What are you enjoying right now?
Sometimes, we need to step back and ask a question like that.
Philippians 4:8 challenges believers to think and dwell on “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable.” So the Facts & Trends staff would like to regularly share our “Favorites” at the moment.
It might be a new book or podcast we’re enjoying or something going on in our lives we want to share. Hopefully, you’ll think about things that are your favorites right now and maybe find something else to add to that list.
Aaron Earls (@WardrobeDoor), online editor: Reading a favorite story is always a joy. It brings back memories of previous readings and unearths new truths you missed. But hearing the author read that story is perhaps even more interesting.
I love this early audio recording of J.R.R. Tolkien reading from The Hobbit. Don’t miss his excellent Gollum impersonation.
Carol Pipes (@CarolPipes), editor: Since it’s Oscar week, I want to give a shout out to my favorite film composer, John Williams, who has earned his 50th Oscar nomination. That gives him the record for most nominations among living recipients. (Only Walt Disney had more with 59.)
Williams is known for composing music for films such as Star Wars, Superman, the Indiana Jones trilogy, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Schindler’s List, E.T., and Saving Private Ryan. He’s the genius behind two little notes becoming the calling card for one of the scariest villains ever. Just two notes, and a generation of moviegoers are convinced it’s no longer safe to swim in the ocean. Including his win for Jaws in 1976, Williams has received five Academy Awards over his career.
I’ve always been a fan of Williams and remember watching him on TV when he was conducting the Boston Pops Orchestra. I used to dream of being a conductor and that one day Williams would pass the baton to me. I may not have made it to the podium of the Boston Symphony Hall, but I still appreciate the music Williams has created over the years. The films he’s worked on wouldn’t have the same impact, emotion, or magic without his underlying score.
So, congrats to one of my musical heroes, who is nominated this year for his work on “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Good luck, maestro!
Lisa Green (@lisaccgreen), managing editor: I had never heard of the McGurk effect until I saw a video clip from the Washington Post that demonstrates how the sounds we hear are affected by the things we see. Watching the video, I clearly heard the speaker say one thing; covering my eyes, I heard something different. I wondered how often a similar effect occurs in our day-to-day lives.
When we speak to others, they may not hear what we believe we are communicating. What they see, what they feel, what they anticipate, what they remember—all can change their interpretation of what we say. Being an effective witness for Christ may require reaching out in many different ways.
Bob Smietana (@BobSmietana), senior writer: Educators in Uganda had a dilemma. They were trying to help kids save money to buy school supplies, but weren’t sure how to go about it. (As The New York Times reports, even if kids there can go to school, “they often lack the money for basic school supplies, which can limit their learning.”
So the educators, with the help of a pair of economists from the United States, designed a test:
Schools were randomly assigned to one of three groups. In the first group, students were offered a “hard” commitment: Their accumulated savings would be returned in the form of a voucher that had to be spent on school supplies. In the second group, students got a “soft” commitment: Their savings would be returned in cash, and could be spent as they wished. The third group of schools continued as normal, serving as a comparison group whose savings and spending money were also observed.
Some thought the voucher approach would be most effective. But it turned out that giving kids the cash back, and allowing them to choose to spend their savings on supplies, worked best. The kids who got cash back saved more and, according to the Times, bought more supplies and did better in school.
The Uganda experiment is part of a new trend pairing researchers with poverty fighting experts, to help find the most effective approaches to solving problem like poverty. “Hope and rhetoric are great for motivation, but not for figuring out what to do,” wrote Yale professor Dean Karlan and Annie Duflo, director of Innovations for Poverty Action. “There you need data.”
Katie Shull (@KShull), graphic designer: This week (Feb. 25th to be exact) was “Shine a Light on Slavery Day” from the End It Movement. So although it is not necessarily a “favorite,” it is a topic near and dear to my heart.
As a mother and teacher of middle-schoolers, I know women, young girls especially, in this country and around the world are at risk. People have a tendency to believe slavery doesn’t exist in America, or that it’s an issue too big to tackle. Here are some tips on what can be done to help.
Also Facts & Trends‘ upcoming issue will have a feature on ministries fighting to end modern day slavery. This is definitely an issue to pray over and think about.
What has made you smile so far this week? What would be your favorite today?