Friday Link Love

A whole bunch of lovely links this week... Improvised Life

Enough said:



Find the Storytellers: Duke Divinity Call and Response Blog

I imagine my friends will encounter at least two kinds of storytellers when they arrive at their new [pastoral] posts. The first are the stalwart guardians of history; they’ve probably been integral to the leadership in the past and will continue long after my friends have gone, at least that’s the subtext of the story they’re telling. The other storyteller will be the gadfly instigators, naively critical of a “dead” past and ready to shake things up.

...But perhaps they’ll stumble upon a third kind of storyteller...


Neil Gaiman: 8 Good Writing Practices

I especially like #5:

Remember: when people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong.


Recovering Something Lost

A nice meditation on the Wild Goose Festival... though I'm not sure that WGF was much of a convergence between conservative and liberal. Maybe between progressive mainline and post-evangelical?


The Ethics of Sunscreen

It turns out that in the US, sunscreens have been extraordinarily over-hyped, with variations being called 'waterproof, 'full spectrum' and 'effective' without being any of these. You need to use a lot more, and a lot more often, than the labels currently indicate. Marketers would prefer a magic bullet, as it's easier to sell, but sunscreen doesn't work that way. It's not easy to make an effective sunscreen, and so competitors with lesser products have hyped them with false or irrelevant claims. (SPF 120 anyone?)

Here are the two questions that occur to me:

How can consumers look at this example and not believe that the regulation of marketing claims is the only way to insulate consumers from short-term selfish marketers in search of market share, marketers who will shade the truth, even if it kills some customers?


Why aren't ethical marketers (of any product) eager to have clear and well-defined regulations, creating a set of honest definitions so that they can actually do what they set out to do--make a difference and make a living at the same time? If you're busy competing against people willing to cut corners, I'd think you'd want the rules to be really aggressive, clear and obvious.

People who are opposed to "excessive" regulation say that the free market should be allowed to work and that consumers should make their own decisions; good companies will be rewarded if we just get out of the way. But the pace of research and the sheer amount of stuff to know about the products we use is growing by the day. The number of things we're expected to be experts on, in order to make good choices, is staggering. I'm lucky enough to be married to someone who will spend 30 minutes researching the best sunscreen and who has the scientific literacy to be able to sort through hype. But not everyone does or can. (I'll admit that I don't always see that as a positive when I'd rather just make a darn decision already!!)

Anyway, maybe we shouldn't think about governmental regulation as a way of protecting ourselves from big bad companies who only exist to screw us. That's not a helpful way of framing it. What might be more helpful is to think about regulation as a way of setting categories and standards so that people can make good, reasonably informed choices without having to get a PhD in Sunscreenology.


Parker Palmer: Healing the Heart of Democracy

And finally, for people like me who are bummed about the state of our political system, Grandpa Parker's thoughtful kindness is a balm. (Video)