Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 334

a whole lotta magic tricks at the end of this one

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. A Nation of Christians Is Not Necessarily a Christian Nation (David French, The Dispatch): “There are influential people and institutions in this country who’ve taken the position that orthodox expressions of Christian sexual morality represent nothing more than bigotry and hatred.  But as much hostility as I’ve seen and experienced from some secular leftists in response to the public expression of my Christian values, nothing compares to hostility I’ve seen and experienced from self-identified Christians when I rooted my opposition to Donald Trump in the same Christian values that sometimes earned me scorn in the Ivy League.”
    • Contra French on Christianity’s Decline (Ross Douthat, Substack): “In other words, in the history of the United States from the American Revolution to Martin Luther King Jr. you see two things happening together: the private practice of faith becomes pretty steadily more robust, and the government becomes more committed to what most of us, religious and not, now consider basic elements of justice and mercy. Over this multi-generational process, you could reasonably say that America remained manifestly imperfect but came closer, however lurchingly, to the combination of widespread personal faith and greater political justice that French argues characterizes the Christian society. That this happened, quite often, through conflict between Protestants (both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God, etc.) is undeniable but not, it seems to me, a particularly telling critique: In a heavily Protestant society how else would change come?” A very impressive response.
    • America’s Christian History Is Broader Than Its White Protestant Past (David French, The Dispatch): “Because America is a majority Christian nation, American progress has depended on Christian action. But also because America is a majority Christian nation, American oppression has depended on Christian action as well. And a movement that’s disproportionately white and Christian needs to remember that sobering fact.” A solid surrejoinder, but I think I award the match point to Douthat even though I usually agree with French more.
  2. Pandemic stuff:
    • One More Time: What Do You Want Us to Do About Covid that We Aren’t Doing Already? (Freddie deBoer, Substack): “I will not live in fear. And I suspect that this is at the heart of all of it — for complex sociological reasons, [our] elites are made up of people who suffer from anxiety and insecurity at vastly disproportionate rates, and they go through life needing their own feelings to be validated by everyone else. This is very scary for them, and if it’s not scary for some of the rest of us, they experience that as implied judgment.” This is very, very good once you get past the Syria stuff up top (which is helpful as a framing device, but goes on a little too long).
    • Why UCSF COVID expert Bob Wachter will soon be ‘over’ the pandemic (Eric Ting, SF Gate): “I believe it’s likeliest that it peaks soon and comes down in February, and we’ll find ourselves in a world where the risk to fully vaccinated individuals is quite low, and it gets low for a few reasons. For one, everyone should have some immunity because with the unvaccinated, most if not all will have been infected by the time this wave ends. This variant of the virus, which is now dominant, is more mild on average. And the risk is lower for immunocompromised and high-risk individuals because of the increasing availability of medications that decrease the chance they’ll get super sick.” The interviewee is chair of the Department of Medicine at UCSF.
    • Dear Stanford: don’t force boosters on students (Monte Fischer, Stanford Daily): “When Paul Offit — director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, member of the FDA’s vaccine advisory committee, decades-long enemy of the anti-vax movement and co-inventor of a rotavirus vaccine — tells his own twenty-something son not to get boosted, you might start to ask some questions about the wisdom of Stanford’s latest mandate.” The author is a PhD candidate in MS&E.
  3. Is the West Becoming Pagan Again? (Christopher Caldwell, New York Times): “Ms. Delsol’s ingenious approach is to examine the civilizational change underway in light of that last one 1,600 years ago. Christians brought what she calls a ‘normative inversion’ to pagan Rome. That is, they prized much that the Romans held in contempt and condemned much that the Romans prized, particularly in matters related to sex and family. Today the Christian overlay on Western cultural life is being removed, revealing a lot of pagan urges that it covered up. To state Ms. Delsol’s argument crudely, what is happening today is an undoing, but it is also a redoing. We are inverting the normative inversion. We are repaganizing.”
  4. New Math Research Group Reflects a Schism in the Field (Rachel Crowell, Scientific American): “A new organization called the Association for Mathematical Research (AMR) has ignited fierce debates in the math research and education communities since it was launched last October.… The AMR claims to have no position on social justice issues, and critics see its silence on those topics as part of a backlash against inclusivity efforts.… The controversy reflects a growing division between researchers who want to keep scientific and mathematical pursuits separate from social issues that they see as irrelevant to research and those who say even pure mathematics cannot be considered separately from the racism and sexism in its culture.”
  5. We need to be able to talk about trans athletes and women’s sports (Megan McArdle, Washington Post): “Male puberty makes you taller, confers greater muscle and bone mass, larger heart and lung capacity relative to your size, and more hemoglobin. For cisgender men, this translates to roughly a 6 to 10 percent advantage over biological women in sports such as running and swimming, though the gap can be larger in other domains, and in a few sports female biology actually conveys some advantage. That 6 to 10 percent might sound modest, but at the elite level, where 1 percent to 2 percent differences can easily make the margin of victory, it’s overwhelming. Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson-Herah, the fastest woman in the world, would lose to America’s best high school boys, and the fastest pitch ever recorded by a woman would be unimpressive for many high school baseball teams.”
  6. The Bad Guys Are Winning (Anne Applebaum, The Atlantic): “As Vladimir Putin figured out a long time ago, mass arrests are unnecessary if you can jail, torture, or possibly murder just a few key people. The rest will be frightened into staying home. Eventually they will become apathetic, because they believe nothing can change.” Recommended by an alumna.
  7. Why the Catholic Church is Losing Latin America (Francis X. Rocca, Luciana Magalhaes & Samantha Pearson, The Wall Street Journal): “The rise of liberation theology in the 1960s and  ’70s, a time when the Catholic Church in Latin America increasingly stressed its mission as one of social justice, in some cases drawing on Marxist ideas, failed to counter the appeal of Protestant faiths. Or, in the words of a now-legendary quip, variously attributed to Catholic and Protestant sources: ‘The Catholic Church opted for the poor and the poor opted for the Pentecostals.’ ” Recommended by a student.

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 A (Not So) Secular Saint (James K.A. Smith, Los Angeles Review of Books): “Mill’s legacy was effectively ‘edited’ by his philosophical and political disciples, excising any hint of religious life. One would never know from the canon in our philosophy departments, for example, that Mill wrote an appreciative essay on ‘Theism.’” First shared in volume 190.

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). And to the extent you can discern my opinions, please understand that they are my own and not necessarily those of Chi Alpha or any other organization I may be perceived to represent. 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. If this was forwarded to you and you want to receive future emails, sign up here. You can also view the archives.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 333

ways in which many universities are misguided

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.

This is volume 333, which makes me wonder what I’ll do when I get to volume 666. Halfway to a disturbing milestone!

