Friday, February 16, 2018

Weekend Links 2-16-18

A weekly roundup of links of interest. Commentary included at no extra charge.

Pitchers and catchers report this week which means baseball season is right around the corner. The big story this offseason has been the extremely cold free agent market. George Will offers some very sensible analysis why teams aren't going to spend money on expensive free agents. I have a sneaking suspicion that this is the start of new trend.

This interview with Roy and Karen Prior on marriage is well worth reading. I found myself thinking a lot about how I met my wife and how much God has blessed our family in reading their story.

Some helpful advice here on how to become a morning person.

This is interesting: The Phantom Tollbooth and the Redeeming Power of Words.

This sounds like a dream job to me!

An important article from Russell Moore: How to Teach Boys to Respect Women.

Now we know the origin of "Who's On First?"
More productivity advice: why your phone's airplane mode is not just for flying. Because I use my cell phone as my work phone it's hard for me to disconnect at times. But this is a terrific idea.

Fun fact of the week:

A post shared by Mental Floss (@mental_floss) on

Friday, February 09, 2018

Weekend Links 2-9-18

It's a cornucopia of interesting links this week.

This is interesting: 16 facts about Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. This makes me want to go read the book.

Articles like this make it harder to enjoy football. There was a time when I was truly interesting in watching it. Not anymore.

If you are a football fan enjoy it while you can because the sport is doomed.

Thomas Boswell was right - baseball is better than football. There's also this from George Carlin.

Spring training starts next week. Here are the report dates for every team.

One of the best shows currently on television is the Inspector Morse prequel Endeavour (shown on PBS here in the United States). This is a fascinating interview with Russell Lewis, the series creator and sole writer.

America is at her greatest when she accomplishes great things. Just ask Elon Musk. (As a side note, I am currently reading a second book on the Apollo space program and find myself longing for the days when we dared to do difficult things).

This seems to fall more in the category of "don't try this at home". However, I know of at least one person who does one of the things on this list regularly.

How Groundhog Day (released 25 years ago!) shows we are "stuck with virtue".

Quote of the week:

Abide is an old fashioned word. It simply means remain, stay, or dwell.  The challenge is for us to continue to be immersed in, satisfied by, surrounded by, empowered by, protected by, and infused with Jesus.
Read the whole thing.

Some interesting thoughts on The Post and the current state of the press. Lots of stuff here to think about.

This is an amazing article written by a long-time photojournalist. The story - about one man and a photograph - is pretty remarkable.

This article from WORLD Magazine on the current turmoil at Moody Bible Institute is incredibly detailed and provides a pretty comprehensive account of the challenges facing the college.

Recommended reading: The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown.
This book wasn't on my to be read list at the beginning of the year but I ran across it a library book sale and couldn't resist. I had seen it recommended several places and now I understand why it was getting such tremendous endorsements. It's an amazing account of a group of working-class boys who fought theri way through the Great Depression to defeat the heavily favored German team in the 1936 Berlin Olympics. It's a terrific read and well worth your time.

Incidentally, pay particular attention to the prologue of the book. I love the story of how the author stumbled onto this tale. It made reading the book even more enjoyable.

Friday, February 02, 2018

Weekend Links 2-2-18

A few links of interest for your weekend reading:

Brad Meltzer is one of my favorite authors. His political thrillers helped get me interested in reading fiction again. But he also has written a series of children's books entitled Ordinary People Change the World. In this wide-ranging interview he discusses the latest entry in the series as well as what inspired him to write the books in the first place.

The gentle - and radical - faith of Mister Rogers. In related news, Tom Hanks will portray Mister Rogers in an upcoming film.

Last week we had the class of 2018 for the Baseball Hall of Fame announced. The election results refueled the debate over whether Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens (among other steroid users) should be allowed induction into the Hall of Fame. Don Yaeger makes the compelling case against their election (which I also wholeheartedly agree with).

This is something I honestly had not considered: 4 ways that Netflix perpetuates modern anxieties.

I try to shy away from political commentary with the exception of a small handful of writers. David French is one that I make a point to read pretty much everything he writes. In this column he manages to sum up perfectly the issue that is at the heart of the culture wars: masculinity.

Tweet of the week (this video gave me chills):

Friday, January 26, 2018

Weekend Links 1-26-18

A roundup of interesting stuff that I ran across this week:

I really appreciate Tim Challies' analysis of the Billy Graham Rule and its practical application. As usual, he has taken a very thoughtful approach to a thorny issue.

This is cool: Trash collectors in Turkey use abandoned books to build a library.

That time Edgar Allan Poe pranked New York City and inspired Jules Verne.

This is right on the money: America needs more gentlemen. Thank you Peggy Noonan for writing this column.

This is the first of what promises to be a fascinating series of articles: How should Christians think about "the news"?

Why this guide to "intelligent reading" should be on your to be read list. It's definitely on mine.

"Follow Your Heart" has to be without a doubt the worse advice you can give to someone. Don't believe me? Here are ten great reasons why.

Tweet of the week:
Congratulations to the Baseball Hall of Fame Class of 2018! Another fun note via Jayson Stark: with Chipper Jones' election to the Hall of Fame, he becomes part of the only foursome of teammates in the Hall of Fame that spent 10 or more years with the same club (the other three are John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, and Greg Maddux).

