Thursday, October 31, 2013

Daily Links 10-31-13

Catching up with the Robertsons, don't follow your passion, why introverts make good leaders, plus a couple of bonus Halloween links in today's post.


Leave it to Si Robertson to succinctly state what is wrong with the world: "It ain't gun control we need; it's sin control." He made this statement in a lengthy profile of the Robertson clan of Duck Dynasty fame that appears in the current issue of Men's Journal. The whole article is worth reading. (Hat tip: The Blaze)


Darius Rucker first hit it big as frontman for Hootie and the Blowfish. But he's gone on to have a successful career in country music, too. The video below is a perfect example of his music. Be sure to watch carefully for some special cameos (and make sure to watch all the way to the end).

Dilbert creator Scott Adams has some advice on how to be successful: don't follow your passion:

For most people, it's easy to be passionate about things that are working out, and that distorts our impression of the importance of passion. I've been involved in several dozen business ventures over the course of my life, and each one made me excited at the start. You might even call it passion. 
The ones that didn't work out—and that would be most of them—slowly drained my passion as they failed. The few that worked became more exciting as they succeeded. For example, when I invested in a restaurant with an operating partner, my passion was sky high. And on day one, when there was a line of customers down the block, I was even more passionate. In later years, as the business got pummeled, my passion evolved into frustration and annoyance. 
On the other hand, Dilbert started out as just one of many get-rich schemes I was willing to try. When it started to look as if it might be a success, my passion for cartooning increased because I realized it could be my golden ticket. In hindsight, it looks as if the projects that I was most passionate about were also the ones that worked. But objectively, my passion level moved with my success. Success caused passion more than passion caused success.

Hat tip: Lifehacker


Readers can save the world! Not really, but reading is good for you according to our friends to the north.


Four things introverts do that make them effective leaders. This is an interesting read. (Hat tip Adrian Warnock)


Five myths of leadership. I have to admit I have heard every single one of these and thought they were all true. (Hat tip Vicki Whiting)


It can now be revealed that Disney's Imagineers tested the Haunted Mansion special effects on the night cleaning crew:

Hat tip: Neatorama


Today marks the 75th anniversary of Orson Welles' War of the Worlds broadcast. You can listen to the entire broadcast here. Welles' sign-off was priceless:

"This is Orson Welles, ladies and gentlemen, out of character to assure you that “The War of The Worlds” has no further significance than as the holiday offering it was intended to be. The Mercury Theatre’s own radio version of dressing up in a sheet and jumping out of a bush and saying Boo! Starting now, we couldn’t soap all your windows and steal all your garden gates by tomorrow night …so we did the best next thing. We annihiliated the world before your very ears, and utterly destroyed the Columbia Broadcasting System. You will be relieved, I hope, to learn that we didn’t mean it, and that both institutions are still open for business. So goodbye everybody, and remember the terrible lesson you learned tonight. That grinning, glowing, globular invader of your living room is an inhabitant of the pumpkin patch, and if your doorbell rings and nobody’s there, that was no Martian …it’s Halloween!"

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

This Makes Absolutely No Sense

I mean, how does one go about smoking underwater, anyway?

Source: Neatorama

Daily links 10-30-13

In today's roundup of links: an interview with Tim Challies, some cool aerial photographs, the most unusual dress you're likely to see, and more in today's links.


Joe Carter has an interview with Tim Challies is well worth reading. They are two of the most influential Christian bloggers in the blogosphere today. Before I started the blog I was reading Joe Carter's Evangelical Outpost on a daily basis. His writing had (and still has) a big influence on me. I read Tim Challies' blog often.That should be evident by the number of posts I link to that come from Tim's site. In addition, I typically won't read a book without consulting his site. Tim is one of the most prolific and thoughtful book reviewers I know.


A fascinating article on the psychology of language.


A wonderful slideshow of aerial photos of baseball parks.

Above: Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs, September 1932


According to a new study, homeschooled children are leaner than children who attend public school.


A British designer made a dress entirely out of chocolate. It's not how it looks. The important question is how does it taste? (Hat tip: Wardrobe Door)


17 year-old Karrie Brown wanted to be a model. She also has Down Syndrome. Wet Seal made her dream come true. Read her amazing story. (Hat tip: Life News)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Daily Links 10-29-13

Links of interest rounded up daily. In today's edition, the nanny state strikes again, advice from a father to son, twenty years of leadership, and more.


Dr. Albert Mohler reflects on twenty years as president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. It hasn't always been an easy road. (Hat tip: Challies)


Advice from a father to son:

I encourage you, my son, to be a conservative but not in the narrowly political sense. Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats embody the fullness of true conservatism, and I have no desire here to give you partisan advice. I want to draw you to something deeper, a way of life that is grounded in essential truths about God, man, and society.

The true conservatism I would steer you toward begins with a foundational truth that is revealed to us in the Bible but which has always struck me as the height of common sense: namely, that we were made in God’s image but are now fallen. The first part is the ground of all human dignity and intrinsic worth. Apart from it, we are nothing more than great apes with no ultimate claim to specialness. The second part is the reality check, the reason why we need laws and limits, checks and balances. 


Reason #4,378 to homeschool: A school district tells a mother she has to provide a doctor's note in order to pack her child's lunch. No kidding. (Hat tip from my lovely wife, via Free Republic)


Who was the first African-American major league baseball player? If you answered Jackie Robinson, you would be wrong.


