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 355

Two pieces critical of Stanford plus lots more.

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

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

Things Glen Found Interesting

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

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

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

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

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

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 349

much about Dobbs, Roe, and the implications thereof

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.

I wish this issue was less rushed (and therefore better edited and more compact), but I’ve been dealing with a family emergency and have had less time to read and write than normal.

This is volume 349, a prime number.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The big news this week is the leak of the Supreme Court draft opinion portending a reversal of Roe v Wade.
    • It’s not often that I interject my own views into one of these weekly roundups, but given the contentiousness of this issue I think it is only fair you know where I am coming from. I am pro-life. In solidarity with the Christmas story (wherein God became incarnate in the womb) and with Christians throughout the ages, I believe abortion is a bad thing and the rare cases where it is medically necessary to save the life of the mother are tragic. I am grateful that the Supreme Court appears to be on the verge of righting a great injustice for which they are responsible in the first place. Furthermore, I do not view this as a partisan issue even though it is commonly perceived that way: there are pro-life Democrats as well as pro-life Republicans. In fact, there would be many more pro-life Democrats in office were it not for a concerted effort to marginalize them within the party.
    • If you have not read this classic article in the Atlantic I suggest you read it before anything else: The Dishonesty of the Abortion Debate (Caitlin Flanagan, The Atlantic): “The truth is that the best argument on each side is a damn good one, and until you acknowledge that fact, you aren’t speaking or even thinking honestly about the issue. You certainly aren’t going to convince anybody. Only the truth has the power to move.”
    • If Roe Is Dead (Colin Hansen, Gospel Coalition): “If Roe is dead, more children will live.… this is the day so many of us have labored and prayed to see. We can rejoice that God has heard our pleas that he would rectify this injustice. And we can move forward in every way possible to protect as many children as we can: by banning abortion where possible, by bolstering crisis pregnancy centers, by building stronger foster care systems, and much more.”
    • Receiving Justice with Gratitude (Samuel D. James, Substack): “It has commonly been suggested that opposing Roe v Wade is morally illegitimate unless it is accompanied with a kind of maximalist support for a social safety net. In other words, it has been suggested that you’re not really pro-life if you oppose abortion but support capitalism; you’re not really pro-life if you hate Roe v. Wade but don’t vote for candidates who vow to redistribute wealth; you’re not really pro-life if all you want is to stop abortion rather than providing extensive care and support for baby and mother.… Receive justice with gratitude.” This gets to close to something I’ve been trying to articulate to myself, but it’s not quite what I want to say. But it’s close.
    • Statement on the leaked Alito draft opinion in Dobbs (Robert George, Mirror of Justice): “If, as the leaked draft opinion seems to suggest, the Supreme Court has decided to reverse Roe and return the question of abortion entirely to the legislative domain, then the pro-life movement faces a new set of challenges—challenges even more daunting than overturning Roe. In the face of profound opposition from the wealthiest, most powerful, and most influential forces and institutions in the country, the movement needs to extend the protections of law on terms of fairness and equality to mothers and children alike. Going still further, it needs to work in both the public and private spheres to provide necessary support for mothers and children, never allowing their interests or well-being to be pitted against each other. To its great credit, the pro-life movement has been doing this since before Roe v. Wade—again, in the face of hostility from the most powerful forces. We will need now to do more and better. We can and we will.” Robert George is a law professor at Princeton.
    • If Roe v. Wade Is Overturned, What’s Next? (Jeannie Suk Gersen, New Yorker): “It may also be only a matter of time, if Mississippi prevails, before pro-life legal efforts turn toward getting the Supreme Court to recognize the constitutional rights of the fetus. These efforts would focus on the same part of the Constitution that was previously held to provide the right to abortion, the Fourteenth Amendment, which prohibits states from depriving ‘any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.’” The author is a Harvard Law prof.
    • About post-Roe politics and Biden’s evolving doctrines on choosing to ‘abort a child’ (Terry Mattingly, GetReligion): “Once upon a time, Sen. Joe Biden was almost a pro-life Catholic Democrat. This may be the reason — as journalists frequently note — that he seems uncomfortable saying ‘abortion’ in public remarks.”
    • An article by someone outraged: Of Course the Constitution Has Nothing to Say About Abortion (Jill Lepore, The New Yorker): “This will be, in large part, because Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito is surprised that there is so little written about abortion in a four-thousand-word document crafted by fifty-five men in 1787. As it happens, there is also nothing at all in that document, which sets out fundamental law, about pregnancy, uteruses, vaginas, fetuses, placentas, menstrual blood, breasts, or breast milk. There is nothing in that document about women at all.”
      • Overall a good article (although I think it demonstrates the opposite of what it intends to demonstrate). Also, although the rhetoric in the excerpt is powerful, it’s unfair — there’s also nothing in the Constitution about testes, sperm or penises. I find this is often the case in the abortion debate: powerful rhetoric that covers over weaknesses in the the substance of the argument.
