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.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 364

a mix of links more rarified and more spicy than normal

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, the 364th installment, can also be expressed as the sum of consecutive primes: 11 + 13 + 17 + 19 + 23 + 29 + 31 + 37 + 41 + 43 + 47 + 53

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. One Manner of Law (Marilynne Robinson, Harpers): “Almost fifty years ago, I learned by pure accident that a code of law was drawn up in Massachusetts in 1641 that substantially anticipated the Bill of Rights. I happened to read a letter to the editor in the New York Times that mentioned the Massachusetts Body of Liberties. I had a PhD by then and was supposedly an Americanist by training, yet I was learning of this for the first time. When I finally read these laws, I wondered why the narrative of American history did not begin with them.”
  2. The Girls Who Resisted Boko Haram (Jonathon Van Maren, First Things): “While the world demanded their return, the captive girls were under relentless pressure to convert to Islam and marry militants chosen for them. They were threatened with beheading or brutal slavery if they refused. Many of the girls, paralyzed with fear, succumbed. Others buckled under the brainwashing of a militant assigned to inculcate them into the doctrines of Islam. He forced the ‘daughters of infidels’ to take hours-long classes in which they memorized the Quran. The girls were told that if they married, they would receive homes, slaves, and honor. In secret, the girls shared Bible passages and prayed fervently together for strength and rescue. They sang hymns into their hands and cups of water to stifle the sound.”
  3. Why I Left Academia (Since You’re Wondering) (William Deresiewicz, Quillette): “…it wasn’t so much that I wanted to be treated differently than everybody as that I wanted everybody to be treated differently. I wanted the rules to change; I played by the ones that I thought we should have. I insisted on behaving as if I existed in an environment that valued teaching as much as scholarship and intellectualism as much as specialization. Where opening the eyes of a hundred undergraduates was worth as much as supervising one more dissertation, and publishing an essay in a periodical that’s read by tens of thousands was as valuable as adding one more item to the pile of disregarded studies.” This is quite good, more relevant to the humanities than to the sciences. 
  4. I Didn’t Want It to Be True, but the Medium Really Is the Message (Ezra Klein, New York Times): “Americans are capitalists, and we believe nothing if not that if a choice is freely made, that grants it a presumption against critique. That is one reason it’s so hard to talk about how we are changed by the mediums we use. That conversation, on some level, demands value judgments. This was on my mind recently, when I heard Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist who’s been collecting data on how social media harms teenagers, say, bluntly, ‘People talk about how to tweak it — oh, let’s hide the like counters. Well, Instagram tried — but let me say this very clearly: There is no way, no tweak, no architectural change that will make it OK for teenage girls to post photos of themselves, while they’re going through puberty, for strangers or others to rate publicly.’ ”
    • Related: When Bots Write Your Love Story (Samuel D. James, Substack): “That machines are telling us particular stories about our world is one of the main reasons I keep coming back time and again to digital culture, epistemology, and theology. Our default posture toward the Internet is still, to this day, a posture of intuitive belief: to genuinely accept that what we see on the screen is a piece of ‘real life,’ representative of someone who is really somewhere. And in many cases, of course, this is more or less true. But there are also very real cases where the intensity or the vividness of what we see online is disproportionate to its weight or validity outside.”
    • Related: Speech Without Accountability: Reckoning with Anonymous Christian Trolls (Patrick Miller, Mere Orthodoxy): “…there is at least one clear analog to anon speech in the Bible that I have not yet touched on: the speech of the serpent in Eden. He was the first character in Genesis to conceal his identity in order to critique a person—God himself. The first anon words in human history set human history on fire.”
      • This piece is far too long, rambles needlessly, and at one point says something I think very silly. Nonetheless, I read to the end with interest. The best parts were the reflections on anonymous/disguised speech in the Bible.
    • Related: The Seat of Mockers (Brian Mattson, Substack): “The defenders and practitioners of smash-mouth incendiary rhetoric insist that we must do this so as to adequately combat the world and the infiltration of worldliness into the church. It seems to me that in reality, it is the world and the infiltration of worldliness into the church.” This is quite good, and I found it by following a link in the preceding point.
  5. Some links related to the ongoing sexual revolution, mostly critical:
    • Christians Volunteering Pronouns? (Andrew T. Walker, American Reformer): “We should name the pronoun issue for what it is: A language game. Language is about naming reality. Pronouns of any sort are instruments that individuals use to wield power. Pronouns possess power only because the culture we live in deems one’s chosen individual identity to be absolutely central to who one is. Pronouns serve the subjective self, so if one rejects another’s chosen pronouns, it is doubtlessly interpreted as rejecting the person’s attempt at self-description and self-autonomy. That’s what this is all fundamentally about—creating a private field of reality defined by the wishes and fantasies of individuals who know they can provoke submission for fear of cancellation. We should be clear-eyed about this and refuse to go along with it.”
    • Zoophilia: The Last Taboo Will Fall (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “Seriously, how do you stop legalizing zoophilia, especially in a popular culture in which internal barriers within the masses will have been broken down by widespread hardcore pornography? ‘What does my neighbor’s habit of being cornholed by his German shepherd have to do with my marriage?’ say the nitwit libertarians. ‘Animals can’t consent!’ squeal the nitwit liberals, though I hope they have the sense not to say so with their mouth full of ham.”
      • This is a well-documented piece and the updates at the end are very much worth reading, especially the Scalia quote.
    • I Regret Being A Slut (Bridget Phetasy, Substack): “I know regretting most of my sexual encounters is not something a sex-positive feminist who used to write a column for Playboy is supposed to admit. And for years, I didn’t. Let me be clear, being a ‘slut’ and sleeping with a lot of men is not the only behavior I regret. Even more damaging was what I told myself in order to justify the fact that I was disposable to these men: I told myself I didn’t care. I didn’t care when a man ghosted me. I didn’t care when he left in the middle of the night or hinted that he wanted me to leave. The walks of shame. The blackouts. The anxiety. The lie I told myself for decades was: I’m not in pain—I’m empowered. Looking back, it isn’t a surprise that I lied to myself. Because from a young age, sex was something I was lied to about.” This is in no way a Christian article — but it is interesting.
    • Monkeypox And The Face Of Gay Promiscuity (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “I remember being told by the media that gay men were vastly more promiscuous than straight men because society compelled them to be. Normalize homosexuality and grant same-sex marriage, and that would change. I never believed it because I knew perfectly well that gay men were insanely promiscuous not because they were gay, but because they were men. An ordinary male unrestrained by religious or moral scruple, and faced with a wide variety of willing partners who demand no emotional commitment, or even to know one’s name, before having sex — that man will likely behave exactly as most gay men do.”
      • WARNING — the picture in the link is jarring. The comments at the end are quite interesting and not at all what most observers would expect — Dreher really does appreciate his audience even when they disagree with him.
  6. ‘Disturbing’: Experts troubled by Canada’s euthanasia laws (Maria Cheng, Washington Post): “Canada prides itself on being liberal and accepting, said David Jones, director of the Anscombe Bioethics Centre in Britain, ‘but what’s happening with euthanasia suggests there may be a darker side.’”
  7. As India marks its first 75 years, Gandhi is downplayed, even derided (Gerry Shih, Washington Post): “Today, at rallies of Hindu nationalist hard-liners, Gandhi is routinely vilified as feeble in his tactics against the British and overly conciliatory to India’s Muslims, who broke off and formed their own state, Pakistan, on Aug. 14, 1947. On social media and online forums, exaggerations and falsehoods abound about Gandhi’s alleged betrayal of Hindus. And in popular films and the political mainstream, Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru — the first prime minister — are sidelined, while nationalists who advocated the force of arms have been elevated.”