This speaks to me: 12 bookstores worth traveling for. I love visiting book stores when I go to different places.

What I'm Reading: The Rubber Band and The Red Box by Rex Stout.
I first became intrigued by the Nero Wolfe mysteries watching the A&E series A Nero Wolfe Mystery some time ago. Then last fall I read Fer-de-Lance and The League of Frightened Men (the first two Wolfe novels in the canon) and was immediately impressed by how well the TV series captured the essence of the books. Rex Stout managed to create one of the most interesting detectives in the history of mystery fiction. Each book has been tremendous fun to read so far. I count this series among the many that I am thoroughly enjoying.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Weekend Links 1-19-18

A random collection of links for your weekend enjoyment:

Tim Challies wrestles with what the church should do in response to pastors who commit sexual sins. In the same post he deals with the prospect of Oprah Winfrey running for President.

Is listening to an audio book the same as reading a physical book? Here's an interesting perspective on that issue. (hat tip: Susan Wise Bauer) I don't usually listen to audio books unless I'm taking a lengthy road trip. However, I find them nearly as fulfilling as reading physical books.

Legendary broadcaster Keith Jackson passed away last week. It's fascinating that he almost wrote an autobiography. This quote was particularly interesting and a good word for broadcasters everywhere:

“There are times I turn on an athletic contest that I’m quite sure my profession has died. … If he wants to go into show business, he should go back to vaudeville and get his own stage. Amplify, clarify, punctuate. Don’t intrude. I live by that. I do not in any sense at any time try to intrude on what’s happening. I merely define it.”

Which is exactly why he was one of the best.

Another one of the best is being honored for his legendary career: longtime University of North Carolina play-by-play announcer Woody Durham is being inducted in to National Sports Media Association Hall of Fame. I had the privilege of working alongside him while at UNC. He is truly a class act.

Religious freedom is a hotly debated topic these days. So it's critical to understand what the separation of church and state truly means under the Constitution.

Odd story of the week: A new BBC documentary reveals that the Crown Jewels were hidden in a biscuit tin at Windsor Castle during World War II. The most interesting aspect of the story is the fact that Queen Elizabeth didn't know until she was told by the documentary presenter. 

Brad Meltzer is one of my favorite writers. He's one of the best at writing thrillers. But he also has a series of children's books called Ordinary People Change the World. His newest installment will profile Neil Armstrong.

Recommended reading: Apollo 8: The Thrilling Story of the First Mission to the Moon by Jeffrey Kluger

In the summer of 1968, the Apollo moon program was in shambles. Reeling from the Apollo 1 fire just eighteen months earlier that took the lives of three astronauts and in race for space dominance against the Soviet Union, NASA makes the daring decision to make the first manned trip to the moon by the end of the year. Jeffrey Kluger (who also co-wrote Apollo 13 with astronaut Jim Lovell) tells the amazing story of not only the three astronauts but hundreds of engineers and controllers that worked tirelessly to make the Apollo 8 mission (and ultimately the moon landing the next year) a success. A fantastic read.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Weekend Links 1-12-18

A ton of links of interest in this week's roundup:

I am at heart a frustrated writer. Part of the reason for resurrecting the blog was to get myself to write again even if it's no more than these Weekend Links posts I put up every Friday. I'm fascinated by people who are successful writers particularly when they've tried something else and given it up to be a writer. That's probably why this interview with Robert Kurson caught my attention. I haven't read his books yet but they will be going on my to be read list right away. 

From Barnabas Piper, ways to become a more curious person. Lots of great food for thought in this article.

This seemed very timely given events in the news of late: Why repentant pastors should be forgiven but not restored to the pulpit. Wise words from Johnathan Leeman.

Season 2 of The Crown on Netflix explores Queen Elizabeth's faith and a meeting she had with the Reverend Billy Graham. The question is whether any of it is true. Sarah Pulliam Bailey has the answers.

In the film Darkest Hour the producers went to great lengths to make Winston Churchill's secret war rooms look as realistic as possible. 

This is a story I had never heard: the Swiss man who saved thousands of Jewish people from the Holocaust during World War II.

Russell Moore answers the question of whether we are living in a post-Christian society.

Where I would say that we're a post-Christian society is that we're a post-pretend-Christian society. There was a previous era when people had a certain basic understanding of biblical truths and some connection to the church. That brought some benefit because, in many cases, there was some sort of stable understanding of morality. But, it also brought a lot of drawbacks because a nominal Christianity doesn't save.

Often what a nominal Christianity does is the worst possible thing: leave people in lostness but convince them that they're reconciled with God. I do think we're moving beyond that kind of Christianity. That's going to mean a lack of cohesion in the country and in some communities.
Be sure to read the whole thing.

Good to know: how winter weather affects your car and what you can do about it.

Baseball season is almost upon us. Safe to say I will be checking this opening day countdown clock regularly. 

Speaking of our national pastime, this is an amazing piece of baseball history:

Merkle's mistake would help the Chicago Cubs advance to the 1908 World Series. Despite the infamous miscue, Merkle would go on to have a very nice twenty year career in the major leagues including four years with the Cubs.

Book of the week: The Story of Classic Crime in 100 Books.

