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

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Weekend Reading: September 2, 2017

Welcome to the weekend, and another edition of the Weekend Reading.  Here are a few items I found interesting from the last few weeks…

Before I start with other stories, let’s remember the folks in Houston and the surrounding environs. They’ve received over 9 trillion gallons of water (CA residents may be slightly jealous) and once this all stops, the rebuilding of lives will take place. Like others I’ve heard about those who scam the government, again and again, to “rebuild” but never do. But those are the minority (so please don’t send me more stories on those degenerates), and the vast majority will need prayers, money, and donations.

Side note: one friend of mine, Rick, pointed out this week that when we see people helping people in Houston – regardless of ethnic or racial background, it sort of destroys the narrative that America is being torn apart by these divisions. It’s a great point. We often shake our fists in the sky and wonder why God would allow this kind of devastation. But we have to ask: how many lives will be transformed, how many enduring relationships built, and how much good is done through this mess? Homes can be knocked down and then rebuilt, but I’m betting that much of what is being forged in the rain will endure for a generation or even eternity. From a more global perspective, in many ways, these sites on our television have had a healing effect on many who only weeks before were wondering if we are close to civil war in some parts of the country.

Amazing picture of the week from twitter showing white caps on interstate 10 in Houston.

This past week we had the Powerball lottery winner announced, and it led Arthur Brooks to pen a column for the Wall Street Journal about how the government preys on the poorest of its’ people with this kind of game.  There are some very interesting points he makes, but if you want to skip the story and get the summary, here’s a good one:

It might strike you as bizarre that the government spends billions on nutrition and housing programs for the poor while simultaneously encouraging poor people to move their own money away from these necessities and toward the state’s gambling monopoly. In fact, that $70 billion in annual lottery revenues is strikingly close to what the government spends on food stamps. Is there any set of policies more contradictory than pushing lotto tickets on poor people, and then signing them up for welfare programs that make them financially dependent on the government?

Did you see this?  Google Critic Ousted From Think Tank Funded by the Tech Giant. It’s an interesting story because what you see is the hypocrisy of the liberal elite specifically in the way Google overtly uses gobs of money to buy influence. One telling sentence:

“Google is very aggressive in throwing its money around Washington and Brussels, and then pulling the strings,” Mr. Lynn said. “People are so afraid of Google now.”

This is the stuff of Clancy novels. Google, Amazon, Apple etc. are increasingly powerful and increasingly pushing/buying their way around the capitals of the world in order to get their way. The ironic (I mentioned hypocrisy before) thing about this is that liberals are the ones supposedly fighting for the working class.  But a short survey of liberal intellectuals and businessmen will reveal they are greedy hypocritical people who generally think the rules don’t apply to them (of course this could be said of many in corporate America regardless of party).

If you want a short eye-opening look at the history of how these folks think and whether their thoughts mirror their actions, I highly recommend reading Intellectuals by Paul Johnson. 

Adventure.com has an interesting piece worth checking out called ‘How 43 president heads ended up abandoned on Virginia farmland’. I’d never even heard of this before! (h/t my Kate).

After the “big fight” from last week, I saw this interesting story pop up: Floyd Mayweather will join billionaire athletes club. Mayweather is not exactly the model citizen or role model that you would want your kiddos to emulate. Yet here he is, making billions (yes, with a “b”) of dollars. There’s so much to say about this, and perhaps you could say he “earned” it. But there comes a time when we have to ask ourselves how complicit we are in the building up of an industry/person who would revile you if you were to meet up with him for coffee (at his strip club, for instance). Ah, the way of the world…

This was a harrowing story: THE DAY I FOUND OUT MY LIFE WAS HANGING BY A THREAD.  When you read an account like this, it brings the mortality of one’s life to the forefront. Here is this hugely successful startup entrepreneur just living his life, enjoying a bit of success, working hard etc. and BOOM he finds out that he’s dying. I think he wrote this is such an exceptionally honest way that it’s hard to stop reading, and it is a great reminder of life’s brevity. Then…questions arise…Do we hold on to what matters most? Do we fuel our days with ultimate truth? Or do we march like lemmings through life with inattentive minds; minds bent on all the small things with no thought to ultimate issues? Do we say “I will deal with those questions when the time comes.”? Like poor field generals, we focus entirely on tactics and completely ignore the strategy.