Neil Gaiman on getting children to read:

The simplest way to make sure that we raise literate children is to teach them to read, and to show them that reading is a pleasurable activity. And that means, at its simplest, finding books that they enjoy, giving them access to those books, and letting them read them. 
I don't think there is such a thing as a bad book for children. Every now and again it becomes fashionable among some adults to point at a subset of children's books, a genre, perhaps, or an author, and to declare them bad books, books that children should be stopped from reading. I've seen it happen over and over; Enid Blyton was declared a bad author, so was RL Stine, so were dozens of others. Comics have been decried as fostering illiteracy.
It's tosh. It's snobbery and it's foolishness. There are no bad authors for children, that children like and want to read and seek out, because every child is different. They can find the stories they need to, and they bring themselves to stories. A hackneyed, worn-out idea isn't hackneyed and worn out to them. This is the first time the child has encountered it. Do not discourage children from reading because you feel they are reading the wrong thing. Fiction you do not like is a route to other books you may prefer. And not everyone has the same taste as you.
Well-meaning adults can easily destroy a child's love of reading: stop them reading what they enjoy, or give them worthy-but-dull books that you like, the 21st-century equivalents of Victorian "improving" literature. You'll wind up with a generation convinced that reading is uncool and worse, unpleasant. We need our children to get onto the reading ladder: anything that they enjoy reading will move them up, rung by rung, into literacy. (Also, do not do what this author did when his 11-year-old daughter was into RL Stine, which is to go and get a copy of Stephen King's Carrie, saying if you liked those you'll love this! Holly read nothing but safe stories of settlers on prairies for the rest of her teenage years, and still glares at me when Stephen King's name is mentioned.).

Read the whole thing.

Hat tip: Book Riot

Monday, October 28, 2013

Please Stand Clear of the Doors

This is a really cool t-shirt. If you've been to Disney World, you'll understand.

You can buy the shirt here.

Daily Links 10-28-13

An always entertaining assortment of links served fresh daily. In today's post, the most famous book set in each state, giving up the news, busyness is the enemy of good, and more.


Here's a roundup of the most famous book set in each state in the United States. What do you think of the selection from your home state? I'm not sure that I agree with the selection for Virginia. (Hat tip: Susan Wise Bauer)


Long before we gave up cable (a story for another day) I had pretty much stopped watching the news. Part of the reason is much of the primetime programming isn't really news at all. Mostly my decision to stop watching the news came from this song by Chris Rice:

Busyness is the enemy:

Charles Spurgeon wisely said, “Learn to say no. It will be of more use to you than to be able to read Latin.” And I not so wisely have turned myself into a pretzel trying to learn Latin. Not actually read Latin, of course, just do the mental equivalent of it. It takes its toll on my energy, my spiritual growth, my relationships, and my ability to do anything well.

I don’t see life slowing down anytime in the next weeks or months. In fact, I know I’m on the threshold of what could be one of the busiest or deepest growth seasons of my life. I want to be faithful with the time, to redeem it, to rest in it, to rely on the Father through it. But this is my confession—busy is the other four-letter word for me. I hate busy. It is just as much a thief of my soul as being “fine.”

Hat tip: Blogging Theologically


A roundup of the ten best songs about baseball players.


A neat collection of family tradition ideas.


Aaron Earls asks some tough and necessary questions about teenagers and social media:

A 12-year-old girl in Florida committed suicide after she was repeatedly and relentlessly bullied online by classmates. Unfortunately, these types of stories are becoming more and more frequent with too many parents being caught unaware of what their child was enduring.

As a parent of three, one of which just started middle school this year, these stories make me want to lock him in a room until he's no longer a threat to himself or others. Or even more to the point, I want to perfectly shield him from other students who seemingly fail to recognize as human those different from them. 
But I know that's not possible. Being hurt is part of living and growing. Love, on some level, requires at least the possibility of pain. Love takes risks. That goes for him as he is growing and it goes for me as a parent. Loving him means I allow him to grow and I risk letting him be hurt. 
Having said that, loving him also means I do not remain blind to avoidable dangers that lurk in front of him. He may not see them, but it's my job to spot them and protect him as needed. One of the dangers that parents seem to continually be naive to is social media, until it is too late as was the case in Florida.
So I'm going to ask parents two questions about social media. Hopefully, this steps on toes and anger some people because something needs to change or we will continue to see deadly consequences of cyber bullying.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Weekend Playlist - I'm Gonna Sit Right Down (And Right Myself A Letter)

There's no question that Nat King Cole died far too young at age 45. Though his career was all too brief he was one of the premier vocalists of his day. He had an extensive discography and amassed an incredible number of credits in a short period of time. When trying to pick out a song to highlight it's difficult to pick out just one. But this track is one of my personal favorites. It was originally written in 1935 and has been recorded many times. It's even been included in the show Ain't Misbehavin'. Enjoy this classic song.

Daily Links 10-25-13

In today's roundup of links: origins of Star Trek, pitfalls of our celebrity culture, why restarting your computer is the easiest way to fix problems, and more.


Willie Nelson once sang "Mama, don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys." Now it might be more appropriate to say, "Don't let your babies grow up to be celebrities."


Star Trek only ran for three years on television but became an instant legend. The irony is that it wouldn't have made it on air at all if it hadn't been for a rather unlikely producer: Lucille Ball.


Most people know that performing a complete restart on your computer or other electronic device is often the easiest way to fix a problem. Why is that?


Why we overestimate the power of technology and underestimate the power of words:

Many experts assume that Amazon’s social recommender system is its killer feature. But what exactly about this feature makes it a killer? 
What — in fact — is the magic sauce of Amazon? 
Sure, there is some predictive value in keeping track of many different variables. There always is. It’s probably Amazon’s best kept secret. But I am guessing it’s not only a secret for people outside of Amazon.
If you would ask me what the most persuasive ingredient is of the sauce, I would say it’s copy.
The smartest algorithms make sure you get to see products that you love (to buy). A recommendation engine knows what you really want, what you really really want. Computing thousands of variables is the key to predicting consumer behavior. Right? 
Nah, I don’t buy it. The black box probably does have an impact, but I know for sure that the copy does.


Play with your food! Some amazing food art:
More here.


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Daily Links 10-24-13

Duck Dynasty is a biblical sex-saturated reality show, why you should keep a journal, finding libraries in unusual places, and more in today's roundup of links.


