It’s a personal thing.. but not really

The 20th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon have caused many to reflect on the way surveillance has become a way of life. Photo ID, security cameras, and areas of the commons that are out-of-bounds are now accepted parts of life together, even if they sit uncomfortably with us. Measures to control the pandemic (and consequently, people) have raised fresh concerns about how much privacy we are willing to sacrifice for safety, perceived or otherwise. 
The Triggernometry podcast hosted a noteworthy conversation last week, with Carissa Véliz, an Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Oxford. While a lot of Mad Christians are acutely aware of the pitfalls of online life, Professor Véliz’s insights into surveillance, data collection, and A.I. are well worth considering. 

A lot of people assume that data privacy is a personal thing. But Professor Véliz appeals to listeners to take their privacy very seriously, as there is no guarantee where your data goes. She uses the example of Cambridge Analytica, a consultancy firm involved in the Russian Collusion scandal during the Presidency of Donald Trump. While 270,000 people gave consent for the firm to use their data, Cambridge Analytica was able to gain access through that data to 87 million others. 

Professor Véliz is quick to point out that people who are collecting our data and recording aspects of our lives are rarely driven by malice. They generally just want to sell us things. But she says Big Tech and government are “creating an architecture of surveillance that is so good, if it were taken over [by bad actors], it would be impossible to resist.” As an example, she points to the Netherlands and France in the 1940s. While the Dutch kept exhaustive records about its citizens, France kept minimal data. Professor Véliz believes this accounts for the death toll in the Netherlands, where Nazis were able to easily find 73% of Dutch Jews. 

Professor Véliz has a few interesting suggestions to improve this situation. How about a control group for data collection algorithms before they’re released into the virtual wilds? (An algorithm used by the government of Michigan wrongly accused thousands of welfare fraud, ruining many lives.) On a personal level, Professor Véliz encourages people not to feed the machine by giving over your data unnecessarily. She suggests writing to political representatives and speaking to friends, making them aware that privacy helps us all.

This is not a time to worry, Mad Christian, but a time to be wise. There will be times to go with the flow and times to take a stand. Navigating the landscape of this decaying world, for ourselves and our families is wearisome. Yet this has always been the lot of anyone who would follow after Christ. 

We can trust our Savior, who’s eye is on the sparrow and who knew us before we were born. He keeps watch over us in ways that the world can never understand, he discerns our thoughts from afar, better than any algorithm. So we ask for wisdom, knowing God will give us power to stand in the day of evil. Just as Jesus’ words to his disciples were a great comfort to them, we know that he has sent us a Helper, “the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.”

Let’s support each other, in our churches and communities, even more as we look forward to that glorious day. Maranatha!

Terror and rumors of terror

red poppy flower field
Although news out of Afghanistan was less last week, the subject of terrorism was still in news feeds,  with media elites and politicians seemingly wanting to shift focus a little. President Biden’s proclamation that domestic terror was the most “lethal threat” to the USA earlier this year, was echoed by former President Bush’s statements at a 9/11 commemoration ceremony. But Twitter NPCs went one better, with a professor claiming that September 11 was actually an attack on the “heteropatriarchal capitalistic systems” that “many white people fight to protect.” Really. So, we’re not in Kansas any more. Or, at least our elites aren’t.

Former President Trump said during an interview with Fox that he would not be surprised if China and Russia already have American Apache helicopters that were left behind in Afghanistan in their possession. He speculated that taking the machines apart would give them the opportunity to reverse engineer them, in order to copy the design.

Those following the Brief History of Power podcast will have heard Dr. Koontz speak of the importance of opium poppy production to Afghanistan and America’s strange relationship with the trade. An insightful article from Unherd outlines the politics around the drug’s production, noting “those who control Kabul do not control the periphery.” While the Taliban have previously outlawed poppy farming, they must now win over regional tribes, who depend on the crop for their livelihood and resist anyone who tries to take it away.

Didn’t think that one through

set of medical protective face masks
National Geographic, amongst other media outlets has pointed out that the current tally of COVID deaths means 1 in 500 Americans have died from the disease. A terrible milestone, for sure. Yet The Atlantic has published an article reinforcing what studies in other countries have found. The piece reports that almost half the recorded cases of COVID requiring hospitalization were for patients with mild cases or for those admitted for reasons other than COVID. One physician quoted says, “Those patients who are there with rather than from COVID don’t belong in the metric.”

A spokesman for a rural Texas hospital says that if vaccine mandates are enforced many smaller medical centers may be forced to close. Larry Gray, Seminole Hospital District CEO, said that he would potentially lose a third of his staff and noted that mandates are a bad look for vaccines. “If the vaccinations are working, why do you have to mandate people to get [them]? What happens to individual choice and medical decisions between the patient and their doctor, which… we’re trying to support,” he said. Meanwhile, a hospital in upstate New York said it would pause delivering babies after a spate of resignations amongst maternity staff. 

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis says the HHS is making it difficult to acquire monoclonal medications, which are proving useful in treating patients with COVID. The Florida Governor also warned that any government agency mandating vaccines in his state will be fined. A judge in NY has also blocked the mandate for a group of health workers. Despite all this, elites keep pushing their narratives and justifying their hypocrisy. Leana Wan (a former head of Planned Parenthood) says that interstate travel should be a privilege only for vaccinated Americans (H/T golgatha).  At the same time, it would seem that thousands of people are pouring through the southern US border without being vaxxed. Such privilege!

The Guardian has reported that boys are at risk of heart inflammation due to the Pfizer vaccination.

In a small win for sanity, England has ditched plans for vaccine passports. Well, at least for now.

General Confusion

It was been reported this week that General Mark Milley, who currently serves as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, went rogue earlier this year. In a soon-to-be-released book critical of the Trump administration, journalist Bob Woodward claims that General Milley made an unsanctioned call to Chinese military officials, assuring them that he would warn them if America decided to attack. It is alleged that General Milley was setting out to assure everyone that things were peachy in Washington during the “turbulent” final weeks of Trump’s presidency. 

However, we’re a bit confused: If you think your Commander-in-chief is unhinged, why would you tell foreign allies about it, let alone your enemies? In addition, Woodward claims that General Milley assured Speaker Pelosi he would prevent then President Trump from retaining power using nuclear weapons following his election loss in 2020. General Milley maintains he did what was reasonable, but the gravity of the situation was not lost on othersNot the Bee went so far as to compare him to the Revolutionary War defector, Benedict Arnold. 

With the military facing mandated vaccination, top brass stepping down in protest over the withdrawal from Afghanistan, and loss of confidence in leadership, it is a good time to pray for those who serve.

Throwing things under the bus

road traffic street summer
Above and beyond: The National Guard have been deployed in Massachusetts to drive school buses in the face of a shortage of drivers. Yes, you read that right…

Amazon has said it will pay $18 hour for newly hired delivery drivers and warehouse workers. The tech giant said it will also pay tuition and text book costs for employees. That’s if they have time and energy to study after working their long shifts

Visual Capitalist reckons its got insight into the fastest growing jobs over next 20 years

The Democrat’s $3.5TR spending bill hit another snag this week, with Sen. Joe Manchin saying he would not support it. The government is also looking for ways to fund the spending bill, including a draft proposal for $2.9TR in tax hikes over the next ten years. Axios broke down where the money would come from

Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez drew fire last week after attending the swanky Met Gala in a dress emblazoned with the message “Tax the rich.” AOC used the attention to plug her Green New Deal policies, but many pointed out that the $30K+ a ticket gala is a tax deduction for the well-heeled attendees. If AOC wants to go to the ball with masked servants and all, that is fine. But, it is hard to reconcile her Socialist words with her extravagant actions. The Congresswoman insisted it is part of her political duties to attend, overseeing “cultural institutions that serve the public,” but has been accused of receiving prohibited gifts by accepting free tickets.

