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Week In Review

Another Week Ends: Apple's Future; the Problem with Present-ism; Rick, Morty, Jim Carrey, and JAZ; Denis Johnson's Darkness; Bergman's Light; and HGTV-Fights

Another Week Ends: Apple’s Future; the Problem with Present-ism; Rick, Morty, Jim Carrey, and JAZ; Denis Johnson’s Darkness; Bergman’s Light; and HGTV-Fights

1. At Apple’s Keynote on Tuesday, Tim Cook – in classic Jobs style – gave a short history of television. The first stage was black and white, and the second was color. A third was HD. Now, he assured his audience, we’re at another “inflection point” in television history: Apple TV 4K.

In hindsight, the original iPhone really did present such an inflection point: it dramatically changed the way we live our lives. People that attended that original keynote were, in a sense, present for the making of history. I’m not sure how well that holds up, actually–if one of my…

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Another Week Ends: Lonely Campuses, Unvisited Tombs, Cajun Navies, Misguided Minds, Big Ideas, and Low High Schools

Another Week Ends: Lonely Campuses, Unvisited Tombs, Cajun Navies, Misguided Minds, Big Ideas, and Low High Schools

1. With Labor Day behind us and Fall semester officially begun, it’s no wonder that higher education is back in the national spotlight. If only the news were a bit lighter… Alas, the atmosphere out there is one of concern bordering on alarm, and while the explanations vary, there seems to be widespread agreement that we’re experiencing something of breakdown in our nation’s universities, not just along ideological lines (predominantly left vs far left) but generational ones as well (students vs faculty, faculty vs administrators).

Writing in The NY Times, however, Frank Bruni claims the “real campus scourge” is not censoriousness…

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Another Week Ends: Houston, Taylor Swift, Smartphones, Broken Window Policing, the Silicon Valley Hustle, and the Shape of Water

Another Week Ends: Houston, Taylor Swift, Smartphones, Broken Window Policing, the Silicon Valley Hustle, and the Shape of Water

1. A gut-punch for all of us smartphone-using Millennials (or parents thereof). The Atlantic’s massive feature piece, “Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?” painstakingly catalogs all the ways that our devices have ruined the mental health outlook for today’s young people, referred to in the essay as “iGen” teenagers. These teenagers, who were born after the birth of the internet, and have had access to iPhones and similar “screen time” since early childhood, have staggering rates of depression and loneliness—moving towards what the author, psychologist Jean Twenge, describes as “the brink of the worst mental-health crisis in decades.”

Even when a seismic…

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Another Week Ends: The End of the World, the Illusion of Sigmund Freud, the Anthropology of Jerry Lewis, Clean Eating, Tech Panic, and the Hangovers of Young Behavioral Scientists

Another Week Ends: The End of the World, the Illusion of Sigmund Freud, the Anthropology of Jerry Lewis, Clean Eating, Tech Panic, and the Hangovers of Young Behavioral Scientists

1. This morning, I found myself engrossed in The Guardian’s latest “long read,” an essay by Dina Nayeri, “Yearning for the End of the World.” Nayeri writes about growing up in Iran during the revolution, attending an underground church that ached for the Rapture. Her family fled to America in 1989, only to find a similar eschatology there. Her story traces a somewhat obvious trajectory from one extreme to the other—from Revelation to Christopher Hitchens—but not without making some perceptive observations first:

In my intimate hilltop church [in Oklahoma], discussions took on a frantic, impatient new tone. “We live in end times!” our congregation…

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Another Week Ends (in Charlottesville)

Another Week Ends (in Charlottesville)

I’ll be honest with you. It would’ve been nice to return from sabbatical some other week.

As you might imagine, a front row seat gives the viewer a different perspective. But you’d think it would loosen the tongue, not tie it up. Why haven’t I been able to write about what took place here last weekend?

Well, for starters, I am (we are) still very much dealing with the local fallout. I’m referring to the incredibly kind teaching aide at my son’s elementary school who was jumped and beaten because of his skin color, and wondering if he’s going to be able…

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Another Week Ends: Self-Citation, GoT Fatigue, Pros and Cons of Moral Lit, Wonder in Children's Books (and Movies), Millennial GENESI$, and Funeral Etiquette

Another Week Ends: Self-Citation, GoT Fatigue, Pros and Cons of Moral Lit, Wonder in Children’s Books (and Movies), Millennial GENESI$, and Funeral Etiquette

1. In the academic world this week, a new study looks at self-citations among academics. One had 7,000 citations, which is pretty good–but more than 1400 of those came from his own (later) work. There’s some ‘bootstrapping’ for you. The study also found that men over the last couple hundred years have cited to themselves 56% more than women, with 70% more from 1991 to 2011.

