Tag Archives: universe

Friday Link Love: Maurice Sendak, Bracket Madness, and What, Me Worry?

Bit of a weird assortment this week. Lots of links related to women and gender issues, probably because I’m still pondering Lean In, the Steubenville verdict, and the connections between them.

But first: March Madness! That’s right:

Public Radio Bracket Madness! — Poll

As I’m putting this post together on Thursday morning, they’re accepting votes for the sweet 16. Some are a slam dunk: Radiolab beats Morning Edition—sorry Steve Inskeep. Some are impossible: Fresh Air v. Prairie Home Companion? What if you find them equally irritating?

Speaking of NPR, Radiolab’s Speed episode was excellent as usual, and my kids and I continue to monitor the pitch drop experiment. Any week/month/year now…

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NEXT Church — Liturgy, Music and More

I’m humbled to be the co-chair of NEXT Church for the next two years. NEXT is a conversation within the Presbyterian Church that’s seeking to find areas of health and innovation in the church so they can be nurtured and propagated. You can access the music, liturgy and “ribbon ritual” we did at the conference from our resources page. Or watch the presentations here. And here’s our video. You might recognize a familiar voice:

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Imagine a World without Hate — Anti-Defamation League (via Upworthy)

This 1-minute video was spammed widely on Facebook this week. But in case you scrolled by without watching, as I did repeatedly—stop now and click the link above. It’s powerful.

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Five Questions Every Woman Should Ask Herself — Positively Positive

This came from a Facebook friend:

The big question remains: Can women really “have it all?” I tend to categorize myself in the “something’s got to give” camp—multi-tasking and juggling can take us just so far.

…It seems like we are feeling more exhausted and guilty than ever before because we are constantly reaching for the unreachable. And research seems to back this idea. Studies show that women today are less happy relative to where they were forty years ago and relative to men.

So, where do we go from here? The answer may be in the way we are defining a fulfilling life or “having it all.”

I could write about this tension between ambition and balance for the rest of my life. Suffice to say that there’s a reason that this E.B. White quote is so beloved to me:

If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.

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Choosing to Stay Home — Andrew Sullivan, The Dish

Sully’s had a lot of discussion lately on gender differences, work-life balance, wives taking their husbands’ names, etc. Was especially interested in this graph in this post:

work-week-by-sex

Women are doing more child care than they were in the 1960s, even though their work outside the home has almost tripled. ??

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How Not To Worry: A 1934 Guide to Mastering Life — Brain Pickings

How can you not love a book called You Can Master Life? Adorable. Anyway:

Gilkey [the author] cites a “Worry Table” created by one of the era’s humorists — most likely Mark Twain, who is often quoted, though never with a specific source, as having said, “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.” The table was designed to distinguish between justified and unjustified worries:

On studying his chronic fears this man found they fell into five fairly distinct classifications:

  1. Worries about disasters which, as later events proved, never happened. About 40% of my anxieties.
  2. Worries about decisions I had made in the past, decisions about which I could now of course do nothing. About 30% of my anxieties.
  3. Worries about possible sickness and a possible nervous breakdown, neither of which materialized. About 12% of my worries.
  4. Worries about my children and my friends, worries arising from the fact I forgot these people have an ordinary amount of common sense. About 10% of my worries.
  5. Worries that have a real foundation. Possibly 8% of the total.

Gilkey then prescribes:

What, of this man, is the first step in the conquest of anxiety? It is to limit his worrying to the few perils in his fifth group. This simple act will eliminate 92% of his fears. Or, to figure the matter differently, it will leave him free from worry 92% of the time.

Unfortunately Gilkey doesn’t understand that worry abhors a vacuum. Eliminating 1-4 will mean that we worry the same amount, just with greater focus… ;-)

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When Do Good Deeds Lead to More Good Deeds? — Science and Religion Today

Sometimes good deeds make us feel good, so we do more. Other times we feel we’ve “done our share” so the good deed excuses us from goodness the next time. A brief discussion about the current research on this topic, which is scant, unfortunately.