Rules are made to be broken

cyclone fence in shallow photography
Facebook has a fresh set of fires to put out, with news coming last week that the social media company has separate rules for several million VIPs. A leaked document says that many celebrities, politicians and “influencers” are on Facebook’s special whitelist, XCheck, meaning their posts are not subjected to moderation. Digital content moderation is a booming industry but is notoriously damaging to the humans who protect us from the most vile of content.

In another big story last week, a report concluded that Facebook has been aware of Instagram’s harmful affect on teenage girls, but has seemingly ignored it.

Bloomberg has reported about new details in a mysterious hack on Juniper, a company which develops and sells networking products. In 2015, suspected Chinese hackers gained access to data flowing through Juniper’s network. In details uncovered by Bloomberg, the hackers gained access through an algorithm, installed as a “backdoor” by the NSA. The case is an interesting study in how government’s desire to keep ahead of the bad guys often hurts the citizens they are trying to protect. In other news, IBM has found a booming “dark” market for cloud credentials.

For those playing along at home, the legal tussle between Apple and gaming company Epic seems to be drawing to a conclusion, with Forbes breaking down the outcomes of the latest ruling.

QuickHits for the eyebuds 09.20.21

☕ Pumpkin spice: it’s a WV thing
💤 What’s happening when your foot falls asleep
🚗 Michelin made airless, puncture-proof tires
💧 This material stays dry even underwater
🖱️ Why hyperlinks are blue
🦟 CRISPR gene editing renders male mosquitoes impotent and females flightless
🏆 Ontario bridge earns Guinness World Records
🐔 Charcoal chicken: The world’s blackest chicken
🐻 “Spirit” bears’ white fur gives them camouflage
😧 Singer Ed Sheeran compares US awards shows to UK ones
🍳 A company that prints community cookbooks
🤿 Amsterdam’s underwater parking garage for bikes
🤐 Prince Philip’s will won’t be opened for 90 years
🏕️ RVs are selling through the roof💰 But maybe not this motorhome. It has a $2.4m price tag with space for your hypercar
 🚧 Zoning out: California bans single-family lots 
🎓 Most expensive colleges in the States
🕹️ Text game adventures
✏️ Shadows bring this artist’s work to life
🌀 Behold! The human pinball

This won’t hurt a bit

President Biden lurched a little more totalitarian last week, mandating that staff at companies with 100 or more employers must be vaccinated against COVID or be tested weekly. (Except for Members of Congress, who apparently have a right to privacy and can’t be forced to be vaccinated.) The announcement was made during a troubling speech in which the President showed disdain for the unvaccinated, blaming them for clogging up hospitals, prolonging the pandemic and causing business and schools closures. Having said previously that he would not mandate vaccines, the President now says that his patience with those who won’t get vaccinated is “wearing thin.”

The President also expressed his “disappointment” with a number of governors who vowed to fight the mandate saying he would use his power to “get them out of the way.” Well, that’s not crazy talk at all… Florida Governor Ron DeSantis went to bat for workers who will face a difficult choice. He also asked a reasonable question: If cases are  300% more than they were this time last year, doesn’t that suggest that vaccines might not be helping much

Townhall believes that such a mandate will “sink in a legal quagmire,” but the President said any detractors could “have at it” in challenging the mandate, insisting that The Science and the public is on his side. Mad Christians who are facing the prospect of a mandated vaccination may be interested in a rec sent to us by Annie. It is from LifeSite and contains many ideas for how to go about applying for an exemption

This may be more gaslighting from our leaders, a game of chicken to see who will flinch first. So know what you believe and why it’s important. Raise your voice in prayer and ask your heavenly Father for wisdom and strength. And know you are not alone.

Deep in the heart of Texas

unrecognizable pregnant couple with sonogram images in hands
Pro-abortion activists are not taking pro-life legislation in Texas very well at all. Corporations were quick to show their support for “women’s health,” pledging to pay legal fees for anyone found violating the law. The Department of Justice has also announced that it is suing Texas for violating constitutional rights. 

The usual absurdities arose from Twitter’s death eaters, with Bette Midler tweeting that Texan women should refuse to have sex until the law is changed… If they’re going to practice abstinence, perhaps they might try marriage too? That would stick it to the patriarchy, for sure. Dating site, OkCupid put two and two together— if you advertise that you are pro-abortion on your profile, you’re twice as likely to get attention. So women who are willing to kill their babies are more attractive to the kind of men who are looking for a casual hook-up? Who knew?!

Mexico has decriminalized abortion in a move hailed by feminists and activists as a “historic moment” for the “women’s rights lobby.” The Washington Post said that this ruling will set the agenda for the rest of Latin America. There is talk of “healthcare”, “choice” and even “pregnancy” but still no mention of babies…

While supporters of abortion seem to have forgotten the fundamental fact that babies are people, author Delano Squires made things crystal clear in an amazing monologue: “They hate our children.”

Dog and pony [paste] show

colorful carousel with fabulous ponies in amusement park at night
The crazy politicization of science, medicine, and everything continues… A Rolling Stone story about the Nobel prize winning “horsepaste” drug, Ivermectin, blew up the news media last week. The story claimed that an Oklahoma hospital was so overrun with patients who had overdosed on Ivermectin that shooting victims were forced to wait for treatment. Pretty much the whole story was wrong, even the image used for it. Not the Bee did a run down of the story, which has been corrected but not retracted.

It would seem the pandemic has brought our divisions into sharp focus. It’s not a neat line down the middle, but the fear, exhaustion and constant array of new information has us all on the ropes. It is little wonder people are less careful to check facts when reporting what they want to be true. Remember the nurse in South Dakota who went viral for claiming dying COVID patients were denying the existence of the virus because of Trump?Rolling Stone should take a note from Mad Mondays— if a news story fits your narrative perfectly, you should be skeptical.

Mu too: The WHO is monitoring the Columbian variant of the coronavirus.

The CDC has subtly changed its definition of “vaccination.” 

Pfizer is working on an antiviral therapeutic drug.

Let’s see who’s REALLY behind the mask

crop nurse with syringe on beige background
Fox has reported on leaked emails, showing that pressure from teachers’ unions caused the CDC to change its guidelines on masking in schools. Follow the science, indeed. The CDC has released data on the COVID death rate for kids and it’s really low. God be praised!

Dr. Fauci is in trouble, after a new report added weight to the accusation that under his directorship, the Wuhan Institute of Virology was given US funding for “gain of function” research.  Senator Josh Hawley has called for Dr. Fauci to resign. Stranger things have happened..

A study on the COVID vaccine’s effect on women’s menstrual cycles has been ordered by the NIH. You may rightly ask why this is happening now, months into the vaccination rollout? It’s hard to say, but The New York Post  provides some insight in its report. An FDA spokeswoman said “We were worried this was contributing to vaccine hesitancy.”

Diverse and inclusive

Four terrorists traded for the safe return of US soldier, Bowe Bergdahl, are now part of the Afghan government. Journalists pointed out at a White House press conference that there are more terrorists in the new Afghan government than women. That would seem a useless thing to highlight, except that the Biden administration had insisted that the Taliban install a diverse and “inclusive” government. Women in Kabul have protested the new government, but according to CNN, the Taliban is not taking kindly to protests of any sort.

