You’re not “addicted” to tech and why it’s dangerous to say you are

As a teacher from 2001-2006 and then from 2008-2012, I had the chance to work with dozens of young people and their parents at a time when so much we knew and thought about education and transmitting information was changing. There was a rapid cultural shift in that decade that was primarily driven by “technology” and the internet.

One theme that remained constant going back to the first time we set up a class blog in 2003 was the notion of “tech addiction”. It remained a constant question and concern of parents and education colleagues (particularly my administrators) over the years.

Since 2012 as a marketing and tech consultant primarily working with religious orgs, nonprofits, and community groups, I’ve encountered the same concerns about tech addiction and young people. From MySpace to Instant Messaging to World of Warcraft to Instagram to Facebook to Fortnite, the boogeyman of evil tech hellbent on ruining our children’s minds and attention and willingness to go outside and play stickball keeps a constant current over time.

However, tech addiction (in the mainstream cultural sense) is just that… a boogeyman. It’s much better to focus on our responsibilities and usage patterns… as adults and parents and community members… rather than blaming Zuckerberg for our lack of accepting personal agency and being responsible people with our choices.

Good piece here that says all this in a much nicer and more approachable way:

Nir says the idea that technology is “hijacking your brain” or that the general population is “addicted” to their phones is rubbish.“Yes, there’s a very small percentage of people that very much are addicted—which is a completely different conversation—but this ‘addiction to technology’ is not the generalized disorder the media and others would have you think it is.”

Source: You’re not “addicted” to tech (and why it’s dangerous to say so) – RescueTime

Government shutdown cuts nearly all food stamp office staff, adding to SC uncertainty

In 2016, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program was used by 16 percent of South Carolina residents. More than 72 percent of the state’s SNAP participants were families with children. Across the nation, the average monthly SNAP benefit per person in 2016 was $127, or $1.41 per meal.

Source: Government shutdown cuts nearly all food stamp office staff, adding to SC uncertainty | News | postandcourier.com

United States of Amazon

“The company’s focus on Washington as its most lucrative customer was reflected in its decision earlier this year to choose nearby Arlington, Virginia, as one of its two new US headquarters, along with Long Island City, New York. “Amazon wants to be the interface between all government buyers and all the companies that want to sell to government, and that is an incredibly powerful and lucrative place to be,” Mitchell said.”

Exclusive: Emails show how tech firm has tried to gain influence and potentially shape lucrative government contracts — Read on www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/dec/26/amazon-anne-rung-government-services-authority

Free iPhone 6 Plus to a Good Home

We have a spare unlocked iPhone 6 Plus (cracked on lower right but otherwise in good shape) with an Otterbox Commuter case… let me know if you or someone you know would put to use (just needs a SIM card if you want cell service).

I can ship in the US for free as well.

Church prep for the economic downturn

Economic forecasts are pointing to a rocky 2019 and 2020 for the global economy due to a variety of causes. Pre-2007, the thinking was that nonprofits, charities, and churches were more “Recession Proof” than enterprise or commercial ventures due to the patterns of previous economic downturns and market corrections. While giving from individuals and foundations dipped, they didn’t suffer dramatic drops and tended to hold steady in giving amounts compared to previous years.

However, the Great Recession of 2008-2010 taught us a different lesson as outlined in the report below. We’re seeing a global remapping of the economic system towards software and algorithms that defies previous statistics and models about the severity of downturns. If we do see an economic slow down or correction, I’m sure we’ll see a troubling situation for many charities, nonprofits and especially churches more kin to 2008 than 1972.

Not only is the economy itself transforming globally, but the religious landscape in the United States is certainly seeing a complete transformation such as the decline of traditional denomination membership numbers, fewer giving dollars from individuals and foundations, and the rise of the “Nones” the correlates with the decline of the perceived role of the church in American society.

Now is the time to start planning for the eventual economic downturn, whether it happens in 2019 or 2021. Churches of all sizes and shapes and histories need to be prepping and planning ahead with concrete fundraising and marketing strategies and are certainly not “too big to fail.”

