Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 359

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.

359 is the 72nd prime number, and is also what is known as a Sophie Germain prime because if you double it and add 1 the result (719) is also prime.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Is Faith The Enemy of Science? (Glen Scrivener, Twitter): a good 90 second video
  2. I Don’t Want to See a High School Football Coach Praying at the 50-Yard Line (Anne Lamott, New York Times): “How do people like me who believe entirely in science and reason also believe that prayer can heal and restore? Well, I’ve seen it happen a thousand times in my own inconsequential life. God seems like a total showoff to me, if perhaps unnecessarily cryptic.” This is a fascinating op-ed.
  3. On masculinity:
    • Against the Extremism of the American Masculinity Debate (David French, The Dispatch): “While there are many millions of men and boys who do quite well in our country, the vast majority of our nation’s young men are falling behind their female peers. I quoted this statistic in my last newsletter, but it’s worth quoting again: Men account for 70 percent of the decline in enrollment in American colleges and universities.”
    • So Jordan Peterson posted a video message to the Church. Message to the Christian Churches (Jordan Peterson, YouTube: eleven minutes. It’s generated thoughts:
    • Church: Where Are The Men? (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “Peterson means it literally when he complains here that most churches offer nothing for young men. Men feel unwanted in these feminized precincts, and there is often nothing much to attract or hold them to congregational life.” This post is LONG and ventures deeper into church history than I expected it to.
    • Jordan Peterson’s “Message to Christian Churches” Is Nonsense (Tyler Huckabee, Relevant): “He’s found an audience and that’s fine, but when Peterson steers outside of his lane, you can tell. And on Wednesday, Peterson veered well outside of his lane with this ‘Message to Christian Churches.’ It is ridiculous.”
    • Crossing the Jordan (Matthew Hosier, ThinkTheology): “There is much about this message that I find salutary and invigorating. As I say, it made me laugh and cry and cheer. Although, without clarity about the atoning work of Christ on the cross, without a proper notion of grace, Peterson’s appeal represents only a robust Pelagianism and is therefore insufficient to deal with our most fundamental problem. Pelagianism does not offer a solution to the problem of original sin; at best it can ameliorate the symptoms, not cure the disease.”
  4. Book Review: The Man From The Future (Astral Codex Ten, Scott Alexander): “…after a lifetime of culturally-Jewish atheism, he wished to be baptized. His daughter attributed her father’s ‘change of heart’ to Pascal’s Wager: the idea that even a very small probability of gaining a better afterlife is worth the relatively trivial cost of a deathbed conversion. Even as his powers deserted him, John von Neumann remained a game theorist to the end.” Fascinating throughout.
  5. Arrest made in rape of Ohio girl that led to Indiana abortion drawing international attention (Bethany Bruner, Monroe Trombly, Tony Cook, The Columbus Dispatch): “A Columbus man has been charged with impregnating a 10-year-old Ohio girl, whose travel to Indiana to seek an abortion led to international attention following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade and activation of Ohio’s abortion law.”
  6. Whose breath are you breathing? (Farah Hancock, Radio New Zealand): “At 5737ppm, the equivalent of one in every seven breaths I took on the bus was air other people had breathed out. I texted a friend: ‘OMG, the readings are so high I may as well let the other passengers lick my face!’ I was being a little gross, because even according to a scientist, it is a little gross. ‘You can think of it as spit particles, tiny spit particles are what you are breathing in,’ says University of Auckland aerosol chemist Dr Joel Rindelaub. ‘It’s breath backwash that gets people infected.’ ”
    • First, “breath backwash” is a magnificent term. Kudos. Second, I’m pretty sure the math is more complicated than the article makes it seem. I would nonetheless love seeing CO2 meters in public places.
  7. How Universities Weaponize Freshman Orientation (Abigail Anthony, National Review): “Ideally, freshman orientation should be a procedural, social assimilation to familiarize students with the resources the university offers and how to access them. However, Princeton University undertook a mission to present incoming students with sexual, moral, and political guidance, wholly omitting widely held perspectives and effectively insulating progressive views from intellectual trial. Moreover, attendance at these events was compulsory, thus constituting an ideological hazing.”

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

  • The lines in this checkerboard pattern are straight (Akiyoshi Kitaoka’s work on some random blog)
  • Turnabout (The Far Side)
  • Down Memory Lame (Loading Artist) — relatable
  • Humans Will Believe Anything They Hear (Bengt Washburn, YouTube): six minutes. Recommended by an alumnus. It sounded familiar so I searched the archives and saw I shared it back in volume 310. It was definitely worth watching again!
  • “Eat the Rich” ice cream truck sells $10 popsicles shaped like Bezos, Musk, others (Khristopher J. Brooks, CBS News): “An artists’ collective in Brooklyn is selling popsicles shaped like billionaires including Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos with the tagline ‘Eat the Rich.’ But the $10 price tag on the frozen treats has some people pointing out the irony of criticizing the world’s wealthiest while engaging in ‘peak capitalism.’ ” Warning: autoplays unrelated videos.
  • BMW starts selling heated seat subscriptions for $18 a month (James Vincent, The Verge): “Carmakers have always charged customers more money for high-end features, of course, but the dynamic is very different when software, rather than hardware, is the limiting factor. Charging more for high-end features feels different when you already own them In the case of heated seats, for example, BMW owners already have all the necessary components, but BMW has simply placed a software block on their functionality that buyers then have to pay to remove.” Recommended by an alumnus. This actually probably belongs up in the serious category because it’s an omen of the future.

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have The Church, intensive kinship, and global psychological variation (Schulz et al, Science): “…we propose that the Western Church (i.e., the branch of Christianity that evolved into the Roman Catholic Church) transformed European kinship structures during the Middle Ages and that this transformation was a key factor behind a shift towards a WEIRDer psychology.” At the time I first shared it I said, “This is really interesting if it holds up.” I did a quick literature church and the result seems to be holding. First shared in volume 226.

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

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

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 357

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

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

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

Things Glen Found Interesting

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

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

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

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

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

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 351

this week’s news was full of stuff I did not like

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

This is the 351st installment. 351 is, I am told, the smallest number such that it and its surrounding numbers are all products of 4 or more primes (in the case of 351=3·3·3·13).

