Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 383

On Fridays (Saturdays when I officiate a wedding on Friday — congrats Alex & Andrea!) 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.

Happy New Year! Most of my readers know this, but this bundle of links is an overflow from a ministry called Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship at Stanford University. Today is December 31st, which is the biggest giving day of the year. If you are inclined toward generosity on New Year’s Eve, consider making a year-end donation to support the ministry.

This is volume 383, which is both a prime number and a palindrome. Not too shabby, 383. Hold your head up high among the numbers.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Reasons to believe, Christmas edition:
    • How Would You Prove That God Performed a Miracle? (Molly Worthen, New York Times): “Josh Brown directs the program in neuroscience at Indiana University Bloomington. He has published dozens of articles on topics like the neural basis of decision making in the brain. He has wire-rimmed glasses and a calm, methodical way of speaking. And after almost two decades of keeping relatively quiet, he is now speaking openly about his most surprising research finding: He believes that God miraculously healed him of a brain tumor.”
      • Highly recommended. The author is a historian at UNC.
    • When Mary Met the Angel (Rebecca McLaughlin, Wall Street Journal): “ ‘Science is the description of how God chooses to work most of the time,’ writes Russell Cowburn, a professor of physics at the University of Cambridge. ‘We know dead bodies don’t come back to life according to science. And yet Christianity is built on the observation that Jesus came back to life. I am very happy to say that at that special moment, God was acting differently.’ Like many other world-class scientists I’ve interviewed—including Francis Collins, former director of the National Institutes of Health—Prof. Cowburn came to faith in Jesus as an adult. He is not just trying to make scientific sense of a childhood faith that he cannot shed.”
      • Disclaimer: I know the author and am thrilled she was invited to write about faith for the WSJ.
    • A Christmas Conversation About Christ (Nicolas Kristof interviewing Russell Moore, New York Times): “The most important blind spot is perhaps missing why so many of us are drawn to faith in the first place. We really do believe the Gospel is Good News that answers the deepest longings of the human heart. I would just recommend that people read one of the Gospels with an open mind. Jesus loves New York Times readers, too.”
  2. A Darkness Revealed (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “…the great challenge here, as ever, is to strive to see our ancestors and our contemporaries with moral clarity, not whitewashing their sins and failings with poetic memory, while also recognizing their virtues — and in all cases, never, ever allowing their full humanity, the good and the bad alike, to be assimilated into the realm of ideas.”
    • I found this gripping. A man wrestles with the not-entirely-surprising revelation that his father was in the KKK.
  3. Urbana Missions Conference That Once Drew 20,000 Expected to Fall Far Short (Bob Smietana, Ministry Watch): “Jao said that lingering concerns over COVID-19 and the country’s economic woes are helping to drive projected attendance down for the conference, usually held every three years, but delayed until this year by the pandemic. Like many churches, he said, InterVarsity and other campus ministries are still rebuilding their attendance.”
  4. Our First Closeup Image of Mars Was a Paint-By-Numbers Pastel Drawing (Jason Kottke, personal blog): “On July 15, 1965, NASA’s Mariner 4 probe flew within 6,118 miles of the surface of Mars, capturing images as it passed over the planet. The image data was transmitted back to scientists on Earth, but they didn’t have a good way to quickly render a photograph from it. They determined that the fastest way to see what Mariner 4 had seen was to print out the imaging data as a series of numbers, paste them into a grid, buy a set of pastels from a nearby art store, and do a paint-by-numbers job with the pastels on the data grid.”
    • This is actually beautiful.
  5. Americans Have Found Their Happy Place (Tyler Cowen, Bloomberg): “Two economists, David G. Blanchflower of Dartmouth and Alex Bryson of University College London, have come up with a new and more intuitive way to measure well-being. The results are striking. If you consider US states as comparable to countries, 16 of the top 20 political units in the world for well-being are in the US — including the top seven.”
  6. The Media Very Rarely Lies (Scott Alexander, Astral Codex Ten): “The point is: the media rarely lies explicitly and directly. Reporters rarely say specific things they know to be false. When the media misinforms people, it does so by misinterpreting things, excluding context, or signal-boosting some events while ignoring others, not by participating in some bright-line category called ‘misinformation’.”
    • Follow-up: Sorry, I Still Think I Am Right About The Media Very Rarely Lying (Scott Alexander, Astral Codex Ten): “…I find it really interesting that so many commenters were so resistant to the idea that the worst and dumbest conspiracy theories of our time don’t involve outright lies. I think all of us — not just censors — want to maintain the comforting illusion that the bad people are doing something fundamentally different than the good people, something that marks them as Obviously Bad in bright neon paint.”
  7. Is the right winning the comedy wars? (Constance Grady, Vox): “It’s as though there’s some sort of fundamental disconnect between right and left on the issue of comedy. On a very basic level, the two sides seem to disagree on the question of what a joke should look like, what it’s okay to joke about, and what is so under threat that to joke about it would be unthinkable. No one seems sure how to talk about the difference, exactly. They just know that they want to be the funny ones.”