Even if so, though, what’s good for the industry as a whole is going to be bad for a whole lot of individual companies. Enterprises will tighten their belts, and experimental initiatives with potential long-term value but no immediate bottom-line benefit will be among the first on the chopping block. Consumers will guard their wallets more carefully, and will be ever less likely to pay for your app and/or click on your ad. And everyone will deleverage and/or hoard their cash reserves like dragons, just in case, which means less money for new or struggling companies.

Here comes the downturn – TechCrunch

Nonprofits have faced a two-fold dilemma. On the one hand, they are facing high and growing levels of demand from individuals and families who are struggling in this down economy and in need of their services. On the other hand, the nonprofits find themselves with decreased resources as individual and corporate giving and federal and state funding decline. Who is affected the most? Service-based and Faith-based organizations.

The Impact of the “Great Recession” on the Financial Resources of Nonprofit Organizations

Facebook’s Internal Politics and External Ramifications

Mr. Kaplan balked when briefed on internal Facebook research that found right-leaning users tended to be more polarized, or less exposed to different points of view, than those on the left, according to people familiar with the analysis. That internal research tracks with the findings of academic studies.

— Read on www.wsj.com/articles/facebooks-lonely-conservative-takes-on-a-power-position-11545570000

Why people quit Facebook

Eric Baumer, an assistant computer science professor at Lehigh University, has found in his research on Facebook “non-use” that people who cite concerns about data privacy in relation to corporations or the government as their main reason for quitting are likely to stay away from the site. Meanwhile, those who wanted privacy from people they know online are more likely to return. “Oftentimes questions about why people should delete their Facebook accounts are framed in terms of privacy,” Baumer said. “However, that single word glosses over a lot of complexity.”

— Read on slate.com/technology/2018/12/delete-facebook-movement-lessons-on-quitting.html

Mary’s ‘Magnificat’ in the Bible is revolutionary — so evangelicals silence it

I certainly had never heard of the term “Magnificat” until college. It’s difficult to divorce biblical passages such as these from contemporary politics when we are in a season of listening to footsteps. Good read in these closing days of Advent 2018:

Why has this song been forgotten, or trimmed, for so many people who grew up evangelical? It could be a byproduct of the Reformation, which caused Protestants to devalue Mary in reaction to Catholic theology. Or a lack of familiarity with liturgy, and an emphasis on other texts. Or perhaps the song doesn’t sound like good news if you are well fed, or rich, or in a position of power and might — or if you benefit from systems that oppress. How does the Magnificat feel if you aren’t one of the lowly, if you aren’t as vulnerable and humble as Mary?

— Read on www.washingtonpost.com/religion/2018/12/20/marys-magnificat-bible-is-revolutionary-so-evangelicals-silence-it/

It’s not like Caligula didn’t have some warning…

Between the laughing statue, God kicking me with his toe, and the flamingo incident, I might have considered a course correction in my life’s path had I been in Caligula’s shoes…

While the statue of Olympian Jupiter was being dismantled before removal to Rome at his command, it burst into such a roar of laughter that the scaffolding collapsed and the workmen took to their heels; and a man named Cassius appeared immediately afterwards saying that he had been ordered, in a dream, to sacrifice a bull to Jupiter. The Capitol at Capua was struck by lightning on the Ides of March, which some interpreted as portending another imperial death; because of the famous murder that had taken place on that day. At Rome, the Palace doorkeeper’s lodge was likewise struck; and this seemed to mean that the Owner of the Palace stood in danger of attack by his own guards. On asking Sulla the soothsayer for his horoscope, Gaius learned that he must expect to die very soon. The Oracle of Fortune at Antium likewise warned him: ‘Beware of Cassius!’ whereupon, forgetting Chaerea’s family name, he ordered the murder of Cassius Longinus, Governor of Asia at the time. On the night before his assassination he dreamed that he was standing beside Jupiter’s heavenly throne, when the God kicked him with a toe of his right foot and sent him tumbling down to earth. Some other events that occurred on the morning of his death were also read as portents. For instance, blood splashed him as he was sacrificing a flamingo; Mnester danced the same tragedy of Cinyras that had been performed by the actor Neoptolemus during the Games at which King Philip of Macedonia was assassinated; and in a farce1 called Laiireo1i~s, at the close of which the leading character, a highwayman, had to die while escaping and vomit blood, the understudies were so anxious to display their proficiency at dying that they flooded the stage with blood. A nocturnal performance by Egyptians and Ethiopians was also in rehearsal: a play staged in the Underworld.

