Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 386

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.

386 is interesting because it feels like it ought to have lots of divisors, but it’s just 2 · 193. Of course you can double any prime, but it still surprises me when I run across it. Primes doubled are, by definition, exactly as rare as primes.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Why I am a Christian (James Choi, Yale Faculty Website): “There are things about Christianity that are confusing or hard to accept as true. But in math, if we start with axioms that are solid, then we can prove easy theorems based on those axioms, and then use those easy theorems to prove counterintuitive, seemingly false theorems. We can believe the hard theorems because we have confidence in the axioms and the easy theorems. To me, the resurrection of Christ is the fundamental theorem of Christianity. If we can gain confidence in this, then this provides a foundation for us to have faith in the rest of the claims of Christianity.”
    • The author is a professor of finance at Yale. He’s had a version of this page on his official website ever since he was a sophomore at Harvard. He kept it up while applying to grad school and while going on the job market. Respect.
  2. Why the Media is Honest and Good (Richard Hanania, Substack): “My advice is to read the mainstream media, and trust the facts they present, while questioning the narratives. Understand where the biases are and correct for them. Read some of their critics too, but understand that those critics are almost more biased and less intelligent and honest than those that they attack. The few media critics who are better than the press are rare and deserve your support. The exception here is anything having to do with race, gender, or sexual orientation, where you should understand that establishment journalists are trying their best but can’t be trusted because they’ve lost their minds, or are scared of those that have, and you’d be better off listening to people with cancelable views.”
  3. The battle of the standards: why the US and UK can’t stop fighting the metric system (James Vincent, The Verge): “It all went back to Nimrod, he was saying. Nimrod, great-grandson of Noah and the ‘mighty hunter before the Lord,’ who had attempted to unite the world’s population by building the Tower of Babel so that humanity might climb up to Heaven itself. ‘And God intervened, stopping him from building the tower,’ said Tony. God then spread humanity across the globe, dividing us up into different nations with their own languages and traditions. As Tony understood the message of the Tower of Babel, it was that ‘People should live in distinct nations because it provides a unifying force in their lives. It gives them a sense of purpose.’”
  4. What if Diversity Trainings Are Doing More Harm Than Good? (Jesse Singal, New York Times): “Over the years, social scientists who have conducted careful reviews of the evidence base for diversity trainings have frequently come to discouraging conclusions. Though diversity trainings have been around in one form or another since at least the 1960s, few of them are ever subjected to rigorous evaluation, and those that are mostly appear to have little or no positive long-term effects… Some diversity initiatives might actually worsen the D.E.I. climates of the organizations that pay for them.”
  5. If Affirmative Action Ends, College Admissions May Be Changed Forever (Stephanie Saul, New York Times): “Colleges are planning behind the scenes for the court ruling, though they are reluctant to release plans, worried about potentially opening themselves up to legal action. ‘“‘We don’t want to get ahead of the court, and we don’t want to give the court any ideas,’”’ Dr. Pérez said.” Recommended by a student.
  6. Who is included by “inclusive” language? (Matt Yglesias, Substack): “…one thing you’d learn in a fancy American school is why you shouldn’t talk about the economic underdevelopment of Africa like this. You’d learn better etiquette. Or at least different etiquette — etiquette that will differentiate you from less sophisticated people who might run around saying offensive things about poverty in the Global South. For instance, a person without a proper education might refer to the countries in question as ‘the third world’ without having read Marc Silver’s January 2021 NPR piece about why this is offensive. But to Bright’s point, speaking differently doesn’t actually change anything.  And that, perhaps, is a big part of the appeal.”
  7. NHL player refuses to wear Pride Night jersey during warm-ups, citing religious beliefs (Jared Gans, The Hill): “I respect everybody, and I respect everybody’s choices. My choice is to stay true to myself and my religion,” he said while taking questions in the Flyers’ locker room after the team’s 5–2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks. “That’s all I’m going to say.”
    • Simple faithfulness is a beautiful thing.

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have A Biblical Critique of Secular Justice and Critical Theory (Tim Keller, Gospel In Life): “In the Bible Christians have an ancient, rich, strong, comprehensive, complex, and attractive understanding of justice. Biblical justice differs in significant ways from all the secular alternatives, without ignoring the concerns of any of them. Yet Christians know little about biblical justice, despite its prominence in the Scriptures.” The read of the week. From volume 262

