Category Archives: Just for Fun

Ten for Tuesday: “Coastal Elite” Edition

I call it that because a lot of this week’s links come from the WaPo and the NYT… so be it. But don’t be bothered by the source 😉

1. God Says Yes to Me

I had forgotten about this poem by Kaylin Haught, but I recently rediscovered it during a re-read of Patty Digh’s Life is a Verb:

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2. Stunning Science Photos

Lots at the link. Here’s just one. Whoa!

The Julie Dorrington winner: Intraocular lens ‘iris clip’ This image shows how an iris clip, also known as an artificial intraocular lens (IOL), is fitted onto the eye. An iris clip is used to treat conditions such as myopia (nearsightedness) and cataracts (cloudiness of the lens). This particular patient, a 70-year-old man, regained almost full vision following his surgery. Mark Bartley, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust/Wellcome Images

The Julie Dorrington winner: Intraocular lens ‘iris clip’ This image shows how an iris clip, also known as an artificial intraocular lens (IOL), is fitted onto the eye. An iris clip is used to treat conditions such as myopia (nearsightedness) and cataracts (cloudiness of the lens). This particular patient, a 70-year-old man, regained almost full vision following his surgery. Mark Bartley, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust/Wellcome Images

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3.  How the Scarcity Mindset Can Make Problems Worse 

NPR: When you really want something, you start to focus on it obsessively. When you’re hungry, it’s hard to think of anything other than food, when you’re desperately poor, you constantly worry about making ends meet. Scarcity produces a kind of tunnel vision, and it explains why, when we’re in a hole, we often lose sight of long-term priorities and dig ourselves even deeper. Here’s Sendhil.

MULLAINATHAN: What if it’s not that poor people are somehow deficient but that poverty makes everyone less capable, that it’s the – that it’s you and I tomorrow, were we to become poor, would all of a sudden have the same effect, that poverty is in some sense changing our minds?

VEDANTAM: Of course, if this hypothesis is true, then…

MULLAINATHAN: The same person, when they’re poor, should have very different cognitive capacity than when they’re rich.

So critical for empathy. Also helpful to understand as we discuss policy solutions to poverty.

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4. Waking from Hiberation, The Hard Work of Spring Begins

Several animals profiled here! I’d never given much thought to what happens when animals emerge from hibernation.

Arctic ground squirrels hibernate farther north than any other animal. They enter torpor in August or September, and stay in suspended animation underground for up to 270 days, reducing their metabolism by well over 90 percent to survive.

To achieve this, males shrink their testes and stop testosterone production, which means they must experience puberty every spring. When they awaken in mid-March, they live off a cache of seeds, berries, mushrooms and willow leaves while sexually maturing and bulking up.

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5. People in Prison Stay Connected to Loved Ones Through App

The article profiles Marcus Bullock, the chief executive of Flikshop, an app that helps people in prison connect with friends and family. He also leads apprenticeship programs for former inmates through the nonprofit Free Minds Book Club.

He got the idea for the app when he himself was in prison. For me the key insight is here:

Do you have any regrets?

No. Because my failure has been my tutor my entire career. And the thing is, I never would be able to be in the markets I am, with this technology, had I never gone to prison. Obviously, I wouldn’t, you know, give anyone advice to go to prison so you can come home with a good idea. [Laughs.] But what I will say is I was able to somehow take the adversity of a situation and really build out the next steps of my life.

I think it’s OK for people to feel regret. But what he’s describing is improv, people. Yes-and.

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6. How to Start Running

You’ve probably picked up the fact that I love running. It has given so much to my life, mentally as much as physically. Click the link for a whole collection of articles to help you get started. I’d love to cheer you on!

Pro-tips (from me, but many of them echoed in the article)

  • get fitted for shoes at a running store
  • start slow and easy–slower and easier than you think you should
  • listen to your body–pain does not equal gain, especially in the beginning
  • don’t believe the hype that running ruins your knees–that’s been debunked.)
  • if running really doesn’t work for you after giving it a decent effort, move. Do something.

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7. We Get to Carry Each Other

Speaking of running, I never tire of videos like this. This one’s from this weekend’s Philadelphia Half Marathon:

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8. I Loved My Grandmother. But She Was a Nazi.

