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.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 337

Some wild stories about Stanford in this one.

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 337, a prime number. In fact, the digits are prime even when rearranged (the other permutations of these digits being 373 and 733).

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Why I do not expect a civil war in America (and what does worry me) (Chris Blattman, blog): “Most enemies prefer to loathe one another in peace. War is really costly. It kills, destroys economies, and weakens your country to enemies. As a result, all sides have huge incentives to avoid violence. That’s why most rivals don’t fight. For every thousand ethnic groups, gangs, religious sects, political factions or nations who hate one another, maybe one in a thousand end up in prolonged violence. Because it just doesn’t make sense.”
    • The author is an economist and political scientist at U Chicago. I like this article in part because he spends time talking about the absurd “democracy ratings” political scientists have been downgrading America in over the last few years.
  2. Pandemic-related news:
    • PDF: A Literature Review and Meta-Analysis of the Effects of Lockdowns on COVID-19 Mortality (Jonas Herby, Lars Jonung, and Steve H. Hanke, Studies in Applied Economics): “[The studies] were separated into three groups: lockdown stringency index studies, shelter-in-placeorder (SIPO) studies, and specific NPI studies. An analysis of each of these three groups support the conclusion that lockdowns have had little to no effect on COVID-19 mortality. More specifically, stringency index studies find that lockdowns in Europe and the United States only reduced COVID-19 mortality by 0.2% on average. SIPOs were also ineffective, only reducing COVID-19 mortality by 2.9% on average. Specific NPI studies also find no broad-based evidence of noticeable effects on COVID-19 mortality. While this meta-analysis concludes that lockdowns have had little to no public health effects, they have imposed enormous economic and social costs where they have been adopted. In consequence, lockdown policies are ill-founded and should be rejected as a pandemic policy instrument.”
      • Lockdowns only achieved a .2% reduction in deaths? That’s one in five hundred. Wow. Some of the other stuff our society did was justified, but clearly lockdowns aren’t a tool we should use in the future.
    • Race-Based Rationing Is Real—And Dangerous (Shadi Hamid, The Atlantic): “The rationing rules in New York and elsewhere are not the product of anything resembling conventional political persuasion. No party would support—certainly not openly—the essentialization and instrumentalization of race in medicine. Few are willing to defend policies such as these on the merits, because what exactly would they say? Tellingly, these controversies have received limited coverage from mainstream outlets.” Recommended by a student.
    • COVID Affects Your Memory (Alex Gutentag, Tablet): “After spending four years checking every perceived authoritarian impulse from Donald Trump, the media suddenly called for strict enforcement of government decrees, denounced the noncompliant, punished dissenters, and advocated for Big Tech clampdowns on speech.… With the 2022 midterms in sight, the narrative is simply shifting without apology, and many of the arguments once made by ‘covidiots’ are now being backed by Anthony Fauci, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, and the familiar cast of journalists and experts.”
  3. Two revealing articles about Stanford:
    • “Racist, Triggering, Disrespectful” — Stanford RA slams unmasked white students (Stanford Review): “Late Sunday night, a Stanford student RA in the EVGR dormitory emailed the building’s 2,400 residents to warn against a ‘gross inequity’ that risked students ‘being killed or maimed for a lifetime.’ The danger in question? Maskless students— especially white ones.”
    • The teachers of White Plaza (Valerie Trapp, Stanford Daily): “He tried to respond and was cut off. ‘You’re a white guy,’ Waites said. ‘I can interrupt you.’ ‘And you’re a white woman.’ ‘Well, you’re copping out of the fact I’m saying that you’re racist, and you’re not saying you’re not a racist.’ ”
    • This isn’t all of campus life, but it’s not none of campus life.
  4. Some insights into academia:
    • How the job market works at top schools (Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution): “At least pre-Covid, most of the faculty would get together and rate the graduate students (I am not sure how it has operated for the last two years, though I suspect the same, only over Zoom). Some but not all of the students would be designated as ‘should work at a top school.’ If you were not so rated, your chance of being hired at a top school was slim. Other schools, of course, would know not to pursue the top candidates, and would shoot lower, though some foolhardy places might try to lure them anyway. But basically if you were hiring at a high level, you would call the placement officer at a top school, and they would tier the candidates, based on where you were calling from, and recommend accordingly.”
    • Intellectual Freedom in Medieval Universities (James Hankins, First Things): “One reason [medieval universities flourished] is the lack of professional administrators, a feature of universities that lasted into modern times. (Harvard University—O the bliss of it!—as late as 1850 had only a single full-time administrator, the president, helped by a janitor, a cook, and two ushers.) It is a general principle of successful institutions that the people who run them are the ones most committed to their missions and most responsible for their success. A professional administrative class, by contrast, spends much of its time evading responsibility for failure and taking credit for other people’s achievements.” The author is a history professor at Harvard.
    • Going South: Life at the World’s Most Progressive University (David Benatar, Quillette): “Many universities have a problem—on this point there seems to be widespread agreement. The nature of that problem, however, remains bitterly contested. Liberals and conservatives worry that higher education has succumbed to regressive radicalism on matters related to race and gender. Those who self-identify as progressives and social justice activists, on the other hand, complain that universities are still governed by embedded structures of oppression, and that liberals and conservatives have succumbed to a moral panic in response to reasonable calls for reform.” The author is a professor of philosophy at the University of Cape Town.
  5. Men in the church:
    • Part one: Is Christianity doing more harm than good to American men? (Anthony Bradley, Acton): “It’s often thought that control of women, and especially women’s bodies, has been the obsession of Christian clergy down through the ages, but actually it has been the control of men and their bodies that has just as often characterized Christianity’s orientation. However, because that control has historically been mismanaged, ranging from feminization, to priests using the confessional to control husbands, to clergy falling prey to marrying church and politics, to clergy sex-abuse scandals, to recent stories of evangelical pastors abusing their power, men have become increasingly alienated from the very institution created to form them to be of benefit to others.” The author is a professor of Religious Studies at The King’s College in NYC. 
    • Part two: Saving men requires the leadership of laymen (Anthony Bradley, The Acton Institute): “American boys are often taught that marriage or work will be a cure for their loneliness and alienation, but many men find out the hard way that one can be married, gainfully employed, and still incredibly lonely. Men need local, lay-led confraternities that resonate with their deepest longings and their desire for communion with their fellows, formed by local common interests.”
  6. How Houses of Worship Became Hotbeds of Graft (Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt, The New Republic): “In extreme cases, financial opacity in houses of worship can even become a security risk: It was that exact lack of transparency that may have cost human life at Goldstein’s synagogue in Poway. Though the synagogue had received $150,000 from the government because it “believed that it was at risk of an anti-Semitic attack on its congregants,” according to one of the congregants’ subsequent suits—court documents show that on the day of the attack, the building’s doors were unlocked and no guards, gates, or other security measures were in place. Instead of providing a necessary guard at the front of the synagogue, funds had allegedly been diverted elsewhere; the plaintiffs argue that this mistake may have cost the life of Lori Gilbert-Kaye, who was killed in the shooting.”
  7. Concerning Francis Collins:
    • How The Federal Government Used Evangelical Leaders To Spread COVID Propaganda To Churches (Megan Basham, The Daily Wire): “Other than his proclamations that he is, himself, a believer, the NIH director espouses nearly no public positions that would mark him out as any different from any extreme Left-wing bureaucrat. He has not only defended experimentation on fetuses obtained by abortion, he has also directed record-level spending toward it. Among the priorities the NIH has funded under Collins — a University of Pittsburgh experiment that involved grafting infant scalps onto lab rats, as well as projects that relied on the harvested organs of aborted, full-term babies. Some doctors have even charged Collins with giving money to research that required extracting kidneys, ureters, and bladders from living infants.”
    • Evangelicals: Who Are The Good & The Bad? (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “What sticks in my craw is the seemingly unexamined assumption that if you don’t land where educated middle class elites do on any or all of these questions, that you must in some sense be a threat to the integrity of the Church. Perhaps educated middle class elite opinion is the real threat, you know?” A long article summarizing and interacting with two other articles.
    • I’m going to regret writing this (Erick Erikson, Substack): “..the NIH executive tells me it is important to understand that Collins does not approve and sanction all research and funding and of the funding Collins has directly overseen and approved, only a little would be controversial. The NIH is complex and while Collins guides the whole, he does not oversee or approve the entirety of the budget.“A sane take (and one I privately expressed earlier today without having seen this article).
    • Disclaimer: I loosely know Francis Collins and respect him. I do wish he had done a few things differently, but I am sure that if I had his job he would wish I had done a LOT of things differently and he would be right.