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. My College Students Are Not OK  (Jonathan Malesic, New York Times): “Higher education is now at a turning point. The accommodations for the pandemic can either end or be made permanent. The task won’t be easy, but universities need to help students rebuild their ability to learn. And to do that, everyone involved — students, faculties, administrators and the public at large — must insist on in-person classes and high expectations for fall 2022 and beyond.” The author has a PhD in religious studies and was a tenured theology prof, but now teaches writing at another university. His personal journey seems interesting.
  2. MIT, Harvard scientists find AI can recognize race from X‑rays — and nobody knows how (Hiawatha Bray, Boston Globe): “Ghassemi and her colleagues remain baffled, but she suspects it has something to do with melanin, the pigment that determines skin color. Perhaps X‑rays and CT scanners detect the higher melanin content of darker skin, and embed this information in the digital image in some fashion that human users have never noticed before. It’ll take a lot more research to be sure.”
  3. Pandemic news, not great this week:
    • The Covid Capitulation (Eric Topol, Substack): “To recap, we have a highly unfavorable picture of: (1) accelerated evolution of the virus; (2) increased immune escape of new variants; (2) progressively higher transmissibility and infectiousness; (4) substantially less protection from transmission by vaccines and boosters; (5) some reduction on vaccine/booster protection against hospitalization and death; (6) high vulnerability from infection-acquired immunity only; and (7) likelihood of more noxious new variants in the months ahead” The author is a professor of molecular medicine at the Scripps Institute.
    • Permanent Pandemic (Justin E. H. Smith, Harper’s Magazine): “That the political is always biopolitical, in at least this general sense, may be a fact that recedes from view in those rare moments when things are functioning smoothly. At such times, the various documents that governments make us fill out and sign, or fill out on our behalf when we are born, married, arrested, or dead; the various licenses we get renewed; and the accreditations we collect come to appear as ends in themselves rather than as part of a vast apparatus that limits what we can do with our own bodies.” The author is a philosophy professor at the University of Paris.
    • The new Covid equilibrium (Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution): “I know many of you like to say ‘No worse than the common cold!’ Well, the thing is…the common cold imposes considerable costs on the world. Imagine a new common cold, which you catch a few times a year, with some sliver of the population getting some form of Long Covid. One 2003 estimate suggested that the common cold costs us $40 billion a year, and in a typical year I don’t get a cold even once.… Even under mild conceptions of current Covid, it is entirely plausible to believe that the costs of Covid will run into the trillions over the next ten years.”
    • With Plunging Enrollment, a ‘Seismic Hit’ to Public Schools (Shawn Hubler, New York Times): “No overriding explanation has emerged yet for the widespread drop-off. But experts point to two potential causes: Some parents became so fed up with remote instruction or mask mandates that they started home-schooling their children or sending them to private or parochial schools that largely remained open during the pandemic. And other families were thrown into such turmoil by pandemic-related job losses, homelessness and school closures that their children simply dropped out.”
  4. Abortion-related:
    • Roe draft is a reminder that religion’s role in politics is older than the republic (Ron Elving, NPR): “The question arises: Since when did so much of our politics have to do with religion? And the answer is, since the beginning – and even before. Religion was a driving and determinative force in politics on this continent even before the ‘United States’ had been formed.And it has been brought to bear in widely disparate causes. Religion has been invoked to condemn slavery and segregation, to ban alcohol and the teaching of evolutionary science and to bolster anti-war movements.”
    • When an Abortion Is Pro-Life (Matthew Loftus, New York Times): “I view my work as a physician as part of a battle against brokenness in the physical health of my patients, a battle whose tide was turned when Jesus Christ rose from the dead. The Bible teaches that our physical bodies will one day be resurrected as Christ’s was, mysteriously transformed but somehow also continuous with our present flesh and blood — like a seed is transformed into a plant. I teach and work alongside local health professionals so that we can care holistically for people in need, following in the footsteps of Jesus, the healer.… Here, I think the exception proves the rule: Ending a child’s life before birth is so wrong that only saving another life could be worth it.” This is a remarkable op-ed.
    • A critique of the religious pro-life movement: The Religious Right and the Abortion Myth (Randall Balmer, Politico): “White evangelicals in the 1970s did not mobilize against Roe v. Wade, which they considered a Catholic issue. They organized instead to defend racial segregation in evangelical institutions, including Bob Jones University. To suggest otherwise is to perpetrate what I call the abortion myth, the fiction that the genesis of the Religious Right — the powerful evangelical political movement that has reshaped American politics over the past four decades — lay in opposition to abortion.”
    • But actually no: What everyone gets wrong about evangelicals and abortion (Gillian Frank & Neil J. Young, Washington Post): “Twelve years before the Roe decision, a young woman wrote to the leading U.S. evangelist, the Rev. Billy Graham, with the following question: ‘Through a young and foolish sin, I had an abortion. I now feel guilty of murder. How can I ever know forgiveness?’ Graham, whose syndicated newspaper column ‘My Answer’ reached millions of Americans, replied: ‘Abortion is as violent a sin against God, nature, and one’s self as one can commit.’ Graham telegraphed evangelicals’ unease with abortion, which would become increasingly political in the coming years.”
    • Really actually no: There’s been some discussion about how evangelicals in the U.S. didn’t start opposing abortion until the late 1970s – several years after Roe v. Wade in 1973. There’s a lot more nuance to that history. (Andrew Lewis, Twitter): an interesting thread from a professor of political science at the University of Cincinnati.
    • As in strongly no: Ballmer also misrepresented the legal aspects of this story (Jon Whitehead, Twitter)
  5. How Mary Whitehouse Waged War on Pornography (Jonathon Van Maren, First Things): “Whitehouse was mocked for predicting that sexual messaging would soon target children; it is now the norm for LGBT content to appear on children’s TV shows and in storybooks. She warned that films such as Bernardo Bertolucci’s Last Tango in Paris crossed a line; it was later revealed that the rape scene in the movie deeply traumatized the scene’s young actress, who received vile treatment at the hands of older men. On the big cultural questions, Whitehouse was right and her critics were wrong.”
  6. Naomi Judd: ‘It’s scary to show that part of you that is the not so smart, not so together side’ (Terry Mattingly, GetReligion): “Naomi Judd thought she understood the ties that bind country-music stars and their audience – then one aggressive fan went and joined the Pentecostal church the Judd family called home. ‘It really burdened me,’ said Judd, after signing hundreds of her ‘Love Can Build a Bridge’ memoir back in 1993. ‘I just don’t sign autographs at church. The best way I can explain it to children … is to say, ‘Honey, Jesus is the star.’ ” What a great opening story.
  7. On the shootings:
    • Faith on the ground in Buffalo: Voice Buffalo executive director Denise Walden (Adelle M. Banks, Religion News Service): “They are some of the matriarchs and the pillars of our community. They will be missed in ways that I don’t think I can do justice to describing, but who bring joy to this community. They’re the ones who help stand and hold this community together.”
    • The FAQs: What Christians Should Know About the ‘Great Replacement’ Theory (Joe Carter, Gospel Coalition): “The recent shooting in Buffalo is the fifth terrorist attack in the past five years in which a white supremacist gunman made reference to the Great Replacement conspiracy theory.… Christians should be the first to decry the racism and xenophobia of the theory, along with condemning the violence it has perpetuated.”
    • Doctor Who Fought Church Gunman Remembered as Kind Protector (Julie Watson, Ministry Watch): “The family and sports medicine physician was like family to the staff and he encouraged them to learn kung fu, telling them about the importance of knowing self-defense techniques. He also learned how to handle a gun for that same reason. That preparedness combined with Cheng’s serene disposition likely gave him a proclivity for acting heroically, according to active shooter experts.… Authorities credit Cheng’s quick action with saving perhaps dozens of lives at a celebratory luncheon for congregants and their former pastor at Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church, which worships at Geneva Presbyterian Church in the Orange County community of Laguna Woods.”
    • After Shooting, Churches Navigate China-Taiwan Tensions Under the Surface (Kate Shellnutt & Sean Cheng, Christianity Today): “As soon as they heard that a gunman attacked a Taiwanese church in California on Sunday, some Taiwanese correctly assumed political motives.… The shooting suspect, David Wenwei Chou, was born and raised in Taiwan but considers himself Chinese. (China currently claims Taiwan as its territory.) He left notes in Chinese in his car stating he did not believe Taiwan should be independent from China. Chinese social media circulated photos of Chou indicating that he was a leader of a Chinese pro-unification organization in Las Vegas.”

