Ten for Tuesday

Hello friends! I’m writing to you from Kansas, where I’m leading a retreat for some warm and intrepid pastors, all of whom have been willing to learn and laugh and play and reflect together. Has been a great week.

Here are a few links that I’ve been collecting lately, both serious and silly.

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FIGHT BACK WITH BEAUTY

First, a 21-year-old air traffic controller gave his life so that the last plane could take off safely before the recent earthquake in Indonesia.

Also, from the New York Times, A Year After Las Vegas Shooting, a ‘Survivor Wedding’ Takes Back the City. Lovely:

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IT’S TIME TO BECOME A TIME REALIST

Julie Morgenstern offers some simple-but-not-always-easy tips to get a better handle on your overwhelming life. I’m a sucker for time management stuff, even though I recognize its limitations. (Many people whose minds work this way are often already doing these things; if yours doesn’t, the tips won’t help.)

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D-BAG GENIE

A Reddit thread in which a jerk genie grants wishes, but the letter of the wish rather than the spirit. Clever:

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Dear dads: Your daughters told me about their assaults. This is why they never told you.

From columnist Monica Hesse. Ouch:

A man emailed recently in response to something I’d written about street harassment. He was so glad, he said, that his college-age daughter never experienced anything like that. Less than a day later, he wrote again. They had just talked. She told him she’d been harassed many, many times — including that week. She hadn’t ever shared this, because she wanted to protect him from her pain.

For all the stereotypes that linger about women being too fragile or emotional, these past weeks have revealed what many women already knew: A lot of effort goes into protecting men we love from bad things that happen to us. And a lot of fathers are closer to bad things than they’ll ever know.

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BETWEEN SOLITUDE AND LONELINESS

Poet Donald Hall died earlier this year; here he beautifully considers the depth and breadth of loss, and the difference between solitude and loneliness.

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ZERO TO SIXTY, PROPERLY UNDERSTOOD

I’m not always great at recognizing when my emotions are amping up—just ask the people who live with me—so this was helpful:

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SUFFOCATION OF DEMOCRACY

As a historian specializing in the Holocaust, Nazi Germany, and Europe in the era of the world wars, I have been repeatedly asked about the degree to which the current situation in the United States resembles the interwar period and the rise of fascism in Europe. I would note several troubling similarities and one important but equally troubling difference.

Read if you dare.

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COURAGE THROUGH SMALL THINGS

And then the antidote to the despair that the previous link might evoke: the power of the small faithful action. Thank you to friend Carol Howard Merritt for writing exactly what I needed to read.

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THANK YOU SHAKESPEARE

My husband was recently in London for business, and sent along this placard from the Globe Theater:

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Onward!

Ten for Tuesday--Court Preachers, Obesity, New Life and More

In the spirit of #WorldsOkayest, today’s Ten for Tuesday has only nine links. Because I like alliteration more than I like accuracy.

“GARBAGE ART”

A series of galleries are featuring art created with items of trash and junk. I love that—the ultimate improv.

 John Richard Edwards (Onondaga),  Mile-marker post  / Photo by Paul Morigi/AP Images for the National Museum of the American Indian.

John Richard Edwards (Onondaga), Mile-marker post / Photo by Paul Morigi/AP Images for the National Museum of the American Indian.

Anyone want to do an art pilgrimage with me?

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EVERYTHING YOU KNOW ABOUT OBESITY IS WRONG

Long but worthwhile article.

Years from now, we will look back in horror at the counterproductive ways we addressed the obesity epidemic and the barbaric ways we treated fat people—long after we knew there was a better path.

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CHICAGO’S MARATHON WHISPERER

Denise Sauriol, who’s the team trainer for Chicago Lights and other charity teams for this weekend’s Chicago Marathon, is an amazing athlete with an incredible personal story of comeback after being hit by a car on the way to the start line of a race. This weekend will be her 100th marathon.

