Weekend Reading: November 11, 2017

Welcome to the weekend, the weekend reading is below, but first, happy birthday to my darling wife Kate!

Just a few articles for you to consider…

There are some shifts going on in the culture, and not always in a good way.  This past week the lead pastor of Hillsong Church appeared on The View – that’s the first hint that there may be trouble – and appeared ambivalent about whether or not abortion was murder. Think about that for a minute. The lead pastor of one of the most well-known churches in the evangelical world can’t even come down on what is normally considered a softball for anyone serving in ministry. Heck, millions upon millions of people who aren’t followers of Christ consider abortion murder. I am not naive enough to think that this guy is some theological dynamo, but he is admired by many younger Christians and has a significant following internationally.  Why do I point this out? Because 1. its good to know where leaders stand on key issues, as it helps to explain what their followers/admirers think and 2. as an offshoot of 1, its helpful in explaining microtrends among groups of people. When their leaders shift one way, they might shift that way as well.

This was pretty sad stuff. I didn’t know that Halladay was one of only two men to have pitched a perfect game in the post-season…ever.  Amazingly talented guy.

Interesting: Why Does the Season Before Winter Have Two Names?

Another thing to take a look at.  This is a powerpoint put together by some ex-Bush administration politicos who are positing the idea that we’re living in the midst of a new gilded age. I don’t doubt that they are on to something.  Over at Axios, Mike Allen has been pushing this idea for quite some time. This PPT is a bit dated – to a few months back – because I hadn’t reviewed it yet, and I was curious as to how it was standing up to the test of the fall elections.  In some ways, they were off, and in others, they were spot on.  We see all kinds of evidence of this, and they seem anecdotal – stories like this one pop up in our news feeds: The Most Expensive Bottle of Wine Ever Sold Is a $350,000 California Cabernet Sauvignon.  I am not making a moral conclusion to this data, but simply musing on it, and think it’s worth considering for future conversation.

This is a must-read: Sean Parker: Facebook was designed to exploit human “vulnerability”. I think it makes a ton of sense to say that people are getting addicted to FB and other social streams – many people wouldn’t deny that its possible – but what’s so revolutionary about this article is that these guys who created FB are now saying “ya, we want it to be like that…” (so to speak).  They want you to spend all your time there. But what we might see in the future are more scientific studies showing that the lack of attention span and other brain malfunctions are a direct result of the “Feedback loop” we put ourselves in online.

Of course, the other consequence of this feedback loop is that we created worlds online in which everyone agrees with us, and everyone who doesn’t is labeled as spewing hate speech.

To that end, check out this New York Times article: What Does Facebook Consider Hate Speech? Take Our Quiz.  The irony of this is not in the quiz itself but in the fact that there exists a feedback loop of sorts between the liberal media writers at the Times and the liberal corporate execs at Facebook. Note especially near the end of the story this paragraph:

In response to questions for this piece, Facebook said it had changed its policy to include age as a protected category. While Facebook’s original training document states that content targeting “black children” would not violate its hate speech policy, the company’s spokeswoman said that such attacks would no longer be acceptable.

So the New York Times got their liberal readership to pay attention to this ageism gap in the FB hate speech quiz, and in response, Facebook altered their policies.  Now to give this context, can you imagine if The Weekly Standard, or Red State, or even the Washington Times or Wall Street Journal posted a quiz online and had Facebook change its policies based on that quiz or writing from its conservative readership?  NO WAY!  That would never happen.  That is because the NY Times is inside the feedback loop, it’s inside the liberal echo chamber. I’m not saying that conservatives (and I think particularly communities inside evangelicalism) don’t have this same phenomenon.  But the difference is that liberals are now running corporate America, and major social and communications platforms. What are the consequences of this?  That free speech is going to be regulated more and more by the left, and with the left in America moving more and more TO the left, we’re going to see ripple effects in the way in which people talk, what they say, and how they say it.

I somehow missed this until I stumbled on it at Target…pretty cool.

More tech – did anyone else notice how frustrating typing the word “I” has been on your iPhone this past week or so??? The Wall Street Journal talks about it here. 

In light of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, Tim Challies asked if Christians need to be considering more closely their relationship to Hollywood.  The crux of what he’s saying could be more bluntly paraphrased: “Why are you surprised? We’ve seen this kind of behavior on the silver screen for years now…where did you think these ideas came from? They came from sexual predators who wrote the scripts!”

