America

Another Week Ends: Health As Wealth, A New(ish) Take on Addiction, More DFW, Cellular Dependence, and Francis I

Another Week Ends: Health As Wealth, A New(ish) Take on Addiction, More DFW, Cellular Dependence, and Francis I

1. Whatever form the Law takes, dictated by fickle zeitgeist, it leaves behind a few years later. Forms can be remarkably inconsistent among different demographics, and after we finally escape one form of (little-l) law, we look back and scorn it, wondering how we (or anyone else) ever could’ve gotten so attached to it. For example, masculinity: the more and more we escape the pressure for men to be super macho, the more contemptible we find its earnest expression, as if embarrassed by our previous adherence. Even commercials which target the lowest common denominator of the masculine – such as Axe –…

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Kobe Bryant and Urban Meyer – Two Alpha Males Pass in the Night

Kobe Bryant and Urban Meyer – Two Alpha Males Pass in the Night

Kobe Bryant and Urban Meyer – two guys at the top of their sports professions earlier this century (both leading their teams to multiple championships) – were in the news these past few weeks. Meyer, of course, on Monday night became only the 8th coach in NCAA history with three or more National Championships.  This was certainly the most improbable of the three as his Ohio State Buckeyes (behind a 3rd string QB) manhandled Oregon by 3+ touchdowns. Meanwhile over at Grantland, Brian Phillips wrote a definitive piece on the downward trajectory of NBA icon Kobe Bryant (h/t DZ).

Prior to…

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On Playing Catch Up (In Case You Missed It)

On Playing Catch Up (In Case You Missed It)

God bless Portlandia. Their first season contained a skit that has proven to be more than a little prophetic. In case you missed it (ICYMI):

On the surface, Fred and Carrie are emphasizing how people compete over being well informed, how prideful our relationship with information has become. They’re lampooning a world where ‘staying on top of things’ has become an increasingly treasured form of righteousness, where the mastery of information–for certain personality types–is as tantalizing as it is illusive.

One expression of this pursuit is the barrage of links we receive and share with others over social media. Taken individually, such…

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Hannah Arendt on Escape and the Self-Made Man

From the prologue to The Human Condition:

tumblr_mxwr56t2Dp1qdl1hxo1_1280In 1957, an earth-born object made by man was launched into the universe… The immediate reaction, expressed on the spur of the moment, was relief about the first “step toward escape from men’s imprisonment to the earth”… What is new [in this comment] is only that one of this country’s most respectable newspapers finally brought to its front page what up to then had been buried in the highly non-respectable literature of science fiction (to which, unfortunately, nobody yet has paid the attention is deserves as a vehicle of mass sentiments and mass desires). The banality of the statement should not make us overlook how extraordinary in fact it was; for although Christians have spoken of the earth as a vale of tears and philosophers have looked upon their body as a prison of mind or soul, nobody in the history of mankind has ever conceived of the earth as a prison for men’s bodies or shown such eagerness to go literally from here to the moon. Should the emancipation and secularization of the modern age, which began with a turning-away, not necessarily from God, but from a god who was the Father of men in heaven, end with an even more fateful repudiation of an Earth who was the Mother of all living creatures under the sky? …and the wish to escape the human condition, I suspect, also underlies the hope to extend man’s lifespan far beyond the hundred-year limit.

This future man, whom the scientists tell us they will produce in no more than a hundred years, seems to be possessed by a rebellion against human existence as it has been given, a free gift from nowhere (secularly speaking), which he wishes to exchange, as it were, for something he has made himself.

Lucinda Williams and All the Forgettable Epiphanies

Lucinda Williams and All the Forgettable Epiphanies

Tuesday was the Feast of the Epiphany, the day in which we celebrate the Christ child revealed to the Magi, the rulers of the East, the Word of God made plain to the Gentiles. It brings to a close the twelve days of Christmas, and what a way to do it–with the showcasing of God’s Son to the whole pagan world, not just the choicest cuts.

