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Kowloon Walled City

In my world, KWC usually stands for Kentucky Wesleyan College, where I went to school and now work. Because I’m responsible for online communications, I get Google alerts every day for KWC. You’d be surprised at the number of groups who use KWC as an acronym: Karoake World Championships, Kids With Candy, etc.

One such group is the band Kowloon Walled City. Apparently, there really was a Kowloon Walled City — a series of more than 300 interconnected high rise buildings in Hong Kong. Once thought to be the most densely populated place on earth (50,000 people in a few blocks), it was demolished in the early ’90s.

Photos of the place are absolutely fascinating. A couple of photographers spent five years there, capturing the crowded life of more than 33,000 families and businesses. A couple photos below, but check out the link for much more detail — it’s remarkable how these people lived.

Get the full story and more photos here.

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LOTD: Catching Up

Been a while. Adding two kids to your household will do that. But here’s some good stuff from the last little while:

– Why do I love Twitter, you ask? Here’s just one of many reasons: where else is a starting MLB pitcher going to find a random cancer survivor to play catch with on his off day? Seriously. It happened.

– John Calvin on providence and impatience. Need to remember this more. (HT: Kevin DeYoung):

If there is no more effective remedy for anger and impatience, he has surely benefited greatly who has so learned to meditate upon God’s providence that he can always recall his mind to this point: the Lord has willed it; therefore it must be borne, not only because one may not contend against it, but also because he wills nothing but what is just and expedient.

To sum this up: when we are unjustly wounded by men, let us overlook their wickedness (which would but worsen our pain and sharpen our minds to revenge), remember to mount up to God, and learn to believe for certain that whatever our enemy has wickedly committed against us was permitted and sent by God’s just dispensation. (Institutes1.17.8)

– Now a quote from Kevin DeYoung himself. Need more of this too — I tend to linger too long over decisions. Sometimes you just gotta make a choice and go:

Obsessing over the future is not how God wants us to live because showing us the future is not God’s way. His way is to speak to us in the Scriptures and transform us by the renewing of our minds. His way is not a crystal ball. His way is wisdom. We should stop looking for God to reveal the future to us and remove all risk from our lives. We should start looking to God-His character and His promises-and thereby have confidence to take risks for His name’s sake. – from Just Do Something

Interesting story on the sinking of the Costa Concordia off the coast of Italy last January. Author gets some good behind-the-scenes details.

How the NFL schedule gets made. It’s more complicated than you might think.

Long story (I have yet to read it all) by Chris Jones about Robert Caro, who has spend most of his life writing a biography of LBJ (that’s President Lyndon Baines Johnson, not LeBron James). Gets into great details about his writing process. If you’ve never read him, Chris Jones is really good, btw.

– One more quote, this one from Nancy Pearcey, who I got to sit under for a few lectures in 2003 at WJI. I want to raise my kids to be able to think like this:

Generations of churched youngsters have been encouraged to shore up their religious commitment by sheer will power, closing their eyes and ears to contrary ideas. This explains why so many churches are full of people who are closed-minded, dogmatic, harsh and judgmental. Only people who understand that Christianity is true to the real world are capable of the relaxed confidence that allows them to be open, patient, and loving toward those who differ from them.

LOTD: Bubba, parenting boys and Luther was a blogger?

Some great stories the last couple days:

Fantastic column from Joe Posnanski on Bubba Watson winning the Masters. Talks about why we love, watch and write about sports. Just a sample:

It feels like the rest of the entertainment world has been trying for years to express the immediacy of sports, to capture what it is about these games that captures us. What, after all, are reality TV shows except an effort to reproduce the drama and unexpected turns of sports? Cooking shows try to be like sports. Televised poker tries to be like sports. Movies try twist endings to surprise us the way sports can and do. Those questions — Will he or won’t he? Can she or can’t she? Victory or defeat? — will startle and thrill and frustrate us forever. This is why I love writing about games.

Plus he gets major bonus points for not one, but two Princess Bride references.

This additional SI coverage of Bubba is great as well. Love that he bought the General Lee from the old show The Dukes of Hazzard.

– Good advice on how to parent boys from The Resurgence.

– Martin Luther was a blogger? The Reformation was fueled by social media? Well, yeah, according to The Economist.

LOTD: Sabbath, Explosions and 10 Days

More good stories:

– A high school Jewish basketball team in Texas is forfeiting a trip to the state semifinals because their game falls on Friday night at 9 — just after the beginning of their Sabbath, which lasts from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. Gotta admire their courage to stick to their convictions.

– Wanna watch a bridge explode? Here you go. Pretty cool — it’s the Fort Steuben bridge over the Ohio River between Ohio and West Virginia. The slo-mo replay is even better.

– Great NYT story on the life of players trying to catch on in the NBA with 10-day contracts. They’ve got a really short window to impress. Story follows one such player named Andre Emmett and his 10-day contract with the New Jersey Nets.

Does Spanking Lead to Agression?