Which leads me to post this article by John Piper which I thought spot on: Do Men Owe Women a Special Kind of Care?  Spoiler Alert: yes, yes they do.

I hadn’t heard much about this story until someone at the National Review wrote about it. Apparently, there were two men who chased down the killer of those folks down in the Texas church massacre. I heard something obliquely spoken of on the radio, but I was distracted with driving (some irony there) and didn’t know the full story until I read this piece: In Texas, Two Very American Heroes.

That’s all I really have time for today. I hope you enjoy your Saturday – happy reading!

PJW

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Weekend Reading: November 4, 2017

Welcome to the weekend!  I hope you are all doing well. I am traveling today so have just a few moments to share some reading for your weekend. Weekend Reading lightening edition!   (:

First, I’m going to have to say there was a lot of stupidity out there this week. Let’s start where stupidy reigns: The New York Times.  Modern liberal Catholic (despite himself) writer Ross Douthat who is widely read asked ‘Who Won the Protestant Reformation’ and his reflection tends toward the answer being “modern western liberalism” (although it’s hard to sort through his snide jumbled prose).  I am posting this here because its valuable to know what these kinds of people think. This is the cream of liberal elite thinking, so it is instructive. Douthat doesn’t address the arguments or the real reasoning behind the need for religious reformation, but looks instead at the flow of history with all its bloody excesses and sin and concludes that while we got modernity out of it eventually, there are many “unremembered dead” as well. He assumes that many of the dead died for nothing – as if in ignorance they fought for something small minded and trite. Quite the opposite was the truth when it comes to the days of reformation in the 16th century – and even so with those a priori forerunners who translated the Bible into the common vernacular in order that men may not be ignorant, exploited by the church, and might have joy and eternal life. Sounds worthwhile to me…but heck, I don’t have a Times column so what do I know!

Next, let’s look at stupidity across the pond from another bastion of liberal elitism. The headline is revealing: Prince William warns that there are too many people in the world. There aren’t enough trees and lakes and puppies in the world because we’re overrunning them with human babies. Nevermind that the aforementioned William is producing babies faster than any known man alive. There are two reasons I want to point this nonsense out. First, because wherever liberal elites’ actual views are allowed to surface – are actually admitted in the open – they are shocking and appalling and ALWAYS hypocritical. Second, when played out to their fullest, they often lead to mass killing and genocide (I’m looking at you communism). They are also fraught with irony. Secular Liberals like William who know very little about the average life of an average man, imagine their views would solve the problems of said man, and create a life on this earth that was a little less crowded and a little more enjoyable. Let’s pray for the sake of the lives of Europeans yet unborn that the monarchy in England never again gains any real power and that William rides out his days as he’s done thus far – in utter impotence.

Well…maybe he deserved it: Canadian man fined for singing ’90s dance tune in car

This is crazy:  Pakistani bride kills 17 in botched plot to kill husband

Multiple people sent me this article this week, AND I saw Mohler posted it, and I think Challies posted it…must have struck a nerve: The Politicization of Motherhood. It fits nicely right after the story by modernist liberal Douthat.

I stumbled on this video which I found amusing: The Surprisingly Mysterious Life of Famed Artist Bob Ross

Funny story here: Add Sugar to the List of Halloween Horrors (subtitle: Experts at the American Chemical Society determined the lethal dose for so-called fun-size treats).

Interesting: The U.S. Senate Has Been Using the Same Ivory Gavels for Over 200 Years

In case you missed it: Amazon Turns a Financial Report Into a Marketing Event.

This was enjoyable and interesting: Time Travel in Fiction Rundown.

That is it on the articles side – can you believe that I had something absolutely nuts from all over the globe!? haha!

Books….I finished David Copperfield this week and immensely enjoyed it. Kate and I had been reading it together for months. Kate’s favorite character was Agnus. My favorite characters were David’s eccentric Aunt, and his “friend of his youth” Mr. Wilkens Micawber.  Micawber uses (abuses?) the English language with such flourish that every time he would digress I would split my sides. The phrase “pecuniary emolument” was jestingly in frequent use in our house over the past weeks, much to my enjoyment!

That’s it – I hope you all have a great weekend!