Duck Dynasty is one of the most popular reality shows on television. Part of its appeal is the fact that it shows the Robertson clan as the real down home folks that they are. It's a show that is steeped in family values. It also is a biblically sex-saturated show. That's a good thing.


Seven reasons for keeping a journal. (Hat tip: Challies)


Finding libraries in unusual places (even on the back of a donkey!)


Stories like this one make me feel old: 10 things that are disappearing from elementary schools.


I definitely need this: how to quit wasting time on the internet.


I don't need encouragement to read more books but this doesn't hurt either: 7 unconventional reasons you should read more books. (Hat tip: Trevin Wax)


One father shares about removing his children from the internet. (Hat tip: Challies)


It's time to emphasize winning with our kids and sports:

My son will play in soccer tournaments today. And I want him to win
I feel like I’m going against the tidal wave of parental niceness to even say such a thing, but it’s true. During this game, I don’t want him to just have fun or play safely. I want his team to win.
And I hope every dad cheering from the sidelines for the other team feels the same way.
I believe we should resist the fashionable tendency to take competition out of sports. 
That’s why, at the beginning of the soccer season, I asked my son: ”What’s more important? Having fun or winning?" He answered: “Having fun?”   
No,” I replied. “Winning. Because if you’re not winning, you’re not having fun.”
What do they teach children in school these days?

Calling all writers: 41 redundancies you should ditch.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Advice for Parents

Daily Links 10-23-13

In today's roundup of interesting things from the internet: an abandoned library, strengthening your writing, a how-to of the day, and more.


Has texting destroyed proper spelling? I hope not.

I never took the home study course, but the texts and tweets and emails I send today are full of plz and thx and u and w and &, and that's true as well for most of the messages I get. I write coupla and wanna and lmk. i'm also -- the horror -- a lower case kind of guy. Many people rail against this as a degradation of language and a vandalizing of culture. I'm not one of them. I think it's efficient, occasionally ingenious, unpretentious and fun.

But I have my limits. Articles, resumes, professional work -- standard English only, please. In domains like that, I'm a hawk on spelling, grammar and punctuation. If you don't know the difference between your and you'reits and it'saffect and effect, I'm rigidly intolerant. I let myself get away with murdering the English language in an email, but for a job applicant I treat it like a capital crime.

The prescriptive case for standard English has always made sense to me. Good grammar, proper punctuation and correct spelling improve communication. Not only do they clarify the sending and receiving of messages, they clarify the thinking that goes into those messages. Plus there's a cultural argument: Language is constitutive of identity, and if the rules of language erode, the identity erodes.


This is just......sad.(Hat tip: Book Riot)


Settling the debate on who designed the famous shower scene from Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. Well, sort of.


10 words you should cut from your writing.  This list probably could be longer but it's a good start.


How-to of the day: a primer on darts. While this is only a guide to playing one particular variation of darts it's still a handy guide.


Having a messy desk isn't such a bad thing after all. Makes me feel better about the condition of my own desk. (Hat tip: Blogging Theologically)


The (flawed) logic of the second glance. And it's not just a guy thing.


The power of the word no:

Learning how to say no is one of the most useful skills you can develop I found, especially when it comes to living a more productive and healthy life.

Saying no to unnecessary commitments can give you the time you need to recover and rejuvenate. Saying no to daily distractions can give you the space you need to focus on what is important to you. And saying no to temptation can help you stay on track and achieve your health goals. In fact not being able to say no, is one of the most biggest downfalls that successful entrepreneurs claim as their own key mistakes.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Daily Links 10-22-13

Churches are too busy, churches aren't preaching the Bible, C. S. Lewis' marriage, and more in today's roundup of links.


Last week's Strange Fire conference caused quite the stir if my Twitter feed is any indication. People on both sides of the spiritual gifts issue were weighing in on the conference. Since I haven't studied the issue thoroughly I haven't taken a position. In fact, I spent the last several days wondering why this was being made an issue at this particular time and whether John MacArthur had committed a serious error in hosting this conference. Tim Challies offers his observations from the conference and I have to say that while it has not really helped me settle on a position on the issue of spiritual gifts it does at least shed some light on why this conference was so important and so timely.


Most churches are too busy, according to Dr. Thom Rainer:

Most churches—more than eight out of ten—are busy. Too busy. These churches need to slim down their plethora of programs, activities, and ministries. They need to go on a busyness diet.

Dr. Rainer goes on to outline seven reasons churches need to reduce their busyness. If you are a church leader you would be well served to read the entire article and consider how your church can reduce its level of activities.


Dr. Albert Mohler wrestles with the question of why so many churches hear so little of the Bible:

“It is well and good for the preacher to base his sermon on the Bible, but he better get to something relevant pretty quickly, or we start mentally to check out.” That stunningly clear sentence reflects one of the most amazing, tragic, and lamentable characteristics of contemporary Christianity: an impatience with the Word of God.

The sentence above comes from Mark Galli, senior managing editor of Christianity Today in an essay entitled, “Yawning at the Word.” In just a few hundred words, he captures the tragedy of a church increasingly impatient with and resistant to the reading and preaching of the Bible. We may wince when we read him relate his recent experiences, but we also recognize the ring of truth.

Galli was told to cut down on the biblical references in his sermon. “You’ll lose people,” the staff member warned. In a Bible study session on creation, the teacher was requested to come back the next Sunday prepared to take questions at the expense of reading the relevant scriptural texts on the doctrine. Cutting down on the number of Bible verses “would save time and, it was strongly implied, would better hold people’s interest.”

As Galli reflected, “Anyone who’s been in the preaching and teaching business knows these are not isolated examples but represent the larger reality.”


Politically charged social media interactions can hurt your witness for Christ:

You can't blurt at a people and reach a people at the same time. This is true no matter how satisfying it feels to add your voice to the political rants on social media.

In the current political climate in our nation, with shutdowns and blame, I have watched the volume grow and the civility shrink.