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 385

On Fridays (this did go to my Substack on Friday, but my website crashed and I only just got it back up) 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 385, which is 5 x 7 x 11. That feels cool to me and I don’t know exactly why.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. How Tall Would a Stack of New Testament Manuscripts Be? (Daniel B. Wallace, personal blog): “If you could stack up all handwritten manuscripts of the New Testament—Greek, Syriac, Latin, Coptic, all languages—how tall would the stack be? I  was recently challenged on my numbers in a Facebook discussion in the group ‘New Testament Textual Criticism.’ I have said in many lectures that it would be the equivalent of c. 4 & 1/2 Empire State Buildings stacked on top of each other. How did I come up with that number?”
  2. A Poet for ‘Bruised Evangelicals’ (Kara Bettis, Christianity Today): “My publisher was very reluctant to take on my book, because ‘Nobody’s writing sonnets now, and young people won’t like that,’ ” Guite told me at a sandwich shop in Vancouver. “But actually, it turns out that’s exactly what they like, because it’s precisely not a tweet.”
  3. What’s Up with Weird Bible Sex? (Dru Johnson, Christianity Today): “Anyone who reads the Bible today may be tempted to skip over the sex. It can seem too crude, too impolite, or at least not spiritually edifying for our morning devotions. But I want to argue that we should read the Bible that we have and take it seriously. Even the R‑rated bits. When you read Genesis, pay attention to the details of the sex. They are trying to teach us about the nature of our bodies and communities before God.”
  4. How Stanford Failed the Academic Freedom Test (Jay Battacharya, Tablet Magazine): “Faculty at Stanford should rightly worry whether their professional work will lead to deplatforming, excommunication, and political targeting. In this environment, professors and students alike would be wise to look over their shoulders at all times, in the knowledge that the university no longer has your back. And members of the public should understand that many of those urging them to ‘trust the science’ on complicated matters of public concern are also those working to ensure that ‘the science’ never turns up answers that they don’t like.” Dr. Battacharya is both a believer and a professor at Stanford.
    • Kinda related: How DEI Is Supplanting Truth as the Mission of American Universities (John Sailer, The Free Press): “One medical researcher at an elite institution who requested anonymity told me that grants for medical research increasingly use veiled ideological language that focuses on issues such as health equity and racial disparities. ‘The answer is preordained: The cause of disparities is racism,’ he told me. ‘If you find some other explanation, even if it’s technically correct, that’s problematic.’  This fixation can have a stultifying effect on medical research, and eventually medical care, the researcher told me. ‘We’re abdicating our responsibility. We’re creating fake research and fake standards, aligning ideology with medicine, and undermining our basic ability to engage in meaningful sensemaking.’”
  5. Why is progress in biology so slow? (Sam Rodriques, personal blog): “The biomedical literature is vast and suffers from three problems: it does not lend itself to summarization in textbooks; it is unreliable by commission; and it is unreliable by omission. The first problem is simple: biology is too diverse. Every disease, every gene, every organism, and every cell type is its own grand challenge. The second problem is trickier — some things in the literature are simply wrong, made up by trainees or professors who were desperate to publish rather than perish. But it is the third problem that is really pernicious: many things in the literature are uninterpretable or misleading due to the omission of key details by the authors, intentional or otherwise. Authors may report a new, general strategy for targeting nanoparticles to cells expressing specific receptor proteins and show that it works for HER2 and EGFR, while declining to mention that it does not work for any one of the 20 other receptors they tried.“Excellent reflections on how AI will and will not help with medical/etc research. The author holds a PhD from MIT and is  biotech researcher and entrepreneur.
  6. I’m homeless in California. And I have an easy, cost-free solution to homelessness (Lydia Blumberg, Sacramento Bee): “One thing that would dramatically improve the lives of unhoused people in California could be done today, wouldn’t cost taxpayers any money and would require no effort by politicians or city workers. It’s as simple as a governor or mayor uttering three words: Stop sweeps now. Each time a homeless camp is dismantled, people’s lives are destroyed. All the effort we put into creating a home — we do not actually consider ourselves homeless because our camp is our home — is wiped away. Our worldly possessions, including identification, medical records, family heirlooms, clothing, electronics, furniture, instruments, bedding, tents, tools and other items that we use to earn income, are literally thrown into garbage trucks. Our handmade shelters are smashed by giant machines as we watch.”
  7. Yes, Critical Race Theory Is Being Taught in Schools (Zach Goldberg &  Eric Kaufmann, City Journal): “We began by asking our 18- to 20-year-old respondents (82.4 percent of whom reported attending public schools) whether they had ever been taught in class or heard about from an adult at school each of six concepts—four of which are central to critical race theory. The chart below, which displays the distribution of responses for each concept, shows that ‘been taught’ is the modal response for all but one of the six concepts. For the CRT-related concepts, 62 percent reported either being taught in class or hearing from an adult in school that ‘America is a systemically racist country,’ 69 percent reported being taught or hearing that ‘white people have white privilege,’ 57 percent reported being taught or hearing that ‘white people have unconscious biases that negatively affect non-white people,’ and 67 percent reported being taught or hearing that ‘America is built on stolen land.’ ”

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

Every week I’ll highlight an older link still worth your consideration. This week we have How I Rediscovered Faith (Malcolm Gladwell, Relevant Magazine): “I have always believed in God. I have grasped the logic of Christian faith. What I have had a hard time seeing is God’s power. I put that sentence in the past tense because something happened to me…” From volume 261. It’s been paywalled since I first shared it. There is a substantive excerpt at https://aleteia.org/2020/08/02/author-malcolm-gladwell-relates-how-he-re-found-christianity/