What's more fun than a book about books? This particular book traces the history of the Golden Age of Crime Fiction in Britain through 100 different novels. These are books which are considered to be ones that made the greatest contribution to the crime drama genre. It's no surprise that as a result of reading this book my to be read list has grown a whole lot longer. This is a great resource for anyone who wants to dive into the crime genre but isn't sure where to begin.

Friday, January 05, 2018

Weekend Links 1-5-18

Some random links of interest for the first weekend of 2018:

For better or worse, most people learn history through popular culture. As Peggy Noonan points out, both the media and entertainment industries bear responsibility to treat history with respect. In other words, get it right.

This is interesting: a list of 22 things not to buy at the grocery store.

Tweet of the week:
Speaking of Twitter, here is why MoonPie is the best account to follow on Twitter. You won't regret it.

How one company uses lava lamps to keep the internet secure. What's even more amazing is you can actually see it for yourself.

Newsmax recently released a list of the 100 most influential evangelicals in America and Tim Challies has a few thoughts about the list. Perhaps most interesting to me is his astute observations (as a Canadian) of the peculiarly American mix of evangelicalism and politics.

Here's some useful advice on how to read more books. For what's it worth, my goal is to read at least 52 books this year (at least one per week).

How World War II helped give birth to the softcover book. This is explored more fully in When Books Went to War by Molly Guptill Manning

Book recommendation of the week: Destiny of the Republic - A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard.

I love reading history books particular those about Presidents. I admit I knew little about President James Garfield and even less about how he died. The tragedy in his story is that his death could have easily been prevented except that it was his own doctors that were ultimately responsible for his demise. This is a fascinating book and one I would heartily recommend.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Weekend Links 12-29-17

A sampling of interesting things I found on the internet this week:

The title of this article is pretty provocative: The World Might Be Better Off Without College for Everyone. What's more interesting is it's written by someone who has spent the past forty years in education. (Hat tip: Acculturated)

Broadway's The Music Man celebrates its sixtieth anniversary this year and is still one of the best musicals ever made. 

As a Cubs fan, I am intrigued by this proposal: Kris Bryant as leadoff man.

There are reasons that Coke tastes better out of the fountain at McDonalds.

The curator of the U. S. Naval Academy Museum recently made a fascinating discovery: flags captured by the Navy during the 19th century.

As the calendar flips to 2018, many folks will make a New Year's resolution to read the Bible. Perhaps they will choose a plan that has them reading all of the Bible in a year. Here are three suggestions on how to read more of the Bible by intentionally reading less.

It's a safe bet that Casablanca couldn't be made today. 

Last week, sportscaster Dick Enberg died at 82 years old. His passing brought to mind an episode of Later with Bob Costas where Enberg appeared with fellow sportscaster Al Michaels to discuss their careers in sportscasting. It's an amazing interview for several reasons. First, both Michaels and Enberg say that the best sport to broadcast is baseball. Second, they both say that part of what made them great broadcasters was that they both started in radio. Finally, they were each asked to name their favorite sports moment they broadcast and then the show cuts to clips of the actual calls. They gave me chills. Take a look.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas Eve, 1968

Nearly fifty years ago, the crew of the Apollo 8 spacecraft did something remarkable by reading from the creation account in Genesis 1 during a live television broadcast on Christmas Eve, 1968. At the time it became the most watched program in television.

What is quickly forgotten is the fact that the crew wasn't supposed to be there at all. The flight was originally scheduled for April 1969 but was moved up once it was determined the Lunar Module would not be ready for the scheduled flight. NASA officials also made the risky decision to leapfrog the established flight schedule and have the crew fly to the moon. It was the first such mission attempted. For their achievements they were named Time Magazine's Person of the Year.
1968 was rough year in America. She had been rocked by the murders of both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy. Rioting was taking place on a regular basis in the streets of her cities. Yet the simple broadcast of the Apollo 8 crew of Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and William Anders was just the uniting event that the country needed.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Weekend Links 12-22-17

Here are some interesting things I found on the internet this week.

Why has "Fixer Upper" been such a success? 

Viewers tuned in to ‘Fixer Upper’ to be reminded that—in spite of all the voices insisting otherwise—maturity, family, and faith are possible. They tuned in for hope.
Read the whole thing.

Classy move: last week the St. Louis Cardinals traded outfielder Stephen Piscotty to the Oakland A's so he could be closer to his mother who is battling ALS.

This is interesting: how It's A Wonderful Life went from box office dud to Christmas classic. It was because of a clerical error.

This past Sunday, Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport, known as the busiest airport in the United States, suffered a power outage stranding thousand of passengers. Chick-Fil-A, which is famously closed on Sundays, sprang into action to feed the stranded travelers.

In light of the recent elections some Christians are reticent to use the term evangelical. An interesting read. Also, a helpful explanation from Tim Keller why there is such hesitation among Christians to call themselves evangelicals.

Christmas time in our house means lots of Hallmark Channel movies. Based on the ratings, we're not alone. Here's the reason why Hallmark movies are such a big deal this time of year. (Hat tip: Acculturated)

When we're not binge watching Hallmark Christmas movies, we are working our way through Season 2 of The Crown. One of the most surprising elements is the emphasis on Queen Elizabeth's faith. Like a lot of other people I am surprised by how popular the series is here in the United States.

This is neat: Russell Moore on how his ministry was twice saved by A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Instead of selling their multi-million dollar mansion and making a profit, Texas Rangers pitcher Cole Hamels and his wife decided to donate the property to underprivileged kids instead.

