Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 388

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 388, which has 97 as one of its prime factors. I just think that’s cool.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Be Open to Spiritual Experience. Also, Be Really Careful. (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “But precisely because an attitude of spiritual experimentation is reasonable, it’s also important to emphasize something taught by almost every horror movie but nonetheless skated over in a lot of American spirituality: the importance of being really careful in your openness, and not just taking the beneficence of the metaphysical realm for granted. If the material universe as we find it is beautiful but also naturally perilous, and shot through with sin and evil wherever human agency is at work, there is no reason to expect that any spiritual dimension would be different — no reason to think that being a ‘psychonaut’ is any less perilous than being an astronaut, even if the danger takes a different form.””
    • Douthat speaking a rare type of truth at the New York Times.
    • Dreher responds to Douthat’s column and goes much deeper: Psychonauts, Plinths, & Re-Paganizing Pop Culture (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “Douthat is emphatically correct that one should be extremely careful about this stuff. There is no reason at all to believe that the spiritual realm is benign.”
  2. Layoffs Broke Big Tech’s Elite College Hiring Pipeline (Anna Kramer, Wired): “…the fact that layoffs haven’t excluded the graduates of the top schools cleanly illustrates an argument that labor experts, computer science professors, and unions have been trying to make for years: The skills required for most of the jobs that power these larger institutions do not actually require degrees from the world’s premier computer science programs. If they did, Meta would hardly have choked off the internship pipeline it had spent years building, risking losing the trust of a generation of elite college graduates.”
  3. On Scientific Transparency, Researcher Degrees Of Freedom, And That NEJM Study On Youth Gender Medicine (Jesse Singal, Substack): “If you compare that to the protocol document, you’ll notice that of the eight key variables the researchers were most interested in — ‘gender dysphoria, depression, anxiety, trauma symptoms, self-injury, suicidality, body esteem, and quality of life’ — the ones I bolded are not reported in the NEJM paper. That’s six out of eight, or 75% of the variables covered by the researchers’ hypothesis in their protocol document (including the ‘officially’ preregistered shorter version).”
    • Emphasis in original. This is thorough. Singal is really, really good at this. I hate to say that I am instinctively skeptical of academic studies when they touch on human sexuality, but I am. It’s stuff like this over and over again.
  4. Pentecostalism from soup to nuts: A (near) complete history of this movement in America (Julia Duin, GetReligion): “Without a doubt, the portion of Christianity known as Pentecostalism was — by far — the fastest-growing movement of the 20th century, going from zero members on Jan. 1, 1901 to 644 million adherents worldwide now. It is the primary expression of Christianity in the Global South. It is the one form of Christianity to mount a serious challenge to the growth of Islam, mainly because of its appeal to the very poor and its reliance on the miraculous.”
  5. Why Not Mars (Maciej Cegłowski, personal website): “When the great moment finally came, and the astronauts had taken their first Martian selfie, strict mission rules meant to prevent contamination and minimize risk would leave the crew dependent on the same robots they’d been sent at enormous cost to replace. Only the microbes that lived in the spacecraft, uninformed of the mission rules, would be free to go wander outside. They would become the real explorers of Mars, and if their luck held, its first colonists.”
    • This is really well-written!
  6. Misinformation on Misinformation: Conceptual and Methodological Challenges (Sacha Altay, Manon Berriche, & Alberto Acerbi, Social Media + Society): “…the internet is not rife with misinformation or news, but with memes and entertaining content.… people do not believe everything they see on the internet: the sheer volume of engagement should not be conflated with belief.”
    • From the abstract. The authors are at Oxford, Fondation Nationale des Sciences Politiques, and Brunel.
  7. As Refugees Flood Into U.S., Chinese Christians Told To Wait (Susan Crabtree, RealClearPolitics): “The United States could grant the church members immediate emergency asylum, as it has done for tens of thousands of Ukrainians fleeing their war-ravaged country and the first group of Afghans airlifted into the United States amid the chaotic U.S. evacuation in August 2021. Just this month, President Biden announced plans to allow Venezuelans, Nicaraguans, and Cubans fleeing persecution priority asylum status as long as they arrived by plane and had private sponsors ready to help them resettle. When it comes to Chinese Christians trapped in limbo, the Biden administration is balking, while offering no explanation for the dramatically different treatment of these groups of foreign nationals seeking asylum. Human rights advocates believe they already have the answer: The Biden administration is wary of further rocking the boat with China amid efforts to repair basic lines of communication.”

