Weekend Reading: August 27, 2016

Good morning, and welcome to the weekend!  I read many interesting items this week, but as I combed over the stories and posts as a whole, I noticed a specific trend: MANY of them came from the Wall Street Journal, and many were NOT financial in topic. What that means is that while most people see WSJ as a source for financial/market information, they’ve done a great job diversifying into other topics. It also means that not every one of the stories I link to will be accessible for people on this list. For that I make zero apologies – it costs hardly anything to have access, and if you want to be informed, you won’t mind paying, right?

Now that disclaimer is behind us, in the words of Monty Python, let’s “get on with it”!

Let’s start with an opinion piece by Kimberley Strassel on the ever evolving Clinton email saga.  This was a big week (as WaPo details here), and Strassel makes the argument that the media have missed the point of the purpose of this private email server – it wasn’t intended to discuss classified intelligence offline, that was just a consequence. It was intended to allow Clinton to run a global pay to play operation. Though many of the stories I read this week from Politico and WaPo emphasize how donors to the Clinton Foundation never got much more than “access” to HRC, that also misses the point, and the essential confluence between the Clinton Foundation and HRC’s role as Secretary of State. As Strassel explains:

Mostly, we learned this week that Mrs. Clinton’s foundation issue goes far beyond the “appearance” of a conflict of interest. This is straight-up pay to play. When Mr. Band sends an email demanding a Hillary meeting with the crown prince of Bahrain and notes that he’s a “good friend of ours,” what Mr. Band means is that the crown prince had contributed millions to a Clinton Global Initiative scholarship program, and therefore has bought face time. It doesn’t get more clear-cut, folks.

The AP has a big story on this as well, and how the State Department refuses to release more details of HRC’s calendar until after the election. I can’t be alone in thinking that the American people deserve to know if their next President is going to sell access to the Oval Office the way that she did during her tenure at State.  Then again, this is nothing new for the Clintons – anyone remember the Lincoln Bedroom scandal? Anyone? I guess even liberal internet rag Slate still does. 

How does she wriggle out of it? One way might be to blame someone else: Colin Powell Says Hillary Clinton’s ‘People Have Been Trying to Pin’ Email Scandal on Him

Strassel sums this whole thing up nicely: 

What we discovered this week is that one of the nation’s top officials created a private server that housed proof that she continued a secret, ongoing entwinement with her family foundation—despite ethics agreements—and that she destroyed public records. If that alone doesn’t disqualify her for the presidency, it’s hard to know what would.

Along similar lines, from the National Review’s Editorial Board: Mrs. Clinton and Her Fixer. They start off with an intriguing sentence, “Huma Abedin must be a remarkable woman: She has held down four of the worst jobs in politics, several of them simultaneously: right hand to Hillary Rodham Clinton, fixer and patron-patronizer for the Clinton Foundation, an editor of a journal spawned by a major al-Qaeda financier, and wife to Anthony Weiner.”

This one falls in the “I never thought about that” category: This Alabamian owes the government a bunch of money because he won Gold in Rio.

More Olympicshere’s the medal count (U.S. DOMINANCE). AND – this was really funny: Katie Ledecky Is Dominant Everywhere Except the Little Falls Swimming Club.

Technology: I can’t think of any reason I’d ever NEED this per se, but its super cool! (if not a little dangerous)  Maybe Joel Osteen could use it in one of his “sermons” as part of the show?

Heartbreaking: At least 50 in Turkey killed at wedding in likely Islamic State attack.  Along similar lines: Kayla Mueller in Captivity: Courage, Selflessness as She Defended Christian Faith to ISIS Executioner ‘Jihadi John’

In case you missed it: New details show how ‘swinger’ Army general’s double life cost him his career.  Stories like this remind us of how important integrity is for leadership in positions of power.  Often people forget that their personal lives open them up to blackmail or worse, and put many other people and classified secrets at risk. Along similar lined: Fox News faces another sexual harassment lawsuit.

From my friend Rod who spotted this: Good Lord! Cop says Red Cross told him not to pray with flood victims.

When you read stories like the ones I just posted, you shake your head. Some folks respond that we need to shake up the government, replace everyone with someone new (no matter how crazy they sound), strip organizations like the Red Cross of government grants etc etc. Certainly some change is needed, and we ought to fight to make changes and push for reforms (this isn’t the first time I’ve seen ridiculous stories about the Red Cross BTW). But, for those of us who are Christians, I was reminded this week that Paul’s first solution wasn’t to “throw the bums out” it was this:

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. (1 Timothy 2:1-6 ESV)

This assumes a belief that prayer actually changes things – that it is God’s first and most prominently prescribed method of overhauling tyranny, and promoting peace.  I have caught an attitude of anarchy among many of my friends who claim to follow Christ. They seek a (sometimes violent) political solution alone for what is obviously a moral failing among our country’s elite leaders – and they do so preparing for (even wishing) the collapse of the economy and our government “if that’s what is needed.”  This last sentiment is contrary to what Paul is saying. It’s not an either/or situation, its BOTH prayer and active engagement in our world – including politics. But for many, prayer and the desire/heart for a peaceful life has been replaced by anger and impatience and an attitude of (quasi?) anarchy that I believe is antithetical to the message of Scripture.

Similarly, this week’s Piper (except he takes it a step further): Do You Pray Like a Nonbeliever?