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 Fertility rate: ‘Jaw-dropping’ global crash in children being born (James Gallagher, BBC): “China, currently the most populous nation in the world, is expected to peak at 1.4 billion in four years’ time before nearly halving to 732 million by 2100. India will take its place.” From a long-term perspective, this is possibly the most significant news you will read this year. Some of you will still be alive when China’s population is half what it is now. And it’s not just China — many nations are on the same path (with only a few sizable ones headed in the opposite direction). From volume 259

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

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

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 379

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

This is volume 379, the 75th prime number.

Things Glen Found Interesting

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

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

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

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

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

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 376

My favorite line from this week: “Men bond by insulting each other and not really meaning it; women bond by complimenting each other and not really meaning it.”

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 376, is an automorphic number because when raised to a power it ends in itself. 3762 = 141376. It continues: 3763 = 53157376 and so on. 37615 = 424441337012461701988020381601157349376 and so on.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The Male-Warrior Hypothesis (Rob Henderson, Substack): “…young human males often address each other with abusive insults. The ritual tests the strength of the friendship. If lighthearted verbal quips do not damage the relationship, then the bonds are likely relatively strong. In contrast, women and girls seldom insult their friends, and often work extra hard to praise them to avoid any signs of hostility. Men bond by insulting each other and not really meaning it; women bond by complimenting each other and not really meaning it.”
    • This article is engrossing even if you already know the gist.
  2. The Fever Is Breaking (David Brooks, New York Times): “The single most important result of this election was the triumph of the normies. Establishmentarian, practical leaders who are not always screaming angrily at you did phenomenally well, on right and left: Mike DeWine in Ohio, Josh Shapiro in Pennsylvania. Workmanlike incumbents from John Thune in South Dakota to Ron Wyden in Oregon had successful nights. Gov. Tony Evers of Wisconsin had the quotation that summarized the election: ‘Boring wins.’ ”
    • Related (in that it is about politics): 3 Principles for Settling Political Spats in the Church (Daniel K. Williams, Christianity Today): “Any attempt to make society more moral through legislation will inevitably be selective and incomplete and may offer mixed results. Which major political party in the United States is committed to addressing the problems of divorce, gambling addictions, marital infidelity, and alcohol abuse? Which party will do the most to protect the poor from being exploited through payday loans? Which party will fight against the pornography industry? If you haven’t seen any political ads this election season that address any of these issues, perhaps that’s a sign of the moral selectivity in our current partisan politics.”
    • The author is a history professor at the University of West Georgia. Emphasis in original.
  3. A Tradition of Anti-Traditionalists (Mark Bauerlein, First Things): “All the talk in the humanities back then turned on ‘opening up the canon’ and breaking up the dominance of Dead White Males—less John Dryden and more Aphra Behn, more diversity and fewer idols—but in the theory area, these figures were as canonical as the saints.… What this bias has produced is two generations of college teachers who don’t realize their bias. They got a narrow education that they trusted was the broadest one. They genuinely don’t know that another critical tradition besides the progressive/transgressive one exists.” This essay is a bullseye.
    • Related: An Existential Threat to Doing Good Science (Luana Maroja, Bari Weiss’s Substack): “The restriction of academic freedom comes in two forms: what we teach and what we research. Let’s start with teaching. I need to emphasize that this is not hypothetical. The censorious, fearful climate is already affecting the content of what we teach.”
    • There’s a Stanford connection in this second article, btw. The article is an adaptation of a speech given at a private conference at Stanford quite recently.
  4. Contra Resident Contrarian On Unfalsifiable Internal States (Scott Alexander, Astral Codex Ten): “But in the stories these people told me, it was more about — they found that this effort was producing something unexpected, and developing new personality aspects that they needed, so they kept going. If you take one step towards Darth Vader, he will take two steps toward you (sorry if I am sounding like a Sith youth pastor).”
    • This is absolutely fascinating and the excerpt does not do it any justice. Recommended.
  5. New Endorsements for College Athletes Resurface an Old Concern: Sex Sells (Kurt Streeter, New York Times): “Haley Jones, an All-America guard at Stanford and a candidate for the Player of the Year Award, said she didn’t want to play up sex appeal. Her endorsement income is driven by a social media image that portrays her as a lighthearted student-athlete without an overtly provocative tone.”
    • Interesting in its own right, also a stronger Stanford angle than I expected.
  6. It’s Always a ‘Negative World’ for Christianity (David French, The Dispatch): “One of [the] core conservative Christian critiques of American culture is that America is growing ever-more hostile to the authentic Christian faith. We’ve left a friendly and hospitable past, and now we’re confronting a hostile future.… But this analysis is fundamentally wrong. It’s dangerously wrong. It’s wrong not because the present moment is particularly hospitable to the Christian faith, but because it fundamentally misunderstands both American history and American Christendom, and it fundamentally misunderstands the permanent countercultural reality of authentic Christianity.”
  7. Paywalls or Constant Intrusive Ads: Pick One (Freddie deBoer, Substack): “And I also want to say, if you’re annoyed that you can’t get past a paywall — tough. Because an era of rising paywalls is absolutely necessary if you want writing to survive as a profession, and if you want good journalism and analysis to endure.”