The article is poignant and important, but I especially want to highlight one of the comments on the article. (Side note: the reader- and NYT-curated comments are a worthy exception to the rule never to read the comments. They are frequently insightful.)

Read the article, but here’s the comment:

A few years ago I inherited papers from some German relatives, whom I had come to know as gentle and lovely people. The elder relatives claimed they were never Nazis. I did not argue with them but also did not believe them. I assumed they were among the so-called ordinary Germans, who later re-wrote their own role. I asked a student of mine to please translate the papers, and that is how I made an incredibly moving discovery. Buried in those papers was a letter they had received from the Nazi party, upbraiding them for failing to do their duty and join the party. The letter was obviously a form letter sent to anyone who had not joined. The letter concluded with a line that chilled me to my center–it said something like this: “You will be judged in the future by what you fail to do today”. The letter’s intent, obviously, was to shame recipients into joining with a triumphant cause. Instead, a great granddaughter wept as she read a letter confirming the fact that some Germans indeed did refuse, as long as possible, to allow shame to shape their actions. Just as the courageous author of this op ed shows, our seemingly innocuous decisions in the midst of confusing times may haunt or profoundly influence our descendants. Today’s actions matter not just for today.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke

Or for good people to gradually, incrementally, go along with terrible things.

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9. With Friends Like These–Interview with Adam Savage

I continue to appreciate Ana Marie Cox’s podcast about difficult conversations. A description of this week’s episode:

Disagreeing about facts is one thing, what if you disagree about reality? Adam Savage (“Mythbusters,” Tested.com) joins to help a WFLT listener whose sister has embraced right-wing conspiracy theories. MTV’s Ezekiel Kweku comes by to discuss how America’s dystopian future could be based on its dystopian past.

Our family looooooooves Adam Savage and misses Mythbusters every Sunday night during our basement pizza picnic when we watch a show together. He was very wise on this episode, and Kweku was also insightful in explaining the appeal of conspiracy theories–on both sides.

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10. Adorable Humans

This was charming:

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Go be adorable!

Ten for Tuesday

Onward!

1. Liz Climo is an illustrator on the Simpsons, and her cartoons are simply darling:

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2. Bees Are Awesome. This swarm apparently followed a car for two days to try and rescue its queen trapped inside.

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3. The Secret Student Group that Stood Up to the Nazis:

On this day, 74 years ago, three young adults placed their heads beneath a guillotine and prepared to die. Their crime? Speaking out against the Nazis with graffiti and hand-printed pamphlets. Their names? Sophie Scholl, Hans Scholl and Christoph Probst. It was a violent end to a peaceful student movement known as the White Rose—one that used the power of language to resist the horrors of the Nazi regime.

#resist #neveragain

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4. This dude caught a baseball bat as it helicoptered toward him:

In related news, Luis Guillorme is Batman.

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5. Smithsonian Magazine is having a photo contest. Peruse and vote for your favorites here. I love this firewalking one from Binh Duong:

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6. Every New York Times Cover Since 1852. This quick video shows how and when images began to appear in the paper of record. It’s arresting and oddly poignant, to think about all of the news that came and went. We survived all of the things reported there. Perhaps we will survive today’s challenges too.

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7. Eight Changes Made to Richard Scarry Books: to keep up with the times. Love it.

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8. Tilapia to the Rescue!

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9. Your Weekly Wisdom from Mari Andrew’s Instagram: I’m making a habit of this.

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10. The Impact of a Book

A friend posted this to Facebook, a memory from a year ago. I love this art piece by Jorge MĂ©ndez Blake.

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What book has disturbed your well-ordered life?

 

Ten for Tuesday: Pure Unbridled Joy and Hope

I hope I’m not overpromising here. But I think there’s especially good stuff this week.

1. Jake Gyllenhaal sings “Finishing the Hat,” and does it well. (Hat tip to Michael Kirby, my source for all things musical.)

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2. ‘I know they are going to die.’ This foster father takes in only terminally ill children

Radiant. Excruciating.

“The key is, you have to love them like your own,” Bzeek said recently. “I know they are sick. I know they are going to die. I do my best as a human being and leave the rest to God.”

The man is a Libyan-born Muslim man, by the way.

This is Islam.

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3. Photos of Waves Crashing in Australia, by Warren Keelan and featured on Colossal.

It’s a beautiful world:

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Many more at the link.