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. COVID perspectives, many critical of university policies.
    • Universities’ Covid Policies Defy Science and Reason (Marty Makary, Bari Weiss’s Substack): “According to the CDC, the risk of a fully vaccinated adult ending up in the hospital for Covid was 1 in 26,000 for the week ending in November 27. Who was that one person? Not a college student.” The author is a surgeon at Johns Hopkins.
    • University COVID Policies Are Bad for Students (Emily Oster, The Atlantic): “I don’t know if universities were right to go largely or fully remote in 2020. The world before vaccines was a different one, and the choices were difficult. I am certain, though, that moving to remote instruction is the wrong choice now.” The author is an economist at Brown.
    • Are Princeton and Yale imprisoning their students? (Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution): “I doubt these policies will significantly limit the spread of Covid. But my objection is more fundamental: They put universities in the untenable position of both panicking about Covid and treating Covid as trivial. Given the purpose of a university as an educational leader, a university that is hypocritical and rhetorically corrupt is failing outright.” The author is an economist at George Mason University. The link is to a non-paywalled excerpt of a paywalled article.
    • Covid 1/6/22: The Blip (Zvi Mowshowitz, Less Wrong): “If you don’t want your students infected in January, you have zero options. You do have the option to ensure they are not infected on campus by not opening the campus, in which case the infections will not be your fault, but the infections will still happen.” Long and informative about many things.
    • There is good news (Katelyn Jetelina, Substack): “Vaccines are working. And not just working okay, they are working incredibly well. I know this is hard to believe when everyone around us is testing positive. But vaccines are doing their primary job: keeping people out of the hospital.” The author is an epidemiologist in the University of Texas system.
    • I Saw Firsthand What It Takes to Keep COVID Out of Hong Kong. It Felt Like a Different Planet. (Caroline Chen, ProPublica): “Hong Kong’s quarantine procedures are among the strictest in the world. The city is committed to a ‘zero-COVID’ policy, which means it will take every possible measure to prevent a single case. Its policies for travelers have become progressively stringent.”
    • The C.D.C. Is Hoping You’ll Figure Covid Out on Your Own (Zeynep Tufekci, New York Times): “The government can help us pull out of this fog, but it should always be based on being honest with the public. We aren’t expecting officials to have crystal balls about everything, but we want them to empower and inform us while preparing for eventualities — good or bad. Two years is too long to still be hoping for luck to get through all this.”
  2. Jesus Coordinator (Raymond Partsch III, The Daily Iberian): “For years now, the Ragin’ Cajuns have stayed the night before a home game at the Hilton Garden Inn across the street from Cajun Field. The hotel’s swimming pool has served for dozens of baptisms performed by Treuil. ‘The Hilton may have more baptisms than the local churches,’ Wingerter joked. ‘But in all seriousness, it is such an incredible thing to witness. To watch them find their path and Eric help them with that is special.’ ” This was my campus pastor. Really good article about him.
  3. Venture Capitalists See Profit in Prayer (Daniel Silliman, Christianity Today): “…while prayer, Bible reading, and Scripture meditation will always be free, the smartphone apps that help people do those things in 2022 offer the promise of great potential profit.” I have complex feelings about this.
  4. What It Means To See Jesus (Casey Cep, The New Yorker): “What Hudson calls appearances are communal visions, with more than one person seeing the same image of Jesus at the same time; apparitions are when Jesus seems to be present in the physical world, as though anyone can see him, yet only the visionary actually does so; with visions, the visionary alone can see Jesus, and is fully aware that no one else can.“This is way more interesting than I expected.
  5. China harvests masses of data on Western targets, documents show (Cate Cadell, Washington Post): “The exact scope of China’s government public opinion monitoring industry is unclear, but there have been some indications about its size in Chinese state media. In 2014, the state-backed newspaper China Daily said more than 2 million people were working as public opinion analysts. In 2018, the People’s Daily, another official organ, said the government’s online opinion analysis industry was worth ‘tens of billions of yuan,’ equivalent to billions of dollars, and was growing at a rate of 50 percent a year.”
  6. Trans prisoners ‘switch gender again’ once freed from women’s units (Marcello Mega and John Boothman, The Times): “The disclosure — in a study published in the British Journal of Criminology — has raised fresh concerns about self-identification of gender posing a risk to women’s safety as first minister Nicola Sturgeon prepares to press ahead with gender recognition legislation this year.”
  7. Top-Down Letdown (Jonah Goldberg, The Dispatch): “You know what voter suppression, voter fraud, and lesbian vampires all have in common? They all played the same role in the 2020 presidential election, with equal effect.” Goldberg is a delightful wordsmith.

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 Philosopher Redefining Equality (Nathan Heller, New Yorker): “When she was three, her mother asked, ‘Why do you allow your brother to talk for you?’—why didn’t she speak for herself? ‘Until now, it simply was not necessary,’ Elizabeth said. It was the first full sentence that she had ever uttered.” I think that’s the best first sentence I’ve ever heard of. The article is a tad long, but recommended. First shared in volume 189.

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). And to the extent you can discern my opinions, please understand that they are my own and not necessarily those of Chi Alpha or any other organization I may be perceived to represent. 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. If this was forwarded to you and you want to receive future emails, sign up here. You can also view the archives.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 332

Final 2021 installment, including some good news about a bad disease.

