Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 276

I really like the stories of the shamelessly sketchy judge near the end

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

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Azerbaijan’s drones owned the battlefield in Nagorno-Karabakh — and showed future of warfare (Robyn Dixon, Washington Post): “In a matter of months, however, Nagorno-Karabakh has become perhaps the most powerful example of how small and relatively inexpensive attack drones can change the dimensions of conflicts once dominated by ground battles and traditional air power.”
  2. The U.S. Divorce Rate Has Hit a 50-Year Low (Wendy Wang, Institute for Family Studies): “Divorce in America has been falling fast in recent years, and it just hit a record low in 2019. For every 1,000 marriages in the last year, only 14.9 ended in divorce, according to the newly released American Community Survey data from the Census Bureau. This is the lowest rate we have seen in 50 years. It is even slightly lower than 1970, when 15 marriages ended in divorce per 1,000 marriages.”
  3. Gender Activists Are Trying to Cancel My Book. Why is Silicon Valley Helping Them? (Abigail Shrier, Quillette): “This is what censorship looks like in 21st-century America. It isn’t the government sending police to your home. It’s Silicon Valley oligopolists implementing blackouts and appeasing social-justice mobs, while sending disfavored ideas down memory holes. And the forces of censorship are winning. Not only because their efforts to censor leave almost no trace. They are winning because, thus far, most Americans have been content to surrender virtually every liberty in exchange for the luxury of having products delivered to their door.”
    • Related: How corporations can delete your existence (Gavin Haynes, Unherd): “In the banking system’s capacity to disable the individual without pro-actively doing them harm, there’s an echo of the elegance of the Chinese government’s social credit.”
  4. On the validity of the election:
    • Who’s covering this? Are charismatics and Pentecostals behind Trump’s refusal to concede? (Julia Duin, GetReligion): “…these folks are a subset — a movement among charismatics/pentecostals — of a Christian subset and not well known to the general public. However, when you have flocks of Republicans calling foul on the election and the president’s most high-profile pastor is having nightly prayer meetings because she is certain that prophets have decreed four more years for Trump, it’s time more reporters give a listen.”
    • How we can be confident that Trump’s voter fraud claims are baloney (Henry Olsen, Washington Post): “Mass voter fraud should be relatively easy to detect, even if it might be difficult to prove. Since we elect presidents through the electoral college, political operatives trying to nefariously produce a victory would focus on states critical to an electoral college majority…. None of these early warning signs of fraud appear in the results.”
    • The Presidential Election Was Legitimate. Conspiracies Are Not. (David French, The Dispatch): “The counting must continue and all legal challenges must be heard, but as of this moment there is nothing—absolutely nothing—that should cause Americans to believe that this election was illegitimate, and it is shameful and dangerous for anyone to suggest or allege otherwise.”
    • A Primer in Basic Electoral Skepticism (Douglas Wilson, blog): “We have reports that everything is fine and normal. We have reports of voter fraud. We do not know which reports are true. But we do know which reports are censored. And if that doesn’t tell you something, then you are not paying attention.”
    • Means, motive, and opportunity (Ed Feser, blog): “…some mainstream historians and journalists, including liberal ones, think that these states were indeed stolen from Nixon [in 1960]. For example, Kennedy biographer Seymour Hersh judges that the election was stolen. Historian Robert Dallek thinks that at least Illinois was stolen, via Daley’s political machine. Historian William Rorabaugh thinks that Nixon may have been cheated out of as many as 100,000 to 200,000 votes in Johnson’s corrupt Texas.” Wild stuff that I did not know. The author is a professor of philosophy at Pasadena City College. 
    • My own view: the election was valid and of course there was cheating. People cheat at cards, people cheat on their taxes. Why in the world wouldn’t people try to cheat in an election? But it seems unlikely to me that despite all the eyes on the process any cheating was significant enough to change the outcome of the election. Having said that, it is inevitable that people are skeptical. The media and the tech firms have made themselves so partisan that they have forfeited the trust which would be very handy for them to have right now.
  5. Lessons from the election
    • When Political Prophecies Don’t Come to Pass (Craig Keener, Christianity Today): “This year, many Christians have listened to leaders prophesy that Trump would again win the election. Some, such as Jeremiah Johnson, have continued to affirm that their prophecy will turn out to be true in the end. Others, such as Kris Vallotton, have publicly apologized. For now, many will decide that the prophecy was contingent, mistimed or, more likely, mistaken.” This is outstanding.
    • Why California Rejected Racial Preferences Again (Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic): “As I understand the state’s history, the country’s history, and the world’s history, government officials cannot be trusted to factor race into decision making without treating people unjustly, and intergroup stigmas and resentments tend to increase when any group is given preferential treatment.”
    • May God Bless President Biden (David French, The Dispatch): “So here’s my simple prayer for President Biden: May God bless him and grant him the wisdom to know what’s just, the courage to do what’s just, and the stamina to withstand the rigors of the most difficult job in the world. May his virtuous plans prevail and may his unrighteous efforts fail. And may God protect him from all harm.” Amen.
    • A Moment Of Peril (Matt Yglesias, Substack): “But the broad reality remains that in order to obtain and wield political power, Democrats need to embrace candidates who are less reflective of the progressive worldview of young college graduates, and they need to run them in states that are less right-wing than Alabama or Montana.”
    • How 2020 Killed Off Democrats’ Demographic Hopes (Zack Stanton, Politico): “For years, the Democratic Party has operated under one immutable assumption: Long-term demographic trends would give the party something like a permanent majority as the country as a whole grows less white and more urban. President Donald Trump’s reliance on the politics of racial resentment would only quicken the process, solidifying support for Democrats among people of color. Then came November 3, 2020. And all those assumptions now seem like total nonsense.” An interview with David Shor. 
    • LatinX-plaining the election (Antonio Garcia-Martinez, The Pull Request): “The problem with basing a political platform on white guilt is that, at some point, you run out of either whites or guilt. Which is what happens in a truly majority-minority nation when non-whites (at least as currently defined) assume their equal place in the economic and political firmament.” The author normally writes about technology issues (hence the title of the newsletter).
  6. Secularization and the Tribulations of the American Working-Class (Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution): “I praise the scholarship and courage of Brian N. Wheaton.”
    • Related: Getting Past the Gatekeepers (J. Budziszewski, personal blog): “Your gatekeepers want you to write a book more like the one they would have written. If you do make revisions, make them in such a way that the book becomes not less your own, but even more your own. That’s not pride. If God condescends to allow certain insights to the historians on your board, how wonderful! Let them write about them! Read and learn from them! But if He condescends to allow certain other insights to you, you should write about yours, not theirs.” The author is a professor of politics and philosophy at UT Austin. 
  7. COVID-related
    • Super-spreader wedding party shows COVID holiday dangers (Karen Kaplan, LA Times): “Only 55 people attended the Aug. 7 reception at the Big Moose Inn in Millinocket. But one of those guests arrived with a coronavirus infection. Over the next 38 days, the virus spread to 176 other people. Seven of them died. None of the victims who lost their lives had attended the party.”
    • COVID-19 Mobility Network Modeling (Stanford): “Our model predicts that a small minority of ‘superspreader’ POIs [points of interest] account for a large majority of infections and that restricting maximum occupancy at each POI is more effective than uniformly reducing mobility.” Click on “Simulation” and play around with the Religious Organizations toggle. Recommended by a friend of the ministry, who drew my attention especially to figures 2d and 3c in the appendix of the paper.

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

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

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

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

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 240

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

Things Glen Found Interesting

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

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

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

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

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