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  Having Kids (Paul Graham, personal blog): “I remember perfectly well what life was like before. Well enough to miss some things a lot, like the ability to take off for some other country at a moment’s notice. That was so great. Why did I never do that? See what I did there? The fact is, most of the freedom I had before kids, I never used. I paid for it in loneliness, but I never used it.” 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.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 360

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.

360 is, of course, the number of degrees in a circle. It’s also due north on a compass.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The God Gap Helps Explain a ‘Seismic Shift’ in American Politics (David French, Substack): “Countless political and cultural issues don’t have a clear ‘Christian’ policy solution, yet when a party’s members perceive it to be the party of American Christianity, then the platform is wrongly infused with religious fervor, even on issues (like tax rates, gun policy, environmental policy, foreign policy, and countless others) where the correct religious answer is far from clear.”
    • The excerpt is not the main point, which is also good. Highly recommended.
  2. I’m a Scam Prevention Expert, and I Got Scammed (Natasha Lupinia, personal website): “This scam went against everything I thought I knew about social engineering attacks. The caller was professional, knowledgeable, patient, and easy to understand (connection issues notwithstanding). He had so much information about me already that, even knowing how easy it is to find sensitive information about people, I was inclined to take him at face value…”
    • Recommended by an alumnus.
  3. A cluster of links which touch on common college scenarios:
    • Pronouns: Progressivism’s Preposterous Plight (Farhana K, Traversing Tradition): “Without the ability to define a woman as female, for example, encroachment into women’s only spaces will become commonplace. There is no way for the state to protect the needs and wants of women, because nothing is essential to being a woman and no definitive feature of women that require such protections, because a woman is anyone who defines themselves as one. Yet for the Muslim woman who abides by the shar’i commands to veil from unrelated men and minimize physical contact, increasingly deconstructive attitudes to gender will pose a clash that few policymakers and members of the public have had the strength to accommodate.”
      • Interesting to see a Muslim perspective.
  4. The Great Fiction of AI (Josh Dzieza, The Verge): “…it might not be such a bad thing to have to apply a Turing test to everything I read, particularly in the more commercialized marketing-driven corners of the internet where AI text is most often deployed. The questions it made me ask were the sorts of questions I should be asking anyway: is this supported by facts, internally consistent, and original, or is it coasting on pleasant-sounding language and rehashing conventional wisdom?; how much human writing meets that standard?; how often am I reading with enough attention to notice? If this is the epistemic crisis AI-generated text is going to bring, maybe it’s a healthy one.”
    • I found this one super interesting and somewhat amazing.
  5. The Hypocrisy of Elites (Erik Torenberg, Substack): “…we see this everywhere: elites promote body positivity — the idea that being overweight is healthy — while being most obsessed with maintaining perfect health. Elites promote sexual independence and polyamory, yet themselves are most likely to be monogamous in stable long-term relationships. Elites complain about overpopulation and carbon footprint, but they’re the ones having the most kids and inflicting the largest carbon footprint.”
  6. The Fall of History as a Major–and as a Part of the Humanities (Tanner Greer, personal blog): “American culture has lost faith in history as a vehicle for understanding the human experience. Our high culture questions the very concept of shared human experience. It is hard for history—or any of the humanities—to flourish in a world that does not put much stock in the human. By adopting intersectional ideology as their own, the professional humanists have confirmed that they do not believe in the promise of their own discipline. And if they do not believe in it…. why should any 18 year old student?” This is an extraordinarily insightful essay.
  7. 33 Problems With Media in One Chart (Nick Routley, Visual Capitalist): recommended by an alumnus. I now know what astroturfing is.

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 Dishonesty of the Abortion Debate (Caitlin Flanagan, The Atlantic): “The argument for abortion, if made honestly, requires many words: It must evoke the recent past, the dire consequences to women of making a very simple medical procedure illegal. The argument against it doesn’t take even a single word. The argument against it is a picture…. The truth is that the best argument on each side is a damn good one, and until you acknowledge that fact, you aren’t speaking or even thinking honestly about the issue. You certainly aren’t going to convince anybody. Only the truth has the power to move.” First shared in volume 227. I know I shared this recently in light of the Dobbs decision, and it is definitely 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 358

