Intro / Preface / Extra Words
The first draft of this issue included approximately 7x as many words as the one you are now receiving. A lot of people, ourselves included, have a lot of anger and pain pent up inside right now for a lot of reasons. On the one hand, as centrists, we wanted to yell at the left and right and tell them to stop hating each other and also thought maybe it was time for the non-extremists to be louder in the dialogue. But on the other hand, as Christians, we both want to move towards pain and need and bring as much empathy to those around us as we can possibly squeeze out of our graciously justified yet still not completely sanctified souls. And while it felt good to yell and preach, we felt those thoughts needed to be refined in the fire of grace and charity a little longer.
Moving forward we may work those ideas into a Medium post, or you may see some version of them salted into future issues. But the best venue to hash out difficult things with other broken individuals is to do it in person, ideally over some sort of brown liquid in a glass. Let's all do more of that and less online shaming and tribal panicking.
Hopefully this issue brings some interesting challenges to our thinking as we explore (with humility) some more current aspects of the world around us than we usually do. One thing we are pretty sure of is we should all be less sure of everything. We invite you to take off your red or blue hats as you enter this space. We don't agree with everything in these articles but we think they are all interesting. We hope the curiosity in your brain will be kindled and at the end we all walk away less certain and more open to listening to all those around us.
Sports (Disc Golf)
The NBA’s Social Justice Dilemma: Do Sports Distract and Detract From Activism?
I love what the NBA and players have been doing. I think it's admirable that they are using their platform to try to amplify other voices and empower people. This essay asks a great question: now that the NBA has voiced its support, what's next? How can they move from verbal support to consistent action? I'm excited to see what happens next. - Calvin
I had an interaction the other day on one of the stupid social media sites that ended with the person commanding me not to speak to them again because they didn't like what I was saying. I assure you I wasn't being a jerk (I know, that's what every jerk says).
This is a blog post from the same author as the incredible post we sent a few issues ago about racial dynamics in Birmingham. When I read this one I thought about that online interaction that was more or less someone covering their ears and yelling "I can't hear you". But also I wonder what "fascist architecture" I have constructed around me that I don't even realize exists.
Also this article is all about Gandalf :) -Brian
Stop Panicking about the Post Office
I was trying to convince Katie that she should do a little blurb in this issue and I had her read this article as an option. She eventually demurred, but she did remind me that this dude who is now the Postmaster General of these United States was once the head of logistics firm XPO. Our one interaction with XPO was their failure to deliver a couch to us over the span of 5 weeks and resulted in us at various times owning various fractions of a single couch. At journey's end we possessed two whole couches, which obviously raises the question of how exactly the second couch was birthed into existence. So I'm not saying I've got a lot of confidence in this guy but also we should probably stop panicking about lots of things–including the post office. -Brian
The Press Cries Wolf
I've told my friend Joe D. on about 500 occassions that Matt Taibbi is my spirit animal. Unlike Matt I'm not a Bernie supporter, but the way that Matt is skeptical of the cultural narrative and how he dissects it in search of actual truth makes my brain happy. Here's his incredible teardown of the "USPS Moral Panic of mid-2020". -Brian
The Four Quadrants of Conformism
Here's a Relevant XKCD comic. -Brian
How a new consensus against racism became a moral panic
It's simultaneously encouraging that we as a country seem to have made real progress in the fight against racism, while also demoralizing that the media and Twitter mobs are using this fight to push people into a never-ending outrage–and not just about systemic racism. There is much more work to be done, but we shouldn't waste this moment because we can't figure out how to have civil debates and honest conversations. - Calvin
100% agreed. Elevating the voice of the hurt and marginalized and listening and sacrificing to bring new life sounds pretty similar to the gospel. Subverting it for personal power unfortunately also sounds too familiar. -Brian
Anti-racist Arguments Are Tearing People Apart
This article takes a very, very close look at one semi-viral video clip and examines all the moving pieces that turned a school council Zoom meeting into a contentious argument about race. Members of this particular council seemed to be badgering one another about not being anti-racist enough, or being anti-racist the wrong way.
One quote from a superintendent speaking to the council on how to move forward: "We need to permit ourselves to be comfortable in the imperfection of this work. We cannot wait to talk until everybody knows the right words and has assessed the least terrifying public stances to take."
Here's my take. A white dude was being snarky. Upset about that, a white woman called the white man racist for having a baby of color on his lap briefly during a Zoom call. I'm pretty sure we've lost the thread on racial equality if this is where the conversation currently sits. -Brian
I love technology (and science)
Reconstruction of a Mass Hysteria: The Swine Flu Panic of 2009
Echoes of the pandemic that wasn't from 2009 are eerily similar to the early days of 2020. Disheartening to see the same mistakes being made again. History doesn't repeat but it does rhyme, as they say.
I saw a tweet I can't find now from circa December 2019 highlighting that 1820 and 1920 both had notable outbreaks of disease. The author wondered if we were due in 2020 for something similar. A followup tweet from post-March just said "I'm so sorry". -Brian
PowerPoint activism is taking over your friends' Instagram accounts
I remember the not-so-distant past when Instagram was the one corner of the Internet that was like, 92% pretty. Pictures of cute animals, babies, and houses, or delicious meals, or incredible landscapes. You've probably noticed a new kind of slideshow, one that attempts to summarize complex topics and turn them into something you can virtually ascribe to without actually understanding. This article is an explainer, like most stuff on Vox, but I think it makes a good point about discernment when it comes to this type of activism. Watch out for brands and companies to appropriate this style to push their own messages. - Calvin
As a Gen-X'er I'm not really aware of all the things that happen on the Insta; I don't even know what a slideshow is on that platform but apparently it is a thing... My Insta is a simple place of one picture that makes me happy from each of the trips of note I've been on in the last few years. -Brian
Rear View Mirror
The definitive ranking of the top cheesesteaks in Philadelphia
Wow so that was like heavy man. We all deserve a cheesesteak.
Katie and I took a lovely trip to Philadelphia a few years ago. We visited the Barnes, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the Rodin museum which are all side-by-side downtown. If you like museums it's a killer 2-3 days. And of course we made the trek to a number of the famous cheesesteak places. I recommend always going "wit wiz" and my favorite was the steak at the original Tony Luke's. Katie preferred the roast pork with rabe. We both loved the sugared sweet potato waffle fries because how could you not? -Brian