Accepting the Gift

A friend once told me, "Everything worth anything is hard." That proverb is true in many areas of life, but we've got to abandon it briefly if we want to grasp and embrace God’s grace. It comes freely. You can't earn it. A part of us rebels against such lavish and reckless generosity. It sounds noble to say, “I don't want anything handed to me that I don't deserve. I work for what I get.” But if you earn it, the spotlight shifts from God's graciousness.. to your own striving and accomplishment.

Are you anxious and "tied up in knots" today? You know can’t be good enough. You know you don’t measure up. You don’t deserve to be happy or fulfilled or forgiven. But there's good news. When we come to the end of ourselves and let go.. we are set free and can truly relax in grace. There’s not a thing we can do to make God love us any more.. or any less.

Stephen Goforth

It's all in the 'tude

Several years ago on an extremely hot day, a crew of men were working on the road bed of the railroad when they were interrupted by a slow moving train. The train ground to a stop and a window in the last car – which incidentally was custom make and air conditioned – was raised. A booming, friendly voice called out, “Dave, is that you?” Dave Anderson, the crew chief called back, “Sure is, Jim, and it’s really good to see you.” With that pleasant exchange, Dave Anderson was invited to join Jim Murphy, the president of the railroad, for a visit. For over an hour the men exchanged pleasantries and then shook hands warmly as the train pulled out.

Dave Anderson’s crew immediately surrounded him and to a man expressed astonishment that he knew Jim Murphy, the president of the railroad as a personal friend. Dave then explained that over 20 years earlier he and Jim Murphy had started to work for he railroad on the same day. One of the men, half-jokingly and half seriously asked Dave why he was still working out in the hot sun and Jim Murphy had gotten to be president. Rather wistfully, Dave explained, “twenty-three years ago I went to work for $1.75 an hour and Jim Murphy went to work for the railroad.”

Zig Ziglar, See You at the Top

Shrink the Change

Our emotional side is an Elephant and our rational side is its Rider.

A sense of progress is critical, because the Elephant in us is easily demoralized. It’s easily spooked, easily derailed, and for that reason, it needs reassurance, even for the very first step of the journey.

If you’re leading a change effort… rather than focusing solely on what’s new and different about the change to come, make an effort to remind people what’s already been conquered.

A business cliché commands us to “raise the bar.” But that’s exactly the wrong instinct if you want to motivate a reluctant Elephant. You need to lower the bar. Picture taking a high-jump bar and lowering it so far that it can be stepped over.

If you want a reluctant elephant to get moving, you need to shirk the change.

Chip & Dan Heath, Switch

What Google searches Teach us

You may not be a data scientist. You may not know how to code in R or calculate a confidence interval. But you can still take advantage of big data and digital truth serum to put an end to envy — or at least take some of the bite out of it.

Any time you are feeling down about your life after lurking on Facebook, go to Google and start typing stuff into the search box. Google’s autocomplete will tell you the searches other people are making. Type in “I always …” and you may see the suggestion, based on other people’s searches, “I always feel tired” or “I always have diarrhea.” This can offer a stark contrast to social media, where everybody “always” seems to be on a Caribbean vacation.

As our lives increasingly move online, I propose a new self-help mantra for the 21st century, courtesy of big data: Don’t compare your Google searches with other people’s Facebook posts.

Seth Stephens-Davidowitz writing in the New York Times

Testosterone makes men less likely to realize when they're wrong

Higher levels of testosterone increase the tendency in men to rely on their intuitive judgments and reduce cognitive reflection -- a decision-making process by which a person stops to consider whether their gut reaction to something makes sense. 

Researchers found that men given doses of testosterone performed more poorly on a test designed to measure cognitive reflection than a group given a placebo. The testosterone group also "gave incorrect answers more quickly, and correct answers more slowly than the placebo group," the authors write.

Caltech's Colin Camerer, the Robert Kirby Professor of Behavioral Economics and T&C Chen Center for Social and Decision Neuroscience Leadership Chair (says) "The testosterone is either inhibiting the process of mentally checking your work or increasing the intuitive feeling that 'I'm definitely right.'"

