Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Season 2 Of Ted Lasso Challenges Viewers To Seek True Joy Over Shallow Happiness

 The Changing Virus Der Spiegel

 China’s ambassador Zheng Zeguang banned from UK Parliament BBC (The Rev Kev)

Were the US and China really on the brink of war last October? Responsible Statecraft

US, UK, Australia announce ‘historic’ military partnership in move likely to anger China South China Morning Post

US builds bulwark against China with UK-Australia security pact FT (The Rev Kev)

Australia Continues Its Plunge Into Authoritarianism And Military BrinkmanshipCaitlin Johnstone

Declining Anglo-Saxon Powers IntensifyAlliance Consortium News

Christianity Today, ‘Ted Lasso’ Won’t Settle for Shallow Optimism:

The show’s second season challenges viewers to consider true joy over hyper-positivity. ...

Released in 2020, Ted Lasso centers an out-of-his-depth American football coach who takes a job with an English soccer team. ... Ted’s vulnerable moments—a divorce, a disdainful team captain, and a boss who’s set him up for failure—have balanced his seemingly unflappable optimism, preventing him from being reduced to a symbol and revealing him as a human who, like us, is sometimes neglected, anxious, and in need of love. Even in the first season, writers attempted to make Ted more than a mustachioed Pollyanna by showing his panic attack at a karaoke bar and his procrastination in signing his divorce papers.

After a dark year that made many of us face our greatest anxieties and our mortality, watching Ted build an unlikely community felt satisfying. “Being nice, in ‘Ted Lasso,’ is not a naïve denial of the darkness of life. It’s a cleareyed adaptation to it,” wrote James Poniewozik at The New York Times. “The series recognizes that nice guys do sometimes finish last. It just argues that other things are more important than finishing first.”

And yet, what has haunted Ted Lasso’s second season is the chance that a good show centered on positivity, kindness, and joy might turn maudlin and trite. It offers us a glimpse of integrity without consequences and mirth without stakes. ...

Among the many social phenomena that the pandemic has forced us to contend with has been “toxic positivity,” or, as the Psychology Group puts it, “the excessive and ineffective overgeneralization of a happy, optimistic state across all situations.” (Much of the reason we dislike Christian movies, after all, is because their storylines feature unearned saccharine performances or righteous actions that read as corny or hollow.)

The enthusiasm and reception to Ted Lasso suggests that part of serving sad people during chaotic and unpredictable times rests in leaning into both joy and pain. Hyperpositivity and happiness are shallow; they are emotions characterized by their ephemeral state and the existence of external conditions. But Scripture teaches that joy is much deeper. It is an unflappable fruit of the Spirit, grounded in the truth of God’s everlasting and unconditional love for us (Ps. 16:8–11).

Ted Lasso doesn’t have much to say about religion, or where ultimate hope might be found. But his persistence in his joy makes him attractive, especially for those in his life who have given up. Throughout season 2, the show has begun to suggest that Ted’s optimism may actually be masking deep hurt and pain, rather than coming from his suffering (1 Thess. 1:6). Ted’s wounds stay out of sight of many of his friends and, if he has it his way, out of the psychologist’s office. His visible and visceral pain make it possible to love his impenetrable cheeriness and not reduce him to a positivity mascot.

Our love for the show perhaps exemplifies our hunger for a space where trauma, joy, forgiveness, and community can coexist. And during a time of death and division, the church has a unique chance to be the messenger of the most consequential good news. How do we avoid the pitfall of shallow optimism and offer a greater gospel?

In the aftermath of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, Afghan refugee Mariya Dostzadah Goodbrake wrote:

We want to stay encouraged and to say the right Christian things: “God will prevail,” “This is a broken world,” “Justice is not on this side of life,” or “We already have victory.” Yes, these comments remind us that we have a God that has already prevailed, but can we just grieve for a moment and not say the right Christian thing to say? Can we stand in righteous anger? Can we say that for this moment, evil prevailed? Can we just sit in the hurt and injustice for a moment?

The call of the Christian life is a complex one. It calls us to both joy and sorrow, both hope and lament. It calls us to a posture of wisdom, one where we discern when to sit in solidarity with friends who mourn, when to speak truth, and when to call a brother or sister to hope (Ecc. 3:4). In the gospel, the contradictions Lasso’s creators attempt to portray meld harmoniously together. Maybe we can show our friends the real-life thing.