How then do they pray? Generally, they do not ask God to do bad things. They ask him to do good things without asking him to do the best thing. They pray as though God were the giver but not the gift. They pray for protection, and shelter, and food, and clothing, and health, and peace, and prosperity, and social justice, and comfort, and happiness. All of these good things are things the world wants. You don’t have to be born again to want these or love these. And you don’t have to be a Christian to pray for them — for yourself or for others. Every religion prays for them, more or less. So do the non-religious, when things get scary enough.

Moving on…here’s a wacky story from this week: Citing terrorism, the French mayor of Cannes has banned Muslim women from wearing “burkini” swimwear.  I take Quartz stories with a grain of salt in that they are pretty liberal in their worldview, but getting past that, I honestly haven’t seen a cogent argument that tells me why Muslim women must be stripped down to fit the profile of all the other beach-goers.  Of course the irony of the FRENCH claiming any sort of conscience when it comes to beach attire (national security or not) is pretty amusing. To me, this stuff falls into the overreacting category…am I wrong?

And along similar lines: 8 in 10 Germans Want to Ban Burqas From Public Spaces

Switching gears a bit here…if you’ve ever been up North to Michigan’s Mackinac Island, then you’ll enjoy this write up (and the pictures!): The Mansions of Mackinac Island.

Commerce story to watch: Mobile Bank Heist: Hackers Target Your Phone

The malware typically gets onto a phone when a user clicks on a text message from an unknown source or taps an advertisement on a website. Once installed, it often lies dormant until the user opens a banking app.

The malware then creates a customized overlay on the authentic banking app. This allows criminals to follow a user’s movements on the phone and eventually grab credentials to the account.

Oh Boy! Spotted: A Self-Driving Uber in Pittsburgh!

Culture and Fashion: The Strange Journey of Cary Grant’s Suits

New Planet Discovery: Scientists just discovered humanity’s best shot at seeing life outside our solar system.

Speculation: Hillary Clinton Has Parkinson’s Disease, Physician Confirms.  MORE (from the left this time): Rudy Giuliani Told People To Ignore The Media And Google Conspiracy Theories

Fascinating: Can the Devil Read My Mind?

Technology: The Robots Are Coming. Welcome Them

MORE: The Magician Behind R2-D2…the Magician’s book: Cinema Alchemist

Sports (from a politico): U.S. Men’s Basketball Was the Best In 2016, But Not Greatest Of All Time.  I think he’s onto something here.  I mean, there will never be another “dream team” like the 1992 team.

More Sports: TIGER AND THE RYDER CUP VICE CAPTAINS AND just FYI: NBA moves all-star game from Charlotte to New Orleans over anti-trans bill

And then there’s this: Hero museum employee keeps using a fake news exhibit to make harrowing golf videos.  HAHAHAHA!  (h/t Adam J)

Oh so sad: Target Dims Outlook as Sales Struggle

Keep an eye on this one: More of Kremlin’s Opponents Are Ending Up Dead

Used extensively in the Soviet era, political murders are again playing a prominent role in the Kremlin’s foreign policy, the most brutal instrument in an expanding repertoire of intimidation tactics intended to silence or otherwise intimidate critics at home and abroad.

Secretive Speeches: As Clinton asks for cash, campaign pitch remains a mystery

Into the Weeds: Hope for Trump: GOP winning registration race in key states

YES!  Jared Wilson strikes again: TOP 10 THINGS I WISH WORSHIP LEADERS WOULD STOP SAYING

I didn’t get to check this out but Challies posted it this week and it looks SUPER cool: The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks.

I think I’ll have to end it there…there’s actually more (crazy right?!) but this is probably plenty.  Pick what you like, scroll through it, sip your coffee and enjoy the day that God provided for you and yours!

Have a wonderful weekend!

PJW

Weekend Reading: August 20, 2016

Good morning and welcome to your weekend!  Here are the most interesting items I read or watched this week. I hope you enjoy these and wish you a wonderful weekend!

Let’s start with some humor. With the 2016 Olympics drawing to a close, some have discovered a neglected sport: team Preaching (h/t Adam J!!).  Funny preview:

…the Scottish-American preacher was disqualified upon the discovery by an Olympic investigative committee that he has been faking his accent for the past thirty years.

Shakeup in the Trump campaign came this week amid discoveries that the campaign chairman (Paul Manafort) had a complex relationship with the ex-President of Ukraine – a pro-Putin ally.  The new campaign manager position is being filled by Kellyanne Conway. Also, the CEO of Breitbart is going to be in an advisory position – which drew some fire from the right and the left.

I personally doubt that any of this really makes much of a political difference for Trump in the minds of voters. The political optics aren’t good, but its a complex issue to sort through for anyone, and unlike some politicians I’ve seen in the past, Trump wasted no time in hiring top talent to replace Manafort – Conway is a very well respected pollster in GOP circles, and was the manager for Ted Cruz’ superpac during the primary season. I think the next big thing to shake up the campaign on either side of the aisle will be the debate in September (h/t to my Pops who pointed this out). That could actually change some minds for folks on the sidelines, or harden their opinions…stay tuned.

The Olympics are pretty much wrapped up, and this was from a week ago (I’m sure he did more damage since): Michael Phelps ties 2,000-year old Olympic record (h/t Alex W.).  It’s too bad that his teammates are such imbeciles, the whole U.S. Swimming team was disgraced by the behavior of those few who lied about being held up at gunpoint last week.