In a footnote, the paper’s authors — three women and two men — dryly note that the pattern holds among themselves as well: “The men authors of this paper cite themselves at nearly three times the average…

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Another Week Ends: Humane Prisons, Stranger Things 2, U.F.O.s, Venmo FOMO, Heretical Statistics, and Always Being Wrong

Another Week Ends: Humane Prisons, Stranger Things 2, U.F.O.s, Venmo FOMO, Heretical Statistics, and Always Being Wrong

1. Another week, another opportunity to get jealous of Norway. In Mother Jones’ July/August Issue, Dashka Slater reports that North Dakota is experimenting with Norway’s “humane” prison system (which has been mentioned on our site before, here and here. Also, don’t forget the interview Ethan did with Norwegian prison warden Arne Nilsen for The Forgiveness Issue. Amazing stuff.)

Needless to say, humane prison procedures are beautiful examples of grace in practice and “left-handed power,” which Robert Farrar Capon defines as “precisely paradoxical power: power that looks for all the world like weakness, intervention that seems indistinguishable from nonintervention” (Kingdom, Grace, Judgment).

In North Dakota, “left-handed power” seems…

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Another Week Ends: Accountability Adventures, Word Violence, Linkin Park, Religious Activism, Dealing with Our S*%!, and Doing Yoga with the Rishi

Another Week Ends: Accountability Adventures, Word Violence, Linkin Park, Religious Activism, Dealing with Our S*%!, and Doing Yoga with the Rishi

1. First up, an insightful opinion piece from Mary Laura Philpott in the NYT: “My Adventures with Accountability” (ht MM). Philpott explains how, as a driven writer, healthy-eater, and generally savvy twenty-first century woman, she uses accountability groups to aid her in achieving her goals. Hey, I’ve heard of that before. But I first learned of accountability partners, not from slick businesspeople or competitive entrepreneurs, but from Christians, of all people, with whom I shared an interest in living my best life now. Since we considered ourselves good people, on Jesus’ team, we needed friends who would help us achieve our goals of…

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Another Week Ends: Prosecutors of Play, Video Gamers, Harvard Helicopters, Mimamoru, Starbucks Therapists, and Going To the Bone

Another Week Ends: Prosecutors of Play, Video Gamers, Harvard Helicopters, Mimamoru, Starbucks Therapists, and Going To the Bone

1. A very timely, and heartwarming, little essay from our friend Mark Galli entitled “A Theology of Play,” which has a lot to say about the inner-critics and scorekeepers that can trouble the summer frame of mind. Galli, who is a golfer and fisherman, describes the litany of moral reasons, practical reasons, and theological reasons he must lay out to defend himself from the accusations of uselessness and wastefulness of enjoying himself. These are the inner-lawyers with whom Galli must contend:

The prosecutors rest their case on a common but questionable assumption: That life’s highest purpose is to work, to get…

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Another Week Ends: Wellness Epidemics, Praying with Kesha, Novelizing The Kingdom, and Confirmation Naivety

Another Week Ends: Wellness Epidemics, Praying with Kesha, Novelizing The Kingdom, and Confirmation Naivety

1. First up, Amy Larocca over at The Cut delves into “The Wellness Epidemic,” ht CB:

Paltrow began to describe in detail her exercise regimen with her trainer Tracy Anderson, who believes one should work out two hours a day, six days a week. Then she began providing information on a cleanse she does each January. The mission became less about revealing the trappings of the good life and more about the notion that the really good life is internal. Rich and beautiful people don’t just go to nicer places, their organs work better. They even know how to breathe better, with more…

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Another Week Ends: Vanishing Adults, Mysterious Loss, "Spiritual" Mental Health, A Tragi-Comic Religion, Humanities vs. Engineering, and the Power of Groupthink

Another Week Ends: Vanishing Adults, Mysterious Loss, “Spiritual” Mental Health, A Tragi-Comic Religion, Humanities vs. Engineering, and the Power of Groupthink

1. I recently had a conversation with an elderly woman who became supremely concerned over whether or not I would work on the 4th of July. “Surely you’ll take off a federal holiday,” she intoned. I admitted that I probably would but hadn’t made any plans yet. That wasn’t enough to defuse the tizzy that followed, an agonized cascade of complaints about workaholism, how young people these days are married to their jobs. “I get it,” she lamented; “there are ladders to climb, there’s money to save. But is work all there is?”

This week, B.D. McClay asked a similar question…

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Another Week Ends: The Big Sick, The Bigger Sick, Hard Drive Malfunctions, Us-Them Problems, "Psychological Safety" and Creative Relaxation

Another Week Ends: The Big Sick, The Bigger Sick, Hard Drive Malfunctions, Us-Them Problems, “Psychological Safety” and Creative Relaxation

1. Another week ends, another writer gets fed up with positive thinking. This one was written by Freddie deBoer, a writer and teacher who just moved to New York and become acquainted with the writer scene there. This new world is as meritocratic and ambitious as he once suspected it was. As he says, “There’s a series of mini-Hollywoods that are tiny and meaningless to the wider world but which are tracked as obsessively as real Hollywood is by the tabloid press, by the people inside them. I never had this problem in Indiana.”

But what’s exceptional about this piece, entitled,…

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