Who is the Benedict Option for?
"Perhaps someone else will need to articulate a progressive Benedict Option, a separate project parallel to Dreher’s. Richard Beck has developed some thoughts on this on his Experimental Theology blog. Beck’s main point is that while Dreher emphasizes Christian culture—institutions, orthodoxy, piety, liturgy—progressive Christians should instead prioritize cruciformity: formation in the cross for the care of others. “Rod’s BenOp is inspired by medieval monasticism,” he writes, “where the BenOp I’m describing is inspired by the gospels.”

As Beck acknowledges, the two are hardly mutually exclusive. Conservative Christians can and do devote themselves to self-giving service, though this isn’t Dreher’s focus. I’d add that liberals can be and are formed for Christian communities in which tradition speaks but doesn’t hog the mic, in which theology and piety aren’t preserved in amber yet do matter, deeply."
from instapaper
7 days ago
Trumpcare Destroys Any Notion That American Conservatism Gives a Damn
"But I fear it is only a matter of time before Pride everywhere is hijacked by the social-justice left.
And that’s why it is so deeply saddening that a faction of the far left is now attempting to shut down or disrupt Pride marches next month … in part because they include gay cops. It has already happened in San Diego, where a group called “No Justice No Pride” held up the parade for five minutes and caused the local sheriff to leave the event. In Toronto, the Pride March was held up for half an hour last summer until the Pride organization agreed to a set of demands from a Black Lives Matter group, including a ban on gay cops in the parade in the future. This year, gay cops will indeed be barred from the parade entirely because BLM wants more “inclusivity.” I’m not kidding: Exclusion is now inclusion. A new board member of Toronto Pride, one Akio Maroon, explained her position: “We cannot have the same people who are beating us, who are harassing us, who’re responsible for violent encounters with us, dancing with us in revelry in uniform with their guns on their side while being paid to participate. Absolutely not.” The “same people”? Does she have any proof of this blanket description of all gay cops as violent racists? Or does she simply believe that gross generalizations about an entire group of people can be applied to any member of that group?"
from instapaper
18 days ago
Trumpcare Destroys Any Notion That American Conservatism Gives a Damn
"Perhaps the first female president of the U.S. will have to come from the right, as May, Merkel, and Le Pen do. That position scrambles the gender war in such a way that conservative women may be more likely to succeed in politics than liberal women — at least at first. (The pioneer in this, of course, was Margaret Thatcher, who was subjected to sexist criticism entirely from the left.) It’s also true that feminism in Europe is still, at the political-elite level, interested in getting past gender, rather than obsessing about it. When Le Pen loses the vote next Sunday (as seems likely), the one thing you can count on is that she won’t blame misogyny. It seems as if those who actually succeed in breaking the glass ceiling don’t actually campaign on breaking the glass ceiling. I wonder if the Democrats will one day realize that."
from instapaper
18 days ago
Managing for the Long Term
"Don’t misunderstand: We are capitalists to the core. We believe that widespread participation in the economy through the ownership of stock in publicly traded companies is important to the social fabric, and that strong protections for shareholders are essential. But the health of the economic system depends on getting the role of shareholders right. The agency model’s extreme version of shareholder centricity is flawed in its assumptions, confused as a matter of law, and damaging in practice. A better model would recognize the critical role of shareholders but also take seriously the idea that corporations are independent entities serving multiple purposes and endowed by law with the potential to endure over time. And it would acknowledge accepted legal principles holding that directors and managers have duties to the corporation as well as to shareholders. In other words, a better model would be more company centered."
from instapaper
22 days ago
Managing for the Long Term
"A company’s health—not its shareholders’ wealth—should be the primary concern of those who manage corporations. That may sound like a small change, but it could make companies less vulnerable to damaging forms of activist investing—and make it easier for managers to focus on the long term."
from instapaper
22 days ago
Managing for the Long Term
"Seeking to quantify the effects of short-termism at the company level and to assess its cumulative impact on the nation’s economy, we tracked data on 615 nonfinancial U.S. companies from 2001 to 2014 (representing 60% to 65% of total U.S. market cap). We used several standard metrics as proxies for long-term behavior, including the ratio of capital expenditures to depreciation (a measure of investment), accruals as a share of revenue (an indicator of earnings quality), and margin growth. To ensure valid results and avoid bias in our sample, we compared companies only to industry peers with similar opportunity sets and market conditions. Adjusting for company size and industry, we identified 167 companies (about 27% of the total set) that had a long-term orientation.

