links to 10 items worth your time

1. 18 striking findings from 2018

“Pew Research Center takes the pulse of Americans and people around the world on a host of issues every year. We explore public opinion on topics ranging from foreign policy to cyberbullying, as well as demographic trends, such as the emergence of the post-Millennial generation and changes in the number of unauthorized immigrants in the United States. Here are 18 of this year’s standout findings, taken from our analyses over the past year.”

2. What Happened When Dick’s Stared Down the Gun Lobby

“How can you truly be part of the conversation if you’ll only speak on your own terms?”

3. How to Fix the Apathy Problems in Schools [required reading]

“… this way of thinking has shifted the responsibility of learning, and of caring about learning, from the student to the teacher. Because it isn’t just administrators and parents who believe that it is a teacher’s job to make learning fun. Kids believe it, too.”

4. Generation – Not Millennials – is Changing the Nature of Work

“… Gen X is ‘America’s neglected ‘middle child’ …”

5. A bunch of millennials explained in a survey why they despise phone calls

“It’s simple: if you text or email someone, they can respond on their time. But if you call someone, they need to respond right now on your time. It’s just inconsiderate.”

6. Worry over kids’ excessive smartphone use is more justified than ever before

“New research funded by the National Institutes of Health found … lower cognitive skills among those using screens more than two hours a day.”

7. Email security best practices your team should be following right now

“The single biggest threat to your business’s online security is malicious emails.”

8. Facebook’s Data Sharing: 5 Takeaways From Our Investigation [required reading]

“… an investigation by The New York Times, based on hundreds of pages of internal Facebook documents and interviews with about 50 former employees of Facebook and its partners, reveals that the marketplace for that data is even bigger than many consumers suspected. And Facebook, which collects more information on more people than almost any other private corporation in history, is a central player. Here are five takeaways from our investigation.”

9. Is Listening to a Book the Same Thing as Reading It

“Our richest experiences will come not from treating print and audio interchangeably, but from understanding the differences between them and figuring out how to use them to our advantage — all in the service of hearing what writers are actually trying to tell us.”

10. A lawyer who represents cruise ship workers reveals the hardest job on a cruise ship

“Utility galley workers often work 12-14 hours per day, seven days per week for just $500-$700 per month … In some cases, they’re not able to take scheduled breaks, but are later required by their supervisors to change their timesheets to make it appear as if they took the breaks.”

links to 10 items worth your time

1. The cofounder of Casper wants to make home renovations less hellish

“Block Renovation won’t just redo your bathroom for you. The new startup will finish it in three weeks, for 25% less than you’d pay a regular contractor. … Right now, the service is only available in New York and New Jersey, but it will soon be available around the country. And the plan is to quickly expand beyond the bathroom to other rooms, like kitchens.”

2. A New Connection between the Gut and Brain

“… there is a growing body of work showing that there is communication between the gut and brain, now commonly dubbed the gut–brain axis. The disruption of the gut–brain axis contributes to a diverse range of diseases, including Parkinson’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome. …

“… the research unveils a previously undescribed gut–brain connection mediated by the immune system and indicates that excessive salt might negatively impact brain health in humans through impairing the brain’s blood vessels regardless of its effect on blood pressure.”

3. Here’s How Much Added Sugar You Should Eat in a Day

“The American Heart Association says men should eat no more than 9 teaspoons of added sugar (… 36 grams) and women should cap their daily amount at (… 25 grams). The World Health Organization and the U.S. government’s dietary guidelines are slightly more liberal: added sugars should take up less than 10 percent of your daily calories. For an adult that’s about 50 grams … To put all this in perspective, one 12-ounce can of Pepsi has 41 grams of added sugar.”

4. 22 Hidden Tricks Inside Windows 10

“Think you know Windows inside and out?”

5. Microsoft PowerPoint is getting real-time captions and subtitles for presentations

“The subtitles and captions are designed to help support the deaf or hard of hearing community, and even allow speakers to include a translation of a presentation. Live captions and subtitles will support 12 spoken languages and display on-screen in more than 60 different languages.”

6. The privacy risks of compiling mobility data

“A new study by MIT researchers finds that the growing practice of compiling massive, anonymized datasets about people’s movement patterns is a double-edged sword: While it can provide deep insights into human behavior for research, it could also put people’s private data at risk. … We need to keep thinking about the challenges in processing large-scale data, about individuals, and the right way to provide adequate guarantees to preserve privacy.”