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 An MIT Professor Meets the Author of All Knowledge (Rosalind Picard, Christianity Today): “I once thought I was too smart to believe in God. Now I know I was an arrogant fool who snubbed the greatest Mind in the cosmos—the Author of all science, mathematics, art, and everything else there is to know. Today I walk humbly, having received the most undeserved grace. I walk with joy, alongside the most amazing Companion anyone could ask for, filled with desire to keep learning and exploring.” First shared in volume 194.

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 335

spicier content than normal — you have been warned

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 335. The number 335 is pretty cool because it is divisible by the number of primes below it (335 = 67 · 5, and there are 67 primes less than 335).

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. No, Religious Freedom Doesn’t Send People to Hell (Russell Moore, Christianity Today): “Religious freedom is a restriction on the power of the state to set itself up as a mediator between God and humanity. It is not an affirmation of idolatry, just as saying, ‘The government shouldn’t take your baby away and raise your children’ is not an affirmation of bad parenting. Saying parents should raise their children, instead of the government, does not mean everyone’s parenting is good.”
  2. About identity issues
    • No, the Revolution Isn’t Over (N.S. Lyons, Substack): “In what is rapidly becoming one of my preferred explanations for the Revolution, the evolutionary anthropologist/mathematician/prophet of doom Peter Turchin has identified ‘elite overproduction’ as having been one of the top drivers of revolution and civil conflict throughout history. He points to the tendency for decadent societies to produce far more overeducated elites than there are elite-level jobs, leading to large numbers of underemployed, resentful elite-class intellectuals of the type who tend pine after the position and status they ‘deserve’ and eventually start spending their free time starting revolutionary cells.”
      • This is long and full of insight. And very, very spicy. I have no idea who the author is — N.S. Lyons is a pen name for a DC area analyst with expertise in the Chinese Communist Party. I assume he finds the pen name necessary to protect his professional reputation when he writes about American culture. Did I mention it was spicy?
    • The Trans Movement Is Not About Rights Anymore (Andrew Sullivan, Substack): “This week, the writer Colin Wright posed on Twitter the following question: ‘What rights do trans people currently not have but want that don’t involve replacing biological sex with one’s subjective ‘gender identity’?’ And the response was, of course, crickets. The truth is: the 6–3 Bostock decision places trans people in every state under the protection of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It’s done. It’s built on the sturdy prohibition on sex discrimination. A Trump nominee wrote the ruling. What the trans movement is now doing, after this comprehensive victory, is not about rights at all. It is about cultural revolution.”
    • Why I am no longer a tenured professor at the University of Toronto (Jordan Peterson, National Post): “My students are also partly unacceptable precisely because they are my students. I am academic persona non grata, because of my unacceptable philosophical positions. And this isn’t just some inconvenience. These facts rendered my job morally untenable. How can I accept prospective researchers and train them in good conscience knowing their employment prospects to be minimal?”
    • Being Jewish in an Unraveling America (Bari Weiss, Substack): “The bad guy was killed. The good guys were saved. It doesn’t often turn out that way. All the Jews I know—even the atheists—are thanking God.  But why, despite my gratitude, do I feel so much rage? Why does it feel like there is so little comfort to be found? What has changed? I did not feel this way in the horrific aftermath of the Tree of Life massacre—the most lethal in all of American Jewish history.… What I now see is this: In America captured by tribalism and dehumanization, in an America swept up by ideologies that pit us against one another in a zero-sum game, in an America enthralled with the poisonous idea that some groups matter more than others, not all Jews—and not all Jewish victims—are treated equally. What seems to matter most to media pundits and politicians is not the Jews themselves, but the identities of their attackers. And it scares me.”
  3. The Pro-Life Movement’s Moral Doublespeak (Aaron Renn, Substack): “But the modern Christian church has put forth a fake reality in which women are almost always the victim except in rare, extreme cases. They seem incapable of admitting that women who abort their babies know what they are doing. They can’t bring themselves to even acknowledge that women initiate about 70% of all divorces. When pastors write entire books about marriage and never once mention the basic and well known fact that women file for the vast majority of divorces – and that’s every Christian marriage book I’ve ever read – they aren’t serious people. They justify and excuse almost any female behavior, and even twist reality to somehow blame men for it.” There are several uncomfortable insights in this essay.
  4. China’s Births Hit Historic Low, a Political Problem for Beijing (Steven Lee Myers and Alexandra Stevenson, New York Times): “The number of births fell to 10.6 million in 2021, compared with 12 million the year before, according to figures reported on Monday by the National Bureau of Statistics. That was fewer even than the number in 1961, when the Great Leap Forward, Mao Zedong’s economic policy, resulted in widespread famine and death.”
  5. Buy Things, Not Experiences (Harold Lee, personal blog):  “…the focus on minimalism sounds like a new form of conspicuous consumption. Now that even the poor can afford material goods, let’s denigrate goods while highlighting the remaining luxuries that only the affluent can enjoy and show off to their friends.”
    • This is a short, well-argued contrarian take. Stuff like this is catnip to me.
  6. About the pandemic:
    • Hong Kongers Rebel Against Order to Hand Over Hamsters (Rob Quinn, Newser): “After a woman and 11 hamsters in the pet shop she worked in tested positive for COVID, authorities said Tuesday that anybody who bought a hamster on or after Dec. 22 should hand it in to be euthanized. But while the territory generally has a high level of compliance with COVID orders, the hamster order was widely seen as a step too far…”
    • To Fight Covid, We Need to Think Less Like Doctors (Aaron E. Carroll, New York Times): “Caring for an individual and protecting a population require different priorities, practices and ways of thinking. While it may sound counterintuitive, to heal the country and put our Covid-19 response on the right track, we need to think less like doctors.” The author is both a physician and also the chief health officer at Indiana University.
    • Omicron optimist, pessimist or fatalist – which are you? (Tim Harford, personal blog): “Is this the point at which we should shrug our shoulders and give up? Omicron has prompted three kinds of reaction: optimism, pessimism and fatalism.… What’s confusing is that all three views may be right. Omicron is quite plausibly mild, catastrophic and inevitable all at once.” The author is a British economist. 
    • Lying About Covid For ‘International Harmony’ (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “Inch by painful inch, the truth is being dragged out about how this pandemic started. It is just about understandable, if not forgivable, that Chinese scientists have obfuscated vital information about early cases and their work with similar viruses in Wuhan’s laboratories: they were subject to fierce edicts from a ruthless, totalitarian regime. It is more shocking to discover in emails released this week that some western scientists were also saying different things in public from what they thought in private.” Contains excerpts from a paywalled article.
    • School Closures Were a Catastrophic Error. Progressives Still Haven’t Reckoned With It. (Jonathan Chait, NY Magazine): “It is always easier to diagnose these pathologies when they are taking place on the other side. You’ve probably seen the raft of papers showing how vaccine uptake correlates with Democratic voting and COVID deaths correlate with Republican voting. Perhaps you have marveled at the spectacle of Republican elites actively harming their own audience. But the same thing Fox News hosts were doing to their elderly supporters, progressive activists were doing to their side’s young ones.” It may not be obvious, but this article dovetails very nicely with the Dreher article about elites not being truthful and not reckoning with mistakes.
  7. The long-term effects of protestant activities in China (Yuyu Chen, Hui Wang, Se Yan, Journal of Comparative Economics): “Our findings imply that late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century Protestant missionaries pioneered that modernization movement by disseminating, along with Christianity, Western science and technology to even the most remote regions of China. Such efforts accelerated the pace of modernization, contributed to the accumulation of human capital, and reshaped the social values of local people. Although these historical legacies of missionaries’ undertakings were suppressed during the Cultural Revolution, they rapidly resurged and began to contribute to socioeconomic developments when China began to open up and reform.” The authors appear to be scholars at Peking University.

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 Jesus, Mary, and Joe Jonas (Jonathan Parks‐Ramage, Medium): “How, in famously liberal Hollywood and among statistically progressive millennials, had good old‐fashioned evangelism [sic] gained popularity? In this context, a church like Reality L.A. seemed like something that could never work. But that evening, as I reflected on the troubled actress and the psychic brutalities inflicted by the entertainment industry, it occurred to me that I had underestimated Hollywood’s biggest product: lost souls.” First shared in volume 192 