Then we examined how all 615 companies performed. The results were clear: As these graphs show, the long-term-focused companies surpassed their short-term-focused peers on several important financial measures and created significantly more jobs. They also delivered above-average returns to shareholders and had a 50% greater likelihood of being in the top quartile or decile at the end of the period we measured. (One caveat: We’ve uncovered a correlation between managing for the long term and better financial performance; we haven’t shown that such management caused that superior performance.)"
from instapaper
22 days ago
Toppling the Idol of 'Shareholder Value'
"Paine and Bower suggest a more company-centric model in which shareholders are an important constituency but not the only one. Their plan is pretty vague — they forthrightly acknowledge that their model "has yet to be fully developed" — and it's a little hard to envision how it would work in practice. In another article on the Harvard Business Review website, Roger Martin of the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management — and a long-time critic of "short-termism" — proposes that a shareholder's voting rights be increased according to how long he or she has owned the stock. That has promise, but I doubt it would fix things entirely.

The essential problem with the over-reliance on shareholder value as the only metric of success is that it creates the wrong incentives. Although the backlash against it is gaining momentum, nothing will change until its critics find new and better incentives. That's the next step. It can't come soon enough."
from instapaper
22 days ago
Toppling the Idol of 'Shareholder Value'
"Then they proceed to pick apart the various rationales for "shareholder value." Many board members think they have no choice but to find ways to maximize it — especially when an activist comes calling — because they are legally bound to do so. Not so, say Paine and Bower; under the law, directors are fiduciaries for the corporation, not agents for the shareholders, and they have every right to make decisions that take into account a company's other constituents.

They write that a shareholder-centric model is "rife with moral hazard" because "shareholders are not accountable as owners for the company's activities, nor do they have the responsibilities that officers and directors do to protect the company's interests." And shareholders "do not all have the same objectives and cannot be treated as a single 'owner.'""
from instapaper
22 days ago
Toppling the Idol of 'Shareholder Value'
"But the pendulum has swung too far, and today the ethos embodied by the phrase "maximizing shareholder value" does more harm than good. It has widened income inequality. It has rewarded short-term "make-the-quarter" thinking over long-term value creation. It is the reason companies take on too much debt and perform feats of useless — but stock-price enhancing — financial engineering. It explains why so few companies subsidize the local symphony or art museum anymore. It is why drug prices have risen so obscenely, why airlines have made flying such a miserable experience and why wages have remained stagnant even as profits have soared. When shareholders matter more than employees or customers or communities, some people do very well, but the purpose of a corporation becomes warped and society loses."
from instapaper
22 days ago
Rod Dreher’s Monastic Vision
"“What the Ben Op means to me is this,” Leah told me. “You’re married, right? Imagine a world where people didn’t agree that marriage was a concept—where there was no social understanding of marriage. And imagine that your marriage was really important to you, and that, when you interacted with other people, no one mentioned your marriage; there was no respect for it and no acknowledgment of its existence. You would do a lot to claw out some space to manifest that your marriage was important. And that’s how it is with the Benedict Option. We have a relationship with Christ. Really, it should be our most important relationship. But my relationship with Alexi is treated as more real and important and relevant. If I say, ‘Oh, I can’t make it, Alexi and I have a thing,’ that’s normal. But if I say, ‘Sorry, I have to go to church,’ that’s weird.”"
theology  culture  from instapaper
4 weeks ago
God in the machine: my strange journey into transhumanism
"Of course, mind uploading has spurred all kinds of philosophical anxieties. If the pattern of your consciousness is transferred onto a computer, is the pattern “you” or a simulation of your mind? One camp of transhumanists have argued that true resurrection can happen only if it is bodily resurrection. They tend to favour cryonics and bionics, which promise to resurrect the entire body or else supplement the living form with technologies to indefinitely extend life.