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 358, a number whose base 3 representation ends in its base 7 representation. 3583 is 111021, and 3587 is 1021.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The Culture War That More Christians Should Be Fighting (Tish Harrison Warren, New York Times): “But the people who debate the morality (or lack thereof) of Disney or Hobby Lobby rarely discuss how much paid time off these companies provide employees or whether they pay a living wage or what the wealth disparity is between their top and bottom earners or whether they have adequate maternity leave policies or how much a corporation financially gives back to a community.” Recommended by a student.
  2. The Surprising Case for Marrying Young (W. Bradford Wilcox, Institute for Family Studies): “Our analyses indicate that religious men and women who married in their twenties without cohabiting first — a pattern which describes Joey and Samantha’s path to the altar to a ‘T’ — have the lowest odds of divorce in America today.”
  3. I should have loved biology (James Somers, personal blog): “In the textbooks, astonishing facts were presented without astonishment. Someone probably told me that every cell in my body has the same DNA. But no one shook me by the shoulders, saying how crazy that was.”
  4. Concerning abortion and the Supreme Court:
    • Christians Should Rejoice Over Dobbs (Carl Trueman, First Things): “Nobody of whom I am aware, for example, regards the liberation of Auschwitz in 1945 as a morally ambiguous thing. No child freed that day was particularly concerned that his liberators were members of the Red Army, acting on Stalin’s orders. Yet the Red Army was engaged in a military action that, in the long term, would lead to the notorious Iron Curtain dividing Europe. Nobody regards the fall of Hitler as a morally ambiguous thing, even though it was only made possible by the Americans and the British striking a deal with Joseph Stalin. Yes, Trump is obnoxious, but he isn’t Stalin, and he did deliver on the abortion issue. Dobbs is a moment for joy.”
    • Here’s the Surprising Backstory of the Downfall of Roe v. Wade (Mark Hemingway, Real Clear Investigations): “…conservative activists have long argued the pro-life movement was a moral cause on par with the civil rights movement – and ignoring the strategies commonly used to get the Supreme Court’s attention would amount to unilateral disarmament in a lot of important legal battles.”
    • SCOTUS Justices ‘Prayed With’ Her — Then Cited Her Bosses to End Roe (Kara Voght & Tim Dickinson, Rolling Stone): “In the shadow of the high court, across the street from its chambers, sits a cluster of unassuming row houses known only to the initiated as ‘Ministry Row.’ The strip is host to evangelical political groups that have spent the past several decades pushing Beltway conservatives to embrace the religious right’s political causes…”
    • In a Post-Roe World, We Can Avoid Pitting Mothers Against Babies (Leah Libresco Sargeant, New York Times): “The first person to see us was another ultrasound technician. Her voice got sharp when I asked if our baby had a heartbeat. ‘It’s not a baby, don’t talk like that,’ she told me, as I lay on the table. Her voice softened a little, ‘You don’t have to think of it that way.’ For her, part of providing care was denying there was any room for grief. But when the surgeon came in, he began by expressing his condolences. He talked about our options, he talked about our baby as a baby.”
    • There’s a follow-up at My Ectopic Pregnancies (Leah Libresco Sargeant, Substack): “I wanted to write about Camillian to describe not just what is allowed but what can be offered to parents who are losing their child when the doctors acknowledge their child as a child, rather than minimizing their loss.” This one is a sad reminder of how cruel people can be.
    • Angry about Roe, many journalists focus on crisis pregnancy centers as villains behind it all (Julia Duin, GetReligion): “Like, the CPCs have outwitted the abortion clinics when it comes to figuring out what many pregnant women really want and it’s clear the abortion facilities have suffered financial losses as a result. How about asking people at the latter hard questions about the clients they’ve lost to the CPCs and whose bad marketing decision that was? Hint: It might have to do with the free ultrasounds offered by the CPCs. Offering this service was a trend that began a decade or more ago and it really cried out for coverage. But, you know. That wasn’t news.”
    • ‘The Pro-Life Generation’: Young Women Fight Against Abortion Rights (Ruth Graham, New York Times): “Young women whose activism is not connected to religious belief are relative newcomers to the movement, where they make up a small but boisterous niche. Kristin Turner started a chapter of a youth climate group in her hometown, Redding, Calif. Her Instagram bio includes her pronouns (she/they) and support for Black Lives Matter. She describes herself as a feminist, an atheist and a leftist. At 20, she is also the communications director for Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising, whose goals include educating the public about ‘the exploitative influence of the Abortion Industrial Complex through an anti-capitalist lens.’”
  5. Seeing Like a Finite State Machine (Henry Farrell, Crooked Timber): “In short, there is a very plausible set of mechanisms under which machine learning and related techniques may turn out to be a disaster for authoritarianism, reinforcing its weaknesses rather than its strengths, by increasing its tendency to bad decision making, and reducing further the possibility of negative feedback that could help correct against errors.” The author is a political scientist at Johns Hopkins and I hope he is correct.
  6. Why I’m Giving Up Tenure at UCLA (Joseph Manson, Bari Weiss’s Substack): “Gradually, one hire at a time, practitioners of ‘critical’ (i.e. leftist, postmodernist) anthropology, some of them lying about their beliefs during job interviews, came to comprise the department’s most influential clique. These militant faculty members recruited even more militant graduate students to work with them.”
  7. Transgender-related:
    • Transformation of a Transgender Teen (Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra, Gospel Coalition): “Martin Luther King Jr. talks about the long arc of justice,” said Falls Church Anglican rector Sam Ferguson, who has spent time with multiple transitioning young adults and their families. “The Bible also envisions the long arc of redemption, which aims at the resurrection of the body. There is continuity—the end reflects the beginning. Our Creator doesn’t need to start over. If your child has an XY chromosome, then he’ll be raised from the dead as a male. We need to work along the arc of redemption, not against it.”
    • Pronouns and Cases Involving Transgender Parties (Eugene Volokh, Reason): “For a bit of the factual backstory, which may be relevant because it may illustrate how use of pronouns might color readers’ perspective: Petitioner C.G. was found to have sexually assaulted a 14-year-old boy (whom the opinion calls Alan, a pseudonym) who had been ‘diagnosed with autism’ and who was apparently working in school at three grades below his age level. At the time, C.G., who was 15 and who would a year later be 300–345 pounds and 6’4” or 6′5″, was apparently perceived by people, or at least by Alan, as male.” For a little more on the case: No First Amendment Right to Legal Name Change (Eugene Volokh, Reason).

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

  • Uh oh! (The Far Side)
  • Study Finds 92% Of Californians Who Flee The State Don’t Survive First Winter (Babylon Bee)
  • A Classic (The Far Side)
  • Magician Dan White Proves Fate Really Exists (The Tonight Show, YouTube): ten and a half minutes.
  • Frightening But 100% True Facts About Guns (Babylon Bee, YouTube): four minutes. The first part is the funniest, it drags a little at the end.
  • Truly Humbled to Be the Author of This Article (David Brooks, The Atlantic): “If you’ve spent any time on social media, and especially if you’re around the high-status world of the achievatrons, you are probably familiar with the basic rules of the form. The first rule is that you must never tweet about any event that could actually lead to humility. Never tweet: ‘I’m humbled that I went to a party, and nobody noticed me.’ Never tweet: ‘I’m humbled that I got fired for incompetence.’ The whole point of humility display is to signal that you are humbled by your own magnificent accomplishments. We can all be humbled by an awesome mountain or the infinitude of the night sky, but to be humbled by being in the presence of yourself—that is a sign of truly great humility.”

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have How I Got Rich On The Other Hand (Derek Sivers, personal blog): “It’s not how much you have. It’s the difference between what you have and what you spend. If you have more than you spend, you’re rich. If you spend more than you have, you’re not. If you live cheaply, it’s easy to be free.” This is really simple and really true. Emphasis in the original. First shared in volume 226.

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 357

lots of articles from a busy week — skim the titles and you’ll find at least one that intrigues you

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.