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 334

a whole lotta magic tricks at the end of this one

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.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. A Nation of Christians Is Not Necessarily a Christian Nation (David French, The Dispatch): “There are influential people and institutions in this country who’ve taken the position that orthodox expressions of Christian sexual morality represent nothing more than bigotry and hatred.  But as much hostility as I’ve seen and experienced from some secular leftists in response to the public expression of my Christian values, nothing compares to hostility I’ve seen and experienced from self-identified Christians when I rooted my opposition to Donald Trump in the same Christian values that sometimes earned me scorn in the Ivy League.”
    • Contra French on Christianity’s Decline (Ross Douthat, Substack): “In other words, in the history of the United States from the American Revolution to Martin Luther King Jr. you see two things happening together: the private practice of faith becomes pretty steadily more robust, and the government becomes more committed to what most of us, religious and not, now consider basic elements of justice and mercy. Over this multi-generational process, you could reasonably say that America remained manifestly imperfect but came closer, however lurchingly, to the combination of widespread personal faith and greater political justice that French argues characterizes the Christian society. That this happened, quite often, through conflict between Protestants (both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God, etc.) is undeniable but not, it seems to me, a particularly telling critique: In a heavily Protestant society how else would change come?” A very impressive response.
    • America’s Christian History Is Broader Than Its White Protestant Past (David French, The Dispatch): “Because America is a majority Christian nation, American progress has depended on Christian action. But also because America is a majority Christian nation, American oppression has depended on Christian action as well. And a movement that’s disproportionately white and Christian needs to remember that sobering fact.” A solid surrejoinder, but I think I award the match point to Douthat even though I usually agree with French more.
  2. Pandemic stuff:
    • One More Time: What Do You Want Us to Do About Covid that We Aren’t Doing Already? (Freddie deBoer, Substack): “I will not live in fear. And I suspect that this is at the heart of all of it — for complex sociological reasons, [our] elites are made up of people who suffer from anxiety and insecurity at vastly disproportionate rates, and they go through life needing their own feelings to be validated by everyone else. This is very scary for them, and if it’s not scary for some of the rest of us, they experience that as implied judgment.” This is very, very good once you get past the Syria stuff up top (which is helpful as a framing device, but goes on a little too long).
    • Why UCSF COVID expert Bob Wachter will soon be ‘over’ the pandemic (Eric Ting, SF Gate): “I believe it’s likeliest that it peaks soon and comes down in February, and we’ll find ourselves in a world where the risk to fully vaccinated individuals is quite low, and it gets low for a few reasons. For one, everyone should have some immunity because with the unvaccinated, most if not all will have been infected by the time this wave ends. This variant of the virus, which is now dominant, is more mild on average. And the risk is lower for immunocompromised and high-risk individuals because of the increasing availability of medications that decrease the chance they’ll get super sick.” The interviewee is chair of the Department of Medicine at UCSF.
    • Dear Stanford: don’t force boosters on students (Monte Fischer, Stanford Daily): “When Paul Offit — director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, member of the FDA’s vaccine advisory committee, decades-long enemy of the anti-vax movement and co-inventor of a rotavirus vaccine — tells his own twenty-something son not to get boosted, you might start to ask some questions about the wisdom of Stanford’s latest mandate.” The author is a PhD candidate in MS&E.
  3. Is the West Becoming Pagan Again? (Christopher Caldwell, New York Times): “Ms. Delsol’s ingenious approach is to examine the civilizational change underway in light of that last one 1,600 years ago. Christians brought what she calls a ‘normative inversion’ to pagan Rome. That is, they prized much that the Romans held in contempt and condemned much that the Romans prized, particularly in matters related to sex and family. Today the Christian overlay on Western cultural life is being removed, revealing a lot of pagan urges that it covered up. To state Ms. Delsol’s argument crudely, what is happening today is an undoing, but it is also a redoing. We are inverting the normative inversion. We are repaganizing.”
  4. New Math Research Group Reflects a Schism in the Field (Rachel Crowell, Scientific American): “A new organization called the Association for Mathematical Research (AMR) has ignited fierce debates in the math research and education communities since it was launched last October.… The AMR claims to have no position on social justice issues, and critics see its silence on those topics as part of a backlash against inclusivity efforts.… The controversy reflects a growing division between researchers who want to keep scientific and mathematical pursuits separate from social issues that they see as irrelevant to research and those who say even pure mathematics cannot be considered separately from the racism and sexism in its culture.”
  5. We need to be able to talk about trans athletes and women’s sports (Megan McArdle, Washington Post): “Male puberty makes you taller, confers greater muscle and bone mass, larger heart and lung capacity relative to your size, and more hemoglobin. For cisgender men, this translates to roughly a 6 to 10 percent advantage over biological women in sports such as running and swimming, though the gap can be larger in other domains, and in a few sports female biology actually conveys some advantage. That 6 to 10 percent might sound modest, but at the elite level, where 1 percent to 2 percent differences can easily make the margin of victory, it’s overwhelming. Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson-Herah, the fastest woman in the world, would lose to America’s best high school boys, and the fastest pitch ever recorded by a woman would be unimpressive for many high school baseball teams.”
  6. The Bad Guys Are Winning (Anne Applebaum, The Atlantic): “As Vladimir Putin figured out a long time ago, mass arrests are unnecessary if you can jail, torture, or possibly murder just a few key people. The rest will be frightened into staying home. Eventually they will become apathetic, because they believe nothing can change.” Recommended by an alumna.
  7. Why the Catholic Church is Losing Latin America (Francis X. Rocca, Luciana Magalhaes & Samantha Pearson, The Wall Street Journal): “The rise of liberation theology in the 1960s and  ’70s, a time when the Catholic Church in Latin America increasingly stressed its mission as one of social justice, in some cases drawing on Marxist ideas, failed to counter the appeal of Protestant faiths. Or, in the words of a now-legendary quip, variously attributed to Catholic and Protestant sources: ‘The Catholic Church opted for the poor and the poor opted for the Pentecostals.’ ” Recommended by a student.

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 (Not So) Secular Saint (James K.A. Smith, Los Angeles Review of Books): “Mill’s legacy was effectively ‘edited’ by his philosophical and political disciples, excising any hint of religious life. One would never know from the canon in our philosophy departments, for example, that Mill wrote an appreciative essay on ‘Theism.’” First shared in volume 190.

