Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 133

On Fridays I share articles/resources about broad cultural, societal and theological issues. Be sure to see the explanation and disclaimers at the bottom. I welcome your suggestions. If you read something fascinating please pass it my way.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Fractured West (Michael Totten, City Journal): “…I interviewed a gay Native American who sports an ‘I Stand with Standing Rock’ T-shirt on his Facebook page. You might think that a gay Native American must have voted for Hillary Clinton, but you would be wrong.” This is a tremendously fascinating article about Oregon politics.
    • Speaking of Oregon: Collective Action Kills Innovation (Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution): “Most of the rest of the America–where people pump their own gas everyday without a second thought–is having a good laugh at Oregon’s expense. But I am not here to laugh because in every state but one where you can pump your own gas you can’t open a barbershop without a license.”
  2. The Hardest Workers Don’t Do the Best Work (Jerry Useem, Bloomberg View): “It turned out that some people who did less just accomplished less. But the top performers also did less, and seemed to have a knack for figuring out how to sidestep inessential tasks to obsess on a few important things.
  3. Reality Has A Surprising Amount of Detail (John Salvatier, personal blog): “The important details you haven’t noticed are invisible to you, and the details you have noticed seem completely obvious and you see right through them. This all makes makes it difficult to imagine how you could be missing something important.”
  4. Why you can’t blame mass incarceration on the war on drugs (German Lopez, Vox): “It’s not drug offenses that are driving mass incarceration, but violent ones. It’s not the federal government that’s behind mass incarceration, but a whole host of prison systems down to the local and state level. It’s not solely police and lawmakers leading to more incarceration and lengthy prison sentences, but prosecutors who are by and large out of the political spotlight.”
  5. “Oh My God, This Is So F—ed Up”: Inside Silicon Valley’s Secretive, Orgiastic Dark Side (Emily Chang, Vanity Fair): “Rich men expecting casual sexual access to women is anything but a new paradigm. But many of the A-listers in Silicon Valley have something unique in common: a lonely adolescence devoid of contact with the opposite sex.”
  6. Two Taxpayers, Two Definitions of ‘Progressive’ (Ramesh Ponnuru, Bloomberg View): “…liberal analyses of the tax cut emphasize that it generally raises after-tax income more for high earners than for low earners. Conservative analyses tend to point out that lower earners will generally see their tax bills decline by the same percentage that higher earners will (and sometimes will see them drop more). Neither side is distorting the truth. They’re looking at the same thing from different angles.”
  7. When Democracy Hinges On a Single Vote (Stephen Carter, Bloomberg View): “…it turns out that we don’t count votes terribly well. A 2012 study found that although some methods of tabulating ballots are better than others, we can generally expect an error rate of 1 to 2 percent. Although we can’t predict which way the errors will fall, it’s unlikely that they will sum precisely to zero – in other words, there will always be mistakes. So each time we count, we can expect a different result.” The author is a law professor at Yale.
  8. Making China Great Again (Evan Osnos, The New Yorker): “For years, China’s startups lagged behind those in Silicon Valley. But there is more parity now. Of the forty-one private companies worldwide that reached “unicorn” status in 2017—meaning they had valuations of a billion dollars or more—fifteen are Chinese and seventeen are American.” Also, I found this bit very amusing: “In the city of Shenzhen, the local government uses facial recognition to deter jaywalkers. (At busy intersections, it posts their names and I.D. pictures on a screen at the roadside.) In Beijing, the government uses facial-recognition machines in public rest rooms to stop people from stealing toilet paper; it limits users to sixty centimetres within a nine-minute period.”

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have The Land of We All (Richard Mitchell, The Gift of Fire), an essay built on this insight: “Thinking can not be done corporately. Nations and committees can’t think. That is not only because they have no brains, but because they have no selves, no centers, no souls, if you like. Millions and millions of persons may hold the same thought, or conviction or suspicion, but each and every person of those millions must hold it all alone.” (first shared in volume 2)

Why Do You Send This Email?

In the time of King David, the tribe of Issachar produced shrewd warriors “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chron 12:32). In a similar way, we need to become wise people whose faith interacts with the world. I pray this email gives you greater insight, so that you may continue the tradition of Issachar.

Disclaimer

Chi Alpha is not a partisan organization. To paraphrase another minister: we are not about the donkey’s agenda and we are not about the elephant’s agenda — we are about the Lamb’s agenda. Having said that, I read widely (in part because I believe we should aspire to pass the ideological Turing test and in part because I do not believe I can fairly say “I agree” or “I disagree” until I can say “I understand”) and may at times share articles that have a strong partisan bias simply because I find the article stimulating. The upshot: you should not assume I agree with everything an author says in an article I mention, much less things the author has said in other articles (although if I strongly disagree with something in the article I’ll usually mention it).

