Worth Reading - 3/2

1. From David Mills, five rules for your child's reading. Some thoughts on helping choose good children's books:

Kids want to read. Even with the web and video games, they want to read. Which means they want to read books they shouldn’t read as well as books they should: books everyone is talking about, including their Christian friends, books they see advertised all over the place — books you have to read or be the weird kid who hasn’t read them. Let me offer a few suggestions for parents whose children may want to read these books, if for no other reason than that other children are reading them.

First, do not assume, as I once did, that the average children’s or young adult book may be secular but is at least respectful of the moral law and of parental authority. It likely is not.

The back cover of one featured by a local chain bookshop, to take an example almost at random, includes in its description of the major characters: “Zach: Sophisticated college boy, wise in the ways of French painting as well as other French things.” The narrator has the usual life problems of a teenager, at least the teenagers in these stories. She loses her virginity to Zach, and this is treated as part of growing up, of becoming a better, more mature person — someone assertive, confident and clear-headed. This idea of the child’s good life is typical of this kind of book, even the ones without any mention of sex, the ones that would be rated PG if they were movies.

2. Some thoughts from Titus 3:14 on how God works though ordinary means in our lives:

As we go about our lives and routines, entering into this interdependent community, you may think your actions go unnoticed.

However, we stand out by faithfully and obediently living into our ordinary lives. When we approach our work with the greater mission of glorifying God, things change.

Our attitudes are more positive, our work is more efficient, our daily lives are more significant, and we feel fulfilled because we are living for Christ. These changes will be noticed by those around you, and this will be a testament to how awesome and important God is to us.

3. Linguistics are always entertaining, because so much that seems so natural to us is really quite obscure to those outside our language. Here is a recent article from the New York Times on how "You're Welcome" became a gloat:

Why is it that “you’re welcome,” a phrase that is meant to be gracious, is often tinged with gloat? It wasn’t always so double-edged. The saying stems from the Old English “wilcuma,” which wedded the words “pleasure” and “guest” to allow hosts to express their openness to visitors. According to the journalists Patricia T. O’Conner and Stewart Kellerman, “welcome” was being recast as a response to “thank you” as soon as 1603, in Shakespeare’s “Othello.” By the early 1900s, “you’re welcome” had emerged as a reflexive retort to “thanks.” What began as an invitation was now a nod to your own generosity. Think of the exchange of trains across the Atlantic, and the subtext becomes clear: I sent you a train, so you sent me a train, so I sent you another train, and now you . . . kind of owe me a train. In “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion,” Robert Cialdini, a marketing and psychology professor, cautions that the reciprocal sheen of the “thanks, you’re welcome” contract belies a power struggle: Even “a small initial favor can produce a sense of obligation to agree to a substantially larger return favor.” In the conversational volley, the person who says “you’re welcome” gets the last word.

Perhaps it was inevitable that “you’re welcome” would break free from the realm of etiquette to assert itself as a stand-alone expression. These days, it has become commonplace to say “you’re welcome” apropos of nothing, signaling, roughly: “No need to thank me. I already know how great I am.”

4. From the Smithsonian, the science of how "slurpee" waves formed off the coast of Nantucket:

When my fiancée and I left snow-entombed Boston last weekend for the relatively balmy isle of Nantucket, we thought we were putting this winter’s outlandish weather behind us. “It’s warmer here,” one of our island-dwelling hosts promised. “Very, very slightly.”

Our first morning on the island, we all strapped on Nordic skis and set out on what proved to be a desultory session, spoiled by bare earth poking through the trail. Shrugging, we carried our skis over the dunes to the beach, where we were surprised to find a wide, white field hugging the coastline in either direction. It looked like untrammeled snow—except snow doesn’t move like that. The Atlantic had become roiling, undulating slush.
THE dawn of the planet of the smartphones came in January 2007, when Steve Jobs, Apple’s chief executive, in front of a rapt audience of Apple acolytes, brandished a slab of plastic, metal and silicon not much bigger than a Kit Kat. “This will change everything,” he promised. For once there was no hyperbole. Just eight years later Apple’s iPhone exemplifies the early 21st century’s defining technology.

Smartphones matter partly because of their ubiquity. They have become the fastest-selling gadgets in history, outstripping the growth of the simple mobile phones that preceded them. They outsell personal computers four to one. Today about half the adult population owns a smartphone; by 2020, 80% will. Smartphones have also penetrated every aspect of daily life. The average American is buried in one for over two hours every day. Asked which media they would miss most, British teenagers pick mobile devices over TV sets, PCs and games consoles. Nearly 80% of smartphone-owners check messages, news or other services within 15 minutes of getting up. About 10% admit to having used the gadget during sex.