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 329

a shorter than usual roundup

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 329th installment. 329 is, apparently, the number of forests (a type of graph) with 10 vertices.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Loving Lies (Bill Adair, Air Mail): “Interviewing Glass can be frustrating, because he frets so much about getting every detail right. He’ll stop midsentence to ponder the month or day that something happened. Was that lunch in late 2014 or early 2015? He’ll check. He knows he has a reputation as a liar and that he has already blown a lifetime of credibility.”
    • Quite a story. You will need to provide your email address to unlock it and it is 100% worth it.
  2. Denzel Washington, Man on Fire (Maureen Dowd, New York Times): “The enemy is the inner me,” he said. “The Bible says in the last days — I don’t know if it’s the last days, it’s not my place to know — but it says we’ll be lovers of ourselves. The No. 1 photograph today is a selfie, ‘Oh, me at the protest.’ ‘Me with the fire.’ ‘Follow me.’ ‘Listen to me.’ We’re living in a time where people are willing to do anything to get followed. What is the long or short-term effect of too much information? It’s going fast and it can be manipulated obviously in a myriad of ways. And people are led like sheep to slaughter.”
  3. What I told the students of Princeton (Abigail Shrier, Substack): “…I want you to think for a moment about a young woman here at Princeton. She’s a magnificent athlete named Ellie Marquardt, an all-American swimmer who set an Ivy League record in the 500-meter freestyle event as a freshman. Just before Thanksgiving, Ellie was defeated in the 500-meter, the event she held the record in, by almost 14 seconds by a 22 year old biological male at Penn who was competing on the men’s team as recently as November of 2019. That male athlete now holds multiple U.S. records in women’s swimming, erasing the hard work of so many of our best female athletes, and making a mockery of the rights women fought for generations to achieve.” Emphasis in original.
  4. Even on U.S. Campuses, China Cracks Down on Students Who Speak Out (Sebastian Rotella, ProPublica): “As the regime of Chinese President Xi Jinping reaches across borders to control its citizens wherever they are, its assaults on academic freedom have intensified, according to U.S. national security officials, academics, dissidents and other experts. Chinese intelligence officers are monitoring campuses across the United States with online surveillance and an array of informants motivated by money, ambition, fear or authentic patriotism. A comment in class about Taiwan or a speech at a rally about Tibet can result in retaliation against students and their relatives back home.”
  5. Political articles which caught my attention:
    • I Couldn’t Vote for Trump, but I’m Grateful for His Supreme Court Picks (Erika Bachiochi, New York Times): “Mr. Trump’s economic populism (at least in rhetoric) blasted through the libertarianism that has tended to dominate the G.O.P., a libertarianism that has made the party’s alliance with pro-lifers one of strange bedfellows indeed. If the G.O.P. wants to be of any relevance in a post-Roe world — after all, with Roe gone, those single-issue voters will be free to look elsewhere — it will have to offer the country the matrix of ethnic diversity and economic solidarity that Mr. Trump stumbled upon, but without the divisiveness of the man himself.”
    • Democrats fall flat with ‘Latinx’ language (Marc Caputo & Sabrina Rodriguez, Politico): “The numbers suggest that using Latinx is a violation of the political Hippocratic Oath, which is to first do no electoral harm,” said Amandi, whose firm advised Barack Obama’s successful Hispanic outreach nationwide in his two presidential campaigns. “Why are we using a word that is preferred by only 2 percent, but offends as many as 40 percent of those voters we want to win?” Shared with me by a student well-suited to assess this controversy. 
    • [Stanford] Senate again denies Mike Pence event funding at meeting revoting on grants (Itzel Luna, Stanford Daily):  “Five senators voted in favor of SCR’s $6,000 funding request to bring former Vice President Mike Pence to campus in the winter quarter. Eight senators abstained and no one voted against the funding which, according to the senators, constituted a failure to receive majority approval.” This reads like a parody of student government.
    • Young Dems more likely to despise the other party (Neal Rothschild, Axios): “[Among college students,] 5% of Republicans said they wouldn’t be friends with someone from the opposite party, compared to 37% of Democrats. 71% of Democrats wouldn’t go on a date with someone with opposing views, versus 31% of Republicans.30% of Democrats — and 7% of Republicans — wouldn’t work for someone who voted differently from them.”

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 Is Christmas a Pagan Rip-off? (Kevin DeYoung, Gospel Coalition): “…whatever the Christmas holiday has become today, it started as a copycat of well-established pagan holidays. If you like Christmas, you have Saturnalia and Sol Invictus to thank. That’s the story, and everyone from liberal Christians to conservative Christians to non-Christians seem to agree that it’s true. Except that it isn’t.” From volume 280.