7. How to Stop Apps From Tracking Your Location

“Hundreds of apps can follow your movements and share the details with advertisers, retailers and even hedge funds. Here’s how to limit the snooping.”

8. Facebook Wants to Know Where You are Going

“… if you want to keep using your Facebook account since it’s still your main way to keep in touch with your friends, you can turn off the Facebook’s location tracking features by following these steps …”

9. ACLU slams ‘nightmarish’ Amazon patent application to bring facial recognition to your front door

“‘It’s rare for patent applications to lay out, in such nightmarish detail, the world a company wants to bring about,’ said Jacob Snow, a technology and civil liberties attorney at the ACLU. ‘Amazon is dreaming of a dangerous future, with its technology at the center of a massive decentralized surveillance network, running real-time facial recognition on members of the public using cameras installed in people’s doorbells.’

“Amazon declined to comment for this story.”

10. 12 Simple Things You Can Do to Be More Secure Online

“Making your devices, online identity, and activities more secure really doesn’t take much effort. In fact, several of our tips about what you can do to be more secure online boil down to little more than common sense.”

links to 4+ helpful articles

1. When you’re grateful, your brain becomes more charitable [required reading]

“Practicing gratitude shifted the value of giving in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex. It changed the exchange rate in the brain. Giving to charity became more valuable than receiving money yourself. After the brain calculates the exchange rate, you get paid in the neural currency of reward, the delivery of neurotransmitters that signal pleasure and goal attainment. So in terms of the brain’s reward response, it really can be true that giving is better than receiving.”

2. Early Benchmarks Show ‘Post-Millennials’ on Track to Be Most Diverse, Best-Educated Generation Yet

“A demographic portrait of today’s 6- to 21-year-olds.”

3. Giving Thanks for Difficult People

“Give thanks for the difficult people in your life. Then, identify what’s in the way of being fully present. Take the time to resolve it, so that you can bring your full humanity, and your full spiritual powers, to bear.”

4. Your Child and Facebook are Not a Good Match

“What is happening with those photos once they’re uploaded?”

5. A Fact-Checker’s Guide to Thanksgiving Politics

“With the holiday on the heels of the midterm elections, sitting out a political food fight may be unavoidable. But it doesn’t have to be inaccurate. Arm yourself with the facts.”

what to do about using Facebook: a baker’s dozen of this man’s ways

1. Only with exceedingly rare and brief exception have Facebook on my phone or tablet.

2. Have, and keep constantly updated, quality anti-virus, malware detection, and ad-blocking software. Run scans by these regularly, even if they are already automated and constantly run in the background. In addition, keep a clean machine (e.g. – make regular use of CCleaner or similar software).

3. Never “sign in” to any account via another account (e.g. – “Sign in with Facebook”).

4. Refuse to do anything on any social media unless #’s 1-3 above are in place, working well, and are current.

5. Within Facebook, make sure Platform is turned off. [Settings > Apps]

6. Make sure zero check boxes are ticked under Apps Others Use. [Settings > Apps]

7. Select “Only Me” for Old Versions of Facebook for Mobile. [Settings > Apps]

8. Closely and regularly review answers to all eight questions under Privacy. Err on the side of restriction. [Settings > Privacy]

9. Select “Only Me” and “On” for all Timeline and Tagging Settings. [Settings > Timeline and Tagging]

10. Closely, and regularly, review all settings under six categories under Your Ad Preferences. [Settings > Ads] Again, err on the side of restriction.

11. Do not play any games or take any polls on any social media.

12. When posting, make rare use of tagging others and typically remove any tags that automatically appear.

13. Avoid skipping or putting off any of the preceding.

why am I still on Facebook?

 

Why is anyone on Facebook?

This is the question that I hear often, from all ages and sorts. Some ask that question as if to say, “I would’ve hoped that Facebook had died by now.” Others ask it meaning, “How I wish everyone was on Facebook!” These are only two, of course; no doubt the answers are Legion.

Why are you on Facebook?

Such is the question that is sometimes asked of me, and asked for a variety of reasons.

Why am I on Facebook?

