Daily Briefing: September 8, 2017

Posted by    |    September 8th, 2017 at 5:42 am

T O P   N E W S

9. Harvey and Irma, Married 75 Years, Marvel at the Storms Bearing Their Names (NY Times, h/t: AB)

“Harvey and Irma Schluter have been married for 75 years. He turned 104 in July; she will be 93 in November…They vividly remember many of the major events of the 20th century, from her first time spotting an airplane, during the Great Depression, to his wonder at watching Neil Armstrong walk on the moon. In a recent phone interview, Mrs. Schluter even recalled the weather near her home in Spokane, Wash., on the day that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. (Cool and cloudy.) But never before have they seen two major hurricanes bearing their names threaten the United States.”

Nick Note: Look at this picture of Irma compared to Hurricane Andrew. Here are 24 shocking pictures of the damage Irma has done thus far. 60 percentof Puerto Rico is without power. 95 percent of St. Martin is destroyed. Irma is expected to reach South Florida by Saturday. Officials have already issued a hurricane watch. People in parts of three Florida counties faced mandatory evacuation orders Thursday. Officials in two other counties issued voluntary orders to leave in advance an Irma landfall. Here are all the records Irma has broken thus far. Last night, all 5 living former US presidents came together to announce a fundraising effort for Harvey relief. Watch the short video here. Natural disasters show no favoritism when causing their harm but they do bring about abundant levels of humanitarianism when they pass. In a peculiar twist, the worst brings out the best. Today and this weekend, as you watch the storm, would you pray for those in Irma’s path? I’m praying for safety, resources, my responsibility in the aftermath, and for ears to hear the Lord’s voice in the midst of the storm. 

8. Dianne Feinstein Attacks Judicial Nominee’s Catholic Faith (National Review)

“Barrett is a law professor at the University of Notre Dame who has written about the role of religion in public life and delivered academic lectures to Christian legal groups. Drawing on some of these materials, Feinstein launched a thinly veiled attack on Barrett’s Catholic faith, asserting that her religious views will prevent her from judging fairly. “When you read your speeches, the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you,” Feinstein said.
“Barrett has explicitly written that “judges cannot — nor should they try to — align our legal system with the Church’s moral teaching whenever the two diverge.” She has also insisted that judges ought to recuse themselves in situations when their faith conflicts with their judicial responsibility.”

Nick Note: Watch Senator Feinstein attack Barrett here. Earlier this year, Senator Bernie Sanders went after Russell Vought, President Trump’s nominee for deputy White House budget director. Watch it here. John Adams said there was nothing more dreadful than national government meddling in religion. Thomas Jefferson disagreed with both Dianne Feinstein and Bernie Sanders. Jefferson said: “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” You also may disagree with the Senators, but remember Proverbs 15:1 when you do.

7. Powerful earthquake hits Mexico’s southern coast (USA Today)

“A massive 8.1-magnitude earthquake rocked Mexico’s southern coast early Friday, the U.S. Geological Survey said, in what may be the strongest quake to strike the country in a century.
“Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto confirmed that at least five people were killed and the temblor triggered a tsunami threat to several neighboring countries. The USGS said the quake’s epicenter was 102 miles west of Tapachula in southern Chiapas state not far from Guatemala. It had a depth of about 22 miles.”

Nick Note: 62 aftershocks have been reported. The United States Geological Survey Pager system, which predicts economic and human loss after earthquakes, issued a red alert. “High casualties and extensive damage are probable and the disaster is likely widespread. Past red alerts have required a national or international response.” 1.85 million homes lost electricity. Would you pull away to pray for our neighbors (Romans 15:30)?

C U L T U R A L   N E W S

6. New AI can tell whether you’re gay or straight from a photograph (The Guardian)

“The study from Stanford University – which found that a computer algorithm could correctly distinguish between gay and straight men 81% of the time, and 74% for women.
“The research found that gay men and women tended to have “gender-atypical” features, expressions and “grooming styles”, essentially meaning gay men appeared more feminine and visa versa. The data also identified certain trends, including that gay men had narrower jaws, longer noses and larger foreheads than straight men, and that gay women had larger jaws and smaller foreheads compared to straight women.
“Human judges performed much worse than the algorithm, accurately identifying orientation only 61% of the time for men and 54% for women. When the software reviewed five images per person, it was even more successful – 91% of the time with men and 83% with women.”