There’ s a new study out that links spanking with aggressive behavior in children:

Now researchers at Tulane University provide the strongest evidence yet against the use of spanking: of the nearly 2,500 youngsters in the study, those who were spanked more frequently at age 3 were more likely to be aggressive by age 5.

The study controlled for other risk factors that could lead to aggression, and researchers and other doctors are confident they’ve isolated spanking as a problem: “This adds more credence, more data and more strength to the argument against using corporal punishment,” said Dr. Jayne Singer.

Reading between the lines, what the study did not account for is the type of spanking the parents administered. The author of the Time magazine article that references the study seems to think this is spanking:

“Still, as many parents can attest, few responses bring about the immediate interruption of a full-blown tantrum like a swift whack to the bottom.”

And, here’s the picture that Time magazine ran with the article:

spanking

A mother spanks her daughter (Peter Dazeley / Photographer's Choice / Getty Images)

That’s not spanking. That’s a badly conceived dramatization of a parent whacking a kid out of frustration and not  knowing what else to do. [To illustrate just one aspect of the misunderstanding —  Biblical spanking involves the use of the rod (a wooden spoon, a paddle, etc.), not your hand.]

It gets better. Instead of spanking (which apparently instills fear rather than understanding), experts recommend repeated time-outs:

it may take repeated efforts on the parent’s part, using time-outs — a strategy that typically involves denying the child any attention, praise or interaction with parents for a specified period of time (that is, the parents ignore the child). These quiet times force children to calm down and learn to think about their emotions, rather than acting out on them blindly.

So, the best discipline method is to ignore the child, let him figure out how and why he misbehaved and let him determine a strategy to keep it from happening again.

Whoever conceived this approach has apparently never conceived children. (Okay, that’s a little harsh — time-outs do have value, used appropriately and in concert with other methods.)

The article ends with this: “As the latest study shows, investing the time early on to teach a child why his behavior is wrong may translate to a more self-aware and in-control youngster in the long run.”

Well, yeah. Of course. And if the reporter (Alice Park) or the study’s researchers had bothered to investigate a Biblical method of spanking, they would have realized that’s exactly what it involves.

Spanking is not a knee-jerk reaction in the midst of a tantrum or other behavior crisis. Done Biblically, it’s a careful, reasoned response to a child’s foolishness. It’s not a swat-and-run approach — it involves time to talk to your children, to ask them questions, to tell them why their behavior was wrong and to teach them how they can act correctly the next time.

One verse: Proverbs 13:24 — “Whoever spares the rod hates his son,but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.” The words love, diligent and discipline imply a long-term investment that includes teaching and reproving and training in righteousness — much more than just a quick (and maybe angry) whack to your child’s bottom.

Most of all, though, when you discipline your kids Biblically,  it’s a chance to give them the Gospel, to tell them about Christ and how he took the ultimate punishment for their sins. He is the only one who can truly solve their behavior issues, and every chance to tell your kids about him is invaluable.

Let’s make the most of those chances, not by swattting and running, not by ignoring our kids, but by loving them and disciplining them diligently.

Root for Tiger?

I’m conflicted about whether or not to root for Tiger Woods as he makes his return to golf in the Masters this week.

Okay, I’m really not all that conflicted — I don’t want him to win. But I caught a few seconds of the broadcast today and another guy watching started clapping when Tiger made a birdie putt. People at the course seemed to be cheering for him too.

And that made me start thinking — why are they rooting for him? Why am I not?

They’ re rooting for him because America loves a good redemption story. I’m not because it doesn’t feel like he’s earned it yet. 

His image has been shattered and he’s trying to pick up the pieces. He says lots of the right things, but does he really seem sincere? Not really, but he’s pretty tightly controlled most of the time. The way he has handled the media indicates that he still wants to control what people see about him, what they think. (His creepy new Nike ad does not help.)

But it hasn’t been that long. This is his first tournament since his life fell apart, his first competition, his first time back in the full glare of the spotlight. And he goes out and shoots a two-under the first day. Imagine if he wins — it will be difficult to find a news outlet talking about anything else.

Seems like he hasn’t earned our forgiveness yet, he hasn’t shown enough repentance, hasn’t shown us that he has truly changed from the self-absorbed, me-first star who made a mockery of his marriage. He doesn’t deserve my cheers, my praise. He needs to struggle through a few tournaments first, get booed and derided and shamed. Then maybe I’ll think about pulling for him.

Is that fair? Maybe, maybe not. His transgressions were pretty egregious. To prove he has changed will take some time and some work. He burned us once — it’ll take a while to earn back trust.

But here’s the thing — God’s forgiveness isn’t like that. You can’t earn it, work for it, add to it or suffer for it. It’s a free gift of grace, unmerited and undeserved, now and forever.

Forgiveness means a clean start, and in the few seconds I saw him today, Tiger seemed more relaxed, more loose, more cheerful. How could he not be compared to all he was carrying around before?

To be truly free, he needs the forgiveness of his Maker. (Yeah, that means Brit Hume was right.) And he can’t earn that. All he has to do is ask for it.