PJW

Weekend Reading: October 28, 2017

Well, its a cold, wet day here in Columbus Ohio. It seems as though our good weather fantasy bubble has finally popped!  So, if your weather is like mine, today is a great day to catch up on reading.  Here is just a small selection of articles and books I enjoyed this week…

Reformation Day is coming up, and Stephen Nichols has a blog explaining what it’s all about here. 

Martin Luther, a scholar, took quill in hand, dipped it in his inkwell and penned his 95 Theses on October 31, 1517. These were intended to spark a debate, to stir some soul-searching among his fellow brothers in the church. The 95 Theses sparked far more than a debate. The 95 Theses also revealed the church was far beyond rehabilitation. It needed a reformation. The church, and the world, would never be the same.

No doubt many of you saw the gigantic leap that tech stocks took Friday, and the subsequent wealth that was added to the majority owners and CEO’s of these companies.  It’s fascinating stuff. Here’s a story specifically how men like Jeff Bezos and Larry Page were billions of dollars richer by 10am Friday.   If you’ve ever read about Russia in the 90’s then you’ll know about the rise of economic Oligarchs, and how they controlled a great deal in Russian society and media and politics. They overplayed their hands and eventually were put down by the dictator Putin, but during their run the control they exerted was substantial. I wonder aloud here if we’re entering such a time in America. In the past there have been waves where a very small group of rich men have controlled and steered the economy and even other aspects of our lives (think Rockafeller, Vanderbilt etc.).

In a similar vein: The Real Reason CVS Wants to Buy Aetna? Amazon

The weekly hypocrisy alert: Why doesn’t Hillary’s ‘dossier’ trick count as treason?

For all of you who might have been fascinated by the possibility of scumbag Kid Rock running for Senate, he has a message for you, “Of course I’m not running for Senate” (the sanitized version). 

Speaking of scum bags, conservative radio host and columnist Erick Erickson has a thought: Maybe Bill O’Reilly Should Repent Instead of Being Mad at God.

Two good deep dives for you this weekend…

First: China’s Entrepreneurs Squirm Under Xi Jinping’s Tightening Grip

Second: Responding to the Transgender Revolution

Something I could have written: Tell Me What You Read, And I’ll Tell You Who You Are

Spies, spies and more spies: North Korean hackers stole U.S. and South Korean wartime plans, Seoul lawmaker says AND How Israel Caught Russian Hackers Scouring the World for U.S. Secrets.

I can’t recall if I posted this, but I’m a little skeptical still: Why 4 a.m. Is the Most Productive Hour.

Books…This week I finished a book on Eisenhower by Paul Johnson, which was just okay. Two things were wrong with it, first it was too short and that made it a fact-cramming exercise, and second, it was too positive. That is to say that it didn’t seem very critical of any decisions Eisenhower made, and the mistakes he made were quickly defended by Johnson.

I also read ‘Destine for War’ by Graham Allison and found it helpful.  It is a book dedicated to the exploration of this question: Is war between China and the U.S. inevitable?  Allison explores the mind of the Chinese and explains how it differs from the American mind and how this thinking strategically interacts etc. He also explores past wars and potential wars (at least 12 of them I believe) to see what lead to war, and what lead to the escape from war.  Allison has a unique perspective because even though he is a professor, he has interacted with Kissinger (he was taught by HK), and others on the world scene, and obviously seems to have done his homework.

This week also saw me wrapping up ‘The Man in the High Castle’ by Philip K. Dick. A very interesting book that I found different from the Amazon Orginal Series of the same name – not different in all good ways though. In many ways, the Amazon series made the book’s story more cogent, clear, and understandable. Of course in other ways, the book supersedes the series – mainly in the uniqueness of the writing style.  Dick employed an introspective writing style that had you listening in to main character’s thoughts, and exploring their world and their dilemmas with them.

Here’s where I stand on my reading goals for the year (170/200). Unfortunately, I had to adjust them downward (to 200 from 250) to reflect, well, reality.

That’s it!  I hope you have an enjoyable (and warm) weekend!

PJ

Weekend Reading: October 21, 2017

Welcome to the weekend!  I’m writing from Charleston, S.C., a beautiful history-rich part of our country.  I didn’t send an email out last week, so there are a few items from last week I wanted to pass along as well. That said, I’m also really under the weather, so not as much commentary as you’re probably used to.

Hard to believe this isn’t fake news!  Man resided in woods for 10 years because wife nagged him too much.

Fascinating stuff here: China Uses ‘Digital Leninism’ to Manage Economy and Monitor Citizens.