More tech – and this one is particularly of interest to me because it’s something my own firm has been preaching for almost two years now:  Google Issuing Refunds to Advertisers Over Fake Traffic, Plans New Safeguard.  Over half of the ad traffic that most agencies purchase is fake. Billions in wasted money on internet traffic/page loads that are not generated by real human beings is stunning. (h/t Alex W.)

An interesting societal story from the pages of the liberal Atlantic: America, Home of the Transactional Marriage.

David French for National Review: Journalists Overreach in Their Quest to Purge ‘Hate’ from the Web

Fascinating little history from Martin Luther’s most famous hymn: What “One Little Word” Will Fell Satan?

Ligonier’s Tabletalk Magazine has a new home. It’s certainly a pretty site, though I’m still learning to navigate it.  If you’ve never read much from these guys,  you may not know that the beauty of Tabletalk’s art matches the quality of content between its covers.

Tim Challies has a thoughtful article titled ‘The Rise of Digital Technologies and the Decline of Reading’

Which leads to a roundup of what I’ve been reading in the way of books. Here’s the link to what I’ve read this year.  As I mentioned above, Paul Johnson’s Intellectuals was really good and worth checking out. The Silk Roads was certainly interesting, and while I don’t agree with everything he says, there’s some good perspective to be gained here. I enjoyed the Wicked Wit of Winston Churchill and thought Star Wars Aftermath III was just okay. I laughed a bit at P.G. Wodehouse’s Service with a Smile. A couple of books I gave up because after the first few chapters it was like “okay, I get it” were Moore’s Onward and Wilson’s Unparalleled. I might go back to Moore’s book later…I’m in the middle of a lot right now. I think perhaps I bit off more than I could chew in some ways, but after reading Intellectuals, I bought a stack of Johnson’s other books, and am reading ‘Heroes’ and ‘The Birth of the Modern’.

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

PJ

Weekend Reading: August 19, 2017

Good morning and welcome to the weekend!  Here are the stories, videos, and books I found most interesting this week…

Let’s start out with Barcelona. Here’s the most updated video/news site I found with the very latest, in case you haven’t been able to catch up on the terrorist attack that happened on Thursday.

With the solar eclipse coming up on Monday, Atlas Obscura has put together a story with answers to a lot of the most interesting questions about the eclipse. 

In case you missed it, Steve Bannon resigned from the White House yesterday. In recent interviews, he’d been contradicting the President on the Korean situation and no-doubt that his influence post-Charlottesville was less helpful than ever. Bannon had always been a bit of a boogieman for the left. And it seems like he’s not super happy about his departure.  Very practically speaking, I think there will be good and bad from this. The bad will be that he likely balanced out the more liberal voices in the administration (Kushner and Ivanka) on domestic policy, and the more internationalist approach of some of the generals on the staff (by the way, I dispute that General McMaster is a globalist – anyone who has actually read his book on Vietnam will see that he seems to detest politicians jumping into conflicts overseas when they’re unnecessary).

On the other side of things, the positive side, I see Bannon’s leaving as a positive for the integrity of the White House and the office of President. He was probably responsible for many of the leaks to Breitbart (a site he used to run and will once again take the helm of) and other news outlets. Additionally, for a staffer to come out and directly contradict the President in public (which he did in several interviews this week) on Korea or any other matter, is grounds for dismissal. I’m not saying it’s wrong to contradict Trump, but if you’re on his staff, then you need to sing from the same sheet of music – he’s the boss.  Bannon must have felt as though he was smarter than Trump, and could say whatever he wanted with complete impunity. He was wrong.

A few items on Charlottesville…

Someone asked me this week if I think that it was fair for the President to receive so much criticism about his remarks after the terror attack.  I think the question is a bit of a loaded one because we know that editors and anchors and journalists in the media lean left, and had been hammering the President from day one of his administration (and before).