Speaking of the Games, I saw this article which intrigued me:A Visual Guide to How Terribly the World’s Best Human Athletes Fare Versus Most Average Animals. I tried to find some third party verification, but actual videos showing me their thesis was correct are scant. However, there seems to be a consensus about the numbers they’re using.

No Kidding: Obama Betrayed Cuba’s Dissidents (Wall Street Journal)

More bad news for POTUS this week: Aetna pulling back from ObamaCare in blow to health law.

VIDEO: This was pretty interesting stuff…How the World Map Looks Wildly Different Than You Think

These people! (shakes head) Target’s $20 million answer to transgender bathroom boycott

Wonky but good: Seattle’s Minimum-Wage Education

Coolest thing I read all week (WSJ): Hyperloop Technology to Be Studied as Shipping Tool.

Hyperloop, a concept popularized in recent years by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, is a technology that would transport people or cargo in suspended capsules through miles-long near-vacuum tubes at speeds reaching more than 700 miles, or 1,120 kilometers, an hour.

I was really into the Journal this week, so you had probably better get a subscription I guess!  I don’t know how much of this is public versus behind the paywall.  I apologize for the inconvenience…but here’s one more that was good: The Rules That Make Airline Passengers Crazy.

Sobering: Haunting image of boy in an Aleppo ambulance captures plight of children caught in Syrian war

The Middle East (Con’t.): Russia deploys bombers to Iranian air base

The move shows Russia is expanding its role and presence in the Middle East and comes amid Russian media reports Moscow has asked Iran and Iraq for permission to fire cruise missiles at Syrian targets across their territory from the Caspian Sea.

AproposI suppose…Sproul: Are We Living in the Last Days?

In case you missed it from a few weeks back: John Piper’s Funeral Prayer for a Family of Five

I haven’t finished this but it looks good, from Powlison: Stop Having Quiet Times

AND…new video out from the Bible Project people, this one is on Ecclesiastes. 

That’s it!  I hope you have a wonderful weekend with your friends and family!

PJW

Weekend Reading: August 13, 2016

Good morning!  It’s a beautiful morning here in Dublin Ohio, and there’s lots to convey – lots of articles and videos and books that I enjoyed this week. For those of you who are newer to this email/post, I’m not attempting to cover everything in the news or culture. I’m just passing on what I (or what you who sent stuff my way) enjoyed most.  So here goes…

We can start with a story that folks sent my way, re: the media bias against Donald Trump.  This was posted on Drudge for a while, and makes some really good points. The most important is this:

These companies are engaging in activity that can quickly lead down a very dangerous slippery slope and this should concern all freedom-loving Americans—not just conservatives.

More Presidential – and this is crazy: Hillary Clinton has seizure when talking to reporters. There is some dispute from an AP reporter whose saying that, no way, it’s not a seizure. This event looks to have happened a month ago – which leads me to doubt why anyone would just now be looking at it.  Snopes says its unlikely she had a seizure. Regardless, of whether she’s just reacting in bobble-head fashion or not…its just weird…the whole thing is just weird. Judge for yourself.

If you watch Fox News, then you would have seen this story: Parents of 2 Benghazi victims sue Hillary Clinton for wrongful death, defamation.  But its worth watching the interview with ‘The Judge’ because he quickly dismisses this, and gives some good legal (and personnel) background. I’m reposting it here, because its pretty interesting stuff, and it caused my mind to think a bit about the kinds of headlines that peak my interest – human interest stories combined with politics. Those are going to get my attention!  Yet there’s nothing here – no substantive story. It’s the kind of thing you want to be on the lookout for and not allow the headlines of any news group to shape your viewpoint until you’ve read or watched the actual stories and weighed things for yourself.  Too often we’re quick to form opinions based on the scantiest of information!

Earlier in the week this story broke: WikiLeaks offers reward for help finding DNC staffer’s killer. The immediate assumption was that the Clintons were in some nefarious way connected with the death of this young (but rather prominent) staffer. Aside from the merits of this kind of speculation, ask yourself this question: Would President Obama, or Bush ever have faced this kind of speculation? My opinion is NO.  Over the years the Clintons have been involved in or just a few degrees separated from so many scandals (including ones involving untimely deaths), that this kind of speculation immediately crops up.

So that’s something to meditate on – especially when you think about certain Republicans endorsing Hillary Clinton.  It’s one thing to disagree with Donald Trump, or not want to vote for him, its another to endorse someone who has a pedigree of corruption.

The other angle on all of this is WikiLeaks, and its’ founder Julian Assange. They are offering a reward of $20k for anyone with information about the murder. What?!!  Of course this leads people to wonder if the murdered staffer was the one who sent all those DNC emails to WikiLeaks (the obvious conclusion), or whether the Russians are pressuring Assange to submarine Clinton’s campaign, or if there’s some other crazy agenda. It’s likely more complex that we’ll ever know. It’s bizarre – and worth keeping an eye on.