    • Another not-thrilled perspective: God Damn America (Jack Mirkinson, Substack): “The final opinion could differ, but what we have in front of us is an extremist, illegitimate opinion from an extremist, illegitimate court, one that sees women as serfs and breeders, that sees queer people as subhuman, that sees minorities of every kind as dirt under its collective shoe. It is happily dragging us into the dark ages. Alito and everyone who joins him are evil people. No hell is too hot for them.”
    • A pretty extreme outraged perspective: As the US supreme court moves to end abortion, is America still a free country? (Moira Donegan, The Guardian): “Some have raised doubts about whether America can call itself a democracy, now that policymaking power has been largely taken over by the unelected courts – whose decisions, like this one, are so radically out of step with, and indifferent to, public opinion. But it is also worth wondering whether any country can call itself a democracy that does not protect abortion rights.”
      • It is odd to claim now as the point when courts have taken over electoral power when it was the Supreme Court itself that imposed abortion upon every state outside of their democratic processes. If this draft is illegitimate because it’s not a byproduct of an electoral process, then that’s one more reason that Roe v Wade was itself illegitimate.
    • You can see other abortion-related content from previous weekly roundups at https://glenandpaula.com/wordpress/archives/tag/abortion
  2. Not related but related: Is Support for Single Motherhood and Cohabitation Falling in the U.S.? (Alysse ElHage, Institute for Family Studies): “…as more Americans have experienced cohabitation, either personally or through watching friends or family cohabit, more people are realizing that living together just does not compare to marriage in terms of relationship quality or stability. That could explain why Pew found a difference based on age. A Pew spokeswoman told me via email, ‘adults ages 30 to 49, 50 to 64, and ages 65+ were more likely than in 2018 to say [cohabitation] is a bad thing for society.’ However, there was no similar shift among 18 to 29-year-olds.”
  3. About the leak itself:
    • Why the Dobbs Leak Is Dangerous (Mark Movsesian, First Things): “In disclosing the draft opinion now, rather than in February when it circulated, the leaker presumably means to do one of two things. First, the leaker might hope that public pressure will intimidate one or more of the justices and affect the outcome of the case. Possibly, the leaker is a conservative clerk trying to keep Alito’s majority intact, on the theory that it would be too embarrassing for a justice to change his or her mind in these circumstances. More likely, though, the leaker is a progressive who hopes an angry public reaction will make a member of Alito’s majority reconsider.  Alternatively, the leaker might know that Justice Alito’s majority is solid and that trying to change anyone’s mind is useless. In that case, the leaker’s goal likely would be, quite simply, to wreck the Court as an institution—because that is what a leak like this accomplishes.” The author is a former Supreme Court clerk and currently a law professor at St. John’s University.
    • How rare is a Supreme Court breach? Very rare (Josh Gerstein, Politico): “[Law prof and Supreme Court biographer] Wermiel said the justices typically argue that confidentiality is critical to the high court’s operation and collegiality. ‘They think it will chill their deliberation with one another and their candor and willingness to be open in exchange of views,’ Wermiel said. Some also contend that such reports distract from the court’s most enduring work: its opinions.”
    • Whodunnit? (Josh Blackman, The Volokh Conspiracy): “And a Justice must know that authorizing this leak would probably lead to impeachment proceedings. I do not think this leak came from a chambers.There is [another] option: the leak did not come from a chambers.… Rather, the leak may have come from someone with access to the Supreme Court’s draft opinions. And history suggest that this sort of leak is possible.” The author is a law prof at South Texas College of Law.
    • What If The SCOTUS Leak Came From A Foreign Hack? (Josh Blackman, The Volokh Conspiracy): “But there is another entity that may want to burn down the Supreme Court, and tear apart the American people: a foreign government. If that was the intent, the plan was successful. Look no further than the groups publishing the addresses of Supreme Court justices. Plus, as a benefit to foreign states, the torrent of news has taken Ukraine out of the headlines. Through this lens, the hack becomes much more plausible.”
  4. 103 Bits of Advice I Wish I Had Known (Kevin Kelly, personal blog): this is something he does every year. My two favorites were: “There is no such thing as being ‘on time.’ You are either late or you are early. Your choice.” and “Aim to die broke. Give to your beneficiaries before you die; it’s more fun and useful. Spend it all. Your last check should go to the funeral home and it should bounce.
  5. What if You Didn’t Have to File a Tax Return? (Jeremy Horpedahl, blog): “In ‘Automatic Tax Filing: Simulating a Pre-Populated Form 1040,’ the authors use a large sample of tax returns to estimate how many taxpayers a pre-filled return would work for. The results are almost split down the middle: it would work well for maybe half of US taxpayers (41–48% of taxpayers, depending on how we are defining successful). For the other half, it wouldn’t give you an accurate estimate of how much tax you owed. And the errors can be large.“The author is an econ prof at the University of Central Arkansas (home of a great Chi Alpha, incidentally). I had assumed this was simply a byproduct of lobbying, not that there were actual technical reasons not to do it.
  6. The UFO briefings on Capitol Hill have begun. Lawmakers aren’t impressed. (Bryan Bender, Politico): “Lawmakers receiving the latest secret briefings on UFOs say national security agencies still aren’t taking seriously the reports of highly advanced aircraft of unknown origin violating protected airspace.”
  7. America flexes its maritime muscles! U.S. Air Force successfully tests 2,000-pound air-launched ‘quicksink’ bomb and blasts cargo ship out of the sea in one strike (Tom Brown, Daily Mail): “Quicksink risks relatively low-cost aircraft when compared with the danger of losing a submarine to enemy retaliation after a torpedo strike.… A single F‑15EX costs $87.7 million per aircraft, whereas a US submarine can cost up to $2.8 billion per unit, according to Aero Corner.” The accompanying video is impressive.