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have A Study Guide For Human Society, Part 1 (Tanner Greer, The Scholar’s Stage): “…there are two methods [for finding good history books] in particular I have often have useful. The first is to Google syllabi. If you are interested in the history of the Roman Republic, Google ‘Roman Republic syllabus’ and see what pops up. Read a few courses and see what books are included. Alternatively, if you just read a book you thought was particularly good, put its title into Google and then the word ‘syllabus’ afterwards and see what other readings college professors have paired with that book in their courses.”  First shared in volume 217.

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

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

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 347

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

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

Things Glen Found Interesting

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

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have The Revolt of the Feminist Law Profs (Wesley Yang, Chronicle of Higher Education): “The sex bureaucracy, in other words, pivoted from punishing sexual violence to imposing a normative vision of ideal sex, to which students are held administratively accountable.” First shared in volume 214.

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

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

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 346

strong articles this week — more recommended than normal

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, volume 346, is the 5th Franel number.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Spiritually uplifting:
    • Fire Upon The Earth (Charles Chaput, First Things): “Too many people who claim to be Christian simply don’t know Jesus Christ. They don’t really believe in the gospel. They feel embarrassed by their religion and out of step with the times. They may keep their religion for its comfort value, or adjust it to fit their doubts. It doesn’t reshape their lives, because it isn’t real. And because it isn’t real, it has no transforming effect on their behavior, no social force, and few public consequences. Their faith, whatever it once was, is now dead.” THIS IS STRAIGHT FIRE. The excerpt does not do it justice.
    • The Man On The Middle Cross (Alistair Begg, YouTube): one and a half minutes.
    • It’s Friday… But Sunday’s a Coming! (YouTube): three and a half minutes
  2. Recalled Experiences Surrounding Death: More Than Hallucinations? (Neuroscience News): “The recalled experiences surrounding death are not consistent with hallucinations, illusions or psychedelic drug induced experiences, according to several previously published studies. Instead, they follow a specific narrative arc involving a perception of: (a) separation from the body with a heightened, vast sense of consciousness and recognition of death; (b) travel to a destination; © a meaningful and purposeful review of life, involving a critical analysis of all actions, intentions and thoughts towards others; a perception of (d) being in a place that feels like “home”, and (e) a return back to life.” The original research: https://nyaspubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/nyas.14740
  3. Why the Past 10 Years of American Life Have Been Uniquely Stupid (Jonathan Haidt, The Atlantic): “The story of Babel is the best metaphor I have found for what happened to America in the 2010s, and for the fractured country we now inhabit. Something went terribly wrong, very suddenly. We are disoriented, unable to speak the same language or recognize the same truth. We are cut off from one another and from the past.” This is quite good. Haidt is a social psychologist at NYU and is someone who seems to be faith-adjacent: he’s near Christianity but not there yet.
  4. LGBTQ related
    • What I wish I’d known when I was 19 and had sex reassignment surgery (Corinna Cohn, Washington Post): “Surgery unshackled me from my body’s urges, but the destruction of my gonads introduced a different type of bondage. From the day of my surgery, I became a medical patient and will remain one for the rest of my life.” I am impressed that the Washington Post published this op-ed.
    • How to Make Sense of the New L.G.B.T.Q. Culture War (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “If conservatives had predicted just before Obergefell v. Hodges that soon a fifth of young adults would identify as L.G.B.T.Q., prominent voices would deploy terms like ‘pregnant person’ and ‘menstruator’ in place of ‘woman,’ and natal males would be winning women’s track and swimming competitions, they would have been treated as hysterics.” This is a strong essay. Highly recommended and worth using up one of your paywall accesses.
    • Victory: Shawnee State agrees professors can’t be forced to speak contrary to their beliefs (Alliance Defending Freedom): “As part of the settlement, the university has agreed that Meriwether has the right to choose when to use, or avoid using, titles or pronouns when referring to or addressing students. Significantly, the university agreed Meriwether will never be mandated to use pronouns, including if a student requests pronouns that conflict with his or her biological sex.” In addition, “the university agreed to pay $400,000 in damages and Meriwether’s attorneys’ fees.”
  5. Pandemic related
    • The Accuracy of Authorities (Robin Hanson, blog): “The best estimates of a maximally accurate source would be very frequently updated and follow a random walk, which implies a large amount of backtracking. And authoritative sources like WHO are often said to be our most accurate sources. Even so, such sources do not tend to act this way. They instead update their estimates rarely, and are especially reluctant to issue estimates that seem to backtrack. Why?” There is solid wisdom in this post.
    • Faith, Science, and Francis Collins (Dhruv Khullar, New Yorker): “In May, 2021, after helping to lead the federal pandemic response for more than a year, during which he woke up most mornings at four-thirty, Collins escaped for a weekend to a rented barn in Loudoun County, Virginia. He brought his guitar and a Bible that he has had for decades; horses and goats kept him company. Collins gazed out at the blue sky and rolling hills. He wrote, prayed, and ultimately decided to leave his post as the director of the N.I.H. Collins told me that he prays not to ask God to change his circumstances, but to ask God what he himself should do.”
    • A Warning From Shanghai (Jay Battacharya, Bari Weiss’s Substack): “Yet the soul searching [of the attack on me and other researchers] should have caused among public health officials has largely failed to occur. Instead, the lesson seems to be: Dissent at your own risk. I do not practice medicine—I am a professor specializing in epidemiology and health policy at Stanford Medical School. But many friends who do practice have told me how they have censored their thoughts about Covid lockdowns, vaccines, and recommended treatment to avoid the mob.”
  6. The Law that Banned Everything (Richard Hanania, Substack): “If everything is potentially illegal, and government does not have the resources to go after everything, then the government basically has arbitrary power to do whatever it wants under civil rights law.” This was an absolutely fascinating interview. The interviewee is a law professor at the University of San Diego.
  7. A primer on the Stanford budget (Tim Mackenzie, Stanford Daily) “… this year’s operating budget says ‘the buffers serve as a financial reserve in the event of an earthquake or other disaster.’ In other words, Stanford has nearly $4 billion in a rainy-day fund. In the 2019–2020 budget, the last pre-COVID budget, Tier I and Tier II Buffers stood at $1.4 billion and $1.0 billion, respectively. The buffers actually grew by more than a billion dollars during the ongoing pandemic. Meanwhile, hundreds of workers were laid off and subcontracted workers went months without promised pay. Apparently, a global pandemic does not reach the threshold of ‘earthquake or other disaster’ required to utilize financial reserves to resist changes in university operations when challenged with market uncertainty.” Recommended by a student.

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 For the classic selection next week: Against Against Billionaire Philanthropy (Scott Alexander, Slate Star Codex): “I worry the movement against billionaire charity is on track to damage charity a whole lot more than it damages billionaires.” This is a very interesting essay, and he has a follow‐up, Highlights From The Comments on Billionaire Philanthropy, which thoughtfully responds to criticisms. Highly recommended. First shared in volume 213.

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 341

a lot about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but don’t sleep on the rest — there’s good stuff!

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 341, which when rendered in base 2 (34110=1010101012) is apparently the smallest pseudoprime in that base.

