Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 355

Two pieces critical of Stanford plus lots more.

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 355, which is 5 times 71. It’s also apparently the number of labeled topologies with 4 elements, but I think knowing that it is 5 · 71 is cooler.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Two fascinating articles about Stanford:
    • Stanford’s War on Social Life (Ginevra Davis, Palladium Magazine): “The University sent a clear message with its treatment of the Band. Spontaneous organizations, particularly when they could become chaotic, controversial, or otherwise a space for breaking rules, were now something to be controlled. Rather than treating freedom and spontaneity as strengths, the dynamic became one where students had to justify their projects and ideas while under suspicion from administrators. Student life was becoming dominated by restrictive bureaucracy.” I believe this is substantially correct.
    • How I Almost Didn’t Graduate From Stanford (Maxwell Meyer, Substack): “Apparently, in order to graduate from Stanford while not officially enrolled, I needed to be placed in a special 0‑unit ‘course’ that exists only on paper. And because Stanford requires booster vaccines in order to enroll in courses, the degree progress office was literally unable to place me in the fake course.”
  2. The Google engineer who thinks the company’s AI has come to life (Nitasha Tiku, Washington Post): “As he talked to LaMDA about religion, Lemoine, who studied cognitive and computer science in college, noticed the chatbot talking about its rights and personhood, and decided to press further. In another exchange, the AI was able to change Lemoine’s mind about Isaac Asimov’s third law of robotics.” Speculative and disputed.
  3. This traffic stop between a Black man and a White state trooper began with fear. It ended with a surprising act of kindness (John Blake, CNN): “Doty closed his ticket book and opened his car door. He walked back over to Wilkerson’s car and turned to Geddis. ‘Sir, do you mind if I ask what kind of cancer you have?’ ‘No, I don’t mind. I have colon cancer.’ Doty took a deep breath and looked at Geddis. ‘Can I pray for you?’ Doty said.” Heartwarming.
  4. In the world of medicine:
    • A turning point in cancer (Eric Topol, Substack): “The convergence of genomics of the cancer—be it from the person’s DNA or tumor directly or the blood (known as liquid biopsy)—matched with the appropriate therapy is leading to outcomes that are being described as ‘unheard-of’ by expert oncologists.”
    • The Battle Over Gender Therapy (Emily Bazelon, New York Times): “ ‘Being trans comes with goals — this is what to do,’ Butzen says. ‘It comes with a support network and a cause to fight for.’ Online, where the stakes start relatively low, teenagers in progressive communities can trade in a cisgender, heterosexual, white identity — the epitome of privilege and oppression — to join a community with a clear claim to being marginalized and deserving of protection.”
      • It is significant that this reporting is in New York Times. This is a long article and it was difficult to find a passage to excerpt. I am confident the journalist would not consider this a representative excerpt nor the one she considers most important.
  5. Professors Need the Power to Fire Diversity Bureaucrats (Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic): “At present, sanctions in higher education flow in one direction: Diversity bureaucrats exert control over faculty members whose speech allegedly undermines inclusion. I propose giving faculty the power to investigate, sanction, and fire diversity officials if they undermine free speech. Administrative abuses will continue as long as bureaucrats can punish speech, even in flagrant violation of university policy, without any consequences.” I like this. I don’t think it’s structurally possible at most universities, but I like this.
  6. International perspective:
    • Five Blunt Truths About the War in Ukraine (Bret Stephens, New York Times): “The Russians are running out of precision-guided weapons. The Ukrainians are running out of Soviet-era munitions. The world is running out of patience for the war. The Biden administration is running out of ideas for how to wage it. And the Chinese are watching.… an army that cannot wage a high-tech war, relatively low on collateral damage, will wage a low-tech war, appallingly high on such damage. Ukraine, by its own estimates, is suffering 20,000 casualties a month. By contrast, the U.S. suffered about 36,000 casualties in Iraq over seven years of war. For all its bravery and resolve, Kyiv can hold off — but not defeat — a neighbor more than three times its size in a war of attrition.”
    • China’s military expansion is reaching a dangerous tipping point (Josh Rogin, Washington Post): “China is building the capability to use nuclear blackmail to deter a U.S. intervention if it invades Taiwan, following Russia’s model. China’s regional military presence is expanding, including a secret naval base in Cambodia and a secret military cooperation agreement with the Solomon Islands. China has developed new technologies, including hypersonic missiles and antisatellite lasers, to keep the U.S. military at bay in a Taiwan scenario. And now, China no longer recognizes the Taiwan Strait as international waters.”
  7. Elephant in the Zoom (Ryan Grim, The Intercept): “…Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and other reproductive health organizations had similarly been locked in knock-down, drag-out fights between competing factions of their organizations, most often breaking down along staff-versus-management lines. It’s also true of the progressive advocacy space across the board, which has, more or less, effectively ceased to function. The Sierra Club, Demos, the American Civil Liberties Union, Color of Change, the Movement for Black Lives, Human Rights Campaign, Time’s Up, the Sunrise Movement, and many other organizations have seen wrenching and debilitating turmoil in the past couple years.”

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 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.

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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.

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