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 371, which like its immediate predecessor is one of four three-digit narcissistic numbers, meaning that it has three digits and when you raise each digit to the number of digits (in this case, to the third power) they sum to the original number: 33 + 73 + 13 = 371.
Things Glen Found Interesting
- What Harvard Is Really Like (Olivia Glunz, The Public Discourse): “Prestige and influence require class distinctions; in a truly equitable world, Harvard does not exist. Thus, Harvard will continue to champion progressivism—but never enough to endanger its own future. Harvard students of all political stripes perceive this hypocrisy; if anything, they graduate not more liberal but more cynical. So much for the formidable brainwashing machine.… Despite the prevalence of secularism and credentialism at Harvard, faith and friendship were central to my joyful first year. In fact, Christianity, particularly Catholicism, is alive at Harvard.”
- Short but interesting, and relevant to life at Stanford.
- Why the music of Rich Mullins endures, 25 years after his death (Tish Harrison Warren, New York Times): “Mullins had all his royalties and wages go directly to his accountant, whom he asked to issue him an allowance equal to the average working-class salary at the time. The rest of his earnings were given away, mostly to charity. Smith tells me that Mullins ‘was scared for his own soul.’ It wasn’t that he wasn’t tempted by money and fame. It’s that he knew he was tempted, so he ran from it.”
- Revolutions Occur When a Significant Portion of Elites Defect From the Existing Regime (Rob Henderson, Substack): “Social movements are typically led not by someone from the underclass or the poor, but by second-tier elites. Lenin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, Che Guevara, America’s founders, etc. were relatively educated and at least middle-class. They were not nearly the poorest of their societies. Far from it. Which is why their criticisms of the elite within their societies were so astute. They were, figuratively speaking, close cousins—they saw their flaws up close.”
- This one is really good. Related but long: Diverse and Divided: A Political Demography of American Elite Students (Eric Kaufmann, Substack): “A quarter of students are LGBT, and there are roughly equal shares of Christian and nonreligious students. LGBT, Nonreligious, and Christians are set to become more important political groups among America’s future leaders.”
- The data in this latter one is interesting, but it is so long you should definitely skim and not read.
- Related to justice:
- A Jury Acquitted Them of Various Charges. They Served Prison Time for Them Anyway. (Billy Binion, Reason): “Can you do prison time for a criminal charge of which you were never convicted? I’d venture that most would assume the answer is ‘no.’ They would be wrong. Known as acquitted conduct sentencing, the practice allows judges to bloat a prison term when sentencing a defendant by punishing them for a separate charge or charges on which a jury deemed them not guilty.” Outrageous. I hope the Supreme Court squashes this 9–0.
- Thousands were released from prison during covid. The results are shocking. (Molly Gill, The Washington Post): “To protect those most vulnerable to covid-19 during the pandemic, the Cares Act allowed the Justice Department to order the release of people in federal prisons and place them on home confinement. More than 11,000 people were eventually released. Of those, the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) reported that only 17 of them committed new crimes. That’s not a typo. Seventeen. That’s a 0.15 percent recidivism rate in a country where it’s normal for 30 to 65 percent of people coming home from prison to reoffend within three years of release.… These 11,000 releases were not random. People in low- and minimum-security prisons or at high risk of complications from covid were prioritized for consideration for release.”
- Stock Trades Reported by Nearly a Fifth of Congress Show Possible Conflicts (Kate Kelly, Adam Playford and Alicia Parlapiano, New York Times): “The potential for conflicts in stock trading by members of Congress — and their choice so far not to impose stricter limits on themselves — has long drawn criticism, especially when particularly blatant cases emerge. But the Times analysis demonstrates the scale of the issue: Over the three-year period, more than 3,700 trades reported by lawmakers from both parties posed potential conflicts between their public responsibilities and private finances.… The 97 members who were flagged by the Times analysis amounted to more than half of the people who reported trades, and nearly a fifth of Congress. The group was split almost equally between Democrats and Republicans.”
- The amazing power of “machine eyes” (Eric Topol, Substack): “While there are far simpler ways to determine gender [than studying retinas], it’s a 50–50 toss up for ophthalmologists, which means there are no visible cues to human eyes. But now two models have shown 97% accuracy of gender determination from neural network training. That was just the beginning.… That work has now extended to detection of kidney disease, control of blood glucose and blood pressure, hepatobiliary disease, a previous study on predicting heart attack, close correlation of the retinal vessels with the heart (coronary) artery calcium score, and, prior to the new report above, the ongoing prospective assessment and tracking of Alzheimer’s disease.” Wild stuff.
- A Nuclear Zugzwang? (Anusar Farooqui, Substack): “Precisely because Russia is so weak relative to Nato, any Russia-Nato war will eventually escalate into strategic nuclear war, the only level on which the Russia enjoys parity with the United States. So, any counter-escalation by the United States would be fraught with escalation risk and nuclear danger.”
- The author has a PhD in mathematics but writes extensively about foreign policy. I have had multiple smart people recommend this article and finally gave it a read.
Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen
- Adult Knowledge (SMBC)
- Let’s Catch Up Soon (Pearls Before Swine)
- There is a French basketball player named Steeve Ho You Fat, and so the back of his jersey just says “Ho You Fat.” Kevin Hart goes to town: https://twitter.com/JamesBurnes8/status/1577800636598571010
- Blind Taste Test Finds Most People Can’t Tell Difference Between Candy Corn And Orange Crayon We Found In A Junk Drawer (Babylon Bee)
- The Rockin’ 1000 Channel (YouTube): a thousand musicians get together to cover popular songs. Their most popular video is Learn to Fly by the Foo Fighters
- Easy or Hard (xkcd)
- Las Vegas police capture at-large bomber who used battery acid and dummy to make movie-like prison escape, correctional officers didn’t know about jailbreak for days (Paul Sacca, The Blaze): “While serving time at the Southern Desert Correctional Center, Duarte-Herrera reportedly used battery acid to break down the window frame of his prison cell. The inmate purportedly created a dummy – possibly made out of cardboard – to fool prison guards.… The inmate escaped the medium-security correctional center by slipping past the guards and the prison’s perimeter fence.” That last sentence is a whole episode of a TV drama. Casually “slipping past the guards.” Wowzers!
Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago
Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have Porn Restriction for Realists (Tanner Greer, personal blog): “…a world where the tube-sites are gone and people must go back to paying for their porn is a significant improvement over the world we live in now. This world is possible: it existed two decades ago. Technological change is part of what happened, but only part. Just as important in the creation of the new, porn-flushed world we live are legal protections given to websites like PornHub and X Hamster which allow them to dodge liability for the theft their business model is based on. It also allows them to dodge liability for much worse sins.” From volume 242.
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.