Category Archives: social media

Ready Player One

ready-player-one-book-coverReady Player One is author Ernest Cline’s love letter to the 80’s in novel form. It’s 2044 and the world has become  an almost unbearable place to live. An energy crisis has let to economic turmoil around the word and the environment has continued to decay. Because of reality’s almost unendurable nature, people spend most of their time in the fully immersive, digital world of OASIS created by James Halliday. Upon his death, Halliday bequeathed his fortune and control of OASIS to the person who can find the hidden egg, somewhere in it’s massive universe of worlds. What follows is a geeks biggest dream, that all that nerd knowledge would actually save the world one day. Ready Player One is a pop-culture infused adventure as Wade Watts tries to uncover the egg before he’s out of lives, figuratively and literally.

Choosing The Matrix

What if reality became so oppressive to deal with that you would willingly choose The Matrix. This is exactly what happens in Ready Player One. People choose to live in the digital world where they can be whoever they want, look however they want and become the idealized version of themselves. It’s not too hard to imagine. We already live in a society that is Instagramed and Facebooked to the point of absurdity. It is not who most of us really are, it’s just our best selves in 1’s and 0’s. We photoshop our lives and present what we want people to see. OASIS takes this to the nth degree. Don’t like being short, male, female or even human, then your avatar can be anything you desire. It’s the ultimate extreme makeover.

On top of this, it’s the perfect place to hide away from everything reality has to offer. Again, there are so many ways this already happens today. Twitter allows us to be anyone we want and the “relationships” there are comfortable since it’s easy to be whatever anyone wants when you’re hidden behind a profile picture and screens. It’s prophetic that Halliday’s avatar says to Wade,

“I created the OASIS because I never felt at home in the real world. I didn’t know how to connect with the people there. I was afraid, for all my life. Right up until I knew it was ending. That was when I realized, as terrifying and painful as reality can be, it’s also the only place where you can find true happiness. Because reality is real. Do you understand?”

There is nothing easy about life and there is nothing wrong with social media. Personally it has lead to some life-changing relationships in the real world with real people. Ready Player One is a fantastic reminder that there is no substitute for reality itself, everything else is just a self-decieving fantasy.

Conclusion 

Ready Player One is an impressive first novel by Cline and honestly a good time. There really is so much to think about as Wade and his friends rush to solve the mystery of Halliday’s ultimate video game quest. If you love good stories and the pop culture of yesteryear this is certainly the book for you.

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Owl Post 7-8-14

Owl Post 2-17-12

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Exclusive: Read J.K. Rowling’s new post for the latest Harry Potter ‘gossip’

550w_movies_harry_potter_epilogue_4Can’t get enough of Harry Potter? Then this is for you. Since March, best-selling author J. K. Rowling has been writing original stories about the imaginary 2014 Quidditch World Cup Finals for Pottermore, the online home for the world of Harry Potter. 

Rowling shared her latest Pottermore.com story exclusively with TODAY.com. Written in the voice of the fictional Daily Prophet’s gossip correspondent Rita Skeeter, this post centers around the reunion of Harry Potter and his friends at the Quidditch World Cup Finals. Click here for the new Harry Potter Story 

For Taylor Swift, the Future of Music Is a Love Story

taylor-swift-red-largeWhere will the music industry be in 20 years, 30 years, 50 years?

Before I tell you my thoughts on the matter, you should know that you’re reading the opinion of an enthusiastic optimist: one of the few living souls in the music industry who still believes that the music industry is not dying…it’s just coming alive

Gbj6CRxJustice’ is served with another helping of Superman

Who’s better, Superman or Batman? Zack Snyder doesn’t have to choose a favorite since he’s getting to put both on the big screen at the same time.

The director of last year’s Man of Steel doubles down on A-list superheroes in his follow-up Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (in theaters May 6, 2016), teaming a returning Henry Cavill as the big guy in the cape and “S” on his chest with Ben Affleck as the latest cinematic incarnation of the Dark Knight.

Europe Is Starting to Take American Soccer Seriously (Seriously!)

article-2594795-1CC15A9B00000578-590_634x457Did American soccer just win the football world’s respect?

The World Cup is over for the U.S.A. after a heartbreaking loss to Belgium. But that defeat made for what some regard as perhaps the best match of a tournament that has thrilled from the start. More importantly, the U.S. has been called a “world-class team” by the likes of Barry Glendenning, the ever-critical football writer from The Guardian. Glendenning is perhaps not the Supreme Leader of Football (that title belongs to Sepp Blatter), but he is near the epicenter of international football, and he does not compliment teams lightly.