The effort to evacuate Americans and allies from Kabul continues, but the Taliban have stopped planes from leaving, with the US government saying there is little they can do to prevent them from blocking the flights. Fox News reported that the State Department had also hindered rescue efforts, by refusing to grant approval for charter flights to leave, even for third countries.

The New York Times is reporting that the US drone strike following bombings at the Kabul airport did not take out a terrorist with a car full of explosives as claimed by the government. NYT says the strike actually killed an Afghan aid worker, as well as other civilians. The President was called out for his behavior during a 9/11 memorial, showing that emotion is still pretty raw following the withdrawal from Afghanistan.  

Wide open market

grocery cart with item
Job creation numbers were much lower than expected this August with only 230,000 positions added. Quite a bit less than the predicted 720,000. Yet other news reports suggest there is a labor shortage, not a job shortage. McDonalds in Oregon is hiring 14 and 15 year olds. Amazon has said it will drop the marijuana screening requirement in order to recruit more delivery drivers. Yahoo Finance says that half of US small businesses have positions to fill. Quite a few states have ended COVID relief payments, with Axios concluding that the reason people aren’t working is that they fear getting sick

It will be interesting to see how vaccine mandates play into this problem. Governor De Santis pointed out (linked above) that many people have worked through the pandemic, some by choice and others because they must, when no vaccination was available. NBC reported that 40% of staff in one Miami hospital remain unvaccinated. If they haven’t taken the vaccine by now, perhaps they don’t want to. What if they all resigned? 

The Federal Reserve says it will soon stop pumping stimulus funds into the economy in the light of rising inflation, which saw the largest increase in August since 2010. While Americans have noticed price increases on fuel and groceries, the National Economic Council Director says if you take out beef, pork, and poultry, prices are pretty normal. Raccoon, anyone?

Bitcoin had a bit of a crash last week on the back of El Salvador adopting the cryptocurrency as legal tender. The millennial President of El Salvador, who swept to power two years ago, is a bit of a dark horse.

Quickhits for the eyebuds 09.13.21

🍺 Well-aged: 9000 year-old beer found in China 
🎹 Four year-old piano prodigy can’t appear at Carnegie Hall because she’s too young to get vaccinated
🗝️ A single laser through keyhole can reveal everything in a room
🧫 “Bioleaching” uses bacteria to recover metals from e-waste
🗜️ Whimsical woodcarving
🇫🇷 Rare gold coins found in walls of a French mansion
🐢 A mushroom film that took fifteen years to make 
♞ An official rule change in chess
🇩🇪 Little green men: Germany’s ampelmannchen traffic lights⚔️ LOTR changed movie battle scenes forever
🚜 An interesting mix: a housing complex with its own farm
🏦 A tenth of Americans don’t have a bank account
🏆 Almost like the real thing: tilt-shift drone photography turns the world into amazing “miniatures”
👮 A 79 year-old man has been charged with a decades-long toner cartridge scam
🆓 Britney Spears’ conservatorship may be dissolved
🐋 The odd history of ambergris☕ Got skills? Scientists are studying how humans can walk while holding coffee
☀️ But MUH Netflix! A solar storm could knock out the internet
🇸🇬 Singapore police have deployed “snitch bots” for social order🚰
 Johns Hopkins is studying drinking water safety
💊 The trailer for Matrix 4 has dropped to much applause. It will be interesting to see if the sequel gets swallowed by ideology. The Wachowski brothers became the Wachowski sisters in recent years, claiming the original trilogy was a trans analogy all along.

For the win

crop parent holding smiling baby in arms against gray wall in room
You could hardly have missed the news this week that Texas signed into law a “heartbeat bill,” effectively banning abortion in that state. Well, it went over as you might expect, with pro-abortion advocates losing their minds

Some said the quiet bit out loud— if you ban abortions, there will be more Downs Syndrome babies born, not to mention more black and brown babies too. Some linked to articles about Ceaușescu’s Romania, suggesting the incentive for citizens to report illegal abortions was the same thing as the securitate. In a macabre admission, abortion clinics in Texas said they were “racing” to get as many abortions completed before the law goes into effect in six weeks. ‘Cause nothing says “We care about women’s health” like a rushed abortion…

The Supreme Court of the USA voted to let the ruling stand, but President Biden vowed to bring a “whole-of-government” effort against it.Depending on who you poll, it would seem that most Americans support some restrictions on abortion, yet this shows how broken our moral compass is. Some who fancy themselves “moderate” on the issue found the Texas ruling a bridge too far. This is not an issue with any middle ground – a human is a human no matter how small, or how dependent and we have no business taking that life. 

While most of the chatter is around the rights of the mother and the responsibility of the father, the gaping hole in the heart of a society which views some lives as dispensable is ignored. Pray that leaders who have a heart to save lives can continue to stand in the face of fierce opposition. We give thanks to our Father for his mercy and remember that with him, there is always help and hope. 

There are many organizations continuing to fight against the culture of death, including Lutherans for Life. Check them out for inspiration about how you can get involved. 

Ups and downs

There were some COVID “wins” this week… An Ohio judge has ordered that a COVID patient be treated with Ivermectin. Julie Smith won the court order on behalf of her husband, Jeffrey, who has been ventilated and in ICU for weeks. 

The Federalist is reporting that mass resistance against vaccine mandates has risen in Washington, after the state made it almost impossible to get an exemption.ICYMI An Israeli study showed that people who had recovered from SARS-CoV-2 had significantly higher immunity against the disease than vaccinated people. 

Everyone’s favorite loudmouth, Joe Rogan, has contracted COVID. Having been outspoken against COVID vaccines, Rogan has been taking various medications, including Ivermectin. He said in a post that he is feeling great.And to the battle still ahead… In a weirdly political episode, conservative talk show host, Candace Owens says she was denied a COVID test by a clinic in Colorado. The clinic claimed it would be “unfair’ for them to assist Owens because she “made the pandemic worse” by discouraging masks and vaccines.

The specter of vaccine mandates is still hanging around, with Reuters claiming that 52% of companies say they will mandate vaccines in the coming months. NPR seems surprised that vaccinations rise when they are mandated. While the article claims the rise in cases has jolted people into getting jabbed, we suspect the threat to livelihoods and the desire to go about their lives has a lot to do with it.

golgatha shared a Tweet with Us the Chill. A study about the usefulness of Ivermectin in fighting COVID-19 highlights the point: “Everyone has lost their minds and medicine is now purely political.” Yeah, we hear ya…

Cue: the Great Reset

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said what we all suspected our elites are thinking: what we learned from the COVID crisis, we can apply to climate, housing, and everything else. Mr. Trudeau said COVID had proved how “ambitious and bold” governments need to be to address society’s problems. (See the 31 minute mark of the full video.) Apparently giving the government lots of control and spending like crazy will fix everything.. Just call it a “public health threat” and you can get the control you need.

To Australia, where the craziness continues, one state is trialing a tracking app for people who are quarantining at home. The app will randomly ping people, giving them fifteen minutes to prove they are actually at home. Nothing to see here..

If you really want to raise your blood pressure, Helen Andrews has likened vaccine passports to the Chinese Communist Party’s social credit system and a Canadian guy has pointed out how COVID restrictions are an awful lot like a controlling spouse.

Scary but true: Heavy metal may be the best soundtrack for reading COVID news…

Exit wounds

four soldiers carrying rifles near helicopter under blue sky
Last week saw the final American soldier leave Afghanistan and the Taliban were glad to see him go. The future there is uncertain but with its troubled history of serial regime change, it would seem that for many Afghans, it’s business as usual. Lots of questions remain unanswered, including the claim that the US military knew of one of the airport bombers: A drone was locked on the man, but permission to fire was denied, for fear of Taliban reprisals.