I believe in the importance of civility for civility's sake. Yet, I think it goes even further than that if you are a Christian who wants to reach those disconnected from the church. In other words, I believe the way we handle political issues has a missional implication. So a few days ago, I posted this thought to Facebook (and a shorter version on Twitter):
"Statistically, the unchurched lean heavily Democrat. So—and I know it's just me talking crazy now—if you want to reach the unchurched, maybe constant Facebook/Twitter posts about how stupid Democrats are might be a bad idea."
The post was shared hundreds of times on both social media outlets and appeared to draw a largely positive response, so I thought it may be appropriate to elaborate a bit on this idea and why it's so important.


A new biography of C. S. Lewis paints an inaccurate picture of his marriage to Joy Davidman according to this article. 


Monday, October 21, 2013

Daily Links 10-21-13

Is Paleo just a fad diet, the downfalls of teenagers on social media, the differences between buzzwords and leadership, and more in today's roundup of links.


Is Paleo just another fad diet or is there something more to it? Speaking from personal experience, Paleo has been a life-changing decision for me. About a year ago I was getting sick all the time. I couldn't figure out what was wrong. My doctor was stumped. Then I finally stumbled across Breaking the Vicious Cycle and started following the guidelines closely. My health changed dramatically and started to lose weight. Paleo is closely related to the Specific Carbohydrate Diet and the approaches are similar. Eating Paleo has made a big difference in my life. If you're dealing with digestive issues it's worth a try to see if it will make a difference.


This week marks the return of Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot to the small screen. Of course, Britain gets to see it first. American viewers will have to wait until next year thanks to PBS. To whet your appetite, ITV has posted a trailer on their website. These will be the last four movies in the entire canon.


Habits of successful people: They start before they feel ready. This is a fascinating article.


Have you ever looked closely at company logos? They may be trying to tell you something.


This is a frightening list: seven everyday foods that could kill you. (Hat tip: Food Riot)


The downside of teenagers being constantly connected to their electronic devices. For what its worth, this is an area where we have treaded carefully with our own daughters.


10 differences between buzzwords and leadership:

On several occasions when teaching, I’ve noted the difference between buzzwords and leadership. In fact, I think that a key facet of leadership is knowing the difference between a strategy and a collection of buzzwords. In the corporate world, there are a multitude of buzzwords (and phrases) that need to fall out of existence. And, yes, I’m an offending party on several of these.

Hat tip: Justin Taylor


I find to-do lists are really helpful in managing my day to day tasks. Here's a fascinating history of the to-do list and how to make them work better for you.


This is fun: A list of 25 movies that you might not know were based on books.(Hat tip: Book Riot)

Friday, October 18, 2013

Weekend Playlist - Ain't That A Kick In the Head

Ocean's Eleven (the original 1960 version, for those keeping score at home) is not known as a great film. Good, but not great. But one of the highlights is that it featured a new song performed by one of the film's stars, Dean Martin. The video below is a clip from the movie where Martin performs the song at a nightclub. It's a fun song. Enjoy!

Daily Links 10-18-13

Introverts, tinkering, stay-at-home moms, traits of wildly successful people,


This is hilarious (and true)::

Hat tip: Stephen Mansfield


When you don't know where to start, just tinker.

[A] funny thing often happens when you “just” start setting up and tinkering: you forget about the big, intimidating picture, and start taking small actions that will actually more the project forward. You begin by tweaking and tinkering, and before long, your imagination sparks into life and you’re happily absorbed in the work. You’ve started in earnest without even noticing it.


It's time to stop denigrating mothers who stay at home to raise their children:

The people who completely immerse themselves in the tiring, thankless, profoundly important job of raising children ought to be put on a pedestal. We ought to revere them and admire them like we admire rocket scientists and war heroes. These women are doing something beautiful and complicated and challenging and terrifying and painful and joyous and essential. Whatever they are doing, they ARE doing something, and our civilization DEPENDS on them doing it well. Who else can say such a thing? What other job carries with it such consequences?

It’s true — being a mom isn’t a “job.” A job is something you do for part of the day and then stop doing. You get a paycheck. You have unions and benefits and break rooms. I’ve had many jobs; it’s nothing spectacular or mystical. I don’t quite understand why we’ve elevated “the workforce” to this hallowed status. Where do we get our idea of it? The Communist Manifesto? Having a job is necessary for some — it is for me — but it isn’t liberating or empowering. Whatever your job is — you are expendable. You are a number. You are a calculation. You are a servant. You can be replaced, and you will be replaced eventually. Am I being harsh? No, I’m being someone who has a job. I’m being real.

If your mother quit her role as mother, entire lives would be turned upside down; society would suffer greatly. The ripples of that tragedy would be felt for generations. If she quit her job as a computer analyst, she’d be replaced in four days and nobody would care. Same goes for you and me. We have freedom and power in the home, not the office. But we are zombies, so we can not see that.


Five traits of wildly successful people:

I have a crazy idea: success isn’t just about hard work. We hear about hard work all the time—it’s what Olympic champions talk about when they get to the top of the podium and it’s what the media credits as the sole force behind entrepreneurs. But there has to be something else in the equation of obtaining unimaginable success. What other traits tipped the odds in favor of the world’s most successful people?

The actual traits will surprise you.


25 reasons regular church attendance is important.


Mike Rowe has been preaching the value of hard work. Now he's funding a new scholarship program to help students develop skills for jobs currently available in the United States:

Mike Rowe, formerly of Dirty Jobs, appeared on TheBlaze TV’s “Wilkow!” Thursday night to discuss his exciting new scholarship program, the mikeroweWORKS Scholarship Fund. The goal is to get high school seniors ready to enter the workforce with the skills they need to land the jobs that are available in the U.S. — the key word being available.

