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 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 369

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 post 369, which I like simply because 3+6=9.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The Sugar Babies of Stanford University (Nicola Buskirk, Substack): “But decades after the unwinding of America’s traditional sexual mores, no new morality has clearly emerged, and young people increasingly find themselves navigating a culture of sexual anarchy, in which — provided an act is consensual — there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong.’ Such thinking has brought us inevitably to the rise of OnlyFans, the normalization of sex work, and the curious story of Stanford University’s sugar babies.”
    • A curious story indeed!
  2. Wikipedia Is Making Us More Political (Samuel D. James, Substack): “There is simply no parallel to this with any other period of media history; the digital age is the very first to say that we should have access to a repository of a person’s most controversial sentences, permanently accessible through their biographical data.… All of these examples amplify the role of politics in culture, by making partisan opinions a vital part of a person’s biographical data. There is no distinction any more between the person who, through their vocational or personal choices, decides to become a political figure, and the person who is perceived as political. What we know about the one is pretty much what we know about the other. Thus, hyper-politicization of everything feels much more normal.”
  3. So you haven’t caught COVID yet. Does that mean you’re a superdodger? (Michaeleen Doucleff, NPR): “Your immune response and these T cells fire up much more quickly [than in a person without the HLA mutation],” Hollenbach says. “So for lack of a better term, you basically nuke the infection before you even start to have symptoms.… It’s definitely luck,” she says. “But, you know, this mutation is quite common. We estimate that maybe 1 in 10 people have it. And in people who are asymptomatic, that rises to 1 in 5.”
    • Related: The COVID-19 pandemic feels over but is not actually over. (Dan Drezner, Substack): “For the time being I will still mask at airports and on airplanes and occasionally in very large indoor gatherings. Other than that, I’m done. I am vaccinated, boosted and had COVID-19 earlier this year, so the prospect of contracting it again seems both less likely and less scary. The thing is, I confess to being unsure whether I have made the right probability calculations.” The author is a professor of international politics at Tufts.
  4. Why Is The Central Valley So Bad? (Scott Alexander, Astral Codex Ten): “A short drive through [the Central Valley] is enough to notice poverty, decay, and homeless camps worse even than the rest of California. But I didn’t realize how bad it was until reading this piece on the San Joaquin River. It claims that if the Central Valley were its own state, it would be the poorest in America, even worse than Mississippi. This was kind of shocking. I always think of Mississippi as bad because of a history of racial violence, racial segregation, and getting burned down during the Civil War. But the Central Valley has none of those things, plus it has extremely fertile farmland, plus it’s in one of the richest states of the country and should at least get good subsidies and infrastructure. How did it get so bad?”