Also, there’s a lot happening this week and I feel underinformed. These are the things that stood out to me from the less-than-I-would-have-liked that I did read.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine:
    • Just war theory and the Russo-Ukrainian war (Ed Feser, blog): “One of the striking features of the catastrophe in Ukraine is how unambiguously the principles of just war doctrine seem to apply. On the one hand, Russia’s invasion cannot be justified given the criteria of just war theory. On the other hand, NATO military action against Russia cannot be justified either.” The author, a Christian, is a philosophy professor at Pasadena City College.
    • We Are All Realists Now (Ryan Fedasiuk, Georgetown Security Studies Review): “After a sleepless night spent reading takes about every modern geopolitical issue under the sun I found, honestly, that I could not care less about any of them. Can people get to safety? Where are the medical facilities? How many refugees can the United States admit? — These are the questions that matter. War may be an object of academic study, but it is first and foremost a human catastrophe.” The author is pursuing his master’s at Georgetown. This is brief and quite good. Recommended by an alumnus.
    • Pausing at the Precipice (Tanner Greer, Scholar’s Stage): “This is a powerful framework for understanding foreign policy crises. Catastrophic misjudgment rests on the convergence of two elements: an emergent sense that there is a moral imperative to act paired with a breakdown in the formal decision-making processes designed to force policy makers to carefully weigh the potential consequences of their decisions.”
    • The Absence Of A Tragic Sense (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “…we have just entered into an extremely dangerous period of life on this planet. People who are thrilled over the moral clarity of the moment must have forgotten that the Cold War, with the terror of nuclear war hanging over our heads constantly, was a time of moral clarity too.”
    • We Have Never Been Here Before (Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times): “…today’s world is resting on two simultaneous extremes: Never have the leaders of two of the three most powerful nuclear nations — Putin and Xi — had more unchecked power and never have more people from one end of the world to the other been wired together with fewer and fewer buffers. So, what those two leaders decide to do with their unchecked power will touch virtually all of us directly or indirectly. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is our first real taste of how crazy and unstable this kind of wired world can get. It will not be our last.”
    • Ukraine war: ‘My city’s being shelled, but mum won’t believe me’ (Maria Korenyuk and Jack Goodman, BBC): “My parents understand that some military action is happening here. But they say: ‘Russians came to liberate you. They won’t ruin anything, they won’t touch you. They’re only targeting military bases’.”
    • Russian Degradation and Ukrainian Hope: The Example of Christian Higher Education (Perry Glanzer, The Gospel Coalition): “Russian political leaders continually exalt corruption, dysfunction, and the pursuit of power. This leads them to undermine burgeoning efforts to rebuild civil society, improve religious liberty, or expand religious education. Unfortunately, the dominant Russian Orthodox Church makes things worse. Former communists largely control the Russian Orthodox Church, and they use this power to support a Russian version of Christian nationalism—making the church an instrument of the state. In Ukraine I have found hope and courage among educators and Christians trying to build civil society in the context of religious freedom in ways that some political leaders supported.” This was unexpectedly interesting. The author is an education prof at Baylor.
    • How Putin Wants Russians to See the War in Ukraine (Masha Gessen, The New Yorker): “While news channels around the world broadcast special reports from Ukrainian cities that are being bombarded by the Russian military, Russian newscasts on state-controlled channels, which have a monopoly on broadcast television, are short and uneventful.” Recommended by a student.
    • The West’s Green Delusions Empowered Putin (Michael Shellenberger, Bari Weiss’ Substack): “Green campaigns have succeeded in destroying German energy independence—they call it Energiewende, or ‘energy turnaround’—by successfully selling policymakers on a peculiar version of environmentalism. It calls climate change a near-term apocalyptic threat to human survival while turning up its nose at the technologies that can help address climate change most and soonest: nuclear and natural gas.… Germany has trapped itself. It could burn more coal and undermine its commitment to reducing carbon emissions. Or it could use more natural gas, which generates half the carbon emissions of coal, but at the cost of dependence on imported Russian gas. Berlin was faced with a choice between unleashing the wrath of Putin on neighboring countries or inviting the wrath of Greta Thunberg. They chose Putin.” Those last two sentences…
    • When the Man Meets the Moment (David French, The Dispatch): “The future is opaque. The fog of war has descended over the battlefield. Much is unknown, but this much is clear: An ordinary man has answered the call of an extraordinary time, and he has sparked hope in his own people and in a cynical and weary west.”
    • A Tale of Two Masculinities (Andrew T. Walker, World): “…compare the rival masculinities of Zelenskyy and Vladimir Putin. Zelenskyy’s common grace demonstration of healthy masculinity exudes leadership, courage, resolve, and sacrifice. He does not tell you of his courage; he simply shows it. And then there is the so-called ‘manliness’ of Putin, who boasts of a masculinity with ridiculous photos of himself riding horses while shirtless.”
    • ‘Yes, He Would’: Fiona Hill on Putin and Nukes (Maura Reynolds, Politico): “Putin is increasingly operating emotionally and likely to use all the weapons at his disposal, including nuclear ones. It’s important not to have any illusions — but equally important not to lose hope.” Not the main point of the piece, but my favorite part is when she says sanctions won’t be enough and then suggests stronger sanctions. Overall a mixed article but worth reading if you’re interested in the subject.
    • Ukrainian sailor in Majorca tried to sink yacht of Russian boss (BBC): “He told a judge that he regretted nothing and would do it again.” Recommended by an alumnus.
    • Former Miss Grand Ukraine joins fight against Russian invasion (Patrick Reilly, New York Post): “[Anastasia Lenna] had previously worked as a model and a public relations manager in Turkey, according to her Miss Grand International profile, a whole world away from the violence of the battlefield. She also speaks five languages and has worked as a translator.”
  2. Supreme Court:
    • Ketanji Brown Jackson Thanks God for Supreme Court Nomination (Jack Jenkins, Christianity Today): “Jackson did not mention a specific faith tradition in her remarks, so it was not immediately clear whether she would alter the religious makeup of the Supreme Court, which currently consists primarily of Catholic and Jewish justices (Justice Neil Gorsuch was raised Catholic but attended an Episcopal Church in Colorado).… Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley noted Jackson had served on the board of Montrose Christian School. The Maryland school, which has since been closed, operated under a statement of faith that declared ‘we should speak on behalf of the unborn and contend for the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death’ and outlined a belief that marriage exists only between a man and a woman. In responding to Hawley, who said he agreed with the statements, Jackson distanced herself from the school’s beliefs. She said she did not ‘necessarily agree with all of the statements,’ and was not previously aware of their existence.”
    • The Long Crusade of Clarence and Ginni Thomas (Danny Hakim and Jo Becker, New York Times): “Ginni Lamp, as she was known then, was on a cheer squad for taller girls known as the Squires, brandishing a sword and a shield before football games. ‘She would march in front with that; she loved doing that,’ said Sue Norby, a classmate. ‘My other friends were on the pompom squad because they were so short, but Ginni was on a different squad because she was tall, with other tall girls. She was the warrior woman.’”
      • I have mentioned this before, but I am a sucker for stories about the Justices. They are all such fascinating people. Even ideological pieces like this reveal their idiosyncratic wonderfulness. Warning: this is very long.
  3. Covid Arithmetic for Anxious Parents (Bryan Caplan, blog): “The most ‘adult’ thing for parents and teachers to do on this March 1 [when Virginia lifts its school mask mandate] is walk kids through the Covid math. Even third-graders should be able to follow it. And if you really want to show your maturity, you should confess that for the last two years, most adults have been acting like children. Life gave us a math project, yet we acted like it was a poetry assignment.”
  4. Walking in the Purpose of God (Christos Makridis, XA Alumni): “Put simply, I never would have guessed what I’m doing now three years ago. While my engagement in the cryptocurrency and NFT sphere ‘might’ have been possible on paper, it wouldn’t have been nearly this rich and diversified absent my saying ‘yes’ to the Lord one step at a time and simply walking in obedience.” Christos is an alumnus of XA at Stanford.
  5. Study Examines Link Between Accountability to God and Psychological Well-Being (Neuroscience News): “Religious believers who embrace accountability to God (or another transcendent guide for life) experience higher levels of three of the four variables of psychological well-being – mattering to others, dignity and meaning in their lives, though not happiness – according to a study from researchers with Baylor University, Westmont College and Hope College.”
  6. Against alcohol, #6437 (Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution): “…a sudden and unexpected nation-wide alcohol sales ban in South Africa… causally reduced injury-induced mortality in the country by at least 14% during the five weeks of the ban.” Links to a brief summary of some research with links to the original article.
  7. There’s No Crisis of Faith on Campus (Ryan Burge, Wall Street Journal): “Looked at in its entirety, the college experience may actually make students more sure of their religious beliefs after they graduate. This is the idea known to psychologists as the ‘inoculation effect’: When someone is confronted with weak attacks on their beliefs, they become more prepared to defend those beliefs when they come under serious attacks. This is essentially how a vaccine works: It gives an individual a weakened version of the virus, so that when the immune system encounters the real thing, it can easily fight off the villain. Similarly, challenging a young person to defend their beliefs in a supportive, open environment like college may leave them better prepared to hold firm to their convictions later in life.“The author, whom I have cited before, is a pastor and professor of political science at Eastern Washington University.