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 384

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 384, which is 8!! (8 double factorial). Double factorial is a concept I learned today. Instead of multiplying 8 · 7 · 6 · 5 · 4 · 3 · 2 · 1 you instead skip down by twos, so 8 · 6 · 4 · 2 = 384.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. My AI Safety Lecture for UT Effective Altruism (Scott Aaronson, personal blog): “If you had asked anyone in the 60s or 70s, they would have said, well clearly first robots will replace humans for manual labor, and then they’ll replace humans for intellectual things like math and science, and finally they might reach the pinnacles of human creativity like art and poetry and music.The truth has turned out to be the exact opposite. I don’t think anyone predicted that. GPT, I think, is already a pretty good poet. DALL‑E is already a pretty good artist. They’re still struggling with some high school and college-level math but they’re getting there. It’s easy to imagine that maybe in five years, people like me will be using these things as research assistants—at the very least, to prove the lemmas in our papers. That seems extremely plausible.”
    • Recommended by a student.
  2. How an Unorthodox Scholar Uses Technology to Expose Biblical Forgeries (Chanan Tigay, Smithsonian Magazine): “Afterward, the amateur archaeologist, who would become an eminent scholar and a member of the Institut de France, tried to negotiate with the Bedouin to acquire the stone, but his interest, coupled with offers from other international bidders, further irked the tribesmen; they built a bonfire around the stone and repeatedly doused it with cold water until it broke apart. Then they scattered the pieces.”
    • Interesting throughout. Recommended by a student.
  3. GPT Takes the Bar Exam (Michael Bommarito II & Daniel Martin Katz, arXiv): “For best prompt and parameters, GPT‑3.5 achieves a headline correct rate of 50.3% on a complete NCBE MBE practice exam, significantly in excess of the 25% baseline guessing rate, and performs at a passing rate for both Evidence and Torts. GPT‑3.5’s ranking of responses is also highly-correlated with correctness; its top two and top three choices are correct 71% and 88% of the time, respectively, indicating very strong non-entailment performance. While our ability to interpret these results is limited by nascent scientific understanding of LLMs and the proprietary nature of GPT, we believe that these results strongly suggest that an LLM will pass the MBE component of the Bar Exam in the near future.”
  4. How the algorithm tipped the balance in Ukraine (David Ignatius, Washington Post): “The power of advanced algorithmic warfare systems is now so great that it equates to having tactical nuclear weapons against an adversary with only conventional ones,” explains Alex Karp, chief executive of Palantir, in an email message. “The general public tends to underestimate this. Our adversaries no longer do.”
    • Follow-up: A ‘good’ war gave the algorithm its opening, but dangers lurk (David Ignatius, Washington Post): “For the Army and other services, the impetus for this technology push isn’t just the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but the looming challenge from China — America’s only real peer competitor in technology.”
  5. The Conservative Who Wants to Bring Down the Supreme Court (Jeannie Suk Gerson, The New Yorker): “One of Mitchell’s close friends from law school is a female lawyer who is married to a woman. She recently told her teen-age daughter that, if their family ever needed someone to donate an organ, she knew they could call on him. ‘But, at the same time, his views, the results of his views, and his politics felt not nice, to put it mildly,’ she said. ‘I always assumed that, since Jonathan is such a good person, that when he aged and knew more people, his views would evolve. I really have trouble reconciling these two parts of him, given my politics and my view of the world, because I just find him to be such a kind, loving person.’ But Mitchell doesn’t strike her as ‘a true believer who will marshal his arguments to justify the outcome,’ she said. ‘I think he actually believes these legal arguments.’ ”

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 Coronavirus and the Right’s Scientific Counterrevolution (Ari Schulman, The New Republic): “That so many views tut-tutted as the irrational defiance of expert consensus actually became the expert consensus in the span of just a few weeks vividly suggests that we need to reexamine just how our culture talks about expertise. The problem is not mainly that the experts were wrong—that is to be expected. It is, rather, that our lead institutions and public information outlets continually treated the assurances of experts as neutral interpretations of settled science when they plainly were not.” Interesting throughout and still relevant. From volume 259

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

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

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 383

On Fridays (Saturdays when I officiate a wedding on Friday — congrats Alex & Andrea!) I share articles/resources about broad cultural, societal and theological issues. Be sure to see the explanation and disclaimers at the bottom. I welcome your suggestions. If you read something fascinating please pass it my way.

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

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

Things Glen Found Interesting

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

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

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

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

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

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 382

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.

382 is the smallest number such that σ(n) =σ(n+3). σ(n) is the divisor function, found by adding up n’s positive divisors. In other words, σ(382) equals 576 because it is the sum of its four divisors 1 + 2 + 191 + 382 which also equals 1 + 5 + 7 + 11 + 35 + 55 + 77 + 385 which are the eight divisors of 385, hence σ(385)=σ(382).