“The jobs right now that we have available, people don’t seem to want — and it makes no sense because we’re lending money we don’t have to kids who can’t pay it back to train them for jobs that no longer exist,” Rowe told TheBlaze TV’s Andrew Wilkow.

Each mikeroweWORKS scholarship is worth $15,000 on average — a nice chunk of change. However, any high school senior interested in the program must first take the “S.W.E.A.T. Pledge” (Skills and Work Ethic Aren’t Taboo) and make a case as to why they are deserving of the scholarship in the form of a video.
“If your not willing to sign it, this particular pile of free money is probably not for you,” Rowe said.

A fun list of 11 book sequels you probably didn't even know existed.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A Beautiful Picture of a Lifelong Marriage

This is the most unlikely internet sensation you're likely to hear about. A 96 year-old man responded to a songwriting contest by penning a tribute to his late wife. It didn't win the contest but the production company went ahead and recorded the song anyway and it became a hit. The whole story (including the song) is in the video below. Be sure to have some Kleenex handy while watching it.

Daily Links 10-17-13

Living digitally is the theme of today's link roundup. Something tells me our digital lives aren't all they are cracked up to be.


This is interesting: 18 obstacles to personal daily devotions in the digital age. Sadly, I can relate to a lot of these. When you're done with that you can click over to this handy list of 20 tips for personal devotions.
(Hat tip: Challies)


I'll admit it. I was surprised by this statistic:

E-Reader and Tablet Owners Read Over 60% More Books Than Those Without Digital Devices

USA TODAY and Bookish (, a website designed to help readers discover and buy books, conducted a joint national poll of adults that finds how e-readers and tablets are shaping the culture and attitudes toward reading. More than a third (35%) of readers report they are reading more books thanks to their e-readers and tablets. Adults with reading devices say they read an average of 18 books a year, while those without devices say they average 11 books.

Other findings include:
• Doubling the numbers from less than two years ago, 40% of adults — including 46% of those between 18 and 39 – currently own an e-reader or a tablet.
• 60% of college graduates have an e-reader.
• 27% of readers say they have used Facebook, Twitter or book websites to comment on a book, and that number rises almost two-fold (50%) among those under 40 who own a reading device.


How bad is multitasking for the brain?

When we multitask all day, those scattered habits literally change the pathways in our brains. The consequence, according to Nass's research, is that sustaining your attention becomes impossible.

"If we [multitask] all the time--brains are remarkably plastic, remarkably adaptable," he says, referencing neuroplasticity, the way the structures of your brain literally re-form to the patterns of your thought. "We train our brains to a new way of thinking. And then when we try to revert our brains back, our brains are plastic but they're not elastic. They don't just snap back into shape."


There are advantages and disadvantages to being hyperconnected. Here are a few physical problems that you probably hadn't thought about. I think the stats about how often folks check their smartphones might be a little inflated. I check my phone often but 110 times per day seems excessive.


According to a new study, age and narcissism drive whether you choose to use Facebook or Twitter.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

If You See Me Running.....

Daily Links 10-16-13

Defending amateur book reviews, obstacles to daily devotions, a collection of cool bookshelves, and more in today's roundup of links.


Some authors have an issue with amateur book reviews on sites such as Amazon and Goodreads. But there is a case to be made for amateur reviews. As one who has done a few reviews I'm glad to see someone appreciates what those of us who take the time to carefully review a book and comment on it have to say.


A website devoted to showing off great bookshelves? Yes, please!

Hat tip: Huckberry


Where passion and creativity come from.


The importance of establishing family traditions.


The virtues of writing by hand:

Writing manuscripts by hand has several practical advantages — no need to carry a laptop around, no risk of batteries going dead — but the one I’m most fond of is this: writing by hand forces a built-in revision stage, since I never manage to type up my pages without improving and tightening the prose. While I have no plans to ditch my computer, I find myself resorting to longhand more and more during early drafts. I have always taken notes by hand (the tech-assisted alternatives still seem too clunky to me) but I haven’t written out drafts like this in years.

Hat tip: Blogging Theologically


Five questions to ask your wife each week:

I have not been married very long, but something I have picked up is just how huge communication is. It’s a big deal. Regardless of however long you’ve been married, you can probably agree with me on this. In our culture where everything is going on at a million miles per second (and that is not even including having a family), Joelle and I have to be incredibly intentional for communication to take place within our marriage, otherwise it just won’t happen.

That being said, we decided to make a commitment to meet each week and discuss these 5 questions. It felt a little strange at first, but over time it became part of our regular rhythm and it has paid off in huge ways for us personally. I would suggest these questions to anyone who is married to improve communication and the quality of your relationship with each other. 

Hat tip: Thom Rainer

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

25 Years Ago Today,,,,,The Impossible Happened

It was 25 years ago today that Kirk Gibson hit what is arguably one of the most famous home runs in baseball history. It didn't hurt that his home run was almost identical to the home run Robert Redford's character hit in The Natural.

ESPN has a terrific feature involving interviews with many of the participants in that game. From the article, here's Vin Scully's recollection ogf the moment Gibson hit the home run:

When he hit the home run, naturally, I let the crowd go bananas. I didn't say anything for over a minute, and then I said, 'In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened.' I don't know where it came from. Sometimes I often think the inspiration comes from above. It was the most theatrical home run I had ever seen. You looked on stage and he wasn't there, and suddenly he appears on stage and the crowd erupts. He's limping, and then suddenly he hits the home run. The whole thing was theater. It was perfect theater.

Appropriately, Major League Baseball has the entire game in their classics on You Tube. You can watch it below.

Daily Links 10-15-13

The sound of Hitchcock, the effect of pornography on the brain, dealing with critics, how to make your own candy corn and more in today's roundup of links.


When most people think of Alfred Hitchcock's films, they think about his visual style. But he also thought a lot about how a picture should sound in order to build suspense and drama in his films.


