Archives For Culture

Google Got It Wrong

January 5, 2015 — Leave a comment

From the Washington Post:

A year ago, my boss announced that our large New York ad agency would be moving to an open office. After nine years as a senior writer, I was forced to trade in my private office for a seat at a long, shared table. It felt like my boss had ripped off my clothes and left me standing in my skivvies.

Our new, modern Tribeca office was beautifully airy, and yet remarkably oppressive. Nothing was private. On the first day, I took my seat at the table assigned to our creative department, next to a nice woman who I suspect was an air horn in a former life.  All day, there was constant shuffling, yelling, and laughing, along with loud music piped through a PA system.  As an excessive water drinker, I feared my co-workers were tallying my frequent bathroom trips.  At day’s end, I bid adieu to the 12 pairs of eyes I felt judging my 5:04 p.m. departure time. I beelined to the Beats store to purchase their best noise-cancelling headphones in an unmistakably visible neon blue.

Despite its obvious problems, the open-office model has continued to encroach on workers across the country. Now, about 70 percent of U.S. offices have no or low partitions, according to the International Facility Management Association. Silicon Valley has been the leader in bringing down the dividers. Google, Yahoo, eBay, Goldman Sachs and American Express are all adherents.  Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg enlisted famed architect Frank Gehry to design the largest open floor plan in the world, housing nearly 3,000 engineers. And as a businessman, Michael Bloomberg was an early adopter of the open-space trend, saying it promoted transparency and fairness. He famously carried the model into city hall when he became mayor of New York,  making “the Bullpen” a symbol of open communication and accessibility to the city’s chief.

These new floor plans are ideal for maximizing a company’s space while minimizing costs. Bosses love the ability to keep a closer eye on their employees, ensuring clandestine porn-watching, constant social media-browsing and unlimited personal cellphone use isn’t occupying billing hours. But employers are getting a false sense of improved productivity. A 2013 study found that many workers in open offices are frustrated by distractions that lead to poorer work performance. Nearly half of the surveyed workers in open offices said the lack of sound privacy was a significant problem for them and more than 30 percent complained about the lack of visual privacy. Meanwhile, “ease of interaction” with colleagues — the problem that open offices profess to fix — was cited as a problem by fewer than 10 percent of workers in any type of office setting. In fact, those with private offices were least likely to identify their ability to communicate with colleagues as an issue. In a previous study, researchers concluded that “the loss of productivity due to noise distraction … was doubled in open-plan offices compared to private offices.”

The New Yorkerin a review of research on this nouveau workplace design, determined that the benefits in building camaraderie simply mask the negative effects on work performance. While employees feel like they’re part of a laid-back, innovative enterprise, the environment ultimately damages workers’ attention spans, productivity, creative thinking, and satisfaction.  Furthermore, a sense of privacy boosts job performance, while the opposite can cause feelings of helplessness.

Read it all.

YouTube Preview Image

Video of My Elk Hunt

December 29, 2014 — Leave a comment

Just saw that Cottonwood Outfitters, the outfitter who guided my MT hunt, put up their year end video and footage of my bull elk is included.

The first 58 seconds are pretty cool.  Great footage of bull elks on the high prairie bugling.  The first one is just the bull.  There follows couple of still shots (the one with the two hunters standing next to a tree is meant to show a “rub.”  Notice how high the rub goes on the tree compared to the two hunters) and then in the next one some bulls can be heard bugling off screen and then the onscreen bull is seen replying.

At the 6.01 mark is video from my elk hunt.  You’ll see a herd of cows moving across the face of a hillside followed by Ted Ford posing next to the cow he harvested (I took that picture).  From 6.18-6.49 is video of the bull I harvested along with a picture of me with my bull followed by a picture of Ted and me with my mule deer.  At the 7.12 mark is footage of Edmund Frampton’s shot on his mulie (300 yards) and then a photo with his mulie.  At the 7.26 mark is a photo of Donnie Buhrmaster with his mulie.

The guys at Cottonwood are great guys.  Can’t say enough about them.

YouTube Preview Image

Peter Jackson Must Be Stopped

December 26, 2014

Peter JacksonFrom Wired:

J.R.R. Tolkien once said that “believable fairy-stories must be intensely practical. You must have a map, no matter how rough.” But in Peter Jackson’s new and final Hobbit film, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, which opened Wednesday, there is no map. There’s not even a plan. We veer far not just from Middle-earth, but from all plausibility.