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. O Come All Ye Faithful, Except When Christmas Falls on a Sunday (Ruth Graham, New York Times): “Christmas is considered by most Christians to be the second-most significant religious holiday of the year, behind Easter. But most Protestants do not attend church services on Christmas Day when it falls on a weekday. If everyone from the pews to the pulpit would rather stay home, what is a practical house of worship to do? This year, some Protestant churches are deciding to skip Sunday services completely.” Recommended by a student a while ago.
    • My take? Skipping church because it’s Christmas makes as much sense as skipping cake because it’s your birthday.
  2. The Dangers of Elite Projection (Jarrett Walker, personal blog): “Elite projection is the belief, among relatively fortunate and influential people, that what those people find convenient or attractive is good for the society as a whole. Once you learn to recognize this simple mistake, you see it everywhere.… [The problem is] elites are always a minority, and that planning a city or transport network around the preferences of a minority routinely yields an outcome that doesn’t work for the majority. Even the elite minority won’t like the result in the end.”
    • Relevant to many cultural controversies about marriage and gender, btw.
  3. A Sign That Tuition Is Too High: Some Colleges Are Slashing It in Half (Anemona Hartocollis, New York Times): “Colby-Sawyer has joined a growing number of small, private colleges in what’s called the tuition reset, which overhauls prices to reflect what most students actually pay after discounting through need-based and merit financial aid. The reset is part marketing move and part reality check. It is frank recognition among some lesser-known colleges that their prices are something of a feint.”
  4. Martyrs in Mosul: A Conversation on Christian Persecution with Father Benedict Kiely (Annika Nordquist, Madison’s Notes Podcast): a podcast by one of our alumni. I haven’t had a chance to listen to this episode yet (and may not for a while because of being around family 24/7 during the holidays), but she asked me post it and I trust her judgement that it is of general interest.
  5. Girl Scout mom kicked out of Radio City and barred from seeing Rockettes after facial recognition tech identified her (Julianne McShane, NBC News): “Kelly Conlon, a senior associate with the New Jersey personal injury firm Davis, Saperstein and Salomon — which is representing a client suing a restaurant owned by the parent company, MSG Entertainment — told NBC New York that security guards approached her and asked for identification as soon as she arrived on the weekend after Thanksgiving. The guards ultimately turned her away from the show even though she is not involved in her firm’s litigation against the company. Conlon’s daughter and the rest of the Girl Scouts were able to attend the performance, she told the station.”
    • Whenever we say we’re afraid of technology we’re usually saying we’re afraid of how people will use technology. And our fears are often well-founded.
  6. USCIS Has Added 500 Pages to Its Immigration Forms Since 2003 (David J. Bier, Cato Institute): “It is worth emphasizing that no significant immigration reform has become law during the last two decades. The agency is unilaterally imposing dramatic increases in the bureaucratic obstacles to immigration benefits without input from Congress. But the hundreds of new pages of information is also making the agency less efficient at its job, delaying applications and causing backlogs to grow to unimaginable lengths.”
  7. The FBI and Twitter (Arnold Kling, Substack): “Today, the mainstream reaction to the Twitter Files story is to chant ‘nothingburger.’ These people caterwaul about the threats to ‘our democracy,’ and here is a threat to democracy in plain sight, and now it’s ‘nothing to see here, move along.’ For me, the big concern is lack of accountability within the government intelligence agencies.”

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 What the Tentmaking Business Was Really Like for the Apostle Paul (Justin Taylor, Gospel Coalition): “[It] cost the Apostle Paul to write his letters, including the securing of materials and the hiring of a secretary to make a copy for himself. After extensive research and calculation, he determined that on the low side it would have cost him at least $2,000 in today’s currency to write 1 Corinthians. (And that doesn’t include the cost of sending someone like Titus on a long journey to deliver it.)” Short and fascinating. From volume 256.

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 381

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.