357 is an idoneal number, only 65 of which are known to exist (and there are at most 2 more). A number is idoneal if there is no way to write it as ab+bc+ac where a, b and c are all different positive numbers. I didn’t know idoneal numbers existed until today. Here’s a paper about them.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. AI Related Articles (Interesting and Terrifying)
    • GPT‑3 is ‑right now- already more than capable of enabling student plagiarism (anonymous, Substack): “I cannot emphasize enough that this is not ‘sometime vaguely in the next five years’, nor is it ‘accessible only to students with a background in comp sci’. It’s a 6 cents per thousand words plagiarism service available to everyone right now.… One idea- play around with your own questions before assigning them to students and make sure GPT‑3 has trouble answering them.” This is actually quite stunning.
    • AI Wrote and Performed a Jerry Seinfeld Routine (YouTube): one minute. GPT‑3 wrote a Jerry Seinfeld joke and this YouTube channel did a deepfake of his voice delivering it. Not perfect… but surprisingly good.
    • Google Engineer on His Sentient AI Claim (Bloomberg Technology, YouTube): ten minutes. This is, to be clear, a different AI system than GPT‑3.
    • ‘An Invisible Cage’: How China Is Policing the Future (Paul Mozur, Muyi Xiao & John Liu, New York Times): “The latest generation of technology digs through the vast amounts of data collected on their daily activities to find patterns and aberrations, promising to predict crimes or protests before they happen. They target potential troublemakers in the eyes of the Chinese government — not only those with a criminal past but also vulnerable groups, including ethnic minorities, migrant workers and those with a history of mental illness. They can warn the police if a victim of a fraud tries to travel to Beijing to petition the government for payment or a drug user makes too many calls to the same number. They can signal officers each time a person with a history of mental illness gets near a school.” Emphasis added.
  2. Weed users nearly 25% more likely to need emergency care and hospitalization (Sandee LaMotte, CNN): “When compared with people who did not use marijuana, cannabis users were 22% more likely to visit an emergency department or be hospitalized, the study revealed. The finding held true even after adjusting the analysis for over 30 other confounding factors, including other illicit drug use, alcohol use and tobacco smoking.”
  3. Some Supreme Court articles:
    • Dobbs Is Not the Only Reason to Question the Legitimacy of the Supreme Court (Ezra Klein, New York Times): “Our political system is not designed for political parties this different, and this antagonistic. It wasn’t designed for political parties at all. The three branches of our system were intended to check each other through competition. Instead, parties compete and cooperate across branches, and power in one can be used to build power in another — as McConnell well understood.”
    • The End of Roe Is Just the Beginning (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “…any confident prediction about this ruling’s consequences is probably a foolish one. There can be no certainty about the future of abortion politics because for almost 50 years all policy debates have been overshadowed by judicial controversy, and only now are we about to find out what the contest really looks like. It’s merely the end of the beginning; the true end, in whatever settlement or victory, lies ahead.”
    • After Dobbs, married women keeping their surnames regains political meaning (Kimberly A. Hamlin, Washington Post): “Today, surveys estimate that between 10 percent and 20 percent of American women keep their maiden names, though the percentage is higher for women with advanced degrees and those who marry later in life. Debates about surnames are, in essence, debates about women’s autonomy. Do we regard women as individual citizens or, primarily, as wives and mothers?” The author is a history professor at Miami University (in Ohio).
    • Vouchers for Religious Schools Don’t Threaten the Separation of Church and State (Chris Freiman, Substack): “Critics of vouchers fail to distinguish between a direct subsidy for religion and a tax-funded entitlement distributed to citizens who may use that entitlement for religious purposes.… Citizens should be free to use school vouchers for private religious education because everyone should be free to use their state-supplied resources to pursue their own good in their own way, whether their good is religious or not.” The author is a philosophy professor at William & Mary. This is pithy and well argued.
    • The Supreme Court hands the religious right a big victory by lying about the facts of a case (Ian Millhiser, Vox): “Kennedy will no doubt inspire other teachers and coaches to behave similarly to Coach Kennedy, but those teachers and coaches will do so at their own peril. Gorsuch’s opinion doesn’t weigh whether a coach is allowed to do what Kennedy actually did. That remains an open question, because the Court did not actually decide that case.” A while ago I mentioned that Millhiser often has a hard time understanding those he disagrees with or portraying them sympathetically. I give you exhibit A.
    • Court’s Excellent Ruling in Coach Kennedy Case (Ed Whelan, National Review): “The school district disciplined him only for his decision to persist in praying quietly without his players after three games in 2015. It sought to restrict his actions at least in part because of their religious character. Its policies were not neutral toward religion. Nor were they generally applicable: In response to Kennedy’s religious exercise, the district imposed on him a post-game obligation to supervise students that it did not impose on other members of the coaching staff.” You would not know any of these facts had you only read Millhiser’s article.
    • Justice Thomas and Loving v. Virginia (Josh Blackman, Reason): “…Loving was premised on both the Equal Protection Clause and the Due Process Clause. Even if you reject substantive due process, you could still find that Loving reached the correct result on the basis of the Equal Protection Clause. After all, the law literally treats people differently on the basis of their race. Two white people can get married, but a white person and a black person cannot. Even the most conservative jurists would deem such a law unconstitutional.”
    • Politico, Axios, and NBC News peddle a weird smear of Clarence Thomas (Timothy P. Carney, Washington Examiner): “Thomas didn’t claim that the cells of aborted children are in the vaccines, but NBC News, Politico, and Axios all wrote as if he did. They were dead wrong on an easily checkable fact. How did this happen? How did three outlets all ‘fact check’ a claim Thomas never made, implying or stating that he did make it?”
  4. The Cathedral Vs. Yeshiva (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “How willfully blind do you have to be to say that Yeshiva is not a religious institution? Something tells me that the judge had her mind made up before the first arguments were heard. Another thing that ticks me off is that LGBT rights are widely accepted and celebrated in nearly every college and university in this land. Yeshiva is one of a relative handful of institutions of higher education where people who choose to attend do not have to violate their religious consciences by burning a pinch of incense to the LGBT Caesar. But the Grand Inquisitors of the new religion will not tolerate any dissent. Their god is a jealous god.” The updates at the end are worth reading.
  5. A Candid Conversation with Reporter Jeanne Lenzer on Uncovering Corporate Influence in Medicine and the Media for Over Two Decades (Paul Thacker, Substack): “I called the American Heart Association and found out that they were taking Genentech money, and when I asked them about any financial conflicts among their panelists, they said, ‘Oh, no, no, no. When we put people on a panel, we insist on financial disclosure.’ I said, ‘Fine, would you send me those disclosures?’ They said, ‘We don’t disclose disclosures.’ ”
    • Interesting throughout. From Aug 2021. Also, that excerpt is funny.
  6. Ireland’s COVID Response, Part 4: The Definition of Insanity… (Sam Enwright, Substack): “The vaccines proved that our civilisation is still capable of greatness on the scale of the Apollo program. Yet, can the average person on the street even name a single individual that designed and built them? This New York Times article about Katalin Karikó, pioneer of mRNA technology, is unbelievably depressing. She spent decades on the fringes of academia struggling to get research funding or recognition. After Salk developed the polio vaccine, people partied in the streets. Today, we get endless screeds about how ‘tech can’t save us’ and Big Pharma is ‘profiting from pain’. I’m not saying there is no merit to these complaints. But a word of advice: before you criticise, go to where people are doing truly extraordinary things, and observe. Listen, for ye have much to learn.”
    • This is much better than the title might lead you to assume.
  7. Academia
    • Accounting For College Costs (John Wentworth, Less Wrong): “In this post, we’ll dig into the accounting data for college costs, especially for 4‑year private nonprofit colleges. The main theory we’ll end up at, based on the accounting data, is that college costs are driven mainly by a large increase in diversity of courses available, which results in much lower student/faculty ratios, and correspondingly higher costs per student.”
    • It’s Time to Review the Institutional Review Boards (Willy Chertman, CSPI): “Institutional Review Boards (IRBs) are ethics committees, ideally composed of scientific peers and lay community members, that review research before it can be conducted. Their ostensible purpose is to protect research subjects from research harms. But oftentimes, IRBs are costly, slow, and do more harm than good. They censor controversial research, invent harms where none exist, and by designating certain categories of subjects as ‘vulnerable,’ cause a corresponding diminishment in research on those subjects.”