Rod Seddon (Crossroads Church), There's a New TV Show That Will Make Your Life Better:

Faced with enmity from pretty much everyone around him—his players, his owner, the press, the fans—Ted proceeds to win over each person, moment by moment, by being genuinely kind and interested. Sure he’s an idiot at times, and he’s a flawed guy who is hurting (to be explained in a later episode), but deep down, he’s a genius because he understands what people really want, and he gives it to them. He’s relentlessly positive. He pays attention to the little things about each individual he comes across, from the star player to the lowly clubhouse attendant who no one can remember his name. It’ll make you want a Ted in your life. And it’ll make you want to be a Ted. ...

[T]his is the most Christian, non-Christian show I’ve seen because there isn’t a hint of faith in the show. After all, it takes place in the UK, where faith is basically non-existent. But every single thing that Ted does is what Jesus tells his followers to do.

Ted goes on a crazy adventure that everyone thinks will fail (2 Corinthians 11:26). Ted is struggling deep down, but that does not stop him from treating people right (Luke 6:31). He does not judge but is simply curious about the person in front of him (Matthew 7:1). He uses his words to build people up when all they do is sneer at him (Ephesians 4:29). He focuses on the well-being of others, despite his own pain (Philippians 2:3-4). He turns the other cheek when people put him down (Matthew 5:39). He forgives even when it’s hard (Matthew 6:14). He shines light on others with every opportunity (Matthew 5:16). ...

If you aren’t a Christian, watch Ted Lasso because it’ll make you happier. If you are a Christian, watch Ted Lasso and ask yourself if you look like Ted to those around you. If you don’t, you might not really be one.

Daniel P. Horan (National Catholic Reporter), The Anonymous Christianity of 'Ted Lasso':

What is so moving is the way this man — who is at once more than a buffoon and more hopeful than a Pollyanna and kinder than a saint — negotiates the challenges he encounters.

He sincerely cares more about developing relationships and supporting the full flourishing of each player and staff member on his team than he does about winning or losing (to the frustration of shortsighted competitive colleagues). He is genuinely thoughtful and caring, even when he is the object of derision and scorn, even when he is being set up for failure. He is able to win over the most cynical and selfish people, not through biting argumentation or insult, but through sheer persistence, presence and, dare I say, authentic love.

Oh, and the show is also absolutely hilarious. Even in the writing there is a sense of team camaraderie allowing for the entire ensemble to shine at various points.

While there is no overt religious message, plot or character in the show, I found myself reflecting on how it may very well be the most unwittingly Christian program on air today. I do not believe that Sudeikis, who just won a Golden Globe for best TV actor in a musical or comedy series, or his series-development collaborators ever intended to produce a show that would be taken for conveying a religious message, but that is part of its brilliance. The overarching lessons are shown rather than told, lived rather than preached, and often lighthearted and humorous rather than stuffy, dry, condemnatory or moralizing.

As I continued to reflect on the positive power I believe this show has, I kept thinking about the concept of "anonymous Christianity" developed by the late Jesuit theologian Karl Rahner. While largely misunderstood, the notion of an "anonymous Christian" was Rahner's way of talking about how to balance Christianity's unequivocal assertion that Jesus Christ is the universal savior with the practical realities of religious pluralism or ignorance of the Christ and the Gospel by billions of humans through no fault of their own. ...

In an age when the hypocrisy of religious leaders and their myopic focus on culture war issues causes grave scandal to many Christians and non-Christians alike, we might do well to look to other examples of what Christian discipleship looks like in action — even when the terms "Christian" or "religion" or "faith" never appear. While I would never claim that a television program like "Ted Lasso" or any other show is equal to or could be a substitute for the basics of our tradition, I believe the overarching message and example of characters and stories like one finds in this show offer us at least a supplement and a refreshing reminder of what it looks like to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ in practice.

And that is the power of this wonderful show: it invites viewers to imagine another way of being in the world, another set of values to prioritize, another approach to decision-making and relationship-building. This is what the best of Christian preaching ought to accomplish, but so rarely does. To this Christian viewer, the religious valance of "Ted Lasso" is undoubtedly anonymous, but is wonderfully compelling. Plus, it will make you laugh, cry and feel good!

It wasn't an earthquake; that's what big seismology WANTS you to think: Craig Kelly

We demand to know what knew and when did they know it!

For fellow history nerds: the last time Australia had a magnitude 6 or above earthquake was 24 years ago.

