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Issue 041
The Eighth Roman Month 12, Anno Domini 2020
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! Psalm 34

Artwork: "Baron Forest"  Artist: Mlenart

The Promise Is Not Idle

If they pack the Supreme Court, it might be the end of the republic. 

Will you still go to church that Sunday? 

This week James, brother of our Lord, convinced me that "Seek ye first the Kingdom of Jesus and all these other things will be added unto you" is a promise. 

The problem is never that you believe the right things too little. It is that you believe the wrong things too much.

What story runs your mind?

What authority set your clock? 

Or, maybe best, who or what is setting the timestamps by which you are taking measure of your soul?

"Be well," James reminds, "Even as you face persecutions of many kinds..." 

Wisdom doesn't come just the way you'd like it. She comes as she is. 

If evil men do bad stuff, the King isn't sleeping. 

Neither are you. 

"Let fortitude have its work of fulfillment, that you might be whole."

I repeat: it's a promise.

Until next time,

Be strong, and let your heart know courage.
Rev. Fisk

Quick Hits for the Eyebuds

🦖 For a cool $31m you could own a T-Rex skeleton

🧼 Robots and "magnetic soap” could help clean up oil spills

📆Mass Effect: Legends release has been pushed back

🎵You’ve heard of "bot farms": Spotify is battling "streaming farms"

☃️ Recolored footage of a snowball fight from 1896 (pity the guy on the bike!)

🐢 Poached! A fake egg to spy on wildlife traffickers

🦁 A giant lion carved from a single redwood

Back the Brand
Walk this way
Clickbait Paradise
A disputed ending with a disputed end/What Wouldn’t Jesus Do?

It’s hard to avoid news about China at the moment, but a report that Communist government officials are changing the text of Scripture is one we will keep our eye on. The report says that authorities have tampered with John 8 in an ethics textbook used in vocational schools across China. The additional text claims that after her accusers left, Jesus stoned the woman caught in adultery himself, then confessed that he was sinner. Doesn’t sound like something Jesus would do, but sure sounds like something a communist government would do.

Forbes has reported that a former Chinese government official was in charge of TikTok’s content moderation. While it’s unclear how much the app is under the sway of the CCP, a Taiwanese government official recently said that Chinese citizens take it for granted that there is no "purely private sector in the People’s Republic of China.”

Digital isn't forever

The internet was up and running for a few years before anyone thought about archiving it. While a lot of what we entrust to the online plexus may not be worth saving for posterity, the idea that technological monoliths don’t last forever is worth pondering. Give me an A-O-L! 

The fact that the internet is a depository for a lot of important information teamed with the fear that it could all be erased has lead to the laborious task of preservation. Sorting through what is worth saving and how is a job that institutions and libraries have set for themselves. Companies are also preserving our digital footprint, including a bunker style archive under the snow in Norway.

In praise of the lo-fi life, we at Mad Mondays remembered with gratitude all the folks who faithfully preserved the Word for us today. Of course, the information superhighway is awesome and, granted, pieces of manuscript are not immune to corruption. Yet it’s surely a good thing that Scripture wasn’t recorded on Super 8mm, cassette tape or microfiche, nor stored in a cloud at the whim of a tech giant… Ah, the thinks you can think!

Speaking of obsolete tech, here’s a bit of Gen-X geek-deep. In the early 2000s when every flannel clad youth was still trying to make it with their grunge three-piece, the nerds were building games using Flash. Flash is being put out to pasture in a matter of weeks and this compilation provides a eulogy of sorts for the “wild west” of gaming that it spawned. 

Back to now, Roblox, also a platform for user-generated games, is planning to go public with a valuation estimated at $8bn. Those kids can’t get enough of Adopt Me! it would seem.

The kids also can’t get enough of Yubo. The social media platform began in France and is aimed at the generation “born with a phone in its hand." The platform consists of “rooms" to chat in and "is going back to the basics of social networking: just linking people together in the digital world.” There is no advertising, no selling of data and no influencers. The app makes its money from premium features for which users pay if they like. 