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 particle collection that fancied itself a physicist (Ed Feser, personal blog): “Democritus’s point is that if the atomist says both that atoms are all that exist and that color, sweetness, etc. and the other qualities of conscious experience are not to be found in the atoms, then we have a paradox.” From volume 264.

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

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

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 379

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

This is volume 379, the 75th prime number.

Things Glen Found Interesting

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

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

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

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

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

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 377

things which grabbed my attention

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

This is volume 377, the 14th Fibonacci number.

Things Glen Found Interesting

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

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

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

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

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

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 373

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 373, a permutable prime. That means it is a prime number even when you rearrange its digits (337, 733).

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Reconstructing Faith: Christianity in a New World (Tim Keller, Life In The Gospel): “Christians in our cultural moment will have to rethink their faith, but at the same time they must learn to ‘doubt their doubts.’ They must deconstruct not only their tacit, mistaken beliefs and their secondary beliefs that pose as primary, but also just as importantly, the cultural narratives that are offered as the alternatives to Christian faith.” Recommended by a student.
  2. The Math of Measurements (Tumblr): “The base 12 system of the traditional English foot is fantastic for mental math, because 12 is a highly divisible number. It’s easily divisible into halves, thirds, quarters, and sixths by most people in their heads.… This is the kind of math most artisans need to do. You want supports placed evenly along a wall, to divide a piece of fabric in half, or to double a recipe. Nobody 1.7x’s a recipe. Metric would be great for that, but why would you do that? It wouldn’t be worth the math involved.”
    • I very much like this rant. There’s a lot to like about metric, but not as much as some of its enthusiasts claim.
  3. Co-ops are the New Greek Life (Julia Steinberg, Stanford Review): “While attempting to provide an alternative social and living environment based on principles of counterculturalism, many co-ops recreate the social pressures of Greek Life through a flimsy veneer of counterculturalism.… co-ops present a space to safely pretend to be countercultural, while forging a living community with people who are just like them, preventing the expression of true difference and diversity. If co-ops seek to hold onto the legacy of the 60s and 70s that birthed these houses, they must reckon with the fact that they are currently co-ed Greek Houses in a crochet sweater.”
  4. Boston University CREATES a new Covid strain that has an 80% kill rate — echoing dangerous experiments feared to have started pandemic (Caitlin Tilley, Daily Mail): “It will no doubt surprise many Americans that such experiments continue to go on in the US despite concerns similar studies may have led to the global Covid outbreak.”
    • Another rational response that also addresses common objections: Can We At Least Ban Gain of Function Research? (Zvi Mowshowitz, Substack): “Imagine the worst thing you could do that doesn’t involve nuclear weapons. Then imagine someone went ahead and did it, and published, and it was all not only legal. It was funded. Here in America.”
  5. American Idol: How Politics Replaced Spiritual Practice (Michael Wear, Christianity Today): “…the Christian faith offers tremendous resources for combating political sectarianism and so much else that ails our politics, but we have to connect those resources to our public life and politics. Christians don’t need to be reminded of kindness, gentleness, and joy. But many do need to be convinced that the way of Jesus is up to the task of politics. They need to be convinced that the public arena, too, is a forum for faithfulness.”
  6. Key findings from The Post’s series on veterans’ lucrative foreign jobs (Craig Whitlock and Nate Jones, Washington Post): “More than 500 retired U.S. military personnel — including scores of generals and admirals — have taken jobs as contractors and consultants for foreign governments since 2015, cashing in on their military expertise and political clout. Most have worked as civilian contractors for Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other Persian Gulf monarchies, playing a critical, though largely invisible, role in upgrading their militaries.”
    • Somewhat related: American technology boosts China’s hypersonic missile program (Cate Cadell & Ellen Nakashima, Washington Post): “Military research groups at the leading edge of China’s hypersonics and missile programs — many on a U.S. export blacklist — arepurchasing a range of specialized American technology, including products developed by firms that have received millions of dollars in grants and contracts from the Pentagon, a Washington Post investigation has found.”
    • See a non-paywalled summary of the missile story at US software gives China its hypersonic edge (Gabriel Honrada, Asia Times)
  7. Stanford Apologizes for Limiting Jewish Admissions in the 1950s (Amanda Holpuch, New York Times): “Several colleges and universities, including Harvard, Yale and Dartmouth, limited Jewish enrollment in the 1920s through the 1960s, but Stanford had long denied rumors that it had used similar practices.” Of interest in this story is (a) the interview at the end with Jessica, the director of Hillel and (b) the fact that a Substack article started all this.
    • The Substack article which launched it: How I Discovered Stanford’s Jewish Quota (Charles Petersen, Substack): “One Jewish student who attended Stanford in the 1960s was told by his high school guidance counselor that the university would only accept one Jewish student from each high school each year — he had been the one to get in. If this is true (and this student verified the claim from personal experience), it might offer an explanation for how Snyder implemented the suggestion, mentioned earlier, from the Jewish president of Stanford’s board of trustees. When Snyder wanted to admit a few Gentiles with less than stellar grades, he made sure to admit precisely one Jewish applicant near the top of the class.”

