Welcome to the Tuesday linkfest, a compendium of some of the best and most important items posted over the past week on the Web. Let’s begin with politics and current events. Does anyone else have a feeling that all the

from Washington about the debt limit and so-called “shutdown” is doing little more than deflecting attention from some real scandals facing the country? Taxlaw professor Paul Caron, for example, continues to

. Also, new revelations keep coming to light on

the NSA is spying on Americans.  In an ironic twist to this story, it seems someone may be

as well. And to complicate matters even more, Wired explains how

as much as the NSA does. In light of these and many other snooping-goings-on, software freedom activitist Richard Stallman asks an important question: “

” Some Americans, at least, are paying attention and plan to

. And of course, news cycles may come and go, but many unanswered questions and unpunished perpetrators remain for other huge scandals such as

and the

. This one isn’t particularly scandalous, but it certainly is current: a New York Times “Room for Debate” feature on whether or not organized athletics are good for children. I hope this article doesn’t indicate a trend, but I fear it might:

Writing on Christian discipleship, Dan Edelen offers some good advice for

, and the ever-curmudgeonly Jeff Weddle explains that

. Finally, from the I-just-find-this-fascinating department, archaeologists may have deciphered the world’s “

” in ancient Mesopotamian clay balls. Thanks for reading, and may you be edified by these readings.