I leave later today for a big honkin' gathering of Presbyterian Women (that's the organization and the demographic), where I will be leading a workshop on Sabbath-keeping. I'm bringing Margaret and James with me for some fun time with the Florida cousins. Meanwhile Caroline heads to Chicago for a choir camp, and Robert dances around the empty house in his underwear. Or something. Since I'll be out of pocket through the weekend, why wait on the link love? Here you go... for all your hump-day procrastination needs:
This puts the LOL in LOLcats:
h/t to Kathryn Zucker Johnston, who knows from humor.
I can't recall which Facebook friend posted this, but it's a pretty good list:
5. You're looking for a big idea.
Stop trying. You won't hit the big idea lottery.
And even if you did come up with the ever-elusive big idea, could you pull off the implementation? Do you have the skills, experience, and funding?
But here's what you do have: Tons of small ideas. You don't need to look for a big idea if you act on your little ideas.
Happiness is a process, and processes are based on action.
Big Campaign Spending: Government by the 1% -- Atlantic
I get a lot of my links from Andrew Sullivan and this one is no exception. This installment of link love is full of pep, so I'm sorry for the poop in the punchbowl, but as I've written before, the campaign spending issue drives me nuts:
Because of the way we fund the campaigns that determine our elections, we give the tiniest fraction of America the power to veto any meaningful policy change. Not just change on the left but also change on the right. Because of the structure of influence that we have allowed to develop, the tiniest fraction of the one percent have the effective power to block reform desired by the 99-plus percent.
Yet by "the tiniest fraction of the one percent" I don't necessarily mean the rich. I mean instead the fraction of Americans who are willing to spend their money to influence congressional campaigns for their own interest. That fraction is different depending upon the reform at issue: a different group rallies to block health-care reform than rallies to block global warming legislation. But the key is that under the system we've allowed to evolve, a tiny number (with resources at least) has the power to block reform they don't like.
A tiny number of Americans -- .26 percent -- give more than $200 to a congressional campaign. .05 percent give the maximum amount to any congressional candidate. .01 percent give more than $10,000 in any election cycle. And .000063 percent -- 196 Americans -- have given more than 80 percent of the super-PAC money spent in the presidential elections so far.
Some call this plutocracy. Some call it a corrupted aristocracy. I call it unstable. Just as America learned under the Articles of Confederation, where one state had the power to block the resolve of the rest, a nation in which so few have the power to block change is not a nation that can thrive.
Sigh. Movin' on...
A Girl and Her Room -- Brain Pickings
A photographer captures images of teenage girls from the United States and around the globe, all in their natural habitats:
I was discovering a person on the cusp on becoming an adult, but desperately holding on to the child she barely outgrew, a person on the edge between two worlds, trying to come to terms with this transitional time in her life and adjust to the person she is turning into.
I agree that the images are "visually stunning and culturally captivating."
The Perfect Compliment -- Esquire
The author sets out to compliment as many people as possible, to parse out what makes for a good compliment. I love the reckless joy and whimsy in this practice:
One rainy afternoon, I went to a crowded street corner in Manhattan and started again. The landscape of the city looked sturdy and polished, my heart was open, my head right. I walked the box of crosswalks at that intersection for two hours, waiting at each corner for the light to change, looking — really looking — at the people around me. I poached them across the street, crossing perpendicular to their approach, sidling up as they watched the light change. I abandoned simple and direct, gave up on the humble declarative expression. A true compliment is a complex expression of unrequired appreciation — how could three words do the job? It worked better when I grew more audacious:
"You seem really happy. That's a pleasure to see."
And more concrete:
"All I can say is, that is a classy umbrella. It looks old-timey and right for you."
And unafraid of a little complication:
"My mother always wanted me to wear a corduroy coat like that. Now I see why."
People responded. Sure, some passed without acknowledging what I said, but most smiled, thanked me, gave firm little nods. I could sometimes see them stand up a little straighter. One guy told me a story about where he got his tennis racket, and a woman noted that the purse I liked was a knockoff but that her cousin Celine had an even worse one. A kid told me his watch was his grandfather's and asked if I wanted to see the inscription. Some of these people turned to me and waved when they left. They locked eyes.
Much, much more. Open heart. Clear head right. Audacity. Yes.
What Does Space Smell Like? -- Science Soup
It’s strange to think that the near-vacuum of space could have a smell, and stranger still that humans—atmospheric creatures—can actually experience it. Astronauts have consistently reported the same strange odour after lengthy space walks, bringing it back in on their suits, helmets, gloves and tools. It’s bitter, smoky, metallic smell—like seared steak, hot metal and arc welding smoke all rolled into one.
Since it's only Wednesday, feel free to add your own links in the comments. I've also written a guest post on Sabbath for Jana Riess's blog Flunking Sainthood and I'll share it when it goes live.