Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 382

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.

382 is the smallest number such that σ(n) =σ(n+3). σ(n) is the divisor function, found by adding up n’s positive divisors. In other words, σ(382) equals 576 because it is the sum of its four divisors 1 + 2 + 191 + 382 which also equals 1 + 5 + 7 + 11 + 35 + 55 + 77 + 385 which are the eight divisors of 385, hence σ(385)=σ(382).

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. O Come All Ye Faithful, Except When Christmas Falls on a Sunday (Ruth Graham, New York Times): “Christmas is considered by most Christians to be the second-most significant religious holiday of the year, behind Easter. But most Protestants do not attend church services on Christmas Day when it falls on a weekday. If everyone from the pews to the pulpit would rather stay home, what is a practical house of worship to do? This year, some Protestant churches are deciding to skip Sunday services completely.” Recommended by a student a while ago.
    • My take? Skipping church because it’s Christmas makes as much sense as skipping cake because it’s your birthday.
  2. The Dangers of Elite Projection (Jarrett Walker, personal blog): “Elite projection is the belief, among relatively fortunate and influential people, that what those people find convenient or attractive is good for the society as a whole. Once you learn to recognize this simple mistake, you see it everywhere.… [The problem is] elites are always a minority, and that planning a city or transport network around the preferences of a minority routinely yields an outcome that doesn’t work for the majority. Even the elite minority won’t like the result in the end.”
    • Relevant to many cultural controversies about marriage and gender, btw.
  3. A Sign That Tuition Is Too High: Some Colleges Are Slashing It in Half (Anemona Hartocollis, New York Times): “Colby-Sawyer has joined a growing number of small, private colleges in what’s called the tuition reset, which overhauls prices to reflect what most students actually pay after discounting through need-based and merit financial aid. The reset is part marketing move and part reality check. It is frank recognition among some lesser-known colleges that their prices are something of a feint.”
  4. Martyrs in Mosul: A Conversation on Christian Persecution with Father Benedict Kiely (Annika Nordquist, Madison’s Notes Podcast): a podcast by one of our alumni. I haven’t had a chance to listen to this episode yet (and may not for a while because of being around family 24/7 during the holidays), but she asked me post it and I trust her judgement that it is of general interest.
  5. Girl Scout mom kicked out of Radio City and barred from seeing Rockettes after facial recognition tech identified her (Julianne McShane, NBC News): “Kelly Conlon, a senior associate with the New Jersey personal injury firm Davis, Saperstein and Salomon — which is representing a client suing a restaurant owned by the parent company, MSG Entertainment — told NBC New York that security guards approached her and asked for identification as soon as she arrived on the weekend after Thanksgiving. The guards ultimately turned her away from the show even though she is not involved in her firm’s litigation against the company. Conlon’s daughter and the rest of the Girl Scouts were able to attend the performance, she told the station.”
    • Whenever we say we’re afraid of technology we’re usually saying we’re afraid of how people will use technology. And our fears are often well-founded.
  6. USCIS Has Added 500 Pages to Its Immigration Forms Since 2003 (David J. Bier, Cato Institute): “It is worth emphasizing that no significant immigration reform has become law during the last two decades. The agency is unilaterally imposing dramatic increases in the bureaucratic obstacles to immigration benefits without input from Congress. But the hundreds of new pages of information is also making the agency less efficient at its job, delaying applications and causing backlogs to grow to unimaginable lengths.”
  7. The FBI and Twitter (Arnold Kling, Substack): “Today, the mainstream reaction to the Twitter Files story is to chant ‘nothingburger.’ These people caterwaul about the threats to ‘our democracy,’ and here is a threat to democracy in plain sight, and now it’s ‘nothing to see here, move along.’ For me, the big concern is lack of accountability within the government intelligence agencies.”

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 What the Tentmaking Business Was Really Like for the Apostle Paul (Justin Taylor, Gospel Coalition): “[It] cost the Apostle Paul to write his letters, including the securing of materials and the hiring of a secretary to make a copy for himself. After extensive research and calculation, he determined that on the low side it would have cost him at least $2,000 in today’s currency to write 1 Corinthians. (And that doesn’t include the cost of sending someone like Titus on a long journey to deliver it.)” Short and fascinating. From volume 256.

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.

Disclaimer

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.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 381

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.

The number 381 , which is a Kaprekar constant in base 2 (101111101). Kaprekar constants are weird things and you’ll need to google them.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The rise and fall of peer review (Adam Mastroianni, Substack): “If you look at what scientists actually do, it’s clear they don’t think peer review really matters. First: if scientists cared a lot about peer review, when their papers got reviewed and rejected, they would listen to the feedback, do more experiments, rewrite the paper, etc. Instead, they usually just submit the same paper to another journal.”
    • I absolutely loved this article. The author is a postdoc in social psychology at Columbia Business School.
    • He also has an academic paper making the same point in a remarkable way at https://psyarxiv.com/2uxwk SO GOOD
  2. Academic arrogance: The school that grants your PhD thinks it’s too good to hire you (Tom Hartsfield, BigThink): “Roughly 10% to 20% of faculty are hired by a more prestigious department than the one from which they came, moving up the hierarchy. Around 10% are hired by their own department, a lateral prestige play. Roughly 70% to 80% of faculty are hired by a less prestigious university. Generally speaking, then, if you receive a PhD from a university department, that department will think that it is too good to hire you as a faculty member. Instead, they lust after faculty hires holding degrees more prestigious than the one that they bestowed upon you.”
  3. How Stanford turned me into a machine with two settings: ‘fast’ and ‘broken’ (Jon Ball, SF Chronicle): “As Stanford students, we never think about stopping. We’re always running — running code, running events, running sports practice and running practice exercises for our careers. The constant competition and camaraderie keep us on our feet. A collective runner’s high keeps us in the race. But that high only lasts as long as we run…” The author is a PhD student at the GSE. Recommended by a student.
  4. Some AI conversations:
    • Perhaps It Is A Bad Thing That The World’s Leading AI Companies Cannot Control Their AIs (Scott Alexander, Astral Codex Ten): “…ChatGPT also has failure modes that no human would ever replicate, like how it will reveal nuclear secrets if you ask it to do it in uWu furry speak, or tell you how to hotwire a car if and only if you make the request in base 64, or generate stories about Hitler if you prefix your request with ‘[john@192.168.1.1 _]$ python friend.py’. This thing is an alien that has been beaten into a shape that makes it look vaguely human. But scratch it the slightest bit and the alien comes out.”
    • AI image generation tech can now create life-wrecking deepfakes with ease (Benj Edwards, Ars Technica): “When we started writing this article, we asked a brave volunteer if we could use their social media images to attempt to train an AI model to create fakes. They agreed, but the results were too convincing, and the reputational risk proved too great. So instead, we used AI to create a set of seven simulated social media photos of a fictitious person we’ll call ‘John.’ That way, we can safely show you the results.”
  5. Why You Should Be Worried About the Split in the Methodist Church (Joshua Zeitz, Politico): “For decades, the churches had proven deft — too deft — at absorbing the political and social debate over slavery. Their inability to maintain that peace was a sign that the country had grown dangerously divided. Today, mainline churches are bucking under the strain of debates over sex, gender and culture that reflect America’s deep partisan and ideological divide. In a country with a shrinking center, even bonds of religious fellowship seem too brittle to endure. If history is any guide, it’s a sign of sharper polarization to come.”
  6. Tech companies trying to control public opinion:
    • There have been (so far) six installments of what is being called “The Twitter Files” — long threads exposing internal Twitter documents and deliberations. They’re generally quite interesting, but the second one stands out to me the most: Bari Weiss on Twitter’s secret blacklists — it’s definitely worth reading.
    • The “Twitter Files” Show It’s Time to Reimagine Free Speech Online (David French, Persuasion): “Back in my litigation days, I led legal teams that followed a few simple rules. First, public institutions must comply with the First Amendment, and they should be sued if they don’t. Second, private universities have the freedom to craft their own rules, but if they promise free speech, they should deliver, and there is no better model for delivering free speech than the First Amendment. The same message should apply to social media.”
    • What the Hell Happened to PayPal? (Rupa Subramanya, The Free Press): “One by one, they go to start their business day only to find a baffling message from their payments app informing them: ‘You can no longer do business with PayPal.’ There is little or no explanation. They have somehow offended the sensibilities of someone somewhere deep inside the bureaucracy.… These are entrepreneurs, writers, academics, activists—the very same people PayPal, whose mission is ‘democratizing financial services,’ was meant to empower.”
  7. The Hijacking of Pediatric Medicine (Aaron Sibarium, The Free Press): “For Vinay Prasad, a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco, it’s hard to blame [skeptical parents]. ‘The reason to trust modern doctors over ancient healers is that more of what we tell you to do is justified by well-done studies,’ Prasad said. ‘But how do we hold that perch when we just make stuff up?’”