Speaking of premium, Virtuix is launching an "omni treadmill" for VR games. Once you’re strapped in, you can run virtually in any direction.

Oh joy! It's Monday
Floods of information

The government of India wants to give its citizens access to academic journals.
The city of Venice kept seasonal flooding at bay for the first time in 1200 years.

If you can’t travel the world right now, you can check out the astonishingly awesome travel diary of Jose Naranja. The artist has filled his notebooks with amazing maps, stamps, currency and drawings of places he visits as well as the creatures he sees. It looks like something out of another century, but is very inspiring for any Mad Christians interested in breviaries, liturgies of hours, and raising your smart noting game!

Need a lift?

Apparently, looking at cute animals is good for you. Wonder if that works for these “awww”-inspiring pet rocks too? While we’re talking about our furry friends, these good boys catching frisbees mid-air should bring a calm, easy feeling.

Also lifting in mid-air, entries in a drone photography contest bring a new perspective on our amazing planet. It turns out that COVID has been beneficial for conferencing apps and glove manufacturers but also drone makers. To keep costs down and maintain physical distancing requirements, companies are using drones to inspect electricity pylons, clean large structures and assess damage for insurance claims.

It's not easy being bland

For those who consider themselves impervious to the schemes of marketers, meet The Blands. A clever formula is helping brands make a fortune by being deliberately nondescript. The modest packaging and aspirational messages strive to be "engagingly unobtrusive and convincingly inevitable,” and yet they deploy many of the classic advertising tricks that have always existed. For those playing along at home: Try spotting the logical fallacies in some of the adverts.

Being bland is sometimes just the result of being “risk averse” and an article last week tried to explain why so many steaming services end with a “Plus”. Perhaps it’s similar thinking to Bud Light or the Snickers candy-verse - find a winning formula and spin it off in as many variations as possible . "Brand simplification” accelerated by the pandemic reduces “confusion” for the customer - you can know "exactly what it is without even asking.” How thoughtful!

Chairman of the Woke

On the other hand, Woke Capitalism is having its moment in the sun. City Journal has reported how a former CEO of Twitter recently ranted "that business leaders refusing to inject political activism into their workplaces will be 'the first people lined up against the wall and shot in the revolution.’" So much for yesteryear when the main aim of a company was to make a good product!

"The archetypical nineteenth-century businessman was efficient and worked hard. He built; he speculated; he bought and sold; he woke up with the thought of money and fell asleep with the same thought; and he became very rich. Yet he never concerned himself about whether his employees felt a sense of belonging or personal growth. His employees labored, and he paid them. Their personal thoughts and feelings remained their own."

While wariness over the power of the State is healthy, woke CEOs represent a new threat to freedom. It’s hard to know whether all these executives believe the things they tweet about, or whether they are just spouting what they need to move products. Either way,

"Americans have traditionally supported a division between business and the state because they feared the state. They feared government stripping them of their right to think differently, or their right not to think at all, and just to work and live and mind their own business. In our own day, though, business is increasingly the entity to fear."

Only Illuminati Need Apply
Your Reaction Highlights

More from the Discord conversation from PaladinSGT.

"The Rev. Fisk and I are months apart in age, but I've been struggling with note-taking all my life. The way he and Ahrens have explained it has opened up a world that I never knew how to engage in. I just finished (after a 20+ year struggle) a Bachelor's degree that I wish I had known a better way to work through. I'm thankful for some way to engage and learn my faith in a deeper, more permanent way."

The invitation to Discord is always open.  C'mon over to our server for conversations about health, humor, books, gaming, art, and whatever else you want to share with other Mad Christians.

Sweetness You May Have Missed
This Week Preached

Talk Them Into It

Recent Release

Take Care of Your Business

Podcast Release

Magic, Debt, and Jeff [Redacted]



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Let us pray:  Almighty God, You invite us to trust in You for our salvation. Deal with us not in the severity of Your judgment but by the greatness of Your mercy; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.