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 3 Types of Skeptics (C. Michael Patton, Credo House): “1. Those who need answers…. 2. Those who don’t like the answers…. 3. Those who need healing.” From volume 244.

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

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

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 366

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 366th of these missives, which is not only the number of days in a leap year but also  82 + 9+ 102+ 112.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. No Promises (Eve Tushnet, Plough): “In confession you do not seek primarily moral improvement but reconciliation with God. The confessional is less a classroom and more a trysting place. In my own life, my best current understanding of what I’m doing is not that I’ve turned away from drunkenness and to abstinence; abstinence is an absence. It’s slightly more true to say that I am turning from drunkenness to sobriety: a path of peace. But it is most true to say that I hope to turn from drunkenness to Christ. And this in all things: not from vice to virtue but from vice to God.”
  2. Humans Are All More Closely Related Than We Commonly Think (Scott Hershberger, Scientific American): “…our most recent common ancestor probably lived no earlier than 1400 B.C.and possibly as recently as A.D. 55. In the time of Egypt’s Queen Nefertiti, someone from whom we are all descended was likely alive somewhere in the world. Go back a bit further, and you reach a date when our family trees share not just one ancestor in common but every ancestor in common.… somewhere between 5300 and 2200 B.C.,according to Rohde’s calculations.”
    • If only there was an ancient and holy book which attested something similar…
  3. Why Are We in Ukraine? (Christopher Caldwell, Claremont Review of Books): “The attempt to isolate Russia from the American world system has had a striking unintended consequence—the possible founding of an alternative world system that would draw power away from the existing one. Twenty years ago, under George W. Bush, the United States removed the Iraqi deterrent from Iran’s neighborhood, transforming Iran overnight into a regional power. This year, under Joe Biden, the United States has made China a gift of Russia’s exportable food and mineral resources. We are displaying an outright genius for identifying our most dangerous military adversary and solving its most pressing strategic challenge.”
    • In related news, these two articles by Rod Dreher are the clearest things I’ve seen highlighting the problems Europe is facing as a result of the Ukrainian war. Scary times.
    • Neronian Ruling Class Fiddles While West Burns (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “As rich as the West is, it can’t keep its people warm in the winter by burning cash. And so, European households are now being forced to ask if freezing in the dark for Ukraine is something they really want to do. This is not going to happen to Americans — but you should think about how you would react if this were you, and your elderly parents, and your kids. Yes, Putin is an SOB, but this is the real world.”
    • Can You Heat Europe With Von Der Leyen’s Hot Air? (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “To be clear: Putin was wicked to invade Ukraine, and I wish Russia would lose that war. But Russia is not losing that war; the West is. It is unspeakably arrogant for Ursula von der Leyen to say Putin is not being cricket to use economics as a weapon of war, when she and the group of nations she leads have spent the last six months doing exactly the same thing to Russia, only without much effect. Russia, obviously, has the better hand — and it’s playing it. Again: we are ruled by fools who prefer sunny ideological dreams to cold reality … of the sort that’s going to hit European homes and businesses very hard by January.”