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 hearkens back to the 90’s, when political scientist J. Budziszewski wrote two articles back-to-back for First Things, The Problem With Liberalism and The Problem With Conservativism. I encourage you to read them both — especially read the one that describes your team. (first shared in a non-Friday blog post)

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 355

Two pieces critical of Stanford plus lots more.

On Fridays I share articles/resources about broad cultural, societal and theological issues. Be sure to see the explanation and disclaimers at the bottom. I welcome your suggestions. If you read something fascinating please pass it my way.

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

Things Glen Found Interesting

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

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have The Importance of Stupidity in Scientific Research (Martin A. Schwartz, Journal of Cell Science): “At some point, the conversation turned to why she had left graduate school. To my utter astonishment, she said it was because it made her feel stupid. After a couple of years of feeling stupid every day, she was ready to do something else. I had thought of her as one of the brightest people I knew and her subsequent career supports that view. What she said bothered me. I kept thinking about it; sometime the next day, it hit me. Science makes me feel stupid too. It’s just that I’ve gotten used to it. So used to it, in fact, that I actively seek out new opportunities to feel stupid.” The author is a professor at Yale. First shared in volume 221.

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 353

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 353, the 71st prime number.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. I saw this gem on Twitter: “I don’t wish to sound apocalyptic about this, but one has the sense that at present our society is simultaneously characterized by wildly disproportionate accountability for trivial transgressions and zero accountability for profound institutional failure.” (David Polansky, co-founder of LinkedIn)
  2. The Robber Baroness of Northern California (Maia Silber, New Yorker): “The university’s most vital purpose, Stanford explained in an address to its Board of Trustees a few years after her husband’s death, was the development of the student’s ‘soul germ.’ She urged the trustees to eschew classrooms in favor of shops and workshops that would ‘dignify labor’ by teaching future workers to ‘use their hands deftly and usefully.’ Stanford believed that, in addition to providing vocational training, the university should inculcate the values of faith, thrift, and abstinence of various kinds. She and her husband banned alcohol from the dormitories and capped the number of women undergraduates at five hundred.”
  3. 78 Minutes (Elizabeth Bruenig, The Atlantic): “I know it’s a statistical anomaly. I know it almost never happens. I know there are a million things I worry less about that happen with greater regularity and worse effects; but those things are unfortunate, and this is evil. Misfortune is awful, but this was something worse. This was torture. This was cruel. This was intentional. The distinction matters.”
  4. How did the IR community get Russia/Ukraine so wrong? (Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution): “The IR community is risk-averse, and preserving of its academic reputations, and thus its members are less willing to make bold predictions than say pundits are. You might even think that is good, all things considered, but it will help explain the missed predictions here.” Many interesting considerations, follow-up at Data on IR scholars and their views on Russia/Ukraine.
  5. Born This Way? The Rise of LGBT as a Social and Political Identity (Eric Kaufmann, CSPI): “The youthful surge is mainly about LGBT identity, with considerably less change in sexual behavior. The rise is greatest for bisexuality, especially among females, with less change for gays and lesbians. The growth in LGBT identification shows no signs of slowing down among the young, but there is compelling evidence that gender nonconformity peaked around 2020 and declined in 2021. It appears less prevalent among teenagers than those in their early twenties.” Plus a fascinating Twitter thread by the author highlighting key details — so much data in this piece to contemplate. Spicy throughout.
  6. The Pope’s Secret Back Channel to Hitler (David Kertzer, The Atlantic): “As the head of a large international organization, his overriding aim in negotiations with Hitler’s emissary was protecting the institutional resources and prerogatives of the Roman Catholic Church in the Third Reich. If the only goal was to protect the welfare of the institutional Church, his efforts could well be judged a success. But for those who see the papacy as a position of great moral leadership, the revelations of Pius XII’s secret negotiations with Hitler must come as a sharp disappointment.” Recommended by an alumnus.
  7. We Need to Complicate the Negative World (Trevin Wax, Gospel Coalition): “…taking a stand for true Christianity has always been costly. Christian ministers lost their jobs in the 1960s for doing nothing more than allowing African Americans to attend worship! In some way or another, we’ve been in the negative world since the time of the New Testament, but the form of that hostility toward the faith changes depending on the place and the era. And the opportunities—where society smiles on aspects of Christianity—change too. We live in positive, neutral, and negative worlds simultaneously, depending on the issue.“This is quite good.

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 New National American Elite (Michael Lind, Tablet Magazine): “from the American Revolution until the late 20th century, the American elite was divided among regional oligarchies. It is only in the last generation that these regional patriciates have been absorbed into a single, increasingly homogeneous national oligarchy, with the same accent, manners, values, and educational backgrounds from Boston to Austin and San Francisco to New York and Atlanta. This is a truly epochal development.” Lind is a professor at UT Austin in the school of public affairs, and I featured another article by him shortly before this one. First shared back in volume 286.

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 351

this week’s news was full of stuff I did not like

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 the 351st installment. 351 is, I am told, the smallest number such that it and its surrounding numbers are all products of 4 or more primes (in the case of 351=3·3·3·13).