The real story behind the war over YA novels

91o13sPo7VLFew categories of literature right now seem to receive the level of hatred reserved for young adult fiction, which is the subject of nearly endless editorials on its supposed inanity, excessive sexuality, darkness, and girlyness. It doesn’t escape notice that there’s a strong whiff of sexism underlying the wave of YA hate—the genre is heavily dominated by women, and female authors can recount their experiences with sexism first hand.

Coming Out as a Christian

social-mediaI’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to live transparently—especially when it comes to my digital life. For as long as I’ve been on social media (I first joined Facebook in 2005), I’ve oscillated between expressing myself honestly and expressing contrived personas that I broadcast on Twitter, Instagram, and everywhere else.

Take, for instance, my well-documented love of Rolling Rock. Anyone who follows me on any website knows I’ve posted endlessly about the famously watery beer for the past three years. My Instagram feed was once a veritable shrine to Rolling Rock. My friends gave me four cases of it for my birthday last year. Heck, my Twitter fan club (yes, it’s still weird to me, too) uses a picture of Rolling Rock as its header image! I know how to advertise my love for a product.

Owl Post 6-22-12

The Religious Right Turns 33: What Have We Learned?

Many historians say the modern religious right was birthed in June of 1979. That was the month when the Rev. Jerry Falwell founded the Moral Majority, an organization tasked with saving the American public from the threat of moral decline. Not coincidentally, Concerned Women for America was formed the same month.

Why Women Still Can’t Have It All:

EIGHTEEN MONTHS INTO my job as the first woman director of policy planning at the State Department, a foreign-policy dream job that traces its origins back to George Kennan, I found myself in New York, at the United Nations’ annual assemblage of every foreign minister and head of state in the world. On a Wednesday evening, President and Mrs. Obama hosted a glamorous reception at the American Museum of Natural History. I sipped champagne, greeted foreign dignitaries, and mingled. But I could not stop thinking about my 14-year-old son, who had started eighth grade three weeks earlier and was already resuming what had become his pattern of skipping homework, disrupting classes, failing math, and tuning out any adult who tried to reach him. Over the summer, we had barely spoken to each other—or, more accurately, he had barely spoken to me. And the previous spring I had received several urgent phone calls—invariably on the day of an important meeting—that required me to take the first train from Washington, D.C., where I worked, back to Princeton, New Jersey, where he lived. My husband, who has always done everything possible to support my career, took care of him and his 12-year-old brother during the week; outside of those midweek emergencies, I came home only on weekends.

What Sanctification Is and Is Not:

J.C. Ryle’s Holiness is a classic work that bears repeated readings. Recently I returned to his chapter on sanctification, a term that he defines as “an inward spiritual work which the Lord Jesus Christ works in a man by the Holy Ghost, when He calls him to be a true believer.” After defining the term, he lays out the differences between true and false sanctification, first saying what it is not and then saying what it is.

Off The eBook Shelf:

Readers are voting with their wallets: The eBook is winning. In the US, eBooks sales are now topping hardcovers for the first time (story in TechCrunch). Not everywhere of course. According to the Bowker Global eBook Research, the global market for eBooks is driven — in that order — by India, Australia, the UK and the United States. The laggards are Japan and (no surprise) France. The chart below shows the percentage of internet population reporting the purchase of a digital book over the last six months prior to the survey.

Reality Check: Most Internet trolls are probably trolls in real life, too:

One of the biggest myths about the Internet goes like this: people who are perfectly pleasant and reasonable in real life become total jerkfaces when they get online. It conjures up the image of a mild-mannered office clerk, who talks courteously and sweetly to everyone, and then goes home and spews venom on comment sections and web forums for hours. Like the Secret Trolling Life of Walter Mitty. And I’m sure this does happen. But, I’m guessing, most people who troll on the internet actually are trolls in real life, too.

Why You Should Consider Cancelling Your Short-Term Mission Trips:

I have seen with my own eyes or know of houses in Latin America that have been painted 20 times by 20 different short-term teams; fake orphanages in Uganda erected to get Westerners to give money; internet centers in India whose primary purpose is to ask Westerners for money; children in African countries purposefully mutilated by their parents so they would solicit sympathy while they beg; a New England-style church built by a Western team in Cameroon that is never used except when the team comes to visit; and slums filled with big-screen TVs and cell phone towers.

Owl Post 5-30-2012

Links to the full article are the title

11 Ways You’re Annoying On Twitter:

Asking your followers to recommend restaurants/bars/tourist hot spots to you is the new Google, by which I mean: Why don’t you just use Google? Twitter-sourcing is the laziest form of research. It’s like going to the library, lying down on the floor, and asking relevant books to jump off the shelves onto your face. I don’t know. It’s fine. Just keep it to a minimum – like once a year, maybe. For example, I just asked MY followers what Twitter behavior they found annoying. If, in the next twelve months, I find myself wondering where the best Sasquatch hotspots in the Midwest are located, tough luck. I will be doing that woods-wandering unadvised.

