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.
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!