Also, remember that I’m not reporting news — I’m giving you a selection of things I found interesting. There’s a lot happening in the world that’s not making an appearance here because I haven’t found stimulating articles written about it.

Archives at http://glenandpaula.com/wordpress/category/links.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 132

On Fridays I share articles/resources about broad cultural, societal and theological issues. Be sure to see the explanation and disclaimers at the bottom. I welcome your suggestions. If you read something fascinating please pass it my way.

There will probably be no email next Friday — I’m going to be visiting family and won’t do much reading on the internet.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Not-So-White Evangelicalism: How Conservative Denominations Actually Fare Better on Diversity (Rebecca Randall, Christianity Today): “In the United States today, 1 in 3 self-identified evangelicals is nonwhite, according to a September study from PRRI. This rises to 4 in 10 evangelicals when measured by theological belief, according to a December study from LifeWay Research. Of those that are white, 1 in 3 attends a multiracial church, reported another study, published in June in the Review of Religious Research. Researchers Joseph Yi and Christopher Graziul dug into the more than 3,000 responses to the 2006 Faith Matters Survey, and found that more than a quarter of white evangelicals reported having a close Hispanic friend. Even more—about 2 out of 5—said they have a close friend that is African American… In other words, evangelicals are now more likely than mainline Protestants to attend multiracial congregations and to report African American and Hispanic friends.”
  2. The Zealous Faith Of Secularism (Mary Eberstadt, First Things): “Paganization as we now know it is driven by a new historical phenomenon: the development of a rival faith—a rival, secularist faith which sees Christianity as a competitor to be vanquished, rather than as an alternative set of beliefs to be tolerated in an open society. How do we know this? We know it in part because today’s secularist faith behaves in ways that only a faith can.”
  3. Is Trump a Blessing or Curse for Religious Conservatives? (Ross Douthat, David French, John Zmirak): “A year in, Trump has delivered on many of his specific promises, particularly where judicial appointments are concerned. At the same time, there’s a great deal of angst within religious circles about what his personal moral defects and his administration’s deep unpopularity mean for Christian cultural witness, and (among evangelicals, especially) whether the Trump era is setting up a kind of generational schism that will contribute to institutional Christianity’s crisis going forward.”
    • Incidentally, I find many people are unaware of (or unwilling to admit) how much Trump has accomplished. See The Show So Far by Tyler Cowen (Marginal Revolution), President Trump’s 2017 Report Card (A First Draft) by Scott Adams, and  A War Trump Won (Ross Douthat, New York Times). Love him or loathe him (apparently the only two options), admit that he’s been busy.
    • Related: Can Evangelicalism Survive Donald Trump and Roy Moore? (Tim Keller, The New Yorker): “Some time ago, the word ‘liberal’ was largely abandoned by Democrats in favor of the word ‘progressive.’ In some ways, the Democratic Party is more liberal now than when the older label was set aside, evidence that it is quite possible to change the name but keep the substance. The same thing may be happening to evangelicalism. The movement may abandon, or at least demote, the prominence of the name, yet be more committed to its theology and historic impulses than ever.” Recommended by an alumnus.
  4. Silicon Valley Is Turning Into Its Own Worst Fear (Ted Chiang, Buzzfeed): “Billionaires like Bill Gates and Elon Musk assume that a superintelligent AI will stop at nothing to achieve its goals because that’s the attitude they adopted.” This essay is built on a clever insight that it presses too far.
  5. What Putin Really Wants (Julia Ioffe, The Atlantic): “[Interfering with the US election] is a stunning escalation of hostilities for a troubled country whose elites still have only a tenuous grasp of American politics. And it is classically Putin, and classically Russian: using daring aggression to mask weakness, to avenge deep resentments, and, at all costs, to survive.” This is a long article.
  6. Why We Shouldn’t Let the #MeToo Movement Change History (David Greenberg, Politico): “Today we remember little more from that era than the taunt that greeted presidential candidate Grover Cleveland in 1884—‘Ma, Ma, Where’s my Pa?’—when he copped to fathering a child with an unwed woman. (He weathered the story, prompting the riposte from his supporters, ‘Gone to the White House, ha, ha, ha.’ Two years later, at age 49, he married a 21-year-old, Frances Folsom, in the White House.)” The author is a professor at Rutgers. This one comes recommended by a student and has a different focus than you probably assume from the title and the excerpt.
  7. Glowing Auras and ‘Black Money’: The Pentagon’s Mysterious U.F.O. Program (Helene Cooper, Ralph Blumenthal and Leslie Kean, New York Times):  “The program collected video and audio recordings of reported U.F.O. incidents, including footage from a Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet showing an aircraft surrounded by some kind of glowing aura traveling at high speed and rotating as it moves. The Navy pilots can be heard trying to understand what they are seeing. ‘There’s a whole fleet of them,’ one exclaims. Defense officials declined to release the location and date of the incident.”