The spin to mitigate the fallout from the tragic events surrounding the US exit has begun. In a strangely familiar scene, news outlets are reporting that President Biden made a phone call to Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani in July. In a leaked transcript of the call, President Biden told Ghani that the “perception” that the Taliban was winning needed to change. President Biden offered conditional air support for Ghani’s cooperation. It would seem we can remember another President who made a similar deal and was impeached for it

Visual Capitalist made a map of Afghanistan, with heaps of information about the country and its people.

How much for the hot dog?

A University of Michigan study claims that some foods take time off your life. Crunching the numbers on nutritional value and amount of processing, they concluded that a hot dog will cost you 35 minutes of healthy life. Sort of like hearts in an RPG…

They also decided to rate food according to its “environmental impact,” predictably finding that meat is the baddie and going vegan might be our only hope to save the planet. In other food news.. If this start-up gets its way, all that future food will be cubed.Some other interesting reading about well being… 

Futurity has reported on an Australian study which shows that childhood trauma may affect how opioids make you feel.

 LitHub noted a connection between great thinking and obsessive walking.

No sissys allowed

While much of the West debates what is meant by “man” and “woman,” the government of China has banned “non-masculine” men from television. The move seems to be part of recent shake up on the part of the CCP to discourage “unhealthy attention to celebrities” and promote more traditional Chinese values. 
It appears no half measures will be taken in this quest. Billionaire actress, Zhao Wei, has disappeared from China’s media and her name has been erased from movie credits, with no explanation. Some suspect that her company’s hiring of a Taiwanese actor in 2016 has come back to bite her. The Communist Party has also ruled that children are only allowed three hours of online gaming each week.
Concern that tech companies have too much power and influence in China has led to a $1TR loss as Beijing introduced sweeping regulations. The Hustle has a short summary of the crackdown.

Life imitating art?

Not the Bee brought attention to an interview from 1976, with sci-fi author Arthur C. Clarke. Clarke proposes that the future would see people using a screen and keyboard for news and shopping . He also looked forward to radio wrist watches and phones that are “mobile.” The writer said he likes the idea that future media consumers would be blessed to only read the news they wanted, saving a lot of paper. Ah, Mr. Clarke, if only you knew…

In other tech news, Facebook is attempting to limit political content on its platform. It remains to be seen what Facebook thinks is “political.”

An interesting article from Vice follows the story of a hacker who spied for Apple. Andrey Shumeyko gathered information about stolen prototypes, leaked apps, and “anything he thought the company would find interesting and worth investigating.” Shumeyko says he decided to blow the whistle on Apple’s sketchy dealings when they wouldn’t pay for his service. In other Apple news, the tech giant is backing down on plan to scan photos on devices for child porn.

If airborne surveillance is ever a concern for you, here’s a pro tip— train your eagle to take down drones. Or better still, keep a pet alligator.

Quickhits for the eyebuds 09.06.21

⚾ What curveballs look like from behind the plate
🍦 The FTC is investigating McDonald’s ice cream machines
🥤 And Brexit has been blamed for McDonald’s milkshake shortages in the UK 
🐙 Octopuses like to throw things at each other
✉️ Write a letter to your future self
🌱 This lady turned her car into a chia pet
⚰️ This lady cleans headstones and her followers love it
 👄 This lady has a very big mouth
🗣️ Babel: New Navy weapon annoys targets into not talking
📶 Charge any device wirelessly from anywhere in the room
🎧  Who knew? Airpods can attach magnetically to your MacBook
🎵 Hip: jazzy password creator
🖼️ Artist used A.I. to render portraits of US Presidents
🔽 Tiny tardigrades out for a walk
🧹 A space sweeper is cleaning up galactic trash
🍕 In case you were wondering, the pizza made it to the Space Station
🔥 Roller skating limbo is a thing and it’s wild 
😍 What you needed today… Corgi racing!

Afghanistan

We at Mad Mondays can barely bring ourselves to write about news from Afghanistan this week. The situation is so awful, and it is hard to say anything that has not already been said. ICYMI, two suicide bombings killed 13 US Marines and 170 Afghanis at the Kabul airport. In a press conference, President Biden vowed to hunt down the perpetrators of the attacks, reportedly members of an ISIS-associated terror group. While the US government launched a retaliatory drone strike, it is unclear what was achieved, nor even who was killed by the strike.

CIA chiefs secretly met with Taliban leaders last week, but the purpose of the meeting was not disclosed. It may have included an attempt to negotiate an extension of the August 31 withdrawal deadline, given that many foreigners and allies remain stuck in Afghanistan. While lawmakers urged the the President to delay the US exit, it would seem it is going ahead as scheduled. France and Britain have called on the UN to create a permanent safe zone in Kabul.

Two congressmen also took a clandestine trip to Kabul, drawing ire from both sides of government.

Politico reported that the American government had given a list of names to the Taliban, detailing the American “green card holders and Afghan allies to grant entry into the militant-controlled outer perimeter of the city’s airport.” It is hard to believe that the President would trust the Taliban with this information and put so many in danger. Perhaps Mr. Biden doesn’t know what’s in the Qur’an?

There are some bright notes in this whole dark episode. Glenn Beck’s Nazarene Fund rescued over a thousand Christians this week, while a volunteer group of veterans took it upon themselves to escort several “high-risk” Afghani families inside the US-held airport. And who doesn’t love a photo of a soldier with baby?

Images filling the news this week, of families torn apart by violence, turned our thoughts to the prayers of mothers, recorded for us in the Bible. After sorrow and despair, our faithful God answered prayer and gave them hope. Hannah, who rejoiced that ““No one is holy like the Lord, For there is none besides You, Nor is there any rock like our God.” (1 Samuel 2) Also of Mary, who reminds us that God scatters the proud to the wind and exalts the lowly. (Luke 2). Nothing thwarts the plans of our God. Though we are heartbroken, we will pray for peace. We hope Mad Christians will find comfort in the unchanging Word of God, in this disorienting and evil age. 

Quickhits for the eyebuds 08.30.21

📶 The T-Mobile hacker stole data through an unsecured router
🥔 Scientists added human genes to a potato
🧠 Apparently, psychopaths don’t move their heads when they speak
🗽 Father and 9 year-old son biked 3300 miles across America to visit Lady Liberty
🌳 Circular gardens in Senegal designed to beat back the desert 
🍜 Low in calories: crocheted pasta🛹 A 70mph downhill skateboard run in Switzerland
🏞️ Stealth mode: an “invisible” house in the California desert
 🌄 We can’t get enough of drone footage. This one is of the incredibly tall Angel Falls
🔥 Ready or not: Flamin’ hot Mountain Dew is coming
🤦‍♂️ Filling a radiator: You’re doing it wrong
🎞️ Crazy 8-bit style stop-motion made with Lego…complete with a natty chip tune.
🔀 The confusing task of identifying seals and sea lions made simple. Sort of.🦆 Maine had a giant rubber duck but now it’s gone
🌎 Compensating for Mercator: visualizing the true size of countries
🎃 Pumpkin spice is back🇯🇵 Japan has tested a rotating detonation engine in space
 🐚 Mapping the sea floor with submarines

You can’t handle the truth

“The Science” is at it again… Nature has reported that evolutionary biologists are trying to find genetic clues as to why homosexuality exists. Homosexuality is an evolutionary paradox, in that it is barren by design and doesn’t belong in a “survival of the fittest” view of evolution. Although every study that has set out to prove that “gayness” is an immutable, genetic trait has been flawed and dubious, the idea that people are “born this way” is unquestioned by many.