They survived six hours in a pool as a wildfire burned their neighborhood to the ground. “Jan watched the moon for clues about time passing. It didn’t move.”

Everyone saw this right? North Korea says ‘a nuclear war may break out any moment’.

This got a lot of attention this week: Ex-DEA agent: Opioid crisis fueled by drug industry and Congress. This is a story that got the attention of President Trump, and for good reason. If you look at anything this week, this is the link to examine.

This may have been missed, but it shows that there’s at least something right going on in Washington: Scalias All the Way Down: While the press goes wild over tweets, Trump is remaking the federal judiciary.

Crazy story from southern OH here. Very sad. 

More of the same from the Boy Scouts of America: First came acceptance of gay and transgender Scouts. Now girls can be Boy Scouts

Similarly…Anger as Oxford college bans Christian group from freshers’ fair

This is ridiculous.  Glad to see my friend Aaron standing up to evil in this world!

Here’s something worth looking at: Vanishing Adulthood and the American Moment: A Conversation with Senator Ben Sasse. The interview is a bit meandering, but the book was good.

Wait…what?  White House Watch: Did Donald Trump Really Shoot a 73 at Trump National?

This was amusingly written. I haven’t finished it yet but enjoyed what I read thus far, some thought-provoking stuff about chain restaurants and their role in American life: Christ in the Garden of Endless Breadsticks.

That’s it for today. I really hope you enjoy the weekend!

PJW

 

 

Weekend Reading: October 7, 2017

Good morning folks, I hope the week was a good one. Here are the books, news items, and articles I found most interesting.

First, the shooting in Las Vegas is on everyone’s mind, so I want to link here to a column written by Al Mohler on the subject of “evil” in light of the shooting.  One excerpt especially caught my attention:

Evil is a fact, too. And evil is a theologicalcategory. The secular worldview cannot use the word with coherence or sense. The acknowledgement of evil requires the affirmation of a moral judgment and a moral reality above human judgment. If we are just accidental beings in an accidental universe, nothing can really be evil. Evil points to a necessary moral judgment made by a moral authority greater than we are — a transcendent and supernatural moral authority: God.

Mohler also mentions that one of the characteristics of evil is that it often seems random, and nonsensical. But because we are moral creatures, we necessarily think in those terms – as we should. Lots to ponder and pray about here. One thing I’ve noticed recently though: Our reaction to natural disasters and terrible shootings showcases humanity at its best and worst – but what we notice and how people react is very basically human. Hollywood and liberals in our college classrooms may try to rewrite what it means to be human and may claim there are no real moral categories, but in the wake of a disaster, we don’t find anyone claiming anything of the sort. That is because to do so would be to assert something so insensitive and ridiculous that they’d be booed down and shamed by the media.

It would be wise to use what we learn in the wake of the evils of disaster to combat the evils of mis/disinformation flooding our televisions and classrooms today. 

Moving on…I don’t think I got to link to this last week but it is excellent: Using Scripture to Pray Over Your Children. 

Oddly enough, the Village Voice had a fascinating article this week called, ‘Keepers of the Secrets’ …excerpt:

I was told that the most interesting man in the world works in the archives division of the New York Public Library, and so I went there, one morning this summer, to meet him.

NOTE: ChristianAudio.com has Sinclair Ferguson’s ‘The Whole Christ’ audiobook for free this month.

This was excellent as well: God Is with You in Your Panic Attack (h/t Derek S.)

Also, I wanted to link to this story from Politico called, ‘How We Found Tom Price’s Private Jets’. Not because it’s such a fascinating read, but because every day I get newsletter compilations from Politico (and others) and I continue to be shocked at how often they make the news about themselves. Here’s a note to my friends in the media: you are violating one of the most basic rules of journalism!  The news isn’t about you!  This may not seem like a particularly egregious example but for me, it’s just the latest in a serious of nausea-inducing headlines that make my head involuntarily shake with dismay…of course, I grew up the son of a journalist (a real one) – we watched movies like Broadcast News, where Aaron Alman invariably would have sarcastically derided these showboats by yelling at the TV or the Paper with a witty, yet stinging, comment (A lot of alliterations from anxious anchors placed in powerful posts!).  End Rant.

