Links I liked, Nov 6 – 12 (50 years of our church, Trump and the college educated, Vox)

Lot of political links this week… ’twas that kind of week, after all.

1. 50 Years of Gospel Ministry

But not the first one.  Our church, University Reformed Church, in East Lansing, just celebrated its 50th anniversary.  A nice video about the history of the church.

2. Trump won because college educated Americans are out of touch

But I also know that that those with college degrees — again, with some significant exceptions — don’t necessarily know philosophy or theology. And they have especially paltry knowledge about the foundational role that different philosophical or theological claims play in public thought compared with what is common to college campuses. In my experience, many professors and college students don’t even realize that their views on political issues rely on a particular philosophical or theological stance.

Amen on that last sentence times-a-million, even if you’re unsure about the headline claim.

3. Explaining it all to you

I have long been annoyed by the tone of Vox – they take very complex issues, dramatically oversimplify them, and then give you the impression you are oh-so-smart for reading their not-smart-at-all take.  This lengthy article basically says… yeah, they do that on purpose.  Vox was founded on the idea that people don’t have a fact-problem, the problem is that people keeping misinterpreting facts (as judged by the intelligent editors of Vox, of course).  They need someone to tell them what they’re supposed to believe.

4. When Politics Becomes Your Religion

Who does that to people they’ve gone to church with for years and years? Who allows that to happen within their congregation? People for whom politics has become their religion, that’s who. A congregation that has degenerated into nothing more than a political party at prayer. Repent!

5. Russian warplanes keep buzzing the Baltics.  Here’s how NATO scrambles.

Interesting piece, just as the title says.  How many times as NATO scrambled to intercept Russian planes so far this year?  600.

6. Living Under Punches

Anecdotes from a couple Trump-supporting college students who went into class on Wednesday, and found their instructors giving everyone the distinct impression that hate had just won an election, and everybody knew it, and this is terrible.  What I wrote on Facebook:

Just two quick thoughts, specifically about how I’ve personally seen, and read, college professors react to the election:

1. All of your students do not share your politics or reaction to political events. And for all the talk about “inclusion” and not marginalizing people on campuses today – if you go into a class saying “I’m sure you’re all crushed like me today, let’s talk about it” first, no, they aren’t, and second, how included do you suppose you just made all the students feel who are perfectly fine with what happened? (Also some faculty seem to think there are literally zero students in that category in their classrooms, which boggles my mind – the data sure doesn’t say that.) If you suggest that Tuesday was nothing but the triumph of hate, or something, that’s even worse.

2. You are a role model. I admit I write this one still having a hard time understanding people putting on sackcloth and ashes on Wednesday, I have been trying yet failing to really understand that. But the truth is – if you just “roll with the punches” when something upsetting happens, you model that. And if you act like the proper response to an election that didn’t go your way is weeping and gnashing of teeth, you model that too. There is a place for weeping so I don’t want to dismiss that entirely but… anyway, you are a role model.

Finally I should say, of course you know how this goes, you see a few alarming things and talk about that, people get the impression that is the normal. I do think most academic life last week proceeded pretty much just as it would of had there been no election. Of my own students, post-election I overheard a lot of conversations, I overheard people on both sides of what happened, the conversations I overheard were uniformly light-hearted and good natured. A quick glance at the news will reveal not everybody responded that way, but that is actually what I experienced in person. Faculty seemed to take it much harder than their students, which is one reason I felt obliged to write this.

7. Behind Trump’s victory: Divisions by race, gender, education

Just to show that it was not 0% of college students that supported Trump.

This week brought to you by the Lansing River Trail.

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Links I liked, 6/1/2015 – 6/7/2015 (Russia, Adjunct Faculty, Bald Eagles)

1. Video: Russian SU-24 flies by USS Ross in the Black Sea

On May 30.

2. Lithuania and Poland ask for permanent US military bases to fend off Putin

Russia.

3. The Rise Of Generic College, USA

Essentially an argument that college administrators prefer adjunct faculty to full-time faculty because that are much more amendable to doing whatever the administration wants.

4. I’m a liberal professor, and my liberal students terrify me

In 2015, such a complaint would not be delivered in such a fashion. Instead of focusing on the rightness or wrongness (or even acceptability) of the materials we reviewed in class, the complaint would center solely on how my teaching affected the student’s emotional state. As I cannot speak to the emotions of my students, I could not mount a defense about the acceptability of my instruction. And if I responded in any way other than apologizing and changing the materials we reviewed in class, professional consequences would likely follow.

A widely commented upon article this last week, if you somehow missed it.

5. Talons-hooked bald eagles the result of midair showdown

Michigan story with some cool photos!

6. The next wave of “body diversity”: Disabled by choice

The fact that someone sincerely desires something cannot be the full measure of what is good and appropriate.

7. Solar cell sets world record with a stabilized efficiency of 13.6%

If you ever wondered how efficient the most efficient solar cells are… now you know.

Storm Trooper Security

Storm trooper security at the last Lansing Lugnuts game.  (Wait, they won’t stop anyone.)

Links I liked, 5/11/2015 – 5/17/2015 (Russia, Christianity, Cemeteries)

1. Pew: Evangelicals Stay Strong as Christianity Crumbles in America

There have been so many stories taking this poll as their starting point that it was hard to know which to share.  But essentially churches that give in to the surrounding culture on the hot-button issues of the day are dying, and those that aren’t are stable-to-growing.  Also interesting to note that atheists have one of the lowest retention rates of their children – meaning their children are especially likely to convert to another religion.

2. In Detroit, Jewish cemetery survives within GM auto plant

Just an interesting story via Sarah Brodsky about a cemetery entirely enclosed by a GM plant.

3. The “least of these” are not the poor but the Christian baker, photographer, and florist

While the Bible does emphasize care for the poor, they were *not* the subject of Jesus’ comment about “the least of these”.

4. Do Baltimore Schools Need More Money?

There is a graph you see around a lot showing (inflation adjusted) spending per student as a function of time since the 1970s, and test scores as a function of time since the 1970s – the former goes way up, and the latter barely budges.  Why that little fact rarely enters into discussion about education funding I cannot say.  This article does something similar but looks at funding across states and again finds very little correlation between funding and learning.

5. On conservative religious activism, the numbers speak for themselves

Everybody knows churches care more about the politics of sexual morality than they do about poverty – unless, that is, you actually look at how they spend their money.

6. Russia: Twenty Feet from War

We in the West think that using nuclear weapons in almost any environment would be crazy, and a full-scale war with Russia will probably never happen – at least rhetorically, Russia doesn’t seem to share those sentiments.

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Our find this year from the East Lansing Art Festival.