But you can’t blame Tolkien for this. Jackson got us here; he’s the one who must be stopped.

It’s not that I’m anti-Peter Jackson. I followed the Lord of the Rings trilogy through Middle-earth like a drooling orc-puppy. I like my fantasy to be exciting, and to take me places I have never been to, and for its protagonists to do cool, heroic stuff. Jackson’s first Tolkien threesome hit all these sweet spots, and made me care about his characters to boot; they were well-rounded people (and hobbits, and elves, and dwarves) whose exploits and feats were still believable.

That’s simply not the case with his Hobbit movies.

Wait, you say. This is fantasy. It’s a story about dwarves, elves, dragons, wizards, pipe weed, and magic rings. Anything can happen, right? Well, not quite. For fantasy to work, it has to be based on reality. And ultimately, these Hobbit films do not feel real.

The issues go back to An Unexpected Journey, the opening film of the trilogy. This film was widely derided for its gratuitous use of action sequences—and rightfully so. There’s wizard Radagast (Sylvester McCoy) driving a rabbit-pulled sled in order to distract orcs so Gandalf (Ian McKellen), the Dwarves, and Bilbo (Martin Freeman) can escape them. There’s the physics-bending episode in the Goblin King’s cave, in which our adventurers are chased along a series of computer-generated catwalks; their fight with the goblins is a horrific ballet of Three Stooges-caliber pratfalls. But when Bilbo tumbled what looked like 350 feet into Gollum’s cave, and survived? That was the moment when I knew that the film was truly a goner.

In film two, The Desolation of Smaug, many of us grimaced at a river-and-barrel sequence more at home in a Disney theme park than a Tolkien movie. The dwarves’ absurd attempt to create a tidal wave of hot gold to pour over an irate Smaug the Dragon was the molten-metal topping to the hubris that is Mount Jackson. Not to mention the silly elf-dwarf romance—which Peter Jackson recently admitted was a “cold-blooded decision” to appeal to “a lot of young girls seeing this film.”

Read it all.

From Albert Mohler:

In 1918, a special service was written for the choir of King’s College at Britain’s Cambridge University. The “Service of Nine Lessons and Carols” was first read and sung in the magnificent chapel of King’s College in that same year, establishing what is now a venerable Christmas tradition. In the “Bidding Prayer” prepared to call the congregation together for that beautiful service, the great truths of Christmas are declared in unforgettable prose:

Beloved in Christ, be it this Christmastide our care and delight to hear again the message of the angels, and in heart and mind to go even unto Bethlehem and see this thing which is come to pass, and the Babe lying in a manger.

Therefore let us read and mark in Holy Scripture the tale of the loving purposes of God from the first days of our disobedience unto the glorious Redemption brought us by this Holy Child.

But first, let us pray for the needs of the whole world; for peace on earth and goodwill among all his people; for unity and brotherhood within the Church he came to build, and especially in this city.

And because this of all things would rejoice his heart, let us remember, in his name, the poor and helpless, the cold, the hungry, and the oppressed; the sick and them that mourn, the lonely and the unloved, the aged and the little children; all those who know not the Lord Jesus, or who love him not, or who by sin have grieved his heart of love.

On the very evening of the celebration of Christ’s birth, Christians are called to remember, in Christ’s name, the poor and the helpless, the cold and the hungry, the oppressed and the sick, the lonely and the unloved, the aged and the children, those who do not know Christ, “and them that mourn.”

The church is filled with those who, while not grieving as others grieve, bear grief as Christians who miss their loved ones, who cherish their memories, and who wonder at times how to think of such grief at Christmas. Far too many homes are filled with them that mourn.

And it will be so until Christ comes again. The great truth of Christmas is that the Father so loves the world that he sent his own Son to assume human flesh and to dwell among us, to die for our sins and to suffer for our iniquity, and to declare that the kingdom of God is at hand. This same Jesus was raised from the dead on the third day, conquering death and sin. There is salvation, full pardon from sin, and life everlasting to those who believe and trust in him.

Christmas is especially for those who mourn and suffer grief, for the message of Christmas is nothing less than the death of death in the death and resurrection of Christ.

