more about Brave here. I highly recommend downloading the Brave browser.

One more note: the videos are short and entertaining.

Screen shot from Coinbase Earn Product video on BAT

The Seventy-Two

Jesus Sends Out the Seventy-Two
Luk 10:1  After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come.
Luk 10:2  Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly isgreat, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.
Luk 10:3  Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves.
Luk 10:4  Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way.

KJV

Interesting to see that this was referenced here:

Numbers 11: 24-25
24  And Moses went out, and told the people the words of the LORD, and gathered the seventy men of the elders of the people, and set them round about the tabernacle.
25  And the LORD came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that, when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease.

KJV

God uses groups of seventy (or seventy-two) that he gives incredible power to perform miracles. I like to just sit back and think about existing as a part of one of those groups. Or even seeing one of those groups in action.

Great and Mighty God make my faith great. Make it as if I had been one of the seventy-two that Jesus sent ‘as lambs among the wolves’.

Project Dragonfly: Is it Limited to China, or is it a Test Run?

Or……………………….
is censorship by Google already happening all over the globe?

It was Wednesday, July 18, and Gomes was addressing a team of Google employees who were working on a secretive project to develop a censored search engine for China, which would blacklist phrases like “human rights,” “student protest,” and “Nobel Prize.”

theintercept.com

The project is named ‘Project Dragonfly’. It was strictly secretive and guarded at Google and according to whistleblower Yonatan Zunger. Project Dragonfly bypassed the standard inspection by the security and privacy teams. When the privacy team completed its review, the findings revealed important concerns:

Zunger and his colleagues produced a privacy report that highlighted problematic scenarios that could arise once the censored search engine launched in China. The report, which contained more than a dozen pages, concluded that Google would be expected to function in China as part of the ruling Communist Party’s authoritarian system of policing and surveillance. It added that, unlike in Europe or North America, in China it would be difficult, if not impossible, for Google to legally push back against government requests, refuse to build systems specifically for surveillance, or even notify people of how their data may be used.

theintercept.com

This privacy report by Zunger and his colleagues makes two assumptions that may be untrue.

Assumptions

  1. The Chinese government accumulates evidence for prosecutions.
  2. Google is a company that shields it’s users from abuses of governments

Starting with number one: Does the Chinese government think it needs ‘evidence’ of actions against the Chinese state before it will take actions against its citizens or are accusations treated as evidence? To answer that, inspect the reaction to a letter published criticizing the Chinese President Xi Jinping. The Chinese government kidnapped relatives of a Chinese blogger after he tweeted a link to the letter:

On Friday, New York-based blogger Wen Yunchao, also known as Bei Feng, said his brother and parents were also taken away in southern Guangdong province, after he tweeted a link to the letter.

Washington Post (sometimes fake news)

Now, is Google a company that will protect its users from overreaching governments? Well, Google previously pulled out of China due to censorship, however, Google headed back to China with a censorship engine and government approved apps. This indicates that the pull out may have been more of a technological setback/limitation than a moral stance.

Google is a corporation made of people of course, and some bravely blew the whistle on the search engine’s unethical practices. However, the project goes forward because a critical mass of managers and employees at Google do not care about the destiny of Chinese citizens.

For me, this is a good enough reason to stop using Google. The company is secretive and unrepentant in its compliance with Chinese authoritarian laws.

There are other reasons to abandon Google and all of its’ services.

  1. Google (and other social media companies) silence American blogger critical of China’s government.
  2. Google complies with demands for user data in 94% of cases.
  3. Did the CIA create Google?

Although most of Google’s services work great and are super convenient, Google is not a passive actor and filters its’ search results in a manipulative way:

Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, said Pro-Trump articles or content about immigration laws gets flagged as hate speech, and not a single right-leaning site appeared on the first page of the search results. He called for an independent third-party group to look into the matter.

upi.com

This behavior is unrequested by the user and therefore reduces the utility of the search engine (this is an intentional bug). In a similar way, Google may introduce a ‘bug’ into gmail that flags some users emails as ‘spam’. Because Google has outed themselves as being open to censorship, this next step should be expected from the company.https://medium.com/insurge-intelligence/how-the-cia-made-google-e836451a959e

Because of the revelations discussed in this post, this authors of this website no longer use Google services.

Instead farawaystars.com authors and contributors use:

  1. Brave Browser
  2. Protomail
  3. Duck Duck Go
  4. iOS mobile devices
  5. Other organic means including social media and forums to drive traffic to farawaystars.com

Because of #5, please bookmark farawaystars.com.

😀

Stop! Police!

Stop, or you may be shot

Just discovered this shortcut for Siri (iPhone users only).

Police

This shortcut has attracted media attention, in fact, here is an article about it.