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. Learning in double time: The effect of lecture video speed on immediate and delayed comprehension (Murphy et al, Applied Cognitive Psychology): “We presented participants with lecture videos at different speeds and tested immediate and delayed (1 week) comprehension. Results revealed minimal costs incurred by increasing video speed from 1x to 1.5x, or 2x speed, but performance declined beyond 2x speed. We also compared learning outcomes after watching videos once at 1x or twice at 2x speed. There was not an advantage to watching twice at 2x speed but if participants watched the video again at 2x speed immediately before the test, compared with watching once at 1x a week before the test, comprehension improved. Thus, increasing the speed of videos (up to 2x) may be an efficient strategy, especially if students use the time saved for additional studying or rewatching the videos, but learners should do this additional studying shortly before an exam.” The authors are researchers at UCLA.
  2. The pandemic:
    • Our playbook to fight covid-19 is outdated. Here are 10 updates for 2022. (Joseph G. Allen, Washington Post): “Public health’s credibility is on the line now. The public and businesses see that public health guidance isn’t keeping up with the times, and they’re right.” The author is a professor of environmental health at Harvard.
    • Pan-coronavirus “super” vaccine (Katelyn Jetelina, Substack): “This clinical trial has taken longer than expected because people can only participate if they have not been previously vaccinated or infected with COVID. As you can imagine, the pool of eligible and willing participants is getting smaller and smaller.” The author is an epidemiologist at the University of Texas Health Center.
    • Covid 12/30: Infinity War (Zvi Mowshowitz, Less Wrong): “For five weeks, we’ve seen Omicron double and double again. That which can’t go on forever, won’t. There aren’t many doublings left. This is it. The CDC’s revised guidelines made it even more clear that we’re going to collectively make the right decision, let it happen, and hope for the best. It’s not like we have any choice in the matter.” Long and full of timely information.
  3. The Missing Data in the Inflation Debate (Austan Goolsbee, New York Times): “…the pain of inflation may not be shared equally.… In November, online prices fell 0.2 percent as the C.P.I. rose 0.8 percent. In other words: The more someone shops online rather than in stores, the less inflation the individual has faced. Notably, shopping online is far more common among high-income people. And during the pandemic the practice has grown more prevalent.” The author is an econ prof at U Chicago.
  4. Evangelicals a Rising Force Inside Argentina’s Prisons (German de los Santos & Rodrigo Abd, Christianity Today): “Many here began peddling drugs as teenagers and got stuck in a spiral of violence that led some to their graves and others to overcrowded prisons divided between two forces: drug lords and preachers. Over the past 20 years, Argentine prison authorities have encouraged, to one extent or another, the creation of units effectively run by evangelical inmates—sometimes granting them a few extra special privileges, such as more time in fresh air.” An Associated Press story.
  5. The secret truth of the student debt crisis (Ryan Cooper, The Week): “The truth is the question of whether student debt should be canceled is largely irrelevant. Most student debt will be canceled sooner or later, because an ever-growing share of borrowers cannot possibly repay their loans. Ever.”
  6. Building Trust Across the Political Divide (April Lawson, Comment): “The Blue-inflected traditional empathy-building forms of bridge-building have a great deal to recommend them. But there is a flaw: the implicit belief underlying this style of bridging is that we can learn to love each other by seeing that we are all deeply the same. While true in some senses, this misses a fundamental insight about relationship that most of us know from experience: We have the capacity to build relationship through conflict.” Honestly describes very real dynamics. Almost a year old but I’m just seeing it now.
  7. Muskogee student honored for saving 2 lives (Cathy Spaulding, Enid News & Eagle): “Davyon, who attends the 6th and 7th Grade Academy, used an abdominal thrust on a school mate who was choking on a bottle cap. Later that day, Davyon rescued a woman from a burning house.”
    • First, this 6th grader deserves huge props. Second, the stories are actually a little comical when you read the details. So much so that “saved” might be generous on the burning house. Still, boss.

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 Godspeed: The Pace Of Being Known (Vimeo): a student brought this 30 minute video to my attention and said it made her think about how she should be living in her dorm. Worth watching as you prepare to return to campus. First shared in volume 181.

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). And to the extent you can discern my opinions, please understand that they are my own and not necessarily those of Chi Alpha or any other organization I may be perceived to represent. 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. If this was forwarded to you and you want to receive future emails, sign up here. You can also view the archives.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 331

the Christmas Eve edition

Merry Christmas! 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.

This is volume 331, a prime number.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Mark Lowry, Did You Know Your Mary Song Would Be Controversial? (Bob Smietana, Christianity Today): “He added that most of the questions he had did not make their way into the song—only the ones that rhymed made it.”
  2. Kidnapped Missionaries Made Daring Escape from Their Captors, Fled for Their Lives on Foot at Night (Steve Warren, CBN News): “ ‘After much discussion and prayer, they became solidly united that God seemed to be leading them [to escape]. He said they sought specific signs from God, and He confirmed over and over that the timing wasn’t right yet. Then, the night of Wednesday, December 15 arrived. When they sensed the timing was right, they found a way to open the door that was closed and blocked, filed silently to the path that they had chosen to follow, and quickly left the place that they were held despite the fact that numerous guards were close by,’ Showalter said.”
  3. COVID related news
    • Media Ignores GOOD NEWS On Pandemic (Breaking Points, YouTube): thirteen encouraging minutes. The title is a little clickbaity, but I guess they gotta pay the bills.
    • The F.D.A. clears Pfizer’s Covid pills for high-risk patients 12 and older. (Rebecca Robbins and Carl Zimmer, New York Times): “Within a week of authorization, Pfizer is expected to deliver to the United States enough of its pills to cover 65,000 Americans. At current infection rates, that would be enough supply for less than one day if it were given to half of people in the United States who test positive for the virus. Pfizer is expected to deliver to the United States another 200,000 treatment courses in January and then another 150,000 treatment courses in February. The pace of deliveries is expected to increase sharply after that.” This is tremendous news.
    • Professional Sports Are Learning to Live With COVID. We’re Next. (Will Leitch, NY Mag): “The leagues are now admitting what most of us are realizing but wary of saying out loud: COVID is just a part of our lives now, and if we don’t learn to live with it, we’re never going to be able to do anything.”
    • The Vaccine Moment, part three (Paul Kingsnorth, Substack): “It’s fair to say that the ‘conspiracy theorists’ have had a good pandemic.”
    • Covid Panic is a Site of Inter-Elite Competition (Freddie deBoer, Substack): “Rare and fatal events sometimes occur; that’s life. When you can you mitigate the risk. Death from a car accident is far more likely for me than death from Covid. It’s still rare, but there’s a risk, and putting on a seatbelt is a reasonable mitigation tactic. Simply never getting in a car, though, would not be reasonable. The risk reduction would not outweigh the considerable costs. So I don’t make that bargain. And thus with Covid. I’m vaccinated, I mask in most indoor settings, and if I develop symptoms I’ll immediately seek a test and quarantine myself. Those are acceptable tradeoffs, for me. As a now triple-vaxxed person who has had the virus previously I am intent on living my life as normally as possible, which includes not unduly worrying about it or demanding others do so. And I would argue that expecting otherwise from me would make you functionally an anti-vaxxer.”
    • Why the Supreme Court Hasn’t Ruled (For Now) on Vaccine Mandates (Mark Movsesian, The Public Discourse): “The Court has not explained its reasons in these cases. But the justices’ caution is not surprising, for a few reasons. First, religious exemption claims generally pose hard questions, which are particularly troublesome in this context. The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified divisions about the value of religion and religious freedom in our country, and the justices might wish to avoid doing something to provoke further conflict. Second, the Maine and New York lawsuits are currently at the preliminary injunction stage, and the factual records in the cases are still unclear. The Court might reasonably think that it should allow the lower courts an opportunity to consider the claims further before it issues any rulings. Finally, the Court might think that state and local governments will themselves see the prudence of offering religious exemptions, as many already have done, considering the difficulties vaccine mandates have created for healthcare and other services.”
  4. COVID-adjacent but really about the FDA
    • The FDA Has Punted Decisions About Luvox Prescription To The Deepest Recesses Of The Human Soul (Scott Alexander, Astral Codex Ten): “As a psychiatrist, I’m not supposed to say flippant things like ‘we give SSRIs out like candy’. We do careful risk-benefit analysis and when appropriate we screen patients for various risk factors. But after we do all that stuff, we give them to 10% of Americans, compared to 12% of Americans who got candy last Halloween. So you can draw your own conclusion about how severe we think the risks are.”
    • This Scientist Created a Rapid Test Just Weeks Into the Pandemic. Here’s Why You Still Can’t Get It. (Lydia DePillis, ProPublica): “American medical device regulators have never been enthusiastic about letting people test themselves. In the 1980s, the FDA banned home tests for HIV on the grounds that people who tested positive might do harm to themselves if they did not receive simultaneous counseling. In the 2010s, the agency cracked down on home genetic testing kits, concerned that people might make rash medical decisions as a result.”
  5. Also COVID-adjacent but really about Facebook: Rapid Response: Open letter from The BMJ to Mark Zuckerberg (Fiona Godlee & Kamran Abbasi, The BMJ): “We are aware that The BMJ is not the only high quality information provider to have been affected by the incompetence of Meta’s fact checking regime.… Rather than investing a proportion of Meta’s substantial profits to help ensure the accuracy of medical information shared through social media, you have apparently delegated responsibility to people incompetent in carrying out this crucial task.”
  6. Why the **** Do You Trust Harvard? (Freddie deBoer, Substack): “Harvard exists to make sure our society is not equal. That is Harvard’s function. You get that they just want to make it easier to turn down the poor but brilliant children of Asian immigrants, right? You understand that what Harvard and its feckless peers would like is to admit fewer students whose Korean parents clear $40,000 a year from their convenience stores, right? And you think, what, they’re going to be walking around Brownsville, handing out admissions letters to kids with holes in their pockets and a dream in their hearts? To the extent that any Black students are added to the mix by these policies, it’s going to be the Jaden and Willow Smiths of the world. If you think Harvard has any actual, genuine desire to fill its campus with more poor American-born descendants of African slaves you are out of your fucking mind.” Language warning, in case that was not obvious from the title. Also, much more correct than many people would like to believe
  7. Foreign Drones Tip the Balance in Ethiopia’s Civil War (Declan Walsh, New York Times): “Mr. Singer, the drone expert, said the experimentation with drone warfare in Ethiopia and Libya has parallels with the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s, when outside powers used the fight to test new military technologies and to gauge international reaction to determine what they could get away with. ‘It’s a combination of war and battle lab,’ he said.”