  4. Submarine Cables and Container Shipments: Two Immediate Risks to the US Economy if China Invades Taiwan (Christine McDaniel and Weifeng Zhong, Mercatus): “The potential effects of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan on the US economy are far greater than those of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Container shipments to and from major ports in the region, as well as digital flows, would be at direct risk. China and Taiwan are also major suppliers and consumers for US major trading partners around the globe from Japan and Germany to Saudi Arabia. The effects of a crisis or blockade would be felt by every major economy, which, in turn, would produce additional negative effects for the US economy.”
  5. Octopuses Don’t Have Backbones — or Rights (New York Times): “…male blue-ringed octopuses could use touch to recognize females they’d already mated with. After bumping into a former mate, the males fled, perhaps to avoid being eaten. Such research suggests that octopuses and other cephalopods are smart and sensitive.”
    • That’s a funny excerpt. More seriously, I thought this point was quite interesting: “Dr. Niemi said critics have pointed out that animal care committees have rarely denied approval to researchers. But in his experience, this is because committees go back and forth with a scientist to revise the plan until it is acceptable.”
  6. Death in Navy SEAL Training Exposes a Culture of Brutality, Cheating and Drugs (Dave Philipps, New York Times): “Sailors who enter the program bolstered by steroids and hormones can push harder, recover faster and probably beat out the sailors who are trying to become SEALs while clean, said one senior SEAL leader with multiple combat deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. The inevitable effect, he said, is that a course designed to select the very best will end up selecting only the very best cheaters, and steadily fill the SEAL teams with war fighters who view rules as optional. ‘What am I going to do with guys like that in a place like Afghanistan?’ said the leader. ‘A guy who can do 100 pull-ups but can’t make an ethical decision?’ ” 
    • This story has INSANE details.
  7. New stories on New Apostolic Reformation, Sean Feucht keep assuming a right-wing takeover (Julia Duin, GetReligion): “…he doesn’t claim to be a pastor who’s expected to take a quasi-vow of property; he’s a rock musician who does what other entertainers do: Haul in the cash. He just happens to have put a Christian veneer on it all, and he’s doing for conservatives what liberal Hollywood elites have done for the Left for years.  If you look at Feucht in that light — as an astute entertainer who wisely grasped peoples’ anger at church shut-downs in 2020 and exploited it in a series of concerts — his wealth doesn’t seem as unusual.”
    • I found this piece very interesting. At its best, GetReligion highlights how news stories in major publications get basic facts wrong about religion (especially traditional religions) and miss important insights as a result. This is one of their better pieces in a while.

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  Film Experts: Why Christian Movies Are a Joke (Douglas Wilson): “Stefan Malarney (Hot Tub Time Machine) made the observation that Christian film makers simply refuse to pick material that is true to life. Andre Caproni (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies) agreed, adding that unless we address the human condition with integrity, we are denying something essentially spiritual about ourselves.” For the record, this is satire. From volume 233.

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

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

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 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 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 356

from the week abortion fell

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 356, which is a happy number (something I learned about only today). A happy number is a number whose digits when squared sum to 1 if the process is repeated long enough. 356 takes six iterations.

