Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 414

Once a week, usually on Friday, 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 414, which is a multiple of 23.

A day late because I was traveling. Next week’s may be delayed as well.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The best predictor of happiness in America? Marriage (W. Bradford Wilcox and David Bass, Unherd): “This truth is borne out yet again in new research from the University of Chicago, which found that marriage is the ‘the most important differentiator’ of who is happy in America, and that falling marriage rates are a chief reason why happiness has declined nationally. The research, surveying thousands of respondents, revealed a startling 30-percentage-point happiness divide between married and unmarried Americans. This happiness boost held true for both men and women.… Other factors do matter — including income, educational achievement, race, and geography — but marital status is most influential when it comes to predicting happiness in the study.”
    • Related: More on Singleness, Marriage, and the Church (Samuel D. James, Substack): “…some readers took me to be saying that single people are in sin or not growing in their faith the way that married people are. Not so. There is a profound (subtle, perhaps, but profound) difference between saying that something has intrinsic value in the normative life of an individual or the church, and saying that this thing is compulsory.”
    • Very helpful followup to the article I shared last week.
  2. The Hard-Drug Decriminalization Disaster (Bret Stephens, New York Times): “…the sticky fact that proponents of decriminalization rarely confront is that addicts are not merely sick people trying to get well, like cancer sufferers in need of chemotherapy. They are people who often will do just about anything to get high, however irrational, self-destructive or, in some cases, criminal their behavior becomes. Addiction may be a disease, but it’s also a lifestyle — one that decriminalization does a lot to facilitate. It’s easier to get high wherever and however you want when the cops are powerless to stop you.”
    • Unlocked.
  3. She’s the One (Bryan Caplan, Substack): “Humans are good at hedonically adapting to most material conditions. You get used to your house, your car, your clothes, your granite countertop, and your money. What humans are bad at hedonically adapting to is… other people. If you spend a lot of time around humans whose company you enjoy, you will probably be happy. If you spend a lot of time around human whose company you detest, you will probably be unhappy. Over your lifetime, you will probably spend more time around your spouse than any other human. So while finding good friends and good co-workers is crucial for happiness, finding a good spouse is even more so.”
    • This is full of mostly-good advice for guys.
  4. What’s going on with the reports of a room-temperature superconductor? (John Timmer, Ars Technica): “The perfect time to write an article on those results would be when they’ve been confirmed by multiple labs. But these are not perfect times. Instead, rumors seem to be flying daily about possible confirmation, confusing and contradictory results, and informed discussions of why this material either should or shouldn’t work.”
    • Related: LK-99 Is the Superconductor of the Summer (Kenneth Chang, New York Times): “I truly don’t get the excitement about her preprint,” said Douglas Natelson, a professor of physics at Rice University in Houston. “That’s not to say that it’s wrong, just that theorists and computational materials folks very often produce preprints based on the latest claimed material of interest. There’s nothing exceptional in that.”
  5. You’re probably recycling plastic wrong. And it’s not your fault. (Robert Gebelhoff, Washington Post):  “Picture this: You finish a drink from a red Solo cup, and before throwing it out, you check the bottom of the cup to see the iconic recycling symbol. That means it can be tossed in the recycling bin, right? Wrong. Solo cups are made of polystyrene, a plastic that is very difficult to recycle.… Nowadays, the only plastic items that are consistently recycled are bottles and jugs made out of polyethylene terephthalate (which is labeled with a ‘1’) and high-density polyethylene (labeled with a ‘2’), as a survey of recycling facilities by Greenpeace shows. Recycling plants typically reject almost everything else, meaning it ends up in landfills.”
  6. He Held Up a Bank to Get His Own Money (Raja Abdulrahim, New York Times): “The central bank has not allowed depositors to withdraw more than a few hundred dollars a month since a financial collapse in 2019. So, like other desperate Lebanese before him — some of them similarly compelled by the need for medical treatment — Mr. al-Hajjar went to his bank in November, threatening to burn it down unless it gave him some of the $250,000 he had in his account. More than 12 hours later, he left with $25,000 in stacks of cash. ‘If you don’t go in and threaten to hurt them, they won’t give you anything,’ he said months later.”
    • Absolutely wild (and sad) story.
  7. California’s free prison calls are repairing estranged relationships and aiding rehabilitation (Kwasi Gyamfi Asiedu & Helen Li, Los Angeles Times): “At a time when most consumers enjoy free or low-cost calling, prison phone calls at their peak in California cost more than $6 per 15 minutes via a private telecommunications provider. That allowed only hurried, superficial conversations between the siblings — with one eye always on the clock.”

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 On The Experience of Being Poor-ish, For People Who Aren’t (Anonymous, Substack): “When someone is telling me they are or have been poor and I’m trying to determine how poor exactly they were, there’s one evergreen question I ask that has never failed to give me a good idea of what kind of situation I’m dealing with. That question is: ‘How many times have they turned off your water?’.” Follow up: Being Poor-ish Revisited: Reader Questions These are both really good. From volume 291.

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.

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