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 America in one tweet:“We are living in an era of woke capitalism in which companies pretend to care about social justice to sell products to people who pretend to hate capitalism.” (Clay Routledge, Twitter) First shared in volume 186.

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). And to the extent you can discern my opinions, please understand that they are my own and not necessarily those of Chi Alpha or any other organization I may be perceived to represent. 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. If this was forwarded to you and you want to receive future emails, sign up here. You can also view the archives.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 330

a surprising concentration of medical articles this week

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.

This is volume 330, which is the number of ways to put 11 items into groups of 4.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. “What is wrong with physicians?” (from the comments) (Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution): “There is a wild disconnect between ‘being a physician’ as understood by the public and what you actually live.” Well worth reading for anyone considering med school.
  2. On Cards, Crypto, and Christ (Pratyush Buddiga, Substack): “All I can remember was singing a song and suddenly feeling an internal resonance within me, a oneness with something far greater and more powerful than anything I had ever experienced. It took me out of where I was in that small church in Singapore and connected me with the divine. The second before I didn’t believe in God. After that moment that felt like a lifetime, I knew He was real.” Recommended by an alumnus.
  3. Research: Religious Americans Less Likely to Divorce (Lyman Stone & Brad Wilcox, Christianity Today): “Earlier marriage is a known risk factor for divorce. Premarital cohabitation is too. Since religiosity tends to motivate earlier marriage but less cohabitation, the effects on divorce are not easy to guess. What we really want to know is: Do religious people get divorced less? The answer appears to be yes.”
  4. Leaked SoCal hospital records reveal huge, automated markups for healthcare (David Lazarus, LA Times): “[The nurse’s] screenshots, taken earlier this year, speak for themselves. What they show are price hikes ranging from 575% to 675% being automatically generated by the hospital’s software. The eye-popping increases are so routine, apparently, the software even displays the formula it uses to convert reasonable medical costs to billed amounts that are much, much higher.… This is separate from any additional charges for the doctor, anesthesiologist, X‑rays or hospital facilities.” Shared with me by an alumnus.
  5. Destruction is Still Mutually Assured (Freddie deBoer, Substack): “Do I think it would be good if Russia invaded Ukraine? No. Do I think that Russia invading Ukraine would be as bad as a nuclear war between the countries with the two largest nuclear stockpiles? Also no. Not even close, actually.”
  6. Rob Henderson: How “Luxury Beliefs” Hurt the Rest of Us (Bari Weiss, podcast). This is a really interesting interview.
  7. Some COVID links:
    • The Phrase “No Evidence” Is A Red Flag For Bad Science Communication (Scott Alexander, Astral Codex Ten): “Science communicators are using the same term — ‘no evidence’ — to mean: 1. This thing is super plausible, and honestly very likely true, but we haven’t checked yet, so we can’t be sure. 2. We have hard-and-fast evidence that this is false, stop repeating this easily debunked lie. This is utterly corrosive to anybody trusting science journalism.”
      • I found the title confusing. What the author means is that whenever you see the phrase “no evidence” in a headline you should anticipate an unhelpful article. This comes up often in COVID-related articles.
    • The CDC’s Flawed Case for Wearing Masks in School (David Zweig, The Atlantic): “…the CDC has promised to ‘follow the science’ in its COVID policies. Yet the circumstances around the Arizona study seem to show the opposite. Dubious research has been cited after the fact, without transparency, in support of existing agency guidance.”
    • Where I Live, No One Cares About COVID (Matthew Walther, The Atlantic): “…outside the world inhabited by the professional and managerial classes in a handful of major metropolitan areas, many, if not most, Americans are leading their lives as if COVID is over, and they have been for a long while.” Maybe not worth using the free paywall view unless you’re particularly interested in the topic.

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 Facts Are Not Self‐Interpreting (Twitter) — this is a short, soundless video. Recommended. First shared in volume 184.