  1. 356 ==> 32+52+62 = 9+25+36 = 70.
  2. 70 ==> 72+02 = 49.
  3. 49 ==> 42+92 = 16+81 = 97.
  4. 97 ==> 92+72 = 81+49 = 130
  5. 130 ==> 12+32+02 = 1+9+0 = 10
  6. 10 ==> 12 + 02 = 1

I got way more into that than I expected.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The huge news today is that abortion is no longer a constitutional right in America. I expect deeper analyses to appear by next week — most columnists appear to be saving their big pieces for the Sunday papers. Send recommendations my way!
    • What changed from Justice Alito’s draft opinion to final ruling on Roe (Kelly Hooper, Politico): “…Alito did add to his original opinion, with a fierce rebuttal of the court’s liberal dissenters, plus a direct shot at Chief Justice John Roberts in the final text. Roberts was the only conservative justice on the court to side with its three liberals, making the final vote 5–4 in the decision to strike down Roe and give states the green light to ban abortion.”
    • Supreme Court overturns constitutional right to abortion (Amy Howe, SCOTUSblog): “Stare decisis, Alito stressed, ‘is not a straitjacket’ when a ruling is grievously incorrect.… Notably, the dissenters finished by noting only that they dissented, omitting the word ‘respectfully’ that commonly accompanies the dissent.”
      • A good summary of the opinion. The author used to teach at Stanford Law School. That last sentence is important.
    • From the right: The Land is Bright (Jake Meador, Mere Orthodoxy): “Some desire to downplay this victory or even to lament the manner of it. We should not. Federal law in America once recognized a right to kill unborn children. Now it does not. Our feelings should be unambiguous: it is a great good that over half the states in our union are soon likely to have laws granting sweeping protections to the unborn. And we can just say that it is good.”
    • From the left: Which rights are next on the Supreme Court’s chopping block? (Ian Millhouser, Vox): “In any event, the future of rights other than abortion will likely need to be litigated. There is no doubt that Thomas would happily light many existing rights on fire. And there is little doubt that Alito, based on his Obergefell dissent, would also happily tear down same-sex marriage. But it takes five votes to strip away an existing constitutional right, and it remains to be seen whether Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett — conservatives who sometimes break with Alito’s most aggressive attempts to drive the law to the right — will support mass rollbacks of existing rights.”
      • Millhouser is often hyperbolic and fails to read ideas he disagrees with fairly, but this is a pretty good summary.
    • From the right: The Supreme Court strikes down Roe and Casey (Albert Mohler, World): “…pro-life Americans have learned not to assume anything and to wait to see any decision in the black and white of plain text. Well, we have the plain text. It is explosive. It is earthshaking.… It is an answer to prayer.”
      • The author is a seminary president and also the president of the Evangelical Theological Society.
    • From the left: Getting Real About the Post-‘Roe’ World (Scott Lemieux, The American Prospect): “The theory went that Republican elites didn’t really want to overrule Roe, but were merely pretending to for the sake of pandering to their base. This narrative was always false; the survival of Roe was always a highly contingent fluke, the product of several mistakes by Republican presidents.”
    • From the right: The Long Battle to Overturn Roe (Ed Whelan, National Review): “There are at least two large reasons that the long battle to overturn Roe has succeeded. First, pro-lifers did not heed Casey’s command that they give up on working to defend the lives of unborn human beings, and they remained a powerful political force in the Republican party, all the more so as nearly all Democrats had abandoned the pro-life cause. Second, the conservative legal movement grew and flourished, thanks in large part to the Federalist Society and to Justice Scalia and Justice Thomas.”
    • From the left: Republicans Are Willing to Pay a Political Price to Ban Abortion. It’s Up to Democrats to Make Them Pay It. (Josh Barro, Substack): “After the draft decision leaked, Democrats brought a wish-list bill to the floor of both chambers that even pro-choice Republicans — even Sen. Susan Collins — were able to comfortably vote against on the grounds that it was too extreme, more expansive than Casey. Democrats need to break the agenda into pieces.… Unlike a catch-all bill, there are many individual ideas about protecting abortion rights that are very broadly popular — bringing them to the floor puts Republicans in the position of either voting for policies to protect abortion rights, or going home to defend votes that are actually hard to defend in election campaigns.”