That said, if you look through the Washington Post’s whining here, there emerges a good point, namely that past Presidents have used terror attacks as a stage to magnify their leadership, and remind Americans of what makes this country great. There are two sides to how you respond to these kinds of things, the first is the negative and the condemning, and the other side of it is the casting of a vision for what America is all about.  There is no way that any President should be taking a polling hit after something like this, and yet this President seems most adept at shooting himself in the foot. This man who manipulated the media into giving him billions of dollars in free coverage throughout the election cycle (to the detriment of far superior candidates), cannot be said to be ignorant of how to turn these events into public relations gold.  But instead what we’ve seen is the opposite. I have a few theories on why that is, but it’s worth pondering…

SIDEBAR: In case you had forgotten what thoughtful leadership looks like, outside the circus, both former Presidents Bush released a joint statement on the matter.  I applaud their leadership and their positive vision of the country – however flawed it may be. Indeed, critical thinkers will recognize that those men’s statement isn’t free from critique. They conclude by saying, “We know these truths to be everlasting because we have seen the decency and greatness of our country.” What does that even mean? For two men who are governed by Christian faith, this is an inane and fallacious way to conclude such an important statement. They state that Americans are all created with “certain inalienable rights” (quoting Jefferson), and then say they know these are everlasting – how do they know these rights are everlasting? They say it is “because” they’ve witnessed the “decency and greatness of our country.” WRONG.  You cannot base a statement of men’s rights being everlasting upon the waxing and waning behavior of citizens. If you were to say that men are “sinful and in need of salvation from the One who created them to have equal rights” because of what they’ve seen in lives of men, then I’d be on board. But you cannot base a supposed eternal/everlasting truth upon the fleeting behaviors of the masses. In fact, this is exactly what our founders were trying to avoid, having witnessed the horrors of the French Revolution! No, no, no. These inalienable rights are not based on any decency we have witnessed in our fellow man, or in the power of one country, but rather they are grounded in the “everlasting” nature of our God who created us all in His image.

Eternal truth must be grounded in the eternal Being, not in the whims of society, or the “greatness” of a country.

Here’s another opinion piece for critical thinkers. It’s by conservative columnist Ramesh Ponnuru who says Bury the Confederacy for Good’.  My southern friends will probably hate this one – but I think my southern friends probably need a bit of a wake up as well. Ponnuru seems to want to get at some of the historical issues underlying the racial issues from last week. He makes some really good points, reminding us that while Robert E. Lee fought “long and valiantly” (to quote General Grant), still he had committed treason against our country. There’s more here than can be discussed in my post because as a man intensely interested in history, I’m concerned that tearing down historical markers may erase that history. That said, why would we ever memorialize men who committed treason. Lee made the wrong choice, and he lost – praise God, he lost.  Are we mature enough to honor the fallen and accurately remember the history without celebrating the wrong ideas for which they fought?  

Moving on to tech and other good things…

I thought this was pretty interesting:  Hyundai unveils new fuel cell SUV with longer travel range

And, I missed this a few months back, but appreciate my brother digging it up:  What does the new ISP data-sharing roll back actually change?

From the NY Times: Learning to Learn: You, Too, Can Rewire Your Brain

Popular Mechanics: The Remarkable, War-Torn, Spacefaring History of the Slinky

A few stories on Elvis Presley this week. The first comes from the Opinion Page of the Wall Street Journal, and is a first hand account of what it was like at Presley’s viewing the day after he died.  The second is a vintage column from R.C. Sproul from that same year, talking about Elvis, and the national phenomenon that had sprung up around him. Fascinating stuff.

LASTLY, I want to point you to an article by Jon Bloom that plays off of the moxie of Winston Churchill and is called ‘Never Give In, Never Make Peace’.  It’s a brilliantly timed article in the wake of the last week of tumult.  I will leave you with the best excerpt:

A year before his speech at Harrow, in even darker (sterner) days, immediately following the heroic deliverance of 335,000 British and French troops from German capture in the Battle of Dunkirk, Churchill encouraged the British Parliament and people, as well as the world, with these words of resolve:

Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.