It is perhaps not coincidental that an ideology that grew out of Christian eschatology would come to inherit its philosophical problems. The question of whether the resurrection would be corporeal or merely spiritual was an obsessive point of debate among early Christians. One faction, which included the Gnostic sects, argued that only the soul would survive death; another insisted that the resurrection was not a true resurrection unless it revived the body."
theology  technology  from instapaper
4 weeks ago
When Character No Longer Counts
"What is required of serious religious believers in a pluralistic society is the ability to code-switch: never to forget or neglect their own native religious tongue, but also never to forget that they live in a society of people for whom that language is gibberish. To speak only in the language of pragmatism is to bring nothing distinctive to the table; to speak only a private language of revelation and self-proclaimed authority is to leave the table altogether. For their own good, but also for the common good, religious believers need to be always bilingually present."
from instapaper
4 weeks ago
Andrew Sullivan: The West Is Up for Grabs
"It remains an indelible shift of the Obama era, like support for gay rights. I’ve become immeasurably depressed by the attempt not to reform but to reverse so much of Obama’s legacy under Trump. But some deep cultural shifts are not changing at all — they are, if anything, entrenching themselves in the mainstream consensus. It seems in this case as if the actual science — that marijuana is less damaging to the body and mind than alcohol, and actually makes life better for millions — has won the day. Reason can indeed triumph eventually over prejudice. Score one for liberal democracy, the truth, and the Enlightenment! Or as I used to say, know hope."
from instapaper
4 weeks ago
Andrew Sullivan: The West Is Up for Grabs
"You have to think about those left-wing students today, as so many of their successors focus not on opening up a space for free speech of any kind, but on policing it with ever more diligence. The Coulter Kampf followed the mob attack on Charles Murray and his host, professor Allison Stanger, at Middlebury College, who is still in physical therapy for the concussion she suffered. It happened immediately after the successful sabotage of another talk scheduled to be given by Heather Mac Donald at Claremont McKenna College, in California, earlier this month. A student mob there did not gather to defend her right to speak, but rather to make sure she couldn’t.

The campus left, having once pioneered the idea of free speech, is now, sad to say, its most dedicated foe. And this is not some random student foolishness. It’s the logical consequence of an ideology actively taught and encouraged by faculty at elite colleges all over the country: that the power structures of a racist-sexist-ableist-queerphobic etc. society are so oppressive that non-p.c. speech is the equivalent of violence, and so must be shut down. The very existence of marginalized people is allegedly at stake."
from instapaper
4 weeks ago
To Stay Married, Embrace Change
"“Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished,” the Harvard professor Daniel Gilbert said in a 2014 TED talk called “The Psychology of Your Future Self.” He described research that he and his colleagues had done in 2013: Study subjects (ranging from 18 to 68 years old) reported changing much more over a decade than they expected to."
from instapaper
4 weeks ago
EX-99.1
"First, never use a one-size-fits-all decision-making process. Many decisions are reversible, two-way doors. Those decisions can use a light-weight process. For those, so what if you’re wrong? I wrote about this in more detail in last year’s letter.

1 For something amusing, try asking, “Alexa, what is sixty factorial?”
Second, most decisions should probably be made with somewhere around 70% of the information you wish you had. If you wait for 90%, in most cases, you’re probably being slow. Plus, either way, you need to be good at quickly recognizing and correcting bad decisions. If you’re good at course correcting, being wrong may be less costly than you think, whereas being slow is going to be expensive for sure.