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 Small World Network of College Classes: Implications for Epidemic Spread on a University Campus (Weeden & Cornwell, Sociological Science): “If one chose a given student at random, that student is likely to attend class with a student who, in turn, attends class with any other randomly chosen student. Put differently, although it is unlikely that any two randomly chosen students would be enrolled in the same course, it is highly likely that they would be enrolled in different courses that both include the same third party.“

The authors, professors at Cornell, were curious about the potential for disease spread among undergrads at their school. Taking this in a completely different direction: the average student at Stanford is likely only one or two steps away from Chi Alpha. WOW! Invite your friends! From volume 246

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 375

a week full of wild articles

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 375, which can also be written at 3·53. I like the threes on either side of the five.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Truth Cops: Leaked Documents Outline DHS’s Plans to Police Disinformation (Ken Klippenstein & Lee Fang, The Intercept): “DHS’s mission to fight disinformation, stemming from concerns around Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election, began taking shape during the 2020 election and over efforts to shape discussions around vaccine policy during the coronavirus pandemic.”
    • This is the article of the week and it’s not close. Wow. Some more excerpts:
    • “U.S. officials have routinely lied about an array of issues, from the causes of its wars in Vietnam and Iraq to their more recent obfuscation around the role of the National Institutes of Health in funding the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s coronavirus research. That track record has not prevented the U.S. government from seeking to become arbiters of what constitutes false or dangerous information on inherently political topics.”
    • This bit was wild: “During the 2020 election, the Department of Homeland Security, in an email to an official at Twitter, forwarded information about a potential threat to critical U.S. infrastructure, citing FBI warnings, in this case about an account that could imperil election system integrity. The Twitter user in question had 56 followers, along with a bio that read ‘dm us your weed store locations (hoes be mad, but this is a parody account),’ under a banner image of Blucifer, the 32-foot-tall demonic horse sculpture featured at the entrance of the Denver International Airport.”
  2. Negative World Arrives in Australia (Simon Kennedy, Mere Orthodoxy): “This was a watershed cultural moment for Australia, and possibly for the West. A man with outstanding credentials was told that, because of some sermons preached by someone else from almost a decade ago, he needed to reconsider his fit for the role he had just been appointed to. For all we know, Thorburn may disagree with these sermons. He may never have been aware of them or listened to them. The bottom line here was guilt-by-association.”
  3. Black, Christian and Transcending the Political Binary (Tish Harrison Warren, New York Times): “The conservative and progressive approaches are not the only way to approach politics. Everything that doesn’t fit isn’t illegitimate. Once we realize those aren’t the only two approaches, then we open up space for people of color, people of faith and others who are politically homeless to really have a voice and help heal something that’s been broken and won’t be fixed by either of those two sides.”
  4. Racial Discrimination Is Not the Path to Racial Justice (David French, The Dispatch): “If schools truly want to prioritize diversity, they should focus on class. Fostering greater class-based diversity can help achieve greater diversity across the board: More racial diversity, more economic diversity, more ideological diversity, and more diversity on the basis of religion. Emphasizing diversity of class doesn’t just create a student body that looks like America. It creates a student body that is like America.”
