Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 378

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

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

Things Glen Found Interesting

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

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

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

Why Do You Send This Email?

In the time of King David, the tribe of Issachar produced shrewd warriors “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chron 12:32). In a similar way, we need to become wise people whose faith interacts with the world. I pray this email gives you greater insight, so that you may continue the tradition of Issachar.

Disclaimer

Chi Alpha is not a partisan organization. To paraphrase another minister: we are not about the donkey’s agenda and we are not about the elephant’s agenda — we are about the Lamb’s agenda. Having said that, I read widely (in part because I believe we should aspire to pass the ideological Turing test and in part because I do not believe I can fairly say “I agree” or “I disagree” until I can say “I understand”) and may at times share articles that have a strong partisan bias simply because I find the article stimulating. The upshot: you should not assume I agree with everything an author says in an article I mention, much less things the author has said in other articles (although if I strongly disagree with something in the article I’ll usually mention it). And to the extent you can discern my opinions, please understand that they are my own and not necessarily those of Chi Alpha or any other organization I may be perceived to represent. Also, remember that I’m not reporting news — I’m giving you a selection of things I found interesting. There’s a lot happening in the world that’s not making an appearance here because I haven’t found stimulating articles written about it. If this was forwarded to you and you want to receive future emails, sign up here. You can also view the archives.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 371

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

This is volume 371, which like its immediate predecessor is one of four three-digit narcissistic numbers, meaning that it has three digits and when you raise each digit to the number of digits (in this case, to the third power) they sum to the original number:  33 + 73 + 13 = 371.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. What Harvard Is Really Like (Olivia Glunz, The Public Discourse): “Prestige and influence require class distinctions; in a truly equitable world, Harvard does not exist. Thus, Harvard will continue to champion progressivism—but never enough to endanger its own future. Harvard students of all political stripes perceive this hypocrisy; if anything, they graduate not more liberal but more cynical. So much for the formidable brainwashing machine.… Despite the prevalence of secularism and credentialism at Harvard, faith and friendship were central to my joyful first year. In fact, Christianity, particularly Catholicism, is alive at Harvard.”
    • Short but interesting, and relevant to life at Stanford.
  2. Why the music of Rich Mullins endures, 25 years after his death (Tish Harrison Warren, New York Times): “Mullins had all his royalties and wages go directly to his accountant, whom he asked to issue him an allowance equal to the average working-class salary at the time. The rest of his earnings were given away, mostly to charity. Smith tells me that Mullins ‘was scared for his own soul.’ It wasn’t that he wasn’t tempted by money and fame. It’s that he knew he was tempted, so he ran from it.”
  3. Revolutions Occur When a Significant Portion of Elites Defect From the Existing Regime (Rob Henderson, Substack): “Social movements are typically led not by someone from the underclass or the poor, but by second-tier elites. Lenin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, Che Guevara, America’s founders, etc. were relatively educated and at least middle-class. They were not nearly the poorest of their societies. Far from it.  Which is why their criticisms of the elite within their societies were so astute. They were, figuratively speaking, close cousins—they saw their flaws up close.”