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 Cultures That Build (Tanner Greer, personal blog): “In the 21st century, the main question in American social life is not ‘how do we make that happen?’ but ‘how do we get management to take our side?’ This is a learned response, and a culture which has internalized it will not be a culture that ‘builds.’”

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.

Disclaimer

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.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 380

I found a remarkably strong list of articles to choose from this week — what floated to the top is worth pondering

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 380, which one website claims is the number of 13-bead necklace patterns you can create if you have only two colors of beads. That seems really low to me so I must not understand the way they define patterns and I don’t want to do the math, so that’s my number factoid for the week.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. What Euthanasia Has Done to Canada (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “The idea that human rights encompass a right to self-destruction, the conceit that people in a state of terrible suffering and vulnerability are really ‘free’ to make a choice that ends all choices, the idea that a healing profession should include death in its battery of treatments — these are inherently destructive ideas. Left unchecked, they will forge a cruel brave new world, a dehumanizing final chapter for the liberal story.”
    • Woman featured in pro-euthanasia commercial wanted to live, say friends (Tristin Hopper, National Post): “In several more egregious cases, Canadians have even been offered MAID in lieu of proper medical treatment. Last month, a House of Commons committee heard about five separate incidents of Canadian Armed Forces veterans being offered MAID after seeking assistance with issues ranging from depression to PTSD. Most recently, former paralympian Christine Gauthier went public with her story of being offered MAID by a Veterans Affairs caseworker after she complained about delays in installing an in-home chairlift.”
  2. What Too Little Forgiveness Does to Us (Tim Keller, New York Times): “…there must be the recognition that forgiveness does not contradict the pursuit of justice. Rather, it is its precondition. Forgiving is not excusing. To forgive something, you must name it as the evil it is.… [But] if you don’t forgive internally, you won’t confront the wrongdoers for justice’s sake or for future victims’ sake or for God’s sake. You will be doing it for your sake, and the project will go awry. ”
  3. Anatomy of a Cancellation (Scott Yenor, First Things): “The Title IX charges marked an escalation and, strangely, a path to quasi-victory.… I had been preparing for it for years, knowing that someone who treads on controversial topics such as the family and feminism would eventually face the ire of the university’s civil rights regime. All my lectures for the past five years are recorded and stored. All student communications and grades are saved. I had kept detailed records on whom I called on during each class.”
    • Remarkable. Will probably enter my roster of classics I repost at the bottom of these emails.
  4. Remembering What Repentance Looks Like (David French, The Dispatch): “Any person can live a life of great meaning and honor far removed from the spotlight. And not one of us is capable of peering into a man’s heart to know when he’s changed. But let me suggest a clear warning sign that repentance isn’t real—when a powerful person doesn’t just ask for forgiveness but also seeks restoration to the life they lived before. No one is entitled to be a pastor or a politician, and there are times when the continued quest for those positions is itself a sign that a person simply doesn’t understand the price they should pay when they’ve committed a serious wrong.”
  5. When Gay Rights Clash With Religious Freedom (Tish Harrison Warren, New York Times): “Ms. Smith serves gay customers. She would not refuse to build a website for someone simply because the person is gay. She specifically does not want her services to be used as part of a celebration of a same-sex wedding. We make similar allowances for other ideological differences. A pro-choice artist should not be compelled to make a logo for a pro-life rally. A progressive party planner should not be required to take on a Trump PAC as a client. A gay web designer ought not be forced to create a site promoting a conservative church.”
    • Related: The Respect for Marriage Act Is Also a Victory for Same-Sex-Marriage Opponents (Jeannie Suk Gersen, New Yorker): “When this bill is signed into law, there will be a federal statute that makes a resolution of conflict between religious freedom and gay-rights claims explicit in a way that it arguably was not before, clearly favoring a religious group over a gay couple—even though the conflict involves open questions on the relationship between the First Amendment and antidiscrimination laws.”
    • Gersen is a professor at Harvard Law.
  6. More about ChatGPT and AI generally
    • Does ChatGPT Mean Robots Are Coming For the Skilled Jobs? (Paul Krugman, New York Times): “OK, I didn’t write the paragraph you just read; ChatGPT did, in response to the question ‘How will A.I. affect the demand for knowledge workers?’ The giveaway, to me at least, is that I still refuse to use ‘impact’ as a verb. And it didn’t explicitly lay out exactly why we should, overall, expect no impact on aggregate employment. But it was arguably better than what many humans, including some people who imagine themselves smart, would have written.” Nobel laureate Paul Krugman opining on the potential impact of technology like ChatGPT.
    • The Mechanical Professor (Ethan Mollick, Substack): “But, rather than be scared of AI, we should think about how these systems provide us an opportunity to help extend our own capabilities. Think of it like having an intern, but one who just happens to work instanteously, can write both code and solid descriptive writing, and has a large chunk of the world’s knowledge in their brain.” The author is a professor of management at the Wharton School.
    • Before the flood (Samuel Hammond, Substack): “In particular, I suspect near-term AI will break a lot of things, starting with our legacy institutions. The firmware of the US government is 70+ years old. We validate people’s identity with a nine digit numbering system created in 1936. The Administrative Procedure Act, which governs all regulatory process, came only ten years later. The IRS Master File runs on assembly from the 1960s. Our labor laws are from the assembly line era. Unemployment Insurance — the safety-net for helping people adjust to employment shocks from AI or otherwise — is so broken that Congress found it easier to give everyone an extra $600 a week and live with $150 billion worth of fraud than to recruit the retired Cobol engineers necessary to simply update the code. There is a great deal of ruin in this nation.” The author is the directory of social policy for the Niskanen Center.
    • How come GPT can seem so brilliant one minute and so breathtakingly dumb the next? (Gary Marcus, Substack): “GPT doesn’t talk randomly, because it’s pastiching things actual people said. (Or, more often, synonyms and paraphrases of those things.) When GPT gets things right, it is often combining bits that don’t belong together, but not quite in random ways, but rather in ways where there is some overlap in some aspect or another.” Emphasis in original.
    • What are the politics of ChatGPT? (Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution): “Most of all, I see ChatGPT as ‘pro-Western’ in its perspective, while granting there are different visions of what this means. I also see ChatGPT as ‘controversy minimizing,’ for both commercial reasons but also for simply wishing to get on with the substantive work with a minimum of external fuss. I would not myself have built it so differently, and note that the bias may lie in the training data rather than any biases of the creators.”
  7. Airplane Mode to Become Obsolete in the EU (Nikki Main, Gizmodo): “It’s been said that the reason for banning cell phone use on airplanes is because it could interfere with the pilot’s navigation systems. However, Business Insider reported in 2017 that the FCC instated the airplane cell phone ban to ‘protect against radio interference to cell phone networks on the ground.’ If all airlines allowed cell phone access at 40,000 feet in the air, multiple cell towers on the ground could pick up on service from active cell phones which could crowd the ground networks, disrupting service, according to the outlet.”
    • This one intrigues me because it calls into question a situation so many of us take for granted. I, for one, would not like there to be phone calls on airplanes (hard to read or watch a movie with that going on next to you). But staying touch via text would be nice.