Speaking of journalistic obsessions, this week all the rage was “bump-stocks” and I’m not linking to any of their “investigative” articles, but I am linking to a press release from Cong. Adam Kingsinger that talks about efforts to tighten restrictions on them in the wake of Las Vegas. I will just note that a good friend of mine who has helped train me for self-defense shooting, says that he is baffled why these things are still legal at all (and that’s coming from a huge 2nd Amendment guy).

Major News Item: Jimmy Kimmel Produces Official Document Confirming He Is Nation’s Moral Authority.  I knew it!  ….was only a matter of time!

Actually – here is a real news item that I’m thankful for: Trump Administration Rolls Back Obama Rule on Birth-Control Coverage

Also, don’t miss this…END OF AN ERA 

More nonsense: Farewell, Valedictorian: High Schools Drop Tradition of Naming Top Student …. not even sure you need to read the article…just shake your head and move along!

I can’t believe I’m linking to scummy Slate…but this is cool: The Greatest Paper Map of the United States You’ll Ever See. (h/t my Kate)

Intriguing: Musk: Tesla can rebuild Puerto Rico power grid

I read a few interesting books this week.  First, I read the latest book by Blake White called ‘God’s Chosen People: Promised to Israel, Fulfilled in the Church’, and for those who’ve never thought much about the nature of the OT and NT and God’s people across the ages, this is a good introductory volume. Blake is definitely becoming a better writer (I laughed out loud a few times), and while he I wish he would have slowed down a few times and been a little more thorough, the book definitely moved quickly apace and was an easy read (something of a virtue for theologians). 

I also finished Zack Eswine’s book The Imperfect Pastor: Discovering Joy in Our Limitations through a Daily Apprenticeship with Jesus. Really good book here. Worth reading for all church leaders – and for those who aren’t, its an interesting and thought-provoking look inside the mind and life of a young pastor. Eswine is a bit of a rambler, I was lost at times structurally, but the content was excellent.

Lastly, I read Arnold Kling’s The Three Languages of Politics: Talking Across the Political Divides.  It was thoughtful but too short; a good discussion starter, and probably required reading for anyone thinking about talking politics around the office water cooler.

Currently working through (among others):  Heroes: From Alexander the Great & Julius Caesar to Churchill & de Gaulle, The Vanishing American Adult, The Churchill Factor: How One Man Made History, Henry V,  and David Copperfield. 

That’s it!  I hope you enjoy your weekend!

PJW

Weekend Reading: September 30, 2017

Good morning and welcome to the weekend reading!  Just a few things for you to consider this weekend as you catch up on what might have been missed in the past few days…

This looks pretty cool – DesiringGod.com is doing a month-long daily reformation tid-bit or historical dive in celebration of the 500th year of the Reformation.

And, in case you missed it: Trump-backed candidate Luther Strange loses Alabama GOP Senate runoff to Roy Moore

It was a bad week for POTUS: NFL players, managers defy Trump on anthem protests as feud ramps up.  

SIDE NOTE: I’m hearing a lot of noise from my conservative friends about these obnoxious protests by overpaid (often immoral and misbehaving) NFL players.  And while I think that they could certainly find something better to protest, I’d like to observe that 1. The President has inflamed this situation – ironically at the same time, his healthcare efforts were failing on the Hill and 2. The President changed the nature of the debate. No longer has the discussion been about police brutality, but rather about the freedom to protest, and what is appropriate in that realm. But what do I hear from friends and those on Twitter?  I hear one side saying “stand up for the vets who died for the flag (insert expletive)” and on the other side I hear “in America we don’t need our leaders limiting our freedom of expression.”  Both sides are talking past each other here – neither one addressing the real substance of the issue.

Ironic thought: The man holding the office that symbolizes the might and power of America is using profanity to condemn athletes for not respecting another symbol of our country.

Concluding Thought: Let’s not be reacting in such a knee-jerk way to everything we think is going on in situations like this. A perfect example of this came when every conservative online and on the radio praised a Steelers football player for taking a lone stand for the Pledge while his team was in the tunnel. Turns out that the whole team was going to come out together but he accidentally got separated from the team. It wasn’t a statement at all – but how quick we are to jump on these things!

Recommended Reading here by Jonah Goldberg, and if you don’t follow Ben Sasse on Twitter, you should. He dealt with this really nicely I thought.