MEDIA WATCH: Wall Street Journal writer Bret Stephens absolutely pilloried Sean Hannity this week. I think its worth posting this here because in recent years Hannity has become more and more odious.  I can’t even watch those Fox or MSNBC shows anymore because its just a bunch of former C-level staffers turned “experts” yelling over each other (or getting yelled at by guys like Hannity).  I might agree with Hannity on 90% of his propositional statements (assuming he was speaking coherently enough to understand them, and you could make them out over all the shouting), but I simply can’t take the way in which those shows are conducted. Maybe its just me (probably is, given the ratings!).

Speaking of noise…check this audio clip out: Roger Scruton – The Tyranny of Pop Music. It’s not what I thought it was, he really spends a lot of time talking about the noise of music in the background of our life, and makes some startling good points.  Just this week I was at a diner which had indiscernible pop music in the background playing just loud enough so that I had trouble hearing the guy across from me. I was constantly leaning in, and asked him to repeat himself several times. This wasn’t a trendy place, it wasn’t normally known for its music. It was just a lot of people, and then this underlying noise of music that made everything very difficult. How can we have conversations this way? It really IS tyranny, and this Roger Scruton has some great points. NOTE: there are some explicit comparisons he makes between pornography and music that you’ll want to have discretion with if little ones are around. 

COOL: Tour the London of Yore With a Gigantic New Photo Map

Exciting: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story Trailer (h/t Alex W.)

Funny! NYPD arrests man who scaled Trump Tower with suction cups

BOOKS!  Popular Stoic (yes, Stoic with caps, you read that right) writer Ryan Holiday has compiled a list of his top 58 books (h/t Nicole S!). Not every book is one I’m endorsing, but there are some good ones. FROM THE LIST: This week I listened to The Score Takes Care of Itself: My Philosophy of Leadership by Bill Walsh, and really enjoyed it. 

Speaking of books, here’s what I read/finished reading this week (they’re all in chronological order and most have reviews attached – feel free to message me with specific questions about books).

HAHAHAHA: POLICE: TRAIN CAR DERAILS IN IOWA, HITS BAR CALLED DERAILED

Head Shaker: Money flows to man who ‘beat up Dylann Roof’ in Charleston jail shower ‘for job well done’

Eye Roll: France’s Socialist President Pays Nearly $11,000 A Month For Haircuts.  The waft of socialist hypocrisy is what you might be smelling here…

Speaking of hypocrisy, I don’t agree with everything this writer is saying, but the topic is interesting (and a little frustrating!): San Francisco Progressives Declare War on Affordable Housing

FASCINATING STUFF: Israel Proves the Desalination Era Is Here

MORE Interesting stuff….The chip card transition in the US has been a disaster – no kidding!  This was interesting because of some of the economic pressures behind the movement that I was unaware of.

SCIENCE (some interesting food for thought): The Ice Age and the Scattering of Nations.  I especially had thought this was interesting because a few weeks ago I finished reading Thomas Sowell’s ‘Conquests and Cultures’ and he alludes to some of the mysteries surrounding Indian habitation of N/S America.

Finishing Well: we don’t often talk about this kind of thing, but what is the environment going to be when you die? You going to sit and watch TV until you expire?  John Piper has an interesting post about this – and I can see why he’s stirred up over it. Anyone whose visited the hospital or longer term care facility can probably agree with some of his assessments.

Along similar, and very sad, lines: John Piper’s Funeral Prayer for a Family of Five (h/t KTW).

CULTURE: This is long article, but I thought there were a ton of good points: All of Us Sinners, None of Us Freaks: Christian Convictions for the Transgender Age.  From the article:

God could have designed human propagation in countless other ways, but he chose one way: two physically matured humans of complementing genders, each with unique DNA, forming a new family unity, and beget a child of the same human likeness — who will, upon conception, be given his or her own unique DNA and one of two genders, while still carrying the characteristics and likenesses of both parents.

One couple, following the pattern of millions of other couples in history, creates a family unit. Guided by a natural pattern, marriage calls men and women away from the immaturity of selfishly motivated casual sex and welcomes them into the selfless maturity of life as sexual beings living a story inside God’s natural pattern.

Now compare with WaPO: Do transgender athletes have an unfair advantage at the Olympics?  The obvious answer is YES.  Of course they seek to take you in another direction, and there’s some interesting science to back them up.  But note the phrase “science is science” in their article.  As if one study, or one experiment is sacrosanct. The general mindset of journalists is that scientists are the priests of our day, representing the god of science – they speak for the deity. And anything they say, no matter how preliminary, contrived, or speculative, is to be taken as sacred and absolute truth – just something to note as you read articles that intersect with science. Ask yourself “what kind of worldview would lead to writing that sentence?”

THEOLOGY: For the New Christian, the Christian looking for answers on a specific topic, or simply the curious observer wanting to understand Christianity better: Crucial Questions: 25 Free eBooks from R.C. Sproul.  These are very helpful. The one on Prayer was a foundational help to me personally several years back.

Daily Christian life stuff – this is Jon Bloom at his best: Lay Aside the Weight of Moodiness. 

…we are never “just” in a bad mood. Moods never come from nowhere. We may not always be conscious of what’s fueling our mood, but we can be sure something is.

That’s it!  I hope you enjoy your weekend – happy reading!