Conversation The Chaser @chaser nailed it yesterday
Nation braces for next natural disaster after Scott Morrison goes on vacation 
12:59 PM · Sep 21, 2021·Twitter Web App

This year is getting to the point where we need to sacrifice a goat and wear torn clothes in atonement or perform some Tatranka superstition lover’s dance …

I can’t believe Victoria let the earthquake spread into NSW, unbelievable


Monday and Tuesday: freedom fighters and construction workers riots against plague Wednesday: #earthquake … Thursday:

Scott Morrison has made a statement about Melbourne’s earthquake, saying Gladys Berejiklian would never allow an earthquake to happen in Sydney

What animals think of death

 Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have the exact measure of the injustice and wrong which will be imposed on them.

Frederick Douglass

For weeks, the political temperature had been steadily rising over JobKeeper rorts, amid myriad revelations that millions in subsidies had gone to companies making record profits, forking out fancy bonuses and chunky dividends to their well-heeled shareholders. 

High-End Heist: Josh sells Pauline the dummy, JobKeeper heat rises

J’Adore Josh: not just Gucci and Louis Vuitton, Cartier and Burberry got JobKeeper too

The high fashion house which counts Cartier and Piaget among its brands, took JobKeeper, enjoyed a sterling rise in profits and gave local executives a pay rise while their Luxembourg parent, Richemont, helped itself to dividends

All World Languages in One Visualization

What animals think of death Aeon

A Wrong Number, Whoadies, and Whispers in the Night The Bitter Southerner

Fake UK passport, Albanian fraudster, dead German bikie: Australian drug ring’s network

  • by Michael Evans

A Sydney man who spent 399 days in hospital recovering from COVID-19 has urged the community to get vaccinated, saying the virus is real.

Man leaves Westmead Hospital after fighting COVID-19 for 399 daysWe

FBI Scandal Over Sexually Abused Gymnasts Rises to Criminal Level, Says Inspector General.

HMRC’s tax gap measure suggests that its claims to be making the tax system easier to use are not justified

As I noted earlier today HMRC published their tax gap data for 2020 this morning. I have been distracted all day by other demands, but
Read the full article…

Ninth Circuit Adopts Primary Purpose Test for Attorney-Client Privilege 

In In re Grand Jury, Nos. 21-55085 & 21-55145 (9th Cir. 9/13/21), CA 9 here, the Court held that the “because of” test imported from the work-product context did not apply to the attorney-client privilege and instead applied a predominant purpose test for dual-purpose communications.  The opinion is short (14 pages) and the summary offered by the Court is good, so I just copy and paste the summary here.

Appeals Arguments Over Whether Government Brought Evasion and Tax Conspiracy Charges Within Statute of Limitations With No Mention of WSLA 

Appeals Arguments Over Whether Government Brought Evasion and Tax Conspiracy Charges Within Statute of Limitations With No Mention of WSLA (9/19/21)

In United States v. Pursley (on appeal to CA 5, Dkt. No. 20-20454), Pursley was convicted of 1 count of conspiracy related to tax and three counts of tax evasion, two for Pursley’s taxes and one for the taxes of another.  See the judgment here.  Pursley was a lawyer in Houston who enabled tax evasion by a client by moving untaxed monies from foreign accounts into the U.S. without accounting to the IRS for the unpaid tax.  Pursley’s client ultimately joined the OVDP, thus avoiding his own criminal exposure.  As required under the OVDP, the client had to disclose the enabler of the tax evasion scheme.

At the conclusion of trial after the guilty verdicts were returned, the judge sentenced Pursley to 24 months incarceration, ordered restitution of $2.5 million and imposed standard conditions.  I think the restitution was for Pursley’s taxes rather than the client’s taxes, because the client’s taxes had been paid in the OVDP.  So just from the restitution of Pursley’s taxes for two years, one can infer that he made a lot of money for his conduct.  But that need not detain us here.

On the appeal, Pursley raises only statute of limitations issues.  The parties’ briefs on appeal are:  Pursley’s opening brief, here; United States’ answering brief, here; and Pursley’s reply brief here. Pursley’s arguments are: t ultimately joined the OVDP, thus avoiding his own criminal exposure.  As required under the OVDP, the client had to disclose the enabler of the tax evasion scheme.

At the conclusion of trial after the guilty verdicts were returned, the judge sentenced Pursley to 24 months incarceration, ordered restitution of $2.5 million and imposed standard conditions.  I think the restitution was for Pursley’s taxes rather than the client’s taxes, because the client’s taxes had been paid in the OVDP.  So just from the restitution of Pursley’s taxes for two years, one can infer that he made a lot of money for his conduct.  But that need not detain us here.