New research shows the effect that pornography has on the brain:

As William M. Struthers of Wheaton College explains, “Men seem to be wired in such a way that pornography hijacks the proper functioning of their brains and has a long-lasting effect on their thoughts and lives.”

Struthers is a psychologist with a background in neuroscience and a teaching concentration in the biological bases of human behavior. In Wired for Intimacy: How Pornography Hijacks the Male Brain, Struthers presents key insights from neuroscience that go a long way toward explaining why pornography is such a temptation for the male mind.

“The simplest explanation for why men view pornography (or solicit prostitutes) is that they are driven to seek out sexual intimacy,” he explains. The urge for sexual intimacy is God-given and essential to the male, he acknowledges, but it is easily misdirected. Men are tempted to seek “a shortcut to sexual pleasure via pornography,” and now find this shortcut easily accessed.

In a fallen world, pornography becomes more than a distraction and a distortion of God’s intention for human sexuality. It comes as an addictive poison.


Thanks to Alton Brown you can make your own candy corn.


A handy guide for home maintenance. There are a lot of great tips in this list and several things I had never even considered that I needed to do.


Dealing with critics is always difficult. Here are some helpful tips on how to do it.


25 great quotes on leadership.


Some recommended books for would-be writers.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Daily Links 10-14-13

Grab a bite to eat and get free books, are Navy SEALs quieter than ninjas, what saying "I" frequently says about you, and more in today's roundup of links.


This is a neat idea. Visitors to the Traveler Restaurant in Union, CT get three free books with their meal. Road trip, anyone?

"Angelina's a human dynamo"
Universal Pictures has released the above photo of Angelina Jolie and Louis Zamperini. Jolie is directing the film adaptation of Laura Hillenbrand's bestseller Unbroken which is about World War II veteran Zamperini. According to this Daily Mail article, the two have become close friends during the production process. The book was terrific. I hope the movie does Zamperini justice.


Is a Navy SEAL quieter than a ninja? A six-year old boy, in order to settle an argument with a friend, went right to the source: he wrote to Admiral William McRaven, head of U. S. Special Operations Command.  Admiral McRaven, to his credit, wrote back. His answer?

"I think ninjas are probably quieter than SEALs, but we are better swimmers, and also better with guns and blowing things up."



Author Malcolm Gladwell reveals in an interview that he has returned to Christian faith. It's an interesting article.


Tim Challies has young children and has a burden to protect his family from pornography. He lays out the steps he's taken in this very honest post.


Saying "I" a lot says more about you than you think (and not necessarily in the way you think):

You probably don't think about how often you say the word "I."

You should. Researchers say that your usage of the pronoun says more about you than you may realize.

Surprising new research from the University of Texas suggests that people who often say "I" are less powerful and less sure of themselves than those who limit their use of the word. Frequent "I" users subconsciously believe they are subordinate to the person to whom they are talking.

Pronouns, in general, tell us a lot about what people are paying attention to, says James W. Pennebaker, chair of the psychology department at the University of Texas at Austin and an author on the study. Pronouns signal where someone's internal focus is pointing, says Dr. Pennebaker, who has pioneered this line of research. Often, people using "I" are being self-reflective. But they may also be self-conscious or insecure, in physical or emotional pain, or simply trying to please.

Hat tip: Acculturated

Friday, October 11, 2013

Weekend Playlist - I'm Confessin'

Up until a few months ago I had no idea who Connie Evingson was. I blame credit Pandora for this discovery. She's a fantastic singer. But really what caught my attention is her style of jazz. It's the kind of thing I imagine hearing in a cafe in Paris. Maybe it's the accordion and violin in this track. It could also be the total lack of any percussion that stands out. Either way this is a really good song.

Daily Links 10-11-13

Recovering the lost Doctor Who, the Civil War in color, how to accumulate frequent flyer miles without flying, how many spaces follow a period, and much more in today's links.


Over 100 previously lost episodes of Doctor Who have been discovered in Ethiopia:

A group of dedicated Doctor Who fans tracked down at least 100 long-lost episodes of the show gathering dust more than 3,000 miles away in Ethiopia.

It was feared the BBC ­programmes from the 1960s – featuring the first two doctors William Hartnell and Patrick Troughton – had vanished for all time after the Beeb flogged off a load of old footage.

But after months of ­detective work the tapes have been unearthed at the Ethiopian Radio and Television Agency.

A television insider said: “It is a triumph and fans ­everywhere will be thrilled."

“This is a really big deal for the BBC and is set to make them millions from the sale of the DVDs.”

Ya think?

Hat tip: Neatorama


Two professional colorists, a Briton and a Dane have created a remarkable collection of color civil war photographs:

General Ulysses S. Grant
General Robert E. Lee

There are many more photographs and the full story in this article. (Hat tip Power Line)


Settling the important questions: one period or two at the end of a sentence?


This is interesting: how to accumulate frequent flyer miles without boarding a plane.


Stop worshipping, it's time for "Special Music":

Special music to me is a big “everyone stop worshiping, it’s time for the special music” part of the service.  Question: Intimate worship to the creator of the universe isn’t special enough for you?  ”Ok, lame worship is over, now it’s time for the SPECIAL music!” (“special” said in a very sarcastic voice of course)

My biggest problem with special music isn’t the title though (they could call it “super happy fun exciting time” for all I care), it’s that people come to church to experience God! Or maybe they didn’t and they don’t even know that an experience with God is what they need.  Either way, people are hurt and broken and an experience with God is what they need.

We have one or two hours to present God (most likely less if your church is still doing “special music”) and give people an opportunity to experience him.  AND WE’RE WASTING IT WITH “SPECIAL MUSIC?”  People need God! They don’t need to sit and hear Jim and sister Karen perform the bluegrass song they wrote.  People can get mediocre performances anywhere in the world.  What are we as a church giving them that they can’t get in the world?


The true story of the Nobel Winners who foiled Hitler.