    • Somewhat related: Racial Identity Politics: A Warning From Sarajevo (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “White racial consciousness is taboo for a good historical reason, but anyone with a lick of common sense has to see that you cannot keep attacking white people as morally bad because of the color of their skin, and punish them in public and private life because they are white, without inviting pushback.”
    • We are playing with fire when it comes to race in America and pray we open our eyes before the flames rage out of control.
  5. Stanford knew about the campus imposter for a year. He kept coming back. (Theo Baker, Stanford Daily): “Stanford administrators and the public safety department have been aware since at least December 2021 that William Curry, the Alabama native who was removed from campus Thursday, had pretended to be a Stanford student and lived in multiple University dorms, according to communications obtained by The Daily.” Very detailed. A well-reported story.
    • Imposter recounts his time on campus (Theo Baker, The Stanford Daily): “Curry said he lied to people in high school about attending Stanford and claimed his parents believed he was enrolled in the University. He confirmed many elements of the Daily’s reporting and even messaged a Daily reporter after the interview, saying ‘always my duty to help my fellow students.’ ” — emphasis added. Less interesting than the main story, but still intriguing.
    • In other Stanford news, Stanford Tree gets the axe, suspended until January (Caroline Chen & Yana Kim, Stanford Daily): “In the fall of 2020, the Band transitioned from a Voluntary Student Organization (VSO) to being under the Department of Athletics (DAPER). At the same time, its Constitution, which allowed student self-expression such as kneeling during the national anthem and taping ‘Abolish ICE’ on the back of their jackets, was dissolved, according to Band social chair and recruiter Noah Bartlett ’23, who described there being a significant ‘culture shift’ since he joined the Band in 2019.” HOW DARE YOU SAY WE DON’T LIKE FUN! NO FUN FOR YOU!
  6. NYC judge rules polyamorous unions entitled to same legal protections as 2‑person relationships (Julia Musto, NY Post): “In the case at hand, Bacdayan notes how changes since 1989 play a role, including changes to the definition of ‘family.’ She notes the law has rapidly proceeded in recognizing that it is possible for a child to have more than two legal parents. ‘Why then, except for the very real possibility of implicit majoritarian animus, is the limitation of two persons inserted into the definition of a family-like relationship for the purposes of receiving the same protections from eviction accorded to legally formalized or blood relationships?’ asked Bacdayan.”
    • “Two person relationships”
    • This is from early last month
  7. Moderation Is Different From Censorship (Scott Alexander, Astral Codex Ten): “A minimum viable product for moderation without censorship is for a platform to do exactly the same thing they’re doing now — remove all the same posts, ban all the same accounts — but have an opt-in setting, ‘see banned posts’. If you personally choose to see harassing and offensive content, you can toggle that setting, and everything bad will reappear.” The meme near the top made me chuckle.

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 S/NC and the purpose of higher education (Thomas Slabon, Stanford Daily): “As a Ph.D. candidate in the philosophy department, I have TA’d or taught eight courses, and I want to let you in on an open secret of post-secondary educators: We all hate grading. Every. Single. One of us. Every TA you’ve ever had has contemplated grading piles of problem sets or papers with dread — and half the reason you had a TA in the first place was because your professor wanted to grade your work even less.” This is a wonderful essay. From volume 245.

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 374

More Stanford-related links than normal, including an absolutely wild one about a fake student.

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.

According to people who know such things, 374 is the smallest number that can be expressed as the sum of 3 positive squares 8 different ways: 374 = 1^2 + 7^2 + 18^2 = 2^2 + 3^2 + 19^2 = 2^2 + 9^2 + 17^2 = 3^2 + 13^2 + 14^2 = 5^2 + 5^2 + 18^2 = 6^2 + 7^2 + 17^2 = 6^2 + 13^2 + 13^2 = 7^2 + 10^2 + 15^2