    • This one is really good. Related but long: Diverse and Divided: A Political Demography of American Elite Students (Eric Kaufmann, Substack): “A quarter of students are LGBT, and there are roughly equal shares of Christian and nonreligious students. LGBT, Nonreligious, and Christians are set to become more important political groups among America’s future leaders.”
    • The data in this latter one is interesting, but it is so long you should definitely skim and not read.
  4. Related to justice:
    • A Jury Acquitted Them of Various Charges. They Served Prison Time for Them Anyway. (Billy Binion, Reason): “Can you do prison time for a criminal charge of which you were never convicted? I’d venture that most would assume the answer is ‘no.’ They would be wrong. Known as acquitted conduct sentencing, the practice allows judges to bloat a prison term when sentencing a defendant by punishing them for a separate charge or charges on which a jury deemed them not guilty.” Outrageous. I hope the Supreme Court squashes this 9–0.
    • Thousands were released from prison during covid. The results are shocking. (Molly Gill, The Washington Post): “To protect those most vulnerable to covid-19 during the pandemic, the Cares Act allowed the Justice Department to order the release of people in federal prisons and place them on home confinement. More than 11,000 people were eventually released. Of those, the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) reported that only 17 of them committed new crimes. That’s not a typo. Seventeen. That’s a 0.15 percent recidivism rate in a country where it’s normal for 30 to 65 percent of people coming home from prison to reoffend within three years of release.… These 11,000 releases were not random. People in low- and minimum-security prisons or at high risk of complications from covid were prioritized for consideration for release.”
    • Stock Trades Reported by Nearly a Fifth of Congress Show Possible Conflicts (Kate Kelly, Adam Playford and Alicia Parlapiano, New York Times): “The potential for conflicts in stock trading by members of Congress — and their choice so far not to impose stricter limits on themselves — has long drawn criticism, especially when particularly blatant cases emerge. But the Times analysis demonstrates the scale of the issue: Over the three-year period, more than 3,700 trades reported by lawmakers from both parties posed potential conflicts between their public responsibilities and private finances.… The 97 members who were flagged by the Times analysis amounted to more than half of the people who reported trades, and nearly a fifth of Congress. The group was split almost equally between Democrats and Republicans.”
  5. The amazing power of “machine eyes” (Eric Topol, Substack): “While there are far simpler ways to determine gender [than studying retinas], it’s a 50–50 toss up for ophthalmologists, which means there are no visible cues to human eyes. But now two models have shown 97% accuracy of gender determination from neural network training. That was just the beginning.… That work has now extended to detection of kidney disease, control of blood glucose and blood pressure, hepatobiliary disease, a previous study on predicting heart attack, close correlation of the retinal vessels with the heart (coronary) artery calcium score, and, prior to the new report above, the ongoing prospective assessment and tracking of Alzheimer’s disease.” Wild stuff.
  6. A Nuclear Zugzwang? (Anusar Farooqui, Substack): “Precisely because Russia is so weak relative to Nato, any Russia-Nato war will eventually escalate into strategic nuclear war, the only level on which the Russia enjoys parity with the United States. So, any counter-escalation by the United States would be fraught with escalation risk and nuclear danger.”
    • The author has a PhD in mathematics but writes extensively about foreign policy. I have had multiple smart people recommend this article and finally gave it a read.

