Episode 56: Thinking Out Loud 113: You Might Also Like – Thinking.FM

Elisabeth and Merianna talk about the changing dynamics of choosing books and hearing recommendations. How will Merianna’s 8 year old and almost 6 year old read books? Will they go to a store and ask an attendant or will their Netflix-recommended-minds determine how they choose what to read, too?

Show Notes:

What are Elisabeth and Merianna reading this week?


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Episode 55: Thinking Out Loud 112: Association Does Not Mean Causation – Thinking.FM

Elisabeth and Merianna talk about writer identities. Are you a plotter or a pantser or perhaps a plantser (like most of us)? They talk about overcoming imposter syndrome and how there is not one way to become a writer. They steal from Dr. Whitley’s great wisdom and conclude association does not mean causation. 

Show Notes:

What are Elisabeth and Merianna reading this week?

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Episode 54: Thinking Religion 78: Homoeroticism, Paul, and James – Thinking.FM

This week, Dr. Thomas Whitley and Rev. Sam Harrelson discuss the cloud, smaller phones, homoeroticism in the Bible, the Jerusalem Church and Paul, and why social media is not making us pick or choose our beliefs.


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The Death of the Denominations

Amid protest, song and fears of a denominational breakup, United Methodists at their quadrennial General Conference decided yet again not to decide anything regarding LGBT rights.

But in a groundbreaking move, the delegates from the U.S. and abroad voted 428-405 on Wednesday (May 18) to allow the church’s Council of Bishops to appoint a commission to discuss whether to accept same-sex marriage or ordain LGBT clergy.

Source: Methodists postpone debate of gay issues that could split denomination | Religion News Service

We’re at the beginning stages of a few societal transitions (revolutions?) that will take decades to shake out fully here in the United States.

One has to do with economics and the emergence of efficiency as a market motivator.

Another, perhaps related shift, involves the erosion of our collective agreement that large groups can or should represent us and be central to the formation of our individual identities. Whether that’s the Republican or Democratic parties during this election cycle of historic high “unlikable” ratings, our relative shift to anti-Union attitudes, or the continuing and rapid decline of mainstream Protestant denominations, we’re certainly seeing new dynamics in play as we emerge from the shadow of the 20th century and head towards the middle of the 21st.

With two world wars and a decades long Cold War, the U.S. was defined by the concept of representative nationalism in the last century. Christian denominations saw their largest number of members in the 1950’s, political parties became increasingly powerful, the Evangelical movement soared, broadcast media gave us our news and views, and our sports team became religions… all while we fought off the Japanese and Nazi’s and then the Commies and added “Under God” to our Pledge of Allegiance and “One Nation Under God” to our currency.

Sixteen years into this new century, we’re still under the last century’s shadow. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as centuries, decades, and years themselves are artificial lines that we try to carve into our young species’ conception of whatever time is… but these lines do provide interesting parallels when we look back and ahead in our own individual minds.

Sixteen years into the last century, we were in the midst of World War I and coming to terms with the notion of a “League of Nations” or some sort of a worldwide governing body that would help us resolve disputes before they became the type of quagmires that resulted in that terrible war. The U.S. was entering the age of the automobile, more access to information and news than ever before with the mediums of radio and newspapers, our market economy was taking shape as a world player, and our economy was being transformed from largely agrarian to industrial due to the development of new technologies and means of production.

Sixteen years into this century and we can see many parallels. We are still wrestling with the idea of worldwide governing agreements (economic and political) and weighing the difference between isolationism and globalization. We’re in the middle of a series of regional wars and conflicts that are shaping our military and foreign policies into something that will look different in the coming decades than they had been before. We’re entering the age of the automated car, we have more information available than we could ever ingest through the medium of the web and the coming revolutions in virtual and augmented realities. Our market economy is still taking shape and evolving with the global market as well as our own needs and realizations here about inequality, poverty, capitalism, and morality. Our economy is transitioning from a largely industrial one to a service-based economy due to the development of new technologies and means of productions. Robots are building robots.

One thing that is markedly different, in my mind at least, is our conception of identities. We are coming to terms with realizations that not all Democrats, or heterosexuals, or Methodist, or transgender, or white people, or video game players look the same or can be put into neat and tidy demographic boxes. Whether that’s due to the nature of the influence that the web (and increasingly social media on the web) have had on our society or some other mix of variables, it’s hard to define. However, those of us who were born in the 20th century have to realize that we still have one leg in a century defined by large groups governing identities whereas the 21st century seems to be presenting an emerging realization that large groups are perhaps not the best hook to hang our identities on.

I feel that as we navigate the years and decades ahead, we’ll see more and more that groups such as the United Methodist Church or the Republican Party or the local Chamber of Commerce will fade in importance, perhaps to the point of dissolution into smaller units. The democratization that the web has brought to our culture in the U.S. is a double edged flame from Prometheus… it gives us light and freedom but it demands new responsibilities and awareness. If you were born in the 20th century, I hope you realize that our world has changed as has the culture(s) of our country. Grow and learn or get out of the way.

Our government’s representative democracy serves us well because it is intentionally messy and “slow” in dealing with issues that our collective national cultures want addressed quickly. However, our religious denominations and political parties perhaps should take a different path rather than using time as a tool of obfuscation and avoidance.