On the appeal, Pursley raises only statute of limitations issues.  The parties’ briefs on appeal are:  Pursley’s opening brief, here; United States’ answering brief, here; and Pursley’s reply brief here

Americans have little trust in online security: AP-NORC poll

AP:  “Most Americans don’t believe their personal information is secure online and aren’t satisfied with the federal government’s efforts to protect it, according to a poll. The poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and MeriTalkshows that 64% of Americans say their social media activity is not very or not at all secure. About as many have the same security doubts about online information revealing their physical location. Half of Americans believe their private text conversations lack security. And they’re not just concerned. They want something done about it. Nearly three-quarters of Americans say they support establishing national standards for how companies can collect, process and share personal data. “What is surprising to me is that there is a great deal of support for more government action to protect data privacy,” said Jennifer Benz, deputy director of the AP-NORC Center. “And it’s bipartisan support.”…

Brilliant storage: Mytopia cabinet fortia+metal - 02 8667 7842

US Coast Guard spots Chinese warships off Alaska South China Morning Post

Exclusive: Wikipedia bans 7 mainland Chinese power users over ‘infiltration and exploitation’ in unprecedented clampdown Hong Kong Free Press

Luxury Mooncakes With Exotic Ingredients Are Selling Out Fast Bloomberg. Or, as we call them in the West, “fruitcakes” (heavy, inedible, passedfrom family to family over the years with the packaging intact).

Body composting a ‘green’ alternative to burial, cremation AP

What does the writing of Constitutions have to do with wars? Plenty, as this book proves Scroll

Iceland’s volcanic eruption the longest in half a century France 24

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

How to create a business page on Facebook

 Mashable - How to create a business page on FacebookMashable: “Facebook is infamous for the numerous ways in which folks use — and misuse — the platform, from your uncle sharing conspiracy theories to your roommate selling your couch on Marketplace. There’s one tool Facebook offers that is almost unilaterally helpful to users, though, and that’s the option for business owners to create a business page. A business page on Facebook is a great way to consolidate all the information customers need to know about your business, from location to hours to everything in between, without having to spend the time, money, and effort on a website. Sounds good, right? But it can be tricky to get down exactly howto create a business page on Facebook, so here’s your step-by-step guide…” 

A search engine that favors text-heavy sites and punishes modern web design

China cracks down on financial bloggers

The FT has reported this morning that: China has launched a crackdown on financial blogs and social media, a move that risks exacerbating the difficulty
Read the full article…

A house divided against itself cannot tame the pandemic

St Matthew tells us that Jesus was at pains to teach his disciples that, “A house divided against itself cannot stand”. The truism comes to mind as one looks in vain for the United States of Australia, an entity essential for our taming of the Covid pandemic.

Belfast’s best-kept secret 

John Self welcomes the reissue of three works by Brian Moore, one of Northern Ireland’s few novelists who can stand toe-to-toe with the contemporary greats

The U.S. Army’s Iron Dome could be headed to Ukraine Politico. Certainly useful against rockets fired by Hamas…. 

Novichok Secret Paralyzes British Doctors Following German Doctor’s Disclosures Dances with Bears

Bruce Is a Parrot With a Broken Beak. So He Invented a Tool. NYT

From Reviled to Adored bioGraphic. From February, still germane.


Signs Point to Sears Closing Brooklyn Store, Its Last Outpost in New York City The City

Flocculent and Feculent London Review of Books

10 PRINT “RIP”, 20 GOTO 10

The Royal Institute of British Architects page at Arts and Culture / aerial photography by Brad Walls / Pelle Cass’ digitally manipulated sports photographs / Amelia, The Trilogy of Terror, fun short film from the 70s / China’s Ghost Cities. The strap, ‘Eye candy for pessimists’, pretty much sums up the blend of schadenfreude and sheer escapist fantasy that characterises the second-hand experience of urbex / the Lamest edit wars on Wikipedia / post-rocky music by Intervention; spooky synth pop by Murmur; gloomy doom from Dawn Fades / signs galore at God’s Own Junkyard / 3D printed map of San Andreas / Pertinent to our interests: “Rewilding Your Attention“, on how to step off the algorithmic path (via MeFi) / Farewell, Sir Clive. Some good links and memories. See also the excellent World of Spectrum.