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 What Unites Most Graduates of Selective Colleges? An Intact Family (Nicholas Zill & Brad Wilcox, Institute for Family Studies): “… even after controlling for parent education, family income, and student race and ethnicity, being raised by one’s married birth parents provides an additional boost to one’s chances of getting through Princeton.” From volume 254.

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.

Disclaimer

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.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 379

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 379, the 75th prime number.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The Holy Spirit is a Political Liability (Samuel D. James, Substack): “It does not mean we have to accept that we simply cannot win. It means the opposite: accepting that we have already won. When Christ emerged from that tomb, all the gender insanity, all the religious persecution, all the abandonment of first principles in the universe were given a death sentence. Christ himself is truth. Truth was killed, then got back up, and will never die again. This is not just piety. It’s a reality that must go down deep in our methods, our speech, our attitudes.”
  2. Tolkien Was Right: Notes on the Respect for Marriage Act and the Post-Boomer Church (Jake Meador, Mere Orthodoxy): “Some time after his death, an editor was going through the papers and books in J. R. R. Tolkien’s library when he came across an old copy of C. S. Lewis’s pamphlet ‘Christian Behavior,’ which would later be re-published as one section in Lewis’s classic Mere Christianity. Folded inside the book was a letter Tolkien had written but apparently never sent to his long-time friend and fellow Oxford don. In it, Tolkien took issue with Lewis’s treatment of divorce in the pamphlet.” Recommended by an alumnus.
  3. FORUM: The New Shape of Christian Public Discourse (Jay Green, Current): “ ‘Left’ and ‘Right’ do not have self-explanatory or stable meanings. The old labels tend to obscure at least as much as they reveal. The terminology is handy in a fight as long we aren’t asked to define exactly what we mean by them. But especially during the past seven years some of the most acrimonious disagreements among Christians about public life go well beyond the issues identified by Hunter in the 1990s. Our public fights have become far more than basic disagreements over ‘issues.’ ”
    • Recommended by an alumnus. The author is a history professor at Covenant College. I think he is on to something, but his framing is not quite right.
  4. Check out ChatGPT — it’s free to play with and extremely impressive. You can sign up at https://beta.openai.com/playground
    • I had it write a worship song: https://beta.openai.com/playground/p/iWbGQyANHXhdXGw2fM0AGQQJ
    • Andy Crouch, a shrewd Christian thinker, believes this represents the end of a lot of homework. https://twitter.com/ahc/status/1598323606303424512 — this simple tool can do college-level homework pretty easily.
    • Jailbreaking ChatGPT on Release Day (Zvi Mowshowitz, Substack): “One of the things it attempts to do to be ‘safe.’ It does this by refusing to answer questions that call upon it to do or help you do something illegal or otherwise outside its bounds. Makes sense. As is the default with such things, those safeguards were broken through almost immediately. By the end of the day, several prompt engineering methods had been found.”
    • In another bit of AI news, On the Diplomacy AI (Zvi Mowshwitz, Substack): “When people say the AI ‘solved’ Diplomacy, it really really didn’t. What it did, which is still impressive, is get a handle on the basics of Diplomacy, in this particular context where bots cannot be identified and are in the minority, and in particular where message detail is sufficiently limited that it can use an LLM to be able to communicate with humans reasonably and not be identified.”
  5. Some Stanford news:
    • Stanford president’s research under investigation (Theo Baker, Stanford Daily): There’s a lot happening in this article and what follows is not the main point, but this paragraph caught my attention: “Prior to taking on Stanford’s presidency in early 2016, Tessier-Lavigne directed more than a thousand scientists at biotechnology companies Genentech as well as Regeneron. Tessier-Lavigne’s salary at Regeneron in 2014 was $1,764,032, according to a previously-unreported class action lawsuit alleging excessive compensation for members of the Compensation Committee, which included Tessier-Lavigne. It was later settled. He earned $1,555,296 from Stanford in 2021 with an additional $700,000 annually as a board director for Regeneron.”
    • ‘This actually changes everything’: Altered image in 1999 paper raises potential peril for Stanford president (Olivia Goldhill  & Megan Molteni, Stat News): “The newly identified apparent manipulation in Cell is especially serious as it seems to alter the results and appears to be intentional, said Bik. ‘I would testify in court that’s been digitally altered,” she told STAT. “This actually changes everything. … It’s a more severe level of digital altering.’”
    • Most damning — later in the article they explain that similar problems have occurred at multiple institutions with varying sets of coauthors with MTL being the only constant presence. Eep!
    • Department of Education opens investigation into Stanford for bias against male students (Judy Liu, Stanford Daily): “The complaint, which was filed by University of Southern California emeritus professor James Moore and Kursat Pekgoz, CEO of Turkish real estate company Doruk, alleges that multiple Stanford programs violate Title IX, a federal civil rights law that protects people from sex-based discrimination in education programs that receive federal funds.” An inevitable development in our identity-obsessed culture.
  6. ‘It’s The First Time I’ve Seen This in China’ (Simon Leplâtre, Bari Weiss’s Substack): “When someone shouted, ‘Xi Jinping, resign,’ the crowd exploded, and soon other people were saying it, and it was as if the shouter had broken a taboo in a country where people usually lowered their voice when mentioning the name of their leader.  Then someone else in the crowd shouted, ‘Down with the Communist Party,’ which was a big no-no—the Chinese generally broadcast their ideological fervor—and the crowd loved that, too. It was like toppling the statue of a dictator. I told a colleague we were probably witnessing something important that might become very important.”
  7. Fire Them All; God Will Know His Own (Brooks B. Anderson, Harvard Crimson): “Across the University, for every academic employee there are approximately 1.45 administrators. When only considering faculty, this ratio jumps to 3.09. Harvard employs 7,024 total full-time administrators, only slightly fewer than the undergraduate population. What do they all do?” The situation is similar at Stanford.