This is what encouragement sounds like. Encouragement is not just tender consolation for the suffering, it is strong exhortation to the fainthearted. This is how we should speak to each other in wartime, especially when the shadow of evil is cast over us. This is not a time to give in to fear. It is not a time for despair. This is a time for resolve. It is a time, not for posturing and swagger, but for a humble, Jesus-trusting, Word-grounded, Spirit-filled determination. It is a time for holy Christian moxie.

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

PJW

Weekend Reading: August 12, 2017

Welcome to the weekend reading!  My summer Saturdays have been crammed full of travel and family fun, and so it’s been hard to get out this blog post/email.

I’d like to dedicate this short post to my friend David DiSilvestro, a fellow weekend-reader who unexpectedly passed away this week. During his funeral service, Pastor Flemming aptly said that David was “a truth seeker.”  That he was!  He was always asking good questions, and often sent me thoughts, stories, ideas about politics, medicine, and tech.  More than that, he was a good husband and father, and a devoted follower of Jesus. May he rest in peace.

Let’s start with TECH…

From the BBC: Hyperloop One: Passenger pod tested successfully (h/t to my friend Josiah who saw this and passed it on!)

PAGING HYPOCRISY: Al Gore used over 20 times more energy to power his home for a year than the average American: Report.  I know I shouldn’t be shocked by stuff like this, but wow.  I’m all for people having big homes and enjoying the fruit of their labors. But the labor of this man has been to scare everyone about global warming (now “inconveniently” called climate change) and using the profits from his movies and books to do the very things he preaches against!  I guess we’re all hypocrites at some level, but he’s making himself a pretty easy target.

If you read one thing: There Is No App for That: Are We Trading Our Present for Pictures?

Keep an eye on this oneToyota claims a leap that would vastly increase electric-car range

I feel like this was the biggest tech news of the week: Disney to leave Netflix, launch online-only ESPN service.  Whilst I am all for competition, the consumer side of me sighed a heavy sigh for how painful it’s becoming to get to all the content I’d want to watch.  Instead of being easier, it’s all getting harder because the content is in different places and requiring different subscriptions. Nevertheless, it’s good to have competition, and it will be interesting to see how Disney does with this…

A Matter of Faith…This was good reading/meditation material this week: Twelve Gospel Passages to Soak In

Politics…

Not enough has been made of this: Russia’s Putin orders 755 US diplomatic staff to be cut.  The funny thing is that for a while the President really said nothing. Then he ended up (sarcastically?) thanking Putin for saving us so much money!  (he’s probably right on that one).

Everyone by now knows about this one: Intelligence Agencies Say North Korean Missile Could Reach U.S. in a Year

But I thought that some might have missed this oneIf Missiles Are Headed to Guam, Here Is What Could Stop Them.  I found that run down pretty helpful (even if it is from the NY Times!).  It talks about the three different stages of the missile flight, and what we would do in each stage to stop the missile from coming near Guam.

And…what in the world is this all about: U.S. expelled two Cuban diplomats after embassy employees in Cuba developed unexplained ailments…This is one of those headlines you see and have to wonder what kind of spy-like stuff is going on behind the scenes.  Not to be a super conspiracy-theorist or anything…

Society…and random other stuff…

This is just…odd: Is Justin Bieber Sabotaging His Career for Jesus? 

Seven filthy food habits and how dirty they really are.

 I know most people saw and discussed and probably already ranted about this, but in case you missed it: Google Fires Employee Who Dared Challenge its Ideological Echo Chamber
This was a few weeks back and was pretty hilarious: Manhunt for wanted felon delays member-guest golf tournament in Ohio.
What I’m Reading this Weekend: Knowing the Truth: An Interview with Stephen C. Meyer.
Books…
I just finished up seminary for the summer, so I am back on the book trail!  Here’s my updated Goodreads account that lists what I’ve read thus far this year. 
The book I most recently finished was called ‘The Silk Roads’ and I found it really interesting. It’s providing a non-western perspective on the history of the world, with the idea that the silk roads area (Asia and Asia Minor etc) have always been the fulcrum upon which the world’s events have shifted.  This may or may not truly be the case, but I found it interesting nonetheless. It’s well written, and it will deliver on many interesting facts that you may not have known – especially interesting to me was some of the detailing of the economic events going on behind the scenes of world wars and other political upheavals throughout the last few hundred years.
That’s it for today!  I hope you enjoy a great weekend!
PJW