Marilynne Robinson’s Small, Rich Body of Work:

Since her first novel,1980’s Housekeeping, Marilynne Robinson has written just six books: two novels—Gilead (2004) andHome (2008)—and fourworks of non-fiction, Mother Country (1989), The Death of Adam(1998 ), Absence of Mind (2010), and this year’s When I Was A Child I Read Books.

Can a novelist who produces only three works of fiction in 32 years be considered great? Can an essayist whose primary concerns—the compatibility of Christian dogma with science, the liberal origins of Calvinism—are far outside mainstream American thought be considered great?

An Open Letter to Young, “Post-Partisan” Evangelicals:

Dear fed-up idealists,

I used to be you.  I know that’s hard to believe.  After all, I’m pretty darn partisan.  I’m a religious liberties lawyer, a pro-life activist, the founder of Evangelicals for Mitt, and the most recent winner of the American Conservative Union’s Ronald Reagan Award.  I serve my country in uniform in the Army Reserves and am a veteran of the Iraq War.  In other words, for a lot of you out there, I’m less role model than cautionary tale.  I’m the guy you’re trying not to be — the guy you think is destroying our Christian witness.  Heck, I’m the guy that even I used to hate.

What are 10 practical ways to love and serve your wife?

Husbands, here is some very practical advice on ways to communicate love to your wife.  This is what I shared at the men’s luncheon on Monday at the Berean Baptist Church Marriage Conference and we had a great discussion about them.  Use them as a template to know how to best make your wife feel loved and cherished by you.

From the Desk of Don Draper: The Cost of 1962, Today:

Owl Post 5-11-2012

The titles are the links to the full article.

Science Reveals Why We Brag So Much:

Talking about ourselves—whether in a personal conversation or through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter—triggers the same sensation of pleasure in the brain as food or money, researchers reported Monday

Justification by Twitter:

John Calvin wrote that the human heart is an idol factory. He was right.

Throughout history, we have bowed down to golden cattle, celestial beings, stone animals, and even human body parts. With the passage of time, the number of ways we exchange worship for the one true God for lesser, false gods has only increased.

Maurice Sendak Scared Children Because He Loved Them:

It is rare for an artist to remain beloved throughout his lifetime. Attitudes shift and tastes evolve. As they do, even hallowed creators and entertainers watch themselves become relics in their own time.

How to Win the Public on Homosexuality:

“President Obama’s support for same-sex marriage is making headlines but not news. That’s probably because he was in favor of same-sex marriage before he was against it and now in favor of it again. Campaigning in 1996 for state senate in Illinois, Obama said in a typed statement, “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages.” Running for statewide and then national office apparently changed his perspective, at least temporarily.” Here is other link on the president’s announcement  – Evolution’s End?

This is the oldest Maya Calendar Ever Discovered:

For years, archaeologists have referred to an ancient set of texts known as the Maya codices to study that ancient civilization’s relationship with astronomy and time. But now, a team of archaeologists has discovered a set of murals, hieroglyphs, and astronomical calendars deep in the rainforests of Guatemala, that predate those texts by hundreds of years.

Create Culture, Not Subculture:

The question itself is open to misinterpretation. Christians and non-Christians alike tend to hear “Christian worldview” and assume that this refers to Christian film as a subculture, a genre of its own, focusing on strongly redemptive and openly evangelistic or biblical storylines (for example, Fireproofand the Left Behind series).

Why fiction is good for you:

Is fiction good for us? We spend huge chunks of our lives immersed in novels, films, TV shows, and other forms of fiction. Some see this as a positive thing, arguing that made-up stories cultivate our mental and moral development. But others have argued that fiction is mentally and ethically corrosive. It’s an ancient question: Does fiction build the morality of individuals and societies, or does it break it down?

Most Read Books in the Last 50 Years Infograph:

Owl Post 5-1-2012

Social Media’s Small, Positive Role in Human Relationships:

This is a follow-up to last week’s article about the loneliness that Social Media is supposedly creating. “A few years ago I had an interview for a job at one of the leading academic departments in my field. Maybe because I knew that I wasn’t likely to be offered the job, I saw the day as a relaxed opportunity to meet people carrying out interesting research.  My comfort with the day was shaken, however,  when a faculty member showed me ongoing research on avatars — bots — designed to interact with (and provide therapy for) human children with autism. I squirmed. I squinted.  I tried to voice my discomfort. I lost my voice. I turned away. I was shaken for the rest of the day and on my way back. That flickering image of the bot we’d one day turn our children over to still haunts me.”