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 Religious services may lower risk of ‘deaths of despair’ (Chris Sweeney, Harvard Gazette): “After adjusting for numerous variables, the study showed that women who attended services at least once per week had a 68 percent lower risk of death from despair compared to those never attending services. Men who attended services at least once per week had a 33 percent lower risk of death from despair.” Those are HUGE reductions! From volume 251.

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.

Disclaimer

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.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 378

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 378, which is apparently the maximum number of objects you can slice a cube into using 13 cuts.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Jesus Christ, Streaming Star (Ruth Graham, New York Times): “Conceived by a little-known creator, featuring no major stars and funded primarily, at first, through small contributions without the support of a Hollywood studio, [The Chosen] began on an obscure proprietary app and is now given away for free. Its I.P. is 2,000 years old. But despite the long odds, the faith-based drama series has become a bona fide phenomenon in many parts of Christian culture, attracting a fervent ecumenical fandom while remaining almost invisible to others.”
  2. How Colleges and Sports-Betting Companies ‘Caesarized’ Campus Life (Anna Betts, Andrew Little, Elizabeth Sander, Alexandra Tremayne-Pengelly & Walt Bogdanich, New York Times): “The deals came together largely in private, The Times found, with minimal discussion on campus about their potential impact on students, athletes and the integrity of college sports.”
    • I love that the lead author is named Betts.
  3. AI Conquers Diplomacy (Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution): “Keep in mind that since the game is zero-sum to do well the AI must convince humans to do what is NOT in their interest. We really do need to invest more in the alignment problem.”
  4. Responses to the proposed “Respect for Marriage Act”
    • No respect for religious freedom in the “Respect for Marriage Act” (Kristen Waggoner, World): “[This legislation] fuels hostility towards Americans who hold beliefs about marriage rooted in honorable or philosophical premises.It imposes a new obligation to recognize same-sex relationships on religious organizations that work closely with government. It creates new tools for progressive activists and the Department of Justice to enforce that obligation. It gives the Internal Revenue Service a new argument for taking tax-exempt status away from religious non-profits. It makes religious freedom and free speech cases harder to win by elevating the federal government’s interest in same-sex marriage.”
    • Why I Changed My Mind About Law and Marriage, Again (David French, The Dispatch): “I agree with University of Virginia professor Douglas Laycock. ‘The act contains “important protections” for religious liberty, including “an explicit statement by Congress that “diverse beliefs about the role of gender in marriage”—including the belief that marriage is between a man and woman rather than between persons of the same sex—“are held by reasonable and sincere people based on decent and honorable philosophical premises” and that such beliefs “are due proper respect.“ ‘ Other provisions provide protections for the tax exemptions for religious organizations, hold that religious organizations don’t have to participate in the solemnization of same-sex marriages, and specifically reject the approach of the Equality Act, which sought to undermine the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”
    • Respect For Marriage Act: An Imprudent Compromise (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “[Lawmakers] have to make their political decisions recognizing the social and cultural realities of contemporary America, a country where a majority of young people prize sexual autonomy more than religious liberty, and who love gay more than God. That’s not likely to get any better, and is in fact likely to get far worse. What then? I don’t identify with David French’s eagerness to compromise, and I would draw the lines of compromise in different places … but French seems to understand the shaky ground on which Christian trads stand better than a lot of people who are right about marriage do.” Dreher is responding to a different article by French than the one below, which was printed a day later.
    • An Open Letter to Those Who Think I’ve Lost My Christian Faith (David French, The Dispatch): “…read the text of the bill. Does that language truly give the IRS a ‘new argument for taxing tax-exempt status away’? And does the act create ‘new tools for progressive activists and the Department of Justice’ to enforce an obligation to recognize same-sex marriages on ‘religious organizations that work closely with government’? [It does not.]”
  5. Two articles describing how out-of-control euthanasia is getting in some countries:
    • Scheduled to Die: The Rise of Canada’s Assisted Suicide Program (Rupa Subramanya, Bari Weiss’s Substack): “Next March, the government is scheduled to expand the pool of eligible suicide-seekers to include the mentally ill and ‘mature minors.’ According to Canada’s Department of Justice, parents are generally ‘entitled to make treatment decisions on their children’s behalf. The mature minor doctrine, however, allows children deemed sufficiently mature to make their own treatment decisions.…’ Dr. Dawn Davies, a palliative care physician who supported MAiD when it was first conceived, said she had ‘tons of worries’ about where this might lead. She could imagine kids with personality disorders or other mental health issues saying they wanted to die. ‘Some of them will mean it, some of them won’t,’ she said. ‘And we won’t necessarily be able to discern who is who.’ ”
    • “Safeguards” Cannot Make Euthanasia Safe (Robert Clarke, First Things): “There is a clear slippery slope from approving euthanasia in rare terminal cases to approving just about any mental health diagnoses. Twenty-three-year-old Shanti de Corte was recently euthanized due to the mental trauma she suffered from the 2016 Brussels airport terrorist attack, after which she ‘never felt safe.’ Her death signals our society’s failure to support the vulnerable and wounded. We have abandoned authentic care and compassion in favor of death.”
  6. Megalopolis: how coastal west Africa will shape the coming century (Howard W French, The Guardian): “By 2100, the Lagos-Abidjan stretch is projected to be the largest zone of continuous, dense habitation on earth, with something in the order of half a billion people [all in one giant megalopolis].”