The late Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy argued for same-sex marriage on the basis that it was unfair to penalize people who’s “immutable nature dictates” who they love. With all that in mind, scientists are now studying whether homosexuality evolved to “help” heterosexual humans reproduce. (You’ll just have to read it for yourself…) It is not impossible to imagine that the Fall has corrupted humankind, right down to the genetic level, but it is unlikely scientists will add that to their theories. And would they want to hear what God says on the subject, anyway? 

In another round of scientific overreach, a recent article from NPR claimed that a medieval warrior found buried in Finland was probably “non-binary.” The evidence? The person was buried with weapons and jewellery. You can’t make this stuff up…

And that didn’t take long… OnlyFans has reversed the decision to ban sexually explicit content from its platform. Assurances from credit merchants that they wouldn’t stop payments from being processed, along with backlash from “sex workers,” means the show goes on.

Smells like a lawsuit

love people woman girl
Daily Wire is reporting that over 3000 doctors and health professionals have filed a lawsuit against President Biden’s mandate that would require them to preform transgender procedures.

The Hustle has noted that the wedding industry is going gangbusters and wonders whether that one boom may lead to another. Perhaps Toys R Us thinks it knows. After going bankrupt a few years ago, the retailer is set to open 400 outlets within Macy’s stores.

And because it’s 2021… The famous cover of Nirvana’s “Nevermind” album featured a baby in his birthday suit. That baby is all grown up and is suing the band for child pornography. Look out, Raphael, your cherubs could be next!

Elections, voting and ballots. Oh my!

i voted sticker spool on white surface
The quest for integrity in elections continues in the US, with voting anomalies still being investigated around the country. PJ Media reported that almost 15 million mail-in ballots for the 2020 election are unaccounted for. 

The desire of Democrats to increase their ability to stay in power is evidenced in recent bills. Senator Ted Cruz stayed up very late recently to defeat the HR-1 bill, which pushed for lots of sketchy things, such as ballot harvesting and impulsive re-districting. The new HR-4 bill being considered by Senate appears to be the same thing  but with a coat of paint. Cleta Mitchell at The Federalist outlines why it is dangerous.

Texas Democrats who ran away to Washington to avoid Governor Abbott’s special session have returned to Houston. The session was to vote on Voter ID laws, with the bill now passing to the Senate.

The Supreme Court has stuck down President Biden’s eviction moratorium with howls of protest coming from the wokest of Congressmen— while they continue to collect rent themselves.

Who’s watching the henhouse

Vice has reported on the potential dangers of “netflow data.” It is an “open secret” in cybersecurity that Internet Service Providers collect data about which computer is connected to which, even across VPNs. Ostensibly, this is justified as a method of tracking stolen data but a threat intelligence firm says there is nothing to stop the bad actors, or our own governments from buying the information.

While we’re talking about privacy, Wired  has highlighted the rise of “geofence” warrants issued by police and law enforcement. A “geofence” request is an investigative technique that “collects data from any user’s device that was in a specified area within a certain time range.”

Billionaire spaceman, Jeff Bezos, is suing NASA after the space agency chose SpaceX to build its lunar landing vehicle. It would seem that a lot of Bezos’ crack talent see it as a fail, with CNBC reporting that many top engineers left after the bid fell through.

Apparently, iPhone 7 charges faster if users changed the region setting to France.

COVID

coronavirus

The biggest COVID news last week was that the Pfizer vaccine was given full approval from the FDA. Mainstream media outlets and Dr. Fauci seem to think that this move settles the matter of “vaccine hesitancy” and have called for more vaccine mandates. So after all the flip-flopping, all the censoring of dissenting voices, apparently all we needed was a branch of government to give us the thumbs up and now we’re good to go? Don’t think that’s how trust works…

Delta Airlines is laying down the law, telling employees to get the jab or pay their own health insurance. Other airlines are still deciding whether to mandate vaccination for their employees.

The Governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, has been taking a lot of heat for many of his policies, with haters in the media mis-reporting COVID deaths in the state. Many headlines and tweets relayed that over 900 people had died in the state in a day. However, in reality that was the total number of deaths for a month. This is just another reminder to keep your wits about you when you read the headlines.

Governor DeSantis recently signed an executive order, banning schools from imposing masks on students. A judge, however, has kicked back against the Order, claiming that DeSantis has overstepped his authority. So, to sum up: a governor ensuring parents have control over their kids’ health is “overstepping authority” but a judge ruling that kids without masks endanger the lives of others is not? Studies have led experts to conclude that there is a “lack [of] credible evidence for the benefits of masking kids.” Something about pots and kettles comes to mind.

The Texas Governor, Greg Abbott, has banned vaccine mandates for government employees.

A study by Britain’s National Health Service found that nitric oxide nasal spray reduced viral load in patients with mild COVID symptoms. The treatment may reduce the progression of the disease. Meanwhile, India is trialing a DNA vaccine

A report commissioned by President Biden into the origins of the novel coronavirus has returned as inconclusive. Officials aim to declassify sections of the report in the next few days.

The French Resistance: Diners in French turned picnics into a protest against vaccine mandates, which are required for dining-in. The picnickers enjoyed their meals on the pavement, right outside quiet restaurants. 

Enemies of my enemies are my friends

In a weird moral victory, OnlyFans, a kind of Instagram for creators of sexually explicit content, announced last week that it was getting out of the pornography business. Sort of. While nudity is still allowed, pressure from credit companies and backers means the company is trying to shake its reputation as a “safe place” for sex workers to make money.

It is a strange world we find ourselves in, where the restraining of evil is helped by unexpected players. The alliances between atheists and the pro-life cause, the much lambasted feminists who resist transgender indoctrination, the Chinese government’s clout which tempers Hollywood’s desire to go full woke. On moral issues in our community, Mad Christians may find we have allies in unusual places. May you live in interesting times, they say. That’s for sure!

Quickhits for the eyebuds 08.23.21

🧇 Study: fructose expands the surface area of the gut, increases weight gain
🥫 Survey: US kids getting almost 70% calories from highly processed food
☢️ Scientists say they are at the threshold of nuclear fusion ignition
⌨️ Excel’s autocorrect creates headaches for scientists 
🎵 The crazy world of whistled languages
💥 The quest to find medieval exploding mead, bochet 
🧑‍🚀 Astronauts could garden for self-care 
💵 NASA to study the loot-filled Psyche asteroid. Maybe they can help pay for the government’s trillion dollar bills?
🚀 When the International Space Station orders pizza
🇬🇧 Father and son cross the English Channel by e-foil board
🐈 Cat helps locate 83 year-old owner, who fell down a ravine
☀️ Sri Lankan whizz kid made solar-powered tuk tuk 
🚕 Olympian who almost missed his race, tracked down woman who paid his taxi fare 
🧊 Saw blades to bike on ice 
🐓 The best! A Rube Goldberg machine which uses the rubber chicken Jurassic Park theme 
🇺🇸 Some mighty fine places to check out in the States 
🇷🇺 Pipe dream house: unusual architecture in Russia
🤷 Hacker who stole $600 million in crypto offered a job at company he stole from
🇲🇽 Mexico is suing American firearm manufacturers over gun trafficking
🤢 Hunter Biden at it again 
🏥 A “first response” drone can be deployed from standby by city emergency services 
🇨🇳 Chinese crypto miners are heading to Texas 
🤖 Disneyland may some day replace actors with walking animatronic robots 

Masks and vaccines yada yada

The war over mask mandates is continuing, with a number of “red states” banning compulsory masking. Local school officials in Texas are challenging the bans, saying they will continue to require students to mask up.