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“We Are Inseparable!”: On Maurice Sendak’s Last Book — New Yorker

Blake-233Sendak continues to fascinate, even after his death:

Sendak made this book for those adults who had grown up with his stories.

This is a melancholy thought. In dedicating this last story to us, his once-children readers, he is marking the passage of time in our lives. He’s dated us. When I pick up this new book, I am reminded, as if I needed to be reminded, that I am no longer the ferocious, hyper-absorbed, small wonder of a Sendak reader I once was—nor, I’m guessing, are you. Had Sendak created another “Where the Wild Things Are” for us, would we even be able to appreciate it? For us obsolete children, as Theodor Geisel dubbed adults, it would be beside the point.

What makes this last book special is that Sendak is willing to meet his former-children readers where they are now in their lives—on the condition that they meet him where he was at the end of his. Kushner told me that he saw Sendak, toward the end of his life, eyes dimmed, hunched over his studio desk, pressing his face so close to the drafts that his dear nose was almost touching them. For his devoted readers, this tender proximity—this intimacy—may be the most affecting part of “My Brother’s Book.” The supple details are Sendak’s way of physically drawing us in, closer and closer, until we tap the page with our own noses: one last kiss goodnight.

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And finally, some perspective. This was posted to Facebook this week:

ig5Y3iZcDUBK8

 

I’m in Massachusetts until tomorrow, officiating a wedding for a high school friend. Congrats to D and D! (Hey, that’s handy for monogramming…)

Friday Link Love…On Wednesday

I leave later today for a big honkin’ gathering of Presbyterian Women (that’s the organization and the demographic), where I will be leading a workshop on Sabbath-keeping. I’m bringing Margaret and James with me for some fun time with the Florida cousins. Meanwhile Caroline heads to Chicago for a choir camp, and Robert dances around the empty house in his underwear. Or something.

Since I’ll be out of pocket through the weekend, why wait on the link love? Here you go… for all your hump-day procrastination needs:

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My First and Perhaps Only LOLcats Link

This puts the LOL in LOLcats:

h/t to Kathryn Zucker Johnston, who knows from humor.

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11 Ways You Allow Your Life to Suck — Inc.

I can’t recall which Facebook friend posted this, but it’s a pretty good list:

5. You’re looking for a big idea.

Stop trying. You won’t hit the big idea lottery.

And even if you did come up with the ever-elusive big idea, could you pull off the implementation? Do you have the skills, experience, and funding?

Me either.

But here’s what you do have: Tons of small ideas. You don’t need to look for a big idea if you act on your little ideas.

Happiness is a process, and processes are based on action.

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Big Campaign Spending: Government by the 1% — Atlantic

I get a lot of my links from Andrew Sullivan and this one is no exception. This installment of link love is full of pep, so I’m sorry for the poop in the punchbowl, but as I’ve written before, the campaign spending issue drives me nuts:

Because of the way we fund the campaigns that determine our elections, we give the tiniest fraction of America the power to veto any meaningful policy change. Not just change on the left but also change on the right. Because of the structure of influence that we have allowed to develop, the tiniest fraction of the one percent have the effective power to block reform desired by the 99-plus percent.

Yet by “the tiniest fraction of the one percent” I don’t necessarily mean the rich. I mean instead the fraction of Americans who are willing to spend their money to influence congressional campaigns for their own interest. That fraction is different depending upon the reform at issue: a different group rallies to block health-care reform than rallies to block global warming legislation. But the key is that under the system we’ve allowed to evolve, a tiny number (with resources at least) has the power to block reform they don’t like.

A tiny number of Americans — .26 percent — give more than $200 to a congressional campaign. .05 percent give the maximum amount to any congressional candidate. .01 percent give more than $10,000 in any election cycle. And .000063 percent — 196 Americans — have given more than 80 percent of the super-PAC money spent in the presidential elections so far.