“A nation of Amazon reader responses”

From Kottke:

Twilight of the American newspaper tells the story of San Francisco and its newspapers. And in that tale, a glimpse that we might be losing our sense of place along with the newspaper.

We will end up with one and a half cities in America — Washington, D.C., and American Idol. We will all live in Washington, D.C., where the conversation is a droning, never advancing, debate between “conservatives” and “liberals.” We will not read about newlyweds. We will not read about the death of salesmen. We will not read about prize Holsteins or new novels. We are a nation dismantling the structures of intellectual property and all critical apparatus. We are without professional book reviewers and art critics and essays about what it might mean that our local newspaper has died. We are a nation of Amazon reader responses (Moby Dick is “not a really good piece of fiction” — Feb. 14, 2009, by Donald J. Bingle, Saint Charles, Ill. — two stars out of five). We are without obituaries, but the famous will achieve immortality by a Wikipedia entry.

Around the Web

Posted this on the KWC blog today, but a good collection of links to cool stuff online:

Time for a few quick stories as students take a break from getting ready for finals …

— Probably not a career path most KWC students are thinking of, but this guy makes more than $45,000 a year cashing in trashed betting tickets from racetracks and betting parlors. Amazing. Only in the U.S.

— Good review of Amazon’s Kindle, the most popular electronic reader out there. Will never replace holding a book in your hands, but provides instant, easy, portable access.

— Now this is cool: a slideshow (with audio) by a New Yorker photographer of international heads of state at a United Nations meeting in September. Fascinating.

— Good advice from a college admissions dean (at Wesleyan University, not to be confused with Kentucky Wesleyan) on how to be accepted to the college you want.

Did You Know 4.0. (Goes well with the Kindle article.)

— In the midst of the crazy Christmas shopping season, Target is helping checkout clerks enjoy their jobs — by making the checkout process like a game. Smart.

— You gotta see this: an autistic artist from England drawing the New York City skyline from memory. Absolutely incredible. Here’s one he did of Tokyo. Check out the detail:

Wiltshire Tokyo

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Pitino

I liked Rick Pitino. Great coach, great style of play, motivational leader.

But apparently not a good role model. I would have sent my son to play for him. Not anymore, not on the heels of the revelation that he got drunk one night at a restaurant six years ago and had sex with a woman he had just met. She later became pregnant and he gave her money for “health insurance” — when he knew she was going to get an abortion.

This is not a man I want my son to be around. He says things like, “If you tell the truth, the problem becomes part of the past. If you lie, it become part of your future.” Which is true, as far as it goes, but the only reason he’s talking about it now is that he got caught. Otherwise, he would have continued lying about it.

The president of U of L and the AD should send him packing. Immediately. There is a clause in Pitino’s contract that allows him to be fired for moral depravity. Um, yeah, this qualifies.

But they’ll stand behind him, say they support him and we need to move forward, blah blah blah. Why? Because he wins games. If his record last year had been 5-31 instead of 31-5, he’d already be gone.

One other note. Where does he find his assistants and how much are they paid? One of them stuck around (to keep watch?) while Pitino was having sex after hours in the restaurant. Another let Pitino and Karen Sypher meet secretly at his condo so Pitino could pay her off. And then he later married her. Yeah.

Pitino was a great coach at Kentucky. He has done well at U of L. He’d have been on the list of my favorite coaches. And sure, he can find forgiveness. But he doesn’t need to be coaching young men.

The honorable way out would have been to meet with his team, tell them what he’d done, ask their forgiveness, resign and go home to work full-time on repairing his marriage and family. He could afford it.

Sowell on Sotamayor

Thomas Sowell has been writing about the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. He has an incisive way of cutting through the clutter and media spin and making you think about the heart of the issues. A couple of quotes:

It is one of the signs of our times that so many in the media are focusing on the life story of Judge Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court of the United States.

You might think that this was some kind of popularity contest, instead of a weighty decision about someone whose impact on the fundamental law of the nation will extend for decades after Barack Obama has come and gone.

Much is being made of the fact that Sonia Sotomayor had to struggle to rise in the world. But stop and think.

If you were going to have open heart surgery, would you want to be operated on by a surgeon who was chosen because he had to struggle to get where he is or by the best surgeon you could find– even if he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and had every advantage that money and social position could offer?

And this:

The clever people in the media and elsewhere are saying that “inevitably” one’s background influences how one feels about issues. Even if that were true, judges are not supposed to decide cases based on their personal feelings.

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said that he “loathed” many of the people in whose favor he voted on the Supreme Court. Obviously, he had feelings. But he also had the good sense and integrity to rule on the basis of the law, not his feelings.

Laws are made for the benefit of the citizens, not for the self-indulgences of judges. Making excuses for such self-indulgences and calling them “inevitable” is part of the cleverness that has eroded the rule of law and undermined respect for the law …

It would be considered a disgrace if an umpire in a baseball game let his “empathy” determine whether a pitch was called a ball or strike. Surely we should accept nothing less from a judge.

You can read all of his columns here. Highly recommended.