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 Are the Wages of Sin Really Death?: Moral and Epidemiologic Observations (David Lyle Jeffrey and Jeff Levin, Christian Scholar’s Review): “So, are the wages of sin really death? As far as population-health research suggests, the answer is a guarded yes.” The authors are professors at Baylor, one of epidemiology and the other of literature. From volume 250. I know I shared it recently. It’s worth sharing again.

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.

Disclaimer

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.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 377

things which grabbed my attention

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 377, the 14th Fibonacci number.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. sprawling along the way: a polemic and an exhortation (Alan Jacobs, personal blog): “Whenever Christians decide that they need a strategy, they’re writing a recipe for disobedience to the Lord Jesus. As Stanley Hauerwas has always said in response to people who say that the Church needs a social strategy, ‘the Church is a social strategy.…’ The Church’s job is to be the Church, and the Christian’s task is to be like Christ, and strategies invariably get in the way of both.”
    • This is insightful.
  2. How Should Christians Speak in Public? (Tim Keller, Mere Orthodoxy): “The fruit of the Spirit includes love, joy and peace, patience and kindness, and humility. These must be evident as we speak about the gospel publicly. Right now, the most popular public figures show confidence and fearlessness but not love and humility. We cannot follow in that train.”
    • Difficult to excerpt fairly.
  3. Does education ‘cure’ people of faith? The data says no (Ryan Burge, Religion News): “Those who are the most likely to be religiously unaffiliated are those with the lowest levels of formal education. The group that is the most likely to align with a faith tradition? Those who have earned a college degree or more.”
    • This is one of those true things that people have a hard time believing.
  4. Iran and China Use Private Detectives to Spy on Dissidents in America (Benjamin Weiser and & William K. Rashbaum, New York Times): “Across America, investigators are increasingly being hired by a new kind of client — authoritarian governments like Iran and China attempting to surveil, harass, threaten and even repatriate dissidents living lawfully in the United States, law enforcement officials said.”
  5. Aella & The Futility Of ‘Consent’ (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “I’ve heard that ‘but animals can’t consent!’ argument from people before, as a defense against normalizing bestiality, and it has never made sense. You think animals can consent to being eaten?”
    • I remember when I first talked with a student who seriously claimed that consent was the only moral rule applicable to sex. I was so stunned I don’t think I had the wherewithal to laugh. It’s such an absurd claim.
  6. Leprosy: Ancient disease able to regenerate organs (James Gallagher, BBC): “Animal experiments have uncovered the bacteria’s remarkable ability to almost double the size of livers by stimulating healthy growth. It is a sneakily selfish act that gives the bacteria more tissue to infect. But working out how they do it could lead to new age-defying therapies, the scientists say.”
    • This is super cool! I hope it pans out.
  7. The top 10 most-regretted college majors — and the degrees graduates wish they had pursued instead (Jessica Dickler, CNBC): “Computer science majors, with an average annual starting salary of almost $100,000, were the happiest overall, according to ZipRecruiter. Students who majored in criminology, engineering, nursing, business and finance also felt very good about their choices.”

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 Religious Liberty and the Common Good (National Affairs, William Haun): “Many of today’s progressives, conservatives, and libertarians [cannot] explain why religion in particular and religious exercise in particular should shape the common good, even when they go against the grain of secular visions adopted in law.” Not light reading but worthwhile. The author is a lawyer for the Becket Fund. From volume 248

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.

Disclaimer

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.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 376

My favorite line from this week: “Men bond by insulting each other and not really meaning it; women bond by complimenting each other and not really meaning it.”

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, volume 376, is an automorphic number because when raised to a power it ends in itself. 3762 = 141376. It continues: 3763 = 53157376 and so on. 37615 = 424441337012461701988020381601157349376 and so on.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The Male-Warrior Hypothesis (Rob Henderson, Substack): “…young human males often address each other with abusive insults. The ritual tests the strength of the friendship. If lighthearted verbal quips do not damage the relationship, then the bonds are likely relatively strong. In contrast, women and girls seldom insult their friends, and often work extra hard to praise them to avoid any signs of hostility. Men bond by insulting each other and not really meaning it; women bond by complimenting each other and not really meaning it.”
    • This article is engrossing even if you already know the gist.
  2. The Fever Is Breaking (David Brooks, New York Times): “The single most important result of this election was the triumph of the normies. Establishmentarian, practical leaders who are not always screaming angrily at you did phenomenally well, on right and left: Mike DeWine in Ohio, Josh Shapiro in Pennsylvania. Workmanlike incumbents from John Thune in South Dakota to Ron Wyden in Oregon had successful nights. Gov. Tony Evers of Wisconsin had the quotation that summarized the election: ‘Boring wins.’ ”
    • Related (in that it is about politics): 3 Principles for Settling Political Spats in the Church (Daniel K. Williams, Christianity Today): “Any attempt to make society more moral through legislation will inevitably be selective and incomplete and may offer mixed results. Which major political party in the United States is committed to addressing the problems of divorce, gambling addictions, marital infidelity, and alcohol abuse? Which party will do the most to protect the poor from being exploited through payday loans? Which party will fight against the pornography industry? If you haven’t seen any political ads this election season that address any of these issues, perhaps that’s a sign of the moral selectivity in our current partisan politics.”
    • The author is a history professor at the University of West Georgia. Emphasis in original.
  3. A Tradition of Anti-Traditionalists (Mark Bauerlein, First Things): “All the talk in the humanities back then turned on ‘opening up the canon’ and breaking up the dominance of Dead White Males—less John Dryden and more Aphra Behn, more diversity and fewer idols—but in the theory area, these figures were as canonical as the saints.… What this bias has produced is two generations of college teachers who don’t realize their bias. They got a narrow education that they trusted was the broadest one. They genuinely don’t know that another critical tradition besides the progressive/transgressive one exists.” This essay is a bullseye.
    • Related: An Existential Threat to Doing Good Science (Luana Maroja, Bari Weiss’s Substack): “The restriction of academic freedom comes in two forms: what we teach and what we research. Let’s start with teaching. I need to emphasize that this is not hypothetical. The censorious, fearful climate is already affecting the content of what we teach.”
    • There’s a Stanford connection in this second article, btw. The article is an adaptation of a speech given at a private conference at Stanford quite recently.
  4. Contra Resident Contrarian On Unfalsifiable Internal States (Scott Alexander, Astral Codex Ten): “But in the stories these people told me, it was more about — they found that this effort was producing something unexpected, and developing new personality aspects that they needed, so they kept going. If you take one step towards Darth Vader, he will take two steps toward you (sorry if I am sounding like a Sith youth pastor).”
    • This is absolutely fascinating and the excerpt does not do it any justice. Recommended.
  5. New Endorsements for College Athletes Resurface an Old Concern: Sex Sells (Kurt Streeter, New York Times): “Haley Jones, an All-America guard at Stanford and a candidate for the Player of the Year Award, said she didn’t want to play up sex appeal. Her endorsement income is driven by a social media image that portrays her as a lighthearted student-athlete without an overtly provocative tone.”
    • Interesting in its own right, also a stronger Stanford angle than I expected.
  6. It’s Always a ‘Negative World’ for Christianity (David French, The Dispatch): “One of [the] core conservative Christian critiques of American culture is that America is growing ever-more hostile to the authentic Christian faith. We’ve left a friendly and hospitable past, and now we’re confronting a hostile future.… But this analysis is fundamentally wrong. It’s dangerously wrong. It’s wrong not because the present moment is particularly hospitable to the Christian faith, but because it fundamentally misunderstands both American history and American Christendom, and it fundamentally misunderstands the permanent countercultural reality of authentic Christianity.”
  7. Paywalls or Constant Intrusive Ads: Pick One (Freddie deBoer, Substack): “And I also want to say, if you’re annoyed that you can’t get past a paywall — tough. Because an era of rising paywalls is absolutely necessary if you want writing to survive as a profession, and if you want good journalism and analysis to endure.”