I know this is the question I ask myself daily. Actually, with every single Facebook post. Literally.

So let me field those questions, particularly the latter two, right here. And why? Because I see myself as utilizing Facebook in a way different from most, and I do not want to be misunderstood.

I perceive a great many Facebook users as making use of it for the sake of (1) distraction, (2) delight, (3) the “different,” and/or (4) debate. Add to that list, (5) “the news.”

I make very little use of Facebook for distraction (e.g. – random, stream of consciousness posting, etc.). More so for delight (e.g. – pics of the grandkids, nature photography, etc.). Similarly in regard to “the different” (e.g. – a song that’s busted into my head and won’t leave, pics of odd things going out thru the church pantry, etc.). And add to that, some scrolling for “the news” (e.g. – prayer requests, matters of great joy or grief, etc.).

Now perhaps you noticed no reference to the word “debate” in that preceding paragraph. That was, significantly, quite deliberate; as in with a will. For I generally loathe debating matters in front of nearly eight hundred different people (my friends list) of all ages, backgrounds, beliefs, bias, burdens, etc. And why is that? Because I have found nearly no constructive good, and only a great deal of harm, typically coming from such activity, and so I like to sidestep such whenever possible.

The words of Ephesians 4 come to my mind often:

When you talk, do not say harmful things, but say what people need — words that will help others become stronger. Then what you say will do good to those who listen to you. (Eph. 4.29 NCV)

Which leads me to a word that describes my intent behind the lion’s share of my Facebook posts: direction. That is the word that I keep in mind as I operate on Facebook.

As in I seek to steer my friends towards resources they might have otherwise have missed or merely scanned that could be helpful to them (e.g. – articles that can sharpen our thinking, links to discoveries related to Bible places, etc.). I try to raise awareness and the level of conversation (e.g. – good things happening at church, world events through another’s eyes, etc.). I try to guide us in talking with God (e.g. – a prayer for the day) and to walk with words of insight or thoughtfulness (e.g. – quote for the day). And I want to direct folks toward good things they can do (e.g. – memorizing Scripture, an exercise for the day). Etc.

Direction. This is why I remain on Facebook – in an often confusing, chaotic, and crushing world, I deliberately seek to give some direction toward strength, structure, and sanity. To maneuver people away from pollution and the putrid toward higher purpose and purity. To channel our thoughts and energy toward healthy, productive ways and away from ways that, to be honest, do little more than fritter away time. Direction.

Now I certainly make no claim of perfection toward direction. But, I do claim real and sincere effort in that work. And, I do know the Author of all good guidance.

So, I seek to conduct myself so every day on Facebook. To the end that at least my wee portion of the Facebook world does not merely exist as a place of frivolity, for fight club, or feverish futility. With an eye on the One above and all those around us.

That is why I am Facebook, still. And why I still prefer private conversations, not the social media stage, for discussions of differences, etc. I see social media as a great place for starting thought and conversations; I see face-to-face as the place for having those two-way conversations. For the sake of understanding and development, accountability and civility, and just generally measured, non-knee-jerk response.

Let me speak plainly. Someone wants to talk with me face-to-face, hey, I’ve got time for them. Someone who wants to make a dustup and solve the world’s problems through a few texted words on my Facebook page, not so much. Discussion and debate isn’t the problem, but the general, abysmal lack of civility and respect that I find across the online experience. And so, I try to avoid enabling such behavior.

In some forms of online life, one can turn off comments (e.g. – as I have done with my blog). This forces people to talk with me in some more private means … where the odds of true understanding and productive interaction go way up. Facebook doesn’t offer such so … I need to be realistic about what can/will occur there. My blog is a billboard; my Facebook page is a coffee table … that I wish I could make more into like a billboard. Ha!

And now the words of an old song are busting my brain …

“Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood.”

Q & A: my political Facebook posts

 

Q. David, for someone who is apolitical, you certainly don’t shy away from posting links to articles on political subjects on your Facebook. Why is that?

A. I pray the news. I refuse to simply “scan and stew” over or “glance at and gossip about” news that appears in my news feed. Instead, I deliberately attempt to re-frame such in my mind so that they become prompts for me to pray. I believe such is a healthy way of engaging the news that helps me keep the leverage of spiritually-healthy habits in my own hands. That is, rather than just being a passive sponge soaking up what happens to come my way, I seek to actively take people and matters to God in prayer. That’s where they belong, right?