Source: Suetonius’ Life of Caligula

Patron Saint of Pit Bulls

Every morning, Flatt wakes up compelled by that simple mission: He has to save a dog—especially ones that everyone else has given up as lost. June received reconstructive surgery for her injuries and joined the ranks of damaged creatures salvaged by Friends to the Forlorn (FTTF), Flatt’s Dallas, Georgia–based animal rescue operation, which has worked with every canine breed from Chihuahuas to Mastiffs but specializes in pit bulls. He takes on the fighters and the biters, the blind and the deaf, and any other special-needs case rejected by other organizations or sentenced to death row at the pound. One dog had been frozen to the ground during an ice storm; another had more than 60 puncture wounds; one had been tortured with a shock collar. Flatt even offers a sort of hospice care, taking in dying dogs and easing their final days with steak and ice cream.

Source: Atlanta’s patron saint of pit bulls – Atlanta Magazine

Why I Journal

I’ve kept a journal for years. It’s wonderful to pull my old notebooks off the shelf and flip through them. I frequently do a “what was I thinking or working on last year or 5 years ago at this time?” check.

I’m flirting with the idea of using Day One next year as a leap into the “digital journaling” realm. We’ll see.

This is exactly why I journal (and blog here) for both personal and business reasons:

Sarah Kauss, the founder of S’well Bottle, journals every day. In an interview with Fast Company, Kauss said one of the rewards of journaling daily is being able to look back and see the challenges she was facing a year ago and realize that now it’s no problem at all. This ability to look back with perspective can summon an incredible amount of momentum and confidence when moving forward.

Source: Day One in Depth — The most detailed guide to Day One available today

Satyagraha and Climate Justice

Love this connection from Matthew Klippenstein… we have much to learn about justice, and especially climate justice, from our neighbors and our own history…

Articulating a hopeful, abundant vision of what the future could be has helped climate activism gain widespread support across Canada, and even from a strong majority within Alberta’s energy sector. With the province facing a crisis, our movement may benefit from affirming solidarity with the many who face uncertainty, before we criticize the few who got them there. With luck, and working together, we can craft a “sacred yes” so inspiring that instead of revisiting old wounds anew, Canadians from coast to coast to coast can together create an abundant future “pour tout.”

Source: Three climate justice metamorphoses and a lesson from Gandhi | National Observer

The Apps You Should Really Be Concerned About with Your Privacy

After examining maps showing the locations extracted by their apps, Ms. Lee, the nurse, and Ms. Magrin, the teacher, immediately limited what data those apps could get. Ms. Lee said she told the other operating-room nurses to do the same.“I went through all their phones and just told them: ‘You have to turn this off. You have to delete this,’” Ms. Lee said. “Nobody knew.”

Source: Your Apps Know Where You Were Last Night, and They’re Not Keeping It Secret – The New York Times

Everyone is afraid of what Google and Facebook “know” about them and how much information they’re sharing with these services because of poor media coverage.

While those two services need to be investigated and questioned, it’s the “bottom half” of the advertising industry connected to seemingly innocent apps that you install on your mobile device to give you the weather or locations of gas or local sports scores that are really the most alarming in how they treat your personal location data.

Good report here by the NY Times (we need more of this type of journalism in the tech-sphere).

The God of Progress

An intriguing essay on a point that has been made repeatedly about American religion, particularly its inextricable connections to cultural materialism and scientific progress…

Our modern world tries extremely hard to protect us from the sort of existential moments experienced by Mill and Russell. Netflix, air-conditioning, sex apps, Alexa, kale, Pilates, Spotify, Twitter … they’re all designed to create a world in which we rarely get a second to confront ultimate meaning — until a tragedy occurs, a death happens, or a diagnosis strikes. Unlike any humans before us, we take those who are much closer to death than we are and sequester them in nursing homes, where they cannot remind us of our own fate in our daily lives.

Source: Andrew Sullivan: America’s New Religions