But even CNN recognizes that fresh air is good for kids.

And the war over vaccines is also raging. The CDC has warned of “significant decline” in vaccine effectiveness and has called for booster shots. Some scientists say the push for booster shots is premature and that the evidence for dwindling immunity is not compelling. The Delta variant of SARS-CoV2 appears to be spreading easily through vaccinated people.

The zeal of the pro-vaccine crowd is running hot, with a story out of Washington about a heart transplant patient being removed from the organ waiting list, after confirming he won’t take a COVID vaccine. (H/T to @alisha for that story.) For Mad Christians who are avoiding the vaccine, we need to be aware of the rhetoric that is building. After President Biden said recently that the unvaccinated are prolonging the pandemicWashPo columnist (and former head of Planned Parenthood ) Leana Wen wrote that America needs to return to indoor masking, and that it is all the fault of the unvaccinated. 

The University of Virginia has disenrolled 238 unvaccinated students
A Broadway critic has been dunking on an actress who withdrew from a production due to its mandatory vaccination policy. 
ZeroHedge has collected examples of animus against people who are not vaccinated and it is kinda insane.

So, don’t feed the trolls— they seem to live off human misery. 

The march of the vaccine regime is not without pushback, though. New York restauranteurs are suing Mayor de Blasio over vaccine segregation, saying it will cost them their livelihoods.

Rev Fisk asked us to pass on the Rutherford Institute’s guidelines for requesting vaccine exemption at work.  

We present once again, the famous based Canadian gym bro, who predicted all this and more.

A war you can’t win

The Spectator‘s Kat Rosenfield has written a short piece, attacking the myth of “Zero COVID”. The insistence that Sars-COV2 could be beat by “locking down and vaccinating it out of existence” was always “a fantasy.” She notes, as National Geographic recently pointed out, only two diseases have ever been eradicated – one human and one bovine. Although governments don’t generally admit that this has been their strategy, the obsession with who’s got the least cases suggests that it is still the guiding principle in many places.

Rosenfield observes that this is not the case with other viruses, such as the flu. People assess their risk and decide how to act from there. It is accepted that some people will die of flu, every time it comes around. Yet, with COVID the messaging remains as it was in the early days – if you break the rules, you are morally culpable for someone else getting sick. Dr. Fauci said recently that those who don’t wear a mask are encroaching on others’ rights. The misery inflicted by aggressive “Zero COVID” strategies is becoming clearer (Australia, anyone?), but the fear-driven news cycle will not let up.

Do we have a “right” to stay healthy or not be exposed to risk? Rosenfield writes, “Co-existing with other creatures is the price of admission for Planet Earth, and that includes the millions of microorganisms.” Mad Christians know that very well. We know that creation is groaning under the curse of our sin – Jesus said that wars, natural disasters, plagues and death would continue until he returns. 

Martin Luther’s famous letter written during the Black Death circulated widely in the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. Perhaps that is because he speaks with the calmness that only a baptized child of God knows. He suggests we think like this: We know “by God’s decree the enemy has sent us poison and deadly offal”, so we will ask God to mercifully protect us. While we won’t tempt God with reckless behavior, we will take sensible precautions and freely help our neighbors. 

The pagans and their cleanliness religion will try to innovate or police The Curse out of existence, but that is not our burden. How different it is to follow Dr. Luther’s example, to take the Sacrament and prepare to die, in service of those God has placed in our lives.  If only Dr. Luther worked for the CDC… 

Afghanistan

Anyone would be hard-pressed to avoid the news about Afghanistan last week, even those of us who have unplugged from bluescreens. The tragic images of young women pleading with soldiers to save them from the Taliban, are only slightly less harrowing than the footage of mothers passing their babies over razor wire to US troops at the Kabul airport. 

While it seems that British and French troops are managing to evacuate their own nationals, thousands of American citizens and allies are waiting to be rescued. Although the Taliban said they would allow safe passage out of the country for foreigners, reports that they have placed blockades around the airport would suggest otherwise. Daily Wire is reporting that Americans have been beaten up by Taliban soldiers in recent days. President Biden has said troops deployed to complete the evacuation of Americans will stay put until the job is done.

Axios says that the military is considering airstrikes to destroy American equipment which has been seized by the Taliban. The move could be risky, though, with foreign nationals still waiting to leave the country. The abandoned munitions, weapons and vehicles, including Black Hawk helicopters were given to the Afghan military. The concern that the Taliban making mischief with them is not as worrying as them being given to other terrorist groups.

The Afghan president, Ashraf Ghani, fled the country not long before the Taliban took control of Kabul and has reportedly surfaced in the United Arab Emirates, loaded with cash, defrauded from foreign aid programs. However former Vice-President Amrullah Saleh has vowed to fight the Taliban, although he is in hiding. Resistance fighters are creating hold-outs, expelling the Taliban from some regional towns. 

The work of dissecting “what went wrong” has been the job of every news outlet, apparently, and it appears there is plenty of blame to go round. While President Biden’s handling of the drawdown has been widely criticized, much ink has been spilled on the implications of the collapse of the Afghan state. Some commentators suggest that Western powers repeatedly failed the Afghan military, who appeared to have capitulated under Taliban insurgence. JD Vance and others suggested that America should learn that “nation building” begins at home (Matt Taibbi and Unherd) and they make a good point. Writing at Spiked, Brendan O’Neill pointed out the strength of a group like Taliban is that they know what they’re fighting for. He writes: “America and its Western allies are too consumed by wokeness to be able to pursue a moral or military struggle for their values.”

Taliban fighters enjoyed amusement park rides before they burned down the park.

Pray for the situation, for the government and those making huge decisions. Pray especially for veterans of the conflict who are wondering if all that they suffered and sacrificed in the hope of ending this branch of terrorism was worth it.

National Geographic has summarized the centuries of struggle for Afghanistan.

QuickHits for the eyebuds 08.16.21

💪 A 1930’s “histomap” tries visualizing world powers for the last 4000 years
🌉 A technical glitch left London’s Tower bridge stuck open
👨‍🚀 NASA is seeking volunteers to live for a year in a Martian-like habitat
🧊 Polar bears sometimes take out walruses by throwing rocks
💩 Fecal transplant in mice reduced brain aging
🛰️ The explosive growth of satellites could impact life on earth
🌠 A loot-loaded asteroid is headed to earth 
⏪ Hawaii’s crazy upside-down waterfall
🤑 A heap of crypto was stolen but then returned
🐘 China’s wandering elephants look like they’re heading home
🏙️ From Yoda’s hut to Hogwarts and more, compare the size of fictional buildings
♿ Disability-friendly clothing
🐴 Archeologists think they’ve found pieces of the Trojan horse
⚾ Most satisfying baseball slide
✈️ Jay Leno stuck his head out of a plane just for yuks 
💥 When your family business is blowing things up
🎵 Britney Spears’ dad says he will step down from being her conservator 
🏓 This one’s for Pastor Wolfmueller: one of the best ping pong rallies ever

Rising levels of alarmism

The media has also been a-flutter this week with the UN’s climate change body, the IPCC, releasing its latest assessment of global warming. While the Secretary General of the United Nations called the report a “code red for humanity,” more level heads are mulling it over. Some have found that the report does not take into account historical data, while others have patiently been pointing out that the models used by the IPCC “run hot”. This means that more warming has been predicted than is actually happening.

(As an aside, the IPCC is not quite what many imagine, either.)