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 Small World Network of College Classes: Implications for Epidemic Spread on a University Campus (Weeden & Cornwell, Sociological Science): “If one chose a given student at random, that student is likely to attend class with a student who, in turn, attends class with any other randomly chosen student. Put differently, although it is unlikely that any two randomly chosen students would be enrolled in the same course, it is highly likely that they would be enrolled in different courses that both include the same third party.“

The authors, professors at Cornell, were curious about the potential for disease spread among undergrads at their school. Taking this in a completely different direction: the average student at Stanford is likely only one or two steps away from Chi Alpha. WOW! Invite your friends! From volume 246

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.

Disclaimer

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.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 374

More Stanford-related links than normal, including an absolutely wild one about a fake student.

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.

According to people who know such things, 374 is the smallest number that can be expressed as the sum of 3 positive squares 8 different ways: 374 = 1^2 + 7^2 + 18^2 = 2^2 + 3^2 + 19^2 = 2^2 + 9^2 + 17^2 = 3^2 + 13^2 + 14^2 = 5^2 + 5^2 + 18^2 = 6^2 + 7^2 + 17^2 = 6^2 + 13^2 + 13^2 = 7^2 + 10^2 + 15^2

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Stanford-related:
    • Inside “Stanford’s War On Fun”: Tensions mount over University’s handling of social life (Theo Baker, Stanford Daily): “The student said the University is ‘excessively bureaucratic’ and those trying to host events are ‘burnt out’ from trying to navigate a ruleset that ‘has expanded and [adds] challenges that don’t need to be there.’ Harris, who also responded on behalf of the Office of Student Engagement, wrote that the University has worked to expand social opportunities. ‘Student Affairs, student leaders, and campus partners have been working earnestly to provide many and vibrant social options for undergraduates this fall,’ Harris wrote.”
    • Imposter student caught, removed from Crothers Hall (Cassidy Dalva, Theo Baker and Oriana Riley, Stanford Daily): “Students living in the dorm told The Daily Thursday night that the man, who identified himself as William Curry, has lived in the dorm since the second week of the quarter, socialized with the other residents and was let into the dorm regularly by sympathetic RAs.”
    • The Review Interviews Dr. Scott Atlas (Stanford Review): “I want to highlight that lockdowns were not the standard pandemic prescription (neither in 2006, nor in earlier pandemics). It was known that they were extremely harmful. Also, I want to highlight that the university-side of science became highly politicized, possibly because it was an election year. I was warned by Stanford professors that I should not help the President. This was morally repugnant: to let people die simply because you didn’t like the current administration.”
    • A Closed Discussion on Academic Freedom? (Colleen Flaherty, The Chronicle of Higher Education): “Conference organizers told FIRE that they’d invited numerous progressives to participate [in the conference at Stanford], Perrino also said, but over time ‘more conservatives said yes, and very few of the big-name progressives said yes. The political polarization and tribalism is dispiriting.’ Abbot said that organizers invited several dozen progressives who’d previously expressed a ‘negative view’ of academic freedom, who ultimately declined.”
  2. Don’t Even Go There (James Lee, City Journal): “A policy of deliberate ignorance has corrupted top scientific institutions in the West. It’s been an open secret for years that prestigious journals will often reject submissions that offend prevailing political orthodoxies—especially if they involve controversial aspects of human biology and behavior—no matter how scientifically sound the work might be.”
    • The author is a professor of Psychology, Bioinformatics and Computational Biology at the University of Minnesota.
    • Related: Blasphemy is dead. Long live blasphemy (Mary Harrington, Substack): “…if something looks a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck. And when a movement with an instantly recognisable symbol, a distinctive metaphysics (identity precedes biology, all desire must be celebrated) and a calendar of feast days celebrated by governments, corporations, universities and public bodies acquires the ability to punish those who deface its symbols, the only possible thing you can call it is an emerging faith — one with a tightening grip on institutional power across the West.”
  3. Most trans children just going through a phase, advises NHS (Eleanor Hayward, The Times of London): “Most children identifying as transgender are simply going through a ‘transient phase’, new NHS guidance states. Doctors caring for youngsters distressed about their gender have been told that it is not a ‘neutral act’ to help them transition socially by using their preferred new names or pronouns.”
  4. Newsom vs. DeSantis Is Our Inevitable Culture War (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “…in general you need liberalism plus some overarching vision to sustain solidarity, energy and hope. And you definitely need the ‘plus’ to fully resolve questions like, ‘Is abortion a form of murder or a fundamental right?’ or ‘Is it child abuse to give teenagers puberty blockers or child abuse to refuse them?’ ”
  5. Woman: My Dad Was Serial Killer; I Helped Bury the Bodies (Arden Dier, Newser): “Studey says she long ago went to ‘law enforcement all over Iowa and Nebraska trying to get something done’ but ‘they couldn’t trust the memory of a child.’ Yet her memory is vivid. She says her father would kill sex workers and transients, often in the family’s trailer, then get his children to help move the bodies using a wheelbarrow or toboggan.”
  6. Mayra Flores Prevented From Joining the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (Julio Rosas, Townhall): “Flores is not only first Mexican-born woman to serve in Congress, but she also represents a district along the U.S.-Mexico border that is overwhelmingly Latino.… The CHC’s website websites states the Caucus ‘addresses national and international issues and crafts policies that impact the Hispanic community. The function of the Caucus is to serve as a forum for the Hispanic Members of Congress to coalesce around a collective legislative agenda.’ The website does not state in its ‘About’ section that only Democrats can join the organization.”
    • Later in the article we learn “Similarly, Rep. Byron Donalds (R‑FL) was prevented from joining the Congressional Black Caucus last year.”
    • This is fascinating to me and I share it in an entirely non-partisan way. I sometimes hear statements from these caucuses and while I assumed they lean Democrat because their constituency overwhelmingly leans Democrat, I had no idea Republicans were literally forbidden from joining them.
  7. Nancy Pelosi: Intruder was searching for US Speaker in attack on husband (Sam Cabral, BBC): “Paul Pelosi, 82, was taken to hospital after a break-in at their California home on Friday morning. The suspect has been identified as a 42-year-old man and is facing criminal charges including attempted homicide. He broke a glass rear door and — after confronting Mr Pelosi — reportedly shouted: ‘Where is Nancy?’ ” Yikes!