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 Pornography Makes Us Less Human and Less Humane (Matthew Lee Anderson, The Gospel Coalition): “Beneath pornography is the supposition that the mere fact of our desire for a woman makes us worthy of her. And so, not being bound by any kind of norm, desire must proceed endlessly. It is no surprise that the industrialized, cheap‐and‐easy sex of pornography has answered and evoked an almost unrestrained sexual greed, which allows us to be gods and goddesses within the safety of our own fantasies. It is for deep and important reasons that the Ten Commandments use the economic language of ‘coveting’ to describe the badness of errant sexual desires.” First shared in volume 216.

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

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

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 342

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

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

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

Things Glen Found Interesting

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

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

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

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

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

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 319

a brief roundup

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

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

Things Glen Found Interesting

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

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

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

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

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

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 314

Afghanistan links at the bottom.

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.

314 is roughly π times 100, and that makes me happy.

Afghanistan links are at the bottom and are well worth reading, but other stuff is up top in case you’re overwhelmed already.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. A Guide to Finding Faith (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “…the world in 2021, no less than the world in 1521 or 321, presents considerable evidence of an originating intelligence presiding over a law-bound world well made for our minds to understand, and at the same time a panoply of spiritual forces that seem to intervene unpredictably in our existence.” This is a wonderful thing to have printed in the New York Times.
  2. The Real College Scandal (Agnes Callard, The Point Magazine): “If I had to measure the worth of my classes in my students’ subsequent civic virtue or life satisfaction, I couldn’t afford to lose touch with most of them after graduation. I am sometimes saddened when I lose touch with them, but it never causes me to wonder whether their education was worthwhile.” Enthusiastically recommended by an alumnus.
  3. OpenAI Codex Live Demo (OpenAI, YouTube): thirty astounding minutes. This technology is going to change SO MUCH. I’m honestly blown away. Sign up for beta access at https://openai.com/join
  4. Unmarried Sex Is Worse Than You Think (Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra & Collin Hansen, Gospel Coalition): “Americans talk a lot about sex. Anyone would think they’re having a lot of it.… Instead, the opposite has happened. Young people are having less sex—and are less happy—than the married, churchgoing generation before them.”
  5. Does Canada have a religion problem? (Ray Pennings, Substack): “In partnership with the Angus-Reid Institute, Cardus has been measuring Canadian spirituality. We asked about seven practices — belief in God’s existence, prayer, reading a scripture, participating in worship, believing in an afterlife, having religious experiences, teaching your kids about faith. We termed the 16 percent who do at least six of these ‘religiously committed’ and the 19 percent who do zero or one ‘non-believers.’ That leaves the 64 per cent of Canadians in the middle — neither devoutly religious, nor religiously indifferent. They’re a big chunk of the 86 per cent of Canadians who pray at least monthly.  But many religious Canadians, of various faiths, don’t necessarily feel it’s safe to be public about their beliefs.” The author is the co-founder of Cardus, a Canadian think tank. Recommended by a friend of the ministry.
  6. Who Tells Them Things They Don’t Want to Hear? (Freddie deBoer, Substack): “…I don’t think and have never suggested that crowdfunded media can replace the basic newsgathering function of newspapers and that the NYT in particular still serves a vital function in its fundamental reportorial duties. This is, in fact, precisely why I am so disturbed by the paper’s takeover by a fringe ideology embraced by a tiny sliver of the American public and by behind-the-scenes high school bullshit.”
    • These two lines at the end grabbed me, “It’s only integrity when it hurts, guys. Something you write is only brave when it pisses off all your friends and colleagues.
  7. Concerning Afghanistan, the working out of which has made me more ashamed of my country than I can put into words.
    • What We Got Wrong in Afghanistan (Mike Jason, The Atlantic): “We didn’t send the right people, prepare them well, or reward them afterward. We rotated strangers on tours of up to a year and expected them to build relationships, then replaced them. We were overly optimistic and largely made things up as we went along. We didn’t like oversight or tough questions from Washington, and no one really bothered to hold us accountable anyway.… We didn’t fight a 20-year war in Afghanistan; we fought 20 incoherent wars, one year at a time, without a sense of direction.” The author is an Army vet who served in Afghanistan. Recommended by a student. Brutal.
    • I Was Deeply Involved in War in Afghanistan for More Than a Decade. Here’s What We Must Learn (James Stavridis, Time): “The on-the-ground leaders in Afghanistan, mostly Army and Marine Corps, were overwhelmingly brave, thoughtful, and competent. But as we learned over the long years, we simply rotated them too frequently. If we had fought World War II by limiting General Eisenhower or Admiral Nimitz to one year tours of duty, the outcome would have been different, to say the least. We made the same mistake in Vietnam, where everyone was on a one year tour, and the outcome was a disaster. This was reflected up-and-down the chain of command, and the lack of continuity and sense of ‘I’ve just got to make it to my departure date’ hindered strategic coherency badly.” The author is a former commander of NATO. Recommended by a student.
    • National Humiliations (Mark Tooley, Providence): “And America like all great nations will endure and hopefully learn from its humiliations, whether 1941 or 1950 or 1975 or 2001 or today. All nations ultimately decide their own destinies mediated by divine judgment and mercy. Maybe Afghanistan’s collapse is a divine judgment on it and us. But there is mercy always available, accompanied by wisdom.”
      • The survey of history at the beginning is what caught my attention. Some of those disasters are barely on my historical radar.
    • Afghan Travesty (Douglas Wilson, personal blog): “God knows how to humble great military powers. He has done it numerous times, and that is what you are seeing right now. What are we to make of that great patriotic vaunt, ‘these colors don’t run’? The reply is that they will run any and every time God determines that they will.” Theologically bracing.
    • Disaster in Afghanistan Will Follow Us Home (Bret Stephens, New York Times): “But didn’t we have to leave Afghanistan sometime? So goes a counterargument. Yes, though we’ve been in Korea for 71 years, at far higher cost, and the world is better off for it.”
    • Did America just lose Afghanistan because of WhatsApp? (Preston Byrne, personal blog): “The United States thought it was fighting an army. I suspect the reason we lost is because we were fighting a meme.”
    • The above dovetails nicely with a Tanner Greer essay: Fighting Like Taliban (Tanner Greer, personal blog): “War in Afghanistan often seemed like a game of pickup basketball, a contest among friends, a tournament where you never knew which team you’d be on when the next game got under way. Shirts today, skins tomorrow. On Tuesday, you might be part of a fearsome Taliban regiment, running into a minefield. And on Wednesday you might be manning a checkpoint for some gang of the Northern Alliance.”
    • Dishonor in Afghanistan (Jonah Goldberg, The Dispatch): “You can believe that getting out of Afghanistan is the right policy––again, I have friends whom I respect who believe that––while also understanding that this was a terrible way to get out of Afghanistan. We can all agree that it’s time to leave a party; that doesn’t automatically mean you should jump out the nearest window to make your exit.”
    • The Fall of Imperial America (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “As a friend of mine put it this morning, how many meetings to plan an orderly evacuation of Afghanistan did our military brass miss so they could attend diversity training? Again, we are an unserious country, and the world knows it. A friend of mine whose son is headed to West Point told me that in the boy’s packet of information that just came in there is a rainbow-flag diversity sticker. America might not know how to win actual wars, but it sure is going to equip its troops to win the culture war against traditional morality and old-fashioned American values.” Feisty.
    • What We Can Learn From Europe’s Refugee Crises (John Gustavsson, The Dispatch): “As a European with experience of working with economic and migration policy, and who witnessed what happened in my home country of Sweden, I have seen what works—and especially what doesn’t.”
      • Full of real talk. I am in favor of resettling virtually anyone who can get out (or who we can get out) of Afghanistan and putting them onto a path to citizenship (likewise for Hong Kong). I am also in favor of being thoughtful in the ways described in this article.
    • Today’s Taliban uses sophisticated social media practices that rarely violate the rules (Craig Timberg and Cristiano Lima, Washington Post): “…U.S. conservatives have been demanding to know why former president Donald Trump has been banned from Twitter while various Taliban figures have not. The answer, analysts said, may simply be that Trump’s posts for years challenged platform rules against hate speech and inciting violence. Today’s Taliban, by and large, does not.”
      • This illustrates a weakness in the West. We punish procedural violations more than we punish actual vice, in part because so many of our elites don’t have a moral compass that they view as true and binding. It’s OK if the Taliban uses social media to achieve actual evil as long as they don’t make us think about what they’re doing. Kind of like it’s okay for China to brutalize their own population as long as they don’t tweet about it and lie about doing it. Tech companies will boycott Georgia but not China; they will dismantle Parler but not TikTok.