  5. Coverage of churches:
    • Doug Wilson in Idaho:
      1. Pastor Seeks To Make Moscow, Idaho A ‘Christian Town’  (NBC News, YouTube): twelve minutes.
      2. What NBC Didn’t Show You (Douglas Wilson, YouTube): Wilson’s response video, four and a half minutes.
      3. NBC News Lends a Hand (Douglas Wilson, personal blog): “As I have said elsewhere, I am grateful that it was not a hit piece—they let both sides talk, in other words. It was even-handed in that way. At the same time, it was clear that what we were saying must have sounded something like Middle Klingon to them, and this of course affects the editing process.”
    • Gracepoint at Berkeley:
      1. The Ungodly Surveillance of Anti-Porn ‘Shameware’ Apps (Dhruv Mehrotra, Wired): “At its most basic level, the idea is pretty straightforward: Why would anyone watch porn if they are going to have to talk to their parents or pastor about it?… The trouble is, according to Hao-Wei Lin, providing his church leader with a ledger of everything he did online meant his pastor could always find something to ask him about, and the way Covenant Eyes flagged content didn’t help. For example, in Covenant Eyes reports that Hao-Wei Lin shared with WIRED, his online psychiatry textbook was rated ‘Highly Mature,’ the most severe category of content reserved for ‘anonymizers, nudity, erotica, and pornography.’ ”
      2. At Gracepoint Ministries, ‘Whole-Life Discipleship’ Took Its Toll (Curtis Yee, Christianity Today): “Thirty-two former Gracepoint members who spoke with Christianity Today for this story described a culture that was ‘controlling’ and ‘coercive’ for the sake of ministry efficiency. Members said they were manipulated into confessing sins, screamed at by leaders, and overloaded with obligations to the point of illness. To keep members focused on mission work, Gracepoint effectively restricted dating, media consumption, and pet ownership. Leaders directed staff on how to arrange their homes, where to shop for clothes, and what cars to drive.”
  6. Rich Mullins: Ragamuffin, Celebrity, Disciple (Bethel McGrew, Plough): “You might have called him a frustrated struggling artist: a successful artist who never wanted to succeed. When Myrrh records first called to say Amy Grant wanted to record his song ‘Sing Your Praise to the Lord,’ he nearly hung up. But it would be a hit, the first of many. He wrote naturally to the people, complementing his poetic lyricism with a good pop writer’s ear for how to convey profound ideas simply. His arrangements were an eclectic fusion of pop and folk, most famously introducing radio to his signature instrument, the hammered dulcimer. This was the secret sauce that made hit singles out of songs like the atmospheric Western nature poem ‘Calling Out Your Name’ – a tune which, by all the rules of hit singles, should never even have been on the air. As one fan put it, Mullins was weird, but he was also so good that radio had to play him.”
    • Mullins was unique and brilliant and I am still sad he is dead. He was before your time, so I doubt you will believe me when I say that he by himself outweighed the entire Christian music industry that you have been exposed to. But he was that good. It was more than his music. It was his life.

