Apr

19

2012

Joe Carter|11:00 PM CT

Thirty Three Things (v. 4)

1. Sexual Healing

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2. Christianity the Only Means of Eternal Life? Some Pastors Disagree

Seventy-seven percent of the pastors questioned said that they strongly disagree with the statement and seven percent somewhat disagreed. Another seven percent somewhat agreed and five percent strongly agreed. Three percent said they are not sure.

The educational level of the pastor played a role in their decision making. Pastors with a graduate degree were more likely to strongly agree with the statement, and less likely to strongly disagree, compared to pastors with a bachelor's degree or less.

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3. Walk the Prank: Secret Story of Mysterious Portrait at Pentagon

In a Pentagon hallway hung an austere portrait of a Navy man lost at sea in 1908, with his brass buttons, blue-knit uniform and what looks like meticulously blow-dried hair.

Wait. Blow-dried hair?

The portrait of "Ensign Chuck Hord," framed in the heavy gilt typical of government offices, may be the greatest---or perhaps only---prank in Pentagon art history. "Chuck Hord" can't be found in Navy records of the day. It isn't even a real painting. The textured, 30-year-old photo is actually of Capt. Eldridge Hord III, 53 years old, known to friends as "Tuck," a military retiree with a beer belly and graying hair who lives in Burke, Va.

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4. The real story on shipwrecks: Women and children last

The recently re-released film "Titanic" did a lot of legwork convincing us that, if you're on a sinking ship, you definitely do not want to be a dude. Women and children first, right?

Wrong. Swedish economists Mikael Elinder and Oscar Erixson crunch the numbers on shipwreck survivors and find that women and children fare the worst, while ship captains and crew members have especially high survival rates.

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5. A Bald Barbie to Comfort Kids with Cancer

Mattel, the makers of Barbie, announced last month that a hairless "friend of Barbie" will "be distributed exclusively to children's hospitals and other hospitals treating children with cancer throughout the U.S. and Canada, directly reaching girls who are most affected by hair loss." The decision came after a Facebook group called "Beautiful and Bald Barbie! Let's see if we can get it made" scored thousands of "likes" within hours of its creation.

Beckie Sypin, co-founder of the cause, has a 12-year-old daughter who lost all of her hair after chemotherapy treatment. Syprin told ABC News that "the hope [of the campaign] is that a bald Barbie will help children with cancer and others who have lost their hair due to illness---such as alopecia and trichotillomania---cope with their conditions." Photographer and co-founder Jane Bingham also lost her hair during treatment for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. "One of the major reasons [we started the campaign] was to reduce the stigma for women and children who have hair loss---being not accepted to be able to go out in public without something covering their head, whether it be a wig or a scarf or that sort of thing," Bingham told NPR's All Things Considered. "Their beauty and their self-worth is not dependent upon their hair."

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6. The Top Five Guiding Principles for Ministries

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7. Weird News of the Week: Taliban commander turns self in... for reward on 'Wanted' poster

Mohammad Ashan, a mid-level Taliban commander in Paktika province, strolled toward a police checkpoint in the district of Sar Howza with a wanted poster bearing his own face. He demanded the finder's fee referenced on the poster: $100.

[. . .]

When U.S. troops went to confirm that Ashan had in fact come forward to claim the finder's fee, they were initially incredulous.
"We asked him, 'Is this you?' Mohammad Ashan answered with an incredible amount of enthusiasm, 'Yes, yes, that's me! Can I get my award now?'" recalled SPC Matthew Baker.

A biometric scan confirmed that the man in Afghan custody was the insurgent they had been looking for.

"This guy is the Taliban equivalent of the 'Home Alone" burglars," one U.S. official said.

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8. What Happens If You Drive Off with the Gas Pump Nozzle Still in the Car?

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9. Why It's Sometimes Beneficial to Lose a Competition

By graduation, students at Stanford Law and other elite law schools have been racking up credentials and awards for well over a dozen years. The pinnacle of post law school credentialism is landing a Supreme Court clerkship. After graduating from SLS in '92 and clerking for a year on the 11th Circuit, Peter Thiel was one of the small handful of clerks who made it to the interview stage with two of the Justices. That capstone credential was within reach. Peter was so close to winning that last competition. There was a sense that, if only he'd get the nod, he'd be set for life. But he didn't.

Years later, after Peter built and sold PayPal, he reconnected with an old friend from SLS. The first thing the friend said was, "So, aren't you glad you didn't get that Supreme Court clerkship?" It was a funny question. At the time, it seemed much better to be chosen than not chosen. But there are many reasons to doubt whether winning that last competition would have been so good after all. Probably it would have meant a future of more insane competition. And no PayPal. The pithy, wry version of this is the line about Rhodes Scholars: they all had a great future in their past.

This is not to say that clerkships, scholarships, and awards don't often reflect incredible accomplishment. Where that's the case, we shouldn't diminish it. But too often in the race to compete, we learn to confuse what is hard with what is valuable.