When the ‘Police’ shortcut is activated, the following things happen:

  • music is paused
  • phone set to ‘Do Not Disturb’
  • phone screen is dimmed
  • your location is determined
  • a text messages is sent to a selected address
  • a video is taken (may select front or rear camera and video quality)
  • the video is saved to a photo album on the phone
  • a text with the video is sent to a selected address
  • there is an option to upload to Dropbox and/or iCloud Drive

Last summer, I took my son to a local fire station. It is less than a half mile from my home, which is in a fairly nice suburb. The station is on the bigger side and had a regular fire truck, a fire engine, and a hazardous material truck. Attached to the fire station is a police station.

In the attached police station garage, one vehicle commanded my attention. It was a flat black (armored?) hummer that looked like it could drive over and through brick walls. I found myself amazed that a vehicle like this could be useful in the community I live in! Apparently, the SWAT teams use that vehicle.

This is an example of the ‘militarization’ of the police.

There is a Lobby for Police Militarization
meme from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/democracychronicles/

The militarization of the police presents a contradiction for gun rights activists that insist on ‘backing the blue’ (which is a common position). Supporters of the 2A know that guns are needed as a last defense against an oppressive government. Well…the police are going to be the ones that enforce any oppression from the government. So why would one ‘back the blue’ when that is clearly arming a potential threat?

Police militarization highlights a contradiction for gun grabbers, as well, in my opinion. How can one simutaneously be in favor of gun control, acknowledge that the cops are targeting and harrassing minorities, understand that the police are arming themselves like an invading army, and then decide that the best course of action is to just let these people be the only ones with guns?

I believe that in order for police to protect and to serve, as is their stated purpose and motto , the police officers and police departments must be accountable to the citizenry. The Siri shortcut, Police, is a tool that citizens now have to hold police accountable for their actions. 😉

Genesis 15

Abrahamic covenant:

First, there was the promise of land (Genesis 12:1). When God called Abram, he was living in Ur of the Chaldeans, and God told him to move to another land that God would show him. That land turned out to be Canaan (Genesis 12:6-7), but it would be several more generations before Israel took full possession of that land (Joshua 22:1-6). 

Second, there was the promise of descendants as numerous as the sand on the seashore, or the stars in the sky, who would bless the whole earth (Genesis 22:17-18). God told Abraham that his descendants would become a great nation, with mighty kings (Genesis 17:6). 

Third, there was the promise that God would bring blessing and redemption to all people through Abraham’s people. God made this promise again to Isaac (Genesis 21:1226:3-4) and again to Jacob (Genesis 28:14-15). Despite the sins in the lives of all three patriarchs, God’s unconditional promise stands. Since he was the only participant in the covenant, there is no way for the actions of any human to make the promise null and void.

from compellingtruth.org

This passage sent me traveling down an internet wormhole researching Covenant Theology vs. Dispensationalism.

There are a couple other notable parts of the covenant. God promised that Abram’s descendants would be in slavery for 400 years. 400 YEARS!! God promised that after the slavery, the descendants would emerge with great riches. I mean, who can comprehend this time frame and the rewards?

Luke 7

Sinners

39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.”

biblegateway

Are there people that you believe are sinner’s that are unworthy of companionship?

People that do disgusting deeds?

People that hold abhorrent views?

God can forgive them all through Jesus.

Sin as Monetary Debt

41 “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” 43 Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.”

biblegateway

The NKJV Study Bible mentions in the notes that ‘Jesus often compared sin to a monetary debt.

That is fascinating and requires more thought.

What are the similarities of sin and monetary debt? Both certainly feel awful.

Here is a list of times the Bible compares sin and monetary debt and some further conversation about this.

An Adventure in Saving Tomato Seeds

seed saving and fermenting tomatoes in a jar

Are these things going to even grow next season??

In the spring of 2017, my family and I purchased two heirloom tomato plants at the local farmer’s market. All of the plants grew like milked weeds until we started noticing that many of the plants had bites taken out of the fruit. A little bugger of critter was swiping our chow! 

One of our fine neighbors must have noticed the problem as well, because we noticed a couple of poisoned mice in the coming weeks. One in our yard and one on a sidewalk in our neighborhood.  

Time passed along and in the spring of 2018 we noticed a tomato plant sprouting up in our yard. It grew mighty close to an underground termite poison, so we were wary of eating the fruit. However, save the seeds? We will.

Well, I am just an aspiring farmer and have no idea how to save seeds. So, I did what any of y’all would do and duckduckgo’d it.  I found this article and have been following it (sort of) closely: 

How To Save Tomato Seeds

It is already late November, but tomatoes were still growing on our plant, so I collected about 15 of them and chopped them in half, like the article recommended. However, I missed the part about scooping the seeds out, so I had to do that several days later – probably just made it more gross as there was mold and stankiness to deal with. Another deviation from the article was that I waited for 6 days before I removed the seeds and cleaned them and started drying them.  I was a little worried at first, because my wife noticed the seeds were hairy! Uh-oh, did they start to germinate? I leveraged duckduckgo again and found this article that says this is how the seeds should look – relief! Article: Another helpful article on saving seeds

Here is a picture of the seeds currently. I will update this article after the seeds are planted.

Drying tomato seeds on a ceramic plate
seeds drying on a ceramic plate

Why save seeds?