One of the biggest dilemmas parents face this time of year is whether to tell their kids the truth about Santa Claus.  The best thing to do is not lie to your kids.

Finally, my daughter introduced me to this version of the a Christmas classic this week. It's quickly becoming one of my favorites.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Most Notable Books I Read in 2017

I try to read a lot and on a wide variety of subjects. At last count, I had plowed through 38 books this year which is not a bad pace to be on. I'm hoping to read more in 2018 and expect that my to be read list will be much longer once Christmas is over. Out of all the books I read these stood out for the reasons I will outline below:

The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming of Age Crisis and How to Build a Culture of Self-Reliance by Ben Sasse.

One would expect a book written by a United States Senator would be focused on public policy solutions. However, Sasse, who has a background in history and as a college president before being elected Senator is more concerned about documenting how we got to where we are in America and the current crisis that exists among young adults. Sasse intends the book to be the starting point for conversations about the challenges we face in America. Those solutions he does propose are ones that do not come from the government. An engaging read and a must for anyone who is concerned for America's youth.

Mission at Nuremberg: An American Army Chaplain and the Trial of the Nazis by Tim Townsend

In the aftermath of World War II, the Allied Forces held a war crimes tribunal at Nuremberg to prosecute Nazis for atrocities committed during the war. One of the first things I discovered in reading the book is that the whole concept of war crimes was completely new. The Allies debating long and hard about whether there was even a legal basis for bringing the cases to begin with. Perhaps even more surprising was the fact that the United States Army wanted to make sure that chaplains were available to the prisoners held at Nuremberg. I can't help but wonder if we were faced with a similar scenario today would our military be so concerned about the spiritual warfare of prisoners of war. An interesting account of what took place at Nuremberg from the perspective of one of the chaplains who ministered there.

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson

I became a fan of Erik Larson's work after reading Thunderstruck last year. I had a vague awareness of the history of the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago but didn't really know the details. Nor was I aware that there was a serial killer on the loose during the fair. Larson manages to weave a compelling narrative that reads like a thriller. One of the things I appreciate most about Larson's methodology (which he discusses in the end notes) is that he does not do any research on the internet. All of the information he uncovers is from original source material found at libraries, newspapers, and in books. A thoroughly researched and highly enjoyable volume.

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett

I read quite a number of mystery novels this year from the likes of Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Rex Stout, and Raymond Chandler. But the one that stands out for me that I read this year is The Maltese Falcon. I was familiar with the story having seen the Humphrey Bogart film years ago. But it many ways the original novel was better than the movie. I haven't had a chance to go back and see the movie again but would be willing to bet that Bogart's portrayal of Sam Spade would be very close to Hammett's creation in the novel. It's easy to see why Hammett is often credited as the creator of the hard-boiled detective.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Weekend Links 12-15-17

A roundup of interesting links for weekend reading:

I've been reading a lot of crime fiction lately particularly from the Golden Age of Crime Fiction in Britain (think Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers and G. K. Chesterson, for example). Naturally then this book is of great interest to me and appears to be must reading for anyone interested in the genre.

This is surprising: it's a good thing to stockpile more books than you'll ever actually read.

It's time to be honest about men. And about human nature.

Comedy doesn't need to mean anything. It's okay for it to just be silly. 

"We should not assume that doing what is best for one's country is always synonymous with doing what is best." Fascinating insight into the Netflix series The Crown.

This is a fun fact:

I can relate to this: Why I Can No Longer Call Myself an Evangelical Republican.

Russell Moore: “American evangelicalism is old and sick and weak, and doesn’t even know it.”

This is fun: 20 Calvin and Hobbes comics to get you into the Christmas spirit.

History lesson: the true story of the women who became codebreakers during World War II.

Finally, a little something you'd probably hear playing at our house this time of year: 

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Celebrating "A Charlie Brown Christmas"

Once the calendar flips from November to December it's a safe bet that in our house there will be a constant stream of Christmas movies. Most of them are of the Hallmark Channel variety at least until a few days before Christmas. By that point we get to the ones that are considered "classic" Christmas movies: Elf, A Christmas Story, It's A Wonderful Life, and Eloise at Christamastime (on December 23rd because that's Christmas Eve Eve).

But of all the Christmas related movies and television shows we watch together as a family there is none more special to us than A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Ironically, the show almost didn't get aired. CBS hated the production. Even Charles Schulz was not a fan of the finished product. But on December 9, 1965, half of all households with a television on tuned into the special and made it an instant classic. The jazzy soundtrack became one of best selling jazz records of all time. Yet despite its paltry production budget and limited visual effects it became a family favorite.

The real secret of the show's success has to be its message. No other Christmas program so clearly shares the true meaning of Christmas.  It is perhaps why our family always makes a point to watch it on Christmas Eve - to remind ourselves of why we celebrate the holiday.

Linus' speech manages to sum it all up: Let us never forget why we celebrate Christmas.

Friday, December 08, 2017

Weekend Links 12-8-17

A few items of interest for your weekend reading:

Author Stephen Mansfield explores the reasons why evangelicals so enthusiastically supported President Trump. His analysis is well worth reading. Also related: why Trump and other similar candidates are causing a crisis of faith among evangelicals.