The research will appear in an upcoming issue of the journal Psychological Science.

Read the full story in Science Daily

Just the Right Amount of Practice

Practice too little and you never become world-class. Practice too much, though, and you increase the odds of being struck down by injury, draining yourself mentally, or burning out. To succeed, students must “avoid exhaustion” and “limit practice to an amount from which they can completely recover on a daily or weekly basis.”

How do students marked for greatness make the most of limited practice time? The rhythm of their practice follows a distinctive pattern. They put in more hours per week in the practice room or playing field, but they don’t do it by making each practice longer. Instead, they have more frequent, shorter sessions, each lasting about 80 to 90 minutes, with half-hour breaks in between.

Add these several practices up, and what do you get? About four hours a day. About the same amount of time Darwin spent every day doing his hardest work, Hardy (G.H. Hardy was one of Britain’s leading mathematicians in the first half of the 20th century) and Littlewood (Hardy’s longtime collaborator John Littlewood) spent doing math, Charles Dickens and Stephen King spent writing. Even ambitious young students in one of the world’s best schools, preparing for an notoriously competitive field, could handle only four hours of really focused, serious effort per day.

Alex Soojung-Kim Pang writing in Nautilus

articles of interest - May 22


Pew finds most older Americans using the Internet, but also ‘largely disconnected from the digital revolution’  Talking New Media

How tech created a global village — and put us at each other’s throats  Boston Globe

Digital gap between rural and nonrural America persists  Pew Research


Leverage small datasets to perform well on new tasks by transferring learning by fine-tuning deep nets  KD Nuggets

Google's machine-learning cloud pipeline covers everything from intake of data to deployment of the trained model  InfoWorld

The 5 most common Big Data quality issues.. and how to handle them  KD Nuggets

MIT: protecting privacy with fake data sets to allow 3rd party distribution for development and  education purposes  Smart Data Collective


How ProPublica Defines Success for Engagement Projects  Media Shift

Twitter Changed Their Privacy Policy, So Update Your Settings  Life Hacker

Facebook is trying yet again to cut clickbait headlines from your News Feed  Recode

How WeChat (China’s most popular messaging app) Spreads Rumors, Reaffirms Bias, and Helped Elect Trump  Back Channel


The best portable battery chargers  Digital Trends

Shoot 360 Video Like a Pro in 6 Simple Steps  Wired

Americans no longer have to register non-commercial drones with the FAA   Recode



The Atlantic bucks recent website trends by launching new, more dense home page design  Talking New Media

New York Times will offer buyouts to editors in push to transform editing  Poynter


In a private meeting, President Trump allegedly urged Comey to imprison journalists  Poynter

Murdered journalist Javier Valdez on the risks of reporting in Mexico  BBC

Mexicans stage 'A Day Without Journalism' to protest deadly attacks on the news media  LA Times

The Evolution of Citizen Journalism: How 3 Modern Outlets Are Updating the Model  PBS Media Shift

Voice of San Diego to Spin Off New Organization to Support Good Journalism Everywhere  Voice of San Diego

Politwoops: Explore the Tweets that politicians Didn't Want You to See  ProPublica

Data journalism syllabus: From numeracy to visualization and beyond  Journalism Resources

Quartz’s David Yanofsky on coding as a journalist  Columbia Journalism Review


7 key reference points for navigating the post-truth era, alternative facts, and fake news Business Insider

The Seth Rich conspiracy shows how fake news still works  Washington Post

Has Fake News Changed Behavior?  Daily Infographic

Why Fact Checking Matters & How to Do It  Video Strategist


Tech created a global village-and put us at each other’s throats  Becoming (my blog)

Be Yourselves: We behave differently on different social media  1843 magazine


Federal Lawmakers Begin New Push for Student-Outcomes Data  Chronicle of Higher Ed

Why Haven't MOOCs Eliminated Any Professors?  Inside Higher Ed

Mizzou likely to cut hundreds of positions amid expected 7 percent enrollment drop  St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Dealing With Controversial Speakers on Campus  Chronicle of Higher Ed