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 321

I always try to trim these to seven items. Cutting the 8th was brutal this week — so many good options!

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 321, which is not only a number but also a countdown.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Top Trans Doctors Blow the Whistle on ‘Sloppy’ Care (Abigail Shrier, Bari Weiss’s Substack): “[The] new orthodoxy has gone too far, according to two of the most prominent providers in the field of transgender medicine: Dr. Marci Bowers, a world-renowned vaginoplasty specialist who operated on reality-television star Jazz Jennings; and Erica Anderson, a clinical psychologist at the University of California San Francisco’s Child and Adolescent Gender Clinic. In the course of their careers, both have seen thousands of patients. Both are board members of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH), the organization that sets the standards worldwide for transgender medical care. And both are transgender women. Earlier this month, Anderson told me she submitted a co-authored op-ed to The New York Times warning that many transgender healthcare providers were treating kids recklessly. The Times passed, explaining it was ‘outside our coverage priorities right now.’ ”
    • A sobering article, and also a tragic but unsurprising revelation about the New York Times editorial team.
  2. Highlights From The Comments On Modern Architecture (Scott Alexander, Astral Codex Ten): “I might be the only person in the world who likes McMansions. They just look like nice, pleasant buildings made by people who want to vaguely enjoy the place where they live. Probably the least offensive thing people are making these days.”
    • Judging from the comments he really struck a chord with the “Whither Tartaria?” piece I linked two weeks ago. Fascinating stuff, highly recommended.
  3. What American Christians Hear at Church (Casey Cep, New Yorker): “Homiletics—the proper name for the art of preaching—is still taught in seminaries and divinity schools, but it is not often studied outside of those institutions. This is regrettable, since many more Americans attend church than subscribe to a newspaper.… Taking advantage of the technologies that have allowed churches to stream services and post them online, Pew has studied the length, language, and content of tens of thousands of sermons, by denomination and tradition, most recently for the nine Sundays before and the Sunday after last fall’s Presidential election.” Quite interesting.
  4. Slavery vs. White Supremacy (Van Gosse & Sean Wilentz, New York Review of Books): “Antislavery and anti-racist politics appeared only in the 1760s—and only in the American colonies. Those politics, hailed by later abolitionists as of world-historical importance, engaged blacks and whites, enslaved and free. Inspired by the Revolution’s egalitarianism, antislavery advocates overcame powerful opposition and enacted the first emancipations of their kind in history, in seven of the thirteen original states.… The United States, in short, was founded not on slavery and white supremacy but amid an unprecedented struggle over slavery and white supremacy, which the Constitution left open.” Illuminating letters between two history professors.
  5. ‘Some are just psychopaths’: Chinese detective in exile reveals extent of torture against Uyghurs (Rebecca Wright, Ivan Watson, Zahid Mahmood and Tom Booth, CNN): “ ‘Kick them, beat them (until they’re) bruised and swollen,’ Jiang said, recalling how he and his colleagues used to interrogate detainees in police detention centers. ‘Until they kneel on the floor crying.’ During his time in Xinjiang, Jiang said every new detainee was beaten during the interrogation process — including men, women and children as young as 14.” The details in this story are dark. I’ve seen other stories with testimonies from former prisoners, this one features one of the guards speaking up in addition to stories from prisoners.
  6. Trainings (Alan Jacobs, personal blog): “Universities don’t usually create their own training modules — they buy products from companies that specialize in that kind of thing. And those companies want to save money by reusing their old code. So they extract the content of their Title IX courses and simply stuff new content into the existing frameworks. Easy-peasy. And the upper-level administrators of the university, who don’t want to spend any more money on such projects than they have to, accept the Frankenstein’s jury-rigged monster they’ve been handed. But that creates a big problem: the kind of structure needed to communicate to people the contours of a law and the expectations generated by that law is not the kind of structure needed to explore the moral development of a community.”
  7. Yale and the Education of Governing Elites (Tanner Greer, personal blog): “A program conceived to teach future elites how to wisely use state power has morphed into a program teaching them how to wisely oppose it. This transformation is one more illustration of Dashan’s thesis. At Yale we see the American predicament made concrete: an entrenched governing class that enjoys the privileges of elite status but refuses to prepare for the responsibilities of elite station.”