Just as our notions of forms of government or economics evolve over time, so will conceptions such as denominations and political parties. They will both probably exist at the end of the 21st century, but they’ll certainly look different.

The Conservative’s Tituba

It was like affirmative action for conservatives. When did conservatives start demanding quotas AND diversity training AND less people from Ivy League Colleges.

I sat there, looking around the room at ‘our side’ wondering, ‘Who are we?’ Who am I? I want to be very clear — I am not referring to every person in the room. There were probably 25–30 people and a number of them, I believe, felt like I did. But the overall tenor, to me, felt like the Salem Witch Trial: ‘Facebook, you must admit that you are screwing us, because if not, it proves you are screwing us.’

Source: What disturbed me about the Facebook meeting. — Medium

That random feeling when I read a Glenn Beck post and nod in agreement.

Interesting account from a meeting between top conservatives and Mark Zuckerberg over whether or not Facebook has been “censoring” their content… go read.

Venmo Jerks?

Just as Venmo has inspired stinginess in some, it’s prompted generosity in others. Nielsen says that the women in a large, secret Facebook group she manages have used it in the past to buy dinner for a group member who has had a bad day, while others have used Venmo to quickly–and discreetly–send rent money or emergency funds to friends in need.

Source: Venmo is turning our friends into petty jerks

Personally, I’m a huge fan of Venmo (but I still like buying my friends a round of drinks).

Google’s Allo Messenger

I’m really hoping Allo (and Duo) takes off… a couple of really innovative features in there not to mention an encrypted “Incognito” mode…

Google is announcing a new messaging app today. It’s called Allo and its main feature is a Google assistant that’s built right in. Google says it’ll be available later this summer — for free — on both iOS and Android.

Source: Allo is a messaging app with Google built right in | The Verge

Learning to Summize?


Take a picture of a textbook page and instantly get summaries, analyses, videos, flashcards and annotations.

Source: Summize

I’ve been playing with this new app this morning. It’s … interesting and has caused me to stop and think.

And to think… I had months (if not years) of instruction time at elementary, middle, high school, and college levels training me to summarize, analyze, annotate and make flashcards.

Remember SQ3R? I certainly do.

  • Survey
  • Question
  • Read (R1)
  • Recite (R2)
  • Review (R3)

We had entire classes and tests on “study skills.” Barf. If anything, SQ3R etc made me detest reading textbooks at an early age even more than I already did (which is why I rarely if ever used them as a middle school teacher). Granted, reading and processing a college textbook is much different than reading for pleasure (which is probably one of the reasons why I became a Religion major and find escape from textbooks).

Here’s an example of Summize’s “Bias Analysis” from a page I randomly took from The Practice of Adaptive Leadership:

2016-05-18 09.50.18

It doesn’t get all the words right, but come on… that’s pretty interesting when you consider anyone can do that from their iPhone. This is from the “Concept Analysis” feature, which basically gives you the rundown of a page’s main concepts for review:

2016-05-18 09.56.20

There’s also an automatic flashcard builder or you can snap your own essays and do quick grammar checks. You see where I’m going.

We thought desktops would revolutionize the classroom when I was a kid in the 80’s. Then it was CD-ROMs and laptops in the 90’s. Then it was personal digital assistants in the 00’s. Now we realize that the mobile revolution is the real instigator for substantive technological impact in education.

Mobile is just the beginning as we venture into an augmented / virtual reality world where information will, literally, be on our retinas in the blink of an eye (no fingertips needed this time).

It pains me to consider that concepts and skills such as spelling, punctuation, state capitols, multiplication tables, cursive writing (well, not really that one), lines of Shakespeare etc may not be required to be stored in our brains in the near future … if now. Or perhaps even the larger concepts of knowing how to look at a page of a textbook, get out your various colored highlighters, and go to work summarizing and finding the “main ideas” aren’t requirements for “successful” reading and processing.

Sure, they’re good things to know… but so were knowing star charts, how to hunt skin squirrels, and morse code at one time (not that all three aren’t still very valuable in certain circumstances).

Does this make post-millennials (or whatever we are going to call them) any more “lazy” than the Baby Boomers? I don’t think so. I know plenty of Baby Boomers who decry having to carry a mobile phone yet learn to love FaceTiming their family after a few weeks of doing so.

The older I get, the more I realize that conceptions of required understandings, skills, concepts etc are all in constant flux. Perhaps we benefited someway in the 20th century U.S. by having a rather sturdy monoculture that gave us a clear “common core” roadmap of things that every person of good standing should know and know how to do.

But I’ll take this evolving 21st century realization that normative culture isn’t the best path for the education of our children. Perhaps technological tools can help us rise above the barriers that very real socio-economic barriers of schools and home circumstances that previously segmented our society from the outset and didn’t give many kids the opportunity to “be all that they can be.”

By the way, the Founder of Summize is 18.

In praise of webmasters

We’ve seen lots of cool shit built on the web, but we’ve also seen lots of bullshit too: barriers to entry, walled gardens, gatekeepers. Some things have been made unnecessarily complex. We need to remember that at its core a web page is simple. That’s the beauty of it. And when you publish your own HTML to a server that you control; that’s fucking powerful. Autonomy and independence are central to the web. We can’t forget that.

Source: I’m a fucking webmaster