 Denise Sauriol

Denise Sauriol

By the way, you can still donate to my fundraising efforts on behalf of Chicago Lights here.

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MARTIN NEIMOLLER, BEFORE THE NAZIS CAME FOR HIM

Many of us know the famous passage, “First they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out…” written by Pastor Niemöller. Did you know that he was a supporter of Hitler in the early years, and had a change of heart?

Speaking of apologists…

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COURT PREACHERS

Will Willimon, on Franklin Graham and his disgusting apologetics of Donald Trump:

It’s my conviction that the preachers who have sacrificed so much in order to gain a seat at the king’s banquet will soon discover that they have done grave damage to evangelicalism, to say nothing of the harm they have done to the profession of gospel preaching. When the time came for evangelicals to stand up and say, “No!” they had lost the theological ability even to know that there was something worth saying, “No” to.

Will Franklin Graham and his ilk have a change of heart as Niemöller did? We’ll see.

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MY RAPIST APOLOGIZED

This one left me speechless. Just read it.

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TWO-YEAR-OLD BOY GETS AN EARLY CHRISTMAS

He is gravely ill and his entire neighborhood is helping him celebrate:

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VOYAGES IN SOUND

An erupting volcano, a forest in Madagascar… amazing recordings of the Earth doing the things Earth does. Amazing.

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A FOREST, REBORN AFTER A FIRE

I’ve always loved Fantasia 2000, especially the Firebird Suite, a story of destruction and rebirth. Here’s a recounting of the real-life version.

This photo:

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Yes. Yes. Yes.

Onward in courage, friends.

Ten for Tuesday

Hello friends!

I’m in Montreat, NC this week, leading a retreat for pastors in Western North Carolina presbytery. So here’s a verrrrry quick roundup of links that have inspired, amused, challenged and interested me:

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RUNNING, ON THE WAY TO PERSONAL RECOVERY

A great profile of Back on My Feet, a great organization that uses running to support people transitioning away from homelessness and substance abuse.

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A TUNISIAN GRAVEDIGGER GIVES DIGNITY TO MIGRANTS

Fight back with beauty:

“I found their bodies washed up on the beach, the child next to the woman,” Marzoug said, after spreading fresh flowers over the graves. “Perhaps, she was his mother. So out of consideration for her, I decided to bury them next to each other.”

Even as the European Union tightens its rules to prevent migrants from reaching its borders, thousands keep boarding rickety boats in search of a better life. And many still drown in the Mediterranean Sea, their bloated bodies ending up on the shores of North Africa with no family members to claim them.

Marzoug gives the migrants in death what they failed to receive in life: a recognition of their worth.

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ANGER AND GRIEF

Love this—shared by a friend. Sorry I don’t know the source!

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A SIMPLE PRACTICE TO START THE DAY

Thanks to my friend Jan for this!

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A SPIDER’S LESSON ABOUT LOSS AND RESILIENCE

Love this meditation on overcoming adversity.

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HOW FACEBOOK SAVED TWO LIVES

A man and his travel companion had a motor vehicle accident in Bali—his Facebook post helped rescue workers find them, thanks to the intervention of friends half a world away.

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TRUMP RALLY, BOT-STYLE

Hilarious… and the best “I forced a bot to watch over 1,000 hours” meme I’ve seen.

“I forced a bot to watch over 1,000 hours of Trump rallies and then asked it to write a Trump rally of its own. Here is the first page.”

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ROBOT-PROOF JOBS

Careers that will be relatively immune from automation.

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EAGLE-OWL

I love owls, and this incredible slow-motion video!

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HOW ONE PRIEST RESPONDED TO THE SEXUAL ABUSE SCANDAL

Authenticity and empathy.

Ten for Tuesday

Away we go!

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Tony Basil, Still Dancing at 74

I love this video of a gorgeous, feisty, still-got-it '80s pop wonder. Hey Mickey!