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 If I Were 22 Again (John Piper, Desiring God): “There have been about 18,340 days since I turned 22, and I think I have read my Bible on more of those days than I have eaten. I have certainly read my Bible on more of those days that I have watched television or videos.… Read your Bible every day of your life. If you have time for breakfast, never say that you don’t have time for God’s word.” This whole thing is really good. Highly recommended. First shared in volume 151.

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

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

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 303

topics range from the pandemic to a Biblical view of UFOs

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 303rd edition, which is fun because 303 is a lucky number, a category of numbers that gives us insight into prime numbers.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Dr. Francis Collins Discusses The Complexities Of Herd Immunity (Colbert Report, YouTube): seven minutes. Dr. Collins is a fellow believer and eminent scientist. He flat-out shares his testimony! Recommended by an alumnus.
  2. Why I Didn’t “Just Bake the Cake” (Jack Phillips, First Things): “My commitment to God and to the truth of a book I believe to be his holy Word is the defining premise of my life, the focus of my faith, and the guiding directive for my actions. If you ask me to separate all of that from my work, from my decisions, from my art … I simply can’t do that. Not just won’t—can’t. It’s like asking a contractor to build a great building, but first remove the foundation.”
  3. It’s Time to Develop a Biblical Ufology (Kyle Beshears, Theology in the Middle): “What is the relationship, if any, between UAP phenomena and Christian angelologies and demonologies? How does the doctrine of the imago Dei fit in? Can our theology of the fall address extraterrestrials? What if they arrive denying the lordship of Christ (Gal 1:8; 1 John 2:22)? What if they arrive proclaiming the lordship of Christ (Rom 10:9)?”
  4. The Myth of the Value-Neutral Market (Mark Movsesyian, First Things): “The neutral market does not create tolerance for diverse views; rather, it’s the other way around. Tolerance for diverse views creates the neutral market; when tolerance disappears, the market becomes as polarized as everything else.”
  5. The future of war is bizarre and terrifying (Noah Smith, Substack): “The world may yet explode into another WW2-style conflagration, or the kind of nuclear holocaust we feared during the Cold War. If so, then my bet is that drones will dominate that battlefield. But most of the modern military technologies led themselves to a very different kind of great-power war — a war of constant sniping and harassment. Assassin drones, cyberattacks, info ops, and bioweapons raise the possibility of never-ending low-grade attacks that are below the threshold of massive retaliation.”
  6. For Cosmopolitan Christians, Secular Approval Is a Common Temptation (Justin E. Giboney, Christianity Today): “We need Christians who aren’t smitten with the culture or merely proficient at regurgitating its liturgy. We need believers who can wrestle with secular thought, affirming the merits and opposing the lies. Christians must be confident and distinctly Christian in our fields—boldly speaking up when the emperor is striding around with no clothes. When change is necessary, we must correct the mistakes of our elders by moving closer to the Bible, not further from it.”
  7. Some thoughts about Wuhan:
    • The media’s lab leak fiasco (Matt Yglesias, Substack): “If something is a 70–30 issue but the 30 are keeping their heads down, it can look like a 98–2 issue.… There is just more disagreement and dissension than you would know unless you took the time to reach out to people and speak to them in a more relaxed way. My strong suspicion is that this is true across domains of expertise, and is creating a lot of bubbles of fake consensus that can become very misleading.”
    • Checking Facts Even If One Can’t (Zeynep Tufekci, Substack): “If anything, all this overreach and hurry to declare everything a conspiracy theory or ‘not following the science’ just helps erode what trust authorities or fact-checkers may have had in their pronouncements. Imagine that in a few years, we do get some evidence that really helps resolve the question one way or the other, and the scientific community were indeed able achieve a consensus of sorts. Who’d believe it after this?”
    • The Considerable, If Circumstantial, Evidence of a Wuhan Lab Leak (Jim Geraghty, National Review): “Perhaps the least plausible argument in opposition to the lab-leak theory is that the staff of the Wuhan Institute of Virology or other Chinese facilities are just too diligent to ever make a consequential mistake. The original SARS virus had accidentally leaked from the Chinese Institute of Virology in Beijing, part of China’s Center for Disease Control. Twice.” The compilation of the evidence is compelling. To use a legal image, if I was a on a jury I’d vote to convict unless the opposing counsel had some slam dunk arguments — and in this situation the opposing counsel is frantically trying to get the case dismissed before it comes to court.