The Ugly American — Sex Trafficking and Our National Humiliation:

The sexual revolution of the last several decades has transformed any public conversation about sex and sexuality. The revolutionaries directed their attention to the dismantling of an entire edifice of sexual morality that had been basically intact for well over 2,000 years.

Has Kindle Killed the Book Cover?

Daylight Saving came out in the U.K. in February, and in the months leading up to its release, the publisher used a novel strategy to generate interest in the teen novel: It placed a ticker at the bottom of the digital cover, counting down to the launch date. (It’s still counting, now into a negative number.) In addition to the digital jacket’s embedded clock, an underwater design ripples with the drag of a cursor, as if your finger could make waves through the screen. The interactive blue splashes (gimmicky, maybe) are nonetheless entrancing for the few minutes spent toying with the cover. And with that, the book has caught the eye of a potential buyer. Once purchased, of course, the water transforms into a static image, its graceful motion unsupported by the media formats in which it is ultimately consumed (print or the standard digital forms). The cover is seductive, but its spell is broken. Which brings to mind the tagline of Daylight Saving: “Can you save someone from something that’s already happened?”

My Son Went to Heaven, and All I Got Was a No. 1 Best Seller:

At 3 years 10 months, Colton Burpo was a sunny child, a preacher’s son certain of his faith and his eternal fate. Then his appendix burst, and as doctors failed to figure out what was wrong with him, he lay in a hospital bed until his father, Todd, saw “the shadow of death” cross his face. “I recognized it instantly,” Todd, a pastor, recalls. With Colton’s face “covered in death,” Todd and his wife, Sonja, took the boy to another hospital, where he was wheeled into surgery. “He’s not in good shape,” the surgeon said. As Colton screamed for his father, Todd fled, locked himself in a room and railed at God.

Marilynne Robinson on Christmas, Easter and Religious Dread:

From Marilynne Robinson’s essay “Wondrous Love”, one of several collected in When I Was a Child I Read Books, here are the quotes I referenced at this past weekend’s conference:

I have a theory that the churches fill on Christmas and Easter because it is on these days that the two most startling moments in the Christian narrative can be heard again…

Roqoo Depot’s Interview With James Arnold Taylor:

The Dark Knight Rises – New Trailer:

Owl Post 4-20-2012

Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?

Social media—from Facebook to Twitter—have made us more densely networked than ever. Yet for all this connectivity, new research suggests that we have never been lonelier (or more narcissistic)—and that this loneliness is making us mentally and physically ill. A report on what the epidemic of loneliness is doing to our souls and our society.

Piper, Ryken, Reynolds, and Nielson Commend the Classics:

This week The Gospel Coalition welcomes you to join us in an exciting new series called Commending the Classics. We’re thrilled to welcome Wheaton College professor Leland Ryken as a sort of literature scholar in residence to guide us as we read classic books together. Every week he’ll lend us his decades of learning to help us understand why these works have come to be regarded as timeless treasures. Have you ever thought, I’ve heard that book is great, but I’m intimidated to read it myself without any help? Then we’ve designed this series precisely with you in mind. You get the benefits of a reading community who will help you along and a gifted professor who will answer your questions.

The Kindle Index: What City Buys the Most E-Readers?

Recently, a new form of reading elitism has come about: judgement against people who haven’t yet switched from paper books to digital ones. Even I will confess to patronizingly acting surprised when encountering someone who still reads using the “dead tree format.”

Why ‘Blue Like Jazz’ Won’t Save Christian Cinema:

What happens when you water down the message? “Religious people rarely get a fair shake at the movies. Mainstream films usually seem bent on portraying faithful people as joyless hypocrites: Think of the shrill Hilary Faye in Saved or the stern principal/nun inDoubt. Movies produced by overtly Christian companies are no more nuanced. Films like Courageous andFireproof show firemen and police officers in straightforward moral dilemmas with straightforward Biblical solutions, while the pro-life subgenre is filled with stories that distort and oversimplify the way a woman decides whether or not to keep an unwanted baby.”

Chase a dream, not a number:

There’s a bed they sell that let’s you set a “sleep number.” You get to determine the stiffness or softness you want with a dial and then enjoy a restful night of customized comfort. I forget the name of the manufacturer, but if they want to sponsor my blog, I would Google that on the quick and write it in bold. (The kids need new shoes! Keens specifically, because wow, those things stink after a season of backyard romping.)

Not Quite a Teen, Yet Sold for Sex:

If you think sex trafficking only happens in faraway places like Nepal or Thailand, then you should listen to an expert on American sex trafficking I interviewed the other day.

“Ifs” Kill!

One of the problems in the current conversation regarding the relationship between law and gospel is that the term “law” is not always used to mean the same thing. This is understandable since in the Bible “law” does not always mean the same thing.