1. What a horrific week for the people of Boston and West, Texas. Our prayers are with the many people who have so deeply traumatized and injured in these events. In terms of how we respond to such events in public discourse, I thought this article from Slate was especially good. Be Meaningful or Be Quiet
"... We need more restraint and less wild
guessing. Free-flowing debate in the search for meaning is a part of
these moments and a part of the human condition, but what I’m talking
about is using tragedy for evidence shopping. That people reach
immediately for their pet political theory at moments like this
highlights what's wrong with a lot of political debate. But perhaps this
moment also offers a useful sorting technique. If you can't shut up
now, when either reason, decency, or good taste requires it, you
disqualify yourself from the conversation in calmer times. ...
... Political debate about facts is fine. When the White House puts out a picture of the president in the situation room, it’s fine to point out that it’s propaganda they never put out on Benghazi. But a person who uses tragedy as new evidence in an existing political fight is probably incapable of keeping this window open. They can't pause to honor the solemnity of a moment of tragedy or wait until the facts come in, which means that the facts never really mattered much to them at all. These partisans are ever on alert to advance their relentless claim—whatever it is. Michael Moore immediately fingered Tea Party types after the bombing. In the hours after attack, when authorities questioned a man of Saudi dissent (who was later released), Rep. Steve King tied it to the comprehensive immigration reform he opposes. Nate Bell, an Arkansas state lawmaker, tweeted, “I wonder how many Boston liberals spent the night cowering in their homes wishing they had an AR-15 with a hi-capacity magazine? #2A” There was lots of this from partisans on both sides on Twitter. ..."
3. David Murrow asks Are sermons becoming obsolete?
... So, what does this mean for the church? Is the lecture style sermon going the way of the dinosaur?
Yes and no. There will always be live sermons. But will anyone be listening?
Just as universities are re-thinking the lecture, it might be time for churches to re-think the sermon. Thom and Joani Schultz polled churchgoers and found that just 12 percent could recall the topic of the last sermon they heard. Only five percent of men credited sermons as their primary source of knowledge about God.
So if sermons are becoming obsolete, what will take their place?
Discipleship. Our generation may be drowning in ideas, but we’re starving for real human contact.
The problem is, our churches are structured to deliver sermons and music. If there’s any energy left, we disciple people. ...
4. First there was this article about Self-Employment An Escape From Long-Term Joblessness For Some Older Workers. It may work for some who are out of jobs but Hiranya Fernando warns Why You Shouldn't Quit Your Day Job To Pursue Your Dream.
To be sure these are inspiring stories. They make us hope and dream. And I support anyone who is dissatisfied with desk jobs and corporate gigs and is now thinking of other options. But my advice is to take the time to understand your specific situation before you do anything purely because “it feels right” or because “it’s a childhood dream.”
And don’t do it because everyone else is. Don’t do it because the neighbor’s second cousin and Aunt Maggie’s daughter are doing it, and it sounds so easy. Even people who are relatively happy in their jobs think something is wrong with them because everywhere they go they are bombarded with “How I quit my day job and started a million-dollar leaf-raking business.”
Drezner says that there are really only two reasons why you might get a PhD. One, you’re crazy; or two, you’re crazy about the subject you will be studying. But even the latter is becoming a kind of luxury for those lucky few who can afford to spend several years on a degree without any guarantee of future employment. All others should heed Drezner’s advice before surrendering the money, years, blood, and tears it takes to earn the right to be called “Doctor.”
6. I suspect the J C Penny fiasco is going to become an important case study for business schools: Sometimes, We Want Prices to Fool Us
7. Max Baucus warns about Obamacare: Obamacare Architect Warns “Huge Train-Wreck” Ahead
8. Eric Wemple quotes Mark Lamont Hill in Gosnell case: HuffPost host says left ‘made a decision’ to not cover trial
"For what it’s worth, I do think that those of us on the left have made a decision not to cover this trial because we worry that it’ll compromise abortion rights. Whether you agree with abortion or not, I do think there’s a direct connection between the media’s failure to cover this and our own political commitments on the left. I think it’s a bad idea, I think it’s dangerous, but I think that’s the way it is.”
9. Mother Jones has a great piece on the social psychology of our political leanings: How Science Can Predict Where You Stand on Keystone XL
10. Atlantic Cities says The More Diverse a Metro Is, the More Segregated It's Likely to Be
11. Christian Science Monitor: Babies are conscious? Science confirms what moms know.
Babies are aware of what's going on, not just reflexively reacting to it, scientists concluded after a series of experiments on babies as young as 5 months.
13. The future of the car: Clean, safe and it drives itself. See the Economist video about driverless cars.
Yet many people already travel, unwittingly, on planes and trains that no longer need human drivers. As with those technologies, the shift towards driverless cars is taking place gradually. The cars’ software will learn the tricks that humans use to avoid hazards: for example, braking when a ball bounces into the road, because a child may be chasing it. Google’s self-driving cars have already clocked up over 700,000km, more than many humans ever drive; and everything they learn will become available to every other car using the software. As for the liability issue, the law should be changed to make sure that when cases arise, the courts take into account the overall safety benefits of self-driving technology.
14. University of Illinois: Small in size, big on power: New microbatteries a boost for electronics
With so much power, the batteries could enable sensors or radio signals
that broadcast 30 times farther, or devices 30 times smaller. The
batteries are rechargeable and can charge 1,000 times faster than
competing technologies – imagine juicing up a credit-card-thin phone in
less than a second. In addition to consumer electronics, medical
devices, lasers, sensors and other applications could see leaps forward
in technology with such power sources available.
“Any kind of electronic device is limited by the size of the battery – until now,” King said. “Consider personal medical devices and implants, where the battery is an enormous brick, and it’s connected to itty-bitty electronics and tiny wires. Now the battery is also tiny.”
Now, the researchers are working on integrating their batteries with other electronics components, as well as manufacturability at low cost.
15. What was old is new again: The Beat Goes On: How Vinyl Records Are Making A Comeback
“Vinyl manufacturing plants are bursting at the seams,” said Kurtz. “We took a nascent industry – vinyl – breathed life into it and now we can’t even handle the amount of business we are creating.”