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 Every Place Has Detractors. Consider Where They’re Coming From. (Megan McArdle, Bloomberg View): “There is grave danger in judging a neighborhood, or a culture, by the accounts of those who chose to leave it. Those people are least likely to appreciate the good things about where they came from, and the most likely to dwell on its less attractive qualities.” Bear this in mind when listening to conversion testimonies (both secular and religious). (first shared in volume 62)

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 254

The less timely stuff is up top this time and there are a lot of magic videos at the bottom.

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

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. What Unites Most Graduates of Selective Colleges? An Intact Family (Nicholas Zill & Brad Wilcox, Institute for Family Studies): “… even after controlling for parent education, family income, and student race and ethnicity, being raised by one’s married birth parents provides an additional boost to one’s chances of getting through Princeton.”
  2. What Christians Must Remember about Nuclear Weapons and Arms Control (Peter Feaver & William Inboden & Michael Singh, Providence): “Before embracing calls for the abolition of nuclear weapons, thoughtful Christians must confront two uncomfortable facts. First, we live in a fallen world in which the threats we face are changing, and arguably growing. Second, the envelope of peace and security in which free societies have thrived for the past eight decades is not self-sustaining—one need only view the recent decline of democracies and rise of authoritarian threats from Russia and China. One can detest nuclear weapons and still see their strategic value.” The authors are, respectively, a professor of political science at Duke, a professor of public policy at UT Austin, and a senior fellow at a thinktank.
  3. Peer Review (Rodney Brooks, personal blog): “I came to realize that the editor’s job was real, and it required me to deeply understand the topic of the paper, and the biases of the reviewers, and not to treat the referees as having the right to determine the fate of the paper themselves. As an editor I had to add judgement to the process at many steps along the way, and to strive for the process to improve the papers, but also to let in ideas that were new.” The author is a professor emeritus of robotics at MIT.
  4. JK Rowling Writes about Her Reasons for Speaking out on Sex and Gender Issues (JK Rowling, personal blog): “…I refuse to bow down to a movement that I believe is doing demonstrable harm in seeking to erode ‘woman’ as a political and biological class and offering cover to predators like few before it.”
  5. More on the NY Times tangle last week and what it reveals about our society
    • America is changing, and so is the media (Ezra Klein, Vox): “The news media likes to pretend that it simply holds up a mirror to America as it is. We don’t want to be seen as actors crafting the political debate, agents who make decisions that shape the boundaries of the national discourse. We are, of course. We always have been.”
    • The Still-Vital Case for Liberalism in a Radical Age (Jonathan Chait, NY Magazine): “…it is an error to jump from the fact that right-wing authoritarian racism is far more important to the conclusion that left-wing illiberalism is completely unimportant. One can oppose different evils, even those evils aligned against each other, without assigning them equal weight.”
    • Why everyone hates the mainstream media (Andrew Potter, Policy for Pandemics): “It’s not a coincidence that lawyers, journalists, and politicians are routinely ranked as the most disliked professions in the world. It’s because the law is not about justice, politics is not about democracy, and the news is not about information. But in each case, that is what emerges, by harnessing the status-conscious competitive natures of the participants.” The author is a former journalist and editor.
  6. Thoughts on race and racism:
    • George Floyd and Me (Shai Linn, Gospel Coalition): “Though I’m deeply grieved, I am not without hope. Personally, I have little confidence in our government or policymakers to change the systemic factors that contributed to the George Floyd situation. But my hope isn’t in the government. My hope is in the Lord.”
    • American Racism: We’ve Got So Very Far to Go (David French, The Dispatch): “If politically correct progressives are often guilty of over-racializing American public discourse, and they are, politically correct conservatives commit the opposite sin—and they filter out or angrily reject all the information that contradicts their thesis.”
    • This moment cries out for us to confront race in America (Condoleezza Rice, Washington Post): “Still, we simply must acknowledge that society is not color-blind and probably never will be. Progress comes when people treat one another with respect, as if we were color-blind. Unless and until we are honest that race is still an anchor around our country’s neck, that shadow will never be lifted. Our country has a birth defect: Africans and Europeans came to this country together — but one group was in chains.” She is, of course, a fellow believer and also a Stanford professor who will soon be the director of the Hoover Institution. 
    • Our Present Moment: Why Is It So Hard? (Kevin DeYoung, Gospel Coalition): “I’m thinking more broadly about why race in this country is so difficult, and in particular difficult even between people of good will, between people in your church of a different color. I’m thinking about people who agree on so many other things. And you sing the same songs and you really love Jesus together. And you read the same Bible, and you really are together for the gospel. So why is it so divisive?” Some really good thoughts in here.