PJW

Weekend Reading: August 6, 2016

Good morning!  Unfortunately, this is going to be an extremely abbreviated version of the weekend reading – not due to lack of content, but due to the fact that I’m in the midst of a two-day golf tournament with my brother, and only have a limited amount of time (we’re having a great time, by the way! – it helps when he hits the ball 350 yards off the tee…).  On that note, here’s what I read and saw and listened too…

After a drama-filled week for Trump, he finally says he’ll endorse Paul Ryan.  I have no idea why he decided to do this. He had already shot himself in the foot big time, why not simply stand on “principle”?  I’ll tell you why – because this man switches his positions on every issue more than he changes his clothes.  But at least he’ll do some big tax cutting (until that’s unpopular).

Okay, that’s all I’m doing from a commentary perspective.  The man just blows my mind.  Normally I’d just blame campaign staffers, but this one is all him.

Speaking of Trump, this was interesting to me – I don’t think there’s anything wrong with what Ivanka did, in fact its cool that she has her own line of clothes.

Last week I posted about how Wayne Grudem made the moral case for voting for Trump. Others have been making the opposite case since.  After talking with folks, and getting a lot of feedback, I might have to write something more extensive on Grudem’s column because I think he’s right in some aspects, but dead wrong in others.

Wow: Donald Trump was rescued from a stuck elevator by Colorado Springs firefighters. Then he called out the fire marshal.

Take note you bibliophiles: THE BROTHERS KARAMZOV is the free audio book of the month over at ChristianAudio.com

Bravo to Tim Challies for this little gem: Jane Austen’s Prayer.  AND, for guys like Jim B. who, like me, loves the wry and witty writing of Austen, you’ll want to check this book out.

FASCINATING, from : Hillary and the DNC Hack – it isn’t Russian? 

AWESOME: See How an Insane 7-Circle Roundabout Actually Works

INTERESTING: Help Wanted: Bison Ranchers

SHAME: Nike Gives up on Golf

Some great food for thought: R.C. Sproul on God’s “Being” and Apologetics

CULTURE – ‘America’s Lost Boys’

HAHAHAHAHA: Did Bill Clinton Fall Asleep During Hillary’s Speech?

Disgusting: Biden officiates same-sex marriage

Video of the Week??? 

How to Watch the Olympics 

So….Funny: Help Lord–The Devil Wants Me Fat!

That’s it!  Enjoy, and have a wonderful weekend!

PJW

Weekend Reading: July 30, 2016

Good morning and welcome to the weekend reading.  This is a little later than I’d normally send this along, so I may have missed your early morning reading window. Therefore I am going to be brief today, and I hope you enjoy some of the articles and other good stuff I enjoyed this week.  Here goes…

Let’s begin with some of the presidential race. I appreciated this article by Wayne Grudem.  Grudem is one of the most respected evangelical theologians in America, and one of the smartest people you’d ever meet. He spoke out against Donald Trump during the primary campaigns (as he points out in this article), but now he makes the argument for why he will be voting for Donald Trump. I think he probably goes a step too far in saying that Christians could receive judgment for not voting at all for a Presidential candidate. The force of that argument loses some of its moral teeth when one considers that on the other side of the coin, Christians are considering whether voting for an amoral serial adulterer who changes his positions regularly, will be something they’re answerable for at the Judgement (the Russell Moore argument). Nevertheless, he makes points worth considering and praying over as you contemplate how to cast your ballot this November. (h/t Kate W.)

This past week the Democrats nominated Hillary Clinton as their nominee. Fellow Weekend Reader David Clementson has a column in Newsweek (and like five other publications) that compares the acceptance speech of Hillary to that of The Donald, using an analysis of language intensity to discern who had the best speech. Very interesting stuff here!

One of the consequences of Hillary winning the Democratic nomination was that Socialist Bernie Sanders chose to publicly endorse and support her. There have been several comments on this development, ranging from those who think Bernie has lost all his influence with his own supporters (who heckled and protested at the convention), to those who feel he will have a lasting impact on the campaign going forward.  Fred Barnes has a piece that evaluated Bernie’s impact, and the consequences of his decisions. Here’s an excerpt:

By the third night of the Democratic convention, speakers were pointing Clinton toward the center, away from Sanders, his followers, and their agenda. In the New York Post, John Podhoretz wrote that Clinton needed to remove “a Sanders-sized ball-and-chain” from her leg. His delegates caught on quickly to what this meant. They booed.

In a bit of irony, as the Dems were inside the convention hall proclaiming their desire never to erect walls (a pun aimed at border protection – and perhaps another example of how Trump’s message has dominated the campaign), outside the convention hall revealed a different story.

Before the Dem convention began in Philadelphia, a major security breach occurred at the Democratic National Headquarters (DNC), causing myriads of emails to be posted on WikiLeaks.  The FBI suspects that Russian government-sponsored hackers were the culprit, and the President refused to refute the suggestion that Donald Trump may have encouraged such an action. In fact, later in the week Trump seemed to encourage the Russians, this time facetiously remarking that they focus their technical abilities on finding the emails Clinton deleted during her time at the State Department!

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Mr. Trump said during a news conference here in an apparent reference to Mrs. Clinton’s deleted emails. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

Here’s a sample of the emails the hackers posted.

The upshot of this was that the Chairman of the DNC was sacked, and that Trump seemed to steal the thunder of the Dem convention before it even began.  Lord knows I have many a disagreement with Donald Trump, but its impossible not to acknowledge that he may be the most skilled earned media personality to have come along in a generation. The man simply has a brilliance for driving and dominating the news cycle.