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have Porn Restriction for Realists (Tanner Greer, personal blog): “…a world where the tube-sites are gone and people must go back to paying for their porn is a significant improvement over the world we live in now. This world is possible: it existed two decades ago. Technological change is part of what happened, but only part. Just as important in the creation of the new, porn-flushed world we live are legal protections given to websites like PornHub and X Hamster which allow them to dodge liability for the theft their business model is based on. It also allows them to dodge liability for much worse sins.” From volume 242.

Why Do You Send This Email?

In the time of King David, the tribe of Issachar produced shrewd warriors “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chron 12:32). In a similar way, we need to become wise people whose faith interacts with the world. I pray this email gives you greater insight, so that you may continue the tradition of Issachar.

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 362

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.

362 feels like a number that should have lots of factors, but it’s only got the prime factors 2 and 181.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Exploring AI-Assisted Bible Study (John Dyer, personal blog): “I prompted GPT‑3 to generate text for each chapter in the Bible in each category. For example, the prompt to generate a prayer was: “Write 5 prayers inspired by John 3 in the Bible. Remember that the events described here are in the past. First include a short observation or lesson for each prayer, and then write a personal prayer related to the lesson.”  I reviewed the generated text to avoid (or at least minimize) unhelpful or heretical content. I accepted about 90% of GPT‑3’s suggestions on its first pass and regenerated the rest until it gave me something useful. It cost about $150 over six weeks to generate this content, which consists of 71,062 generations and 1.1 million words.”
    • This is the same guy who generated the AI Bible artwork I shared recently (these and other experiments of his are available at http://www.openbible.info/labs/).
  2. What an Overly Pessimistic View of America Gets Wrong (Yascha Mounk interviewing Eboo Patel, Persuasion): “If every institution founded by a faith community in your city disappeared overnight, preschools, hospitals, and universities would be gone. YMCAs would be gone, places where AA groups meet would be gone. Half of your social services would probably be gone. It feels to me that religious identity diversity should be at the center of our national conversation, and I’m curious as to why it’s not.” This conversation is full of wisdom and I highly recommend it.
  3. People Are Dating All Wrong, According to Data Science (Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, Wired): “Good romantic partners are difficult to predict with data. Desired romantic partners are easy to predict with data. And that suggests that many of us are dating all wrong.”
    • From later in the article: “…how a person answered questions about themselves was roughly four times more predictive of their relationship happiness than all the traits of their romantic partner combined.”
  4. A Crucial Court Case Exposes the Darkness of America’s Worst Industry (David French, The Dispatch): “If someone wanted to create a system that was designed to facilitate the distribution of child pornography, videos of rape and other kinds of abuse, or revenge porn, it would be hard to construct a more efficient system than MindGeek’s. And the sheer amount of MindGeek’s traffic and the volume of the downloads demonstrates that Pornhub and other sites are injecting poison into American life at an industrial scale.”
    • A student recommended this piece from a month ago in addition to the above: The Fight to Hold Pornhub Accountable (Sheelah Kolhatkar, The New Yorker): “Pschorr was surprised by the lack of regulation in the U.S. ‘It was always interesting for me as a German to see that, in the U.S., you’d get I.D.’d if you went to a bar, and if you’re not twenty-one you get in big trouble,’ he said. ‘But if you want to consume porn all you have to do is click ‘Yes, I’m 18,’ and you’re in the realm of dirt.’ ” I found this article interesting because it portrays Christians both favorably and unfavorably in short order.
  5. How Did a Two-Time Killer Get Out to Be Charged Again at Age 83? (Rebecca Davis O’Brien & Ali Watkins, New York Times): “A homeless shelter worker and people close to Ms. Leyden questioned whether, despite her gender identity, Ms. Harvey should have been placed in a homeless shelter for women, given her history of attacking and murdering them.” Read that sentence slowly. Wow. And the last eight paragraphs are jaw dropping.
  6. A large new study offers clues about how lower-income children can rise up the economic ladder. (David Leonhardt, New York Times): “Churches and other religious organizations may have some lessons to teach other parts of society. Although many churches are socioeconomically homogeneous, those with some diversity tend to foster more cross-class interactions than most other social activities. Churchs [sic] have lower levels of what the researchers call socioeconomic ‘friending bias.’ ”
    • Sadly there isn’t more info on the religious dynamic, even though this section of the newsletter is called “How Churches Shine”
    • Although this is a NYT piece, it is not paywalled because it is from their morning newsletter.
  7. Nondenominational Churches Are Adding Millions of Members. Where Are They Coming From? (Ryan P. Burge, Christianity Today): “What is driving the growth of nondenominational churches? While in the past it resulted from a significant portion of individuals leaving a mainline tradition, now it looks like nondenominational congregations are increasing by taking in people who were raised Catholic—which is about a quarter of the general population.”

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 Isn’t the ‘Merit,’ It’s the ‘Ocracy’ (Tanner Greer, personal blog): “The American system of government was built on the assumption that the most salient political divides would reflect geography, not ideology or class. The senator from Massachusetts would share bonds in common with the lay citizenry of Boston that he did not share with a senator from South Carolina. On the national sphere this would allow him to represent the interests of his constituents as if they were his own. This has proven more true at some times in American history than others; yet because of the way American politicians are elected, this sense of representing the interests of a geographically bounded group of people is more true in the political arena than in most others.” First shared in volume 232