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10. Change a Habit in Three Steps with This Flowchart

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11. Why Are Some Seminarians Angry Nerds?

Is it me or is there a growing number of theologically conservative preachers, teachers and seminary students who just seem ticked off all of the time? They soak in all of their "ologies" (Soteriology, Hamartiology, Christology, Pneumatology, etc) and come out of their Bible bathtubs bubbling with bitterness, bile and bite. Sadly, they are marked more by their pointed index fingers and furrowed brows than the joy of Christ.

Don't get me wrong. I'm all for the "ologies" and am passionate about rightly dividing the Word of God. On a theological level I'm pretty stinkin' conservative myself. But it seems to me that Biblical truth should not make us angry nerds who lash out at others who don't line up with our point of view, especially on the issues that don't matter as much. Jots and tittles shouldn't be the Kibbles n' Bits we feed on. Instead we must feast on the love of God himself and then invite others to join the feast! Strong theology should fill our hearts, not with rage, but awe, joy and gratefulness.

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12. The fastest man on four legs

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13. Cross-Gender Friendships: What's Appropriate for Married People?

Before I got married I was single for 28 years, and I learned a lot during that time. One lesson? That it can be horribly lonely as a single person in the church, especially given the popular teachings about marital boundaries.

Although I respect every married couple's right to define boundaries in their own way, these boundaries can be painful. As a single woman I often felt like a sexual object to be handled like fire. I grieved the loss of male friends who, rather than invite me into friendship with their wives, ended our friendship altogether.

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14. Why We Should Not Use Abortion Statistics

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15. The Country With No Artists

There are no artists in North Korea. This is what dissident painter Song Byeok tried to explain to me as we sat in an art gallery in Columbia Heights, surrounded by huge pop art depictions of Song's oppressed countrymen and their eternal Supreme Leaders.

"Not a single independent artist in the entire country?" I asked.

"There just can't be. There cannot be," Song repeated. "When you block someone's ears and eyes since you're born, you don't even think about doing something individualistic like that."

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16. Animal Video of the Week: Vacuuming the Corbi

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17. Our tax system is often said to be "Byzantine." Was the Byzantine system of government especially complex?

Only compared to those of medieval Europe. Ceremony and ritual were important features of the imperial court at Constantinople. Guests at royal banquets were assigned titles that denoted where they could sit in relation to the emperor, whom they could talk to, and what they were allowed to discuss. Eventually, the rituals became so complex that treatises were written to help outsiders understand proper etiquette, and the emperor employed officials to teach newbies how to behave. During this period, Western Europeans had lost a taste for the pomp and circumstance of empire. Their leaders were little more than feudal lords who more closely resembled generals than true emperors, although they sometimes carried that title. Ambassadors to Constantinople complained loudly about the formality of the court: For example, in the late 10th century, Liutprand of Cremona, who traveled twice to Byzantium as an ambassador of German emperor Otto, wrote a book in which he bemoaned the overly choreographed Byzantine court ceremonies. Still, Byzantium was far less complicated than any modern government.

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18. Are you smart enough to work for Google? Try solving these puzzles.

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19. On the Difference between Christ and Christ-figures:

Christ is the savior of the human race, who died and rose from the dead, thereby breaking the power of death over the human race. He is the Savior. A Christ-figure is a character in literature who takes on characteristics of Christ within the world of the story; usually a Christ-figure is someone whose actions are salvific in one way or another. It is significant to note that Christ-figures are consistently found in both literature and mythology the world over; more on this in a bit.

The confusion comes when well-meaning people assume that a Christ-figure in literature needs to be a theologically correct representation of Christ Himself. There is no reason this needs to be true. Literature is about story, and story is about identity. We tell stories to explain ourselves to ourselves, and to others. Therefore, literature is also incomplete, as people are incomplete. A story is a question, and the best stories raise more questions than they answer.

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20. The Amish Las Vegas

Walking around Pinecraft is like entering an idyllic time warp. White bungalows and honeybell orange trees line streets named after Amish families: Kaufman, Schrock, Yoder. The local Laundromat keeps lines outside to hang clothes to dry. (You have to bring your own pins.) And the techiest piece of equipment at the post office is a calculator. The Sarasota county government plans to designate the village, which spreads out over 178 acres, as a cultural heritage district.

Many travelers I spoke to jokingly call it the "Amish Las Vegas," riffing off the cliché that what happens in Pinecraft stays in Pinecraft. Cellphone and cameras, normally off-limits to Amish, occasionally make appearances, and almost everyone uses electricity in their rental homes. Three-wheeled bicycles, instead of horses and buggies, are ubiquitous.

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21. What Recruiters Look At During The 6 Seconds They Spend On Your Resume

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22. HistoricalLOL of the Week

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23. The Secret of Contentment

Contentment is one of the most difficult Christian virtues to attain. Almost four hundred years ago, Jeremiah Burroughs referred to the "rare jewel" of Christian contentment. It is safe to say that contentment is no more common in our day than it was in Burroughs'. Yet, it remains one of the most crucial virtues. A contented Christian is the one who best knows God's sovereignty and rests in it. A contented Christian trusts God, is pure in heart, and is the one most willing to be used of God --- however God sees fit.