Nick Note: Don’t judge a book by its cover, but how about judging a person by their picture? Such technology may be able to determine one’s sexuality, but the biblical narrative clearly defines how we are to treat individuals regardless of their orientation. We are to love others selflessly, extend grace abundantly, show kindness extravagantly (John 15:12, Romans 2:4, 2 Corinthians 9:8).

5. Americans Losing Faith in College Degrees, Poll Finds (WSJ)

“Overall, a slim plurality of Americans, 49%, believes earning a four-year degree will lead to a good job and higher lifetime earnings, compared with 47% who don’t, according to the poll of 1,200 people taken Aug. 5-9. That two-point margin narrowed from 13 points when the same question was asked four years earlier.
“The shift was almost entirely due to growing skepticism among Americans without four-year degrees—those who never enrolled in college, who took only some classes or who earned a two-year degree.”

Nick Note: Don’t Stop Believing…too late, Journey. According to Census Bureau data, 33.4 percent of Americans 25 or older said they had completed a bachelor’s degree or higher. A decade ago, that number was 28 percent. Among 25 to 34 year olds, 37 percent have at least a bachelor’s degree. Those 55 and older, just under 30 percent have a four-year degree. But I think an argument can be made that the loss of faith is due to the increasing pilarization of our culture. We exist in silos, largely surrounded by individuals who share the same qualities – like education. Civic organizations – like the church – have traditionally been intermediary institutions whereby a diverse populace can come together (Ephesians 3:8-10). But if the numbers are any indication, individuals are leaving the church as well as the Rotary Club. 

4. Writers unblocked? Happy music boosts imaginative thinking, say researchers (The Guardian)

“The psychologists scored the volunteers on two measures of creativity. The first, known as convergent thinking, calls for deep thought, accuracy and logic…
“The second measure of creativity, known as divergent thinking, is needed to come up with original ideas: ones that connect previously disparate ideas…
“Music turned out to have no effect on convergent thinking. But when compared to sitting in silence, listening to happy music boosted people’s scores on divergent thinking from an average of 76 to 94.”

Nick Note: Play That Funky Music? If you insist. Similar to Wild Cherry, I play that funky music – especially in the DB. Contra to Wild Cherry, I was never a funky singer (though I was a mediocre piano player). Music has been shown toimprove your focusreduce stressdecrease pain, and cause you to smile.In N.T. Wright’s brilliant little book entitled The Case for the Psalms, he notes: “They create, as perhaps only music can, the new world, or the new worldview, within which all kinds of new possibilities emerge: not just new thoughts but new actions, new habits of heart, mind, and body.” (Psalm 95:1, Colossians 3:16)

3. Relationship Problems? Try Getting More Sleep (NY Times)

“When people have slept less, it’s a little like looking at the world through dark glasses,” said Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, a longtime relationship scientist and director of the Ohio State Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research. “Their moods are poorer. We’re grumpier. Lack of sleep hurts the relationship.”
“Couples were more likely to be hostile — like the couple fighting about the child’s birthday party — when both partners were functioning on less than seven hours of sleep.
Notably, the couples with more than seven hours of sleep still argued with each other, but the tone of their conflict was different.”

Nick Note: The Lion Sleeps Tonight but you may not because of relational woes. Research indicates that sleeping in nature is the best type of sleep. Some scientists argue that the purpose of sleep is to forget. In the Scriptures, we read that you are not to let the sun go down on your anger (Ephesians 4:26). Instead of waiting the last minute to deal with issues and thus delaying your sleep, perhaps you could reconcile quickly and forgive swiftly when problems arise (Matthew 5:23-26, Ephesians 4:32).

N E W S   Y O U   C A N   U S E

2. The No Fun League Tries to Loosen Up (NY Times)

“The N.F.L. will briefly avert its eyes as joyous players treat the end zone as a playground.
“New and far more lenient celebration rules will go into effect this season. While certain conduct, like taunting, sexually suggestive gestures and overly long demonstrations, remain prohibited, the players are otherwise unrestricted.”

Nick Note: Here is the best play in the history of the NFL (I am highly biased). Watch the evolution of the touchdown celebration here. “May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. (Psalm 20:4)”

1. Man Proposes To Girlfriend In Front Of Pope Francis

Nick Note: Watch it here. I guess you could say he was ready to pope the question. (Colossians 4:5)

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