  7. On the protests
    • The protests started out looking like 1968. They turned into 1964. (Omar Wasow, Washington Post): “For a growing international movement trying to draw attention to the long history of racist and brutal policing, nonviolence in the face of police repression is an exceedingly difficult strategy to sustain. Evidence from the 1960s, however — and perhaps this month, too — suggests using such tactics to generate media coverage of a pressing social problem can be a powerful tool for building a coalition for social change.”
    • We often accuse the right of distorting science. But the left changed the coronavirus narrative overnight (Thomas Chatterton Williams, The Guardian): “Two weeks ago we shamed people for being in the street; today we shame them for not being in the street.”
    • Tribalism Comes for Pandemic Science (Yuval Levin, The New Atlantis): “These public health professionals are simply admitting that their views on the health risks of large gatherings depend on the political valence of those gatherings. Rather than compartmentalize their professional judgment from their political priorities — explaining the risks of large protests regardless of their political content and then separately and in a different context expressing whatever views they might have about that content — they openly deny not only the possibility but even the desirability of detached professional advice. This kind of attitude inevitably makes it much harder for the public to assess scientific claims about the pandemic through anything other than a political lens.”
    • The Growing CHAZm in Seattle (Jonah Goldberg, The Dispatch): “It took activists less than 24 hours to discover that even their make-believe Duchy of Grand Fenwoke relies on the basic building blocks of any polity. If Seattle’s supine and sausage-spined political leadership allows this experiment to continue, pretty soon you can expect the emergence of currency, taxes, even some kind of charter or constitution. It wouldn’t shock me if they ended up creating rudimentary courts or even a jail.” Goldberg is an expert at the meandering rant. 
    • Anarchy In Seattle (Christopher Rufo, City Journal): “The Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone has set a dangerous precedent: armed left-wing activists have asserted their dominance of the streets and established an alternative political authority over a large section of a neighborhood. They have claimed de facto police power over thousands of residents and dozens of businesses—completely outside of the democratic process. In a matter of days, Antifa-affiliated paramilitaries have created a hardened border, established a rudimentary form of government based on principles of intersectional representation, and forcibly removed unfriendly media from the territory.”
    • A Dark Cloud For Democracy (Carl Trueman, First Things): “…this does not entirely explain why Minneapolis and not Hong Kong has grabbed the imagination of British youth. After all, Hong Kong is a much more recent part of the British narrative; one can watch the dismantling of Hong Kong’s constitution online and on the television; and an extremely good case can be made that the British government is more responsible for that mess and its potential amelioration than for the chaos in the Minneapolis police department. After all, the British can actually do something about it—as Boris Johnson’s pledge on immigration to the U.K. from Hong Kong indicates. So why Minneapolis, not Hong Kong?”
    • If we want better policing, we’re going to have to spend more, not less (Megan McArdle, Washington Post): “Reform is thus more likely to stick if we co-opt the unions rather than trying to break them. Instead of ‘defund the police,’ what if we offloaded the nonjudicial parts of their work, like dealing with the homeless and the mentally ill, to social workers, and then ‘stuffed their mouths with gold’ to reform the policing part? We could offer a significant salary boost in exchange for accepting stricter standards and oversight, which wouldn’t just ease the political obstacles, but possibly attract higher-quality candidates to the police force.”
    • Most Americans Want Police Reform But Don’t Back ‘Defund The Police’ (Ariel Edwards-Levy and Kevin Robillard, Huffington Post): “A near-universal majority of Americans support at least some changes to policing in the United States following the death of George Floyd in the custody of Minneapolis police, a new HuffPost/YouGov poll finds. There is majority support for proposals circulating in Congress to ban chokeholds and make it easier to track and charge officers accused of misconduct. But the idea of ‘defunding the police’ has little support from the public.”
    • Police Brutality: The Ferguson Effect (Robert Verbruggen, National Review): “There’s a temptation in some quarters to think this issue is like gay marriage or marijuana legalization, where there’s a turning point in public opinion and a rapid shift in policy and then everyone wonders what the big deal ever was. See, for example, Tim Alberta’s piece in Politico today, which bizarrely claims we may be seeing the ‘last stand’ of law-and-order Republicans and draws those two parallels explicitly. But crime isn’t like that. When the streets become unsafe, public opinion shifts back in favor of the folks who stand between the innocents and the bad guys.”