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have Are Satanists of the MS‐13 gang an under‐covered story on the religion beat? (Julia Duin, GetReligion): this is a fascinating bit of news commentary. My favorite bit: “How does one get out of MS‐13? An opinion piece in the New York Times this past April gives a surprising response: Go to a Pentecostal church.” Highly recommended. First shared in volume 158.

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 319

a brief roundup

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 319, which feels like it ought to be a prime number but really 319 = 11 · 29.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. A giant space rock demolished an ancient Middle Eastern city and everyone in it – possibly inspiring the Biblical story of Sodom (Christopher R. Moore, The Conversation): “As the inhabitants of an ancient Middle Eastern city now called Tall el-Hammam went about their daily business one day about 3,600 years ago, they had no idea an unseen icy space rock was speeding toward them at about 38,000 mph (61,000 kph). Flashing through the atmosphere, the rock exploded in a massive fireball about 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) above the ground. The blast was around 1,000 times more powerful than the Hiroshima atomic bomb. The shocked city dwellers who stared at it were blinded instantly. Air temperatures rapidly rose above 3,600 degrees Fahrenheit (2,000 degrees Celsius). Clothing and wood immediately burst into flames.”
    • No, it didn’t “inspire” the Bible story. The Bible story is inspired, though. Astounding regardless.
    • A bit of cold water: Sodom Destroyed by Meteor, Scientists Say. Biblical Archaeologists Not Convinced. (Gordon Govier, Christianity Today): “Archaeologists Steve Ortiz, director of Lipscomb University’s Lanier Center of Archaeology, agreed that while Tall el-Hammam is an important site, its destruction date is too late to fit the Sodom scenario. He dismissed the fireball hoopla to CT. ‘[Their] destruction does not look any different than any other destruction,’ he said. ‘We have Assyrian and Egyptian destructions at Gezer that looks just as dramatic.’ ”
  2. Why Covid regulations may be around longer than you think (Tim Harford, personal blog): “The US and most European countries had abandoned passports by the end of the 19th century. In many South American nations, freedom to travel without a passport was a constitutional right. So how did the passport come roaring back? The answer was the first world war.… Lloyd writes: ‘At the end of the war in 1918, the movement to abolish passports re-energised itself but it was now fighting against governments who had discovered how closely a population could be controlled and how easily this could be justified.’ ”
    1. The Extremely Weird Politics of Covid (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “In less than two years, we’ve gone from a world where it was normal for a left-leaning publication to run an essay gently celebrating the defiance of public health rules during a brutal outbreak of the plague, to a world where the defiance of public health rules during a less lethal pandemic is coded as incredibly right wing. I don’t know exactly why or exactly what it means. I just want people to acknowledge that it has happened and it’s really, really weird.” Accurate.
  3. My Confessions (Joshua Katz, First Things): “Though my faith in academia, which had been waning for years, is now largely gone, my faith in the power of God’s mysterious ways is ascendant. Because religion is still new to me, and because I grew up with the New York Times, which in the guise of news now instructs those aptly dubbed by John McWhorter ‘The Elect’ to despise religion, I find it remarkable—though I shouldn’t—that many of the people who have worked so hard to keep me going are religious.” The author is a professor of classics at Princeton.
  4. The 1619 Project and Living in Truth (Sean Wilentz, Opera Historica): “If it were a high school history paper, that discussion alone would have been grounds for failure. It’s rare, after all, to read a student get every single stated fact perfectly wrong, in support of a proposition for which there is no other evidence cited, on two of the most important topics in all of U.S. history, indeed, all of modern history, the causes of the American Revolution and the origins of antislavery. But this wasn’t a high school paper, it was the New York Times Magazine, and the author was, according to her contributor’s biography, a highly acclaimed journalist.” The author is a historian at Princeton. The article itself is a PDF, direct link here.
  5. The Scientist and the A.I.-Assisted, Remote-Control Killing Machine (Ronen Bergman and Farnaz Fassihi, New York Times): “The straight-out-of-science-fiction story of what really happened that afternoon and the events leading up to it, published here for the first time, is based on interviews with American, Israeli and Iranian officials, including two intelligence officials familiar with the details of the planning and execution of the operation, and statements Mr. Fakhrizadeh’s family made to the Iranian news media.”
  6. Everybody Hates the Jews (Bari Weiss, Substack): “In an era in which the past is mined by offense-archaeologists for the most minor of microaggressions, the very real macroaggressions taking place right now against Jews go ignored. Assaults on Hasidic Jews on the streets of Brooklyn, which have become a regular feature of life there, are overlooked or, sometimes, justified by the very activists who go to the mat over the ‘cultural appropriation’ of a taco.” A bit long, but sobering.
  7. Whither Tartaria? (Scott Alexander, Astral Codex Ten): “So I think there’s a genuine mystery to be explained here: if people prefer traditional architecture by a large margin, how come we’ve stopped producing it?” Much better than the excerpt indicates.

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 Problem with Dull Knives: What’s the Defense Department got to do with Code for America? (Jennifer Pahlka, Medium): “I have a distinct memory of being a kid in the kitchen with my mom, awkwardly and probably dangerously wielding a knife, trying to cut some tough vegetable, and defending my actions by saying the knife was dull anyway. My mom stopped me and said firmly, ‘Jenny, a dull knife is much more dangerous than a sharp knife. You’re struggling and using much more force than you should, and that knife is going to end up God Knows Where.’ She was right, of course…. But having poor tools [for the military] doesn’t make us fight less; it makes us fight badly.” (some emphasis in the original removed). Highly recommended. First shared in volume 155.