      • Both parties should do this on a whole host of issues. Politics would change quickly if our leaders governed this way. Barro is right about the shrewd strategy, but I think it unlikely that his party will heed him.
  2. Made in America: Goods Exports by State (Raul Amoros, Visual Capitalist): “Texas has been the top exporting state in the U.S. for an incredible 20 years in a row. Last year, Texas exported $375 billion worth of goods, which is more than California ($175 billion), New York ($85 billion), and Louisiana ($77 billion) combined. The state’s largest manufacturing export category is petroleum and coal products, but it’s also important to mention that Texas led the nation in tech exports for the ninth straight year. California was the second highest exporter of goods in 2021 with a total value of $175 billion, an increase of 12% from the previous year.”
    • Surprises here, recommended by an alumnus. Emphasis in the original.
  3. Mike Pence and the Christian Conflict on January 6 (David French, The Dispatch): “A healthy national culture both condemns cowardice and honors valor, even when valor is simply part of the job. And we should do both with an immense measure of humility. How many of us have proven our own courage under similar circumstances? Pence faced threats to his family, threats to himself, threats to his power, and threats to the rest of his career. How many of us have prevailed in the face of such pressure?  To scorn courage in such circumstances further incentivizes cowardice. At least the cowardly retain their political power and their political home.”
  4. In Defense of Political Escalation (Abigail Shrier, Bari Weiss’ Substack): “If our ultimate goal is returning to a normalcy in which government agencies and corporations treat all Americans fairly regardless of viewpoint, how are we to achieve this? At a minimum, we must acknowledge that these institutions are already weaponized and their artillery points only in one direction: against the opponents of the left.”
    • To my knowledge Shrier is not religious and is in no way conservative, but she is articulating an argument that I see frequently on the right (most famously in the French/Ahmari dustup). It animates Trumpism and is one of the reasons DeSantis is so popular on the right and that American conservatives have such a fascination with Orban in Hungary.
  5. Pentecostals’ Political Warfare (Miguel Petrosky, The Revealer): “Issues like abortion and same-sex marriage, and even fears of creeping ‘Marxism,’ have long been of concern to some factions of American conservatism. But in parts of the Pentecostal and charismatic world, these issues contain cosmic implications for the country’s relationship with God. In the Hebrew Scriptures, each of Israel’s kings either ‘did what was right’ or ‘did what was evil’ in the eyes of God—with either blessings or curses for the kingdom. Since Pentecostals view themselves as being a continuation of the biblical narrative, they are certain God will judge America by the issues they view as straying from the Bible.”
  6. Leaked Audio From 80 Internal TikTok Meetings Shows That US User Data Has Been Repeatedly Accessed From China (Emily Baker-White, BuzzFeed News): “Lawmakers’ fear that the Chinese government will be able to get its hands on American data through ByteDance is rooted in the reality that Chinese companies are subject to the whims of the authoritarian Chinese Communist Party, which has been cracking down on its homegrown tech giants over the last year. The risk is that the government could force ByteDance to collect and turn over information as a form of ‘data espionage.’ There is, however, another concern: that the soft power of the Chinese government could impact how ByteDance executives direct their American counterparts to adjust the levers of TikTok’s powerful ‘For You’ algorithm, which recommends videos to its more than 1 billion users. Sen. Ted Cruz, for instance, has called TikTok ‘a Trojan horse the Chinese Communist Party can use to influence what Americans see, hear, and ultimately think.’ ”
  7. Quest to Conquer a Disease (Amy Lynn Smith, AG News): “Gibson met Hong as he ate lunch with another intern in the student union. Hong asked to join them, and afterward Gibson and Hong began meeting for tea or coffee every week. Gibson learned that Hong, the night before he introduced himself, had a dream in which a man encouraged Hong to meet people on campus. Hong later came to recognize the man in the dream as Jesus. A friendship developed between Hong and Gibson.”
    • This is about two of our alumni: Dan Gibson, who did his ministry training with Chi Alpha Stanford several years ago, and Guosong “Frank” Hong who did his PhD here and is now a professor.

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 How To Ask Your Mentors For Help (Derek Sivers): this is super‐short and very good. Excerpting it would ruin it. Read the whole thing. First shared in volume 224.

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.