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The 2018 Texas State Fair Food Finalists

Wow, do I miss going to the fair... but reading these annual menus are as close as I can get these days. Favorite: 

 Layers of moist chiffon orange cake, dairy-fresh whipped cream, and citrusy orange preserves are lightly blended to form a refreshing custard-like filling. The mixture is spooned into flaky puff pastry dough, folded turnover style, and sealed with a pastry crimper. The pastry is quickly fried into little crescent-shaped pillows of citrus bliss and then lightly dusted with powdered sugar.

Layers of moist chiffon orange cake, dairy-fresh whipped cream, and citrusy orange preserves are lightly blended to form a refreshing custard-like filling. The mixture is spooned into flaky puff pastry dough, folded turnover style, and sealed with a pastry crimper. The pastry is quickly fried into little crescent-shaped pillows of citrus bliss and then lightly dusted with powdered sugar.

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The Political Power of Aretha Franklin

The blossoming of “Respect” into one of the most important songs that an American has ever sung is a reflection of how, unintentionally, blackness and womanhood becomes fodder for public debate and examination. We don’t mean to be political, but our skin is. Our bodies are. Even our voices. Franklin, taken by pancreatic cancer Thursday morning at the age of 76, was singular in that she contained our multitudes unlike any singer before her — both in her songs and in her skill. Her music spoke to the demand for equality along gender and racial lines simultaneously, knowing that one freedom could not exist without the other. 

Bonus Link: Pop Culture Happy Hour's reflection on the Queen was wonderful.

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Donald Trump Fact Check

News you can use... sigh.

The Toronto Star is keeping track of every false claim U.S. President Donald Trump has made since his inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017. Why? Historians say there has never been such a constant liar in the Oval Office. We think dishonesty should be challenged. We think inaccurate information should be corrected. And we think the sheer frequency of Trump’s inaccuracy is a central story of his presidency.

Current tally: 2436

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Stephen Colbert on the 'Extraordinary' Steps It Took to Get a Diverse Writers Room

Speaking with Sopan Deb for a TimesTalks conversation, Colbert was asked about the overall lack of diversity in the writers rooms of comedy programs — as the writing staffs have long been dominated by white men. Colbert replied that he had been “frustrated” by a seeming inability to find diverse talents for his previous show, until he realized that “the usual process” wouldn’t help him get an “unusual room.” He told the Times:

“It wasn’t until we said, no please, don’t send us anyone but women. Because we would say, you know it’s very important, we want writers of color, we want women, and you would get 150 packets and there would be eight women. And we’re like, ‘God, that’s so frustrating.’ Until I said no, only women, and then I got 87 women.”

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Raising My Child in a Doomed World

An article that says what I've long fretted over... the imminent climate crisis.

When my daughter was born I felt a love and connection I’d never felt before: a surge of tenderness harrowing in its intensity. I knew that I would kill for her, die for her, sacrifice anything for her, and while those feelings have become more bearable since the first delirious days after her birth, they have not abated. And when I think of the future she’s doomed to live out, the future we’ve created, I’m filled with rage and sorrow.

...I can’t protect my daughter from the future and I can’t even promise her a better life. All I can do is teach her: teach her how to care, how to be kind and how to live within the limits of nature’s grace. I can teach her to be tough but resilient, adaptable and prudent, because she’s going to have to struggle for what she needs. But I also need to teach her to fight for what’s right, because none of us is in this alone.

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Beer deliverymen talk man out of jumping off bridge — by offering him a 12-pack of Coors Light

The headline isn't quite right. The deliveryman offered to have a beer with the man. He offered him community. Communion, even.

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What is Barbershop Therapy?

Barbers in the South are training as first responders to assist the men in their chairs with their mental health concerns. Love it.

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Argentine Police Officer Promoted After Breast-Feeding Neglected Baby

The officer, Celeste Ayala, was among a team of officers who took six siblings into state custody in La Plata, a municipality near Buenos Aires, on Aug. 14, because they were in dismal condition at home.