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have: On Killing Human Monsters (Mark LiVecchi, Providence): “‘The internal condition of God’s external expression of wrath,’ writes the theologian and rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, ‘is grief.’ To the best I can deduce, therein is communicated the complex disposition of the just warrior.… I do not rejoice that I worship a God who kills. I only rejoice that I worship a God who is willing to.” From volume 236.

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

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

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 355

Two pieces critical of Stanford plus lots more.

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

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

Things Glen Found Interesting

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

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

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

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

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

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 353

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 353, the 71st prime number.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. I saw this gem on Twitter: “I don’t wish to sound apocalyptic about this, but one has the sense that at present our society is simultaneously characterized by wildly disproportionate accountability for trivial transgressions and zero accountability for profound institutional failure.” (David Polansky, co-founder of LinkedIn)
  2. The Robber Baroness of Northern California (Maia Silber, New Yorker): “The university’s most vital purpose, Stanford explained in an address to its Board of Trustees a few years after her husband’s death, was the development of the student’s ‘soul germ.’ She urged the trustees to eschew classrooms in favor of shops and workshops that would ‘dignify labor’ by teaching future workers to ‘use their hands deftly and usefully.’ Stanford believed that, in addition to providing vocational training, the university should inculcate the values of faith, thrift, and abstinence of various kinds. She and her husband banned alcohol from the dormitories and capped the number of women undergraduates at five hundred.”
  3. 78 Minutes (Elizabeth Bruenig, The Atlantic): “I know it’s a statistical anomaly. I know it almost never happens. I know there are a million things I worry less about that happen with greater regularity and worse effects; but those things are unfortunate, and this is evil. Misfortune is awful, but this was something worse. This was torture. This was cruel. This was intentional. The distinction matters.”
  4. How did the IR community get Russia/Ukraine so wrong? (Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution): “The IR community is risk-averse, and preserving of its academic reputations, and thus its members are less willing to make bold predictions than say pundits are. You might even think that is good, all things considered, but it will help explain the missed predictions here.” Many interesting considerations, follow-up at Data on IR scholars and their views on Russia/Ukraine.
  5. Born This Way? The Rise of LGBT as a Social and Political Identity (Eric Kaufmann, CSPI): “The youthful surge is mainly about LGBT identity, with considerably less change in sexual behavior. The rise is greatest for bisexuality, especially among females, with less change for gays and lesbians. The growth in LGBT identification shows no signs of slowing down among the young, but there is compelling evidence that gender nonconformity peaked around 2020 and declined in 2021. It appears less prevalent among teenagers than those in their early twenties.” Plus a fascinating Twitter thread by the author highlighting key details — so much data in this piece to contemplate. Spicy throughout.
  6. The Pope’s Secret Back Channel to Hitler (David Kertzer, The Atlantic): “As the head of a large international organization, his overriding aim in negotiations with Hitler’s emissary was protecting the institutional resources and prerogatives of the Roman Catholic Church in the Third Reich. If the only goal was to protect the welfare of the institutional Church, his efforts could well be judged a success. But for those who see the papacy as a position of great moral leadership, the revelations of Pius XII’s secret negotiations with Hitler must come as a sharp disappointment.” Recommended by an alumnus.
  7. We Need to Complicate the Negative World (Trevin Wax, Gospel Coalition): “…taking a stand for true Christianity has always been costly. Christian ministers lost their jobs in the 1960s for doing nothing more than allowing African Americans to attend worship! In some way or another, we’ve been in the negative world since the time of the New Testament, but the form of that hostility toward the faith changes depending on the place and the era. And the opportunities—where society smiles on aspects of Christianity—change too. We live in positive, neutral, and negative worlds simultaneously, depending on the issue.“This is quite good.

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 New National American Elite (Michael Lind, Tablet Magazine): “from the American Revolution until the late 20th century, the American elite was divided among regional oligarchies. It is only in the last generation that these regional patriciates have been absorbed into a single, increasingly homogeneous national oligarchy, with the same accent, manners, values, and educational backgrounds from Boston to Austin and San Francisco to New York and Atlanta. This is a truly epochal development.” Lind is a professor at UT Austin in the school of public affairs, and I featured another article by him shortly before this one. First shared back in volume 286.