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4. Mari Andrew’s Instagram feed is full of drawings conveying simple wisdom. Her recent rendering of grief is right on:

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5. This Dictionary Keeps Subtweeting Trump and Here’s the Full Story. This is about way more than the Trump administration’s creative (some would say sinister) use of language, and how Merriam-Webster is handling it. It’s about creating a social media presence that’s sharp and authentic. The descriptivist stuff at the end is interesting too.

As anyone who studied linguistics in college may remember, most modern dictionaries embrace what is known as a descriptivist view of language. Rather than insisting on the so-called proper usage of a word or phrase (an approach known as prescriptivism), today most lexicographers (i.e., people who work at dictionaries) study the way words are actually being used and make note accordingly. That’s how you end up with, for example, dictionary entries for “they” in the third-person singular form or “heart” as a verb.

Inherent in this descriptivist approach, then, is the notion that a dictionary is a rather passive creature, monitoring the public conversation but not injecting itself into it.

That, of course, is being somewhat challenged by Merriam-Webster having a Twitter account with such a forceful public voice.

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6. Mary Oliver reads “Wild Geese.” (h/t Brain Pickings)

Make this poem your mission statement. My personal one is The Journey, but this one’s a close second.

“You do not have to be good…”

7. A Longtime Fitness Editor Does Some Soul Searching (h/t my friend Alison)

Our culture is drowning in listicles and fad approaches to nutrition. The truth is, we know what constitutes a healthy life, and the rest is commentary (and maybe even clickbaity propaganda).

In an email, Michael Joyner, a physiologist at the Mayo Clinic, told me that we overcomplicate everything when it comes to health. He then pointed me to an obituary in the New York Times of Lester Breslow, a researcher who, the Times reported, “gave mathematical proof to the notion that people can live longer and healthier by changing habits like smoking, diet and sleep.” Breslow identified seven key factors to living a healthy life:

Do not smoke; drink in moderation; sleep seven to eight hours; exercise at least moderately; eat regular meals; maintain a moderate weight; eat breakfast.

The rest is commentary.

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8. Book Pairings for Every Flavor of Ben and Jerry’s I’ve Ever Eaten, by Tracy Shapley on Book Riot.

Yes, I just posted a link about fitness like three seconds ago. But there’s physical health and there’s spiritual health.

I love that the list is presented without commentary, prompting me to make the connections myself.

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9. How Black Books Lit My Way Along the Appalachian Trail, by Rahawa Haile.

I’m still making my way through this beautifully-written essay about books, blackness, femaleness, and hiking. But I feel confident recommending it because it was recommended by Linda Holmes on Pop Culture Happy Hour and she’s never steered me wrong.

For many, the Appalachian Trail is a footpath of numbers. There are miles to Maine. The daily chance of precipitation. Distance to the next campsite with a reliable water source. Here, people cut the handles off of toothbrushes to save grams. Eat cold meals in the summer months to shave weight by going stoveless. They whittle medicine kits down to bottles of ibuprofen. Carry two pairs of socks. One pair of underwear.

…Few nonessentials are carried on this trail, and when they are — an enormous childhood teddy bear, a father’s bulky camera — it means one thing: The weight of this item is worth considerably more than the weight of its absence.

Everyone had something out here. The love I carried was books. Exceptional books. Books by black authors, their photos often the only black faces I would talk to for weeks. These were writers who had endured more than I’d ever been asked to, whose strength gave me strength in turn.

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10. “Let America Be America Again,” by Langston Hughes. 

Behold, the only version of #MAGA I’m on board with. Excerpt:

O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!

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Hughes gets the last word this week.

Ten for Tuesday: Inspiration, Ponderables and Sharks

With only hours to spare!

1. My friend Ashley-Anne Masters is awesome. Loved this quote from her, and the fact that a friend of hers made it into a pillow:

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Follow Ashley-Anne on Instagram here.

2. Let’s Put an End to the ‘My Childhood Was Better Than Yours’ Wars. This doesn’t fit the mold of inspiration, but could we please? Please? The world would be a better place:

And I really need my generation to get over itself. According to baby boomers, life will never be as sublime as it was when we played jacks on the sidewalk while waiting for the ice cream man to make his rounds. I guess it’s a leftover part of our general thinking circa 1968: that we knew everything then and would continue the trend.