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Stanford-related:
    • Inside “Stanford’s War On Fun”: Tensions mount over University’s handling of social life (Theo Baker, Stanford Daily): “The student said the University is ‘excessively bureaucratic’ and those trying to host events are ‘burnt out’ from trying to navigate a ruleset that ‘has expanded and [adds] challenges that don’t need to be there.’ Harris, who also responded on behalf of the Office of Student Engagement, wrote that the University has worked to expand social opportunities. ‘Student Affairs, student leaders, and campus partners have been working earnestly to provide many and vibrant social options for undergraduates this fall,’ Harris wrote.”
    • Imposter student caught, removed from Crothers Hall (Cassidy Dalva, Theo Baker and Oriana Riley, Stanford Daily): “Students living in the dorm told The Daily Thursday night that the man, who identified himself as William Curry, has lived in the dorm since the second week of the quarter, socialized with the other residents and was let into the dorm regularly by sympathetic RAs.”
    • The Review Interviews Dr. Scott Atlas (Stanford Review): “I want to highlight that lockdowns were not the standard pandemic prescription (neither in 2006, nor in earlier pandemics). It was known that they were extremely harmful. Also, I want to highlight that the university-side of science became highly politicized, possibly because it was an election year. I was warned by Stanford professors that I should not help the President. This was morally repugnant: to let people die simply because you didn’t like the current administration.”
    • A Closed Discussion on Academic Freedom? (Colleen Flaherty, The Chronicle of Higher Education): “Conference organizers told FIRE that they’d invited numerous progressives to participate [in the conference at Stanford], Perrino also said, but over time ‘more conservatives said yes, and very few of the big-name progressives said yes. The political polarization and tribalism is dispiriting.’ Abbot said that organizers invited several dozen progressives who’d previously expressed a ‘negative view’ of academic freedom, who ultimately declined.”
  2. Don’t Even Go There (James Lee, City Journal): “A policy of deliberate ignorance has corrupted top scientific institutions in the West. It’s been an open secret for years that prestigious journals will often reject submissions that offend prevailing political orthodoxies—especially if they involve controversial aspects of human biology and behavior—no matter how scientifically sound the work might be.”
    • The author is a professor of Psychology, Bioinformatics and Computational Biology at the University of Minnesota.
    • Related: Blasphemy is dead. Long live blasphemy (Mary Harrington, Substack): “…if something looks a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck. And when a movement with an instantly recognisable symbol, a distinctive metaphysics (identity precedes biology, all desire must be celebrated) and a calendar of feast days celebrated by governments, corporations, universities and public bodies acquires the ability to punish those who deface its symbols, the only possible thing you can call it is an emerging faith — one with a tightening grip on institutional power across the West.”
  3. Most trans children just going through a phase, advises NHS (Eleanor Hayward, The Times of London): “Most children identifying as transgender are simply going through a ‘transient phase’, new NHS guidance states. Doctors caring for youngsters distressed about their gender have been told that it is not a ‘neutral act’ to help them transition socially by using their preferred new names or pronouns.”
  4. Newsom vs. DeSantis Is Our Inevitable Culture War (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “…in general you need liberalism plus some overarching vision to sustain solidarity, energy and hope. And you definitely need the ‘plus’ to fully resolve questions like, ‘Is abortion a form of murder or a fundamental right?’ or ‘Is it child abuse to give teenagers puberty blockers or child abuse to refuse them?’ ”
  5. Woman: My Dad Was Serial Killer; I Helped Bury the Bodies (Arden Dier, Newser): “Studey says she long ago went to ‘law enforcement all over Iowa and Nebraska trying to get something done’ but ‘they couldn’t trust the memory of a child.’ Yet her memory is vivid. She says her father would kill sex workers and transients, often in the family’s trailer, then get his children to help move the bodies using a wheelbarrow or toboggan.”
  6. Mayra Flores Prevented From Joining the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (Julio Rosas, Townhall): “Flores is not only first Mexican-born woman to serve in Congress, but she also represents a district along the U.S.-Mexico border that is overwhelmingly Latino.… The CHC’s website websites states the Caucus ‘addresses national and international issues and crafts policies that impact the Hispanic community. The function of the Caucus is to serve as a forum for the Hispanic Members of Congress to coalesce around a collective legislative agenda.’ The website does not state in its ‘About’ section that only Democrats can join the organization.”
    • Later in the article we learn “Similarly, Rep. Byron Donalds (R‑FL) was prevented from joining the Congressional Black Caucus last year.”
    • This is fascinating to me and I share it in an entirely non-partisan way. I sometimes hear statements from these caucuses and while I assumed they lean Democrat because their constituency overwhelmingly leans Democrat, I had no idea Republicans were literally forbidden from joining them.
  7. Nancy Pelosi: Intruder was searching for US Speaker in attack on husband (Sam Cabral, BBC): “Paul Pelosi, 82, was taken to hospital after a break-in at their California home on Friday morning. The suspect has been identified as a 42-year-old man and is facing criminal charges including attempted homicide. He broke a glass rear door and — after confronting Mr Pelosi — reportedly shouted: ‘Where is Nancy?’ ” Yikes!

