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 288. The number 288 is interesting in that it can also be written 4! ⋅ 3! ⋅ 2! ⋅ 1!
Things Glen Found Interesting
- How Long Can COVID Cases Keep Plummeting? (David Wallace-Wells, NY Magazine): “It’s insane. It’s totally crazy. And so, you’re absolutely right, we have chosen that the best way forward is to live in a state of uncertainty rather than giving people all the tools and information, even if it isn’t perfect. It turns out that in many cases we’d rather not engage with that knowledge at all than have any sources of error in whatever it is we’re doing.“An interview with a Harvard epidemiologist. Highly recommended, although be warned that it will frustrate you with how reasonable and yet underimplemented his suggestions are. The title is poorly chosen.
- The Vaccine Had to Be Used. He Used It. He Was Fired. (Dan Barry, New York Times): “The Texas doctor had six hours. Now that a vial of Covid-19 vaccine had been opened on this late December night, he had to find 10 eligible people for its remaining doses before the precious medicine expired. In six hours. [He did and for] his actions, Dr. Gokal was fired from his government job and then charged with stealing 10 vaccine doses worth a total of $135 — a shun-worthy misdemeanor that sent his name and mug shot rocketing around the globe.” The doctor comes across as a hero and the prosecutor as a villain. Not even a real villain — cartoon villain. I am actually a little worked up about this.
- 10 Lessons of an MIT Education (Gian-Carlo Rota, Texas A&M University): “At certain liberal arts colleges, sports appear to be more important than classroom subjects, and with good reason. A sport may be the only training in ‘knowing how’-in demonstrating certifiable proficiency-that a student undertakes at those colleges. At MIT, sports are a hobby (however passionately pursued) rather than a central focus because we offer a wide range of absorbing ‘knowing how’ activities.” Apparently one of an MIT professor’s advisees archived his faculty website after his death.
- Related: Ten Lessons I Wish I Had Been Taught (Gian-Carlo Rota, Notices Of The AMS): “You have to keep a dozen of your favorite problems constantly present in your mind, although by and large they will lay in a dormant state. Every time you hear or read a new trick or a new result, test it against each of your twelve problems to see whether it helps. Every once in a while there will be a hit, and people will say, ‘How did he do it? He must be a genius!’ ” This link is a PDF.
- With a Star Science Reporter’s Purging, Mob Culture at The New York Times Enters a Strange New Phase (Quillette editorial): “So what we’re left with is the spectacle of an acclaimed reporter being purged not for malevolent actions, nor even malevolent intent, but rather for making a certain kind of sound. This is an important departure from ordinary mobbings because, even in their most dogmatic form, theories of social justice generally are at least nominally concerned with the improvement of human morality, which, crucially, is inseparable from the question of intent. McNeil, on the other hand, is being judged according to a theory of wrongdoing that presents certain words or phrases as evil by their mere utterance, as with a Harry Potter spell.” This is very cleverly written. Also, extremely correct.
- The Journalistic Tattletale and Censorship Industry Suffers Several Well-Deserved Blows (Glenn Greenwald, Substack): “Just as the NSA is obsessed with ensuring there be no place on earth where humans can communicate free of their spying eyes and ears, these journalistic hall monitors cannot abide the idea that there can be any place on the internet where people are free to speak in ways they do not approve.”
- All In One (John Tasioulas, Aeon): “If, for example, human rights are demands that are generally high-priority in nature, such that it’s seldom if ever justified to override them, then we lose our grip on that important idea if we start including under the heading of ‘human rights’ valuable objectives – for example, access to a high-quality internet connection – that don’t plausibly enjoy that kind of priority.” Recommended by a student. The author is a philosopher at Oxford.
- Ravi Zacharias Hid Hundreds of Pictures of Women, Abuse During Massages, and a Rape Allegation (Daniel Silliman and Kate Shellnutt, Christianity Today): “A 12-page report released Thursday by Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) confirms abuse by Zacharias at day spas he owned in Atlanta and uncovers five additional victims in the US, as well as evidence of sexual abuse in Thailand, India, and Malaysia.” The full report is here (pdf).
- We Need Balance When It Comes To Gender Dysphoric Kids. I Would Know (Scott Newgent, Newsweek): “So if we are now waking up to the fact that gender dysphoria is over-simplistically conflated with transgenderism, medical treatments have understudied long-term consequences, some are getting rich off transgender medicine and de-transitioners are speaking up in skyrocketing numbers, why are we only making it easier for children to unquestioningly transition? We now have the obligation to work together to slow trans medicalization of minors until they are adults and have the capacity to truly understand the lifelong consequences of transitioning. As a former lesbian and current trans man, I maintain this is not transphobic.”
- How To Be Pro-Life in Joe Biden’s America (David French, The Dispatch): “There remains no barrier for pro-life Americans to love their neighbor and directly support mothers and children who face dire need. There is even an opportunity to enact legislation that can further ease the fears of young mothers and increase their confidence that they can raise and support a child… Politics do matter, certainly, but there’s a deeper truth. Christians don’t need to win Senate races to love their neighbors.”
Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen
- Genie In A Bottle (Pearls Before Swine)
- CDC: ‘Just Because You Got The Vaccine Doesn’t Mean You Should Go Outside Or Ever Experience Joy Again’ (Babylon Bee): “The newly revised guidelines indicate that people who have not yet been vaccinated should stay home, masked, in a bubble, forever. Those who have been vaccinated should do the exact same thing, except they are allowed to have a smug look on their faces for being vaccinated. Except you can’t see the smug look. Because of the mask.”
- Samer Recognized A Fart Online (Defector): “This afternoon in Slack, our work chatroom, Patrick shared a cute little viral video, as we do from time to time. None of us were prepared for what happened next.” This gets extremely funny the more you get into it. It helps if you imagine this as a group chat at one of the South Carolina houses.
- Valentine’s Day (Pearls Before Swine)
- Hunting For Bigfoot Is Easier Than It Looks (Brent Terhune, YouTube): five minutes
- Yeki Joo Does A Card Trick (Penn & Teller Fool Us, YouTube): eight and a half minutes
Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago
Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have The Importance of Stupidity in Scientific Research (Martin A. Schwartz, Journal of Cell Science): “At some point, the conversation turned to why she had left graduate school. To my utter astonishment, she said it was because it made her feel stupid. After a couple of years of feeling stupid every day, she was ready to do something else. I had thought of her as one of the brightest people I knew and her subsequent career supports that view. What she said bothered me. I kept thinking about it; sometime the next day, it hit me. Science makes me feel stupid too. It’s just that I’ve gotten used to it. So used to it, in fact, that I actively seek out new opportunities to feel stupid.” The author is a professor at Yale. First shared in volume 221.
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). 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.