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.


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.

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