Read it all.

Amusing.

I’ve recently created a series of illustrations called HIPSTORY – the iconic leaders of our times seen as modern-day hipsters. I often find myself thinking about the differences between these world’s greatest leaders, their beliefs and motivations, and our self-centered generation.

The ‘Y’ generation is constantly looking at fashion and style as their way of self expression while steering away from the big ideologies. HIPSTORY wishes to reimagine the great leaders of modern history and place them in a different time and culture  –  ours.

It was not easy to illustrate all these leaders; it took me a few months to complete the project, but the effort was worth it. It is my hope that this series will encourage us to reflect: upon our leaders, our society, and ourselves.

Check out the pics here.

booksI love these lists.  How many have you read?

Check them out.

From the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the SBC:

Pope Francis began the Humanum Colloquium on the complementarity of man and woman in marriage by stating that “this complementarity is at the root of marriage and family.” Throughout the message, he was clear about the necessity and value of marriage despite progressive “ideological notions” on the family in our day.

“Pope Francis made clear that male/female complementarity is essential to marriage, and that this cannot be redefined by ideology or by the state,” said Russell Moore. “I am glad to hear such a strong statement on this, and on how an eclipse of marriage hurts the poor and the vulnerable.”

In a brief address to 300 people representing a variety of world religions affirming male-female marriage, Pope Francis reflected on the value of marriage for couples and for society. “I am grateful for the colloquium because of the benefits that marriage can supply to children and society,” he said. Marriage provides “unique, natural, and fundamental good for families, humanity, and societies.”

Pope Francis acknowledged that “marriage and family are in crisis” as the culture is “giving up on marriage as a public commitment.” The “decline of marriage culture is associated with increased poverty and a host of social ills” and has “brought spiritual and material devastation to countless human beings, especially the poorest and most vulnerable.” He noted it is “women, children, and the elderly” who “suffer the most in crisis.”

Because of the collapse of marriage in culture, it is necessary to foster a “new human ecology” that renews the value of marriage between one man and one woman. This renewal of marriage must include a “permanent commitment to solidarity, fidelity and fruitful love” that “responds to the deepest longings of the human heart.”

He reflected on the value of marriage for social and family stability. “The crisis in the family has produced an ecological crisis, for social environments, like natural environments, need protection,” Pope Francis stated. “Children have a right to grow up in a family with a father and a mother capable of creating a suitable environment for the child’s development and emotional maturity.”

Pope Francis also expressed concern about the state of marriage among younger generations. “I urge you to bear in mind especially the young people, who represent our future,” he said. “Commit yourselves, so that our youth do not give themselves over to the poisonous environment of the temporary, but rather be revolutionaries with the courage to seek true and lasting love, going against the common pattern.”

Read the rest.

God’s Gonna Cut You Down

November 12, 2014
YouTube Preview Image

From Housewife Theologian:

What are your convictions? Are they true? Does it matter? The writer to the Hebrews emphatically exhorts them to persevere by holding fast to their confession of hope, as a covenant community, and to do it without wavering (Heb. 10:23). What is your confession? Is it the confession of hope based on God’s promises that has been faithfully delivered in his word and proclaimed by the church for over 2,000 years? Do we confess that Jesus is Lord? Who is Jesus and what does it mean that he is Lord?

The office of the pastor is important. He is proclaiming God’s word to his people in an authoritative way. The preached word is a means of grace by which God’s people are sanctified. What is the state of theology of American pastors? What would that survey look like? Probably a lot like this one. That is why it is so important for laypeople to understand their responsibility as theologians as well. Like the title of Dr. Sproul’s book, Everyone’s A Theologian. That survey interviewed 3,000 theologians. Many of them are terribly poor theologians. The results should be informative for pastors.

What is the state of your theology? Every week we are called out from our ordinary work to gather together as a peculiar people: God’s church. By grace, we are receivers of God’s promised blessings in Christ and we are sent back out with a benediction. A Christian without conviction should be an oxymoron. And yet we need to be warned to hold fast to our confession because there are many opposing forces. Our sinful natures are tempted to waver. We need theological stamina! We get that by actively engaging in God’s word, training ourselves by it, and exercising our faith. We are new creations who are given a fighting faith to persevere.

Read the rest.