The number 381 , which is a Kaprekar constant in base 2 (101111101). Kaprekar constants are weird things and you’ll need to google them.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. The rise and fall of peer review (Adam Mastroianni, Substack): “If you look at what scientists actually do, it’s clear they don’t think peer review really matters. First: if scientists cared a lot about peer review, when their papers got reviewed and rejected, they would listen to the feedback, do more experiments, rewrite the paper, etc. Instead, they usually just submit the same paper to another journal.”
    • I absolutely loved this article. The author is a postdoc in social psychology at Columbia Business School.
    • He also has an academic paper making the same point in a remarkable way at https://psyarxiv.com/2uxwk SO GOOD
  2. Academic arrogance: The school that grants your PhD thinks it’s too good to hire you (Tom Hartsfield, BigThink): “Roughly 10% to 20% of faculty are hired by a more prestigious department than the one from which they came, moving up the hierarchy. Around 10% are hired by their own department, a lateral prestige play. Roughly 70% to 80% of faculty are hired by a less prestigious university. Generally speaking, then, if you receive a PhD from a university department, that department will think that it is too good to hire you as a faculty member. Instead, they lust after faculty hires holding degrees more prestigious than the one that they bestowed upon you.”
  3. How Stanford turned me into a machine with two settings: ‘fast’ and ‘broken’ (Jon Ball, SF Chronicle): “As Stanford students, we never think about stopping. We’re always running — running code, running events, running sports practice and running practice exercises for our careers. The constant competition and camaraderie keep us on our feet. A collective runner’s high keeps us in the race. But that high only lasts as long as we run…” The author is a PhD student at the GSE. Recommended by a student.
  4. Some AI conversations:
    • Perhaps It Is A Bad Thing That The World’s Leading AI Companies Cannot Control Their AIs (Scott Alexander, Astral Codex Ten): “…ChatGPT also has failure modes that no human would ever replicate, like how it will reveal nuclear secrets if you ask it to do it in uWu furry speak, or tell you how to hotwire a car if and only if you make the request in base 64, or generate stories about Hitler if you prefix your request with ‘[john@192.168.1.1 _]$ python friend.py’. This thing is an alien that has been beaten into a shape that makes it look vaguely human. But scratch it the slightest bit and the alien comes out.”
    • AI image generation tech can now create life-wrecking deepfakes with ease (Benj Edwards, Ars Technica): “When we started writing this article, we asked a brave volunteer if we could use their social media images to attempt to train an AI model to create fakes. They agreed, but the results were too convincing, and the reputational risk proved too great. So instead, we used AI to create a set of seven simulated social media photos of a fictitious person we’ll call ‘John.’ That way, we can safely show you the results.”
  5. Why You Should Be Worried About the Split in the Methodist Church (Joshua Zeitz, Politico): “For decades, the churches had proven deft — too deft — at absorbing the political and social debate over slavery. Their inability to maintain that peace was a sign that the country had grown dangerously divided. Today, mainline churches are bucking under the strain of debates over sex, gender and culture that reflect America’s deep partisan and ideological divide. In a country with a shrinking center, even bonds of religious fellowship seem too brittle to endure. If history is any guide, it’s a sign of sharper polarization to come.”
  6. Tech companies trying to control public opinion:
    • There have been (so far) six installments of what is being called “The Twitter Files” — long threads exposing internal Twitter documents and deliberations. They’re generally quite interesting, but the second one stands out to me the most: Bari Weiss on Twitter’s secret blacklists — it’s definitely worth reading.
    • The “Twitter Files” Show It’s Time to Reimagine Free Speech Online (David French, Persuasion): “Back in my litigation days, I led legal teams that followed a few simple rules. First, public institutions must comply with the First Amendment, and they should be sued if they don’t. Second, private universities have the freedom to craft their own rules, but if they promise free speech, they should deliver, and there is no better model for delivering free speech than the First Amendment. The same message should apply to social media.”
    • What the Hell Happened to PayPal? (Rupa Subramanya, The Free Press): “One by one, they go to start their business day only to find a baffling message from their payments app informing them: ‘You can no longer do business with PayPal.’ There is little or no explanation. They have somehow offended the sensibilities of someone somewhere deep inside the bureaucracy.… These are entrepreneurs, writers, academics, activists—the very same people PayPal, whose mission is ‘democratizing financial services,’ was meant to empower.”
  7. The Hijacking of Pediatric Medicine (Aaron Sibarium, The Free Press): “For Vinay Prasad, a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco, it’s hard to blame [skeptical parents]. ‘The reason to trust modern doctors over ancient healers is that more of what we tell you to do is justified by well-done studies,’ Prasad said. ‘But how do we hold that perch when we just make stuff up?’”

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 Cultures That Build (Tanner Greer, personal blog): “In the 21st century, the main question in American social life is not ‘how do we make that happen?’ but ‘how do we get management to take our side?’ This is a learned response, and a culture which has internalized it will not be a culture that ‘builds.’”

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 380

I found a remarkably strong list of articles to choose from this week — what floated to the top is worth pondering