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 361

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 361, which is also the number of intersections on a Go board.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Actually Good AI-Generated Bible Art with DALL·E 2 (John Dyer, personal blog): “The GPT‑3 prompts I used evolved over time, but this one is emblematic: Suggest 5 unique concept ideas for a work of visual art inspired by Luke 14:7–11 (do not pick the place of honor) in the Bible. Include art direction and a specific medium and artist to emulate. Include artists from a variety of eras, styles, and media. Try for an unusual perspective. Title, year, medium. Description.”
    • Some of these are stunning. Recommended.
  2. Religion Is Dying? Don’t Believe It (Byron R. Johnson & Jeff Levin, Wall Street Journal): “Data from five recent U.S. population surveys point to the vibrancy, ubiquity and growth of religion in the U.S. Americans are becoming more religious, and religious institutions are thriving. Consistent with some previous studies but contrary to widely held assumptions, many people who report no religious affiliation—and even many self-identified atheists and agnostics—exhibit substantial levels of religious practice and belief.”
    • The authors are professors of social science and epidemiology, respectively. I one hundred percent believe this report. The so-called “rise of the nones” is mostly the result of confirmation bias by secular academics and journalists who find religiously committed people annoying.
    • This WSJ article (which I think is paywalled) is based on the freely available scholarly article: Are Religious “Nones” Really Not Religious?: Revisiting Glenn, Three Decades Later (Levin et al, Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion): “The use of words and phrases such as none, no religion, and not religious to describe this group of unaffiliated individuals is thus inappropriate, inaccurate, and misleading.”
  3. Which Sins Are Feeding Your Sin of Lust? (David Powlison, Crossway): “Tom concentrated all his attention on one marquee sin that surfaced sporadically, defining and energizing all his guilty feelings. But that narrowing of attention served to mask far more serious, pervasive sins. As a pastor, friend, or other counselor, you don’t want to concentrate all your energies in the same place Tom did. There were other, deeper opportunities for grace and truth to rewrite the script of this man’s life.”
  4. A Media-Fueled Social Panic Over Unmarked Graves (Jonathan Kay, Quillette): “It’s now been 14 months since the original announcement was made about presumed graves in Kamloops, and no physical evidence has been unearthed. No graves. No corpses. No human remains.… I’ve been in journalism for a quarter century, and have witnessed plenty of bizarre controversies within my trade. But I’ve never witnessed anything similar to this phenomenon. It’s like one of those case-studies in mass hysteria and popular delusion that you read about in history books.”
    • This is not a claim that bad things didn’t happen. It’s more of a claim that the specific bad things that are alleged didn’t happen or that they didn’t happen on the scale widely reported.
  5. China related:
  6. NHS will SHUT its controversial Tavistock transgender clinic for children after damning report warned it was ‘not safe’ (John Ely and Laurence Dollimore, The Daily Mail): “It follows an announcement last month that every child treated for gender dysphoria in the last decade will have their medical records scrutinised to see if NHS care is causing them more harm than good.”
  7. Hot Takes Don’t Belong in Church (Chris Nye, Christianity Today): “So long as we are creating a palatable statement for social media or Sunday’s sermon, we are not praying, worshiping, or organizing ourselves for meaningful action. But in today’s culture, the appearance of morality is more important than moral actions, and speaking is more highly valued than praying.”
    • This is full of good points. Chris is an acquaintance of mine.

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 This Cultural Moment (podcast): I listened to this podcast about following Jesus in the post-Christian world upon the recommendation of some alumni and a student. It’s quite good. Definitely start with episode 1. First shared in volume 231.

Why Do You Send This Email?

In the time of King David, the tribe of Issachar produced shrewd warriors “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chron 12:32). In a similar way, we need to become wise people whose faith interacts with the world. I pray this email gives you greater insight, so that you may continue the tradition of Issachar.

Disclaimer

Chi Alpha is not a partisan organization. To paraphrase another minister: we are not about the donkey’s agenda and we are not about the elephant’s agenda — we are about the Lamb’s agenda. Having said that, I read widely (in part because I believe we should aspire to pass the ideological Turing test and in part because I do not believe I can fairly say “I agree” or “I disagree” until I can say “I understand”) and may at times share articles that have a strong partisan bias simply because I find the article stimulating. The upshot: you should not assume I agree with everything an author says in an article I mention, much less things the author has said in other articles (although if I strongly disagree with something in the article I’ll usually mention it). And to the extent you can discern my opinions, please understand that they are my own and not necessarily those of Chi Alpha or any other organization I may be perceived to represent. Also, remember that I’m not reporting news — I’m giving you a selection of things I found interesting. There’s a lot happening in the world that’s not making an appearance here because I haven’t found stimulating articles written about it. If this was forwarded to you and you want to receive future emails, sign up here. You can also view the archives.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 360

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

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

Things Glen Found Interesting

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

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

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

Why Do You Send This Email?