Kevin DeYoung weighs in with Ten Questions to Ask for Voting in a Two Party 

In the wake of recent sex scandals a great reminder that our hope is not in man.

Albert Mohler explains why Christians should support the death penalty. Be sure to read all the way through as his article carefully explains exactly when and why it should be supported.

Is this one of the greatest moments in the history of film? Probably. Now I need to go watch this again.

"Mary Poppins" is a Subversive Critique of Modernity. No, really, it is.

Want to be more productive? Stop doing these three things.

Finally, here is one song that is a must at Christmas:

Monday, December 04, 2017

When Faced With Choosing The Lesser of Two Evils - Choose Neither

As voters go to the polls tomorrow in the Senate special election in Alabama, they are basically faced with two horrible candidates to choose from. In recent years this has increasingly become a problem that Christian voters face. Joe Carter proposes a simple solution: don't choose either one.

Convictional inaction refuses to support any political candidate, organization, or party that advocates for or turns a blind eye to gross immorality and injustice. Every Christian in America would refuse to vote for any candidate—regardless of political party—who supports such gross injustices as abortion or covers up immorality, such as sexual assault.
If every evangelical committed to convictional inaction, politics in American would change within four to five years (about two election cycles). Knowing they were truly at the whim of Christian voters, both parties would be forced to make radical changes. Convictional inaction is a nonpartisan approach that solves our political crisis by literally doing nothing.
The flaw in this approach, of course, is the collective action problem. It would take a majority, or at least a critical mass of convictionally inactive voters to make it functional. And as we see in Alabama, there simply aren’t enough Christians willing to risk letting their political opponents win any temporary victory. 
Still, I hold out hope that this approach will catch on. Politically conservative evangelicals today have been catechized by Fox News and talk radio. But there are a growing number of churches teaching what it means to live as ambassadors of the kingdom of God and not as partisan dupes in our current political cults.

Read the whole thing.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Weekend Links 12-1-17

Some random items of interest for your weekend reading:

There's a reason McDonald's french fries aren't as good as they used to be.

Looking for a unique Christmas gift idea? Try this list of the best board games of the year. We bought Codenames last year based on their recommendation and have loved it.

Productivity matters: maybe it's time to give up on goals. Related: focus on processes rather than outcomes.

Do some parents share too much about their children online?

An interesting interpretation of the new adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express.

Recommended reading: I just finished The Vanishing American Adult by Ben Sasse. It is an excellent read and well worth your time.

If you've ever been to a baseball game, you're likely familiar with "Take Me Out to the Ballgame". But did you know there are actually two verses to the song?

Have a great weekend!

Friday, November 24, 2017

Weekend Links 11-24-17

A few articles of interest I found for your weekend perusal:

The recent news cycles have been dominated with stories about sexual harassment and other inappropriate behaviors among elected officials, powerful individuals, and political candidates. Especially when it comes to politics the issue can present difficult choices to Christians. Marvin Olasky shares some valuable insight on the message our choices send to future generations.

These news stories have sparked a debate about the so-called Billy Graham rule. This discussion (on Twitter no less) is one of the most interesting and helpful discussions on the subject I have read.

One possible political solution to the problem of unqualified U. S. Senate candidates is a repeal of the 17th Amendment.

Stephen Mansfield helpfully explains why many evangelicals decided to vote for Donald Trump as President. 

Many conservatives who argued in favor of Trump's election used the Supreme Court as an argument for supporting him. David French warns of the dangers of obsessing over the Court.

Related: Senator Ben Sasse warned this week against the dangers of political idolatry.

Last week marked the premiere of the new film adaptation of Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express. Here's a list of nine other novels for those who are new to her work.

Finally, a 97 year-old World War II veteran shares about his service as a code breaker during the war. It's fascinating stuff.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Happy Thanksgiving

In honor of Thanksgiving, one of the best holiday themed episodes of all time, WKRP in Cincinnati -
"Turkey's Away".

Best line - "As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly."

Added bonus from Mental Floss, the story behind this classic episode.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Favorite Eats - Sambo's Tavern - Leipsic, Delaware

Earlier this summer, my wife and I made not one but two road trips to Dover, Delaware. My work took me up to Delaware and rather that try to figure out how to manage flying somewhere close (you can't fly into Dover on commercial airlines) we drove - approximately 8 hours each way (when we didn't get stuck in traffic on the Capital Beltway around Washington).

It was our first serious venture into Delaware and provided us with one of the more unique dining experiences we have had in our travels. While we had other places that we enjoyed while we were there the one place that stood out (and warranted a return visit on our second trip) was Sambo's Tavern in Leipsic just outside of Dover.

First, a little background. When we travel we try to eat at local restaurants. Our rule of thumb is to eat where the locals eat. Most of the time we take our recommendations from TripAdvisor or Yelp but sometimes will also ask hotel staff (they usually know the best places to eat).

My wife did some research and found that Sambo's was one of the top rated places to eat in the area. Add to that the fact that it served seafood and was right on the water and we knew it was just the place for us. Our youngest daughter has severe allergies to seafood so we never have it at home.