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 APA Meeting: A Photo‐Essay (Scott Alexander, Slate Star Codex): “Were there really more than twice as many sessions on global warming as on obsessive compulsive disorder? Three times as many on immigration as on ADHD? As best I can count, yes. I don’t want to exaggerate this. There was still a lot of really meaty scientific discussion if you sought it out. But overall the balance was pretty striking…. If you want to model the APA, you could do worse than a giant firehose that takes in pharmaceutical company money at one end, and shoots lectures about social justice out the other.” This is funny, rambling, insightful commentary on the American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting. First shared in volume 204

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 340

Lots of Ukraine/Russia links, plus more entertaining links than normal as a compensation.

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 340, which is cool because it’s a multiple of 17 and I really like the number 17.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. On Ukraine and Russia: a lot of links here, just open the interesting titles in new tabs.
    • To Stay and Serve: Why We Didn’t Flee Ukraine (Vasyl Ostryi, Gospel Coalition): “How should the church respond when there is a growing threat of war? When there is constant fear in society? I’m convinced that if the church is not relevant at a time of crisis, then it is not relevant in a time of peace.… while the church may not fight like the nation, we still believe we have a role to play in this struggle. We will shelter the weak, serve the suffering, and mend the broken. And as we do, we offer the unshakable hope of Christ and his gospel.” Respect.
    • We lack the ability to ideate and innovate on foreign policy (Melissa Wear, Substack): “Why is it that the media and experts marveled so much at the unprecedented sharing of intelligence on President Putin’s next moves? Because it was something new. And it’s no surprise it comes from the intelligence community. They and those in the military and defense are not as often cultivated under the banner of progress and peace and the End of History in typical IR and political sciences courses, narratives, and hallways of power.”
    • We’re All Ukrainians Now (David French, The Dispatch): “No one claims that Ukraine is a perfect country. Like many former Soviet republics, it has struggled to find its footing. It’s endured authoritarianism, and it battles corruption. But, in Lewis’s words, it is ‘not in the least aggressive.’ It ‘asks only to be let alone.’ As a nation that has endured its own aggressive attacks, how can we not empathize? How can we not do what we reasonably can to deter Russian aggression and help Ukrainians defend themselves?” 
    • Thoughts On Shitpost Diplomacy (Tanner Greer, personal blog): “The American diplomat who posted this meme should have known this. He or she was almost certainly a Foreign Service Officer in the Public Diplomacy cone; a public diplomat’s first charge is learning how to communicate persuasively to the people of the region stationed in. It is not that this officer lacked the raw intelligence to fulfill this role: four out of every five applicants fail the Foreign Service’s selective entrance tests. It is what this diplomat did after receiving his or her post that mattered. This diplomat did not study. Memes like these are the product of a culture that retweets more than it reads.”
    • On Ukraine (George Weigel, First Things): “For months now, the world press has described Russian troop deployments along Ukraine’s borders as spearheads of a possible invasion. The truth, however, is that Russia invaded Ukraine seven years ago, when it annexed Crimea and Russian ‘little green men’ ignited a war in eastern Ukraine that has taken over 14,000 lives and displaced over a million people. Whatever the current military developments, a Russian invasion of Ukraine has not been ‘imminent’; the invasion is ongoing.”
    • Amid War and Rumors of War, Ukraine Pastors Preach and Prepare (Jayson Casper, Christianity Today): “Preaching on the Sermon on the Mount’s injunction toward peacemaking, Kulakevych continued his laser-sharp focus on the possible Russian invasion. Five weeks ago, as the separatist conflict in the eastern Donbas region began to escalate, he surveyed the Bible for its teaching on ‘wars and rumors of war.’ He followed that with an application of ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled’ and, on the next Sunday, a treatise on worry.”
    • Russia Keeps Punishing Evangelicals in Crimea (Kate Shellnutt and Forum 18, Christianity Today): “Since Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014—one of the central points of conflict in the current clash between the two countries—Protestant Christians in the territory have faced greater government penalties for practicing their faith.”
    • Russia’s space agency warns US sanctions could ‘destroy’ cooperation on the International Space Station (Kristin Fisher, CNN): “If you block cooperation with us, who will save the International Space Station (ISS) from an uncontrolled deorbit and fall into the United States or…Europe?” Rogozin said. “There is also the possibility of a 500-ton structure falling on India and China. Do you want to threaten them with such a prospect? The ISS does not fly over Russia, therefore all the risks are yours. Are you ready for them?” Recommended by an alumnus.
    • Putin as a man of ideas (Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution): “If you write books, whether good or bad ones, and wonder whether your work matters, I suggest the answer lies before you on your TV screen each evening. Russia is a nation of ideas, led by people who are obsessed with ideas. The rest of the world, most of all Europe, will need better ideas in turn.”