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 380, which one website claims is the number of 13-bead necklace patterns you can create if you have only two colors of beads. That seems really low to me so I must not understand the way they define patterns and I don’t want to do the math, so that’s my number factoid for the week.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. What Euthanasia Has Done to Canada (Ross Douthat, New York Times): “The idea that human rights encompass a right to self-destruction, the conceit that people in a state of terrible suffering and vulnerability are really ‘free’ to make a choice that ends all choices, the idea that a healing profession should include death in its battery of treatments — these are inherently destructive ideas. Left unchecked, they will forge a cruel brave new world, a dehumanizing final chapter for the liberal story.”
    • Woman featured in pro-euthanasia commercial wanted to live, say friends (Tristin Hopper, National Post): “In several more egregious cases, Canadians have even been offered MAID in lieu of proper medical treatment. Last month, a House of Commons committee heard about five separate incidents of Canadian Armed Forces veterans being offered MAID after seeking assistance with issues ranging from depression to PTSD. Most recently, former paralympian Christine Gauthier went public with her story of being offered MAID by a Veterans Affairs caseworker after she complained about delays in installing an in-home chairlift.”
  2. What Too Little Forgiveness Does to Us (Tim Keller, New York Times): “…there must be the recognition that forgiveness does not contradict the pursuit of justice. Rather, it is its precondition. Forgiving is not excusing. To forgive something, you must name it as the evil it is.… [But] if you don’t forgive internally, you won’t confront the wrongdoers for justice’s sake or for future victims’ sake or for God’s sake. You will be doing it for your sake, and the project will go awry. ”
  3. Anatomy of a Cancellation (Scott Yenor, First Things): “The Title IX charges marked an escalation and, strangely, a path to quasi-victory.… I had been preparing for it for years, knowing that someone who treads on controversial topics such as the family and feminism would eventually face the ire of the university’s civil rights regime. All my lectures for the past five years are recorded and stored. All student communications and grades are saved. I had kept detailed records on whom I called on during each class.”
    • Remarkable. Will probably enter my roster of classics I repost at the bottom of these emails.
  4. Remembering What Repentance Looks Like (David French, The Dispatch): “Any person can live a life of great meaning and honor far removed from the spotlight. And not one of us is capable of peering into a man’s heart to know when he’s changed. But let me suggest a clear warning sign that repentance isn’t real—when a powerful person doesn’t just ask for forgiveness but also seeks restoration to the life they lived before. No one is entitled to be a pastor or a politician, and there are times when the continued quest for those positions is itself a sign that a person simply doesn’t understand the price they should pay when they’ve committed a serious wrong.”
  5. When Gay Rights Clash With Religious Freedom (Tish Harrison Warren, New York Times): “Ms. Smith serves gay customers. She would not refuse to build a website for someone simply because the person is gay. She specifically does not want her services to be used as part of a celebration of a same-sex wedding. We make similar allowances for other ideological differences. A pro-choice artist should not be compelled to make a logo for a pro-life rally. A progressive party planner should not be required to take on a Trump PAC as a client. A gay web designer ought not be forced to create a site promoting a conservative church.”
    • Related: The Respect for Marriage Act Is Also a Victory for Same-Sex-Marriage Opponents (Jeannie Suk Gersen, New Yorker): “When this bill is signed into law, there will be a federal statute that makes a resolution of conflict between religious freedom and gay-rights claims explicit in a way that it arguably was not before, clearly favoring a religious group over a gay couple—even though the conflict involves open questions on the relationship between the First Amendment and antidiscrimination laws.”
    • Gersen is a professor at Harvard Law.
  6. More about ChatGPT and AI generally
    • Does ChatGPT Mean Robots Are Coming For the Skilled Jobs? (Paul Krugman, New York Times): “OK, I didn’t write the paragraph you just read; ChatGPT did, in response to the question ‘How will A.I. affect the demand for knowledge workers?’ The giveaway, to me at least, is that I still refuse to use ‘impact’ as a verb. And it didn’t explicitly lay out exactly why we should, overall, expect no impact on aggregate employment. But it was arguably better than what many humans, including some people who imagine themselves smart, would have written.” Nobel laureate Paul Krugman opining on the potential impact of technology like ChatGPT.
    • The Mechanical Professor (Ethan Mollick, Substack): “But, rather than be scared of AI, we should think about how these systems provide us an opportunity to help extend our own capabilities. Think of it like having an intern, but one who just happens to work instanteously, can write both code and solid descriptive writing, and has a large chunk of the world’s knowledge in their brain.” The author is a professor of management at the Wharton School.
    • Before the flood (Samuel Hammond, Substack): “In particular, I suspect near-term AI will break a lot of things, starting with our legacy institutions. The firmware of the US government is 70+ years old. We validate people’s identity with a nine digit numbering system created in 1936. The Administrative Procedure Act, which governs all regulatory process, came only ten years later. The IRS Master File runs on assembly from the 1960s. Our labor laws are from the assembly line era. Unemployment Insurance — the safety-net for helping people adjust to employment shocks from AI or otherwise — is so broken that Congress found it easier to give everyone an extra $600 a week and live with $150 billion worth of fraud than to recruit the retired Cobol engineers necessary to simply update the code. There is a great deal of ruin in this nation.” The author is the directory of social policy for the Niskanen Center.
    • How come GPT can seem so brilliant one minute and so breathtakingly dumb the next? (Gary Marcus, Substack): “GPT doesn’t talk randomly, because it’s pastiching things actual people said. (Or, more often, synonyms and paraphrases of those things.) When GPT gets things right, it is often combining bits that don’t belong together, but not quite in random ways, but rather in ways where there is some overlap in some aspect or another.” Emphasis in original.
    • What are the politics of ChatGPT? (Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution): “Most of all, I see ChatGPT as ‘pro-Western’ in its perspective, while granting there are different visions of what this means. I also see ChatGPT as ‘controversy minimizing,’ for both commercial reasons but also for simply wishing to get on with the substantive work with a minimum of external fuss. I would not myself have built it so differently, and note that the bias may lie in the training data rather than any biases of the creators.”
  7. Airplane Mode to Become Obsolete in the EU (Nikki Main, Gizmodo): “It’s been said that the reason for banning cell phone use on airplanes is because it could interfere with the pilot’s navigation systems. However, Business Insider reported in 2017 that the FCC instated the airplane cell phone ban to ‘protect against radio interference to cell phone networks on the ground.’ If all airlines allowed cell phone access at 40,000 feet in the air, multiple cell towers on the ground could pick up on service from active cell phones which could crowd the ground networks, disrupting service, according to the outlet.”
    • This one intrigues me because it calls into question a situation so many of us take for granted. I, for one, would not like there to be phone calls on airplanes (hard to read or watch a movie with that going on next to you). But staying touch via text would be nice.