And what was Lucinda Williams doing? Besides preparing for a short tour along the Gulf of Mexico, she was mourning the death of her father, Miller Williams, the acclaimed poet whose lyrics actually open the…

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Sneezing Over Sushi (On the Cult of Productivity, Take 76b)

Sneezing Over Sushi (On the Cult of Productivity, Take 76b)

The New Yorker made me laugh out loud this morning with their poking fun at the ever-escalating ‘cult of productivity’ in this country. In their Daily Shouts column, “3 under 3″, Marc Philippe Eskenazi introduced us to “the innovators and disruptors of 2014, all under the age of three years old, all impatient to change the world.” It’s really funny. For example, their top “pick” is two and a half year old Cheryl Kloberman, who is apparently making major strides as an Energy Conservationist:

What does it take to power an entire household with a flick of a switch? This toddler…

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2014 Sports Superlatives

2014 Sports Superlatives

Here are the (in reverse order) five “sports superlatives” for 2014.  My pledge to you – to try not to be obligatory (think the “anti-ESPY Award” version of sports superlatives, with one self-indulgent exception).  For the most part, this sports year wasn’t marked by numerous, amazing things we’ve never seen before. So, we’ll have to expand our boundaries and categories a tad in order to include the moments, performances, and trends that best put the year in perspective.

5. Most Influential Trend in Sports – The Advent of the MLB “Power Pitcher” –  From MLB.com’s John Schlegel:

It’s no secret pitching has…

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…and Auld Lang Syne! What We Missed in 2014

…and Auld Lang Syne! What We Missed in 2014

So much content, so little time! Even with all the contributors and weekenders, stories slip through the cracks all year long. Here’s a bunch of stories that would have been great to explore if there were more than 365 days to write. A special thanks to our Twitter followers for your help putting this list together–always feel free to share your finds with us at @mockingbirdnyc! Without further adieu, here’s a sample of what we missed:

Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall I refill my brother’s appetizer plate at TGI Fridays? Up to seven times?” Jesus…

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Another Week Ends: Exotic Magi, Histories of Christmas, More Elves on Shelves, Rand Reviews Children’s Movies, and More Messes of Help

Another Week Ends: Exotic Magi, Histories of Christmas, More Elves on Shelves, Rand Reviews Children’s Movies, and More Messes of Help

Housekeeping thing: a few copies of A Mess of Help sent out had lots of 5s in their tables of contents. Let us know if you got one of those, and we’ll send a new one.

1. As we’re getting into the Christmas spirit, The Economist makes a surprising contribution with a survey of the Magi’s reception history. Apparently the men were likely astrologers/sages of some sort, but people found kings more appealing. In medieval times, some strange theologians talk about massive royal retinues encamped outside Bethlehem, etc. And in other strains of the tradition, they were bumbling traveler types, something in between the…

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Reflections on America’s Happiest City

Reflections on America’s Happiest City

Four and a half months ago, Charlottesville, VA was named the happiest city in America. As the happiest blogger in the happiest city, I feel like I should do some commenting.

In the original paper for the happiness study, the researchers are careful to note that they’re measuring only “self-reported” happiness, a qualifier lost in some of the news outlets which reported it. To oversimplify things, we could view one’s self-reported level of happiness as consisting of three factors: (1) happiness itself, (2) pressures to lie on the survey, and (3) self-deception about perceived happiness. Since the survey was anonymous and Sandford,…

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Fury at the Cross(roads): The Gospel in the Violence of History

Fury at the Cross(roads): The Gospel in the Violence of History

Another great contribution from Michael W. Nicholson, this reflection on the film Fury’s religious dimension first appeared on his blog, Tides of God.

The most religious film many moviegoers will see this year will not be an inspirational story from a faith-based production company; it will be writer-director David Ayer’s WWII tank combat epic Fury. And in some ways Fury is also a more compelling narrative about redemption than many of the sermons preached from Church pulpits on any given Sunday.

Fury is a slice-of-combat-life story that follows a few days’ action of a Sherman tank crew during the final campaign against Germany in…

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Idols of Nostalgia and the Downfall of Doc Huxtable

Idols of Nostalgia and the Downfall of Doc Huxtable

It’s hard to cross the Internet these days without reading an update on Bill Cosby’s falling star. As of this writing, a planned NBC comeback sitcom has been cancelled, and other new initiatives (like an ill-conceived social media meme push) have been met with anger and sarcasm. Perhaps most salient: TV Land has quietly stopped airing reruns of The Cosby Show, the sitcom that rocketed Bill Cosby to the national spotlight in the 80s. I missed the golden years of Dr. Huxtable and clan on The Cosby Show, so I’ve been discovering in tandem the tremendous legacy of hope that was Cosby’s acting work…

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