Some call this plutocracy. Some call it a corrupted aristocracy. I call it unstable. Just as America learned under the Articles of Confederation, where one state had the power to block the resolve of the rest, a nation in which so few have the power to block change is not a nation that can thrive.

Sigh. Movin’ on…

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A Girl and Her Room — Brain Pickings

A photographer captures images of teenage girls from the United States and around the globe, all in their natural habitats:

I was discovering a person on the cusp on becoming an adult, but desperately holding on to the child she barely outgrew, a person on the edge between two worlds, trying to come to terms with this transitional time in her life and adjust to the person she is turning into.

Amal, Shatila Palestinian Refugee Camp, Beirut, Lebanon 2010
© Rania Matar | raniamatar.com

Ai, Boston, MA 2009
© Rania Matar | raniamatar.com

I agree that the images are “visually stunning and culturally captivating.”

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The Perfect Compliment — Esquire

The author sets out to compliment as many people as possible, to parse out what makes for a good compliment. I love the reckless joy and whimsy in this practice:

One rainy afternoon, I went to a crowded street corner in Manhattan and started again. The landscape of the city looked sturdy and polished, my heart was open, my head right. I walked the box of crosswalks at that intersection for two hours, waiting at each corner for the light to change, looking — really looking — at the people around me. I poached them across the street, crossing perpendicular to their approach, sidling up as they watched the light change. I abandoned simple and direct, gave up on the humble declarative expression. A true compliment is a complex expression of unrequired appreciation — how could three words do the job? It worked better when I grew more audacious:

“You seem really happy. That’s a pleasure to see.”

And more concrete:

“All I can say is, that is a classy umbrella. It looks old-timey and right for you.”

And unafraid of a little complication:

“My mother always wanted me to wear a corduroy coat like that. Now I see why.”

People responded. Sure, some passed without acknowledging what I said, but most smiled, thanked me, gave firm little nods. I could sometimes see them stand up a little straighter. One guy told me a story about where he got his tennis racket, and a woman noted that the purse I liked was a knockoff but that her cousin Celine had an even worse one. A kid told me his watch was his grandfather’s and asked if I wanted to see the inscription. Some of these people turned to me and waved when they left. They locked eyes.

Much, much more. Open heart. Clear head right. Audacity. Yes.

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What Does Space Smell Like? — Science Soup

It’s strange to think that the near-vacuum of space could have a smell, and stranger still that humans—atmospheric creatures—can actually experience it. Astronauts have consistently reported the same strange odour after lengthy space walks, bringing it back in on their suits, helmets, gloves and tools. It’s bitter, smoky, metallic smell—like seared steak, hot metal and arc welding smoke all rolled into one.

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Since it’s only Wednesday, feel free to add your own links in the comments. I’ve also written a guest post on Sabbath for Jana Riess’s blog Flunking Sainthood and I’ll share it when it goes live.

Friday Link Love

Good morning!

…And away we go.

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A Glorious Sight — Andrew Sullivan

There’s an article up at Scientific American about “glories,” a quantum mechanical effect called wave tunneling:

The article is beautifully written, tracing the historical significance of glories (they can only be seen against one’s shadow and thus may be one reason that holy individuals are seen with halos)…

Sadly, the article is behind a paywall, but what a lovely concept.

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Move On — Bernadette Peters, Stephen Sondheim

Yesterday was the King’s birthday and many of us were gushing about him on Facebook. I remarked that this song is one of the best manifestos for art and life that I’ve found. Give it a listen.

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The Scale of the Universe (Flash)

I’m certain I’ve posted this before, but it came my way again, and boy howdy. Spend some time with this.

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Instructions — Sheri Hostetler

Beautiful poem:

Give up the world; give up self; finally, give up God.
Find god in rhododendrons and rocks,
passers-by, your cat.
Pare your beliefs, your absolutes.
Make it simple; make it clean.
No carry-on luggage allowed.
Examine all you have
with a loving and critical eye, then
throw away some more.
Repeat. Repeat.
Keep this and only this:
what your heart beats loudly for
what feels heavy and full in your gut.
There will only be one or two
things you will keep,
and they will fit lightly
in your pocket.

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Rachel Maddow and My Lesson in Civility — Cal Thomas

A man apologizes, sincerely and humbly, for the red meat he threw at CPAC regarding Rachel Maddow:

The next morning I felt bad about it, so I called Maddow to apologize. It wasn’t one of those meaningless “if I’ve offended anyone …” apologies; it was heartfelt. I had embarrassed myself and was a bad example to those who read my column and expect better from me.

Maddow could not have been more gracious. She immediately accepted my apology. On her show, she said publicly, “I completely believe his apology. I completely accept his apology.” To be forgiven by one you have wronged is a blessing, it’s even cleansing.

More of this, please. From everyone.

And on the flip side of that…

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The Internet Has Failed — Bioethics Bulletin

Specifically internet comments:

Time was when ‘disabling comments’ on a blogpost was at best an indication of arrogance and at worst an indication that the author was an anti-democratic elitist who did not value the opinions of his or her readers. It is time, I think, for us to accept that disabling or deleting idiot comments is no more anti-democratic or elitist than refusing to engage with a person harrassing you on the street. Just because everyone is allowed to have their say, it does not follow that the bilge they say is worth listening to.

As I’ve said many times, anyone who rejects Calvin’s doctrine of total depravity has obviously never spent time reading Internet comments.

What do you think? Is it time to disable comments at the “big” sites? (I am blessed with smart and civil commenters here at the Blue Room. Huzzah.)

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Peace be with you.

Friday Link Love

The First Supper by Jane Evershed

Perhaps the World Ends Here — Joy Harjo

The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.
The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.
We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.
It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.

Susan Olson recently linked to this poem and it’s been echoing in my mind. Reminds me of Bruce Cockburn’s song “Last Night of the World”:

If this were the last night of the world
What would I do?
What would I do that was different
Unless it was champagne with you?

I’m thankful that our family is in a season in which all five of us eat together at least six nights a week.

It will not always be thus.

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The Most Astounding Fact — Neil deGrasse Tyson

This has been making the rounds, but if you haven’t seen it:

Bonus link: Listen to physicist James Gates’s interview on On Being. I didn’t understand a lot of it. But I liked it nonetheless.

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The Six Secrets the Girl Scouts Have Kept for a Century — WSJ

How is this single-sex organization based on principles begun before the first World War able to remain vital in the twenty first century? How much of it would Juliette Gordon Low recognize? What are the secrets to the continued success of Girl Scouting?

One thing that was not mentioned in the article is that the uniform is updated regularly. I’m not kidding. That seems very superficial but it is a huge symbolic statement that the Girl Scouts are not stuck in the past.

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Do As Franzen Does. Do What You Like — Roxane Gay

Alas, there’s been yet another installment of Famous Author Disparaging Social Media. I love this response:

Is anyone really using Twitter to craft complex rhetorical arguments? What does responsibility have to do with chattering online? It’s like Franzen is saying, “I cannot swim in my car and therefore my car is not useful.” He doesn’t understand what Twitter is for. Of course he dislikes it. He’s working from a place of profound ignorance. His stance is one of those things where you have to say, “There, there, Mr. Franzen, here is your Ovaltine.”

Heh.

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And lastly, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, my friend Stacey posted this recipe to Facebook earlier this week:

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes

I’m still not eating dessert during Lent, but o frabjous day, every Sunday is a mini-Easter! And Oh Em Gee:

These cupcakes consist of a Guinness-chocolate cake base, which has a wonderful depth of flavor and is also supremely moist. The centers of the cupcakes are cut out and filled with a chocolate ganache that has been spiked with Irish whiskey. And to top it all off, the frosting is my favorite vanilla buttercream that has been doused with a serious amount of Baileys Irish Cream.

I’m eatin’ that.

May you too have a delicious weekend.