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 Are Mormons Christians?: A Review of “The Saints of Zion: An Introduction to Mormon Theology” (Tim Miller, Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary): “He makes clear that Mormons are not Christians, but does so by pointing out that this has been the claim of the Mormon church itself throughout history (despite recent attempts to argue differently).” From volume 244.

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.

Disclaimer

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.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 370

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 370, a narcissistic number (sometimes also called an Armstrong number). It has three digits, and when you raise each digit to the third power they sum to the original number: 370 = 33 + 73 + 03. There are only 88 narcissistic numbers in base 10, and only 4 of those have three digits (153, 370, 371, and 407).

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. YouTube May Force You to Watch 10 (or More) Unskippable Ads in a Row (Ted Gioia, Substack): “This, my friends, is the web we asked for. We wanted everything for free—but what we really got was a swamp where all the costs are still there, just hidden. And the experience we have gained from other industries where prices are mostly hidden from view—healthcare is the most obvious example, but of course there are others—is that this usually turns out to be the most expensive transaction of them all.”
    • This is really good!
  2. For Suburban Texas Men, a Workout Craze With a Side of Faith (Ruth Graham, New York Times): “This is F3 — that’s fitness, fellowship and faith — a fast-growing network of men’s workouts that combine exercise with spiritually inflected camaraderie.… I first heard about F3 through a few acquaintances in Texas, men who spoke about their local groups with the zeal of evangelists. It reminded me of how urban women used to talk with me about SoulCycle, only these guys were suburban fathers.”
    • A Short Story of Men (David French, The Dispatch): “What is the short story of modern men? Life has changed forever. Ideologues pull men and boys into destructive and unsustainable extremes. Yet virtuous purpose can still be found in the fundamental building blocks of the good life. Only a man can be a husband, only a man can be a father, and men need male friends. If a man can fill those roles with integrity and courage, then doubts about his masculinity should not ever darken his heart.”
    • This is a response piece inspired by the above story about F3.
  3. The Cherokee Nation is again calling on Congress to deliver on a 200-year-old promise (Harmeet Kaur, CNN): “The Cherokee Nation is renewing its campaign for representation in Congress, calling on federal legislators to honor a treaty that the US government made nearly 200 years ago. In a video released last week, the tribal nation reasserted its demand that Congress seat its delegate in the House of Representatives – a right stipulated by the 1835 Treaty of New Echota.”
    • From what I can tell this is a legit claim: the treaty was approved by the US Senate even though shady things happened on the the Cherokee side (the treaty was entered into by Cherokees not authorized to negotiate on behalf of their tribe). I don’t know why this is controversial: America took the land, we need to honor all the terms of the deal.
  4. ‘Out of control’ STD situation prompts call for changes (Mike Stobbe, Associated Press): “New syphilis infections plummeted in the U.S. starting in the 1940s when antibiotics became widely available. They fell to their lowest ever by 1998, when fewer than 7,000 new cases were reported nationwide. The CDC was so encouraged by the progress it launched a plan to eliminate syphilis in the U.S. But by 2002 cases began rising again, largely among gay and bisexual men, and they kept going. In late 2013, CDC ended its elimination campaign in the face of limited funding and escalating cases, which that year surpassed 17,000. By 2020 cases had reached nearly 41,700 and they spiked even further last year, to more than 52,000.”
    • That’s a 26% jump just last year!
    • As STD rates explode, are we still sure God’s way isn’t better? (Peter Heck, Not The Bee): “There’s more to the Christian sexual ethic than a despotic list of don’ts. There’s a holistic and healthy ideal that includes recognizing the person you are dating is someone’s future spouse and should be treated with the same dignity that we would want another treating our future spouse. There’s an enduring commendation of the formation of lifelong, loving relationships built not upon tawdry lusts but self-sacrificial commitment; the recognition that love is not something we feel, but something we do. There’s a self-control that protects humanity and liberates it from sickness and suffering. It’s God’s way…”
    • I often think upon this fact: if the Christian sexual ethic were universally observed for one generation STDs would be essentially eliminated.
  5. Illiberalism Is For (Cultural) Losers (Brian Mattson, Substack): “Illiberalism, the deep desire to deny to others their rights of conscience and belief and property that we ourselves enjoy and to force them into conformity to our vision of the common good by way of coercive State power is the last resort of losers. Cultural losers. Abigail Adams would judge that such people are unfit for liberty; or at least they are people who can’t accomplish anything fruitful with it. I have a better idea. Reform our weak institutions, and where we cannot, we build better ones and be cultural winners.”
  6. An ‘us’ vs. ‘them’ mentality on campuses turns potential friends into allies — or enemies (Pamela Paresky and Samuel J. Abrams, Boston Globe): “According to an NBC poll released in August, only 20 percent of college sophomores surveyed said they can definitely see themselves rooming with someone who voted differently than they did in the 2020 presidential election. And more than half said they probably or definitely couldn’t see themselves dating such a student. Campus culture seems to further social disconnection rather than foster friendship across the political divide.”
    • The authors are scholars of psychology and politics, respectively. I read this one mostly because the thumbnail preview is of Stanford.
  7. The ‘Lizzo Playing James Madison’s Flute’ Controversy: A Blogger’s Analysis (Nick Catoggio, The Dispatch): “H ad you heard of Madison’s flute before Lizzo played it? I hadn’t. I’d heard of her but not it. It was she who lent celebrity to the instrument, not vice versa. You may find that dispiriting, although I’m not sure why any of us should have baseline knowledge about a random gift given to James Madison that played no meaningful role in American history. Me, I’m thrilled to have learned about it via this episode. A crystal flute! Made for the father of the Constitution! Played for the first time in 200 years by a celebrity—totally randomly! It wouldn’t surprise me if it turns out to have magical powers and Lizzo has now been possessed by Madison’s ghost. Which, if so, would make her next concert a must-see. But I digress. The last reason this story is instant blog fodder is because, per the foregoing, it’s quirky as all hell.”