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. My College Students Are Not OK  (Jonathan Malesic, New York Times): “Higher education is now at a turning point. The accommodations for the pandemic can either end or be made permanent. The task won’t be easy, but universities need to help students rebuild their ability to learn. And to do that, everyone involved — students, faculties, administrators and the public at large — must insist on in-person classes and high expectations for fall 2022 and beyond.” The author has a PhD in religious studies and was a tenured theology prof, but now teaches writing at another university. His personal journey seems interesting.
  2. MIT, Harvard scientists find AI can recognize race from X‑rays — and nobody knows how (Hiawatha Bray, Boston Globe): “Ghassemi and her colleagues remain baffled, but she suspects it has something to do with melanin, the pigment that determines skin color. Perhaps X‑rays and CT scanners detect the higher melanin content of darker skin, and embed this information in the digital image in some fashion that human users have never noticed before. It’ll take a lot more research to be sure.”
  3. Pandemic news, not great this week:
    • The Covid Capitulation (Eric Topol, Substack): “To recap, we have a highly unfavorable picture of: (1) accelerated evolution of the virus; (2) increased immune escape of new variants; (2) progressively higher transmissibility and infectiousness; (4) substantially less protection from transmission by vaccines and boosters; (5) some reduction on vaccine/booster protection against hospitalization and death; (6) high vulnerability from infection-acquired immunity only; and (7) likelihood of more noxious new variants in the months ahead” The author is a professor of molecular medicine at the Scripps Institute.
    • Permanent Pandemic (Justin E. H. Smith, Harper’s Magazine): “That the political is always biopolitical, in at least this general sense, may be a fact that recedes from view in those rare moments when things are functioning smoothly. At such times, the various documents that governments make us fill out and sign, or fill out on our behalf when we are born, married, arrested, or dead; the various licenses we get renewed; and the accreditations we collect come to appear as ends in themselves rather than as part of a vast apparatus that limits what we can do with our own bodies.” The author is a philosophy professor at the University of Paris.
    • The new Covid equilibrium (Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution): “I know many of you like to say ‘No worse than the common cold!’ Well, the thing is…the common cold imposes considerable costs on the world. Imagine a new common cold, which you catch a few times a year, with some sliver of the population getting some form of Long Covid. One 2003 estimate suggested that the common cold costs us $40 billion a year, and in a typical year I don’t get a cold even once.… Even under mild conceptions of current Covid, it is entirely plausible to believe that the costs of Covid will run into the trillions over the next ten years.”
    • With Plunging Enrollment, a ‘Seismic Hit’ to Public Schools (Shawn Hubler, New York Times): “No overriding explanation has emerged yet for the widespread drop-off. But experts point to two potential causes: Some parents became so fed up with remote instruction or mask mandates that they started home-schooling their children or sending them to private or parochial schools that largely remained open during the pandemic. And other families were thrown into such turmoil by pandemic-related job losses, homelessness and school closures that their children simply dropped out.”
  4. Abortion-related:
    • Roe draft is a reminder that religion’s role in politics is older than the republic (Ron Elving, NPR): “The question arises: Since when did so much of our politics have to do with religion? And the answer is, since the beginning – and even before. Religion was a driving and determinative force in politics on this continent even before the ‘United States’ had been formed.And it has been brought to bear in widely disparate causes. Religion has been invoked to condemn slavery and segregation, to ban alcohol and the teaching of evolutionary science and to bolster anti-war movements.”
    • When an Abortion Is Pro-Life (Matthew Loftus, New York Times): “I view my work as a physician as part of a battle against brokenness in the physical health of my patients, a battle whose tide was turned when Jesus Christ rose from the dead. The Bible teaches that our physical bodies will one day be resurrected as Christ’s was, mysteriously transformed but somehow also continuous with our present flesh and blood — like a seed is transformed into a plant. I teach and work alongside local health professionals so that we can care holistically for people in need, following in the footsteps of Jesus, the healer.… Here, I think the exception proves the rule: Ending a child’s life before birth is so wrong that only saving another life could be worth it.” This is a remarkable op-ed.
    • A critique of the religious pro-life movement: The Religious Right and the Abortion Myth (Randall Balmer, Politico): “White evangelicals in the 1970s did not mobilize against Roe v. Wade, which they considered a Catholic issue. They organized instead to defend racial segregation in evangelical institutions, including Bob Jones University. To suggest otherwise is to perpetrate what I call the abortion myth, the fiction that the genesis of the Religious Right — the powerful evangelical political movement that has reshaped American politics over the past four decades — lay in opposition to abortion.”
    • But actually no: What everyone gets wrong about evangelicals and abortion (Gillian Frank & Neil J. Young, Washington Post): “Twelve years before the Roe decision, a young woman wrote to the leading U.S. evangelist, the Rev. Billy Graham, with the following question: ‘Through a young and foolish sin, I had an abortion. I now feel guilty of murder. How can I ever know forgiveness?’ Graham, whose syndicated newspaper column ‘My Answer’ reached millions of Americans, replied: ‘Abortion is as violent a sin against God, nature, and one’s self as one can commit.’ Graham telegraphed evangelicals’ unease with abortion, which would become increasingly political in the coming years.”
    • Really actually no: There’s been some discussion about how evangelicals in the U.S. didn’t start opposing abortion until the late 1970s – several years after Roe v. Wade in 1973. There’s a lot more nuance to that history. (Andrew Lewis, Twitter): an interesting thread from a professor of political science at the University of Cincinnati.
    • As in strongly no: Ballmer also misrepresented the legal aspects of this story (Jon Whitehead, Twitter)
  5. How Mary Whitehouse Waged War on Pornography (Jonathon Van Maren, First Things): “Whitehouse was mocked for predicting that sexual messaging would soon target children; it is now the norm for LGBT content to appear on children’s TV shows and in storybooks. She warned that films such as Bernardo Bertolucci’s Last Tango in Paris crossed a line; it was later revealed that the rape scene in the movie deeply traumatized the scene’s young actress, who received vile treatment at the hands of older men. On the big cultural questions, Whitehouse was right and her critics were wrong.”
  6. Naomi Judd: ‘It’s scary to show that part of you that is the not so smart, not so together side’ (Terry Mattingly, GetReligion): “Naomi Judd thought she understood the ties that bind country-music stars and their audience – then one aggressive fan went and joined the Pentecostal church the Judd family called home. ‘It really burdened me,’ said Judd, after signing hundreds of her ‘Love Can Build a Bridge’ memoir back in 1993. ‘I just don’t sign autographs at church. The best way I can explain it to children … is to say, ‘Honey, Jesus is the star.’ ” What a great opening story.
  7. On the shootings:
    • Faith on the ground in Buffalo: Voice Buffalo executive director Denise Walden (Adelle M. Banks, Religion News Service): “They are some of the matriarchs and the pillars of our community. They will be missed in ways that I don’t think I can do justice to describing, but who bring joy to this community. They’re the ones who help stand and hold this community together.”
    • The FAQs: What Christians Should Know About the ‘Great Replacement’ Theory (Joe Carter, Gospel Coalition): “The recent shooting in Buffalo is the fifth terrorist attack in the past five years in which a white supremacist gunman made reference to the Great Replacement conspiracy theory.… Christians should be the first to decry the racism and xenophobia of the theory, along with condemning the violence it has perpetuated.”
    • Doctor Who Fought Church Gunman Remembered as Kind Protector (Julie Watson, Ministry Watch): “The family and sports medicine physician was like family to the staff and he encouraged them to learn kung fu, telling them about the importance of knowing self-defense techniques. He also learned how to handle a gun for that same reason. That preparedness combined with Cheng’s serene disposition likely gave him a proclivity for acting heroically, according to active shooter experts.… Authorities credit Cheng’s quick action with saving perhaps dozens of lives at a celebratory luncheon for congregants and their former pastor at Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church, which worships at Geneva Presbyterian Church in the Orange County community of Laguna Woods.”
    • After Shooting, Churches Navigate China-Taiwan Tensions Under the Surface (Kate Shellnutt & Sean Cheng, Christianity Today): “As soon as they heard that a gunman attacked a Taiwanese church in California on Sunday, some Taiwanese correctly assumed political motives.… The shooting suspect, David Wenwei Chou, was born and raised in Taiwan but considers himself Chinese. (China currently claims Taiwan as its territory.) He left notes in Chinese in his car stating he did not believe Taiwan should be independent from China. Chinese social media circulated photos of Chou indicating that he was a leader of a Chinese pro-unification organization in Las Vegas.”