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

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

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

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

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 240

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

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. I often bury my perspective, but here is my two ¢ on the Coronavirus: America is responding to this disease so badly that I find it hard to believe. Given the amazingly competent people who populate this country, our collective ineptitude is staggering.
    • Dealing With a Once-In-A-Century Pathogen (Claire Lehmann, Quillette): “In early October 1918, when the Spanish flu hit the east coast of the United States, the health commissioner of St Louis, Max Starkloff, ordered the closure of schools, movie theaters, saloons, sporting events and other public gathering spots. While the measures were protested by some citizens, the quarantine went ahead. A month later, as the pandemic raged on, he ordered the closure of all business, with a few exceptions, such as banks. While drastic quarantine measures were being implemented in St Louis, the health commissioner of Philadelphia, Wilmer Krusen, gave permission for a parade for the war effort to go ahead in his city. It is reported that within 72 hours of the parade, every bed in Philadelphia’s 31 hospitals was filled, and in the week ending October 5th, 1918, 2,600 people in Philadelphia had died, with the figure almost doubling a week later. At the end of the outbreak, St Louis had the lowest recorded death rate in the US, while in Philadelphia mortuaries overflowed and ‘bodies [were] piled up on sidewalks.’”
    • Coronavirus: Links, Speculation, Open Thread (Scott Alexander, Slate Star Codex): “If we hadn’t let our culture reach the point where governments ban things by default and review at leisure, and where individual initiative is frowned upon in favor of waiting for official permission to do the right thing, we could have recovered from all of these mistakes. Hospitals would have used their existing tests which they already have more than enough of, doctors would have had permission to test suspicious cases at their discretion, and we would have had a chance to catch infections early before they could spread. If the government didn’t already regulate adrenaline, buspirone, insulin, and genetic testing to the point of near-unavailability, maybe people would have thought it was weirder, or raised more of a fuss, when they started doing it for coronavirus tests.”
    • Exclusive: The Strongest Evidence Yet That America Is Botching Coronavirus Testing (Robinson Meyer & Alexis C. Madrigal, The Atlantic): “Testing is the first and most important tool in understanding the epidemiology of a disease outbreak. In the United States, a series of failures has combined with the decentralized nature of our health-care system to handicap the nation’s ability to see the severity of the outbreak in hard numbers.”
    • Before and after: coronavirus empties world’s busiest spaces  (Agence France-Presse, The Guardian): “Empty public squares, a highway with no cars on it and deserted holy sites – a series of striking satellite images have revealed the impact of the coronavirus epidemic on some of the world’s busiest spaces.”
    • Preparing Your Church For Coronavirus (Lyman Stone, The American Conservative): “Thus, Christians have two crucial duties. First, not to use plague, and the fear of the death of the body, as an excuse to abandon our God-given duties. We must care for the sick, both the sick in soul and in body. Where disease kills parents, we must care for the children. Where disease kills children, we must tend to the wounds of the family. Where disease spreads fear, we must be bold in faith. But we should not be idiots. We have a moral obligation to protect others by limiting the spread of disease. To ignore that duty murders our neighbors.” A bit long but excellent. 
  2. Men Too Easily Forgotten (Greg Morse, Desiring God): “Real men do not bully. Real men do not watch porn. Real men do not abuse women. Real men do not live at home after college playing video games in their parent’s basement. Amen to what real men are not, but what, then, is a real man? Can we not say more than just a male who doesn’t do bad? We need men who not only avoid evil but embody what is good. There is a profound difference. One sees manhood as an incurable illness of society to be managed; the other, a pillar to build civilization upon.” Recommended by a student.
  3. Low-Income College Students Are Being Taxed Like Trust-Fund Babies (Erica L. Green, New York Times): “In the past, a student from a household with a joint income of $50,000 who was awarded a scholarship that covered $11,500 in room and board would be taxed at their parents’ rate of 12 percent. Under the new law, that money would be taxed up to 35 percent.” This is a few months old, shared with me by a student. For the record, this is insane.
  4. The other way to lose a war (Ed Feser, personal blog): “Some critics like to chalk up prolonged American engagement in places like Afghanistan and Iraq to warmongering or realpolitik or some other sinister motivation. In my opinion, that is the reverse of the truth. The fault of those who advocate such engagement isn’t worldly cynicism, but otherworldly idealism.” Thoughtful and thought-provoking. Recommended. 
  5. My Same-Sex Attraction Has an Answer (Rachel Gilson, Christianity Today): “For people like me who experience same-sex attraction, the world begs us to believe that our authentic selves are only found in giving in. It promises hero status if we submit to our attractions. Our desires whisper, like a serpent in a garden, that there is no death in going against God’s Word.”
  6. The lure of ‘cool’ brain research is stifling psychotherapy  (Allen Frances, Aeon): “…I can affirm confidently that there are no neat answers in psychiatry. The best we can do is embrace an ecumenical four-dimensional model that includes all possible contributors to human functioning: the biological, the psychological, the social, and the spiritual. Reducing people to just one element – their brain functioning, or their psychological tendencies, or their social context, or their struggle for meaning – results in a flat, distorted image that leaves out more than it can capture.” The author was chair of the psychiatry department at Duke. 
  7. Let’s Deconstruct a Deconversion Story: The Case of Rhett and Link (Alisa Childers, Gospel Coalition): “Our cultural moment is a cauldron of information and celebrity worship in which the cult of personality can ferment and grow. With every hit of the ‘like’ button, the personalities we’ve subscribed to have become our authorities for truth.”
    • Red Flags in the Spiritual Deconstruction of My Old Friends Rhett and Link (Shelby Abbot, personal blog): “After they left staff with Cru, I kept in touch with the guys for a few years. But time and life happened, and my communication with them faded. Every now and then I’d send a message, but both Rhett and Link stopped reciprocating. I figured they probably changed their numbers and email addresses, or had too many DM’s from fans to find my random messages saying hello. [After hearing their] personal spiritual deconstruction stories. It suddenly made a lot sense to me why I never heard back from them.”

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have On Political Correctness (William Deresiewicz, The American Scholar): a long and thoughtful article. “Selective private colleges have become religious schools. The religion in question is not Methodism or Catholicism but an extreme version of the belief system of the liberal elite: the liberal professional, managerial, and creative classes, which provide a large majority of students enrolled at such places and an even larger majority of faculty and administrators who work at them. To attend those institutions is to be socialized, and not infrequently, indoctrinated into that religion…. I say this, by the way, as an atheist, a democratic socialist, a native northeasterner, a person who believes that colleges should not have sports teams in the first place—and in case it isn’t obvious by now, a card-carrying member of the liberal elite.” (first shared in volume 92)