    • Putin’s spiritual destiny (Giles Fraser,  UnHerd): “Last year, on the anniversary of the baptism of the Rus, [Patriarch] Kirill preached to his people, urging them to stay true to Vladimir’s conversion and the blood of the orthodox martyrs. He told them to love ‘our homeland, our people, our rulers and our army’. The Western secular imagination doesn’t get this. It looks at Putin’s speech the other evening, and it describes him as mad — which is another way of saying we do not understand what is going on. And we show how little we understand by thinking that a bunch of sanctions is going to make a blind bit of difference. They won’t.”
    • Putin’s Attack on Ukraine Is a Religious War (John Schindler, Substack): “Every secular geostrategic challenge cited as a reason for Putin’s aggression – NATO expansion, Western military moves, oil and gas politics – existed in 2014, yet Putin then chose to limit his attacks on Ukraine to Crimea and the Southeast. What’s changed since then that makes his effort to subdue all Ukraine seem like a good idea in the Kremlin? The creation of an autocephalous Orthodox Church of Ukraine in 2019, with official American backing, is the difference, and Moscow believes this was all a nefarious U.S. plot to divide world Orthodoxy at Russia’s expense. Clearly Putin has decided that reclaiming Ukraine and its capital, ‘the mother of Russian cities,’ for Russian Orthodoxy is worth a major war. Make no mistake, this is a religious war, even if almost nobody in the West realizes it.“This is in the mix. I don’t know what percentage of the mix it is, but it’s definitely in the mix.
    • War and dating apps (swipe left) (Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution): “Ukrainian women in second city Kharkiv — just 20 miles from tyrannical Vladimir Putin’s vast invasion force — have been stunned by a salvo of admirers in uniform. Hunky Russian troops called Andrei, Alexander, Gregory, Michail and a bearded Chechen fighter nicknamed ‘Black’ were among dozens whose profiles popped up.” This is a link to a summary of an article from the Sun. The summary is enough, but if you click through you’ll see actual Tinder photos.
  2. I spent six months in a cult. They’re still here on campus. (Camille Williams, The Daily Northwestern): “So, you are probably wondering: how did I get out? …Some may call it a gut instinct; I call it the Holy Spirit within me squirming in revolt. After that conversation, I ran out of my bedroom and yelled to my mother, ‘I accidentally joined a cult.’ After she went from confused laughter to vowing to throw hands with these people, I finally started to feel this burden release.”
    • This is an article by a student in Chi Alpha at Northwestern. She was in Chi Alpha, got sucked into a cult, and then got out and returned to Chi Alpha.
  3. Gangsters want to be good people too (Chris Blattman, blog): “I remember meeting one gang leader on the streets of Chicago. We were standing in line at a nacho and ice cream truck (yes that exists) chatting. I was trying to understand how one of the violence reduction programs I was working on affected his operations. After all, we were trying to recruit away his best young men—his star dealers and shooters. We wanted to get them into other kinds of jobs. Surely he was frustrated. On the contrary. He was delighted. ‘I only do this for the boys,’ he said. ‘They need something to do. Your program is even better. I’m happy they’re going.’ In his mind, the violent drug-dealing was a public employment program, and he the administrator.”
  4. Some Canadian Convoy Aftermath:
    • Convoy Crackdown (Zvi Mowshowitz, Substack): “Family members having trouble living their lives is being treated not as a bug but as a feature. The sins of the father are to be laid upon the children, it seems. This extends as noted above to those who provide financial assistance to those engaging in disapproved activities, and that such retaliation will continue to happen after the activities in question cease, so not only is one without one’s money and other assets, and without the ability to spend what one does have, others may reasonably fear that helping you not end up on the street might land them in the same situation.” Emphasis in original.
    • Trudeau ends use of Emergencies Act, says ‘situation is no longer an emergency’ (Nick Boisvert, CBC): “The Senate was in the midst of debating the act on Wednesday but withdrew the motion shortly after Trudeau made his announcement.” I am glad the emergency measures have been lifted, but what should concern us all is that this is now on the table as an option for otherwise rights-based governments.
    • What Led to Canada’s Crisis (Nathan Pinkoski,First Things): “The crisis had its origins in material conditions unique to Canada. A combination of elite overproduction and Canada’s position in the shadow of the United States has produced an ideologically supercharged managerial class that has accelerated the adoption of a new kind of emergency politics.“The author is at the nearby Zephyr Institute.
  5. By Any Other Name (Helena, Substack): “UK NHS referral data shows a 4000% increase in pediatric gender service referrals (not a typo). So-called ‘gender dysphoria’, which was once a very rare diagnosis that described mostly prepubescent boys and adult men, is now most commonly diagnosed in teenage girls. Activists will argue that these explosive numbers are a result of increased societal acceptance, and that at long last trans people are coming out of hiding and living as their authentic selves. If this were true, one might expect to see comparable rates of transgender identity across all age groups and between both sexes, but its disproportionately adolescent females feeling that warm and fuzzy inclusive acceptance.” A very personal narrative. Long, recommended.
  6. The C.D.C. Isn’t Publishing Large Portions of the Covid Data It Collects (Apoorva Mandavilli, New York Times): “…the C.D.C. has been routinely collecting information since the Covid vaccines were first rolled out last year, according to a federal official familiar with the effort. The agency has been reluctant to make those figures public, the official said, because they might be misinterpreted as the vaccines being ineffective.” My level of confidence in our public health agencies cannot go much lower. And sadly, in an attempt to prevent people believing disapproved thoughts the CDC has inflamed conspiracy theorists. Outrageous.

