Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 370

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 370, a narcissistic number (sometimes also called an Armstrong number). It has three digits, and when you raise each digit to the third power they sum to the original number: 370 = 33 + 73 + 03. There are only 88 narcissistic numbers in base 10, and only 4 of those have three digits (153, 370, 371, and 407).

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. YouTube May Force You to Watch 10 (or More) Unskippable Ads in a Row (Ted Gioia, Substack): “This, my friends, is the web we asked for. We wanted everything for free—but what we really got was a swamp where all the costs are still there, just hidden. And the experience we have gained from other industries where prices are mostly hidden from view—healthcare is the most obvious example, but of course there are others—is that this usually turns out to be the most expensive transaction of them all.”
    • This is really good!
  2. For Suburban Texas Men, a Workout Craze With a Side of Faith (Ruth Graham, New York Times): “This is F3 — that’s fitness, fellowship and faith — a fast-growing network of men’s workouts that combine exercise with spiritually inflected camaraderie.… I first heard about F3 through a few acquaintances in Texas, men who spoke about their local groups with the zeal of evangelists. It reminded me of how urban women used to talk with me about SoulCycle, only these guys were suburban fathers.”
    • A Short Story of Men (David French, The Dispatch): “What is the short story of modern men? Life has changed forever. Ideologues pull men and boys into destructive and unsustainable extremes. Yet virtuous purpose can still be found in the fundamental building blocks of the good life. Only a man can be a husband, only a man can be a father, and men need male friends. If a man can fill those roles with integrity and courage, then doubts about his masculinity should not ever darken his heart.”
    • This is a response piece inspired by the above story about F3.
  3. The Cherokee Nation is again calling on Congress to deliver on a 200-year-old promise (Harmeet Kaur, CNN): “The Cherokee Nation is renewing its campaign for representation in Congress, calling on federal legislators to honor a treaty that the US government made nearly 200 years ago. In a video released last week, the tribal nation reasserted its demand that Congress seat its delegate in the House of Representatives – a right stipulated by the 1835 Treaty of New Echota.”
    • From what I can tell this is a legit claim: the treaty was approved by the US Senate even though shady things happened on the the Cherokee side (the treaty was entered into by Cherokees not authorized to negotiate on behalf of their tribe). I don’t know why this is controversial: America took the land, we need to honor all the terms of the deal.
  4. ‘Out of control’ STD situation prompts call for changes (Mike Stobbe, Associated Press): “New syphilis infections plummeted in the U.S. starting in the 1940s when antibiotics became widely available. They fell to their lowest ever by 1998, when fewer than 7,000 new cases were reported nationwide. The CDC was so encouraged by the progress it launched a plan to eliminate syphilis in the U.S. But by 2002 cases began rising again, largely among gay and bisexual men, and they kept going. In late 2013, CDC ended its elimination campaign in the face of limited funding and escalating cases, which that year surpassed 17,000. By 2020 cases had reached nearly 41,700 and they spiked even further last year, to more than 52,000.”
    • That’s a 26% jump just last year!
    • As STD rates explode, are we still sure God’s way isn’t better? (Peter Heck, Not The Bee): “There’s more to the Christian sexual ethic than a despotic list of don’ts. There’s a holistic and healthy ideal that includes recognizing the person you are dating is someone’s future spouse and should be treated with the same dignity that we would want another treating our future spouse. There’s an enduring commendation of the formation of lifelong, loving relationships built not upon tawdry lusts but self-sacrificial commitment; the recognition that love is not something we feel, but something we do. There’s a self-control that protects humanity and liberates it from sickness and suffering. It’s God’s way…”
    • I often think upon this fact: if the Christian sexual ethic were universally observed for one generation STDs would be essentially eliminated.
  5. Illiberalism Is For (Cultural) Losers (Brian Mattson, Substack): “Illiberalism, the deep desire to deny to others their rights of conscience and belief and property that we ourselves enjoy and to force them into conformity to our vision of the common good by way of coercive State power is the last resort of losers. Cultural losers. Abigail Adams would judge that such people are unfit for liberty; or at least they are people who can’t accomplish anything fruitful with it. I have a better idea. Reform our weak institutions, and where we cannot, we build better ones and be cultural winners.”
  6. An ‘us’ vs. ‘them’ mentality on campuses turns potential friends into allies — or enemies (Pamela Paresky and Samuel J. Abrams, Boston Globe): “According to an NBC poll released in August, only 20 percent of college sophomores surveyed said they can definitely see themselves rooming with someone who voted differently than they did in the 2020 presidential election. And more than half said they probably or definitely couldn’t see themselves dating such a student. Campus culture seems to further social disconnection rather than foster friendship across the political divide.”
    • The authors are scholars of psychology and politics, respectively. I read this one mostly because the thumbnail preview is of Stanford.
  7. The ‘Lizzo Playing James Madison’s Flute’ Controversy: A Blogger’s Analysis (Nick Catoggio, The Dispatch): “H ad you heard of Madison’s flute before Lizzo played it? I hadn’t. I’d heard of her but not it. It was she who lent celebrity to the instrument, not vice versa. You may find that dispiriting, although I’m not sure why any of us should have baseline knowledge about a random gift given to James Madison that played no meaningful role in American history. Me, I’m thrilled to have learned about it via this episode. A crystal flute! Made for the father of the Constitution! Played for the first time in 200 years by a celebrity—totally randomly! It wouldn’t surprise me if it turns out to have magical powers and Lizzo has now been possessed by Madison’s ghost. Which, if so, would make her next concert a must-see. But I digress. The last reason this story is instant blog fodder is because, per the foregoing, it’s quirky as all hell.”

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 Nuclear Family Was a Mistake (David Brooks, The Atlantic): “If you want to summarize the changes in family structure over the past century, the truest thing to say is this: We’ve made life freer for individuals and more unstable for families. We’ve made life better for adults but worse for children. We’ve moved from big, interconnected, and extended families, which helped protect the most vulnerable people in society from the shocks of life, to smaller, detached nuclear families (a married couple and their children), which give the most privileged people in society room to maximize their talents and expand their options. The shift from bigger and interconnected extended families to smaller and detached nuclear families ultimately led to a familial system that liberates the rich and ravages the working-class and the poor.” Highly recommended. From volume 238.

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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.