From the looks of the place you wouldn't necessarily think that it would be a great place for seafood. If you look carefully at the picture on their Facebook page, you will see they are right on the inland waterway. We took it as an encouraging sign that fishing boats were docked right behind the restaurant when we made our initial pilgrimage.
We decided upon fresh steamed crabs for lunch. The only problem is that I knew nothing about how to crack crabs. Thankfully our server gave us lessons on how to manage it. It was a lot of fun and very tasty.

When we went back a few months later we shared crabcakes that were also wonderful. I can't remember I have had seafood that was so very fresh.

If you go, a couple of things to keep in mind. First, Sambo's is primarily a bar. They don't admit anyone under 21 (and it's clearly posted on the front door.).

Second, be sure to bring plenty of cash. They do not accept credit or debit cards.

If you're ever in the Dover area be sure to stop by Sambo's foe some of the best seafood you will every have.

For previous entries in this series, click here.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Back to Blogging

I was looking back through the archives and suddenly realized it had been over thirteen years since my very first post here on the blog. Hard to believe it has been that long.

Over the course of those thirteen years my writing has been infrequent at best and at some times a little unfocused. I have enough issues with just trying to write something without going back and critiquing things I have written in the past.

But I have also read in numerous places that if you want to become a better writer you need to write. Don't worry about how good or bad the end product might be. Just focus on writing.

I blame my addiction to Twitter in part for my hesitancy to continue writing. Twitter makes it much quicker and easier to share articles. Most of my tweets are articles from writers who are far more eloquent than I would ever hope to be.

Still, I am going to jump back in and start writing again. Things will be a bit different. Very little politics (I'm not as avid a follower of the news as I used to be - a story for another time). I don't write regular book reviews any more but may still share thoughts about things that I am reading. I'm still reading a lot of books these days and every once in a while may share something. I'm also still traveling a bit and may have things to share from those adventures as well.

Let's see what the future holds, shall we?

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Book Review: The Stories We Tell

As Americans we consume more popular entertainment through television and movies than any other culture. But do we ever take the time to stop and think about what these stories we are consuming are telling us?

That's the question that Mike Cosper seeks to answer in The Stories We Tell: How TV and Movies Long For and Echo The Truth. In this brief volume, Cosper examines the themes that are seen in popular movies and television programs and explores the aspects of the Gospel that these stories often reflect.

Cosper is careful to point out that his discussions of various programs are not necessarily endorsements of those shows. Christians are often divided over what content is appropriate to watch. In reading the book, I found discussions of numerous movies and TV shows that I would not necessarily watch for one reason or another. But that doesn't take away from the main strength of the book which is to examine critically the story that is being told. There are messages within stories whether we realize it or not. That is where Cosper is trying to get us to look.

At the conclusion of the book, he also has a helpful word to those who aspire to be Christian filmmakers. The focus should be on the strength of the story rather than the mesage. Too often Christian film making suffers from a tendency to be too preachy trying to hit the audience over the head with the Gospel rather than focus on the quality of storytelling.

I found this book challenging me to think more deeply about the message in the stories that I watch. What glimpses of truth are they trying to reveal to us? Certainly if we look hard enough we can see that these shows do reveal something about ourselves and about the world we live in.

The Stories We Tell is an excellent resource that Christians would be wise to invest in. It will change the way you think about entertainment for the better.

Note: A copy of this book was provided to me by Crossway in exchange for this review. No other consideration was received in exchange for this review.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Book Review: What's Best Next

Does God care how we spend our time? Does the Bible speak to us in terms of how we manage our time? Does the Bible have anything to tell us about how we set our priorities? If so, how do we practically apply biblical teaching to planning our days?

These are all questions that Matt Perman attempts to answer in his book What's Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done. The key is not getting more things done but getting the right things done.

In the first portion of the book, Perman diagnoses the fundamental problem behind productivity: we're just too busy. Our time and energy is spent on things that don't matter as much (at least from an eternal perspective) as others. As a result, we aren't able to devote our energies to the things that are most important to God. He then proceeds to very carefully outline how the Bible speaks to how we spend our time. We are called to be good stewards of the time we have on Earth just as we are called to be stewards of everything else that God has given us.

Perman then moves from the theological to the more practical section by offering numerous steps that the reader can take to help improve their own productivity. I found this section of the book a little more difficult to work through as it was more tedious to read through. I would recommend that a prospective reader of the book have a notebook handy while reading it so they can be writing down practical applications for themselves. This is a book that is best applied as it is read. Otherwise it will seem difficult to work through.

Perman should be credited for his thorough studies on the issues of organization and time management. His years of work are clearly evident in the text. He certainly has a vast knowledge from which to draw. Ultimately the lessons for each individual may be different as some will find things to apply that may not as easily apply to others.

In all, this is a solid book on a subject that nearly everyone deals with. If you want to explore time management from a biblical perspective then this is a good place to start.

This book was provided to me by BookLookBloggers. No compensation was received in exchange for this review apart from the book.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Book Review: Essentialism - The Discliplined Pursuit of Less

When writing a book review, I am always hesitant to use phrases such as "life-changing" as they areso overused they have become meaningless. But when it comes to Greg McKeown's book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less life-changing is an apt description. In fact, I would go so far to say this book could totally revolutionize how you think about time management.

We've all felt it: the weight of being over-committed. We're too busy. We say yes to too many things. We are stretched too thin. As a result, we don't know how to set priorities. Our calendars are too full. We are rushing from one thing to another and never have time or energy to complete a single project.