Also…there was this little missive floating around the interwebs this week…

Here is a little follow-up item in terms of the way in which the prosperity gospel is ruining ‘merica…not everyone is buying in: Benny Hinn Is My Uncle, but Prosperity Preaching Isn’t for Me

This was so encouraging that I ordered the book, and tweaked the time I spent with my own kids in the Bible a bit. Sort of gave me some new ideas as a dad.

This is really important to get your head around: Letter From North Korea: What Life Looks Like as Nuclear Crisis Mounts. The reason this is so important is that the people of NK have been indoctrinated with this nuclear idea/mission.  So the likelihood of them giving it up is…low…its now embedded in their culture.

Hilarious: ESPN Launches Fantasy Preaching Software.

So good: Godliness is not your Personality

And…don’t miss this: We Are Not Germs: The Case for Human Dignity

Another good-humored article for your weekend: Can a $300 Cooler Unite America?

And that’s really it for now.  In the book world, I’ve just finished a book on John Newton by Tony Reinke that I thought very impactful. He really just goes through Newton’s letters and shows how he would live the Christian life. Some of the things he said aren’t going to leave me very soon, and I’m glad for that.  I also just finished the Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkein – this time reading it with my kids, who seemed to enjoy it.  Tolkein is a master of the english language, and whether or not the kids understood every verb tense is less important that we’re bathing them in good literature – because they definitely enjoyed the adventure!

Have a great weekend!

PJ

Weekend Reading: September 16, 2017

Welcome to the weekend reading, my collection of most interesting videos, blogs, news stories, books and more from the past week or two…

Science: As a reminder, I traditionally only post the most obvious news stories here if they are something I’d like to comment on. Usually, I like to post stuff that you may have missed, and here is one such story: Mathematicians Measure Infinities and Find They’re Equal.  I mean, why not geek it out and learn about a big math breakthrough.  I can’t say as I completely understand this, but it is definitely interesting.

Shocker: North Korea Threatens to Use Nuclear Weapon to ‘Sink’ Japan.  Now, I don’t know about you, but Kim is starting to sound like the boy who cried wolf. I don’t know what the end game for him is, but it may simply be consolidating his own internal power. That said, regardless of whether he’s just saber rattling, we effectively have another country threatening to annihilate us – which means we’re in a de facto state of war with that country – and everything those guys do deserves our attention.

There’s a video out that explains more about the missiles: Why North Korea Can’t Build An ICBM (yet).

On the political front, the big news this week was on immigration. And to call it “news” is perhaps a bit of an exaggeration, because nothing really (substantially) happened. Trump had a bunch of Democrat leaders over for dinner, and at that dinner, he supposedly told them he would cave on the DACA program, without getting his southern border wall. This infuriated his supporters, and caused the conservatives at RedState blog to write a post called ‘Amnesty!!’.  Breitbart even called him “Amnesty Don”.  Now, what is getting lost in all of this is the actual policy ramifications of rescinding DACA and not getting better border security. Can the United States be both merciful and wise at the same time?  Can we deal kindly with these children and also secure our border so that we stem the tide of illegal immigration? I highly doubt it given the type of people who inhabit the leadership of our government (on both sides of the aisle). But I do think that is what the President seems to be aiming for.

What is more of a mystery to me is how anyone can be surprised by the President’s actions. This is a man whose supporters trumpet his credentials as a dealmaker. Although some (on the right and left) might characterize his life as closer to that of a serial liar who has a track record of infidelity to both people and ideas. Regardless of how you frame it, the President is a man who makes deals – and unlike our Senate President has done that pretty successfully in years past.

For the first six months of his Presidency, he was clearly out of his depth, making one gaffe after another, compounding those mistakes by a series of uninhibited rants on social media which (I think) tarnished the office and embarrassed his supporters. But I think it’s too early to judge this latest series of policy maneuvers – including the prospect that the southern wall might get addressed later. Those on the right (of which I am one) can’t have it both ways – we can’t complain about the impotence of the GOP leadership in the Congress and then blame the President for wanting to bring Democrats along to make a deal to get things done. Because if the GOP leadership in the House and Senate doesn’t have the requisite leadership skills to get even a budget passed or Obamacare rescinded, what makes us think they can pass meaningful tax or immigration reform?