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 Are Mormons Christians?: A Review of “The Saints of Zion: An Introduction to Mormon Theology” (Tim Miller, Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary): “He makes clear that Mormons are not Christians, but does so by pointing out that this has been the claim of the Mormon church itself throughout history (despite recent attempts to argue differently).” From volume 244.

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

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

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 373

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

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

Things Glen Found Interesting

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

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have 3 Types of Skeptics (C. Michael Patton, Credo House): “1. Those who need answers…. 2. Those who don’t like the answers…. 3. Those who need healing.” From volume 244.

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

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

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 367

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 367th installment, notable because 367 is a prime number and also the largest number whose square is composed of strictly increasing digits: 3672 = 134689.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Socialism, Nationalism, and Tolkien (Alec Dent, The Dispatch): “In our time of unprecedented wealth and safety, the once-defeated foe of illiberalism has made a reappearence.… due largely to a lack of appreciation for how good we have things right now, a lack of understanding of how we got here, and a lack of understanding of how a radical overhaul of society would alter the world as we know it.”
  2. The Despotism of Isaias Afewerki (Alex de Waal, The Baffler): “…fighters protested the decision that they should continue to serve without pay for two more years. A group of disabled veterans marched—there’s no verb that conveys the determined collective motion of their wheelchairs, artificial limbs, and sticks—towards the capital to demand their pensions. They were shot at with live ammunition. Some were killed, others were arrested and disappeared.”
    • I’d heard before that Eritrea was worse than North Korea in some ways, but this article really drove it home. Wow.
  3. Why People Are Losing Faith In Public Institutions (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “…if you relied on the Post to tell you about the world you actually live in, it would not have occurred to you that there is any other side to the library story than the virtuous pink-haired queer librarian and her allies versus the mob of bigots. If you are on the Left, isn’t it in your interest to understand why people are so upset, even if you don’t agree with them? Isn’t it in your interest to at least think about why the people of a town would rather defund their library rather than see it used in this way?”
    • This one is wild and Dreher, as they say, has the receipts.
  4. Can an Atheist Be a Moral Realist? (J. Budziszewski, personal blog): “…I can’t see how you can be an atheist and a moral realist at the same time. It is like eating a cake and still having it. If naturalism is true, then aren’t we just meat bags full of water with no dignity? My friend says I am caricaturing his position. Am I missing something, or is he?”
    • This is well argued. The author is a professor of government and philosophy at the University of Texas.
  5. Trump should fill Christians with rage. How come he doesn’t? (Michael Gerson, Washington Post): “I know that people inspired by [Jesus] have done great things in the past — building hospitals for the poor, improving the rights of women and children, militating against slavery, caring for the mentally disabled, working for a merciful welfare state, fighting prejudice, improving global health. But precisely because these things have happened, it is difficult for me to comprehend why so many American evangelicals have rejected the splendor and romance of their calling and settled for the cultural and political resentments of the hard right.”
    • Long and a bit rambly, nonetheless interesting.
  6. Publishing needs JK Rowling to be a monster (Victoria Smith, The Critic Magazine): “The trouble with JK Rowling is that she has done nothing wrong. Back in 2020, she wrote a carefully worded, compassionate piece about sex and gender.… This is a situation in which the punishment has created the crime and it’s one that is needed by members of the publishing industry who have spent years embracing the arguments of the most extreme trans activists while ignoring those of feminists. They need Rowling to be a monster. Otherwise they might have to respond, not just to what Rowling has written, but to the realities of the movement to which they have pledged allegiance.”
  7. Died: Queen Elizabeth II, British Monarch Who Put Her Trust in God (Dudley Delffs, Christianity Today): “The Queen’s love of the Bible and its gospel message led to her participation in the publication of a special book to commemorate her 90th birthday. Titled The Servant Queen and the King She Serves.… Her Majesty personally wrote the foreword, thanking readers for their prayers and good wishes. ‘I have been—and remain—very grateful to … God for His steadfast love. I have indeed seen His faithfulness,’ she wrote. The book was distributed to thousands of churches across the UK and throughout many Commonwealth countries prior to the Queen’s birthday in 2016. The book proved so popular that the Bible Society had to print another 150,000 copies to meet demand.”