However, the level of alarmism is playing into Progressive narratives, with the Biden administration continuing to put the squeeze on fossil fuel use and production. The Daily Caller challenged the President’s push for electric vehicles as a way to reduce carbon emissions. Apart from the cost of buying an EV, the cars are not “zero emission” as the President suggests. Apart from components made abroad in countries where environmental laws are less stringent, charging stations for electric cars require access to the electricity grid.

The irony of the situation was probably lost on the President who called for OPEC nations to increase oil production amid escalating fuel prices in the US. But conservative outlets did note the contrast, after Mr. Biden’s scrapping of the Keystone pipeline plan and ban on oil drilling in Alaska’s wilderness.

Not in My Backyard

We know that the devil is a liar and a murderer and his works attest to that. But it is always troubling when you hear of the wickedness on your own doorstep. According to a new report, a grant of almost $3M has been given to the University of Pittsburgh, to build “pipeline for the acquisition” of fetal tissue to experiment on. According to the BaptistPress, this macabre research has been going on for many years, with the latest grant containing quotas for samples taken from babies of racial minorities. Lord, have mercy!

Hey big spenders

Alas, we must write about mammon once again this week, with two monstrously big buckets of cash being compiled by the US government. The Senate has unveiled a $1.1 TR infrastructure bill with lots of provision for social justice and climate alarmist goals. But Rachel Bovard, at The Federalist points out that the bill was merely a “prelude” to the $3.5 TR budget which passed the floor of the Senate last week.

While the budget is not set in law, it does steer actual spending and in this case, the wish list of the “Green New Deal” is in the driver’s seat. There’s money for climate change programs, abortion, and “free” everything, so if approved, the “Bernie Sanders budget” looks set to change the country forever.

With almost half of the spending financed with new debt, Al Mohler pointed out that America is spending money we don’t have and can never repay. Justin Haskins observed that the Fed has been printing a lot of funny money in the last decade and warns that the President’s budget could cause economic collapse. Elsewhere, Haskins suggests that people should look to invest diversely, if they are able, especially in land. He points out that it is no coincidence that Bill Gates is buying up farmland – the elites know what time it is. 

Threats, real and imagined

Homeland Security has issued a warning about a vague terror threat after a “rise in anti-government sentiment”. Here’s NBC’s summary (13 minute mark): opposition to COVID measures, and claims there was election fraud represent a potential terror threat.

After the recent withdrawal of remaining foreign troops in Afghanistan, the Taliban has quickly moved to take the country for their own. Distressing footage has been posted on the internet, as civilians try to flee the Taliban’s advance on the capital. Helicopters were sent to the embassy in Kabul to evacuate personnel.

In a press release, President Biden defended pulling troops out of Afghanistan, saying that if the Afghan military could not “hold its own country”, then more time would not have made any difference. However, it is puzzling why the withdrawal seems to have been such a clumsy effort, with munitions and buildings abandoned and unsecured. The President has deployed 5000 troops to help evacuate remaining Americans. 

Pray for safety for evacuees and for the church in that nation.

The battle goes on

Conservative corners of the interwebs have been awash with videos of people -adults and children- giving school boards a piece of their minds when it comes to mask mandates in schools. It is always heartening to see community resistance against broad and mindless policies. This one caught our eye, as Matt Walsh brought the fire to his school board meeting, saying what we are all thinking. 

The Desert Review is reporting that India successfully used the drug Ivermectin extensively to fight the last outbreak there. But it’s crickets in the mainstream media… French police are checking vaccine passports of outdoor diners in Paris. But Italians are burning theirs.

One vaccine expert is calling for an immediate halt to vaccination, saying vaccination during a pandemic promotes “immune escape variants” which are more infectiousness and reduce the formation of antibodies.

Politico crunched some numbers last month and concluded that the divide over mask mandates and lockdowns has more to do with income than political affiliations. It makes sense, that staying at home and having people bring you things is an option many service industry and blue-collar workers don’t have.

Wake up, sleepwalker

Ben Domenech’s monologuing is usually worth your time, but his recent discourses on Fox might pique Mad Christian’s particular interest. While there is plenty to cause alarm in Domenech’s “The American Crisis,” he does offer hope and challenges his viewers to wake up.

In one commentary, Domenech reflects on the Obama era campaign called “The Life of Julia,” warning that the current administration, under the cover of the pandemic, is picking up where Obama left off.

“The Life of Julia” summarized, probably too well, the hollowness of a life dependent on the State. Writing at CNN, William Bennett notes: “Julia’s entire life is defined by her interactions with the state. Government is everywhere and each step of her life is tied to a government program. Notably absent in her story is any relationship with a husband, family, church, or community, except a ‘community’ garden where she works post-retirement. Instead, the state has taken their place and is her primary relationship.”

While Progressive politicians may think it is just to have everyone provided for by government, a little bit of thought reveals that such dependancy makes you slave to the whims of the rich and powerful. It would seem a few folks have done their homework, though, with a recent survey finding that a whole lot of Americans don’t want assistance from the government and would rather be left alone. 

We know for realz that our readers are awake! It has been exciting to see the Mad Christian movement come to life, and we know that many of you are already fighting back. We can remember Nehemiah, who wrote: 

“For they all were trying to make us afraid, saying, “Their hands will be weakened in the work, and it will not be done.”Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands.” 

If you want some inspiration, Joy Pullman compiled a list at The Federalist with heaps of ways you can “shake wide awake.”  Run along home, Sanballat, we got work to do.

The whole wired world

It would seem that many Americans are cutting the cord. At least a little. News outlets recently reported that Netflix is “bleeding” subscribers in the USA.

In the continued tension between privacy and security, tech companies are inventing new ways of verifying who you are. Amazon is offering customers ten bucks (store credit) to store their palm print. And in another “pick one” moment, Apple has said it is building software for its devices that would help in the fight against child porn and exploitation. Sounds good, except this would involve scanning phones and even encrypted messages for explicit images, which has privacy advocates worried.

In some heartwarming tech news, a Japanese robotics company has opened a cafe with a twist. The cafe is tended by robots, which are controlled by remote workers. The robots are avatars for bed ridden or paralyzed people. The cafe gives the workers a chance to engage with people, and combats the loneliness of isolation.

No soup for you

The World Health Organization has put the kibosh on COVID booster shots, saying that every country needs to be at least 10% vaccinated first. 

Celebs are weighing in on the vaccine debate with actress Jennifer Aniston saying she has ditched friends who are unvaxxed or who won’t reveal whether they’ve been jabbed. Oprah’s bestie, Gayle King, has said she will ban family members from Thanksgiving celebrations if they are not vaccinated.

Sweden is apparently still doing well on the COVID front, according to Zerohedge, while the Delta variant has reached China, triggering fresh lockdowns for millions.

Unvaccinated players for the Pittsburgh Steelers will be required to wear yellow wristbands.

Talking about money

A two-year Congressional deal to suspend the USA’s debt limit expired last weekend, meaning the government can no longer borrow money to pay its debts. The Hill says there is little agreement across the political aisle on spending, with Republicans generally favoring spending cuts while Democrats favor removing the debt ceiling again. Bipartisan support for a plan will be needed to avoid the US defaulting on its $28 trillion national debt. For all the wonky details, you can read more here or here.

Another important date came and went last week. A moratorium on evictions, put in place by the government to ease financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic, ended on July 31. While the Supreme Court acknowledged the unconstitutional nature of the moratorium last September, the Order was allowed it to stand because the CDC planned to end it “in only a few weeks.” 

However, the Biden administration has issued a new ban on evictions, which John Daniel Davidson at The Federalist called “blatantly unconstitutional.” He writes: “If landlords try to evict tenants for not paying rent, they could face criminal penalties including fines and imprisonment.” Landlords are owed around $21bn in rent.

