Five for Friday: Dispensing Shakespeare, Loneliness Minister, Taylor Swift

CHICAGO, IL (February 2, 2018) – Covenanters routinely share links to social media articles and videos that Covenant News Service believes may be of interest to others. Each Friday we post five of them. Following is a sample of those submissions—their inclusion does not represent an endorsement by the Covenant of any views expressed.

Vending Machines Dispense Short Stories

Short Édition, a company in France has been dispensing short stories from vending machines, and now another has placed about 20 machines in the United States, too. You can choose from in one-, three- or five-minute options. Not only is it unusual, but it also is amazing that somehow they are able to include works of Shakespeare and Virginia Woolf. Now that’s a Reader’s Digest.

From the article: “’The idea came to us in front of a vending machine containing chocolate bars and drinks,’ (Christophe) Sibieude told Agence-France Presse in 2015. ‘We said to ourselves that we could do the same thing with good quality popular literature to occupy these little unproductive moments.’”

Britain’s Minister of Loneliness

Britain has established a Minister of Loneliness, who is supposed to address the needs of the apparently large segment of society that suffers loneliness, which can, in turn, lead to social unrest. Does government play a role in creating and alleviating loneliness? What role can the church play?

From the article: “The chief officer of Age UK, Mark Robinson, warned that social isolation could be worse for a person’s health than smoking fifteen cigarettes a day. Still, such isolation could be relieved, the report suggested, by practices and programs that cultivated conversation, friendship, and empathy: the founding of community allotments where solitary folk might gather; or knock-on-door initiatives, with volunteers targeting lonely souls.”

Baseball’s Unluckiest Fan

It’s Super Bowl weekend, so why not include an article on baseball? It does have a Philadelphia connection, though, so there’s that.

From the article: “Roth’s grandkids were thrilled with the experience; per one book, one even asked, ‘Grandma, do you think you could go to an Eagles game and get hit in the face with a football?’”

Pursuing the Truth Requires Modesty About Ourselves

Conservative commentator Mona Charen is no relativist or postmodern apologist, but what she has to say should give us all pause when we think we know the answers.

From the article: “Truth is not subjective. Water will freeze at 32 degrees Fahrenheit whether we believe it or not. But we should be modest about our grasp of the truth, mindful of our limited understanding and our own tendency to reach conclusions first and find evidence second. Maybe this column is right, but I won’t be insulted if you check it.”

Taylor Swift Wants Her Money Back

I once sat with two computers open trying to buy tickets to a concert. On one, I was trying to get in to buy tickets from Ticketmaster. On the other, I was watching the number of tickets pop up on the second-hand market that cost at least two to three times face value. It was maddening. Thanks to bots and possibly bad business practices, the artists have been selling well below market value. They hope that new pricing structures, as well as new methods of selling tickets, will freeze out secondary websites. Whether it will work remains to be seen. For a fuller, fascinating report on the topic, check out this Freakonomics podcast, “Why is the Live Event Ticket Market so Screwed Up?”

From the article: “Some 30 percent to 40 percent of tickets to the world’s top concerts are resold on secondary websites such as StubHub and SeatGeek. Many of those sales are by scalpers who believe people are willing to pay far more than the initial price to see stars of Swift’s magnitude; they double and sometimes triple the ticket price. Thousands of Swift’s die-hard fans, Swifties, spent huge sums the singer never saw. That didn’t sit well with Swift, who is as much an entrepreneur as she is an artist.”

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About the Author

Stan Friedman is the news and online editor for the Covenant Companion and is grateful for the opportunity to serve in a job that combines his newspaper and pastoral ministry experience. He has been to 15 Bruce Springsteen concerts in four cities and listened to “Thunder Road” an average of at least once a day for 41 years.

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