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). And to the extent you can discern my opinions, please understand that they are my own and not necessarily those of Chi Alpha or any other organization I may be perceived to represent. 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. If this was forwarded to you and you want to receive future emails, sign up here. You can also view the archives.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 329

a shorter than usual roundup

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.

This is the 329th installment. 329 is, apparently, the number of forests (a type of graph) with 10 vertices.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Loving Lies (Bill Adair, Air Mail): “Interviewing Glass can be frustrating, because he frets so much about getting every detail right. He’ll stop midsentence to ponder the month or day that something happened. Was that lunch in late 2014 or early 2015? He’ll check. He knows he has a reputation as a liar and that he has already blown a lifetime of credibility.”
    • Quite a story. You will need to provide your email address to unlock it and it is 100% worth it.
  2. Denzel Washington, Man on Fire (Maureen Dowd, New York Times): “The enemy is the inner me,” he said. “The Bible says in the last days — I don’t know if it’s the last days, it’s not my place to know — but it says we’ll be lovers of ourselves. The No. 1 photograph today is a selfie, ‘Oh, me at the protest.’ ‘Me with the fire.’ ‘Follow me.’ ‘Listen to me.’ We’re living in a time where people are willing to do anything to get followed. What is the long or short-term effect of too much information? It’s going fast and it can be manipulated obviously in a myriad of ways. And people are led like sheep to slaughter.”
  3. What I told the students of Princeton (Abigail Shrier, Substack): “…I want you to think for a moment about a young woman here at Princeton. She’s a magnificent athlete named Ellie Marquardt, an all-American swimmer who set an Ivy League record in the 500-meter freestyle event as a freshman. Just before Thanksgiving, Ellie was defeated in the 500-meter, the event she held the record in, by almost 14 seconds by a 22 year old biological male at Penn who was competing on the men’s team as recently as November of 2019. That male athlete now holds multiple U.S. records in women’s swimming, erasing the hard work of so many of our best female athletes, and making a mockery of the rights women fought for generations to achieve.” Emphasis in original.
  4. Even on U.S. Campuses, China Cracks Down on Students Who Speak Out (Sebastian Rotella, ProPublica): “As the regime of Chinese President Xi Jinping reaches across borders to control its citizens wherever they are, its assaults on academic freedom have intensified, according to U.S. national security officials, academics, dissidents and other experts. Chinese intelligence officers are monitoring campuses across the United States with online surveillance and an array of informants motivated by money, ambition, fear or authentic patriotism. A comment in class about Taiwan or a speech at a rally about Tibet can result in retaliation against students and their relatives back home.”
  5. Political articles which caught my attention:
    • I Couldn’t Vote for Trump, but I’m Grateful for His Supreme Court Picks (Erika Bachiochi, New York Times): “Mr. Trump’s economic populism (at least in rhetoric) blasted through the libertarianism that has tended to dominate the G.O.P., a libertarianism that has made the party’s alliance with pro-lifers one of strange bedfellows indeed. If the G.O.P. wants to be of any relevance in a post-Roe world — after all, with Roe gone, those single-issue voters will be free to look elsewhere — it will have to offer the country the matrix of ethnic diversity and economic solidarity that Mr. Trump stumbled upon, but without the divisiveness of the man himself.”
    • Democrats fall flat with ‘Latinx’ language (Marc Caputo & Sabrina Rodriguez, Politico): “The numbers suggest that using Latinx is a violation of the political Hippocratic Oath, which is to first do no electoral harm,” said Amandi, whose firm advised Barack Obama’s successful Hispanic outreach nationwide in his two presidential campaigns. “Why are we using a word that is preferred by only 2 percent, but offends as many as 40 percent of those voters we want to win?” Shared with me by a student well-suited to assess this controversy. 
    • [Stanford] Senate again denies Mike Pence event funding at meeting revoting on grants (Itzel Luna, Stanford Daily):  “Five senators voted in favor of SCR’s $6,000 funding request to bring former Vice President Mike Pence to campus in the winter quarter. Eight senators abstained and no one voted against the funding which, according to the senators, constituted a failure to receive majority approval.” This reads like a parody of student government.
    • Young Dems more likely to despise the other party (Neal Rothschild, Axios): “[Among college students,] 5% of Republicans said they wouldn’t be friends with someone from the opposite party, compared to 37% of Democrats. 71% of Democrats wouldn’t go on a date with someone with opposing views, versus 31% of Republicans.30% of Democrats — and 7% of Republicans — wouldn’t work for someone who voted differently from them.”

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 Is Christmas a Pagan Rip-off? (Kevin DeYoung, Gospel Coalition): “…whatever the Christmas holiday has become today, it started as a copycat of well-established pagan holidays. If you like Christmas, you have Saturnalia and Sol Invictus to thank. That’s the story, and everyone from liberal Christians to conservative Christians to non-Christians seem to agree that it’s true. Except that it isn’t.” From volume 280.

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). And to the extent you can discern my opinions, please understand that they are my own and not necessarily those of Chi Alpha or any other organization I may be perceived to represent. 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. If this was forwarded to you and you want to receive future emails, sign up here. You can also view the archives.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 328

Everything from baptisms to abortion to perceived nooses. Also self-replicating robots which is nothing to worry about at all.

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.