Another interesting socio-political development that I noticed this week was Brigade. It’s a website where Facebook friends can visit and give answers to certain questions that are being discussed in the political arena today. It seems pretty much fraught with social disaster, and I’m not sure anyone can learn anything political here. But I wonder how influential it will get in the weeks and months to come…something to keep an eye on.

On to other topics…

Philip Holmes writes over at Desiring God, about ‘The Evangelical Drug of Choice‘. I think the Pokemon Go app has raised a lot of interesting discussion of this kind, and I’m still thinking about all the consequences of the technological age in which we live. Here’s a little snippet:

Our ability to access entertainment and escape from reality has swiftly and effortlessly encroached on every aspect of our lives. Impatiently waiting at a traffic stop? Grab your smartphone. Is your wife annoying you? Login to Netflix. Is the subject in class dry or irrelevant? Check your Twitter timeline. Bored? Instead of meditating and praying, we go searching for Pokémon.

And while I’m posting about DG, John Piper posted a while back about some lessons he wants us to learn from his trip to Europe. This is a good one to just quickly skim and think about. Remember that Europe has often been seen as a predicate to what America will be like in several decades.

Finally, I enjoyed this little ESPN profile on golfer Patrick Reed (h/t Marty G.). The way it’s written is typical sloppy sports writing (supposedly a list of 10 things about Reed, which are hardly discernible – the author would have been better off to simply write a standard column). Still, there are some really funny items buried in here that you’ll enjoy.  This is especially pertinent this week as PGA pros play in the final Major of the year. 

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

PJW

 

 

 

Weekend Reading: July 23, 2016

Good morning – and welcome to the weekend reading!  It was an interesting week of news this week, with Republicans officially nominating Donald Trump as their standard bearer, and Hillary Clinton selecting Tim Kaine as her running mate.

As a sort of programing note, I don’t even try to cover all of the obvious items in this weekly wrap up. My goal is to cover what I was most interested in, and what I got around to reading. So if I missed something and you want to send it along for the greater audience to enjoy, please do so!

I’m going to reverse the order and start with the books I finished this week…

The Romanov’s, Gulliver’s Travels, Animal Farm, Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World, The Invisible Man. Reviews of each book can be found here.  I really enjoyed each one of these, except Gulliver and the Romanov’s, both of which I didn’t even bother finishing. The former because I was reading it to my kids and it was simply too boring to finish at the moment, and the latter because I was so disgusted by the Russian cesspool of “Great” leaders that I couldn’t hack it anymore. Americans have Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Grant, Eisenhower etc. British folks have Churchill and Victoria and Marlborough, but what do the Russians have? Peter the Great and Catherine the Great? I know they have Frederick, and others as well, but the former overshadow all the rest in this book, and they are the most disgusting creatures I’ve ever devoted time to reading about. Well – at least I learned something, right?!

This disgust with the Romanov book was contrasted neatly with my enjoyment of Animal Farm.  That was so funny, so well written and so pointed brutal in its critique of Communism, that I couldn’t help visualize Orwell’s bizarre final scene as the natural conclusion to the Romanov dynasty and the October Revolution – they all become pigs! Think about it!

Okay, on to articles…

Continuing with my theme of going completely out of order…here is a New York Times article titled ‘The Agency’ that I didn’t get to read but want to this weekend or in the week ahead (its a long one). It looks like the stuff of Bourne legend (next week the new movie comes out!) – not necessarily in topic, but in genre. Here’s the teaser:

From a nondescript office building in St. Petersburg, Russia,
an army of well-paid “trolls” has tried to wreak havoc all
around the Internet — and in real-life American communities.

Thank you John Kerry and Barak Obama: AP Exclusive: Document shows less limits on Iran nuke work. There’s some rich irony that on the week Donald Trump is nominated (here’s the speech), its revealed that we’ve given Iran the keys to the kingdom, so to speak. These libs are the same one criticizing Trump for his (supposed) nuclear proclivities. Trump’s excerpt on this:

Not only have our citizens endured domestic disaster, but they have lived through one international humiliation after another. We all remember the images of our sailors being forced to their knees by their Iranian captors at gunpoint.

This was just prior to the signing of the Iran deal, which gave back to Iran $150 billion and gave us nothing – it will go down in history as one of the worst deals ever made.

 

Now, concerning the nomination of Trump, I have had so many conversations about him and his amoral nature, his crazy rhetoric, and his dangerous tendencies. But I think its worth listening to, or reading his convention speech in order to get a more solidified idea of where he’s going policy-wise in the next few months. It was probably his most substantive speech to date – that’s not saying much, I know.

I actually found myself cracking up laughing a few times from his critique of Hillary Clinton. Sure, not exactly what we’d like to see from the leader of the free world, but I’ve already covered all that ground here before and you all know how I feel about the man. If you find the speech too long (because it is), then just enjoy this part (it was my favorite):

Let’s review the record. In 2009, pre-Hillary, ISIS was not even on the map.

Libya was cooperating. Egypt was peaceful. Iraq was seeing a reduction in violence. Iran was being choked by sanctions. Syria was under control. After four years of Hillary Clinton, what do we have? ISIS has spread across the region, and the world. Libya is in ruins, and our Ambassador and his staff were left helpless to die at the hands of savage killers. Egypt was turned over to the radical Muslim brotherhood, forcing the military to retake control. Iraq is in chaos.