The youngest, who was about seven months old, was crying furiously. Ms. Ayala, who is breast-feeding a daughter 16 months old, said she sought permission from the hospital staff to breast-feed the baby.

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“I didn’t doubt it for a second,” she told the Argentine television show “Cronica.” “So I pulled out my breast and he became calm.”

Cristian Ritondo, the minister of security for the Province of Buenos Aires, met with Ms. Ayala last week to inform her that she was being promoted to sergeant.

“We wanted to thank her in person for that spontaneous gesture of love that managed to quiet the baby’s crying,” he said on Twitter. “This is the police force we are proud of, the police force we want.”

Fight back with beauty!

Ten for Tuesday

Back from an amazing vacation in Colorado, so let's get right to it, shall we? (Note: more than ten this week!)

LIVING BETTER

Wisdom for people with...

...imposter syndrome?

...FOBO? (fear of better options)

...more books than you could ever read? (Raising hand)

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NEVERTHELESS SHE PERSISTED

Women being awesome, including:

The first female duo working together in a pit crew in a NASCAR race, including the first African-American woman in a pit crew. (What took so long?) 

- The women driving the digital revolution... in the Arab world.

- Artist-philanthropist Carrie Mae Weems, who gave away millions to artists anonymously, until now.

- Serena Williams, whose trick for facing negativity is to be too busy for it. Darn right. (This being from Elle magazine, there's also some stuff in there about beauty products, so be advised if that's not your thang.)

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THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO HMM

How America uses its land: an interactive tool. tl;dr -- there's a lot of cattle involved.

And how about a little law of unintended consequences?

For hotel guests who care more about saving water and electricity than they do about clean towels and a freshly scrubbed tub, opting out of housekeeping seems like the right thing to do. The incentives offered to some of those who decline cleaning services — rewards points, restaurant discounts, even having a tree planted — make it even more enticing.

But the housekeepers who would otherwise be cleaning these rooms, many of them immigrants, say the increasingly popular programs are cutting into their livelihoods by reducing their hours, making their schedules more erratic, and — ironically — making their jobs harder. That’s because rooms that go without housekeeping for several days are often a wreck — trash piled up, shower doors coated in gunk, crumbs in the carpet, and hair everywhere.

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FIGHT BACK WITH BEAUTY

A restaurant takes on the opioid crisis one worker at a time.

Preschoolers left a note on an abandoned tree... and people responded. As my brother likes to say, "People can be so dope sometimes." 

The road to Maccu Picchu starts at 385 pounds. A wonderful travel essay that's about more than travel. 

Finally, did you know that improv can help with anxiety? (And hey, there's a book for that.)

Have a great week!

Ten for Tuesday

A compendium of links and images I found captivating recently:

How an improv class is helping the anxious

I did some interviews several weeks ago with a number of friends, talking about the intersection of improv and life--look for those videos to drop this fall. One of them talked about improv as a way of dealing with social anxiety. This article expands on that idea:

“Little by little, you realize that just because things are uncertain doesn’t mean they’re frightful.”

That'll preach!

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The sad, sad stories of the Presidential Fitness Test

Sit and reach. I sat, I reached, I farted. Ruined 5th grade. -- @cellsworthless

I was today years old before it occurred to me that there was something deeply problematic with the way we assessed fitness back when I was in school. (And according to my kids, still do.) 

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Who Really Stands to Win from Universal Basic Income?

Guaranteed income, reconceived as basic income, is gaining support across the spectrum, from libertarians to labor leaders. Some see the system as a clean, crisp way of replacing gnarled government bureaucracy. Others view it as a stay against harsh economic pressures now on the horizon. The questions that surround it are the same ones that Nixon faced half a century ago. Will the public stand for such a bold measure—and, if so, could it ever work?