In the time of King David, the tribe of Issachar produced shrewd warriors “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chron 12:32). In a similar way, we need to become wise people whose faith interacts with the world. I pray this email gives you greater insight, so that you may continue the tradition of Issachar.

Disclaimer

Chi Alpha is not a partisan organization. To paraphrase another minister: we are not about the donkey’s agenda and we are not about the elephant’s agenda — we are about the Lamb’s agenda. Having said that, I read widely (in part because I believe we should aspire to pass the ideological Turing test and in part because I do not believe I can fairly say “I agree” or “I disagree” until I can say “I understand”) and may at times share articles that have a strong partisan bias simply because I find the article stimulating. The upshot: you should not assume I agree with everything an author says in an article I mention, much less things the author has said in other articles (although if I strongly disagree with something in the article I’ll usually mention it). And to the extent you can discern my opinions, please understand that they are my own and not necessarily those of Chi Alpha or any other organization I may be perceived to represent. Also, remember that I’m not reporting news — I’m giving you a selection of things I found interesting. There’s a lot happening in the world that’s not making an appearance here because I haven’t found stimulating articles written about it. If this was forwarded to you and you want to receive future emails, sign up here. You can also view the archives.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 358

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

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

Things Glen Found Interesting

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

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

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

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

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

Why Do You Send This Email?

In the time of King David, the tribe of Issachar produced shrewd warriors “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chron 12:32). In a similar way, we need to become wise people whose faith interacts with the world. I pray this email gives you greater insight, so that you may continue the tradition of Issachar.

Disclaimer

Chi Alpha is not a partisan organization. To paraphrase another minister: we are not about the donkey’s agenda and we are not about the elephant’s agenda — we are about the Lamb’s agenda. Having said that, I read widely (in part because I believe we should aspire to pass the ideological Turing test and in part because I do not believe I can fairly say “I agree” or “I disagree” until I can say “I understand”) and may at times share articles that have a strong partisan bias simply because I find the article stimulating. The upshot: you should not assume I agree with everything an author says in an article I mention, much less things the author has said in other articles (although if I strongly disagree with something in the article I’ll usually mention it). And to the extent you can discern my opinions, please understand that they are my own and not necessarily those of Chi Alpha or any other organization I may be perceived to represent. Also, remember that I’m not reporting news — I’m giving you a selection of things I found interesting. There’s a lot happening in the world that’s not making an appearance here because I haven’t found stimulating articles written about it. If this was forwarded to you and you want to receive future emails, sign up here. You can also view the archives.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 357

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

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

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

Things Glen Found Interesting

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

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

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

Why Do You Send This Email?

In the time of King David, the tribe of Issachar produced shrewd warriors “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chron 12:32). In a similar way, we need to become wise people whose faith interacts with the world. I pray this email gives you greater insight, so that you may continue the tradition of Issachar.

Disclaimer

Chi Alpha is not a partisan organization. To paraphrase another minister: we are not about the donkey’s agenda and we are not about the elephant’s agenda — we are about the Lamb’s agenda. Having said that, I read widely (in part because I believe we should aspire to pass the ideological Turing test and in part because I do not believe I can fairly say “I agree” or “I disagree” until I can say “I understand”) and may at times share articles that have a strong partisan bias simply because I find the article stimulating. The upshot: you should not assume I agree with everything an author says in an article I mention, much less things the author has said in other articles (although if I strongly disagree with something in the article I’ll usually mention it). And to the extent you can discern my opinions, please understand that they are my own and not necessarily those of Chi Alpha or any other organization I may be perceived to represent. Also, remember that I’m not reporting news — I’m giving you a selection of things I found interesting. There’s a lot happening in the world that’s not making an appearance here because I haven’t found stimulating articles written about it. If this was forwarded to you and you want to receive future emails, sign up here. You can also view the archives.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 355

Two pieces critical of Stanford plus lots more.

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

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

Things Glen Found Interesting

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

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

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

Why Do You Send This Email?