This is volume 328, which is the year that one of my favorite church leaders became a bishop: Athanasius.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The Supreme Court reconsiders abortion:
    • The Supreme Court seems poised to uphold Mississippi’s abortion law. (Adam Liptak, New York Times): “The Supreme Court seemed poised on Wednesday to uphold a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, based on sometimes tense and heated questioning at a momentous argument in the most important abortion case in decades. Such a ruling would be flatly at odds with what the court has said was the central holding of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that established a constitutional right to abortion and prohibited states from banning the procedure before fetal viability, or around 23 weeks. But the court’s six-member conservative majority seemed divided about whether to stop at 15 weeks, for now at least, or whether to overrule Roe entirely, allowing states to ban abortions at any time or entirely.”
    • For a free, nonpaywalled analysis check out Majority of court appears poised to roll back abortion rights (Amy Howe, SCOTUSblog)
    • Why Roe Will Fall And Obergefell Won’t (Andrew Sullivan, Substack): “In Roe, the Court tried to jumpstart a consensus and failed to secure it, with public opinion very similar now to where it was half a century ago. In Obergefell, the Court waited until there was majority support, which arrived, according to Gallup, in 2011, and the Court then validated a still-growing societal consensus four years later.”
  2. Lowering the Voting Age (J. Budziszewski, personal blog): “People who discuss lowering the voting age – not only those for it but also those against – assume that it would mean a transfer of political influence to the young. That is absurd. It would mean no such thing. Although the very young are often very sure of their opinions and convinced that they have made up their own minds, they lack the maturity to form their minds independently. So to lower the voting age would not mean increasing the political influence of the young. It would only mean increasing the political clout of those who have influence through the young.”
    • That’s a really good point I hadn’t considered. The author is a professor of philosophy and of government at UT Austin.
  3. Horse Troughs, Hot Tubs and Hashtags: Baptism Is Getting Wild (Ruth Graham, New York Times): “Contemporary evangelical baptisms are often raucous affairs. Instead of subdued hymns and murmurs, think roaring modern worship music, fist pumps, tears and boisterous cheering. There are photographers, selfie stations and hashtags for social media. One church in Texas calls its regular mass baptism event a ‘plunge party.’ ”
    • This is an interesting article mostly for how interesting utterly normal things can seem to NY Times readers.
  4. She set out to save her daughter from fentanyl. She had no idea what she would face on the streets of San Francisco (Heather Knight, San Francisco Chronicle): “I asked Jessica if she thought she would ever leave San Francisco. ‘It’s like a vortex,’ she said. ‘I want to get out of here. But why the f— would I leave here if I have everything I need given to me? It might be enabling or it might be keeping you in a cycle, but at least you can survive,’ she continued. ‘That’s better than a lot of places.’ ”
    • The wages of sin is death. What a gut-punch of a story.
  5. Race Panic! Stanford investigates “cords with loops that may represent nooses” (Maxwell Meyer, Stanford Review): “Calling out and addressing racism? No, these Stanford administrators are committed to inventing racism. Though, I must hand it to them: Dean Hicks and her ‘institutional equity’ sidekick Mr. Dunkley might not realize it, but there is a beautiful, almost poetic irony to the timing of their email. They rushed to inform Stanford students of an alleged race incident on the very day that the criminal trial of Jussie Smollett, the greatest of all race hoaxers, began in Chicago. That little coincidence is the cherry on top of this giant farce.”
    • Meyer’s take is, as far as I can tell, entirely correct. If those loops looked at all like nooses we’d have photos.
  6. Team builds first living robots—that can reproduce (Joshua Brown, University of Vermont press release): “Some people may find this exhilarating. Others may react with concern, or even terror, to the notion of a self-replicating biotechnology. For the team of scientists, the goal is deeper understanding.”
  7. The Business of Extracting Knowledge from Academic Publications (Markus Strasser, personal blog): “I had to wrap my head around the fact that close to nothing of what makes science actually work is published as text on the web. Research questions that can be answered logically through just reading papers and connecting the dots don’t require a biotech corp to be formed around them. There’s much less logic and deduction happening than you’d expect in a scientific discipline.”
    • Long and poorly formatted, but with an interesting core idea. Emphasis in original.

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 Elisha and the She‐bears (Peter J Williams, Twitter): an insightful Twitter thread about a disturbing OT story. The author is the Warden of Tyndale House at Cambridge. First shared in volume 179.

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). And to the extent you can discern my opinions, please understand that they are my own and not necessarily those of Chi Alpha or any other organization I may be perceived to represent. 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. If this was forwarded to you and you want to receive future emails, sign up here. You can also view the archives.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 327

Two weeks of content distilled into one. It’s like juice concentrate!

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.

This is volume 327, and 327 is the largest number such that it together with its double and triple contain every digit 1–9 once: 327 doubled is 654 and tripled it is 981. Odd but cool.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The Teacher Who Never Spoke (Maureeen Swinger, Plough): “The summer my brother Duane turned twenty, a formidable young man stayed with us on a break from the Ivy League. He had never, to anyone’s knowledge, lost an argument. Several weeks into his visit, my mother walked into the dining room where my brother and his friend were, in theory, eating lunch. In reality, both men were sitting at the table with locked jaws. One didn’t have to say, ‘I need you to eat.’ The other didn’t need to say, ‘Hell, no.’ They both knew exactly what was going on: the Ivy Leaguer was losing an argument to my brother, who had never learned to speak.”
    • This is from a while ago (2017), but I must have missed it. Simply astounding. I wept while reading it. Anyone taking a class where Peter Singer’s philosophy is highly regarded should read this ASAP.
  2. She was sold to a stranger so her family could eat as Afghanistan crumbles (Anna Coren, Jessie Yeung and Abdul Basir Bina, CNN): “Magul, a 10-year-old girl in neighboring Ghor province, cries every day as she prepares to be sold to a 70-year-old man to settle her family’s debts. Her parents had borrowed 200,000 Afghanis ($2,200) from a neighbor in their village — but without a job or savings, they have no way of returning the money.”
    • This is one of the most depressing things I have read in some time.
  3. What happens when people in Texas can’t get abortions: ‘Diapers save a lot more babies than ultrasounds’ (Casey Parks, Washington Post): “I always tell people, ‘Diapers save a lot more babies than ultrasounds.’ ” Haring said. “I don’t want an ultrasound machine. I want tons of diapers. Buy me $20,000, $40,000, $50,000 worth of diapers because if you have a woman who comes in with four kids — yeah, looking at the baby, she realizes it’s a human being. But if you tell her, ‘I’m going to give you diapers for all four kids,’ believe me, the diapers for all four kids is going to save that baby a lot quicker than a little pennant on the screen.”
    • It’s rare to read a sympathetic story about a pro-life center in a major American newspaper.
  4. Philip Yancey’s Message of Grace (Peter Wehner, The Atlantic): “Yancey told the parents in the audience that, biblically, God grieves as much as they do; that God loves their children as much as they do; and that God is deeply pained by the state of this broken world. To his surprise, he found his faith affirmed rather than shattered. He witnessed in person something the theologian Miroslav Volf wrote on the day after the Newtown shootings: ‘Those who observe suffering are tempted to reject God; those who experience it often cannot give up on God, their solace and their agony.’ ”
    • This is one of the most gospel-centric articles I have read in a major publication in quite some time.
  5. When All The Media Narratives Collapse (Andrew Sullivan, Substack): “If you look back at the last few years, the record of errors, small and large, about major stories, is hard to deny. It’s as if the more Donald Trump accused the MSM of being ‘fake news’ the more assiduously they tried to prove him right.”
  6. His Reasons for Opposing Trump Were Biblical. Now a Top Christian Editor Is Out. (Ben Smith, New York Times): “As the longtime editor of World, a Christian news organization that has a website, a biweekly magazine and a set of podcasts, Mr. Olasky has delivered a mix of hard news and watchdog articles about the evangelical realm under a journalistic philosophy he calls ‘biblical objectivity.’ It involves taking strong stands where the Bible is clear, which has led World to oppose abortion rights and support refugees, he says, and to follow reportable facts where the Bible doesn’t provide clear guidance.”
  7. Some pandemic perspectives:
    • The Covid pandemic is not taking the very best of turns (Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution): “While the fog of war is thick right now, the early data on Nu suggests that it may be a big deal. Even if it’s not, however, it has been obvious since we got the vaccines that vaccine escape is a concern. You can debate whether the probability of a vaccine escaping variant is 20% or 80%, but in any case we need effective contingency plans in place. If we fail to respond effectively to Nu, that will be a considerably greater institutional failure than anything that happened at the outset of the pandemic. We’ve had almost two years since the first COVID case and one year from the vaccine approvals to prepare. So I ask: what is the plan for the vaccine-escaping variant?”
    • The Weirdness of Government Variation in COVID-19 Responses (Richard Hanania, Substack): “But imagine at the start of the pandemic, someone had said to you ‘Everyone will face the existence of the same disease, and have access to the exact same tools to fight it. But in some EU countries or US states, people won’t be allowed to leave their house and have to cover their faces in public. In other places, government will just leave people alone. Vast differences of this sort will exist across jurisdictions that are similar on objective metrics of how bad the pandemic is at any particular moment.’ I would’ve found this to be a very unlikely outcome! You could’ve convinced me EU states would do very little on COVID-19, or that they would do lockdowns everywhere. I would not have believed that you could have two neighboring countries that have similar numbers, but one of them forces everyone to stay home, while the other doesn’t. This is the kind of extreme variation in policy we don’t see in other areas.”
    • The Vaccine Moment, part one (Paul Kingsnorth, Substack): “Covid is a revelation. It has lain bare splits in the social fabric that were always there but could be ignored in better times. It has revealed the compliance of the legacy media and the power of Silicon Valley to curate and control the public conversation. It has confirmed the sly dishonesty of political leaders, and their ultimate obeisance to corporate power. It has shown up ‘The Science’ for the compromised ideology it is. Most of all, it has revealed the authoritarian streak that lies beneath so many people, and which always emerges in fearful times.”
    • A tweet that made me laugh: “The WHO chose Omicron over Nu for the variant of concern, probably because it sounds too much like ‘new.’ But the next letter is not Omicron but Xi. Was that a little too on the nose?” (Jared Walczak, Twitter)