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 Big Data+Small Bias « Small Data+Zero Bias (Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution): “Suppose you want to estimate who will win the 2016 US Presidential election. You ask 2.3 million potential voters whether they are likely to vote for Trump or not. The sample is in all ways demographically representative of the US voting population but potential Trump voters are a tiny bit less likely to answer the question, just .001 less likely to answer (note they don’t lie, they just don’t answer).” I was stunned. From volume 234.

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 363

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 number 363, which can be represented as 31 + 3+ 3+ 3+ 35

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Why aren’t smart people happier? (Adam Mastroianni, Substack): “My grandma does not know how to use the ‘input’ button on her TV’s remote control, but she does know how to raise a family full of good people who love each other, how to carry on through a tragedy, and how to make the perfect pumpkin pie.… Excluding this kind of intelligence from our definitions doesn’t just hurt our grandmas—it hurts us too. If you don’t value the ability to solve poorly defined problems, you’ll never get more of it. You won’t seek out people who have that ability and try to learn from them, nor will you listen to them when they have something important to say. You’ll spend your whole life trying to solve problems with cleverness when what you really need is wisdom.”
  2. New York City’s Largest Evangelical Church Plans Billion-Dollar Development (Emily Belz, Christianity Today): “On 10.5 acres of church land, the proposed village would include thousands of units of affordable housing, a trade school, a supermarket, a performing arts center, 24/7 childcare for night-shift workers, senior living facilities, and other amenities designed to revitalize the East New York neighborhood.”
    • But I thought churches were leeches on society exploiting their tax-exempt status without helping their communities! I’m sure someone told me that once. 
  3. When mixing faith with furries, things can get hairy (Riley Farrell, Religion News Service): “…Christians in the furry community are cautious about who knows about both their furry and faithful selves. Christian furries interviewed for this story, including leaders of the group that calls itself the Christian Furry Fellowship, asked to be anonymous, fearing ‘doxxing’ from within the largely secular furry community for their Christian identity and ostracization from their professional lives for their furry hobby.”
    • This was by far the most unexpected article I read this week. There’s a lot happening here. I draw your attention to my disclaimers.
  4. Fact-Checking Randall Balmer’s Urban Legend on the Real Origin of the Religious Right (Jonathan Whitehead, The Gospel Coalition): “By the early 1970s, Evangelicals, Catholics, and other religious voters had discovered that politics would not leave them alone. Then their concerns about abortion, government overreach in schools, secular humanism at the FCC, and an unresponsive ‘born again’ President all merged into a single outlet, creating a torrent of Republican voters in 1978 and beyond.”
    • I posted a debunking of this claim a while ago, but this one is quite good. And the claim gets repeated enough in certain circles that debunkings should be repeated as well.
  5. There Is a Secular Case for Life (David French, The Dispatch): “Amidst a squadron of religious conservative lawyers, there was a single atheist progressive. He was bearded, disheveled, and quiet, but when he spoke everyone fell silent. Everyone leaned forward to hear what he had to say. His name was Nat Hentoff. He was a writer for the Village Voice; he’d published in Playboy. He was a progressive civil libertarian. He was also one of the most persuasive pro-life voices in the land.”
  6. Yearning for a Banana Republic (Jonah Goldberg, The Dispatch): “When serious people talk seriously about changing a regime, they’re talking about changing the system of government. Regime change in Iraq meant getting rid of a totalitarian, terroristic dictatorship, not simply replacing Saddam Hussein with a more pliable and cooperative tyrant. America’s regime isn’t on any ballot. Symbolically, it is the ballot. More properly, it is the constitutional system that requires our leaders to be elected.”
    • This is straight fire. Not especially partisan but definitely political. Goldberg is a tremendous wordsmith.
  7. 1st synthetic mouse embryos — complete with beating hearts and brains — created with no sperm, eggs or womb (Nicoletta Lanese, Live Science): “To achieve this feat, the researchers used only stem cells and a spinning device filled with shiny glass vials.”
    • The title is, I think, poorly worded. These are not embryos assembled from raw materials; rather, the researchers successfully morphed a stem cell into an embryo. Which is also amazing!