Manuscript pages of Great Expectations.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Daily Links 10-10-13

Build your own beverage station, whether testing measures educational accomplishment, Amazon destroying literature, and more in today's roundup of links.


This is a cool idea:

The best part? The materials all came from Target.

Hat tip: Food Riot


Is Amazon destroying serious literature? One novelist thinks so. I'm not so sure about that.


10 Old English words you should be using. Personally, I'm fond of mugwump.


What if Disney characters had Instagram accounts?

One common critique I hear of education reform is its heavy reliance on standardized tests to measure outcomes. But does testing really accomplish anything? I don't think so.


Making the case for engaging the culture:

We, you and me and everyone else alive, do theological thinking every day. It’s just that some people do it more consciously than others. That doesn’t mean they do it better, but they are at least more intentional and aware of it.

We’re also all affected by culture, and unless you’re Amish and therefore I’m not entirely sure how or why you’re reading this right now, you interact with pop culture every single day of your life. Thus, it makes great sense for us to take these two everyday realties and acknowledge their deep and important connection. Notice I didn’t say bring them together. That’s important here. These are not two realities that need to be brought together. They already are overlapping, interacting, and informing each other all the time. Theology, spirituality, culture….they mingle as one. 


An interesting list of 10 things you should know about goals.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Joe Girardi Made A Tough Call the Right Way

I'll admit I'm a little disappointed that Joe Girardi decided to re-sign with the Yankees. As a Cubs fan, I had high hopes that he might go to Chicago. I even wrote a post last week outlining, in a baseball-only sense, the reasons that he should consider leaving. Whether he made the right call will only become evident over time. But as his press conference showed, he went about making this decision the right way. From ESPN:

"After talking with my family, we decided that this was where we wanted to come back," Girardi said on a conference call with reporters Wednesday afternoon. "It's a special place to manage because of the opportunity that you have every year and the tools that they give you. The history of this organization is unbelievable. There are special things that happen here every year."

But in the end, it came down to the values Girardi said he has always held most dear: His family, and his love of competition.

"We talked [about] the possibility about a lot of things basically that I could possibly do if I decided not to manage," Girardi said. "We brought up everything, and we did it as a group. My kids love coming to the ballpark. Sometimes you feel like you're missing things that they're doing, but they love the tradeoff, and that allows me to do what I love to do, and that's to manage."

The fact that he discussed the decision with his family first says a lot about where his priorities lie. Many men would consider a job change without even considering the effect that such a decision will have on his family.

It's hard to predict how the next few years will go for Girardi and the Yankees. But this much is certain: Girardi has his priorities in order. That means considering what's best for this family even if that mean giving up a better job opportunity.

What a Woman Wants in a Husband

Daily Links 10-9-13

Why men should read more fiction, some amazing historical photos, advice to young boys, it's not enough to love your job, and more in today's roundup of links.


This is an interesting article that makes the case that men should spend more time reading fiction.


The real Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh in 1927
More really interesting historical photos here.


Some sage advice to young men....from 1933!


Loving your job is not enough:

Loving what you do is not enough. The love we talk about when it comes to our work is fleeting. You can fall out of love through boredom or distraction, but pride runs much deeper. Pride doesn’t come and go with how fun things are. Pride is what gets you through the tough times when you just want to quit. Pride is the understanding that what you do and how you do it is a reflection of your character.


Stuff you may not know you can still buy.


15 really cool kitchen hacks for store-bought foods (Hat tip Food Riot)

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Daily Links 10-8-13

What happens to retired school buses, secret passageway bookshelves, Walt Disney, Winston Churchill, and more in today's roundup of links.


Ever wonder what happens to school buses when they are retired? Well, wonder no more.


A collection of 10 really cool secret passageway bookshelves.


Arguments continue over baseball's current one-and-done wild card game. Peter Gammons is the latest to weigh in and he's arguing that the system worked the way that it was supposed to. I am inclined to agree. (Hat tip: Right Field)


Why Walt Disney chose to build a theme park on swampland.


One of my all-time favorite Winston Churchill quotes:

More here and here.


Mark Twain's advice to young girls of 1865.


Free audio versions of the Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis.


Could it be that we're spending too much time with earphones in our ears?

I had an earphone wake-up call the other day when I was being one such bad mom. I vaguely noticed the traffic policeman talking to himself and smiling and thought, “Yikes they let crazy people direct traffic?” About two blocks later it hit me: He was talking to me. Whoops.

I felt like a total jerk. I also realized that I am probably missing a lot of spontaneous verbal interactions with the other human beings that populate this earth, and that while perhaps my iPhone makes my dull afternoon walk feel a little more gangster or a little more like I’m in some cool movie, I’m missing a whole dimension of life.
We don’t need a poll or statistic to tell us that people are spending an enormous amount of time with their headphones on. We see it everywhere. The family out touring while the sullen teenager slumps along, hand in pocket, smooth, white nuggets blocking out the world. The eerie silence on the subway as everyone stares blankly ahead, iPhones cradled in their palms, the awkward elevator moment where you say “Hello!” only to realize your fellow passenger didn’t hear it, the muffled screechy wails of music interspersed with breathing on busses.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Daily Links 10-7-13

Learn less and work more, the importance of sound theology, value of the mundane, reflecting on the career of Mariano Rivera, and more in today's roundup of links. 