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 338

more eclectic 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 is the 338th installment. 338, I am told, is the smallest number for which both the number of divisors and the sum of its prime factors is a perfect number. An odd honor, but one I am pleased to acknowledge.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Romance:
    • Reverse friend zone: many romantic relationships start off just as friends. In fact, most people prefer it this way (Tibi Puiu, ZME Science): “When participants were asked about their original intentions for initiating the friendship that went on to evolve romantically, only 30% said they were sexually attracted to the partner from the very beginning. In 70% of cases, neither of the two parties in the relationship originally had feelings, with attraction blossoming at a later time.”
    • Too Risky to Wed in Your 20s? Not if You Avoid Cohabiting First (Brad Wilcox and Lyman Stone, Wall Street Journal): “In analyzing reports of marriage and divorce from more than 50,000 women in the U.S. government’s National Survey of Family Growth (NFSG), we found that there is a group of women for whom marriage before 30 is not risky: women who married directly, without ever cohabiting prior to marriage. In fact, women who married between 22 and 30, without first living together, had some of the lowest rates of divorce in the NSFG.”#justsaying
  2. Stephen Colbert Explains The Relationship Between His Comedy and His Faith (Twitter): I think I would really like Stephen Colbert if I met him in person.
  3. Stanford related:
    • Are semesters or quarters better? (Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution): “In fact I think the quarter system doesn’t go far enough. I think we should have many more one- and two-week classes, or five-week classes, as well. Understandably that is more difficult to manage operationally, but I don’t see any reason why it should be impossible. Companies solve more complex scheduling problems than that all the time. If I think of GMU, either the undergraduate majors, or the graduate students, should in my opinion have had some classroom time with almost every single instructor. So much of life and productivity is about matching!”
    • I went to every library on campus so you don’t have to (Annie Reller, Stanford Daily): “Below is my ranking of the libraries on campus. Please keep in mind that I have specific criteria when going to libraries: comfy chairs, ambiance and lighting. I am a humanities major, so desks are less necessary as I do most of my work on my laptop.”
  4. Why Isn’t There a Replication Crisis in Math? (Jay Daigle, blog): “Many papers have errors, yes—but our major results generally hold up, even when the intermediate steps are wrong! Our errors can usually be fixed without really changing our conclusions.… But isn’t it…weird…that our results hold up when our methods don’t? How does that even work? We get away with it becuase we can be right for the wrong reasons—we mostly only try to prove things that are basically true.” Emphasis in original. The author is a math professor at George Washington University.
  5. Hackers:
    • North Korea Hacked Him. So He Took Down Its Internet (Andy Greenberg, Wired): “But responsibility for North Korea’s ongoing internet outages doesn’t lie with US Cyber Command or any other state-sponsored hacking agency. In fact, it was the work of one American man in a T‑shirt, pajama pants, and slippers, sitting in his living room night after night, watching Alien movies and eating spicy corn snacks—and periodically walking over to his home office to check on the progress of the programs he was running to disrupt the internet of an entire country.” What an absolute legend.
    • How A Lone Hacker Shredded the Myth of Crowdsourcing (Mark Harris, Medium): “Myself and others in the social sciences community tend to think of such massive acts of sabotage as anomalies, but are they?” wondered Cebrian. To settle the question, Cebrian analyzed his (and other) crowdsourcing contests with the help of Victor Naroditskiy, a game theory expert at the University of Southampton. The results shocked him. “The expected outcome is for everyone to attack, regardless of how difficult an attack is,” says Cebrian. “It is actually rational for the crowd to be malicious, especially in a competition environment. And I can’t think of any engineering or game theoretic or economic incentive to stop it.” Recommended by a student.
  6. Ukraine Gave Up a Giant Nuclear Arsenal 30 Years Ago. Today There Are Regrets. (William J. Broad, New York Times): “We gave away the capability for nothing,” said Andriy Zahorodniuk, a former defense minister of Ukraine. Referring to the security assurances Ukraine won in exchange for its nuclear arms, he added: “Now, every time somebody offers us to sign a strip of paper, the response is, ‘Thank you very much. We already had one of those some time ago.’”
    • If Russia does invade Ukraine, I think the biggest global consequence might be that nuclear powers become even more committed to maintaining their arsenals and non-nuclear powers strive even harder to join the club.
  7. The Canadian truckers:
    • Sympathetic: What the Truckers Want (Rupa Subramanya, Bari Weiss’s Substack): “It was ironic, she said that she could serve but couldn’t dine at the restaurant where she worked.”
    • Concerned: Dispatch from the Ottawa Front: Sloly is telling you all he’s in trouble. Who’s listening? (Matt Gurney, Substack): “This is a complicated protest and a complicated event. It has layers. Are there good, frustrated people just trying to be heard in the crowd? Yes. Are there bad people in the crowd, including some who’ve waved hate symbols and harassed or attacked others? Yes. Are there people taking careful care of the roads, sweeping up trash and shovelling ice and snow off the sidewalk? Yes. Are there hard men milling about, keeping a wary eye on anyone who seems out of place? Yes. Is it a place where some people are having good-natured fun? Yes. Is it a place some other people would rightly be afraid to go? Yes. And so on. But it’s even more complicated than it looks.”

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 Religion’s health effects should make doubting parishioners reconsider leaving (John Siniff and Tyler J. VanderWeele, USA Today): “Simply from a public health perspective, the continuing diminution of religious upbringing in America would be bad for health. This is not proselytizing; this is science.” The Harvard epidemiology professor  last made an appearance here back in volume 65. First shared in volume 195.

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.