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  Evangelicalism’s Silent Majority (Emma Green, The Atlantic): “One of my big takeaways from reporting on evangelical communities is that, contrary to some stereotypes, evangelicals are some of the most globally minded people in America. They donate to charities that do extensive aid work overseas. They’re exposed to other countries through mission work or humanitarian trips.” First shared in volume 232. (sadly, this is paywalled)

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 360

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.

360 is, of course, the number of degrees in a circle. It’s also due north on a compass.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The God Gap Helps Explain a ‘Seismic Shift’ in American Politics (David French, Substack): “Countless political and cultural issues don’t have a clear ‘Christian’ policy solution, yet when a party’s members perceive it to be the party of American Christianity, then the platform is wrongly infused with religious fervor, even on issues (like tax rates, gun policy, environmental policy, foreign policy, and countless others) where the correct religious answer is far from clear.”
    • The excerpt is not the main point, which is also good. Highly recommended.
  2. I’m a Scam Prevention Expert, and I Got Scammed (Natasha Lupinia, personal website): “This scam went against everything I thought I knew about social engineering attacks. The caller was professional, knowledgeable, patient, and easy to understand (connection issues notwithstanding). He had so much information about me already that, even knowing how easy it is to find sensitive information about people, I was inclined to take him at face value…”
    • Recommended by an alumnus.
  3. A cluster of links which touch on common college scenarios:
    • Pronouns: Progressivism’s Preposterous Plight (Farhana K, Traversing Tradition): “Without the ability to define a woman as female, for example, encroachment into women’s only spaces will become commonplace. There is no way for the state to protect the needs and wants of women, because nothing is essential to being a woman and no definitive feature of women that require such protections, because a woman is anyone who defines themselves as one. Yet for the Muslim woman who abides by the shar’i commands to veil from unrelated men and minimize physical contact, increasingly deconstructive attitudes to gender will pose a clash that few policymakers and members of the public have had the strength to accommodate.”
      • Interesting to see a Muslim perspective.
  4. The Great Fiction of AI (Josh Dzieza, The Verge): “…it might not be such a bad thing to have to apply a Turing test to everything I read, particularly in the more commercialized marketing-driven corners of the internet where AI text is most often deployed. The questions it made me ask were the sorts of questions I should be asking anyway: is this supported by facts, internally consistent, and original, or is it coasting on pleasant-sounding language and rehashing conventional wisdom?; how much human writing meets that standard?; how often am I reading with enough attention to notice? If this is the epistemic crisis AI-generated text is going to bring, maybe it’s a healthy one.”
    • I found this one super interesting and somewhat amazing.
  5. The Hypocrisy of Elites (Erik Torenberg, Substack): “…we see this everywhere: elites promote body positivity — the idea that being overweight is healthy — while being most obsessed with maintaining perfect health. Elites promote sexual independence and polyamory, yet themselves are most likely to be monogamous in stable long-term relationships. Elites complain about overpopulation and carbon footprint, but they’re the ones having the most kids and inflicting the largest carbon footprint.”
  6. The Fall of History as a Major–and as a Part of the Humanities (Tanner Greer, personal blog): “American culture has lost faith in history as a vehicle for understanding the human experience. Our high culture questions the very concept of shared human experience. It is hard for history—or any of the humanities—to flourish in a world that does not put much stock in the human. By adopting intersectional ideology as their own, the professional humanists have confirmed that they do not believe in the promise of their own discipline. And if they do not believe in it…. why should any 18 year old student?” This is an extraordinarily insightful essay.
  7. 33 Problems With Media in One Chart (Nick Routley, Visual Capitalist): recommended by an alumnus. I now know what astroturfing is.

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 Dishonesty of the Abortion Debate (Caitlin Flanagan, The Atlantic): “The argument for abortion, if made honestly, requires many words: It must evoke the recent past, the dire consequences to women of making a very simple medical procedure illegal. The argument against it doesn’t take even a single word. The argument against it is a picture…. The truth is that the best argument on each side is a damn good one, and until you acknowledge that fact, you aren’t speaking or even thinking honestly about the issue. You certainly aren’t going to convince anybody. Only the truth has the power to move.” First shared in volume 227. I know I shared this recently in light of the Dobbs decision, and it is definitely worth sharing again.

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

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

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 356

from the week abortion fell

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

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

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

I got way more into that than I expected.

Things Glen Found Interesting

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

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have How To Ask Your Mentors For Help (Derek Sivers): this is super‐short and very good. Excerpting it would ruin it. Read the whole thing. First shared in volume 224.

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

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