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.
392 is a Harshad Number in base 5, where it is written as 3032 base 5. The sum of its digits is 13 base 5, which divides to 144 base 5, thereby fulfilling the conditions for a Harshad Number. In base five. Kinda feels like a stretch to be honest. 392 is not a super-interesting number.
Things Glen Found Interesting
- Dishonor Code: What Happens When Cheating Becomes the Norm? (Suzy Weiss, The Free Press): “And at Dartmouth—once the reserve of the WASPiest of the WASPs, in beautiful, cloistered Hanover, New Hampshire—an anonymous source told me that students have developed the habit of breaking into groups of four when given online multiple-choice quizzes. Each guesses a different answer (A, B, C, or D) to each question. Because students get two chances to take the quiz—why that is, no one seems to know—they all have the right answer by the time they take the quiz for a second time. And wind up with a perfect score. They don’t even have to read the question. If you’re reading the question, you’re doing it wrong.”
- Related: Stanford Has an Integrity Problem (Thomas Adamo, The Stanford Review): “When students nearly unanimously agree that it would be better to lie and cheat their way through school than fail or scrape by on their own merit, is it really that surprising to know that as fully-socialized Stanford grads they would also try to lie and cheat and scrape their way through their careers, their projects and their relationships. Virtue is a habit that must be practiced repeatedly—strengthened like a muscle—not left as an exercise to the reader.”
- Why You Can’t Predict the Future of Religion (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “…religious history is shaped as much by sudden irruptions as long trajectories, as much by the mystical and personal as by the institutional and sociological.… I can quote you chapter and verse on the reasonability of theism, but in the causal chain of history I’m a Christian because two thousand years ago a motley group of provincials in Roman Palestine believed they’d seen their teacher heal the sick and raise the dead and then rise transfigured from the grave — and then because, two millenniums later, as a child in suburban Connecticut, I watched my own parents fall to the floor and speak in tongues.”
- I have unlocked the paywall for this one (I can unlock ten NYT articles a month).
- Fertility Rate Roundup #1 (Zvi Mowshowitz, Substack): “This looks like a fantastically successful program. The previous trend was declining births. At the cost of $1,000 per child in progressive transfer payments, Australia seemingly raised births by 6%. That’s about $17k per additional birth. Insanely cheap. I am confident China would be thrilled to pay quite a lot more than that. America would be insane not to, we would save more money than this on long term interest rates on our government debt alone.”
- This is honestly one of the greatest global crisis and not nearly enough people are talking intelligently about it.
- In related news, this is one of the ways religion triumphs over secularism. Religious people reproduce (and usually pass on their values to their children) and far too many secular people die lonely.
- The Build-Nothing Country (Noah Smith, Substack): “For decades now, Americans have told ourselves that we’re the richest nation on Earth, and that as long as we had the political will to write big checks, we could do anything we wanted. But that was never really true, was it? The inflation that followed the pandemic should have been a wake-up call — we had all this excess cash, and we started spending it on physical goods, and mostly what happened was just that the price of the physical goods went up. And so R.I.P. to all that cash. From meaningless numbers on a spreadsheet you came, and to meaningless numbers on a spreadsheet you shall return.”
- The Imminent Danger of A.I. Is One We’re Not Talking About (Ezra Klein, The New York Times): “The question at the core of the Roose/Sydney chat is: Who did Bing serve? We assume it should be aligned to the interests of its owner and master, Microsoft. It’s supposed to be a good chatbot that politely answers questions and makes Microsoft piles of money. But it was in conversation with Kevin Roose. And Roose was trying to get the system to say something interesting so he’d have a good story. It did that, and then some. That embarrassed Microsoft. Bad Bing! But perhaps — good Sydney?”
- I have unlocked the paywall for this one.
- In wild AI news: Reconstructing visual experiences from human brain activity with Stable Diffusion (Yu Takagim, Shinji Nishimoto, Google Sites): “We demonstrate that our simple framework can reconstruct high-resolution images from brain activity with high semantic fidelity, without the need for training or fine-tuning of complex deep generative models.”
- Is Physical Attractiveness Normally Distributed? (anonymous, Substack): “This may explain in part why, although we see assortative mating in physical attractiveness (men and women pick partners of a similar level of physical attractiveness), women are also slightly more attractive on average than their partners (McNulty, 2008). There may be a good explanation for this as well. Jokela (2009) found that moderately attractive women were more likely to reproduce (7%), while highly attractive women were even more likely to reproduce (16%). Moreover, both were more likely to have daughters than sons. As such, we see a gradual shift over time of women becoming more physically attractive than men.”
- The author’s bio says he’s a grad student in cognitive psych, but is pretty vague on details. His online handle is Alexander.
- Have The Ancient Gods Returned? (Naomi Wolf, Brownstone Institute): “The sheer amoral power of Baal, the destructive force of Moloch, the unrestrained seductiveness and sexual licentiousness of Astarte or Ashera — those are the primal forces that do indeed seem to me to have ‘returned.’ Or at least the energies that they represent — moral power over; death-worship; antagonism to the sexual orderliness of the intact family and faithful relationships — seem to have ‘returned,’ without restraint.”
- Naomi Wolf is a controversial and well-known feminist who has her PhD from Oxford. This long essay is a wild ride. She is writing as a Jew in response to a book by a Christian (who is himself a Messianic Jew).
Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen
- To Catch Up On Today’s News, Man Just Reads 2‑Year-Old Posts On Conspiracy Blog (Babylon Bee)
- Showing Bible Verses To This Generation (Instagram)
- A Funny Prank (Imgur): Fairly short
- Remote kissing device is here for long-distance couples: How Internet is reacting to Chinese innovation (Sounak Mukhopadhyay, LiveMint): “The device, dubbed as the ‘kissing device,’ is an invention of a university in Changzhou, China. The contraption comes equipped with ‘silicone lips,’ pressure sensors and actuators, and can replicate the pressure, movement, and temperature of a user’s lips. The China-run Global Times reported that the device is capable of mimicking a real kiss.”
- Link this up with ChatGPT and we’re well on our way to a sci-fi dystopia.
- Shocking Study Shows More Kids Identifying As Members Of World’s Most Celebrated, Popular Group (Babylon Bee)
- Often just reading a Bee headline is enough. In this case the article takes it to an even better level.
Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago
Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have The Language of Privilege (Nicholas Clairmont, Tablet Magazine): “So, in the end, the question raised by wokeness is a simple one: Doesn’t it actually just favor rich people?” From volume 271.
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.
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.