Tools or Tie-Ups?

For those who know me well, you will probably laugh at a post like this because I am most guilty of all. But after all that is part of the point of writing.

There are so many great gadgets and tools available. For just about any task imaginable someone, somewhere, has done it before and come up with something to make the task easier. Whether it is changing a tire on a car, making a pot of coffee, reading a book, or learning another language. There are tools available that are designed to make that task easier, or simpler, or more efficient.

This is a great thing. It is also a dangerous thing.

There is a danger that the tools become an end in themselves. Or maybe it doesn’t go that far but rather than making the task more efficient they actually end up becoming a distraction.

So before you start into learning how to use that newest tool for organizing your files or signing up for the latest program consider if it is going to be a tie-up or a tool.

 

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Monday Mentions→

Here are some of the stories of interest over the last few days and heading into this next week.

Cruise Liner Capsizes –

A Carnival Cruise ship, the Costa Concordia wrecked over the weekend off the Western coast of Italy. The boat struck rocks that caused a massive hole in the side of the ship. Most of the 4,200 passengers on board were able to safely make it to shore. Unfortunately 6 have been confirmed dead. The wreck which occurred during calm seas and clear visibility is suspected to be due to human error. The captain is currently under extreme scrutiny and may face manslaughter charges in the case.

Huntsman drops out – The quest for the Republican presidential nominee is in full swing. Now that primary season has started we have results besides just opinion polls. After strong showings in Iowa and New Hampshire, Mitt Romney seems to have delivered on the expectations that had him as the front runner throughout most of the past few months. The upcoming primary in South Carolina will be a significant indicator if there is a “anybody but Mitt” candidate to be found or if the party has begun to unite around Romney in hopes that he can defeat Obama this fall.

How to Focus – Ever have trouble focusing? You know, you need to write that paper and you do everything but. Or you just can’t wait to get into the novel, but you have to check the headlines and the sports scores and twitter. No? Okay, well this was great for me. Just a graphic with some practical ideas for how to focus.

BIG news in Chinese Politics – How big? Well, about 7’6 big. Former NBA player Yao Ming who retired after chronic injuries has begun to pursue involvement in Chinese Politics, among other things. At 31 he is now the youngest, and certainly the tallest, of the 142 members of an advisory committee to Shanghai’s legislature. Yao who is extremely popular in his homeland has also begun importing his own wine, from Napa, CA, and also enrolled in a University in his hometown of Shanghai.

Monday’s Links→

Over the weekend I spent some time thinking and talking over the schedule for posting and think I have it worked out. Rather than spell it out here, I’ll put it into practice and let you figure it out!

To start of the week here are some links to interesting or otherwise notable articles. (In time maybe I’ll come up with a catchy or corny title for it like “Monday Mentions” or “Lead-off Links” or something like that)

So here you go…

A Brother’s Reflection on His Brother’s death – This is now a few weeks old but I read it this morning and found it quite gripping. It is the response of Peter Hitchens on the death of his brother Christopher Hitchens. The way he describes his brother is: Courageous.

“Courage is deliberately taking a known risk, sometimes physical, sometimes to your livelihood, because you think it is too important not to. […] I’ve mentioned here before C.S.Lewis’s statement that courage is the supreme virtue, making all the others possible. It should be praised and celebrated, and is the thing I‘d most wish to remember.”

A Top Military Man Arrested – For those who have followed Turkish politics at all this is a fairly significant development. There is a positive development of more transparency and civilian oversight of the military but also a negative trend of arbitrary arrests and an abuse of the judicial system. It’s a story to watch.

Goodbye Google, Facebook, and Twitter – Can you imagine if all three of those services shut down? Just gone? What would it do to you? I know much of my communication with friends and family around the world is run through those services. It could happen. Why? It is being discussed as a protest to SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) that will fundamentally change the way the internet works. It is an interesting – and perhaps sobering idea.

Iran Sentences an American to Death – American Amir Mirzaei Hekmati has been sentenced to death for allegedly spying on Iran for the CIA. Iran again seems to be occupying a lot of headline space in American media. It is definitely a country to keep your eye on. Although Fareed Zakaria offers his opinion that Iran is in fact growing weaker.

BRONCOS WIN – It just seems appropriate! Last night was a GREAT football game. The Broncos won an overtime. There are a lot of story lines from this season (most involve Tim Tebow in one way or another). Now on to face the New England Patriots (again).

Broncos Legend and Current VP John Elway and QB Tim Tebow

Did you know?→

A few days ago I shared a video of population growth. This one has some similarities but goes much broader in cataloging changes that are happening.

Did you know?

Particularly striking to me is the application to education. How do you teach students for a world that doesn’t exist yet and is changing faster than ever? How do you prepare them for jobs that don’t exist yet? What would you focus on? What would you hope every student was taught?

The Unexamined Life↑

It’s been a little while since I’ve posted. I have a few book reviews coming shortly. But wanted to just share a quick thought I had today while listening to a podcast.

The speaker was talking about the problem of pleasure. We often consider the problem of pain. When life goes wrong people tend to question the justness or the fairness. If they have a belief in God perhaps they wonder about his character. If they are considering God perhaps at this point they blame him or reject him because pain is hard. We can all resonate to this challenge in some way, I think.

What about the problem of pleasure?

The speaker borrowed an illustration from a book that I’ve heard often referenced that unfortunately I haven’t read yet (and refers to two others that I also want to read!). In the introduction to Amusing Ourselves to Death, Neil Postman contrasts the conceptions that two authors had of the future. On the one hand is George Orwell’s 1984and on the author is Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. In the one life is so restricted that people are unable to think. In the other people are so saturated with distractions they are unable to think. The illustration is further developed and showed how easily the enjoyable can detract from the meaningful.

This is a problem I face myself – often. It is easy to get caught up in the endless pursuit of…pursuing something anything. Really just chasing distraction – grasping after wind. In this sense it is an unexamined life.

Is that a goal worth chasing?