Weekend Reading: July 22, 2017

Welcome to the weekend!  I hope you had a wonderful week, and are settling into a productive and/or relaxing few days.  Here are just a few of the stories, videos, etc. that I found interesting this week…

Let’s start with something that is going to affect everyone: groceries. From Gizmodo: At This Point, Amazon Can Crush a Company Just By Filing for a Trademark. Really interesting just how powerful Amazon is these days. I really love and enjoy Amazon, but I wonder if there will come a point when people resist convenience in order to fight monopoly. That point may never arrive in ‘Merica, but its an interesting thought nonetheless…

Sean Spicer resigned as White House Press Secretary. Sarah Huckabee Sanders will take the podium full time – congrats (I think?) Sarah!  Sarah is someone I have worked with in the past and admire for her hard work, and I wish her the best of luck.

Fuel for the Imagination: I found this story buried in the bowels of the Wall Street Journal: Elon Musk Teases a New York-to-D.C. Hyperloop. What’s so interesting is the speed at which he is talking about getting from NYC to D.C.:

In a message Thursday on his official Twitter account, Mr. Musk said he had “Just received verbal govt approval” to build a “Hyperloop” along the East Coast that could deliver people from New York to Washington in 29 minutes. Amtrak’s Acela Express travels between New York and Washington in slightly less than three hours.

To give you an idea of just how fast that is, depending on what road you take, the trip is between 226 and 243 miles according to google maps (an average car ride of 4-4.5 hours). Musk is talking about a speed of 12.8miles per minute or 768 miles per hour – Mauk 1 (the speed of sound) is 767 miles per hour!  

I’m unsure where these numbers are coming from, and why they differ so much from the video that Musk’s Boring Company released a few months back.  Maybe there’s a mistake…maybe…

Food for Thought: From Jon Bloom…Passive Christianity Is Dead Christianity.  This one is full of goodness. Excerpt:

Our pesky behaviors — they’re our worst betrayers. They keep leaking to the press what’s going on behind the closed doors of our hearts and undermining all the hard work our press-secretary tongues do trying to manage public perception.

Controversy: There’s been a lot of angst over the comments from Eugene Peterson that he would be okay officiating a gay wedding. This is a guy who many looked up to as a great Christian writer. I have never personally read any of his books, but a few of them are on my list for later in the year. Russell Moore asks the question, ‘Should We Still Read Eugene Peterson?‘ (h/t Aaron B.)

Strangely Edifying: Every Book of the Bible in One Word

Philosophy: Susan Wise Bauer, writing for Comment Magazine has some interesting point to make in this long-ish article, A FORM OF GODLINESS: Why civil religion won’t save us from religious nationalism or radical secularism.

Great Video: Cruise Ship Construction & Christening in 4K by MK timelapse (h/t to Marc W. for posting this one). 

For you golf fans, it’s British Open weekend. The official site can be found here. As of this writing, Matt Kuchar and Jordan Spieth are tied for the lead.

Keep an Eye on these items: First, Courts Rule E-Cigarettes Should Be Regulated Like Tobacco Products. Second, Why the Post Office Gives Amazon Special Delivery. 

Lastly, this is an interesting look at what happens when a Wal-Mart leaves a small poor community in West Virginia: What happened when Walmart left. Much demonized by the left, these stores actually provided a lot for their communities. But when they leave, the people in the community almost don’t know what to do.  Some turn to fast food for many of their meals, but others are starting to grow their own food in order to live more healthy lives. Just an interesting phenomenon to behold and consider.

That’s it!  I know that I haven’t posted a book update in a while, but I’m in the final days of a seminary semester, so soon enough I’ll be buzzing through books again, posting recommendations, and ideas. If you have some book recommendations for me, please send them along!

Have a great weekend!