As far as I can tell, the President is simply tired of counting on House and Senate leadership to get anything done, and so he’s trying something else. Sure it means he might be going back on his word from the campaign – but when has that ever stopped a politician in the past?  Maybe that’s what we’re seeing…Donald Trump is becoming a politician…

Moving on…

Tech + Environmentalism + Liberals + Hollywood Types: Does anyone know what the heck Burning Man is really all about?  For the life of me, I cannot figure out what the point is.  All I know from past news stories over the years is that it’s where a bunch of libs and tech CEOs gather to free themselves from the conveniences of modern technology…of course, that idea died years ago.  So I’m not sure what the point is these days, but I do know that this is ridiculous: Thousands of bikes abandoned at ‘leave no trace’ Burning Man. 

Religion and America….Good writing from John MacArthur here: Can God Bless America?

Gays + Tech = ?  Some off-the-wall technology stuff here…Researchers use facial recognition tools to predict sexual orientation. LGBT groups aren’t happy.

‘Sin in America’, or ‘More stuff on Gay People’: Along similar lines, I thought it would be helpful to link to the Nashville Statement here. This statement was signed by hundreds of prominent evangelicals, along with some conservative media types and many others. If you haven’t been able to read it, go ahead and do so because it’s likely to be a reference point for years to come in the discussion about the sin of homosexuality, and how the church interacts with the issue (was just thinking how after typing “the sin of…” could land me in some hot water before too long…).

Tech: This was buried in the Wall Street Journal a few days ago: Facebook Is Willing to Spend Big in Video Push

Hurricanes: Insightful stuff here:  Best intentions: When disaster relief brings anything but relief

Sociology: This is really fascinating stuff here: From Prison to Ph.D.: The Redemption and Rejection of Michelle Jones.  Of course, I am all for Harvard or any other institution having the freedom to reject or admit whomever they’d like. That is part of what makes this country great. Yet, there are some really interesting things to explore in this article. There are questions to ask – like whether they rejected Jones on academic grounds (it doesn’t seem so), or whether those who are outraged are outraged for the right reasons.  A bigger question is whether we believe rehabilitation is possible in the prison system.  Lot’s to chew on here, and I’d encourage you to read the article and discuss it with someone to flesh out a bit what is going on here and why.  NOTE: the three reasons I think I detect from Harvard as to their rejection are: 1. Jones might be uncomfortable in the high-pressure academic situation, 2. Jones seemed unwilling to dive into the crime she committed 20 years ago in the optional section of her application, 3. Allowing Jones’ into the program would bring fire upon the University politically from the right (Fox News is cited) by promoting a supposed trope that Harvard is P.C. through and through (the double irony of this is mind-blowing…it might be a truism that those who don’t have principles moored in eternal truths find themselves in ironic situations more than they’d like).

Religion in America: I know I just linked to the NY Times, and that may have been hard to stomach for some of my fellow conservative friends, but this won’t help much because I’m now going to link to the pseudo-journalism of Buzzfeed. The article is called, ‘The Joel Osteen Fiasco Says A Lot About American Christianity’.  I find it interesting to view the church through the eyes of the world every now and again, just as it’s interesting to see the world through a kaleidoscope (distortions are often amusing, and more often noteworthy).

More of the same??? Maybe…Perhaps the best title for this article is ‘Whoops……..’

In case you missed it: Dianne Feinstein Attacks Judicial Nominee’s Catholic Faith. Apparently, there is no longer freedom of religion when it comes to serving in the public arena.  This is an extremely important story, with chilling repercussions.  So much could be said, but one thing is that it underscores the importance of elections in America. Elections have consequences. So next time you hear people complaining about how much money is spent on them, or how many ads or calls you’re getting or seeing, remember that the stakes are high, and that’s the reason why so much attention is placed on who wins and who loses.  It goes without saying that to have several U.S. Senators of any variety attacking a judge in this way is egregious, and an example of how liberals in America are desirous to reshape the values by which this country is governed and judged. Feinstein complained of this nominee that “the dogma lives loud” inside her. Feinstein too has a dogma roaring within her, and its ugly sound was heard across the political spectrum with acute clarity. We ignore the roar of this lion at our own peril. 

Freedom, Liberty, and Science: Canada these days!  Jeez! from the Toronto Sun: Canada now investigates ‘climate denial’. Of course, I say that tongue in cheek because we Americans know how close to this America is as well. In fact, we’ve already seen it at the IRS in recent years.

Rando: This is just odd…yet funny: Elvis Karate Fight Plaque.

That’s it for now – I hope you enjoy your weekend!

PJ