Two confessions. One, many of my friends are really into the idea of UBI, but I can't get my mind around it. Yet? Ever? Maybe? I don't know. Second confession is that I haven't finished this article, so I'm posting it as a TRL (to read later) for myself. 

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The Moral Ledger

In recent months, a consensus has emerged among the conservative dissidents of the Trump era: We’ll continue to oppose the president when his policies and practices are counter to our principles, they say, but also be sure to publicly give credit whenever he stakes out an agreeable position on any issue that matters.

...It is a coherent approach. It is the pragmatic one. But it is unsatisfying and unsettling. And with each casual lie, crude insult, attack on the media, slight of the intelligence community, and example of grotesque servility to Russia’s dictator, it increasingly appears morally misguided.

Why yes, that is the conservative Weekly Standard there. 

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What Men Say About #MeToo in Therapy

The #MeToo era has changed my work. If therapy has a reputation for navel gazing, this powerful moment has joined men in the room, forcing them to engage with topics that they would have earlier avoided. [I am] heartened by the private work that men are doing in therapy and how it can help us understand the relationship between what has been called “toxic masculinity” and the reservoirs of shame that fuel these behaviors.

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Find Your Address As It Was Millions Of Years Ago (+ Other Perspective Expanders) 

Software designer Ian Webster created Ancient Earth Globe, a website that lets you type in a modern address and see how its place on earth has changed over the past 750 million years. You can select views from 750 million years ago to the present and find notes about what was happening on earth at each stop.

Here's my home, when the first land plants appeared:

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Where American Politics Can Still Work: From the Bottom Up

Thomas Friedman:

I was invited in April to give a paid book talk here in Lancaster, and I was so blown away by the societal innovation the town’s leaders had employed to rebuild their once-struggling city and county that I decided to return with my reporter’s notebook and interview them.

Some of the leading citizens decided that “time was running out” — hence “Hourglass” — and that no cavalry was coming to save them — not from the state’s capital or the nation’s capital. They realized that the only way they could replace Armstrong and re-energize the downtown was not with another dominant company, but by throwing partisan politics out the window and forming a complex adaptive coalition in which business leaders, educators, philanthropists, social innovators and the local government would work together to unleash entrepreneurship and forge whatever compromises were necessary to fix the city.

If you're despairing at the dysfunction of the world and the state of civic discourse, this article will hearten you. It's also a great parable of adaptive leadership.

 The city has made a big push with public art, such as "Moving in the Right Direction" by Béatrice Coron, at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School.

The city has made a big push with public art, such as "Moving in the Right Direction" by Béatrice Coron, at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School.

 Sacajawea and Heather.

Sacajawea and Heather.

My friend Heather curates this labor of love, which is exactly as it's described. These images show the lovely and sometimes fierce public art that highlights the accomplishments of women in our country, while also highlighting . Many of the women are unnamed.

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With a Sniff and a Signal, These Dogs Hunt Down Threats to Bees

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In Maryland, a state employee is training dogs to inspect hives for harmful bacteria — a crucial job as honeybees are sent around the country to pollinate crops.

Dogs are so dope sometimes. (So is Maryland.)

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Toddler who beat cancer serves as flower girl—to a bone marrow donor who saved her life

Fight back with beauty.

Slightly-Less-Than Ten for Tuesday

Still catching up a bit from being gone last week for the Presbyterian Church (USA)'s General Assembly... but here are a few juicy links from the past few weeks!

SPEAKING OF GENERAL ASSEMBLY

Was super inspired by the group of Presbyterians who walked the 200+ miles from Louisville (our denomination's HQ) to St. Louis (where the Assembly met), in advocacy for Fossil-Free PCUSA and climate sustainability. Read a personal reflection on that journey here. Unfortunately (in my opinion), the assembly opted not to divest from fossil fuel companies, but the work continues, and this group inspired countless people.