PJW

Weekend Reading: July 16, 2017

Welcome to another weekend!  I’ve gotten a few people asking me about why I haven’t done a weekend reading in the last few weeks, and the reason is that with seminary responsibilities and many Saturday activities during the summer, its been harder to sit down and blog/email regularly. I’m going to be a little hit or miss for the next several weeks until the summer settles down.

I do have a few items for your radar though, some are from the last few weeks.  Here we go…

A good friend of mine sent along this article by Walter Isaacson from the Harvard Business Review: The Real Leadership Lessons of Steve Jobs.  It’s about 5 years old, and its rather long, but its a great weekend article with some very insightful points, and worth taking some time to scroll through.

Over at Cardus, David Koyzis has written a book review on Walter Newell’s new book on Tyranny.  The title of the article is called: DOES TYRANNY NEED A TWELVE STEP PROGRAM: Democracy and tyranny have a codependent relationship. This is heady stuff, and its another long one, but I think he makes some good points here – especially his closing counter-point to Newell re: the anecdote to tyranny.  Newell seems to think that the anecdote is liberal arts education, and reading the classics to see how governments (mal)functioned in the past. Koyzis rightly says that its more than that, its putting into place (doing something!) governments that have separations of powers, and checks on the tyranny that comes from democracy, and authoritarian types (among other species of tyranny….of which I think he lists 4).

Of all the “trump is the devil and we are investigating him and Russian connections” articles out there in the last few weeks, I found this one to actually be the most interesting: Trump-Russia investigators probe Jared Kushner-run digital operation.

Now a few thoughts about the political state-of-play. A friend of mine brought up the frustrating nature of the last few weeks watching the news on Donald Trump, Jr. and said that his major frustration was that he’d see the President or his team say or do something that just seemed utterly reprehensible one day, and then a few days later when more facts came out, it seemed like maybe it really wasn’t that big of a deal (that the media over-hyped it).  The frustration wasn’t aimed at the media per se (though they are doubtless out of control), but rather the fact that its very easy to have ver mixed emotions about the President even factoring in the media bias.

I know there are people who will be loyal to him no matter what – but I think the media’s dishonesty and unprofessionalism actually aids in that sentiment and is a sample of the real reason he was elected in the first place. Namely, people so distrust the media and their elected leaders (note: ELECTED…by them) and the bureaucrats they put into place, that they were willing to put this man in the White House.  Those are the major factors in play here. As long as the major news outlets continue their bias and buffoonery (a la Joe Scarborough), then the President will be given a free pass on just about anything.

Momentary time out to clear my throat……*cough* *cough*  How Ironic: George Clooney Moving Family Out of England For ‘Security Reasons’ …okay…back to my political update…

I do think there are some seriously messed up freaks who support Trump (and you have that on both sides of the political spectrum).  But take that hilarious video that Trump tweeted out with him body-slamming CNN – that actually came from one such cuckoo.  This is the stuff that the media uses to characterize Trump supporters – which would be ridiculous and unethical of them to do that, IF THE PRESIDENT HAD NOT BEEN THE ONE TO PROMOTE THEM!!!  When the President re-tweets stuff like this from people like that, he is tacitly endorsing those people and what they are putting out there.

So the way I see it, right now, you have two parties in a standoff: the President and the 4th Estate.  Each is committed to this battle and each seems more efficient at self-harm than of doing their jobs. But what I will say is this – at least the President seems to care about the country, and its people and is working to further our interests (at least as far as he understands them – that is a disputed point), whereas the media is committed to destroying any public figure (esp. on the right), and has no compunction about the future of our country. That is the material difference that gets lost in the milieu.

Moving on…TECH news: Tesla’s first mass-market electric

and this: To improve AI, scientists may have to make it worse 

ALSO…a story about the way of the world, and technology: How Pokemon Go Went From Viral Sensation To Wasteland in Just One Year

Also…an interesting Foreign Policy backgrounder on past assassination attempts on North Korea’s Kim family. 