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 What Is It Like to Be a Man? (Phil Christman, The Hedgehog Review): “I live out my masculinity most often as a perverse avoidance of comfort: the refusal of good clothes, moisturizer, painkillers; hard physical training, pursued for its own sake and not because I enjoy it; a sense that there is a set amount of physical pain or self‐imposed discipline that I owe the universe.” Very well‐written. Everyone will likely find parts they resonate with and parts they reject. The author is a lecturer at the University of Michigan and based on his CV seems to be a fairly devoted Episcopalian. First shared in volume 178.

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). And to the extent you can discern my opinions, please understand that they are my own and not necessarily those of Chi Alpha or any other organization I may be perceived to represent. 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. If this was forwarded to you and you want to receive future emails, sign up here. You can also view the archives.

Happy Thanksgiving!

At Thanksgiving I often think of Corrie Ten Boom and her fleas. 

If you don’t know the reference, Corrie and her sister Betsie were Christians who were thrown into a Nazi concentration camp and placed in a barracks infested with fleas. Straightaway Betsie said that the only way to respond to such a place was with Scripture and reminded Corrie of the Bible passage they had read that morning from 1st Thessalonians 5, especially verses 16–18.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thess 5:16–18

So Betsie led Corrie in prayer, giving thanks that at least they were together, that they had a Bible with them, and then Betsie began to give thanks for the fleas which had bitten their legs. Corrie thought that was silly and said, “Betsie, there’s no way even God could make me grateful for a flea.” But Betsie insisted.

Later they learned that the fleas which afflicted them also protected them. The guards wouldn’t enter the barracks because they didn’t want to get fleas. Corrie realized that Betsie had been right to be thankful for the fleas — the fleas prevented assaults by the guards and the fleas also gave them a measure of privacy allowing them to lead a Bible study in a concentration camp.

This story and many others are told in Corrie Ten Boom’s book The Hiding Place and I highly recommend it to you (the story of the fleas unfolds from pages 218–231 in the edition I consulted to get Corrie’s quote right).

Even in challenging situations there are occasions for gratitude. I don’t know all you’re going through right now (I barely know all I’m going through right now!) , but I’m sure there’s at least one part of your life that you wish was different than it is. Whatever the hardship, I pray it passes quickly. I also pray that while it lasts God opens your heart to experience genuine gratitude in the midst of it. 

May you have a delightful Thanksgiving — and remember the fleas!

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 326

I had to cut this down from 20 candidate links to 7. It was grueling. Only gold remains.

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.