It's those exact feelings that led McKeown to write this book. In fact, in the first chapter he tells a moving story about the day his daughter was born. While his wife was in the hospital he was off at a client meeting. At a time he should have been with his family he was away at work. It was that episode that led him to start thinking about how he should re-prioritize his life and become an Essentialist. (You can read the first chapter here.)

"The way of the Essentialist is the relentless pursuit of less but better. It doesn't mean occasionally giving a nod to the principle. It means pursuing it in a disciplined way." (Essentialism, page 5)

With amazing clarity, McKeown lays out the steps that one needs to follow in order to become an Essentialist. One cannot help but be dramatically challenged by the lessons from this book,

When I normally read a book I don't bother marking in it. But with this book, I was furiously highlighting as I was working through it. More importantly, this is not a book that I will be able to read just once. It's a book I will be coming back to repeatedly as I try to apply its lessons.

Of all of the time management books I have read, Essenitalism is the one that most directly addresses the fundamental problem that most individuals face: over-commitment. By applying the lessons of the book, the reader can truly transform their lives. This book's lessons are ones that we can all be served well by learning: say no to all that is unimportant and focus our time and energy on the things that are most important. I highly recommend it.

Note:I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Vin Scully at the Ronald Reagan Foundation

Earlier this week, Los Angeles Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully took some time out from the season to share a few stories at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. He touches on a variety of topics most of which are related to his storied broadcasting career. It is often said that he is a national treasure and you can see why when you watch the video below. It amazes me how sharp his mind still is after so many years in the business. Keep going, Vin. (hat tip: Vin Scully Tweet)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Favorite Eats: The Pharmacy - Nashville

One the perks of my job is that I can count on at least one trip to Nashville each year. The thing I like most about travelling to Nashville is discovering fun new places to eat. In fact, there are so many restaurants in the greater Nashville area that you could probably visit a different one each day and not repeat in a year.

I always make a point to try to dine where local residents like to eat and just a few weeks ago discovered a place that will be well worth a return visit: The Pharmacy Burger Parlor and Beer Garden. Tucked away in an East Nashville neighborhood it would be easy to miss if you didn't know where to look for it.

The restaurant's slogan is that it is Nashville's Wurst Burger Joint. In that slogan lies the clue to the other great secret of their menu: their wursts (German style sausages) are fantastic. They are all made by hand, then grilled outside on the charcoal grill before finished indoors an the flat top before being served. We sampled both the burgers and the wursts and found them equally enjoyable.

Another great feature is their old-fashioned soda fountain. My youngest daughter enjoyed a creamsicle soda while my older daughter went for the strawberry ginger ale. My wife decided to try the Mexican Coca-Cola from the bottle (which is sweeter than Coke found in the United States) while I enjoyed a Sprecher Root Beer on tap which was just perfect with our meal.

For dinner we decided to share (which we often do when we can't decide what to eat). We ordered two Biergarten platters (each came with 3 wursts) and were able to sample all six varieties of the wursts they had available. Our personal favorite was the Bockwurst as it was the juiciest of all of them though they all had a good flavor. For our burgers, we ordered the Farm Burger (country ham, applewood bacon, willow farm egg, and maple mustard) and the Mission City Burger (guacamole, pico de gallo, slow-cooked black beans, and horchata crema fresca). Both were very good though the Mission City Burger had the slight edge.

But the best part of the entire experience was dining out in the biergarten. It was a lovely evening, not too hot and the atmosphere was perfect. It would be the perfect place to meet friends and hang out.

We all agreed that this would be one place we would visit again. According to the staff it gets busy quickly so you have to be prepared to wait. We went around 5:00 in the evening and had no problem getting seated but by the time we left at 6:30 the line was already out the door.

Nashville is an endless series of gastronomic adventures. If you are ever there, be sure to add The Pharmacy to your places to visit.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Appreciating Field of Dreams

Field of Dreams turns twenty-five this year. I can vividly remember the first time I saw it in the theater. I cried at the end because it had managed to really touch a nerve. I had gone in having already read W. P. Kinsella's novel on which the movie was based but didn't expect it to pull at my heartstrings as much as it did.

Joe Posnanski recently wrote a fascinating column on the movie. For many, the movie is too overly sentimental. But as he points out, that's the film's biggest asset:

This week, I watched Field of Dreams again. It has been a few years. There were two scenes that struck me. Well, actually, I was struck by a lot of things: the mawkishness of the dialogue (it really is more than I remember); the scenery-eating overacting of the great Burt Lancaster (“by a sky so blue it hurts just to look at it!”); the intrusiveness of James Horner’s overbearing music. It would have been nice to let a scene or two breathe just a little bit without attacking us with the music.
But there were two scenes that struck me most. One struck me because I had the script with me and I was following along. Remember the scene where James Earl Jones is asking people in the town about the ballplayer Moonlight Graham, who had become the town doctor? Jones asked one old guy about Moonlight Graham’s wife:
Here’s what the guy was supposed to say according to the script: “Alicia. She moved to South Carolina after he passed. She passed a few years later. She always wore blue. I bet you didn’t know that.” Here’s what he actually said in the movie: “Alicia. She moved to South Carolina after he passed. She passed a few years later. She always wore blue. The shopkeepers in town would stock blue hats because they knew if Doc walked by he’d buy one. When they cleaned out his office, they found boxes of blue hats that he never got around to give her. I bet you didn’t know that.”
Is the movie version sentimental, cheesy, maudlin? Maybe. I love it. In a way, the difference between the script and the movie is exactly what Field of Dreams is about.  The script is plenty sentimental. She always wore blue. But the movie goes for something more. I love Doc Graham, a good man in that small town, stopping at shops because he cannot resist buying his wife a blue hat. I fall for it.
And, I guess, that gets at the heart of why I love Field of Dreams — it is so unapologetically hopeful. It is so unapologetically optimistic. “Bull Durham” is funnier and “The Natural” is more romantic and “Bang the Drum Slowly” is more poignant and “A League of Their Own” is more layered. But none of them are quite as unabashedly dreamy.