Iran is on the path to nuclear weapons. Syria is engulfed in a civil war and a refugee crisis that now threatens the West. After fifteen years of wars in the Middle East, after trillions of dollars spent and thousands of lives lost, the situation is worse than it has ever been before.

He concludes with this zinger: “This is the legacy of Hillary Clinton: death, destruction and weakness.”

People ask me all the time why Americans would vote for this guy – this is one of the reasons. He’s absolutely savaging Hillary Clinton – on prime-time TV with all the liberal media forced to cover every minute and deal with every sentence. Even I enjoyed it immensely.

Earlier in the week Ted Cruz gave what some called a principled speech, others weren’t exactly rolling in the aisles with approbation, though. Here’s a story recapping. Before that, there was a big hubbub about Melania Trump’s speech being plagiarized. I’ve been really interested in the response from friends about this one. Because it seems like a lot of people steal quotes from other historical figures, there seems to be a ton of grace flowing into my text message app.  Maybe I’m not as well-researched on the matter, but it seemed pretty crazy to lift so much, but that is just me – apparently I’m in the minority!  Here’s the WaPo comparison, I’ll let you be the judge:

comparison

On to more fun items!  

Thanks to Marty G. for sending this little gem along: Move over, hovercraft: Bubba Watson has a jetpack for the Olympics.

Also, to keep you current on the Fox News situation, here’s the report from yesterday as written by the AP: RUPERT MURDOCH VOWS FOX NEWS WITHOUT AILES IS STILL FOX.  For those of you who missed it, Chairman of Fox News Roger Ailes has resigned in the wake of what could end up being a raft of sexual harassment claims.

Interestingly, Ailes is 76 years old and is temporarily being replaced by Richard Murdoch who is 85.  Quartz had a story this morning about how the average age of a Fox News viewer is 68!  You can come to your own conclusions on this, but it seems like they need to do some viewership studies and start going after slightly younger audiences – even if they’re just a little younger – in order to build for the future. Maybe the Ailes resignation will actually help them do that – it remains to be seen.

Speaking of Quartz, one story from them this morning is pretty interesting: Are we consuming too much? While living standards are increasing around the world, so is consumerism. Yet people’s incomes aren’t rising along with their habits – what is rising? Anxiety.  This isn’t at all surprising to me, but its an interesting thing to think about. Perhaps more than any other instruction that Jesus gave during his time on earth was “do not fret” or “don’t be anxious.” The reasoning was that God had everything taken care of because He knows our needs, that we were valuable to Him, and that our lives were not to be built upon sandy foundations of what we consume here on earth. Read Matthew 5-7 to learn more about how Jesus might respond to the Quartz story above.

VIDEO: This looks pretty cool: Lord of the Rings – the Art of Adaptation

My Most Fascinating Story of the Week came from the Wall Street Journal: The Fastest-Growing Format in Publishing: Audiobooks. Key excerpt:

Audiobooks are the fastest-growing format in the book business today. Sales in the U.S. and Canada jumped 21% in 2015 from the previous year, according to the Audio Publishers Association. The format fits neatly in the sweet spot of changing technology and changing behavior. Carrying around a pocket-size entertainment center stuffed with games, news, music, videos and books has conditioned people to seek out constant entertainment, whether walking to a meeting or sitting in a doctor’s office. For more multitasking book-lovers, audiobooks are the answer.

The reason I found this fascinating is the same reason people get excited when they find out they aren’t the only ones who aren’t alone in some personal obsession. It’s the classic “I’m not a freak?! That’s wonderful news!”  For the last several years I have been steadily increasing in my voracity of consuming literature through this medium.

My method is to simultaneously read and listen at the same time – only with books I want to refer back to, or find are important in some other way (I want my kids to read them later etc.). This way I can listen while on the go, and then sit down and highlight, and make notes later on (and I do this regularly). This is how I’ve been conquering classics like The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Nicholas Nickleby, Pascal’s Penses, and Machester’s Churchill trilogy. Thousands upon thousands of pages – too many for mere mortals like me to conquer without the help of Audible, LibriVox, and my local library’s Overdrive App.

Reading is probably my favorite thing to do in life, and listening to great (and sometimes not so great) literature has been a huge blessing for me. I pass this along simply because if you’re struggling to get through the classics, want to stay current on the best literature, or maybe some required reading for a course you’re taking, then you need to check out some of the apps I mentioned above.

Okay, that’s it for today!  Another programing note – I have a stack of articles from friends and family that I’m not ignoring! ……I just haven’t finished my audiobook yet!  (:

Have a great weekend everyone!

PJ

 

Weekend Reading: July 16, 2016

Good morning and welcome to this edition of the Weekend Reading!  As you may have noticed, I’m not as consistent with this post as usual being as it summer and their are additional travel demands on the weekends for me. That being said, I’ve got some good articles, videos, and books for you. Here’s what I found most interesting…

But first, let me just say a few words in response to the many questions about the recent state of affairs. It seems like over the last few weeks/months there have been a virtual explosion of terror incidents, race riots, paid protests, police shootings, and more. This is the world we live in right now, and as someone who works every day in politics, I know there isn’t going to be a political solution – especially not by the two standard bearers for the major parties in this country (how can lawless people speak out against lawlessness?).  I am reminded (and comforted) that there is only one solution to the mess, and that is the gospel of Jesus Christ – the gospel of peace. The whole world is at war with God, enemies of Him and how He wants us to live in this world. Our selfishness has led us to strive against Him and each other, and this is why Paul had this to say about the mission of the church on earth:

For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:14-21 ESV)

Notice that he says, “From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh.” This is the result of a new perspective on life. No longer were there Romans, or Galatians, or Asians for Paul. No more Democrats, Socialists, Whites, Blacks, etc. The whole world was full of people made in God’s image who needed to be reconciled to God and to each other.