Things Glen Found Amusing

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have The Spiritual Shape of Political Ideas (Joseph Bottum, The Weekly Standard): many modern political ideas are derived from Christian theological concepts. (first shared in volume 1)

Why Do You Send This Email?

In the time of King David, the tribe of Issachar produced shrewd warriors “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chron 12:32). In a similar way, we need to become wise people whose faith interacts with the world. I pray this email gives you greater insight, so that you may continue the tradition of Issachar.

Disclaimer

Chi Alpha is not a partisan organization. To paraphrase another minister: we are not about the donkey’s agenda and we are not about the elephant’s agenda — we are about the Lamb’s agenda. Having said that, I read widely (in part because I believe we should aspire to pass the ideological Turing test and in part because I do not believe I can fairly say “I agree” or “I disagree” until I can say “I understand”) and may at times share articles that have a strong partisan bias simply because I find the article stimulating. The upshot: you should not assume I agree with everything an author says in an article I mention, much less things the author has said in other articles (although if I strongly disagree with something in the article I’ll usually mention it).

Also, remember that I’m not reporting news — I’m giving you a selection of things I found interesting. There’s a lot happening in the world that’s not making an appearance here because I haven’t found stimulating articles written about it.

Archives at http://glenandpaula.com/wordpress/category/links.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 100

On Fridays I share articles/resources about broad cultural, societal and theological issues. Be sure to see the explanation and disclaimers at the bottom. I welcome your suggestions. If you read something fascinating please pass it my way.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Christians, in an Epochal Shift, Are Leaving the Middle East (Maria Abi-Habib, Wall Street Journal): “Like the Jews before them, Christians are fleeing the Middle East, emptying what was once one of the world’s most-diverse regions of its ancient religions. They’re being driven away not only by Islamic State, but by governments the U.S. counts as allies in the fight against extremism.” You might need to search for an ungated copy.
  2. The Color of Law (Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution): “Calling itself the Peninsula Housing Association of Palo Alto, the co-op purchased a 260-ranch [sic] adjacent to the Stanford campus and planned to build 400 houses as well as shared recreational facilities, a shopping area, a gas station, and a restaurant on commonly owned land.  But the bank would not finance construction costs nor issue mortgages to the co-op or its members without government approval, and the FHA would not insure loans to a cooperative that included African American members.”
  3. Silicon Valley: A Reality Check (Scott Alexander, Slate Star Codex): “…people should lay off the criticism a little. When Capitol Hill screws up, tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis get killed. When Wall Street screws up, the country is plunged into recession and poor families lose their homes. When Silicon Valley screws up, people who want a pointless Wi-Fi enabled juicer get a pointless Wi-Fi enabled juicer. Which by all accounts makes pretty good juice.”
  4. The Case for Idolatry: Why Christians Can Worship Idols (Andrew Wilson, Gospel Coalition): this is a reprint of a satirical piece from a few years back. I thought I had linked to it when it first came out, but can’t find it in the archives. 
  5. The Rise of Café Churches in South Korea (Jason Strother, The Atlantic): “‘Churches and cafés have the hardest time surviving in Korea,’ said Ahn Min-ho, a 42-year-old ordained minister and certified barista. ‘Combining the two is mutually beneficial.’”

Things Glen Found Amusing

Why Do You Send This Email?

In the time of King David, the tribe of Issachar produced shrewd warriors “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chron 12:32). In a similar way, we need to become wise people whose faith interacts with the world. I pray this email gives you greater insight, so that you may continue the tradition of Issachar.

Disclaimer

Chi Alpha is not a partisan organization. To paraphrase another minister: we are not about the donkey’s agenda and we are not about the elephant’s agenda — we are about the Lamb’s agenda. Having said that, I read widely (in part because I believe we should aspire to pass the ideological Turing test and in part because I do not believe I can fairly say “I agree” or “I disagree” until I can say “I understand”) and may at times share articles that have a strong partisan bias simply because I find the article stimulating. The upshot: you should not assume I agree with everything an author says in an article I mention, much less things the author has said in other articles (although if I strongly disagree with something in the article I’ll usually mention it).

Also, remember that I’m not reporting news — I’m giving you a selection of things I found interesting. There’s a lot happening in the world that’s not making an appearance here because I haven’t found stimulating articles written about it.

Archives at http://glenandpaula.com/wordpress/category/links.