Quote of the week, from John Wertheim about Wimbledon’s historic Nadal first round loss: “When the score [of Nadal's loss] was shown during Andy Murray’s simultaneous match, the Centre Court crowd gasped collectively as though someone had used the wrong fork.”
Andy Crouch, post of the week: “There is one other consistent position that Christians can hold, though we will hold it at great social cost, at least for the foreseeable future: that bodies matter. Indeed, that both male and female bodies are of ultimate value and dignity—not a small thing given the continuing denigration of women around the world. Indeed, that matter matters. For behind the dismissal of bodies is ultimately a gnostic distaste for embodiment in general. To uphold a biblical ethic on marriage is to affirm the sweeping scriptural witness—hardly a matter of a few isolated “thou shalt not” verses—that male and female together image God, that the creation of humanity as male and female is “very good,” and that “it is not good that the man should be alone” (Gen. 2:18, NRSV). Sexual differentiation (along with its crucial outcome of children, who have a biological connection to two parents but are not mirror images of either one) is not an accident of evolution or a barrier to fulfillment. It is in fact the way God is imaged, and the way fruitfulness, diversity, and abundance are sustained in the world.”
Observation of the week: 35 NFL players arrested this year. Alarming.
Scientists seeking resolution to ten mysteries.
Suzanne Moore is, sadly, right: “As the vigil continues outside the hospital, we don’t know how close to the final freedom Nelson Mandela is. But after the strange denials that this old, sick man is dying I want to talk not with pity but of his power. Before the pygmy politicians line up to pay tribute to this giant, I want to remember how he lived so much for so many. Part of my memory is that he was not a living saint to the very people whose staff will now be writing their “heartfelt” speeches. Really, I have no desire to hear them from leaders of parties who described his organisation as terrorist, who believed that sanctions were wrong, whose jolly young members wore T-shirts demanding he be strung up. Of course, not all Tories were pro-apartheid, but I can already feel the revisionism revving up. So we must recall how it really was. The struggle against apartheid was the one thing that unified the left. I came to it accidentally. Isn’t that how politicisation happens sometimes? Via extraordinary people, unlikely meetings, chance encounters?”
Are your children reading? Are you? “Today’s children are reading less than seven years ago as their time is taken up with other activities, research suggests. It is not just novels that youngsters are turning their back on – the study found that children are also less likely to read comics, magazines and websites.While many said they enjoy reading, almost a fifth said they would be embarrassed if a friend saw them with a book.”
David Swartz sums up Rich Mouw with a fitting tribute to a great man.
To quote Andre Agassi, image is (still) everything: “Now, business school researchers reportthat what you’ve always sensed is true: the workplace isn’t much more hospitable to unattractive people than high school. In a study published in the journal Human Performance, professors from Michigan State University and the University of Notre Dame found that people who are considered unattractive are more likely to be hassled or tormented by their colleagues than those peers who are considered better-looking. The study claims to be the first to link attractiveness with cruelty in the workplace.”
Read more than the introduction to this post, though it’s funny.
The Sahara and climate change. “Stefan Kröpelin is an archaeologist from Germany who wanted to find out. He and his team ventured out into the unexplored desert every year for decades, looking for clues. They tracked the locations of these cave paintings, and along the way they began to discover signs of what the Sahara had been like thousands of years ago. In massive, dry valleys they found shells and fish skeletons. They found remnants of trees and traces of pollen. They realized that what they were witnessing was a history of climate change in the region. A once-fertile land of rains and lakes had dried up into a Martian landscape in just over 10,000 years. And as the rains moved, so too did the people.”
Good interview with Dan Wallace about photographing manuscripts throughout the world.
The fight for young black men: “But first, a few words about the world Joe comes from: the world of low-income black men. Why talk about this world? After all, it’s simple enough to ignore. We can safely tuck these men away in our inner cities and allow them to interact largely among themselves. We can rush past them in front of the gas station, murmur silently when the nightly news tells us of a shooting across town, or smile when we meet a nice, inspiring man like Joe. We can keep them in these places. It’s safe and easy for us. Yet if we’re honest, we’ll have to admit that when one single group of people is conspicuously left behind, it never bodes well for society as a whole. In many ways, black men in America are a walking gut check; we learn from them a lot about ourselves, how far we’ve really come as a country, and how much further we have to go. I spent the past few months talking to dozens of experts who are working to address the crisis among black men. It was clear from these conversations that the reasons for this crisis are complex—as are the solutions. But it was also clear that the fight for black men, which is currently being waged by activists, politicians, celebrities, and everyday people alike, can indeed be won.”
Maria Popova on the history of the pencil.
Glad they found Rusty. (That’s not Rusty, that’s just a red panda.)
Recent wise piece from Jim Wallis: “Night after night, people would come into the events, in book stores, universities, churches, and town halls, with what felt like a very deep hunger for what we call the common good — that our life together could and should be better. And they wanted to know how they could help make that happen, which is what the book is all about. But, virtually every night, I would also feel from those who came, along with that hunger, a very deep cynicism about social change even being possible. And when it came to Washington or Wall Street, the cynicism was overwhelming. Virtually no one trusts either our political system or marketplace to be fair, honest, moral, or even open to doing the right thing. Most Americans seem to believe that the primary institutions of our public life completely lack integrity. And sadly, that cynicism, for many, even extends to their churches or other religious institutions, which they don’t regard as playing an independent leadership role for the common good that could hold other institutions accountable.”
CNN’s “New Day” does not appear to be the ticket. “Though ratings have improved in recent months, CNN’s morning programming ranked third in viewership in 2012, averaging just 239,000 viewers per day, compared with 452,000 for MSNBC’s Morning Joe and 1.13 million for Fox’s Fox and Friends, according to Nielsen Media Research. Other parts of the day look no better. Continued declines in prime-time viewership, considered the most critical time for cable news, placed the channel third behind Fox and MSNBC for three years straight. In 2012, it fell to third place in daytime viewership for the first time.” I have a theory: CNN caters to the Democratic side of the news; that side of the news is more represented by young adults (20-35) than older adults; that age demographic does not favor TV news but social media; CNN either changes its politics or breadth of politics or it will simply have to accept the older folks are over at FoxNews or MSNBC.