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 317

lots of pandemic and vaccination stuff

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 317 — a prime number.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Too Good To Check: A Play In Three Acts (Scott Alexander, Astral Codex Ten): “Did you believe that? I mean, that’s also a pretty cool story, isn’t it? Right-wing news outlets accuse the so-called ‘liberal media’ of bias, then get hoist on their own petard? Seems a bit too cute. Have you clicked through to any of the links yet? No? Not even after I admitted I’m probably biased here?”
  2. On vaccinations
    • It’s Time to Stop Rationalizing and Enabling Evangelical Vaccine Rejection (David French, The Dispatch): “For the Christian believer, the pursuit of freedom is inseparable from the pursuit of virtue. We do not seek liberty simply to satisfy our desires or to appease our fears. In fact, when we pursue the freedom to make our neighbors sick, we violate the social compact and undermine our moral standing in politics, law, and culture. Christian libertinism becomes a long-term threat to religious liberty itself.”
      • Although I am vaccinated myself, I am more sympathetic to vaccine reluctants than French is. I definitely do not think it is a religious liberty issue, though. It seems to me that this is more a matter of personal autonomy and the reluctance is largely driven by self-inflicted damage from the authorities. The CDC (for example) has repeatedly said and done extraordinarily stupid things in this pandemic. Very often you would have been better off doing the opposite of what they advocated for. People noticed. And so now that the official advice is to receive the vaccine, people who are resistant are applying an understandable heuristic.
    • I’m a Former Pastor, and I Don’t Believe in ‘Religious Exemptions’ to Vaccine Mandates (Curtis Chang, New York Times): “Christians who request religious exemptions rarely even try to offer substantive biblical and theological reasoning. Rather, the drivers for evangelical resistance are nonreligious and are rooted in deep-seated suspicion of government and vulnerability to misinformation.… The biggest threat to any legitimate right is the illegitimate abuse of that right.” Recommended by a student. Curtis Chang used to pastor near here and although we’ve never met I emailed with him once about a book he had written.
    • NRB spokesman Dan Darling fired after pro-vaccine statements on ‘Morning Joe’ (Bob Smietana, Religion News Service): “Daniel Darling, senior vice president of communications for the National Religious Broadcasters, was fired Friday (Aug. 27) after refusing to recant his pro-vaccine statements, according to a source authorized to speak for Darling.”
    • The ACLU, Prior to COVID, Denounced Mandates and Coercive Measures to Fight Pandemics (Glenn Greenwald, Substack): “What makes the ACLU’s position so remarkable — besides the inherent shock of a civil liberties organization championing state mandates overriding individual choice — is that, very recently, the same group warned of the grave dangers of the very mindset it is now pushing. In 2008, the ACLU published a comprehensive report on pandemics which had one primary purpose: to denounce as dangerous and unnecessary attempts by the state to mandate, coerce, and control in the name of protecting the public from pandemics.”
  3. The pandemic more generally
    1. One in 5,000 (David Leonhardt, New York Times): “Here’s one way to think about a one-in-10,000 daily chance: It would take more than three months for the combined risk to reach just 1 percent… I will confess to one bit of hesitation about walking you through the data on breakthrough infections: It’s not clear how much we should be worrying about them. For the vaccinated, Covid resembles the flu and usually a mild one. Society does not grind to a halt over the flu.”
    2. New Details Emerge About Coronavirus Research at Chinese Lab (Sharon Lerner & Mara Hvistendahl, The Intercept): “The documents contain several critical details about the research in Wuhan, including the fact that key experimental work with humanized mice was conducted at a biosafety level 3 lab at Wuhan University Center for Animal Experiment — and not at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, as was previously assumed.” Recommended by a student
    3. New Studies Find Evidence Of ‘Superhuman’ Immunity To COVID-19 In Some Individuals (Michaleen Doucleff, NPR): “In fact, these antibodies were even able to deactivate a virus engineered, on purpose, to be highly resistant to neutralization. This virus contained 20 mutations that are known to prevent SARS-CoV‑2 antibodies from binding to it. Antibodies from people who were only vaccinated or who only had prior coronavirus infections were essentially useless against this mutant virus. But antibodies in people with the ‘hybrid immunity’ could neutralize it.”
  4. Steven Pinker Thinks Your Sense of Imminent Doom Is Wrong (David Marchese, New York Times): “Given that virtually every climate scientist believes that human activity is warming the planet, how could anyone deny it? The answer is, people don’t necessarily believe what scientists say because they correctly sense that within academia a person can get punished for unorthodox beliefs.”
    • Including entirely for that excerpt. What I find fascinating is that the journalist is dismissive of this idea, which is not only clearly true but at the root of much societal dysfunction. We have a crisis of confidence in our culture because our experts seem determined to demonstrate their untrustworthiness again and again. Journalists are even more to blame than academics, which is why I think it is so hard for this journalist to accept Pinker’s claim.
  5. Perspective: The moral utility of history (Jon Meacham, Deseret News): “As a matter of observable fact, the United States, through its sporadic adherence to its finest aspirations, is the most durable experiment in pluralistic republicanism the world has known. Other national revolutions have descended into dictatorship and persecution; ours has produced enviable, if fragile, democratic institutions. In the main, the America of the 21st century is, for all its shortcomings, freer and more accepting than it has ever been.” Recommended by an alumnus.
  6. On the Texas abortion law
    1. Texas’ Abortion Law Should Force America to Change Its Ways (Karen Swallow Prior, New York Times): “In America, of all the pregnancies that don’t end in miscarriage, nearly one in five is aborted; this is a society in which things are wildly off track. A world like this, spun by forces that lead to that many lives being undone, doesn’t happen by chance. It takes all of us. It takes a village to make abortion seem like the best choice. We can change our ways, though.” The author is an English professor at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
    2. The Pro-Life Movement Must Transcend Politics (David French, The Dispatch): “To be pro-life does not mean supporting every possible strategy, even if only temporarily successful (a Texas state court has already issued a broad injunction against the law), designed to ban or limit abortion. Strategies designed to ban abortion do not necessarily help end abortion, and ending abortion is the ultimate aim of the pro-life movement.”
    3. How a former SLS professor and Hoover fellow helped shape the Texas abortion ban (Sarina Deb and Georgia Rosenberg, Stanford Daily): “Jonathan Mitchell was a visiting professor at Stanford Law School and former fellow at the Hoover Institution when he theorized the legal mechanism which laid the groundwork for the controversial Texas abortion ban that went into effect last week. If states wanted to circumvent judicial review, Mitchell wrote in a 2018 law review article, they could delegate the power of enforcement to private citizens. That is exactly what S.B. 8 does.”
  7. Strategic Citing (Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution): “[Scholars are more likely to cite other scholars who can help them out]… The finding is robust to controlling for self-citations, own-journal citations, and a variety of other possibilities. The authors also show that deceased authors get fewer citations than matched living authors. For example, living Nobel prize winners get more citations than dead ones even when they were awarded the prize jointly.”