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 155

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

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The Problem with Dull Knives: What’s the Defense Department got to do with Code for America? (Jennifer Pahlka, Medium): “I have a distinct memory of being a kid in the kitchen with my mom, awkwardly and probably dangerously wielding a knife, trying to cut some tough vegetable, and defending my actions by saying the knife was dull anyway. My mom stopped me and said firmly, ‘Jenny, a dull knife is much more dangerous than a sharp knife. You’re struggling and using much more force than you should, and that knife is going to end up God Knows Where.’ She was right, of course…. But having poor tools [for the military] doesn’t make us fight less; it makes us fight badly.” (some emphasis in the original removed). Highly recommended.
  2. Number One in Poverty, California Isn’t Our Most Progressive State — It’s Our Most Racist One (Michael Shellenberger, Forbes): “If racism is more than just saying nasty things — if it is, as scholars like James Baldwin, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Michelle Alexander and countless others have described, embedded into socioeconomic structures — then California isn’t just the least progressive state. It’s also the most racist.” Annoyingly split into seven sections, but worthwhile. The author was a gubernatorial candidate, but he did not make the general election.
  3. This week the Supreme Court, in a 7–2 decision, vindicated the Colorado baker who refused to bake a cake for a gay wedding. A lot of ink was spilled in response:
    • Colorado Made the Masterpiece Case Easy for the Court (Robert P. George, New York Times): “This much, however, is clear: Business owners and others have no obligation under the Constitution, nor can one be imposed by statute, to confine their religion to the private domain. On the contrary, they have the constitutional right to proclaim and act on their religious beliefs in the public domain, including in the domain of commerce.” The author is a law professor at Princeton.
    • Symposium: Masterpiece Cakeshop — not as narrow as may first appear (Douglas Laycock and Thomas Berg, SCOTUSblog): “The Supreme Court has announced a powerful ideal. Even when a law has no explicit exceptions, hostile enforcement is unconstitutional. Single-issue agencies that enforce state civil-rights laws must approach claims to religious exemptions with tolerance and respect. And this is apparently an absolute rule; the court does not consider whether hostility might be justified by some state interest, compelling or otherwise.”
    • Social Conservatism After Masterpiece Cakeshop (Sohrab Ahmari, Commentary Magazine): “Reducing traditional beliefs to a matter of religious freedom carries other risks. It allows progressives to frame traditional positions, which are rooted in reason and natural law, as a kind of idiosyncrasy or superstition…. Defending traditional morality on the basis of religious liberty alone, in other words, risks cornering religious conservatives in the long-term. The alternative, of course, isn’t to give up on religious freedom. That defensive battle must continue to be fought. But religious conservatives should also go on the offensive and once more formulate a substantive politics of the common good.”
    • In Masterpiece Cakeshop, Justice Kennedy Strikes a Blow for the Dignity of the Faithful (David French, National Review): “the Court did not issue the sweeping free-speech ruling that many advocates hoped for and others feared. Instead it issued a ruling that reminded state authorities that people of faith have the exact same rights — and are entitled to the exact same treatment — as people of different faith or no faith at all. And it did so in an opinion that decisively rejected the exact talking points so favored by the anti-religious left.”
    • No Victory For Religious Liberty (Darel E. Paul, First Things): “Only profound naïveté can spin the majority decision as a victory for religious liberty.”
    • Against The Masterpiece Cakeshop Killjoys (David French, National Review): a strong response to the above piece and a few others.
    • Why The Masterpiece Ruling Is Truly A Major Win For Religious Liberty (John Eastman, The Federalist): “In short, Masterpiece Cakeshop is the first post-Smith Free Exercise decision where the Supreme Court applied strict scrutiny to a neutral, generally applicable law that was not designed to target religion. Rather, strict scrutiny was triggered because of how the law was applied against religious objectors.” The author is a law professor at Chapman College and a senior fellow at the Claremont Institute.
    • This has not settled the issue, though. Religious Liberty: Not A Piece of Cake (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “we have our first court ruling on religious liberty since Masterpiece Cakeshop. An Arizona appeals court even cited the ruling in its own ruling against two Phoenix calligraphers who said that doing same-sex wedding invitations was a violation of their constitutionally protected religious beliefs.” This will no doubt be appealed, but is interesting nonetheless. There is massive hostility in some circles against religious freedom in general and specifically against the freedom of evangelical Christians and traditional Catholics to publicly live as though their faith is true.
  4. In related news: CrossFit Just Fired Its Spokesperson Who Said LGBT Pride Is A “Sin” (Stephanie M. Lee, Buzzfeed): “Berger had also said, ‘The tactics of some in the LGBTQ movement toward dissent is an existential threat to freedom of expression.’ In response to a Twitter user who pushed back, he wrote, ‘Thankfully I work for a company that tolerates disagreement. I have homosexual coworkers who I love and respect, and as far as I am aware, they aren’t demanding I be punished for my views.’”
    • In response, The Greengrocers Of CrossFit Gyms (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “Gay activists and their supporters among the gym’s employees destroyed this Christian’s business, not because he wouldn’t allow gays to work out at the gym, but because he would not permit them to celebrate gay Pride there. They shattered his business overnight without filing a charge or a lawsuit, but solely by using the power of stigma and collective action.”
  5. Reading Dangerously (Ian Marcus Corbin, Weekly Standard): “I currently split my professional life between academia and the Boston art world, the most liberal corners of the most liberal state of the union. I can’t speak strongly enough about the beauty and kindness of the black, Jewish, Hispanic, gay, transgender, feminist, socialist people whom I count as colleagues and friends here. They are deep, sensitive, searching souls. As a straight, white, able-bodied male, though—one who has even occasionally voted for Republicans—I am, on paper, a perfect storm of privilege and prejudice. Perhaps shockingly, my colleagues and I have managed to treat each other with respect and at times even deep friendship and care.”
  6. Identity Questions (Ron Belgau, Spiritual Friendship): “ ‘Identity’ is borrowed from the surrounding secular culture. It has displaced terms, like ‘nature’ and ‘calling,’ which have deep roots in the Bible and in the history of Christian thought. This displacement has made it more difficult for Christians to think clearly about what it means to be transformed in Christ.” This is from several years ago and was brought to my attention via a Twitter thread. Belgau is a fascinating guy — a former software engineer turned philosopher who is attracted to other men and is convinced those temptations are sinful.
  7. When The Punishment Feels Like A Crime (Julia Ioffe, Huffington Post): “Dauber may be a hero to many Stanford students, but when I visited the campus in April, I discovered that much of the faculty does not feel the same way. Twenty-nine Stanford Law professors have signed a letter against the recall.” This is a long and amazing article about the Persky recall campaign written before the vote.
    • Related: The recall of the judge who sentenced Brock Turner will end up hurting poor, minority defendants (Rachel Marshall, Vox): “…in this country, we have an epidemic of wrongful convictions, yet never have I heard of a public outcry to recall or vote against a judge who presided over a case in which an innocent client was convicted or sentenced. In contrast, as we have just seen, a sentence perceived as too light not only will make headlines but could cost a judge his job.” The author is a Stanford Law School grad.
    • In case you missed it, Persky was recalled in the elections this week.

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

  • This guy is a chef in the White House (twitter). This is real. Google for “jacked White House chef.” Wow. Every outlandish action-adventure movie premise just became more plausible.
  • Great Chuck Norris Facts (imgur): I know these jokes have been around for years… but some here are new to me. My favorite: “Chuck Norris and Superman once fought each other on a bet. The loser had to start wearing their underwear on the outside of their pants.”
  • Moron or Genius? (Pearls Before Swine)

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have The Land of We All (Richard Mitchell, The Gift of Fire), an essay  built on this insight: “Thinking can not be done corporately. Nations and committees can’t think. That is not only because they have no brains, but because they have no selves, no centers, no souls, if you like. Millions and millions of persons may hold the same thought, or conviction or suspicion, but each and every person of those millions must hold it all alone.” (first shared in volume 2) This is one of the more important things I’ve shared. 

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).

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.

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