3. In Search of the Slave Who Defied George Washington. Fascinating article about Ona Judge, an enslaved person in George Washington’s Mount Vernon who successfully escaped, and how the Mt. Vernon museum tries to honor her story.

4. Meet Joshua Johnson, Diane Rehm’s Replacement on NPR. I really love his show 1A and find it one of the smarter and more decent programs out there:

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5. This slow-motion capture of a goblin shark eating its prey is like a real-life food-chain lava lamp.

6. Your obligatory improv link: Math teacher uses improv skills in the classroom.

7. Peter Horton: The First Time I Died on TV. I was an unabashed thirtysomething fangirl and was devastated when they killed off Gary. This was a nice trip down memory lane.

8. Parkour fascinates me, even though I suspect I would break all of the bones if I tried it. But I found this patiently-written article about how to walk on hand rails oddly poetic and soothing.

9. As I wait for edits of Improvising with God to come back from my editor at Eerdmans, this was a helpful reality check about the folly of the work I do.

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Posted by my friend Meghan Florian. Follow her on Instagram.

10. My team, We Run for Planned Parenthood, has raised more than $3200 for quality health care for women! Read more about why I support PP here. Help us reach our $5000 goal here. y

Ten for Tuesday: Concerned Citizen Edition

Last week’s Tuesday Ten was lighter than this one. Feel free to peruse it again if that’s what you need.

If you need some inspiration mingled with motivation to get your butt in gear, today’s post is for you.

PBS 'EYES ON THE PRIZE'

1. Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years 1954-1965: I just picked up this six-part documentary about the civil rights movement and can’t wait to watch it again. My 11th-grade AP government teacher arranged a viewing of this series after school, and he felt it was so important that anyone who watched the whole thing would get two points on their entire semester grade. I showed up for the grade. I stayed because it was riveting and heartbreaking and convicting.

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2. Four Ways to Withstand Chaos in 2017 and Beyond, via the Improvised Life website. I’ll save you a click and say they are gardening, letter-writing, conversations and music. But the post also quotes Seth Godin’s “more-less” list, which is worth checking out. Write your own!

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3. “Home” by Warsan Shire. This poem has been shared widely during the Syrian refugee crisis:

you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land

Those lines are probably the most famous, but read the whole thing. Poetry, like all good art, builds empathy.

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4. Mohsen Omrani’s tweet-thread about a woman who helped him during the incredible chaos that unfolded during last Friday’s travel ban.

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Click the link for more.

Be like Barbara.

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5. When Muslims Got Blocked at American Airports, US Veterans Rushed to Help.

“This is not what we fought for, having been in Iraq and working with these interpreters,” Buchalter said in a phone interview Sunday. When he saw an Iraqi family emerge from detention, he presented them with something he hoped would convey America’s goodwill — a Purple Heart.

The best of who we are.

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6. “First They Came”: The Poem of the Protests. A lovely article about the Rev. Martin Niemoller and his poem that launched a thousand protest signs. There are many versions of the poem, which speaks to its power, but this one is displayed in the Holocaust Museum here in DC:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

[The words] quickly became popular, from there, as a lyrical argument for civil rights and collective action—and, more broadly, for simple empathy. The quote was that rarest of things: a political argument grounded in religious tradition.

In 1933, Niemöller [said], he and his fellow clergy members included in the founding documents of the Pfarrernotbund the idea that any action made against a minister of Jewish heritage would be considered an action against the collective. As he put it: “That was probably the first anti-antisemitic pronouncement coming from the Protestant Church.”

7. Life Lessons You Can Learn from Improv. This isn’t related to politics at all, but improv is and will be a powerful tool for navigating an uncertain and quickly-changing landscape.

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8. A Shy Person’s Guide to Calling Representatives. Very helpful for those of us who hate the phone.

Bonus link: How to call your reps when you have social anxiety. And this one’s illustrated!

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9. Breathe: A Poem by Unitarian Minister Lynn Unger. This poem kicked off a conference call for faith leaders I attended last week. I don’t want to excerpt it, so click and read the whole thing.

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10. 105 Oddball Holidays to Celebrate with Kids (or Anyone). Because life is still beautiful and joy is subversive:

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P.S. Our team’s fundraiser for Planned Parenthood is going strong and we’d love your support. Learn more here.