President Biden is proposing a return to Obama-era fuel efficiency standards for vehicles. The White House’s ambitious plan to reduce carbon emissions also aims for 40% to 50% of new auto sales to be electric cars by 2030.

Miami is minting its own cryptocurrency to fund police.

While we’re talking of mammon.. for all the market enthusiasts, the Bank of England has published a working paper of global interest rates since 1300. That’s quite a while… 

A sprint and a marathon

Like it or not, Critical Race Theory is not going away any time soon. James Lindsay ofNew Discourses has been publishing “translations” of “Woke” terminology for a while. Last week, he co-wrote a handy cheat sheet for understanding CRT

While the push for CRT curriculum in public schools may not seem a threat to those who are in private school or homeschooling, it is important for all of us to know the lay of the land. A panelist at a recent CPAC discussion on the subject said, “You cannot live in a country where the public schools are actively anti-Americanizing children and expect that you’ll be able to keep your homeschooling and your private schools. So we have to care about what’s happening in the public schools.”

For those who want to join the fray, Joy Pullman has written about practical ways to fight CRT.

Steeling our kids

An interesting piece of news came to our attention last week, with the editor of a German newspaper apologizing to children for his publication’s coverage of the pandemic. Julian Reichelt, editor of Bild, said he was sorry for causing children to be fearful, telling them they would “murder their grandma” if they met with friends or family. 

The Progressive Left has made no secret of its desire to affect wholesale change in society by targeting kids. Before the burden of making sure you’re woke enough was put on youngsters, “eco-anxiety” was reported in children, with the coverage of child climate activist, Greta Thunberg, painting a very bleak future for the planet.

Abigail Shrier recently wrote an essay on the hopeful tone being set by the political campaign of JD Vance. Noting that children are being taught that there is nothing good about America, she says that we could all stand to hear something positive. In a thought provoking line, she writes “Is there any more damning indicator of a culture than that it produces hopeless children?” 

Mad Christians are familiar with the ways that the white noise can break down our hope, making every news cycle feel urgent, every corruption of morality inevitable, and the undermining of truth with confusion, ubiquitous. This is true for us; it’s also true for our children. 

Yet our hope is real, guaranteed by Christ himself. Teaching children that the world is not all roses can be a daunting task, but we can pray for wisdom. Rev. Fisk’s advice on this subject (around the 41 minute mark) is the same for children as for adults who find their hope is fading: turn to the Psalter, learn the Creeds and hear the red-letter promises of Jesus. The writer to the Hebrews reminds us of Christ’s words to his people “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we may boldly say:

“The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear.
What can man do to me?” 

Alleluia.

Promo of friends – Fuente de Vida

Iglesia Luterana, Fuente de Vida, Ponce, Puerto Rico

We recently heard from our LCMS mission in the U.S. Territory of Puerto Rico that there are people watching and learning about the comfort of confessional Lutheran teaching through Youtube channels like the Mad Christian’s. Rev. James Neuendorf let us know that one Puerto Rican viewer was recently confirmed in one of the new Lutheran Church plants on the island!  If you want to learn more about the LCMS mission in Puerto Rico or connect with the mission down there, you can check out their page at fuentedevidapr.org

Nobody was kung-fu fighting

Two Olympic judo competitors, one from Algeria and one from Sudan, have been sent home from Tokyo, after refusing to fight an Israeli athlete. A Mongolian judo competitor has dedicated his silver medal to Israel. Saeid Mollaei, who defected from Iran, has previously trained with the Israeli national team. 

Almost 50 years after the event, the Olympic Committee held a moment of silence to remember the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Games, held in Munich. And, the twists keep coming, with an Iranian medal winner outed as a member of a terrorist organization

As the Tokyo Olympics enters its second week, it is hard to avoid the feeling that the storied event is experiencing a bit of a dip in popularity. It could be chalked up to a number of things, maybe the activism on the part of athletes or that little distraction known as The Pandemic. The New Yorker labeled Tokyo “the Anger Games,” suggesting that residents of the city did not want to host the eventNot the Bee referred to this year’s Games as “Wokyo” due to the particular form of activism on the part of athletes (here and here). In 2018, Business Insider wrote that no one really wants to host the Olympic Games any more, given the massive bill and scale of the disruption. Maybe this is another of those things cracked open by 2020? Either way, it will be interesting to see what lies ahead for the Olympics.

You can always follow the advice of Evita Duffy from The Federalist who suggested, you could just watch highlights from the Lumberjack World Championships instead.

And, FYI what makes an Olympic pool “fast.”

Payin’ the bills

The value of Bitcoin surged after rumors circulated that Amazon was considering accepting purchases in the cryptocurrency. After Amazon said they weren’t planning such a change in the near future, Bitcoin dropped, but is expected to recover soon.

A crypto expert has tweeted that the infrastructure bill being considered by Congress could “sink the American crypto industry.” It could all just be worrying out loud, but it would seem that the government sees cryptocurrency taxation as the cash cow needed to pay for the trillion dollar plan.

The Chinese government has upset the global financial scene by banning private sector tutoring companies from making money. Educational companies working in China will become non-profit entities, which prompted panicked selling of stocks. Many Chinese parents employ tutors for their children, creating an industry worth around $120BN. The CCP is looking to reduce the cost of raising children, presumably to encourage couples to have more of them. The move by the CCP comes on the back of a broad crackdown of China’s tech sector.

In a side note, the first person tried under new Hong Kong security laws has been found guilty.

The US economy has returned to its pre-pandemic size, but despite government insistence that inflation is only a “temporary” problem, many sites are reporting that key indicators suggest otherwise. Panicking over inflation usually just makes things worse, so we’ll keep living like Jesus is coming back tomorrow and building like he’s not coming back for a century.

Didn’t we do this already?

Although President Biden said only months ago that he would not mandate vaccines or masks at a national level, he has now ordered that federal workers must be vaccinated or submit to frequent testing. Postal workers are exempt from the order, which may be due to union opposition to mandatory vaccination. Many smaller power brokers are doing the same, with a new edict from Governor Newsom imposing similar conditions on Californian healthcare workers and state employees. The Department of Veteran Affairs will also mandate vaccination for its medical staff, as will NYC for its workers, while Broadway will require vaccinations and masks for audiences and crew.

President Biden recently suggested that people who are unvaccinated are “not as smart as he thought they were,” but his assertion that the only “pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated” may be challenged. Although the amount of “breakthrough” cases (where a vaccinated person contracts COVID) is small, vaccinated people can still spread the virus or even die in rare circumstances. Complicating the picture further is the fact that many agencies, including the CDC stopped tracking breakthrough cases except in cases of hospitalization or death, Bloomberg reports.

Liberal publication, Slate, has printed a dispassionate review of the “noble lies” told by public health officials. It is interesting to see a Left-leaning site acknowledge that a) lies were told and b) the lying did not produce the required behavior. Whether anyone will learn a lesson though, is another thing…

In the UK, recently leaked government figures show that almost half of the patients recorded as being admitted to hospital due to COVID, only tested positive on arrival. The new data suggests that the rate of hospitalization because of COVID is overstated. Prime Minister Boris Johnson seems to have changed tack after chasing a “Zero COVID” agenda through the last year. The British PM lifted most restrictions from July 19, drawing the ire of liberal media. Cases are currently dropping in Britain, and no doubt the world will be watching.

Crazy scenes from Italy’s parliament went viral this week. After one MP was chased out of the House for protesting vaccine mandates, a number of politicians hit the floor to stand with him.

Also wild – according to reports, half of the deer in Michigan have been exposed to the coronavirus.