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 A Study Guide For Human Society, Part 1 (Tanner Greer, The Scholar’s Stage): “…there are two methods [for finding good history books] in particular I have often have useful. The first is to Google syllabi. If you are interested in the history of the Roman Republic, Google ‘Roman Republic syllabus’ and see what pops up. Read a few courses and see what books are included. Alternatively, if you just read a book you thought was particularly good, put its title into Google and then the word ‘syllabus’ afterwards and see what other readings college professors have paired with that book in their courses.”  First shared in volume 217.

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 342

the long collections of links are at the end — punchy stuff up top

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 342, which is 666 in base 7. Do with that information as you see fit.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. I Came to College Eager to Debate. I Found Self-Censorship Instead. (Emma Camp, New York Times): “…my college experience has been defined by strict ideological conformity. Students of all political persuasions hold back — in class discussions, in friendly conversations, on social media — from saying what we really think. Even as a liberal who has attended abortion rights protests and written about standing up to racism, I sometimes feel afraid to fully speak my mind.”
    • This is a strong column. And the anecdote about her first amendment sign is amusing.
  2. We’re All Sinners, and Accepting That Is Actually a Good Thing (Tish Harrison Warren, New York Times): “My favorite definition of sin comes from the English author Francis Spufford. He says that most of us in the West think of sin as a word that ‘basically means “indulgence” or “enjoyable naughtiness.“ ‘ Instead, he calls sin ‘the human propensity to mess things up’ — only he doesn’t use the word ‘mess,’ and his word is probably closer to the truth of things.”
    • This sentence from later on was quite good: “The Lutheran theologian Martin Marty wrote that we live in a culture where ‘everything is permitted and nothing is forgiven.’ ”
  3. Women who self-objectify are less aware of the cold during nights out, study finds (Beth Elwood, PsyPost): “Self-objectification is when a person is overly concerned with how others perceive their appearance. When people self-objectify, they view themselves as objects of attraction. Interestingly, a greater tendency to self-objectify has been associated with reduced attention to one’s bodily processes, for example, difficulty identifying feelings of hunger.”
    • “Self-objectify.” I love when we come up with new words that we don’t need. Vain will do fine, thank you. And I doubt this is as gendered as the headline suggests — I see frat bros in their muscle shirts even when it is chilly out. Vain people are apparently not lying when they say they don’t feel the cold.
  4. A feud between mail carriers, wild turkeys comes to a deadly climax near Sacramento (Christian Martinez, LA Times): “For months, mail carriers in the Sacramento County enclave of Arden-Arcade have been terrorized by wild turkeys, at times disrupting deliveries. This week, tensions between the fowl and one U.S. Postal Service worker reached a violent climax when the carrier killed a turkey while on duty, officials said, prompting an investigation by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.”
    • If a crime was committed then California laws need reform. If self-defense is a legitimate excuse in human death how much more when an animal is killed? I stan the letter carrier.
  5. On Ukraine:
    • Why Forecasting War Is Hard (Richard Hanania, Substack): “If North Korea can maintain a formidable army, I suspect that Russia can too no matter how bad sanctions get.… I keep trying to play the scenario out in my head as to what a Russian loss looks like and it’s hard to see it.”
    • Ukraine is around the same size as Texas. (My Life Elsewhere)
    • The U.S. Is Not at War, But Its Civil Society Is Mobilizing Against Russia (Benjamin Parker, The Bulwark): “While no state of war exists between the government of the United States and the government of Russia, a sort of opt-in, cultural-economic quasi-war exists between American civil society and the Russian government. The same goes for many if not all of the other countries arrayed against Russia. This raises lots of interesting and difficult questions…”
    • Related: Putin Dons President Xi Mask So Companies Will Stop Boycotting Them (Babylon Bee): ouch
    • Go Ahead. Pray for Putin’s Demise. (Tish Harrison Warren, Christianity Today): “Very often in the imprecatory psalms, we are asking that people’s evil actions would ricochet back on themselves. We are not praying that violence begets more violence or that evil starts a cycle of vengeance or retaliation. But we are praying that people would be destroyed by their own schemes and, as my professor prayed, that bombs would explode in bombers’ faces.”
    • They Predicted the Ukraine War. But Did They Still Get It Wrong? (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “It’s a curious feature of Western debate since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that a school of thought that predicted some version of this conflict has been depicted as discredited by the partial fulfillment of its prophecies.”
    • Ukraine’s Believers and the ‘Christian’ Putin (Mindy Belz, Wall Street Journal): “Pro-Russian fighters in Donbas seized churches and Christian universities, some violently. Militiamen abducted, tortured and killed four Pentecostal deacons. Their bodies were found in a mass grave along with two dozen others. One watchdog group, the European Evangelical Alliance, called Donbas ‘the area of Europe where the church suffers the most.’ ” Recommended by an alumnus.
    • Facebook allows war posts urging violence against Russian invaders (Munsif Vengattil & Elizabeth Culliford, Reuters): “The calls for the leaders’ deaths will be allowed unless they contain other targets or have two indicators of credibility, such as the location or method, one email said, in a recent change to the company’s rules on violence and incitement.”
      • It’s like a modern-day version of the religious gymnastics Jesus condemned in Mark 7:9–13. Facebook is opposed to calls for violence except when they are not.
    • Why white evangelical Christians are Putin’s biggest American fan base (Anthea Butler, MSNBC): “…more pro-Putin American evangelicals are coming into sharp focus. Televangelist Pat Robertson proclaimed that Putin is ‘being compelled by God’ to invade Ukraine — his take on Putin’s motivations is questionable at best, but his support for Putin as part of a divine plan is notable.”
      • Ummm… not a Pat Robertson fanboy here, but I feel the need to point out to the author that Judas was part of a divine plan. Being part of a divine plan is not automatically commendable. The article is interesting regardless.