Paul saw the strife in the world, and said that Christians were God’s agents of reconciliation. There are many C4 organizations, many good things that other religions do to help feed people – Christians do this and have led in this way globally for two millennia. BUT, the driving issue, the main need of our day is still the same as it was in Paul’s. People need to be reconciled to their Creator, and to each other.  If you’re a Christian reading this, then you have a response to the crazy times we live in. God’s own son stepped down into the midst of terrorism – into the midst of enemy occupied Jerusalem.  He stepped down into the midst of violence and bigotry and racism, and his message wasn’t just “let’s all get along.” His message was “repent” – be reconciled to God, and live as members of a kingdom that doesn’t share borders with Gaza, Turkey, Iraq or the U.S.   This is a message that transcended the politics of the day, as it does yet again in our day and age. If you’re a Christian, you are “an ambassador for Christ” and its up to you to share it.

On to a few news items…

One of the interesting technological sensations of the past few weeks has been the Pokemon Go app/game that thousands (millions?) are playing. The game caught fire so quickly that it has spawned some creative pols looking to capitalize. The Wall Street Journal gives the short summary: 

The craze that is Pokémon Go—a game played through mobile-phone cameras in which you hunt and capture tiny monsters that appear near where you are playing—has swept the U.S.,Australia, New Zealand and parts of Europe since it was released last week. The game is being rolled out nation by nation.

The game actually caused a stampede in Central Park.

Due to the game’s system of drawing players into real world locations to catch the various kinds of Pokémon, there have been occasions where a crowd has formed to obtain a rare part of the Pokédex. A video released Friday, which you can see above, shows trainers rushing into Central Park late Thursday night to catch the rare Eevee evolution, Vaporeon.

The game presents a lot of neat opportunities for this generation of gamers to get out into reality while completely ignoring the people around them and instead interacting with small iconic pixelated creatures. What can go wrong?

The other thing that you might have already seen was how Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg made several derogatory comments about Donald Trump. The New York Times (!!!) had an extremely harsh slap down in response – and for the right reasons, I might add (h/t Mr. Clemenston).  Key graph…

There is no legal requirement that Supreme Court justices refrain from commenting on a presidential campaign. But Justice Ginsburg’s comments show why their tradition has been to keep silent.

It’s been bandied about a lot over the last few weeks, but I think that Americans were shocked at the result of James Comey’s press conference exonerating Hillary R. Clinton from any indictment.  I will give you the first (and most important) two graphs from the Wall Street Journal: 

For our money, the most revealing words in FBI Director James Comey’s statement Tuesday explaining his decision not to recommend prosecuting Hillary Clinton for mishandling classified information were these: “This is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences. To the contrary, those individuals are often subject to security or administrative sanctions.”

So there it is in the political raw: One standard exists for a Democratic candidate for President and another for the hoi polloi. We’re not sure if Mr. Comey, the erstwhile Eliot Ness, intended to be so obvious, but what a depressing moment this is for the American rule of law. No wonder so many voters think Washington is rigged for the powerful.

After this, John Piper responded by taking on several issues including this one.

Separately, and on an unrelated note, I enjoyed this post by R.C. Sproul called ‘What is the Will of God for my Life?’

Fascinating Stuff: The Grim Task Awaiting Theresa May: Preparing for Nuclear Armageddon

Speaking of world affairs, Turkey is under a military coup right now. As one NBC commentator put it, it strange to see a NATO nation going through a military coup! But Foreign Affairs.com is probably correct on this one: Erdogan Has Nobody to Blame for the Coup But Himself.

Also, this was an interesting Op-Ed from the New York Times: The Theology of Donald Trump.  Key Graph:

Whether or not he has read a word of Nietzsche (I’m guessing not), Mr. Trump embodies a Nietzschean morality rather than a Christian one. It is characterized by indifference to objective truth (there are no facts, only interpretations), the repudiation of Christian concern for the poor and the weak, and disdain for the powerless. It celebrates the “Übermensch,” or Superman, who rejects Christian morality in favor of his own. For Nietzsche, strength was intrinsically good and weakness was intrinsically bad. So, too, for Donald Trump.

On to books!

Tim Challies had this book review of ‘The Jesus Storybook Bible’ which I found really interesting. My kids have loved this book for years!

And because I often have people asking me what I’m reading these days, I’ve created a Goodreads page here (you might have to search for my name) so you can see not only what I’ve read this year, but what I thought of it.  There hasn’t been time to review every single book (even the good ones), but you can always ping me if you have particular questions.  I’ve thought about starting a page for my daughter who is close to out-reading me this year! (proud dad moment there).

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and enjoy the beautiful weather and each other – get out into your community, and try to avoid the masses of stampeding Pokemon Go’ers.

PJW