This is volume 326, which makes me a little happy because last week I observed that 3 +2 = 5 and this week we can see a similar coincidence with multiplication: 3 ⋅ 2 = 6.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. U.S. missionaries have long tried to convert the ‘unreached’ in the Amazon. Now Indigenous groups are fighting back. (Terrence McCoy, Washington Post): “But the biblical commission that followers of Jesus ‘make disciples of all nations’ is increasingly colliding with the laws of man in Brazil, where the right to voluntary isolation is enshrined in the constitution and where it’s illegal to contact isolated Indigenous groups without government permission.”
    • The details in the story show that things are more complex than the headline leads you to believe. The indigenous people are divided — some want the missionaries and some do not. The ones who do not are represented by a lawyer and he is the focus of this story. Surely the rights of those who wish to hear new ideas should also be respected? The people who applaud this development are almost certainly glad that they don’t believe what their ancestors believed, but they apparently hope these people are not exposed to multiple religious perspectives.
    • There is probably close to a 100% inverse correlation between those who believe the indigenous people should be able to keep outsiders away and those who believe America should build a wall. It’s an interesting ideological consistency test. And this would be more than a wall with controlled access — this would be a force field.
  2. How I Became Extremely Open-Minded (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “When I set out to write about the entire chronic-illness experience, I hesitated over whether to tell this kind of story. After all, if you’re trying to convince skeptical readers to take chronic sickness seriously, and to make the case for the medical-outsider view of how to treat Lyme disease, reporting that you’ve been dabbling in pseudoscience and that it works is a good way to confirm every stereotype about chronic ailments and their treatment…” Engrossing.
  3. Truth, justice and the torturing of tolerance (Karen Swallow Prior, Religion News Service): “Too many in the church have tolerated too much for too long. To be sure, situations can be complicated. Motives and actions can be mixed. Facts can be disputed. Perspectives can differ. Pictures can be incomplete. Nevertheless, some things are clearly and simply wrong. It takes wisdom to discern what should be tolerated and what should not.” The story starts in one place and winds up somewhere completely different. Recommended.
  4. Some pandemic and pandemic-adjacent news:
    • Vaccines for Children (5–11 years old) (Matt Shapiro, Substack): “There seemed to be a resilient faith among the doctors in this discussion that the only appropriate way to move forward would be to make the vaccine available and then trust parents and caregivers to take into consideration all the risks and make the right decisions given the evidence that is available. Hearing them say this is so strange to me because that is exactly my position.” This is good, sane commentary.
    • How SARS-CoV‑2 in American deer could alter the course of the global pandemic (Michaeleen Doucleff, NPR): “Now veterinarians at Pennsylvania State University have found active SARS-CoV‑2 infections in at least 30% of deer tested across Iowa during 2020. Their study, published online last week, suggests that white-tailed deer could become what’s known as a reservoir for SARS-CoV‑2. That is, the animals could carry the virus indefinitely and spread it back to humans periodically. If that’s the case, it would essentially dash any hopes of eliminating or eradicating the virus in the U.S. — and therefore from the world — says veterinary virologist Suresh Kuchipudi at Penn State, who co-led the study.”
      • Have they tried masking the deer?
    • Good morning. Is it time to start moving back to normalcy? (David Leonhardt, New York Times): “The bottom line is that Covid now presents the sort of risk to most vaccinated people that we unthinkingly accept in other parts of life. And there is not going to be a day when we wake up to headlines proclaiming that Covid is defeated. In many ways, the future of the virus has arrived. All of which raises the question of which precautions should end — now or soon — and which should become permanent.”
      • Gonna tip my hand here: we should accept that COVID is not going away, lament those we have lost, rejoice that we have vaccines and are even starting to see effective treatments emerge, and get on with life. Unvaccinated people have made their choice and I’m happy to respect it, doubly so now that deer seem to be repositories for COVID (widespread animal infections undermine the only strong argument I know for vaccine mandates — namely that the unvaccinated allow the virus to circulate and perhaps mutate).
    • God’s Mercy in a New Malaria Vaccine (Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra interviews Kelly Chibale, The Gospel Coalition): “Science is a gift from God, out of his mercy for us. As a scientist, I am doing God’s work, attempting to alleviate human suffering in partnership with God. And other Christians cannot say that we don’t need the scientific part of the body of Christ. The finger cannot say it doesn’t need the nose (1 Cor. 12:12–27).” The interviewee is a professor of Organic Chemistry at the University of Cape Town.
  5. Meta-analysis suggests that emotional intelligence is declining among college students (Beth Ellwood, Psy Post): “Western culture has undergone remarkable change in the past 20 years. For one, a rise in economic liberalism and free-market capitalism has encouraged an environment of competitive individualism. Secondly, social media emerged and has grown rapidly, along with smartphone technology. Studies suggest these changes may have led to generational differences in personality, revealing generational rises in narcissism, self-esteem, self-focus, and materialism.”
    • This feels related: A “proliferation of administrators”: faculty reflect on two decades of rapid expansion (Philip Mousavizadeh, Yale Daily News): “Lauren Noble, the founder and executive director of the William F. Buckley Jr. program at Yale, pointed to the fact that the number of Yale’s administrators today exceeds the number of faculty — 5,066 compared to 4,937 — which ‘raises important questions about the university’s allocation of resources,’ she said. ‘It’s unclear how such a significant increase advances Yale’s mission.’ ”
    • For context, there are only 4,664 undergrads at Yale: more than one administrator per student! Not all administrators deal with students (some work with faculty, for example), but that is still a stunning comparison.
  6. Some thoughts about critical race theory in schools:
    • The Woke Meet Their Match: Parents (Andrew Sullivan, Substack): “And when the Democrats and the mainstream media insist that CRT is not being taught in high schools, they’re being way too cute. Of course K‑12 kids in Virginia’s public schools are not explicitly reading the collected works of Derrick Bell or Richard Delgado — no more than Catholic school kids in third grade are studying critiques of Aquinas. But they are being taught in a school system now thoroughly committed to the ideology and worldview of CRT, by teachers who have been marinated in it, and whose unions have championed it.… To use a term the woke might understand, it is, in fact, structural.”
    • “Critical Race Theory” and actual education policy, part one (Matt Yglesias, Substack): “Standardized testing has become a weird discourse flashpoint, but I think everyone agrees that you can, in principle, assess someone’s competence in a given subject area with a test. And if you want to compare different people, you need to give them the same test. It’s only by making comparisons across classrooms and across time that we are able to persuasively demonstrate that particulates are bad for school performance, healthy meals are good for school performance, and air conditioning improves school performance in the summer.”
    • “Critical Race Theory” and actual education policy, part two (Matt Yglesias, Substack): “That said, my view on [teaching history] as a K‑12 education issue has always had two parts:
      • Public schools are public, and to some extent, they inevitably have to reflect mass opinion. You can try to buck that trend and lose the school board election, handing all control over to right-wingers who don’t even think public schools should exist, or you can acknowledge that in a patriotic country you basically have to come up with a way to craft a patriotic narrative that’s also inclusive.
      • This is not actually very significant. The kids who are good at school will go on to attend selective colleges where they will absolutely be exposed to left-wing intellectuals’ thoughts on patriotism and American exceptionalism. The kids who are not good at school, meanwhile, are not paying close attention to the content of history classes.”
  7. How NFTs Create Value (Steve Kaczynski and Scott Duke Kominers, Harvard Business Review): “But NFTs don’t just provide a kind of digital ‘deed.’ Because blockchains are programmable, it’s possible to endow NFTs with features that enable them to expand their purpose over time, or even to provide direct utility to their holders. In other words, NFTs can do things — or let their owners do things — in both digital spaces and the physical world. In this sense, NFTs can function like membership cards or tickets, providing access to events, exclusive merchandise, and special discounts — as well as serving as digital keys to online spaces where holders can engage with each other. Moreover, because the blockchain is public, it’s even possible to send additional products directly to anyone who owns a given token. All of this gives NFT holders value over and above simple ownership — and provides creators with a vector to build a highly engaged community around their brands.” This is the first explanation of NFTs I’ve read that makes them sound useful.

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 Eat, Pray, Code: Rule of St. Benedict Becomes Tech Developer’s Community Guidelines (Kate Shellnutt, Christianity Today): “SQLite—a database management engine used in most major browsers, smart phones, Adobe products, and Skype—adopted a code of ethics pulled directly from the biblical precepts set by the venerated sixth‐century monk.” This article blew my mind. First shared in volume 175.

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). And to the extent you can discern my opinions, please understand that they are my own and not necessarily those of Chi Alpha or any other organization I may be perceived to represent. 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. If this was forwarded to you and you want to receive future emails, sign up here. You can also view the archives.