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HOW TO GET BETTER AT THINGS YOU CARE ABOUT

Got to talking to a seminary student last week who shared this great TED talk from Eduardo Briceño about how we learn, and how we get stuck:

The learning zone is when our goal is to improve. Then we do activities designed for improvement, concentrating on what we haven't mastered yet, which means we have to expect to make mistakes, knowing that we will learn from them. That is very different from what we do when we're in our performance zone, which is when our goal is to do something as best as we can, to execute. Then we concentrate on what we have already mastered and we try to minimize mistakes.

This made a lot of sense to me, and is part of what makes improv such a powerful tool for transformation--you're in the learning zone a lot. Too many of us get trapped in performance zone all the time.

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IMPROV AND AGILE

Speaking of improv... agile is a pet interest of mine, and here's an interview with agile coach Leila Rao exploring how these two modalities intersect, and how businesses can incorporate improv games to reinforce agile thinking:

The power of using "yes, and" is multi-faceted. At its core, in order to agree and build upon what someone else said, you first have to listen! So it is one thing to say in a sprint planning session, please listen to each other; it is considerably more powerful to say, please apply the principle of "yes, and". The shift from reminding people about childhood basics versus reminding people that they are engaged in complex work that requires active listening and collaboration. When applied regularly, the "yes, and" principle reinforces a sense of "team", i.e. a chorus of creative voices can create more complex music than any of them can do individually.

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WHY READ HANNAH ARENDT NOW

 "In the preface to her 1968 collection of essays, “Men in Dark Times,” Hannah Arendt wrote: “Even in the darkest of times we have the right to expect some illumination.” Today, in our own dark time, Arendt’s work is being read with a new urgency, precisely because it provides such illumination."

"In the preface to her 1968 collection of essays, “Men in Dark Times,” Hannah Arendt wrote: “Even in the darkest of times we have the right to expect some illumination.” Today, in our own dark time, Arendt’s work is being read with a new urgency, precisely because it provides such illumination."

A piece in the NYT about what she might have to teach us right now:

Many liberals are perplexed that when their fact-checking clearly and definitively shows that a lie is a lie, people seem unconcerned and indifferent. But Arendt understood how propaganda really works. “What convinces masses are not facts, not even invented facts, but only the consistency of the system of which they are presumably a part.”

FTR, there are conservatives who care about facts--and liberals can get suckered into tribal thinking too. But there's good stuff here. 

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FEEL GOOD STORIES OF THE WEEK

The first one has made the rounds, but if you missed it, here's a high school baseball player comforting his good friend after striking him out. Parenting goals: to be the mother of a #7 kid.

Second: I just started getting the New York Times's weekly "good news" email, and this story made me smile: They Started School Afraid of the Water. Now They Are Saving Lives

The lifeguard trainees at Grover Cleveland are predominantly students of color, about half of them male and half of them female, and most are immigrants or children of immigrants. Most enter high school as non-swimmers, fearful of the water. But within two years, most are swimming at competitive speeds and can qualify for, and pass, the rigorous training course offered by New York City to become a lifeguard at a city pool or beach.

Jimmy Barrera, 17, from Maspeth, Queens, a junior, said, “When I first came here, I was scared of the water — that’s the truth.”

Now he can swim the 50-yard sprint in under 26 seconds, nearly 10 seconds faster than the 35 seconds the city requires for a certified lifeguard.

The racial politics of swimming are fascinating and tough. Robert recently visited a museum when he was in Florida that addressed the topic. Apparently enslaved people were amazing swimmers at first, but slave owners deliberately prohibited successive generations from learning, since it was a means of escape. That shameful history echoes even to this day, with communities of color having less access to public pools, and thus learning to swim at lower rates.

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THIS MOVIE CHANGED ME

I love this podcast from the On Being folks, in which interesting people talk about life-changing movies. This episode addresses Toy Story, with a Catholic priest talking about his own "dark night of the soul"... and how he was inspired by none other than Buzz Lightyear.

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And that's all for this time!