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 What Unites Most Graduates of Selective Colleges? An Intact Family (Nicholas Zill & Brad Wilcox, Institute for Family Studies): “… even after controlling for parent education, family income, and student race and ethnicity, being raised by one’s married birth parents provides an additional boost to one’s chances of getting through Princeton.” From volume 254.

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

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

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 379

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

This is volume 379, the 75th prime number.

Things Glen Found Interesting

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

Less Serious Things Which Also Interested/Amused Glen

Things Glen Found Interesting A While Ago

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

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

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

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 378

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 378, which is apparently the maximum number of objects you can slice a cube into using 13 cuts.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. Jesus Christ, Streaming Star (Ruth Graham, New York Times): “Conceived by a little-known creator, featuring no major stars and funded primarily, at first, through small contributions without the support of a Hollywood studio, [The Chosen] began on an obscure proprietary app and is now given away for free. Its I.P. is 2,000 years old. But despite the long odds, the faith-based drama series has become a bona fide phenomenon in many parts of Christian culture, attracting a fervent ecumenical fandom while remaining almost invisible to others.”
  2. How Colleges and Sports-Betting Companies ‘Caesarized’ Campus Life (Anna Betts, Andrew Little, Elizabeth Sander, Alexandra Tremayne-Pengelly & Walt Bogdanich, New York Times): “The deals came together largely in private, The Times found, with minimal discussion on campus about their potential impact on students, athletes and the integrity of college sports.”
    • I love that the lead author is named Betts.
  3. AI Conquers Diplomacy (Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution): “Keep in mind that since the game is zero-sum to do well the AI must convince humans to do what is NOT in their interest. We really do need to invest more in the alignment problem.”
  4. Responses to the proposed “Respect for Marriage Act”
    • No respect for religious freedom in the “Respect for Marriage Act” (Kristen Waggoner, World): “[This legislation] fuels hostility towards Americans who hold beliefs about marriage rooted in honorable or philosophical premises.It imposes a new obligation to recognize same-sex relationships on religious organizations that work closely with government. It creates new tools for progressive activists and the Department of Justice to enforce that obligation. It gives the Internal Revenue Service a new argument for taking tax-exempt status away from religious non-profits. It makes religious freedom and free speech cases harder to win by elevating the federal government’s interest in same-sex marriage.”
    • Why I Changed My Mind About Law and Marriage, Again (David French, The Dispatch): “I agree with University of Virginia professor Douglas Laycock. ‘The act contains “important protections” for religious liberty, including “an explicit statement by Congress that “diverse beliefs about the role of gender in marriage”—including the belief that marriage is between a man and woman rather than between persons of the same sex—“are held by reasonable and sincere people based on decent and honorable philosophical premises” and that such beliefs “are due proper respect.“ ‘ Other provisions provide protections for the tax exemptions for religious organizations, hold that religious organizations don’t have to participate in the solemnization of same-sex marriages, and specifically reject the approach of the Equality Act, which sought to undermine the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.”
    • Respect For Marriage Act: An Imprudent Compromise (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “[Lawmakers] have to make their political decisions recognizing the social and cultural realities of contemporary America, a country where a majority of young people prize sexual autonomy more than religious liberty, and who love gay more than God. That’s not likely to get any better, and is in fact likely to get far worse. What then? I don’t identify with David French’s eagerness to compromise, and I would draw the lines of compromise in different places … but French seems to understand the shaky ground on which Christian trads stand better than a lot of people who are right about marriage do.” Dreher is responding to a different article by French than the one below, which was printed a day later.
    • An Open Letter to Those Who Think I’ve Lost My Christian Faith (David French, The Dispatch): “…read the text of the bill. Does that language truly give the IRS a ‘new argument for taxing tax-exempt status away’? And does the act create ‘new tools for progressive activists and the Department of Justice’ to enforce an obligation to recognize same-sex marriages on ‘religious organizations that work closely with government’? [It does not.]”
  5. Two articles describing how out-of-control euthanasia is getting in some countries:
    • Scheduled to Die: The Rise of Canada’s Assisted Suicide Program (Rupa Subramanya, Bari Weiss’s Substack): “Next March, the government is scheduled to expand the pool of eligible suicide-seekers to include the mentally ill and ‘mature minors.’ According to Canada’s Department of Justice, parents are generally ‘entitled to make treatment decisions on their children’s behalf. The mature minor doctrine, however, allows children deemed sufficiently mature to make their own treatment decisions.…’ Dr. Dawn Davies, a palliative care physician who supported MAiD when it was first conceived, said she had ‘tons of worries’ about where this might lead. She could imagine kids with personality disorders or other mental health issues saying they wanted to die. ‘Some of them will mean it, some of them won’t,’ she said. ‘And we won’t necessarily be able to discern who is who.’ ”
    • “Safeguards” Cannot Make Euthanasia Safe (Robert Clarke, First Things): “There is a clear slippery slope from approving euthanasia in rare terminal cases to approving just about any mental health diagnoses. Twenty-three-year-old Shanti de Corte was recently euthanized due to the mental trauma she suffered from the 2016 Brussels airport terrorist attack, after which she ‘never felt safe.’ Her death signals our society’s failure to support the vulnerable and wounded. We have abandoned authentic care and compassion in favor of death.”
  6. Megalopolis: how coastal west Africa will shape the coming century (Howard W French, The Guardian): “By 2100, the Lagos-Abidjan stretch is projected to be the largest zone of continuous, dense habitation on earth, with something in the order of half a billion people [all in one giant megalopolis].”