    • The Real Russia ‘Reset’: Reassessing US Sanctions Policy Against Russia (Daniel P. Ahn, Russia Matters):  “…the pecuniary cost of sanctions to Russia has been larger than previously estimated, but these sanctions have had an effect on domestic politics that is not necessarily favorable to U.S. interests. Namely, the Russian government’s attempts to protect economic sectors it considers strategic have made the country’s powerful elites even more dependent on the Kremlin, while the bottom-line costs are borne by ordinary people.”
      • This is recent yet from before the current sanctions in response to the invasion of Ukraine (and thus less caught up in the moment). Recommended by a student.
  6. On the pandemic:
    • Tolerating COVID Misinformation Is Better Than the Alternative (Conor Friedersdor, The Atlantic): “On December 30, 2019, Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist at Wuhan Central Hospital in Hubei, China, began to warn friends and colleagues about the outbreak of a novel respiratory illness. Four days later, he was summoned to appear before local authorities, who reprimanded him for ‘making false comments’ that ‘severely disturbed the social order.’ In hindsight, Li was the first person accused of disseminating medical misinformation during the coronavirus pandemic, despite the fact that he was telling the truth.”
    • Secondary Attack Rates for Omicron and Delta Variants of SARS-CoV‑2 in Norwegian Households (Jørgensen, Nygård & Kacelnik, JAMA): “Secondary attack rate [chance of transmitting to someone else in your household] was 25.1% (95% CI, 24.4%-25.9%) when the variant of the index case was Omicron, 19.4% (95% CI, 19.0%-19.8%) when it was Delta, and 17.9% (95% CI, 17.5%-18.4%) when it was nonclassified.”
      • This is straight-up surprising to me. If you got COVID there was only a 1/5 to 1/4 chance of spreading it to the people who live with you. This is based on national-level Norwegian data and I don’t know enough about Norway’s architecture, culture, or COVID restrictions compared to the USA to know how well this maps to us, but it’s really interesting. For context, when I got COVID so did most (but not all) of my family.
    • An Anti-Vax Judge Is Preventing the Navy From Deploying a Warship (Mark Joseph Stern, Slate): “The Navy and the federal judiciary are therefore in a standoff. The Navy will not deploy Doe’s warship until he is stripped of command [because of his response to COVID]. Merryday will not allow it to do so. As a result, Merryday has effectively taken a 10,000 ton, $1.8 billion guided-missile destroyer out of commission.”
      • This is more of an op-ed than an article and is very hostile to the officer and the judge. Nonetheless interesting.
    • Destroyer can’t deploy because CO won’t get COVID vaccine, Navy says (Geoff Ziezulewicz, Navy Times): “But according to Mat Staver of the Liberty Counsel, a religious freedom non-profit representing the plaintiffs, the government is ‘putting in these histrionic kinds of statements into the record that are completely contrary to the evidence.’ While Navy leaders have professed lost confidence in the CO, they still sent him and his ship out to sea for two weeks of training, Staver told Navy Times on Monday. ‘When this was filed in court saying the ship is not deployable because they lost confidence in the Commander, the Commander was on board the ship out to sea for two weeks of testing and training for military readiness,’ Staver said.”
      • A more comprehensive accounting. The legal context about the requirements of RFRA at the end are clarifying.
  7. Florida’s education bill:
    • For the bill: Why are they really wanting to talk to 1st graders about sexuality? (Peter Heck, Substack): “What am I missing? Why are there people so invested in talking to kindergartners about sex that they are railing against this law and rallying Hollywood, media, and their entire progressive pop culture apparatus into misrepresenting and reversing it?”
    • For the bill: “Don’t Say Gay” is a lie (Allie Beth Stuckey, World): “..what is the well-meaning, reasonable opposition to this bill? I am hard-pressed to think of one valid reason, even as I have attempted a good faith effort of putting myself in a progressive’s shoes. The most charitable explanation I can give is that most people angrily protesting and reporting on the bill have not read it.”
    • Against the bill: Bills like ‘Don’t Say Gay’ hurt LGBTQ youth already at high risk of suicide (Amit Paley, USA Today): “LGBTQ youth are already placed at significantly increased risk for suicide because of how they are mistreated and stigmatized. The Trevor Project’s  2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, capturing the experiences of nearly 35,000 LGBTQ youth across the United States, found that 42% of respondents seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including more than half of trans and nonbinary youth.”
    • The above claim in academic context: Suicide by Clinic-Referred Transgender Adolescents in the United Kingdom (Michael Biggs, Archives of Sexual Behavior): “From 2010 to 2020, four patients were known or suspected to have died by suicide, out of about 15,000 patients (including those on the waiting list). To calculate the annual suicide rate, the total number of years spent by patients under the clinic’s care is estimated at about 30,000. This yields an annual suicide rate of 13 per 100,000 (95% confidence interval: 4–34). Compared to the United Kingdom population of similar age and sexual composition, the suicide rate for patients at the GIDS was 5.5 times higher.”
      • Summary: this study suggests that UK youth who consider themselves trans are more likely to attempt suicide than their peers but at a much lower rate than the fifty percent which is often thrown around. The suicide rate among this population is actually thousands of times smaller than that, slightly above one hundredth of one percent. Each of those deaths is a tragedy, and having an accurate understanding of the problem is essential to planning effective societal responses.
      • Incidentally, this far lower number is actually compatible with the 50% claim in the preceding article when the phrase “seriously considered attempting suicide” is rightly understood. The academic paper delves into some relevant considerations and I commend it to you.

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 Asymmetric Weapons Gone Bad (Scott Alexander, Slate Star Codex): “Every day we do things that we can’t easily justify. If someone were to argue that we shouldn’t do the thing, they would win easily. We would respond by cutting that person out of our life, and continuing to do the thing.” This entire series of articles (this is the fourth, the others are linked at the top of it) is 100% worth reading. It’s a very interesting way to think about the limits of reason and the wisdom hidden in tradition. First shared in volume 206.

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.