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 From Midwest Drug Dealer to The Farm: Jason Spyres Shares His Inspiring Story (Yasmin Samrai, Stanford Review): “To justify his criminal behaviour, he told himself that though selling pot was illegal, it wasn’t immoral. This theory came crashing down when two gangs broke into his house, split his head open, and robbed him. When Spyres discovered that the burglars had nearly mistaken his house for his neighbor’s, he realized that selling drugs put other people’s safety in jeopardy. ‘I was shocked and sickened with myself,’ he recalled. ‘I was part of a black market and my actions had unintended consequences.’” What a wild story. First shared in volume 204 

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 337

Some wild stories about Stanford in this one.

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 337, a prime number. In fact, the digits are prime even when rearranged (the other permutations of these digits being 373 and 733).

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Why I do not expect a civil war in America (and what does worry me) (Chris Blattman, blog): “Most enemies prefer to loathe one another in peace. War is really costly. It kills, destroys economies, and weakens your country to enemies. As a result, all sides have huge incentives to avoid violence. That’s why most rivals don’t fight. For every thousand ethnic groups, gangs, religious sects, political factions or nations who hate one another, maybe one in a thousand end up in prolonged violence. Because it just doesn’t make sense.”
    • The author is an economist and political scientist at U Chicago. I like this article in part because he spends time talking about the absurd “democracy ratings” political scientists have been downgrading America in over the last few years.
  2. Pandemic-related news:
    • PDF: A Literature Review and Meta-Analysis of the Effects of Lockdowns on COVID-19 Mortality (Jonas Herby, Lars Jonung, and Steve H. Hanke, Studies in Applied Economics): “[The studies] were separated into three groups: lockdown stringency index studies, shelter-in-placeorder (SIPO) studies, and specific NPI studies. An analysis of each of these three groups support the conclusion that lockdowns have had little to no effect on COVID-19 mortality. More specifically, stringency index studies find that lockdowns in Europe and the United States only reduced COVID-19 mortality by 0.2% on average. SIPOs were also ineffective, only reducing COVID-19 mortality by 2.9% on average. Specific NPI studies also find no broad-based evidence of noticeable effects on COVID-19 mortality. While this meta-analysis concludes that lockdowns have had little to no public health effects, they have imposed enormous economic and social costs where they have been adopted. In consequence, lockdown policies are ill-founded and should be rejected as a pandemic policy instrument.”
      • Lockdowns only achieved a .2% reduction in deaths? That’s one in five hundred. Wow. Some of the other stuff our society did was justified, but clearly lockdowns aren’t a tool we should use in the future.
    • Race-Based Rationing Is Real—And Dangerous (Shadi Hamid, The Atlantic): “The rationing rules in New York and elsewhere are not the product of anything resembling conventional political persuasion. No party would support—certainly not openly—the essentialization and instrumentalization of race in medicine. Few are willing to defend policies such as these on the merits, because what exactly would they say? Tellingly, these controversies have received limited coverage from mainstream outlets.” Recommended by a student.
    • COVID Affects Your Memory (Alex Gutentag, Tablet): “After spending four years checking every perceived authoritarian impulse from Donald Trump, the media suddenly called for strict enforcement of government decrees, denounced the noncompliant, punished dissenters, and advocated for Big Tech clampdowns on speech.… With the 2022 midterms in sight, the narrative is simply shifting without apology, and many of the arguments once made by ‘covidiots’ are now being backed by Anthony Fauci, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, and the familiar cast of journalists and experts.”
  3. Two revealing articles about Stanford:
    • “Racist, Triggering, Disrespectful” — Stanford RA slams unmasked white students (Stanford Review): “Late Sunday night, a Stanford student RA in the EVGR dormitory emailed the building’s 2,400 residents to warn against a ‘gross inequity’ that risked students ‘being killed or maimed for a lifetime.’ The danger in question? Maskless students— especially white ones.”
    • The teachers of White Plaza (Valerie Trapp, Stanford Daily): “He tried to respond and was cut off. ‘You’re a white guy,’ Waites said. ‘I can interrupt you.’ ‘And you’re a white woman.’ ‘Well, you’re copping out of the fact I’m saying that you’re racist, and you’re not saying you’re not a racist.’ ”
    • This isn’t all of campus life, but it’s not none of campus life.
  4. Some insights into academia:
    • How the job market works at top schools (Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution): “At least pre-Covid, most of the faculty would get together and rate the graduate students (I am not sure how it has operated for the last two years, though I suspect the same, only over Zoom). Some but not all of the students would be designated as ‘should work at a top school.’ If you were not so rated, your chance of being hired at a top school was slim. Other schools, of course, would know not to pursue the top candidates, and would shoot lower, though some foolhardy places might try to lure them anyway. But basically if you were hiring at a high level, you would call the placement officer at a top school, and they would tier the candidates, based on where you were calling from, and recommend accordingly.”
    • Intellectual Freedom in Medieval Universities (James Hankins, First Things): “One reason [medieval universities flourished] is the lack of professional administrators, a feature of universities that lasted into modern times. (Harvard University—O the bliss of it!—as late as 1850 had only a single full-time administrator, the president, helped by a janitor, a cook, and two ushers.) It is a general principle of successful institutions that the people who run them are the ones most committed to their missions and most responsible for their success. A professional administrative class, by contrast, spends much of its time evading responsibility for failure and taking credit for other people’s achievements.” The author is a history professor at Harvard.
    • Going South: Life at the World’s Most Progressive University (David Benatar, Quillette): “Many universities have a problem—on this point there seems to be widespread agreement. The nature of that problem, however, remains bitterly contested. Liberals and conservatives worry that higher education has succumbed to regressive radicalism on matters related to race and gender. Those who self-identify as progressives and social justice activists, on the other hand, complain that universities are still governed by embedded structures of oppression, and that liberals and conservatives have succumbed to a moral panic in response to reasonable calls for reform.” The author is a professor of philosophy at the University of Cape Town.
  5. Men in the church:
    • Part one: Is Christianity doing more harm than good to American men? (Anthony Bradley, Acton): “It’s often thought that control of women, and especially women’s bodies, has been the obsession of Christian clergy down through the ages, but actually it has been the control of men and their bodies that has just as often characterized Christianity’s orientation. However, because that control has historically been mismanaged, ranging from feminization, to priests using the confessional to control husbands, to clergy falling prey to marrying church and politics, to clergy sex-abuse scandals, to recent stories of evangelical pastors abusing their power, men have become increasingly alienated from the very institution created to form them to be of benefit to others.” The author is a professor of Religious Studies at The King’s College in NYC. 
    • Part two: Saving men requires the leadership of laymen (Anthony Bradley, The Acton Institute): “American boys are often taught that marriage or work will be a cure for their loneliness and alienation, but many men find out the hard way that one can be married, gainfully employed, and still incredibly lonely. Men need local, lay-led confraternities that resonate with their deepest longings and their desire for communion with their fellows, formed by local common interests.”
  6. How Houses of Worship Became Hotbeds of Graft (Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt, The New Republic): “In extreme cases, financial opacity in houses of worship can even become a security risk: It was that exact lack of transparency that may have cost human life at Goldstein’s synagogue in Poway. Though the synagogue had received $150,000 from the government because it “believed that it was at risk of an anti-Semitic attack on its congregants,” according to one of the congregants’ subsequent suits—court documents show that on the day of the attack, the building’s doors were unlocked and no guards, gates, or other security measures were in place. Instead of providing a necessary guard at the front of the synagogue, funds had allegedly been diverted elsewhere; the plaintiffs argue that this mistake may have cost the life of Lori Gilbert-Kaye, who was killed in the shooting.”
  7. Concerning Francis Collins:
    • How The Federal Government Used Evangelical Leaders To Spread COVID Propaganda To Churches (Megan Basham, The Daily Wire): “Other than his proclamations that he is, himself, a believer, the NIH director espouses nearly no public positions that would mark him out as any different from any extreme Left-wing bureaucrat. He has not only defended experimentation on fetuses obtained by abortion, he has also directed record-level spending toward it. Among the priorities the NIH has funded under Collins — a University of Pittsburgh experiment that involved grafting infant scalps onto lab rats, as well as projects that relied on the harvested organs of aborted, full-term babies. Some doctors have even charged Collins with giving money to research that required extracting kidneys, ureters, and bladders from living infants.”
    • Evangelicals: Who Are The Good & The Bad? (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “What sticks in my craw is the seemingly unexamined assumption that if you don’t land where educated middle class elites do on any or all of these questions, that you must in some sense be a threat to the integrity of the Church. Perhaps educated middle class elite opinion is the real threat, you know?” A long article summarizing and interacting with two other articles.
    • I’m going to regret writing this (Erick Erikson, Substack): “..the NIH executive tells me it is important to understand that Collins does not approve and sanction all research and funding and of the funding Collins has directly overseen and approved, only a little would be controversial. The NIH is complex and while Collins guides the whole, he does not oversee or approve the entirety of the budget.“A sane take (and one I privately expressed earlier today without having seen this article).
    • Disclaimer: I loosely know Francis Collins and respect him. I do wish he had done a few things differently, but I am sure that if I had his job he would wish I had done a LOT of things differently and he would be right.

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 An MIT Professor Meets the Author of All Knowledge (Rosalind Picard, Christianity Today): “I once thought I was too smart to believe in God. Now I know I was an arrogant fool who snubbed the greatest Mind in the cosmos—the Author of all science, mathematics, art, and everything else there is to know. Today I walk humbly, having received the most undeserved grace. I walk with joy, alongside the most amazing Companion anyone could ask for, filled with desire to keep learning and exploring.” First shared in volume 194.

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 336

I was quarantined this week, so I had an extra-large pile of stuff to sift through. Enjoy these gems!