Friday, May 23, 2014

Weekend Playlist - Put Your Records On

There is something about music that can brighten the most dismal of days. That's the message at the heart of Corinne Bailey Rae's hit Put Your Records On. This is a really nice tune that helps set the perfect mood for the weekend. Enjoy.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Book Review: The Israeli Solution

With all the current turmoil in the Middle East one has to wonder whether peace is even possible. Will the Israelis and the Palestinians ever be able to peacefully co-exist? Will the long desired two state solution ever become a reality?

Or, have the Israelis (along with assistance from the United States) been pursuing the wrong policies for decades? Could it be that while the Israelis are willing to do almost anything to pursue peace their Arab neighbors have not? Perhaps it is because the United States has failed to study history to realize what a fruitless effort the two state solution actually is for the Middle East.

These are the issues that are so succinctly addressed  by Caroline Glick in her new book The Israeli Solution. Ms. Glick makes a compelling argument that the regions of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza which have been the subject of negotiations now for many years actually belong to Israel rather than the Palestinians. And although the United States has tried its best to try to foster peace in the region their relentless pursuit of the two state solution has done far more to harm to peace process that to help it.

Ms. Glick is uniquely qualified to make this assertion having previously served in the Israeli Defense Forces and as a core member of the negotiating team that dealt with the PLO during the late 1990s. She has also served as foreign policy advisor to Prime Minister Netayahu during his first term in office.

Her case for the one state solution will no doubt cause heartburn in diplomatic circles as even today the U.S. State Department continues to press for a two state solution that is destined to fail. But those same diplomats would be well serve to read this book to gain a better understanding of the historical context surrounding the current conflict and how it can be solved.

The Israeli Solution is an important volume in the continuing history of the Middle East. Anyone who has an interest in better understanding why conflict continues between Israelis and Palestinians would be well served to read this excellent book.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Daily Links 5-6-14

Good morning! A few articles to help you start your day. In today's edition: the problem with seeking God's will, baseball in India, the woman who put herself in the nuthouse, and more.


Matt Papa on the problem with seeking God's will:

I have spent too much of my life, and my prayer life, asking for God to lead me into His “perfect will”.  “God lead me”.  “Guide me”.  “Use me”.  “Bless me”.  While I know that God is a gracious, condescending God who meets us wherever we are, I something wonder if God has been up there saying…. 
“Um…yeah.  I’m Your Shepherd.  That’s what I do.” 
So there’s a problem revealed here.  If I really believed that God was good….that He was my dad who was all powerful and all knowing and all loving….then I wouldn’t be repeatedly begging him to lead me with this certain twinge of anxiety.  I would relax.  Dad’s got me.  Chill.

Hat tip: Challies


Could it be that America's favorite books are its favorite movies?


The new movie Million Dollar Arm (which judging by the previews looks really good) will open in theaters next week. But will the movie spark interest in baseball in India?


A collection of the best C. S. Lewis quotes.


Taking God at His word: an interview with Kevin DeYoung about his new book.


The amazing story of Nellie Bly who once intentionally got herself committed to an insane asylum to expose brutal treatment of the patients.


Monday, May 05, 2014

Daily Links 5-5-14

Good morning. Here are a few links to start off your week. In today's edition: failure and fostering success, things I wish I knew as a college student, the best time of day to do anything, and more.


This is an interesting quote from Pixar Studios co-founder Ed Catmull on failure:

We need to think about failure differently. I’m not the first to say that failure, when approached properly, can be an opportunity for growth. But the way most people interpret this assertion is that mistakes are a necessary evil. Mistakes aren’t a necessary evil. They aren’t evil at all. They are an inevitable consequence of doing something new (and, as such, should be seen as valuable; without them, we’d have no originality). And yet, even as I say that embracing failure is an important part of learning, I also acknowledge that acknowledging this truth is not enough. That’s because failure is painful, and our feelings about this pain tend to screw up our understanding of its worth. To disentangle the good and the bad parts of failure, we have to recognize both the reality of the pain and the benefit of the resulting growth. 


Interesting history: how the King James Bible came about.


This is a fascinating list: 20 things I wish I knew as a college student. I am sure that if I had known at least a few of these things I would have gotten much more from the whole college experience. (Hat tip: Aaron Armstrong)


Once again, science proves something useful: taking notes by hand is more effective than taking notes on a computer.


More great reading: finding the opportunity in every obstacle.


Some useful suggestions on the best time of day to do anything.


This is cool: a few minutes of footage from the 1919 World Series.


Quote of the week: