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Compendium of Links #22

Why is it that the only time I post anymore is when I’m sending up a plateful of links? Maybe because it’s Christmas, ergo, I actually have a life. Weird. And even the compendium is a little late! But enjoy the links on this fantastic celebratory day!The best bosses lead by failing—in other words, “humble leaders who embrace their failures are more effective and better liked, according to a new study.” No, duh. And why was this a study in the first place? Yes, I understand the importance of trust-but-verify. But this sort of thing seems like it should be left to philosophers, not social scientists.A quarter of Europe has never used the Internet. Never. Ever. I wonder what that stat’s like in the U.S.? It’s probably higher than you think. The internet doesn’t have much relevance if you’re poor in Kentucky, after all.If you need to write a sympathy card and have no idea what to say—and I’m with ya there—this guide might help. (Via Challies.)What was the world Googling in 2011? That link…

Breaking news archives

What would it have been like to write about the birth of Jesus in AP style?BETHLEHEM, Judea—Rumors about a baby’s birth in a stable have been confirmed. Jesus, son of Joseph son of Jacob and his betrothed Mary, was born early yesterday morning in a stable-turned-lodging in the city, according to the stable’s owner and census officials who stopped there mid-morning today. The couple journeyed here from Nazareth in Galilee to comply with Caesar Augustus’ census.Still unconfirmed are rumors that heavenly beings appeared to shepherds in a field outside Bethlehem. No other witnesses to the event have been found, but several sheep were discovered unattended late last night and their shepherds eventually located in the vicinity of the stable. They claim to have been sent there by the angels.The baby is destined to become the Jewish savior, according to his father Joseph. The royal priests and prophets were unavailable for comment.It is also unknown whether the bright star first noticed at th…

Compendium of Links #21

I’m writing this on Friday, after a good week at work: I’ve been working on improving the articles I write and realized I’d made some progress! Now just to maintain that progress… but in the meantime, here’s some intriguing links from the week:How rich are you? Really? This data is why I have never, ever been able to take the Occupy movement seriously.Janie B. Cheaney over at WORLD Magazine ponders the effects of telling every large-scale story from the launchpad of a personal tale.Is it racism? Tell the story of Reconstruction-era blacks through the experience of one woman (Beloved). Is it capitalism? Sketch the sweep of the Russian revolution through the tempestuous relationship of a single couple (Reds). Multiculturalism? Show one of the most brutal battles of World War II from the perspective of two soldiers—on the other side (Letters from Iwo Jima). This is a valid approach: the inductive method of starting from a single example and drawing larger conclusions from it. But the pro…

The six-month school of small-town journalism

About halfway through November, I finished six months at my first job after college, and the first job in my field. Here’s what my first six months of news reporting taught me:1. Sunshine laws. There are lots of things government entities can’t do in their meetings… for instance, they can’t hold impromptu meetings, except if a dire situation demands it and only then after notifying all the local media. And any quorum of a government body in the same place, discussing business, constitutes a meeting—so elected officials can’t get out of this by getting together for morning coffee and accidentally talking about what-have-you. There’s a whole book on the open meeting and public records laws—and the state will send it to you free, if you want to learn about them.2. Local government operations. I had no idea before I took this job how many branches there were of just a small city government—how many subcommittees a city council has, for instance. I’d only been to a couple city council meet…

I just can’t wait…

Tim Challies had this on his blog this morning. Oh my goodness, it’s the funniest video I’ve seen yet this winter. Yes, yes, I’m looking for a Mormon disco ball. The joke’s on me more than it’s on you.

What 50,015 words taught me

Last month, I learned I can write 2,000 words of fiction in an hour and a half if I don’t think too hard. It’s not good fiction, but it’s grammatically correct.I also learned that if I quit watching movies, reading novels and surfing the Internet, I can write a 50,000-word novella in one month, start to finish.This year I participated in National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, for the second time in my life. It comes every November and the goal is to write 50,000 words in one month just for the sake of writing. The first time I participated, I was a sophomore in college with nothing better to do besides watch YouTube videos. This time, I had an apartment and a full-time job. I even had to cook for myself. Was this really a good idea?So I made a bargain. If I could manage it, great. If I started to get overwhelmed, if I lost sleep or if my concentration at work started to suffer, I would give it up immediately without the guilt of quitting.But I hate to quit.I’m just about convince…

Top ten reasons Thanksgiving is better than Christmas

10. If you’re born on Thanksgiving, you don’t have to suffer sharing your birthday with a major holiday every single year, world without end, Amen.9. You can celebrate in October and nobody looks at you funny. Or if people do, you can tell them you’re Canadian. Visiting family overseas gets so much simpler.8. It’s more fun to whoop like an Indian for the class play than to pretend you’re scared of a short angel in the Christmas pageant.7. Sometimes it’s actually warmer than 45 degrees on Thanksgiving. On Christmas, the best you can hope for is snow to go along with the freezing temperature.6. It’s always a Thursday, so you’re practically guaranteed a five-day weekend. This year, Christmas is on a Sunday. Try figuring out your holiday then!5. The point of the holiday isn’t lost in the commercials.4. TURKEY STUFFING. Even better than hot cider.3. Nobody’s afraid to tell me to have a happy one.2. No gifts = no gift drama.1. People all over the country stop to thank their family, their fr…

Compendium of Links #20

Unfortunately my mom’s van died this evening as she was driving home from my little town’s Christmas celebrations. As she was driving. So, she pulled into the parking lot of a township garage and called me for a ride the rest of the way home. I figured that, since I’m back at my parents’ house anyway, I’d take advantage of the wi-fi there!Tim Challies wrote a loooong blog post about how to go about reading Scripture for a congregation, be it a congregation of five or fifty thousand. He’s got a lot of good stuff to say. One of my pet peeves is hearing Scripture read without any inflection.Challies also put me onto this article about how modern church growth strategies (ones based on sentimentality and pragmatism) flies in the face of the Gospel’s true call to churches.Sentimentality and pragmatism are the one-two punch which has the American Church on the ropes, while a generation of church leaders acquiesces to the demands of our consumer culture. The demands are simple: tell me somet…

Blessings

I began pondering a question last week. What do you do when you’re not yet 22 and you’ve already achieved a major career goal?My dream before I graduated was this: Someday I wanted to have a job I loved, in a little town I enjoyed, and to have my own place. I wanted it to be full time and pay enough for me to live on and have a few adventures. I wanted to be challenged and never to be bored.Guess what my first job after graduation has been? At the risk of repeating what I’ve said in earlier posts, allow me to summarize for you the position I started in the day before graduation.First, it’s taken care of the tangible requirements—it’s full time and I earn enough to rent an apartment on my own that’s “practically perfect in every way.” I have enough funds that I can save some, contribute to my church, and still take road trips to Boston every now and then.Then there are the intangibles—what some would say are the more important pieces to job satisfaction. I have a fantastic boss, a Chri…

Compendium of Links #19

I spent a lot of time on Thanksgiving reading random links. Ahh, I was so thankful for a day off and prolonged exposure to the Internet. That was the first time I’d spent any significant number of hours just reading miscellaneous Internet articles!From College Major to Career—chart of how various college majors help students succeed (or not) in the job market.The 2011 Facebook infographic, showing that, theoretically, 11 percent of the world has a Facebook account. Never mind that some folks have multiple; it’s probably statistically insignificant.One Christian wife (and author and college professor) writes about seven misconceptions she’s encountered about submission. A short but interesting read, if you’re into the egalitarian/complementarian debate.You know how things get really… interesting when you try to translate them? Brands are even better. CitiBank becomes “the star-spangled banner bank!”C.S. Lewis and Rob Bell both hold/held questionable theological beliefs. One writer thin…

Thanksgiving

I’ve devoted very little space on this blog to my favorite holiday, I noticed. But it’s coming up in just two days now, Thanksgiving that is, and with it all the pure holiday joy associated with it.I will not name the first reason I had to consider the holiday a special one for me. The main reason, however, is the positively Christian reflection it inspires in each of us. For what are we thankful? What blessings have we overlooked this year, until now? Where do we find contentment in the midst of difficulties, or for what should we worship God in times of peace?On  my part, I’m thankful for my family. The best part about Thanksgiving is the chance I have to spend several hours on car rides with my immediate family to spend a rambunctious weekend with most of my extended family. I get along well with everyone in those groups, so the time we’re forced to spend together feels nothing like an enforced gathering. On the contrary, when we have to part I’m invariably loth to do so.Thanksgivi…

Walking to church

The church I’ve started attending since moving into my apartment is near enough that I can walk there if I want. Granted, I went to a residential campus college and rather enjoy the slower modes of transportation to start with, so my estimation of “close enough to walk” may vary from that of others, but this distance, I think, would generally be considered a decent walking distance.So, I do walk to church, about 95 percent of the time. (Once it was raining, and another time I was leaving straight for the next town over after church, so I drove in those cases.) And nearly every day after church, I am asked, “do you need a ride?”What kind folks! I thank them graciously but briefly explain that, really, I like to walk, and besides it’s a nice day out.I’ve been rather obstinate on this one too, walking even in the chilly weather and after dark. The cold will eventually get to me—I’d rather be in Costa Rica—but the dark, that isn’t a problem.In fact, it casts a whole different glow to the …

Compendium of Links #18 (Comedy and economy)

Well, I covered my first election. That experience might become a blog post in itself. And I nearly hit 20,000 words last night in my NaNoWriMo novel. If I had been able to stay awake any longer I would have written the 308 more words required to actually reach 20,000!But now for your weekly dose of really random links…ban Comic Sans – oh my. It’s a haven of hilarity for graphic design nerds. And there’s even a host of alternatives to Comic Sans. How’s that for a positive approach to what could become a wholly negative campaign? (HT: Wesleigh)The United States Department of Fear – parodying the real Dept. of Homeland Security. It’s amusing, though I don’t entirely agree with its politics. And I’m always a fan of parody and satire because, done in the right way, it can point out inconsistency, hypocrisy and/or subconscious assumptions that need to be recognized. (Stuff Christians Like is by far my favorite parody website.)Along those same lines, the Chicago Tribune recently profiled a …

John Piper’s book on missions (part 4)

At last—we return to missions and worship to conclude the book.It’s obvious by now that Piper is strongly influenced by Great Awakening pastor Jonathan Edwards, and he says as much here. Then he goes on to explain that missions is necessitated because “creation is telling the glory of God, but the peoples are not treasuring it…. The ultimate issue addressed by missions is that God’s glory is dishonored among the peoples of the world.” Then he connects worship with missions and all that with compassion for the lost: “Unbelief not only dishonors God but destroys the soul….And so missions is driven by a passion not only to restore the glory of God to its rightful place in the worshiping soul but but also to rescue sinners from everlasting pain.”The final chapter, probably the one that most enthralled me, deals with the nature of worship itself—what is this that we’re trying to propagate throughout the world? I’ll let him tell it himself, in abbreviated form:Worship in the New Testament m…

John Piper’s book on missions (part 3)

The second of the three sections in John Piper’s book “Let The Nations Be Glad!” dealt with the necessity and nature of missions work, and to be honest this was where I got really bogged down in reading.The necessity of missions, according to Piper, lies in the fact that people simply can’t be saved apart from belief in God as revealed through Christ in the Scriptures. And in the fact that the thing they’re getting saved from is eternal, conscious torment—no more, no less, no annihilation nor other escape available. Piper won’t have any of this salvation-through-general-revelation, wishy-washy watering down of the truths that by their existence implore us to get busy about evangelism and missions. (OK, so he didn’t actually say “wishy washy watering down of the truths,” but he may as well have done so!)That chapter was mostly proving the truth, via demonstration in Scripture, of the preceding statements—theological and doctrinal paths I’ve walked before and wasn’t too keenly intereste…

John Piper’s book on missions (part 2)

So. After that thrilling first chapter relating missions and worship, Piper followed with two more chapters relating missions to prayer and suffering, respectively.The gist of the prayer chapter is this: “Life is war, so prayer’s for all-out fighting, not making a nice living room more comfortable.” (That’s a paraphrase, by the way.) Piper likens prayer to a walkie-talkie between the front lines and central command, meant to keep those essential supplies and reinforcements coming. (Again, there’s a multi-page set of Bible quotations, this time illustrating all the things the disciples prayed for… healing, boldness, unity, discernment, and I could go on.) Seeking God for everything, he says, gives God that much glory—and we’re back to the whole point of a Christian’s life, glorifying God. So missions cannot exist without prayer; that’s the way God set it up to work, apparently.The feeling of being in a war, with huge stakes, and with prayer as the walkie-talkie for supplies and reinfor…

Compendium of Links #17

Yeah. I don’t get online all that much (except if I’m at work—maybe someday I’ll compile a work-links compendium). But real life is more rewarding: hitting the 8,000-word mark for NaNoWriMo last night; listening to the sports editor try to stuff as many Tootsie Rolls as possible into his mouth; walking down Main Street (or rather, the local equivalent) on a sunny November afternoon; talking to the pastor over the back fence.Dr. Randy Carlson, radio speaker and author of The Power of One Thing, has a website devoted to teaching people how to achieve their goals, and the neat thing is that it’s Biblically based. I heard about him and the book via a Boundless podcast and he sounded like he was right on target, though the cheesy language on the website made me giggle a bit.Speaking of Boundless, they had a post on what to do (and what not to do) on a blind date. Because meetings through mutual friends still surpass online dating as the number one way that couples meet.Child sacrifice is a…

John Piper’s book on missions (part 1)

As promised, I tracked down “Let The Nations Be Glad!” by John Piper, read it, thought (preliminarily) about it, and am here to convey a rundown of the book. This post will be dedicated solely to the first chapter, that being one of the three that most stuck in my mind.Sure enough, his statement that “missions exists because worship doesn’t” appears on the very first page of the very first chapter! (It’s the third sentence of the book.) So, he says, “worship is the fuel and goal of missions”: goal because, well, what’s better than worshiping God? And fuel, because as Piper writes, “you can’t commend what you don’t cherish”—so a Christian has to worship God with his life before he can convey that passion to others (the unreached).The bulk of that first chapter is spent fleshing out what it means to make worship the central goal of all of life, and why in the world God would be so selfish as to ask that every soul in the world spend its energy glorifying God. (Trust me, it’s the best th…

NaNoWriMo

Just like tearing petals off a daisy, I have asked myself whether to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) or to forego it this year. If I participate, I’ll feel obligated to write 2,000 words a day. If I don’t, I’ll kick myself for not trying.Oh, why not? Onward with the novel-writing challenge! It’s not like it’s a big deal if I don’t write the 50,000 words by November 30.And after all, if I write more than I ponder, I could get an easy 2,000 words in a couple hours. 2,000*(30-5)=50,000, assuming the Thanksgiving holiday and one day a week are all that I spend not writing. This just means I won’t watch any movies for the next thirty days. (Also that I might take one of my extra vacation days just to spend on housework and such that I’m sure to put off in favor of writing….)Therefore, in honor of my second year participating in NaNoWriMo and with every hope of finishing again: I do declare that I have an excellent reason to slack off on blogging, e-mailing, Facebook…

Life on my own #16: Wax on, wax off

My dad has bugged me twice about winter’s onset and the necessity of waxing my car before its arrival. I responded both times: “I’m getting there. I have to wash it first, though, and ______ meeting/event is happing so I can’t wash it immediately.” Or something along those lines.Finally, the weather and my work schedule cooperated for a favorable car-care day last week! I spent my mid-day break filling up the gas tank, inflating my tires to the proper pressure (a Boston road trip really takes it out of them), and purchasing a few things to wash the car. I didn’t even have a sponge anywhere in my apartment… but now I do! A big honkin’ one that’s practically the size of my arm!I have never seen liquid wax before, though.The wax I found at the dollar store was the same brand as I was used to, but came in a bottle, not a round green tub that resembled an oversized tuna can. I purchased the strange item anyway. Couldn’t hurt.Between getting off work and covering the opening of a new wing i…

At the beginning of November

I can hardly believe I’ve spent two and a half months… make that four months… in my apartment, and have been working at the paper for nearly four… rather, over five months. It doesn’t seem like it’s been nearly that long.I suppose that’s what adulthood feels like—the days smush into each other, the weeks blur together and the months pass before you know it.Case in point: When I wrote those two paragraphs, I had titled this post “Halfway through September.” And it’s already November 1st.

Compendium of Links #16

This week I had a bunch of evening events to cover that were not meetings. Go figure! Well, one of them was a meeting, but it was on the same evening as two other non-meeting-events, so I still count that evening as a weird one.Nathan Busenitz (whoever he is) talks about the “I Can Do All Things” verse that everyone quotes (and that I wrote on my college graduation cap). Contrary to how most people take it, it’s about contentment. And I would certainly not change my decision to write it on my grad cap even after reading this:Out of context, Philippians 4:13 is used as a blank-check promise for whatever is desired. But in context, it is a verse is about contentment. It’s not about your dreams coming true or your goals being met. Rather it’s about being joyful, satisfied, and steadfast even when life is hard and your circumstances seem impossible. [all emphasis original]The BBC reports that an independent study (funded by interests whose goal is to discredit assertions that man’s action…

Life on my own #15: Crock-pot chicken

You know what living by myself means? I can make supper at whatever time I feel like. A very bachelor(ette)-esque thing to say, I know, but when I’m trying to work around a crazy journalistic schedule it’s something I’m highly grateful for!Another great supper-related perk is that I can make whatever I want. Even if it’s an experimental dish….A few days ago I decided to try out my new(-to-me) crock pot (or slow cooker, for the brand-conscious among us). In order to do this, I opened up my fancy-schmancy new (really, new, this time) crock pot recipe book. It’s chock-full of taste-tested recipes and one of them caught my eye: Chicken with Applesauce.Reason 1: It’s chicken.Reason 2: It’s applesauce.Reason 3: It has very few other ingredients.Reason 4: It’s chicken. (This cannot be stressed enough.)Therefore, I spent most of my lunch break that day preparing the recipe—browning the chicken, slicing it up into smaller pieces, and dumping together the applesauce, barbecue sauce, and… well t…

Keats on sharing nature

O Solitude! if I must with thee dwell,
Let it not be among the jumbled heap
Of murky buildings; climb with me the steep--
Nature’s observatory—whence the dell,
Its flowery slopes, its river’s crystal swell,
May seem a span; let me thy vigils keep
’Mongst boughs pavilioned, where the deer’s swift leap
Startles the wild bee from the foxglove bell.
But though I’ll gladly trace these scenes with thee,
Yet the sweet converse of an innocent mind,
Whose words are images of thoughts refined,
Is my soul’s pleasure; and it sure must be
Almost the highest bliss of humankind
When to thy haunts two kindred spirits flee.—John Keats’ first published poem

Compendium of Links #15

This week, I spent a lot of time on vacation… in Boston. You’ve read about it already, I’m sure, but I had to prevace this installment of the Compendia with that note because it explains why I’ve spent very, very little time browsing the Internet. Now for your feature presentation….An acquaintance from college is nearly finished with the Mystery Can Game. Read that linked post for the introduction, then follow his progress from his homepage.Kate Bolick, writing for The Atlantic (only one of my favorite magazines), thinks American society is moving beyond the ideal of traditional marriage. While I may not agree with her conclusion, the sociological observations she makes are intriguing. (Maybe off, too, but fun to read nevertheless.) In particular, I enjoyed the connections she made between the feminist ideology, the post-Boomer focus on emotional fulfillment, and the dearth of marriageable young males.We’re just crybabies in the Westexactly what I was telling my friends last weekend!…

The autumn woods

About six miles from my apartment, there’s a nature preserve, nearly all wooded.At night it could be freaky, but I find it fascinating. I said as much at a night hike that the local parks district held late last month.Just imagine—at night, the spiders are spinning, the crickets are chirping and the slugs… well, the slugs are doing whatever they do, I suppose. Sitting there and eating mushrooms. No joke, we found a bunch of slugs chowing down on some odd fungal growths on a log. Big critters too—the mushrooms must have been good for them.But the spiders—at night you shine your flashlight to the right and to the left as you slowly traverse the paths, and suddenly a thread of silk catches the light. Keep your beam shining upon it and you begin to see the entire web, in whatever shape the spider has found to fit the niche where it has made its home. Some of the webs are smaller than others. Most surprisingly, nearly all the spiders are themselves tiny, some of them too small to see more …

And it’s back to work

The only bad thing about vacations is that they end!After my wonderful trip to visit my college roomie, now going to grad school in Boston, I had one day to recover—thanks to long experience telling me I wouldn’t be either rested or prepared to go back to work immediately. I spent Wednesday sleeping, doing laundry, and generally taking it easy in order to be refreshed for the short workweek ahead. (Yes, very short.)Then came Thursday. It came early, too, beginning with a 7:30 a.m. meeting I had to cover. Such is the life of a reporter; my time, though flexible, is partly ruled by the meeting schedules of various governmental bodies. I barely dragged myself out of bed, still groggy from losing sleep over the entire extended weekend, and got to the morning meeting of the county park district.Doesn’t sound too enthralling, right? Actually it’s better than it sounds. It’s a good thing for the park district that their meetings are down-to-earth but not meandering! I look forward to coverin…

Life on my own #14: Photography in Boston

One of the many perks of being young and carefree: I can go pretty much… anywhere.That is, anywhere I can afford. But to be honest, most people have concerns other than financial that keep them in one place for most of their time. Me, all I have to worry about is if I have extra bucks in the budget and extra vacation time to use.I had some of both—and a very dear friend living about twelve hours away—so I took along a college chum and we drove to Boston from Ohio, stopping at my chum’s house on the way there (and back) for sleep. We had a glorious time visiting my college roommate. And to top off the wonderful vacation, my roomie took me to see the sights…And por supuesto, there are many more photographs, but that was a brief selection from our early wanderings. Besides sightseeing, we held a crazy hair and make-up party in order to record video of ourselves doing very silly things—all that in honor of another dear friend who is currently teaching English overseas at an international …

Missions in the context of worship

“Missions exists because worship doesn’t.” –John PiperThis week is missions conference at my newly adopted church. The featured missionary in yesterday’s morning service started by saying that the reason for missions couldn’t be as superficial as “Jesus said so in the Great Commission.”(And at a Christian and Missionary Alliance church as missions/Commission-focused as mine have been, that’s a weighty declaration.)Sure, he said, it was a command Jesus gave, but that couldn’t be the only basis for such a large-scale project. This missionary to Kosovo had wondered about the real reason for missions, the reason behind the mandate, even as early as his first months in college.But—what was the answer? It begins with this: Jesus calls us to be missionaries, each in his own way, for one purpose: To bring more people into the knowledge of God, to make them his worshippers.The purpose of all of life, reiterated the missionary, was to worship God, to give him glory in everything we do. Worship,…

Life on my own #13: Lost keys

A common misconception among the general public is that losing your keys is a subtle sign of dementia.It has to be the other way around—at least in my experience, it’s the lost keys that cause the dementia!Back at my parents’ house, there’s a message board hanging in the foyer of the house. Its importance lies not in the irrelevant shopping receipts and smudges attached to it, but in the four hooks at the bottom edge, from which all the house and car keys hang. Those hooks have prevented many a headache.At my little apartment, I have no such message board and certainly no such hooks. I really shouldn’t need them, should I? Young as I am, with no one else in the house to “move my cheese,” my keys are always right where I left them.In theory, that’s a perfect solution to the problem of lost keys. In practice, that’s as relevant as a pink buffalo. (Come on, when was a pink buffalo ever relevant to anything?)Many mornings, I’ve awakened rubbing my eyes and racking my brain for where I lef…

Compendium of Links #14 (Question edition)

This week I realized that half the random links I view are actually e-mailed to me by my editor. Who knows where she finds these things, but they’re oddities for sure. Like the first one…What would you do for five bucks? Would you do a video while speed drawing any funny character with a personalized message in the speech bubble? Would you send me five origami dresses? Would you crochet a small octopus? I am not making any of these up…But the real question is: Would you cheat on a test? An infographic from Wired Academic says most young people would. (Via @PaulGlader)Another good question: Does information really want to be free? Well, you could call it getting a free ride—and it just might ruin the very information (and music, or video, or whatever) it seeks to transmit. Or so says Robert Levine in The (U.K.) Observer, and he makes a good case for it:Technology executives aren't exactly shedding tears for companies such as EMI, saying they just can't compete online. But much …