Author Interview: What Are the Arts and Sciences? A Guide for the Curious  Inside Higher Ed


Local professors to students: No 'plz,' please in emails  Houston Chronicle

The ‘Realistic’ Research Paper  Chronicle of Higher Ed

Paper About Plagiarism Contains Plagiarism  Neuroskeptic


Baylor faces another Title IX lawsuit over alleged 2012 gang rape by football players  Sports Illustrated

Many in Orthodox Christian countries have conservative views on gender roles  Pew Research

Fake article sets off Debates over gender studies and open-access journals  Inside Higher Ed


The Atlantic's "My Family's Slave" cover story: Filipinos defend Alex Tizon from Western backlash  Quartz

A Creationist Sues the Grand Canyon for Religious Discrimination  The Atlantic

In U.S. metro areas, huge variation in intermarriage rates  Pew Research

How students benefit from having teachers of same race  Journalism Resources


Reince Priebus admits Trump administration has looked into changing the First Amendment  The Week

Northwestern Students protest ICE representative’s visit to campus  Daily Northwestern

Student group files lawsuit against professor  CNN

How Missouri Used Shared Governance to Preserve Free Speech on Campus  Chronicle of Higher Ed


Can You Copyright Your Dumb Joke? And How Can You Prove It's Yours?  NPR

Patent trolls take it on the chin in new Supreme Court ruling  Tech Crunch

Facebook Defeats Lawsuit Over Material Support for Terrorists  Technology & Marketing Law Blog


Way More Americans May Be Atheists Than We Thought  FiveThirtyEight

The Second Coming Of Televangelist Jim Bakker  BuzzFeed News

Why Trump’s tax plan would mean less money for churches  Washington Post

Pregnant at 18. Hailed by Abortion Foes. Punished by Christian School  New York Times

How “Race Tests” Maintain Evangelical Segregation (opinion)  Religious Dispatches


Take a Trip Through the History of Modern Art with the Oscar-Winning  Open Culture

How Fonts Are Fueling the Culture Wars  Back Channel


Inside the Offices Where the Music Never Stops and Everyone Is DJ  Bloomberg


Sexual Assaults at Southwestern Community College Prompts Protest  San Diego Free Press

Lawsuit claims Howard University shamed and did not help sexual violence victims  USA Today


Physicists Can’t Agree on What Science Even Means Anymore  Wired

What's Wrong with Science?  BBC

The Map of Chemistry: New Animation Summarizes the Entire Field of Chemistry in 12 Minutes  Open Culture


Training medical students how to teach helps them embrace ambiguity  Stat News


Why We Lie: The Science Behind Our Deceptive Ways  National Geographic


What causes that feeling of being watched  BBC

What’s behind the myth that you only use 10 percent of your brain?  The Verge

Bloomberg story provides clear-eyed view of trendy neurofeedback brain-training clinics  Health News Review


Does the philosophy literature have a plagiarism problem?  Retraction Watch

Change in philosophy poses threat to devoted profs at Catholic university  Life Site News


Society's Moral Fracturing Leads To Dangerous Places  NPR

Teaching robots right from wrong  1843 magazine

Facebook's internal rulebook on sex, terrorism and violence is Leaked  The Guardian


Citation Performance Indicators: A Very Short Introduction  The Scholarly Kitchen

Does It Matter Whose Name Appears After the (c) When Using Creative Commons  The Scholarly Kitchen

A Sokal-Style Hoax on Gender Studies: The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct  Skeptic


Digital course materials have gotten only slightly more accessible to students with disabilities Inside Higher Ed

You Can’t Automate Good Teaching  Chronicle of Higher Ed


Escape to Another World: As video games get better and job prospects worse, more young men are dropping out of the job market to spend their time in an alternate reality  1843 magazine

Baby boomers are actually way more entitled than millennials  New York Post

How Generation Z, Millennials (and the rest of us) consume media: 7 key trends The Media Briefing

Christian high school bans student for her hairstyle   WCTV

Colleges Are Using Price Discrimination—Here's How to Fight It  Life Hacker


Tenured Prof Fired for asking Why Private Catholic School didn’t notify Minority faculty that they could have been in danger  Inside Higher Ed

Graduate student who is subject of Title IX critic’s new book sues for defamation and invasion of privacy  Inside Higher Ed


Tech created a global village — and put us at each other’s throats

As we get additional information about others, we place greater stress on the ways those people differ from us than on the ways they resemble us, and this inclination to emphasize dissimilarities over similarities strengthens as the amount of information accumulates. On average, we like strangers best when we know the least about them.