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’m a simple man, and I appreciate that volume 336 is comprised of digits easily put into an equation: 3 + 3 = 6.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. This Innovative Christian Homeless Shelter Is Rising To California’s Housing Challenge (Liza Vandenboom Ashley, Religion Unplugged): “…Orange County Rescue Mission [is] an innovative Christian homeless shelter based in Tustin with several other locations. The Tustin campus, known as the Village of Hope, runs without government funding or private debt and employs an organizational and aesthetic ethos that more closely resembles a college campus than a homeless shelter.” This is an uplifting read. Recommended.
  2. Christ and cocaine: Rio’s gangs of God blend faith and violence (Tom Phillips, The Guardian): “Drug lords, some regular churchgoers, have incorporated Christian symbols into their ultra-violent trade. Packets of cocaine, handguns and uniforms are emblazoned with the Star of David – a reference to the Pentecostal belief that the return of Jews to Israel represents progress towards the second coming. Gang-commissioned graffiti offers spiritual guidance and heavenly praise.” Recommended by an alumnus. What a wild story! Seeing their blind spots, my main takeaway is to wonder what my blind spots are.
  3. Nothing Sacred: These Apps Reserve The Right To Sell Your Prayers (Emily Baker-White, BuzzFeed): “It is common for free apps to profit from sharing their users’ data and to be vague about exactly how and with whom they share it, but users feel like Pray.com’s data practices are at odds with the deeply personal nature of prayer itself. Jenny, a recent college graduate who prayed about the infidelity of a romantic partner in the app, said ‘there is an expectation of privacy’ among Christians sharing prayers.”
    • From later in the article: “At least one government has taken an interest in prayer app data, too — the US military bought extensive location data mined from Muslim prayer apps back in 2020 for use in special forces operations.”
  4. PDF: So Long, And No Thanks for the Externalities: The Rational Rejection of Security Advice by Users (Cormac Herley, Microsoft): “For example, much of the advice concerning passwords is outdated and does little to address actual treats, and fully 100% of certificate error warnings appear to be false positives. Further, if users spent even a minute a day reading URLs to avoid phishing, the cost (in terms of user time) would be two orders of magnitude greater than all phishing losses. Thus we find that most security advice simply offers a poor cost-benefit tradeoff to users and is rejected.” Recommended by a student.
  5. Superhero Secret Identities Aren’t Possible with Today’s Computing Technologies (Jason Hong, Communications of the ACM): “Superheroes have to worry about having their identity being revealed, but the rest of us in the real world have to worry about just how much information about us is out there, how widely available many of these technologies are, and how both of these can be easily abused—sometimes accidentally, sometimes intentionally—by advertisers, governments, employers, stalkers, criminals, and more.” I enjoyed this.
  6. On Russia/Ukraine:
    • US Blunders, Ukraine’s War (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “Putin or no Putin, no Russian leader could allow Ukraine to join NATO, any more than any American leader could allow Mexico to join a defensive alliance formed out of opposition to American power. Every American president since James Monroe has upheld the so-called Monroe Doctrine, which claims the entire Western hemisphere as a zone of American influence. By what crackpot logic can we advance and defend that claim, but expect Russia, another great power, to acquiesce to Ukraine, a border state to Russia, joining NATO?”
    • Russia as the “Great Satan” in the Liberal Imagination (Richard Hanania, Substack): “…the US foreign policy establishment believes that every country in Europe should eventually be part of the EU and NATO, and none should be allowed to get close to Russia or adopt a ‘nondemocratic’ form of government, with “democracy” again being defined as making internal decisions that reflect the policy outcomes that State Department officials wish a Democratic president would implement at home.”
    • Defend Chernobyl During an Invasion? Why Bother, Some Ukrainians Ask. (Andrew Kramer & Tyler Hicks, New York Times): “Mr. Prishepa said he would prefer that Ukraine set up the defensive lines further south, giving the irradiated zone over to whomever might want it. ‘It’s a wasteland,’ he said. ‘No crop will ever grow here.’ ” Recommended by an alumnus.
  7. Pandemic perspectives:
    • I Had COVID. Am I Done Now? (Emily Oster, Substack): “I think part of what has made this transition difficult, even if we say we have accepted it, is the residual fear of the unknown that has been hard to shake. It’s not unknown to as many of us as before. I spent the past two years taking a million PCR and rapid tests, which were all negative. When I finally got a positive result last week, I felt a bit of loss and defeat but also a bit of release. Maybe it’s the same for others.“The author is an economist at Brown University.
    • Why Are We Boosting Kids? (David Zweig, Bari Weiss’s Substack): “Monica Gandhi, a doctor and an infectious-disease specialist at the University of California, San Francisco, was blunt in her assessment. ‘I am not giving my 12 and 14-year-old boys boosters,’ she told me. Dr. Gandhi is not the only expert to publicly state an intention to not comply with the CDC’s recommendation. Dr. Paul Offit is the director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, a member of the FDA’s vaccine advisory committee, and is considered one the country’s top authorities on pediatric vaccine policy. He recently said that getting boosted would not be worth the risk for the average healthy 17-year-old boy, and he advised his son, who is in his 20s, not to get a third dose.”
    • Society has a trust problem. More censorship will only make it worse. (Hamish McKenzie, Chris Best & Jairaj, Substack): “…as we face growing pressure to censor content published on Substack that to some seems dubious or objectionable, our answer remains the same: we make decisions based on principles not PR, we will defend free expression, and we will stick to our hands-off approach to content moderation. While we have content guidelines that allow us to protect the platform at the extremes, we will always view censorship as a last resort, because we believe open discourse is better for writers and better for society.” Bravo to Substack.
    • The Folly of Pandemic Censorship (Matt Taibbi, Substack): “Censors have a fantasy that if they get rid of all the Berensons and Mercolas and Malones, and rein in people like Joe Rogan, that all the holdouts will suddenly rush to get vaccinated. The opposite is true. If you wipe out critics, people will immediately default to higher levels of suspicion. They will now be sure there’s something wrong with the vaccine. If you want to convince audiences, you have to allow everyone to talk, even the ones you disagree with. You have to make a better case.” Parts of this are straight fire.
    • How an Anonymous Reporting System Made Yale a COVID ‘Surveillance State’ (Aaron Sibarium, Washington Free Beacon): “At Yale, those lost social connections have killed more people than COVID-19. In September 2020, a Yale freshman told the Yale Daily News that the isolation of the pandemic had made her worried about her mental health. In March 2021, she committed suicide in her dorm. Since the beginning of the pandemic, there have been no reported COVID deaths among Yale’s students, faculty, or staff.” The article describes a few absolutely bonkers encounters.
    • The NYT’s polarizing pandemic pundit (Joanne Kenen, Politico): “Other public health experts Nightlyinterviewed — some of whom are sources for New York Times health journalists or have media gigs of their own — didn’t want to be quoted, or said they were too busy taking care of patients, ciao. One well-known research scientist, who is part of this critical conversation but who admires Leonhardt overall, wouldn’t even praise him on the record.”

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 Liberals Won’t Enforce Borders, Fascists Will (David Frum, The Atlantic): “Demagogues don’t rise by talking about irrelevant issues. Demagogues rise by talking about issues that matter to people, and that more conventional leaders appear unwilling or unable to address: unemployment in the 1930s, crime in the 1960s, mass immigration now. Voters get to decide what the country’s problems are. Political elites have to devise solutions to those problems. If difficult issues go unaddressed by responsible leaders, they will be exploited by irresponsible ones.” I highlighted a piece by Frum with a similar theme back in issue 175. This is a very thoughtful article. First shared in volume 194.

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.