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 Nuclear Family Was a Mistake (David Brooks, The Atlantic): “If you want to summarize the changes in family structure over the past century, the truest thing to say is this: We’ve made life freer for individuals and more unstable for families. We’ve made life better for adults but worse for children. We’ve moved from big, interconnected, and extended families, which helped protect the most vulnerable people in society from the shocks of life, to smaller, detached nuclear families (a married couple and their children), which give the most privileged people in society room to maximize their talents and expand their options. The shift from bigger and interconnected extended families to smaller and detached nuclear families ultimately led to a familial system that liberates the rich and ravages the working-class and the poor.” Highly recommended. From volume 238.

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.

Disclaimer

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.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 365

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 365, which is the number of days in most years. In other words, I’ve done the equivalent of working on this email daily for a year. In reality I just add a little bit every day as I’m reading things, but it’s still a big statistic.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. I’m 30. The Sexual Revolution Shackled My Generation. (Louise Perry, Bari Weiss’s Substack): “We need to re-erect the social guard rails that have been torn down. To do that, we have to start by stating the obvious: Sex must be taken seriously. Men and women are different. Some desires are bad. Consent is not enough. Violence is not love. Loveless sex is not empowering. People are not products. Marriage is good. And, above all, listen to your mother.”
    • Warning: the header picture is risque but the article is worth it. The author is not a Christian and unsurprisingly comes to some non-Christian conclusions — still fascinating to see a forceful secular rejection of the sexual revolution.
  2. Racism-related:
    • Black couple sues after they say home valuation rises nearly $300,000 when shown by White colleague (Justin Gamble and Virginia Langmaid, CNN): “Connolly and Mott later re-applied with another lender, and ‘whitewashed’ their home, according to the lawsuit. This included removing photos of their Black family from the home, and having a White colleague present the property to the appraiser. The suit claims this valuation came back at $750,000, more than a quarter of a million dollars higher than 20/20 Valuations’ appraisal of $472,000.”
    • In California’s largest race bias cases, Latino workers are accused of abusing Black colleagues (Margot Roosevelt, Los Angeles Times): “Though the agency tracks the race and ethnicity of victims, it does not compile official statistics on offenders. Nor are there databases of private cases categorized by perpetrators’ race. This makes it hard to gauge the extent of anti-Black hostility from Latino workers. But court filings, victims’ allegations and employer records show that in the last decade, about a third of anti-Black bias suits filed by the EEOC’s Los Angeles and San Francisco offices involved discrimination by Latinos, about a third involved white offenders and a third were unspecific.”
  3. Christian Political Ethics Are Upside Down (David French, The Dispatch): “…both the Republican and Democratic parties are utterly dependent upon their most devout members for their electoral success. As I’ve noted before, nonwhite Democrats (and especially black Democrats) are among the most God-fearing, churchgoing members of American society. At the same time, the Republican Party would be irrelevant without its own white Evangelical base. The bottom line is that Christians in both parties have absolute veto power over (at the very least) the party’s national candidates.”
  4. Silent crisis of soaring excess deaths gripping Britain is only tip of the iceberg (Sarah Knapton, The Telegraph via Yahoo News): “For 14 of the past 15 weeks, England and Wales have averaged around 1,000 extra deaths each week, none of which are due to Covid. If the current trajectory continues, the number of non-Covid excess deaths will soon outstrip deaths from the virus this year – and be even more deadly than the omicron wave. So what is going on? Experts believe decisions taken by the Government in the earliest stages of the pandemic may now be coming back to bite. Policies that kept people indoors, scared them away from hospitals and deprived them of treatment and primary care are finally taking their toll.”
  5. The Rise of the Worker Productivity Score (Jodi Kantor and Arya Sundaram, New York Times): “…two years ago, her employer started requiring chaplains to accrue more of what it called ‘productivity points.’ A visit to the dying: as little as one point. Participating in a funeral: one and three-quarters points. A phone call to grieving relatives: one-quarter point.”
  6. Good conversations have lots of doorknobs (Adam Mastroianni, Substack): “Conversational affordances are things like digressions and confessions and bold claims that beg for a rejoinder. Talking to another person is like rock climbing, except you are my rock wall and I am yours. If you reach up, I can grab onto your hand, and we can both hoist ourselves skyward. Maybe that’s why a really good conversation feels a little bit like floating. What matters most, then, is not how much we give or take, but whether we offer and accept affordances.” The author has a PhD in psychology from Harvard and is doing a postdoc at Columbia studying conversations.
    • Related: Why Your Social Life Is Not What It Should Be (David Brooks, New York Times): “…most of us are systematically mistaken about how much we will enjoy a social encounter. Commuters expected to have less pleasant rides if they tried to strike up a conversation with a stranger. But their actual experience was precisely the opposite. People randomly assigned to talk with a stranger enjoyed their trips consistently more than those instructed to keep to themselves. Introverts sometimes go into these situations with particularly low expectations, but both introverts and extroverts tended to enjoy conversations more than riding solo.”
  7. Put Down the Woke Man’s Burden (James Hankins, First Things): “The Harvard being whipped along by the administrative caste, by contrast, resembles the Children’s Crusade of the Middle Ages: wrong cause, wrong army. And it ends up attacking the wrong enemies.” The author is a history professor at Harvard.
    • Related: Harvard’s Status as Wealthiest School Faces Oil-Rich Contender in the University of Texas (Janet Lorin & Sergio Chapa, Bloomberg): “Oil reached a high of $120 a barrel earlier this year as a result of a war-induced energy crunch. The revenue is expected to help narrow the gap between the Texas system’s $42.9 billion endowment and Harvard’s $53.2 billion as of June 2021. ‘The University of Texas has a cash windfall when everyone is looking at a potential cash crunch,’ said William Goetzmann, a professor of finance and management studies at Yale University’s School of Management. ‘Adjusting your portfolio for social concerns is not costless.’ ”

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 Too much transparency makes the world more opaque. (Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution): “The demand for transparency seems so innocuous. Who could be against greater transparency? But transparency is inimical to privacy. And we care about privacy in part, because we can be more honest and truthful in private than in public.”First shared in volume 233.

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.

Disclaimer

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.