This is another discussion for another day…but in case you missed this: California Issues ‘Travel Ban’ on Some Red States.  When men fall deeply into sin, it is the normal pattern of sin to protect and defend that sin against all assaults. Putting up walls to any critique, whether caring or not, is the militant manifestation of how we lash out against all attempts to have light expose our depravity.  This is manifested socially as well as individually, and its what we’re seeing from the gay rights movement, which essentially leads the pubic policy makers of California on a leash.

Some interesting Jane Austen stories are being cranked out by those who enjoy her literature because its going on 200 years since she died.  Oddly enough, the New York Times has a few decent articles. One is a quiz on your Austen knowledge (I didn’t score as well as I thought I would…though I expect Jim B. to turn in a high %).  The second is a story about how Austen dealt with death:  In Jane Austen’s Pages, Death Has No Dominion.

As an avid reader, I found this interesting: Is Harry Potter the boy who saved reading?  My own opinion a year ago would have been decidedly derogatory, yet despite the fact that Tolkein, Lewis, L’Engle and others have written superior literary classics, my daughter Chloe absolutely adores the Harry Potter series, and this has come at a critical junction in her reading development.  So for that reason I am extremely grateful for Rowling’s work.

Food for thought here:  The Lowering Of The ‘Presidential’ Bar And How Moral Relativism Became ‘Conservative’

Lastly, I’ll leave you with this excellent piece of writing from Desiring God.  Here’s an excerpt:

Everyone we know and love will return to the dust. Family members will hear heavy words from their doctor. Great loss will strike dear friends. We will weep. And pretending like we can manage our sufferings on our own won’t help. We weren’t built to handle them. We need the body of Christ — and we need Christ himself, our sympathetic High Priest, the man of sorrows, the one who shouldered our grief.

I hope you enjoy the remainder of your weekend.  Thank you for your patience as I am more spotty with my writing (at least through the next few weeks).

PJW

Weekend Reading: June 24, 2017

Good morning everyone!  Here are the stories, videos, and blogs I enjoyed or felt were interesting enough to share this week, with one warning – a read a lot of WSJ articles, so if you don’t have a subscription you’ll not be able to access all of them (of course I would highly recommend a subscription).

A few items of interest in the political world this week that you may not have heard about (I’m assuming you heard about Georgia’s 6th CD special and have no need of yet another recap).

I thought this was pretty interesting: Protesters plan to greet Mike Pence in ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ garb at Focus on the Family speech in Colorado Springs. This is a gay rights group working to bring attention to their plight, and the supposed closed-mindedness of groups like Focus on the Family.  Note this quote from the group’s leader, “This is the way they see Focus, this backwards organization that’s promoting stuff that’s far beyond what most of us would consider applicable for modern society.”  Especially note his (am I okay to use that pronoun?) use of the phrase “most of us.”  Even just 10 years ago this might have been a fanciful statement, but we have reached a moment where the tyranny of the minority has taken captive the behavior and speech patterns of the majority of the country.

After the shooting in D.C. (the one successfully aimed at several members of Congress), some interesting stories came out.  First, this video from one of the Congressmen who describes the scene is worth reviewing.  Second, there’s an opinion piece in WaPo about the precarious nature of our constitutional backup plans in the event that certain heads of state get killed.  Third, in the aftermath of the shooting, several Democratic members of Congress got together to pray for their GOP colleagues who were shot at (and wounded). However, NPR changed their action from “praying” to “thinking”, and got caught. I’m not just posting that as a “gotcha” moment to shake your head at, rather I’m making your aware (again) that there are serious prejudices in the media against religion of any kind. Also…why is NPR publically funded in the first place? It’s not a public service – if you provide a good product, people will listen and you’ll get sponsors. Period. If not…goodbye.

And how about conservative columnist Erick Erickson calling for us to contemplate secession, and then tempering that post with another right away. Some interesting points to discuss here. Maybe I don’t have space or time here, but read these, and ask yourself if he’s got a point, or whether he’s taken The Benedict Option too far…

In terms of thinking about the nation’s future, Sen. Ben Sasse is out with a book called ‘The Vanishing American Adult.’  There’s a slightly critical review of the book at Cardus this week, which surprised me, given the positive reviews I’ve seen online. Still there are some good points in the review, points about the nature of automation and the future of work that need to be pondered I suppose.