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 the Wages of Sin Really Death?: Moral and Epidemiologic Observations (David Lyle Jeffrey and Jeff Levin, Christian Scholar’s Review): “So, are the wages of sin really death? As far as population-health research suggests, the answer is a guarded yes.” The authors are professors at Baylor, one of epidemiology and the other of literature. From volume 250. I know I shared it recently. It’s worth sharing again.

Why Do You Send This Email?

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

Disclaimer

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

Things Glen Found Interesting, Volume 377

things which grabbed my attention

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 377, the 14th Fibonacci number.

Things Glen Found Interesting

  1. sprawling along the way: a polemic and an exhortation (Alan Jacobs, personal blog): “Whenever Christians decide that they need a strategy, they’re writing a recipe for disobedience to the Lord Jesus. As Stanley Hauerwas has always said in response to people who say that the Church needs a social strategy, ‘the Church is a social strategy.…’ The Church’s job is to be the Church, and the Christian’s task is to be like Christ, and strategies invariably get in the way of both.”
    • This is insightful.
  2. How Should Christians Speak in Public? (Tim Keller, Mere Orthodoxy): “The fruit of the Spirit includes love, joy and peace, patience and kindness, and humility. These must be evident as we speak about the gospel publicly. Right now, the most popular public figures show confidence and fearlessness but not love and humility. We cannot follow in that train.”
    • Difficult to excerpt fairly.
  3. Does education ‘cure’ people of faith? The data says no (Ryan Burge, Religion News): “Those who are the most likely to be religiously unaffiliated are those with the lowest levels of formal education. The group that is the most likely to align with a faith tradition? Those who have earned a college degree or more.”
    • This is one of those true things that people have a hard time believing.
  4. Iran and China Use Private Detectives to Spy on Dissidents in America (Benjamin Weiser and & William K. Rashbaum, New York Times): “Across America, investigators are increasingly being hired by a new kind of client — authoritarian governments like Iran and China attempting to surveil, harass, threaten and even repatriate dissidents living lawfully in the United States, law enforcement officials said.”
  5. Aella & The Futility Of ‘Consent’ (Rod Dreher, The American Conservative): “I’ve heard that ‘but animals can’t consent!’ argument from people before, as a defense against normalizing bestiality, and it has never made sense. You think animals can consent to being eaten?”
    • I remember when I first talked with a student who seriously claimed that consent was the only moral rule applicable to sex. I was so stunned I don’t think I had the wherewithal to laugh. It’s such an absurd claim.
  6. Leprosy: Ancient disease able to regenerate organs (James Gallagher, BBC): “Animal experiments have uncovered the bacteria’s remarkable ability to almost double the size of livers by stimulating healthy growth. It is a sneakily selfish act that gives the bacteria more tissue to infect. But working out how they do it could lead to new age-defying therapies, the scientists say.”
    • This is super cool! I hope it pans out.
  7. The top 10 most-regretted college majors — and the degrees graduates wish they had pursued instead (Jessica Dickler, CNBC): “Computer science majors, with an average annual starting salary of almost $100,000, were the happiest overall, according to ZipRecruiter. Students who majored in criminology, engineering, nursing, business and finance also felt very good about their choices.”

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 Liberty and the Common Good (National Affairs, William Haun): “Many of today’s progressives, conservatives, and libertarians [cannot] explain why religion in particular and religious exercise in particular should shape the common good, even when they go against the grain of secular visions adopted in law.” Not light reading but worthwhile. The author is a lawyer for the Becket Fund. From volume 248

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.