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The summer in one sentence

Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing violence from forces loyal to the Islamic State, walk toward the Syrian border near the town of Elierbeh of Al-Hasakah, on the outskirts of Sinjar Mountain, in northwest Iraq, August 11, 2014 (Credit: Reuters/Rodi Said) My wife and I just returned from vacationing in Alaska.  As a native of Houston and resident of Dallas, I was unprepared for the splendor of the Alaskan wilderness.  The glaciers and waterfalls were breathtaking, the mountains majestic, the wildlife astonishing.  We wore jackets for the first time since March.

I returned to the office yesterday and opened my email.  The first article I read was titled, "The summer in 1 sentence."  The blog post links to Bret Stephens's recent article in The Wall Street Journal and this sentence encapsulating recent events: "Islamic State terrorists seized Mosul and massacred Shiite soldiers in open pits, Russian separatists shot down a civilian jetliner, Hamas executed 18 'collaborators' in broad daylight, Bashar Assad's forces in Syria came close to encircling Aleppo with the aim of starving the city into submission, a brave American journalist had his throat slit on YouTube by a British jihadist, Russian troops openly invaded Ukraine, and Chinese jets harassed U.S. surveillance planes over international waters."

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Why did God make the seasons?

A montage of all fours seasons of an old barn across a field, taken from the same location in Buckingham, Pennsylvania.  Clockwise from upper left: spring, May 4, 2011; summer, July 10, 2011; autumn, September 27, 2010; winter, November 27, 2012 (Credit: mtsofan via Flickr) Labor Day is over and fall is upon us.  Technically, fall begins in the Northern Hemisphere on September 22 at 10:29 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time.  (The Southern Hemisphere enters spring when we enter fall.)  But where I live in Dallas, Texas, it feels like fall is already here.  School is back in session; football has begun.  The season has changed.

Seasons were God's invention.  On the fourth day of creation he said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night.  And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years" (Genesis 1:14).  Why did our Creator make seasons?

One reason has to do with our climate.  Our seasons are the result of our planet's tilt—when your part of the world tilts toward the sun, you get spring and summer; when it tilts away, you get fall and winter.  God didn't have to do things this way—he could have created our planet with no tilt and thus no seasons.  But then regions further from the equator would receive much less sunlight and thus be much less inhabitable.  God loves diversity, and wanted us to experience our world from the far north to the far south.

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Why do Americans work more than Europeans?

A worker on the IG Group's trading floor looks away from his screens in the City of London, October 4, 2011 (Credit: Reuters/Olivia Harris) Welcome to Labor Day (a paradoxically-named event since it is supposed to be a holiday from labor).  The idea of a day to celebrate those who labor was first proposed in 1882, and became a federal holiday in 1894.

America's laborers deserve a holiday.  According to the International Labor Organization, Americans work 137 more hours per year than Japanese workers, 260 more hours annually than British workers, and 499 more hours annually than French workers.  American workers receive 13 paid vacation days on average per year; in Finland and France, they get 30 days, an entire month.

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Is it true that 'America's future belongs to Islam'?

American Muslim girl with US flag painted on her face (Credit: Mangagirl3535 via DeviantArt)Are you surprised to learn that Hinduism is the second-largest religion in Arizona?  Or that Islam is the second-largest religion in Mississippi?  Or that Baha'i is the second-largest religion in South Carolina?

However, these stats can be misleading.  While Arizona is home to 32,887 Hindus, they are vastly outnumbered by the state's 2,291,026 Christians.  Muslims comprise 0.17 percent of the population in Mississippi, while Christians make up 57 percent.  Baha'i comprise 0.49 percent of South Carolina's population, while Christians make up 56 percent.

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Does social media cause infidelity?

Adultery concept - a young man with his arm around one woman while holding hands with another woman, all walking down a brick path (Credit: Michael Jung via Fotolia) Technologists predict that we'll soon be wearing cell phones as bracelets.  We'll exercise on treadmills that power our washing machines.  Drones will deliver packages to our doors.  Invisible keyboards will allow us to type anywhere.  And personal helicopters will let us commute to work through the air and land on the office roof.  

Much of the technology of today and tomorrow is good news.  But some is not.  Consider the growing epidemic of infidelity related to social media, especially Facebook.  If you check Facebook once an hour, a University of Missouri researcher says you're likely to experience "negative relationship outcomes such as cheating, breakup and divorce."  The problem is not that Facebook makes people cheat.  Rather, it expands the range of options for them to do what they already wanted to do.

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