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 Why Being a Foster Child Made Me a Conservative (Rob Henderson, New York Times): “Individuals have rights. But they also have responsibilities. For instance, when I say parents should prioritize their children over their careers, there is a sense of unease among my peers. They think I want to blame individuals rather than a nebulous foe like poverty. They are mostly right.” At the time of writing, the author had just graduated from Yale. Worth reading regardless of your political allegiances. First shared in volume 153.

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 315

some extraordinarily interesting articles this week — highly recommended

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.

Today’s number is 315, which is northwest when measured on a compass.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. OnlyFans and the Sexual Revolution (Samuel D. James, First Things): “If you look carefully, you can see how sobriquets such as ‘sex worker’ give away the game. The contemporary liberated social order is an order of workers: naked bodies laboring round the clock, sacrificing dignity and reputation for the opportunity to nibble the crumbs that fall from Big Tech’s table. Our civilization’s efforts to commodify sexuality cannot deliver what they promise. It is impossible to make sex a product or subscription; the closest thing is human trafficking, which, as it turns out, is a feature and not a bug of the adult content industry.” Straight fire.
  2. The World Is Catechizing Us Whether We Realize It or Not (Kevin DeYoung, Gospel Coalition): “It is worth remembering David Well’s famous definition: worldliness is whatever makes righteousness look strange and sin look normal. Here’s the reality facing every Christian in the West: the money, power, and prestige of the mainstream media, big time sports, big business, big tech, and almost all the institutions of education and entertainment are invested in making sin look normal.”
  3. Nike’s End of Men (Ethan Strauss, Substack): “For all the talk of a racial reckoning within major industries, Nike’s main problem is this: It’s a company built on masculinity, most specifically Michael Jordan’s alpha dog brand of it. Now, due to its own ambitions, scandals, and intellectual trends, Nike finds masculinity problematic enough to loudly reject.” This is WAY more interesting than I anticipated.
  4. Tetlock and the Taliban (Richard Hanania, Substack): “I have a PhD in political science with a focus on international relations. Most people in my position would tell you that you should give my opinions on my topic of expertise more weight because of my credentials. I believe if anything, you should hold my degree against me, as getting a PhD is probably the most inefficient way to understand a topic, and a person seeking that credential has shown that they don’t understand that. I think I’ve been right on Afghanistan and other American interventions because of good intellectual habits, including a genuine concern with what is true. But that has little to do with any training I got from political science.” This piece is quite good. I feel like I should add a disclaimer like, “Warning: academic heresy ahead.”
  5. ‘When My Satire Becomes Popular, I Must Ask, What Is the Problem?’ (Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic): “[Popular satirists] can’t say, ‘I’m calling out power.’ No, you are power. Satirists must interrogate their own positionality. I try to say, ‘How am I implicated in this thing personally?’ Because satire never used to be popular.… So when my satire becomes popular, I must ask, What is the problem? Why are there so many people that are comfortable with my work?” A very perceptive interview with Elnathan John. Emphasis in original.
  6. Hospitals and Insurers Didn’t Want You to See These Prices. Here’s Why. (Sarah Kliff & Josh Katz, New York Times): “This year, the federal government ordered hospitals to begin publishing a prized secret: a complete list of the prices they negotiate with private insurers.… data from the hospitals that have complied hints at why the powerful industries wanted this information to remain hidden.” This is revealing and irritating.
  7. About Afghanistan:
    • We Must Learn From Our Defeat (Tanner Greer, personal blog): “We must learn the lessons of our failure with great urgency. American primacy has insulated America from the pains of our defeat. This will not be true for much longer. As I type these words my nation hurtles towards a dark and uncertain future. The challenge posed by an ambitious and revisionist Communist Party of China dwarfs any problem a movement of illiterate poppy farmers could create. We have wasted the profits of our imperium away; in this more feeble state we now confront the challenge of a century. We must not face it armed with the dysfunction of our past two decades. We must relearn how to be serious.”
    • US special operations vets carry out daring mission to save Afghan allies (James Gordon Meek, ABC News): “The Afghan operators, assets, interpreters and their families were known as ‘passengers’ and they were being guided remotely by ‘shepherds,’ who are, in most cases their loyal former U.S. special operations forces and CIA comrades and commanders, according to chat room communications viewed by ABC News.… Looking back at an effort that saved at least, by their count, 630 Afghan lives, Redman expressed deep frustration ‘that our own government didn’t do this. We did what we should do, as Americans.’ ” Amazing.
    • Three major networks devoted a full five minutes to Afghanistan in 2020 (Jim Lobe, Responsible Statecraft): “If the U.S. government was caught up short by the dramatic denouement of its 20-year war in Afghanistan, viewers of the three major networks must have been taken entirely by surprise. Out of a combined 14,000-plus minutes of the national evening news broadcast on CBS, ABC, and NBC last year, a grand total of five minutes were devoted to Afghanistan…”
    • Let’s Not Pretend That the Way We Withdrew From Afghanistan Was the Problem (Ezra Klein, New York Times): “I will not pretend that I know how we should have left Afghanistan. But neither do a lot of people dominating the airwaves right now. And the confident pronouncements to the contrary over the past two weeks leave me worried that America has learned little. We are still holding not just to the illusion of our control, but to the illusion of our knowledge.”
    • The economics of Taliban finance (Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution): “An example of Islamist governance can be found on the stretch of road from Kabul to the Mile 78 border crossing in south-west Farah province that borders Iran. The road has more than 25 government checkpoints and a fee is charged at multiple points on the journey. By contrast, the Taliban who police the same road have far fewer checkpoints and give a receipt, so only a single payment is necessary.” Very interesting, summarizing a paywalled piece.

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 Ian McEwan ‘dubious’ about schools studying his books, after he helped son with essay and got a C+ (Hannah Furness, The Telegraph): this is a real article. First shared in volume 151.

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.