The effect intensifies in the virtual world, where everyone is in everyone else’s business. Social networks like Facebook and messaging apps like Snapchat encourage constant self-disclosure. Because status is measured quantitatively online, in numbers of followers, friends, and likes, people are rewarded for broadcasting endless details about their lives and thoughts through messages and photographs. To shut up, even briefly, is to disappear. One study found that people share four times as much information about themselves when they converse through computers as when they talk in person.

Progress toward a more amicable world will require not technological magic but concrete, painstaking, and altogether human measures: negotiation and compromise, a renewed emphasis on civics and reasoned debate, a citizenry able to appreciate contrary perspectives. At a personal level, we may need less self-expression and more self-examination.

Technology is an amplifier. It magnifies our best traits, and it magnifies our worst.

Nicholas Carr writing in the Boston Globe

Time Alone

Find a regular time and place to be alone. People in transition are often still involved in activities and relationships that continue to bombard them with cues irrelevant to their emerging needs. Because a person is likely to feel lonely in such a situation, the temptation is to seek more and better contact with others; but the real need is for a genuine sort of  aloneness  in which inner signals can make themselves heard. Doing housework after the kids leave for school or paperwork with the office door shut are not being alone in the sense I am talking about.

The old passage rituals provide the person with this experience of deep aloneness, often in a wilderness setting. (Interestingly, the Hebrew word for the “wilderness” in which Jesus, Moses, and Buddha spent time during critical periods of their lives is the same word that means ‘sanctuary.” This unmappable “nowhere” was also, as several of these heroes were explicitly told, holy ground.) Traditionally, time spent in such “sanctuaries” was a continuous period; but you many have to plan your time to accommodate your own life situation. One person manages that getting up every morning forty-five minutes ahead of the rest of the family and sitting quietly in the living room with a cup of coffee. Another jogs regularly after work for a half an hour. Another plays ocean sounds and temple bells on his car stereo whenever he drives along. Still another has cleaned out a little storage room off the upstairs hall and sits quietly alone in there for an hour after supper.

William Bridges, Transitions

Fellow Students

The best professors.. were no longer high priests, selfishly guarding the doors to the kingdom of knowledge to make themselves look more important. They were fellow students – no, fellow human beings – struggling with the mysteries of the universe, human society, historical development, or whatever. They found affinity with their students in their own ignorance and curiosity, in their love of life and beauty, in their mixture of respect and fear, and in that mix they discovered more similarities than differences between themselves and the people who populated their classes. A sense of awe at the world and the human condition stood at the center of their relationships with those students.

Most important, that humility, that fear, that veneration of the unknown spawned a kind of quiet conviction on the part of the best teachers that they and their students could do great things together.

Ken Bain, What the Best College Teachers Do

Rich and Poor Cheat for Different Reasons

In certain circumstances, it's the poor who are more likely to cheat. The difference is that the rich do wrong to help themselves, while the poor do wrong to help others. In several experiments reported in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology… the studies suggest a straightforward sequence: Money leads to the perception that one is higher in the social hierarchy, which in turn leads to a sense of power, which in turn leads to a greater willingness to cheat for selfish reasons.

People with less money (and therefore less power), however, are more communal. They need to rely on each other to get by, and as a result, research shows, they’re more compassionate and empathically accurate. Breaking rules is always risky, but social cohesion is paramount — so you do what it takes to help those around you.

The researchers think their findings could lead to some easy practical applications. If you’re speaking to higher-class individuals, you might want to appeal to their selfishness and warn that cheating will ultimately backfire. But when talking to those with fewer resources, you might be better off noting that their actions could harm those around them.

Matthew Hutson, New York Magazine