For example, if I come across piece that stirs up in me a reminder to pray for a person or people group spotlighted by that piece I am either not accustomed to praying for, then I pray for them, then and there. I occasionally share links to such posts, along with comments as to how that particular items moved me to pray, with hopes that it will spark in others similar prayers.

Q. While prayer is certainly good, wouldn’t it be better for you, and perhaps for all, to just ignore the whole political scene?

A. I think not. What good would that do? It isn’t like politics is going to just go away anytime soon or that people are going stop drinking in the news. No, we’re just like the ancient Athenians, aren’t we? (“For all Athenians, and even foreign visitors to Athens, had an obsession for any novelty and would spend their whole time talking about or listening to anything new.” – Acts 17.21, Phillips)

And so, if the news if going to wash up on us and we’re going to choose to swim in it, then someone needs to be modeling how to swim in the surf, how to avoid being carried out to see by the riptide, and how not to drown in the swell. I seek to humbly instruct. Period. Among other things, true Christ-followers seek to hold up to the Lord in prayer all who are leaders, not merely those we happen to agree with or who we want to see become leaders (1 Timothy 2.1-2).

Q. Noble. But really now, how many people do you think are actually going to take up seriously praying the news? You’re pretty much alone in this, buddy.

A. No, I don’t believe I’m alone in this by any means. And I seek to lay out and model good. Whether anyone else takes that up or not should have no bearing on my choice of doing what I understand to good in the light of Scripture. I believe I see many people making unhealthy choices all the time as to how they process, or fail to process, “the news.” I seek to hold up a good way of handling “the news” and leave what is done with all of that up to God and others.

Q. Well then, do you have any advice or thoughts in general about how to read your posts, particularly if they link to political matters?

A. Do remember, I am apolitical and so, I refuse to stump for or promote any particular candidate anywhere. If you find some news links I post offensive, recall that they just might have been offensive to me in some way, too. I post not because I necessarily agree or disagree with everything in a piece, but because I know others are likely encountering the same or similar and because such posts prompted me to do the very best thing I could do – talk with God in some way about it all.

links: this went thru my mind

Here are links to five articles that I’ve found to be interesting and helpful reading.

Achievement, expectations, humility, service, success & the will of God: God’s Not Looking for Heroes

“We don’t all need to be heroes. Jesus is the Hero. The Hero came 2000 years ago. So He’s already the Hero. He’s not looking for heroes, He’s looking for co-laborers. The challenge is, most people want to be co-stars, not co-laborers. If you actually understood what it was to be a co-laborer, you could labor wherever you are.”

America, culture, individualism, materialism, nationalism, patriotism, values & war: American Values Are Not Necessarily Christian Values

“… [there can be] no excuse for conflating country and church. We can appreciate and even respect the nation in which we reside, but we must not forget that our status is as foreigner and exiles. (1 Peter 2:11)”

American Sniper, cinema, deception, distortion, evil, film, movies & payback: Clint Eastwood’s Sniper, and the American Messiah [essential reading]

“This is the problem with the white-hat black-hat narrative of Hollywood: when ‘they’ do what ‘we’ do (though ‘they,’ of course, poor saps, are just not as efficient in their killing as ‘we’ are) it is evil, but when Americans do it, it is heroic. Eastwood’s Kyle insists he is doing what he does because he does not want terrorists in our neighborhoods here. Yet he participates in the invasion of a country that had nothing to do with 9/11; a country who was headed by, no doubt, a despot but a despot who had furthered his hold on power by the support of our own country; and when those people fight back because they don’t want foreign invaders in their streets, it’s ‘evil’ like Eastwood’s Kyle has never yet imagined.”

Anger, bitterness, forgiveness, hatred & resentment: A Holocaust Survivor, Spared From Gas Chamber By Twist Of Fate

“Anger doesn’t get you anyplace. Hate doesn’t get you anyplace.”

Attention span, authority, church, commitment, Facebook & social media: 5 Ways Facebook May be Harming Your Church

“What effect does ‘social media’ technology have on the way we view church? What effect does it have on the way we conceive of life in the body of Christ?”