In the time of King David, the tribe of Issachar produced shrewd warriors “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chron 12:32). In a similar way, we need to become wise people whose faith interacts with the world. I pray this email gives you greater insight, so that you may continue the tradition of Issachar.

Disclaimer

Chi Alpha is not a partisan organization. To paraphrase another minister: we are not about the donkey’s agenda and we are not about the elephant’s agenda — we are about the Lamb’s agenda. Having said that, I read widely (in part because I believe we should aspire to pass the ideological Turing test and in part because I do not believe I can fairly say “I agree” or “I disagree” until I can say “I understand”) and may at times share articles that have a strong partisan bias simply because I find the article stimulating. The upshot: you should not assume I agree with everything an author says in an article I mention, much less things the author has said in other articles (although if I strongly disagree with something in the article I’ll usually mention it). And to the extent you can discern my opinions, please understand that they are my own and not necessarily those of Chi Alpha or any other organization I may be perceived to represent. Also, remember that I’m not reporting news — I’m giving you a selection of things I found interesting. There’s a lot happening in the world that’s not making an appearance here because I haven’t found stimulating articles written about it. If this was forwarded to you and you want to receive future emails, sign up here. You can also view the archives.

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 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 347

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 347, a Friedman number. That means it can be written as an equation comprised of its own digits (3+4=7).

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. What John Updike and Gerard Manley Hopkins knew about the power of Easter (Tish Harrison Warren, New York Times): “If Jesus wasn’t actually resurrected, then Easter is less real than the budding buzz of spring, less real than a dying breath, less real than my own hands, feet and skin. I have no interest in a Christianity that isn’t deeply, profoundly, irreducibly material.”
  2. Fragmentation Is Not What’s Killing Us (Russell Moore, Christianity Today): “[The breakdown at Babel] does indeed sound like now. But the lessons we learn will be wrong if we don’t see the primary point of the Babel story: The problem wasn’t the fragmentation. The problem was the unity.”
  3. China Covid #2 (Zvi Mowshowitz, Substack): “I want to emphasize that it is very difficult to know what is going on inside China and my sources for this are not the best. I find the Ukraine war a relative epistemic cakewalk compared to this. So please understand that the alarmist claims from various threads are to be taken with large heapings of salt.”
  4. Solve for the wartime presentation equilibrium (Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution): “The country’s IT Army, a volunteer force of hackers and activists that takes its direction from the Ukrainian government, says it has used [facial recognition searches] to inform the families of the deaths of 582 Russians, including by sending them photos of the abandoned corpses. The Ukrainians champion the use of face-scanning software from the U.S. tech firm Clearview AI as a brutal but effective way to stir up dissent inside Russia, discourage other fighters and hasten an end to a devastating war.” Technologies always have unexpected applications.
  5. Helping the Poor: The Great Distraction (Bryan Caplan, Substack): “Governments around the world impose numerous policies that actively hurt the poor. The whole debate about ‘helping the poor’ creates the illusion that the sole reason for their suffering is mere neglect, even though outright abuse is rampant.… They don’t need us to help them; they need us to stop hurting them.”
  6. There is No Pink Tax (Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution): “Preferences differ systematically across genders leading to subtly different products even in categories which appear similar on the surface.… Women and men could save money by buying products primarily marketed to the opposite gender–like 2‑in‑1 shampoo+conditioner–but only by buying products that they prefer less than the products they choose to buy.”
  7. Study explores academic success among Jewish girls (Tulane University, Phys.org): “Girls raised by Jewish parents are 23 percentage points more likely to graduate college than girls with a non-Jewish upbringing, even after accounting for their parents’ socioeconomic status. Girls raised by Jewish parents also graduate from more selective colleges, according to a newly published study by Tulane University professor Ilana Horwitz.” Recommended by an alumnus. One of our PhD candidates is coauthor on the paper — congratulations!

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 Revolt of the Feminist Law Profs (Wesley Yang, Chronicle of Higher Education): “The sex bureaucracy, in other words, pivoted from punishing sexual violence to imposing a normative vision of ideal sex, to which students are held administratively accountable.” First shared in volume 214.

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.