An Australian tycoon has some simple advice: learn less and work more. (Hat tip Mike Rowe)


What we believe matters:

Ideas are powerful, something we tend to forget in this postmodern age. They can be the fertile seedbed for love and relationship, or they can be a toxic, suffocating brew. For instance, if you believe that a friendly overture is a ploy to use you sexually or financially, this relationship will not bloom. Instead, if you believe that this overture is sincere and caring, there is a much better chance that something will blossom out of it.
The same is true regarding our beliefs about God. Mega-church pastor, Carlton Pierson, had believed that God was eager to throw people into hell, and the best protection against this was going to church. Pierson had placed his faith in an unbiblical, unloving god. Consequently, he rejected this unappealing god in favor of the other extreme – an utterly non-just god who will bring everyone to heaven, without any consideration of their lifestyle.
What we believe about God determines our relationship with Him. There are certain beliefs that undermine this relationship. Paul mentioned one of them – self trust:
·        Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision [to become a Jew and to keep the law, partially trusting in your good deeds to get you into heaven], Christ will be of no benefit to you. And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. (Galatians 5:2-4)
Paul warned that if Christ is just one of several objects of our trust, we are not trusting in Him at all! Why such harsh words? Why is it so wrong for the one who trusts in Christ to also trust that his good deeds have secured him a place in heaven? Isn’t God overly picky and demanding?
If relationship and love depend upon right ideas/beliefs, then our Lord has every reason in the world to insist that we understand certain realities.

Romans 8:38 means everything works together for good. Even the mundane.


10 really cool Etsy stores for book lovers.


This baseball season marked the end of the storied career of Mariano Rivera. Here are some reflections from one fan about what he meant to them. (Hat tip: Challies)


Three questions to wrestle with while choosing worship songs.


There's now scientific evidence of the effects of addiction to pornography:

Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart once famously wrote that while “hard-core pornography” is hard to define, “I know it when I see it.” Most of us would agree.
But what about addiction to pornography? Can we know this when we see it? For years people have debated whether we can actually become addicted to pornography. Yet the effects of sexual addiction—defined as “obsessive sexual behavior regardless of the growing negative consequences for the person or their relationships”— are hard to miss.
According to Patrick Carnes of the Gratitude Program at Pine Grove Behavioral Health and Addiction Services in Mississippi, perhaps eight percent of adult men and three percent of adult women become sexually addicted at some point in their lives, and many of them become addicted through pornography.
For those who demand detailed, scientific evidence of a malady we see every day, well, now we have it. Cambridge University scientists say that compulsive porn users show the same kind of changes to the structure of their brains as those addicted to alcohol or drugs.


Here's a recipe for book envy: Libraries of the rich and famous. What's striking to me is the wealth of books that these folks own. Also the libraries are just plain cool.


Recently, three blind swimmers accomplished an unusual feat: they escaped from Alcatraz.

A trio of visually impaired swimmers from Phoenix, Ariz., made history this morning when they dove into the chilly San Francisco Bay and braved the waters to successfully escape Alcatraz.

Nineteen-year-old Katie Cuppy, 17-year-old Max Ashton and 25-year-old Tanner Robinson finished the 1.5-mile open-water swim from Alcatraz Island to the foot of the Hyde Street Pier in San Francisco today, according to the Foundation for Blind Children’s Twitter account.

This was the first time blind and visually impaired teammates competed in the 2013 Alcatraz Invitational Swim, a Foundation for Blind Children news release said.

The swimmers have been outspoken that their decision to swim at the 18th Annual Alcatraz Invitational was to tackle the idea that vision loss is just a diagnosis, not a disability.

“I kind of want to prove that blindness isn’t a barrier,” Cuppy told the Arizona Daily Sun. “Blindness isn’t the end of the world.”

Hat tip: Right Field

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Daily Links 10-5-13

Why C. S. Lewis didn't use a typewriter, George Washington's library, the value of writing letters, and more in today's roundup of links.


C. S. Lewis did not use a typewriter when he wrote. But the reason why is probably not the reason you think. (Hat tip: John Piper)


One of the best presidential homes has received a fairly substantial upgrade: George Washington now has his own presidential library at Mount Vernon. Here are some fun facts about the new library.


Matt Lewis poses an interesting question:

Anyone who has seen the trailer for the new movie Don Jon knows that Jon (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), really cares about his porn. Fewer know that his love interest, Barbara (Scarlett Johansson), is likewise addicted to the sappy fairy tales we call romantic comedies.

I like the juxtaposition. Both things can be destructive. But while porn has a bad reputation, those who peddle unrealistic notions about love and marriage and relationships get a pass.

One wonders which of these fantasies have done the most damage to families.

Hat tip: Instapundit


Meanwhile, a billboard in Nashville is spurring on conversations about pornography:

A billboard in downtown Nashville has many people talking. It's only three words, but the message aims to make a strong point meant to cut down on pornography and sex trafficking.
The sign, which reads 'She's somebody's daughter,' stands above the Hustler store on Church Street.
Nashville songwriter Steve Siler came up with the campaign after he realized several of his friends were addicted to Internet porn and thought it was time for a conversation on the values of our community.

"'Somebody's daughter' is basically our way of asking if pornography would be OK if it were your wife or your sister or your daughter," Siler said. "I think it will make them question and then ask, and sometimes information goes a long way."

Hat tip: Facts and Trends


A case for reviving the long lost art of writing letters.


He's 85 and a broadcasting legend yet he works as hard as ever:

Of all the stadiums in all the towns and all the states on the rich final weekend of September in America, please do bring me to a humble dining room without even a view of the field. Bring me to the fifth level of Dodger Stadium, behind the press box, behind the main media dining area, to a room with four little tables done up in blue-and-white, all unoccupied in mid-afternoon save for the one in the back corner.
There, you do find a sight.
There you do find a certain Vincent Scully, seated behind a small swarm of papers and a binder and a highlighter. There you find the reminder, always useful, that even the phenomenally beloved must study. Even a man whose voice can make your ear smile and your day improve must swim amid the nuts and bolts.
He will turn 86 in November. He will start his 65th season as the voice of the Dodgers next April. He lives with the abiding love of a sprawling metropolis. He has gone from Gil Hodges and Duke Snider and Roy Campanella all the way to Yasiel Puig, whom he can cite as "a study all by himself," comparable to none, with "his unbridled joy of playing, his enthusiasm, his recklessness." Yet as another season depletes toward Game 162 and, in this Dodger year, beyond, Vin Scully still totes around a healthy fear of unpreparedness.