We live in a world that breeds discontent. We are bombarded with the message that to be happy we need more things, less wrinkles, better vacations, and fewer troubles. But, ultimately, the problem is the sinful human heart. We are often discontented in our jobs, our marriages, our churches, our homes --- in most areas of our lives. We can easily despair that we will never be able to attain contentment. But the Bible teaches us not only that we must be content (Heb. 13:5), it teaches us that we can be content.

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24. The Fattest Country on Earth? Qatar

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25. Teen Births - Not the Real Issue in Unwed Childbearing

Fewer unwed births to these young women is good news, but this decline unfortunately does not translate to an overall reduction in unwed births. In fact, while teen births have gone down, the unwed birthrate has climbed by more than 45 percent since 1990. In 1990, 28 percent of births were to single mothers, whereas in 2010 that number exceeded 40 percent.

This is because teens account for only a small portion of unwed births, especially if only considering high school girls. While less than 8 percent of unwed births are to girls under 18, nearly 75 percent are to women between 18 and 29. Rather than a teen issue, the majority of unwed childbearing is a result of the breakdown of marriage relationships among young men and women in lower-income communities.

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26. Sweden's New Gender-Neutral Pronoun: Hen

[F]or many Swedes, gender equality is not enough. Many are pushing for the Nordic nation to be not simply gender-equal but gender-neutral. The idea is that the government and society should tolerate no distinctions at all between the sexes. This means on the narrow level that society should show sensitivity to people who don't identify themselves as either male or female, including allowing any type of couple to marry. But that's the least radical part of the project. What many gender-neutral activists are after is a society that entirely erases traditional gender roles and stereotypes at even the most mundane levels.

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27. Building a Smarter Forest

Only you can prevent forest fires. Well, you and a dozen friendly robots.

hat's the argument made by computer scientists M.P.Sivaram Kumar and S. Rajasekaran in a recent article in the Journal of Computing entitled "Path Planning Algorithm for Extinguishing Forest Fires." Their thesis is simple: the vast majority of forests are destroyed by wild forest fires, and current methods of sylvan vigilance -- mainly those involved individual personnel on foot patrol -- are grossly inefficient in identifying emerging threats. Their pre-defined route may be damaged or obscured, inclement weather affects visibility, and life on patrol is boring and "miserable," leading to a lack of attention.

Kumar and Rajasekaran argue that deploying robotic systems throughout wooded areas will increase firefighters' ability not just to identify emerging threats, but also to more effectively plot the path of a wildfire, and then deploy the appropriate resources to the right places.

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28. How-To of the Week: Find More Time in Your Day by Putting Your Chores on Auto-Pilot

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29. Why are Mass-Market Science-Fiction and Fantasy Paperback Novels so Thick?

The mass market for paperbacks prior to 1991 was dominated by wholesalers who supplied retail stores --- not bookshops, but local supermarkets with wire-mesh book racks. The wholesalers knew their markets intimately, and would match mass-market titles to the supermarket customers on the basis of their clientelle --- SF/F was popular near technical schools, for example. When the inflation of the 1970s and 1980s forced publishers to raise their cover prices, the distributors pushed back and demanded that if the product cost more, it had to be bigger --- not taller or wider, else it wouldn't fit the racks, but fatter. (They were, after all, primarily in the grocery business rather than the book trade. You want to charge more for that lettuce? It better be bigger!)

Once a trend like that becomes established, it's hard to stop.

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30. Why Do We Really Get Tattoos?

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31. Physicist Uses Math to Beat Traffic Ticket

Here's a practical application for your physics education: using math to successfully beat a traffic ticket in court. Dmitri Krioukov, a physicist based at the University of California San Diego, did just that to avoid paying a fee for (purportedly) running a stop sign.

Krioukov not only proved his innocence, but he also posted a paper detailing his argument online on the arXiv server. The succinct abstract for his paper certainly distinguishes itself from other research papers:

"A way to fight your traffic tickets. The paper was awarded a special prize of $400 that the author did not have to pay to the state of California."

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32. A Win for the Robo-Readers

The study, funded by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, compared the software-generated ratings given to more than 22,000 short essays, written by students in junior high schools and high school sophomores, to the ratings given to the same essays by trained human readers.

The differences, across a number of different brands of automated essay scoring software (AES) and essay types, were minute. "The results demonstrated that over all, automated essay scoring was capable of producing scores similar to human scores for extended-response writing items," the Akron researchers write, "with equal performance for both source-based and traditional writing genre."

"In terms of being able to replicate the mean [ratings] and standard deviation of human readers, the automated scoring engines did remarkably well," Mark D. Shermis, the dean of the college of education at Akron and the study's lead author, said in an interview.

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33. Stupidity Captured at 2500 Frames Per Second

Joe Carter is an editor for The Gospel Coalition and the co-author of How to Argue Like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator. You can follow him on Twitter.

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