Not too long ago, almost everyone saved seeds. From the graphs on this page, you can see that almost all people used to be involved in agriculture: Decline in agricultural employmentClearly, much of this is due to advances in machinery and technology. But what about the lost knowledge of individuals that no longer can provide their own food? This is a loss of individuals to be independent and thus a loss of certain freedoms.

Additionally, I will leave you with this passage from an alarming article about the reduction in diversity of food sources:

In the last hundred years we have experienced a massive loss of varietal diversity, something that can easily be seen in supermarket grocery stores. In 1903 there were 288 varieties of beet available, by 1983 there were 17 [RAFI USA] and the average supermarket consumer is likely to be aware of only one or two. There are many reasons for this, but the take away for this article is that diversity is good and we are losing it.

from Mother Earth News

Brave Browser

basic attention token

Install the Brave Browser (affiliate link)

Unlike almost all other tech companies that farm out users personal data for profit, Brave has found a way to be available for free, while still protecting the privacy of its users and allowing advertisers to get their products in front of customers. This is amazing, the best of all worlds! 

I have been using the Brave browser for about 10 months on iPhone and Mac. For about four years before, I had used Safari and Chrome. Before that, I used Internet Explorer and Firefox. 

At this point, I am able to use Brave almost exclusively with only two real drawbacks that affect me:

  • not being able to select it as the default browser on the iPhone 
  • the syncing feature is not yet implemented between the Mac and iPhone

BAT Token:

The BAT token is the vehicle by which all of the magic occurs. BAT tokens are a currency that can be passed around between blog readers, Youtube channel subscribers, advertisers, and publishers. The BAT token has been trading between 10 cents and 1 USD for the past year, but this value is so far just in speculation. The real price discovery will happen with the usage of the browser and its advertising platform. 

BAT Token Promotion:

Brave has been running a promotion to help onboard users. Brave has been giving BAT tokens to users of the Brave browsers. These promotional tokens are deposited into the wallet within the browser and are available for tipping websites or automatic contributions to websites of Brave Verified Publishers.

Install the Brave Browser (affiliate link)

Verified Publishers:

This website is a Brave verified publisher. At this point in the development of the Brave platform, if you are using the Brave browser and have enabled automatic contributions to your favorite websites, your Brave browser may contribute to farawaystars.com in proportion to the time you have spent on this website. If you are using the most up to date browser, you can click the BAT icon in the URL bar and tip farwaystars.com. 

Although the ways publishers can be compensated is limited currently; in time, the Brave ecosystem may look something like this:

  1. advertiser or publisher purchase tokens on an exchange, available on Coinbase (affiliate link) now.
  2. advertiser pays for ads (not available as of 12/10/18) 
  3. readers opt in to receiving ads (the browser blocks ads by default)
  4. readers are paid as they view ads
  5. readers sell tokens to an exchange or donate them to preferred sites. 

Install the Brave Browser (affiliate link)

Mighty Men

1 Chronicles

Reflections on 1 Chronicles 11

I do not remember learning much about the men spoke of in 1 Chronicles 11:10-47 in Sunday School when I was growing up. But I sure wish I would have!

God provided wonderfully powerful men to David to make him king. It is interesting to me that these warriors are spoken of as heroes and highly regarded. Their deeds are certainly celebrated.

For instance:

22 Benaiah was the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man from Kabzeel, who [k]had done many deeds. He had killed two lion-like heroes of Moab. He also had gone down and killed a lion in the midst of a pit on a snowy day. 23 And he killed an Egyptian, a man of great height, [l]five cubits tall. In the Egyptian’s hand there was a spear like a weaver’s beam; and he went down to him with a staff, wrested the spear out of the Egyptian’s hand, and killed him with his own spear. 24 These things Benaiah the son of Jehoiada did, and won a name among three mighty men. 25 Indeed he was more honored than the thirty, but he did not attain to the first three. And David appointed him over his guard.

biblegateway

God’s promise to David implies (to me) that God approves of the actions of these men and the battles they fought and won.

“Now then, tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord Almighty says: I took you from the pasture, from tending the flock, and appointed you ruler over my people Israel.

Why Is There So Much Distress In The World?

Reflections on Psalm 10

What sort of grand plan does God have that has not been revealed to us?

Every day is full of wonder and beauty; yet for everything and every event that produces joy, there is a counter.   For instance: the beauty of the mountains vs. the ugliness of a landfill; the touching kindness of volunteers and altruists vs. the cruelty of dictators and criminals; the ecstasy achieved in athletics vs. the devastation of disease.

In Psalm 10, the psalmist focuses on the evil that men do and asks why God does not intervene. Not only that, the psalmist notes that evil men appear to be experiencing victory at the expense of the poor.

The NKJV study bible contains a comment on Psalm 10:1, the first line: “Why do you stand afar off, O Lord”. The note states that “these are classic words of lament or morning”. Indeed, this is a classic question.

Why does God allow such suffering as we see in the world?

What is His plan?