Something actually worth reading from The New York Times: How We Became Bitter Political Enemies.  Excerpt:

Today, partisan prejudice even exceeds racial hostility in implicit association tests that measure how quickly people subconsciously associate groups (blacks, Democrats) with traits (wonderful, awful). That’s remarkable, given how deeply ingrained racial attitudes are in the United States, and how many generations they’ve had to harden, according to work by Mr. Iyengar and the Dartmouth political scientist Sean J. Westwood.

Foreign Affairs…in this week’s Columbus Dispatch: What can US do to North Korea to avenge death of Otto Warmbier?  (Spoiler Alert: Nothing)

More worth reading: 4 charts on how Russians see their country’s place in the world

And…U.S. Jet Shoots Down Syrian Pro-Regime Drone

These guys crack me up: Atheist Driver Spots Jesus Fish Eating Darwin Fish, Repents

“Ever since freshman philosophy class I’ve believed God is a fiction and humans are the product of natural selection, an accidental collocation of atoms,” Boyette recounted to reporters. “Then I spotted that car decal and heard the sound of crumbling. It was my worldview. I saw that Jesus Christ could eat Charles Darwin for lunch, just as the Jesus fish bearing the word ‘truth’ was swallowing up the smaller, weaker Darwin fish.’”

Tech

There are several stories of interest in the technology sector that you might want to check out.  Wired had something on Quantum computing, which was interesting but didn’t quite help me understand the advantages of the new tech. I’ll be on the watch for more information on this as it develops.

Also….How Facebook’s Telepathic Texting Is Supposed to Work – I found this really interesting.

Here’s an interesting piece from The Guardian about Apple’s manufactuing plant in China:  Life and death in Apple’s forbidden city

The ninnies at major corporations crack me up.  They find themselves in a bit of a quagmire (not ethically, because their branding isn’t based on ethics but on fear) when the people they’re happy to take money from also wander onto political sites they don’t like or watch videos on YouTube that make them uncomfortable. Here’s the story headline: Advertisers Try to Avoid the Web’s Dark Side, From Fake News to Extremist Videos  The issue here is that through advanced programmatic buying (the kind my own firm utilizes), companies like Target (for example) follow people around the internet, instead of camping out on certain websites that cater to their demographics. It’s a great way to advertise – it’s like going to a golf tournament. You have to decide whether to follow the players around the course, or sit on one hole and take in whatever action happens on that hole as the players come through – I’ve always preferred the former!

But what happens when that potential customer ends up watching a video you think is a bit risque (not sexually, Target would never care about that – I mean like terror videos or the like)?  What then?  Well, these big companies get mad when Ad buyers don’t block sites they don’t agree with, or want their brand associated with  – fair enough. But things get harder when you are talking about content within a site – like YouTube – that is harder to monitor for ad men placing bids on real estate on the site, and have little to no control over the content posted on said site. The funny thing is, that I wonder if faced with the ability to not take the money from people watching ISIS propaganda videos, whether Target would actually discriminate in this way. Or put more provocatively, what if they learned that 20% of their target audience was actually visiting Brietbart.com for news? Would they block those people from buying at their stores; tracing their IP’s back to their physical addresses, and then declining their credit cards for online or in-store purchases?  I’m just playing out one of the several scenarios that could be only a few years down the road…food for thought!

There are some interesting goings on in Memphis: Memphis activists target Confederate monuments after failed attempt to dig up general’s grave

Entertainment Stuff:  The Han Solo Movie Just Lost Its Directors Midway Through Filming

And…they’re back!  Drive in movies are making a big comeback.  My family recently benefited from this comeback, as a Friday night trip to the drive in proved to be a ton of fun for the kids (thanks to my friend Britain for the idea!).

This is excellent: Never Read the Bible Simply to Know

Lastly, I’ll leave you with this for your amusement, this was floating around social media circles this week, and it was too good not to repost here!  (h/t Kate):

That’s it!  Have a great weekend!

PJW