Third, use the phrase “disagree and commit.” This phrase will save a lot of time. If you have conviction on a particular direction even though there’s no consensus, it’s helpful to say, “Look, I know we disagree on this but will you gamble with me on it? Disagree and commit?” By the time you’re at this point, no one can know the answer for sure, and you’ll probably get a quick yes."
from instapaper
5 weeks ago
EX-99.1
"Why? There are many advantages to a customer-centric approach, but here’s the big one: customers are always beautifully, wonderfully dissatisfied, even when they report being happy and business is great. Even when they don’t yet know it, customers want something better, and your desire to delight customers will drive you to invent on their behalf. No customer ever asked Amazon to create the Prime membership program, but it sure turns out they wanted it, and I could give you many such examples.

Staying in Day 1 requires you to experiment patiently, accept failures, plant seeds, protect saplings, and double down when you see customer delight. A customer-obsessed culture best creates the conditions where all of that can happen."
from instapaper
5 weeks ago
Steve Ballmer Serves Up a Fascinating Data Trove
"Want to know how many police officers are employed in various parts of the country and compare that against crime rates? Want to know how much revenue is brought in from parking tickets and the cost to collect? Want to know what percentage of Americans suffer from diagnosed depression and how much the government spends on it? That’s in there. You can slice the numbers in all sorts of ways.

Mr. Ballmer calls it “the equivalent of a 10-K for government,” referring to the kind of annual filing that companies make.

“You know, when I really wanted to understand in depth what a company was doing, Amazon or Apple, I’d get their 10-K and read it,” he told me in a recent interview in New York. “It’s wonky, it’s this, it’s that, but it’s the greatest depth you’re going to get, and it’s accurate.”"
from instapaper
5 weeks ago
Does Steve Bannon Have Something to Offer? - WSJ
The West is currently facing a “crisis of capitalism,” he said. The world was able to recover after the world wars in part thanks to “an enlightened form of capitalism” that generated “tremendous wealth” broadly distributed among all classes. This capitalism was shaped by “the underlying spiritual and moral foundations . . . of Judeo-Christian belief.” Successful capitalists were often either “active participants in the Jewish faith” or “active participants in the Christian faith.” They operated on a kind of moral patrimony, part tradition, part religious teaching. But now the West has become more secular. Capitalism as a result has grown “unmoored” and is going “partly off track.”

He speaks of two “disturbing” strands. “One is state-sponsored capitalism,” as in China and Russia. We also, to a degree, see it in America. This is “a brutal form of capitalism” in which wealth and value are distributed to “a very small subset of people.” It is connected to crony capitalism. He criticizes the Republican Party as “really a collection of crony capitalists that feel they have a different set of rules of how they’re going to comport themselves.”

The other disturbing strand is “libertarian capitalism,” which “really looks to make people commodities, and to objectify people, and to use them almost.” He saw this strand up close when he was on Wall Street, at Goldman Sachs . There he saw “the securitization of everything” and an attitude in which “people are looked at as commodities.”
capitalism  Economy 
5 weeks ago
If at First You Don’t Succeed, Try an M.B.A.
"Rena Pacheco-Theard applied for a master’s degree in business at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management as the company she started with her husband Dan Driscoll floundered.

“I knew I wanted to do work with high social impact, but the business side of my resume was missing,” said Ms. Pacheco-Theard, who had a graduate degree in public affairs at the time.

During her second semester at MIT, she started a new venture called Prepify, which provides test preparation services to low-income high schoolers. She used roughly half of her business-school class time to fine-tune the startup’s model. She left MIT last spring with a degree, a co-founder classmate and a total of $15,000 in funding from the school. “Becoming a real entrepreneur became a distinct reality for the first time at Sloan,” said Ms. Pacheco-Theard."
from instapaper
6 weeks ago
Is Swapping Date Night for Meeting Night the Secret to a Happy Marriage?
"Asking your partner for a weekly meeting might sound serious and awkward. So call it something else if you want: a check-in, a shindig. Or you can be sneaky and call it nothing at all. Start a conversation about a specific task: "Did you end up making that dinner reservation? And oh, I have an update on the pediatrician appointment." When that goes well, you can say, "That was really helpful. Why don't we have a quick check-in like that every week to make sure we're copacetic?"

When you say something in passing during the course of the day, it's easy to disregard it, forget it completely, or minimize it. The formality of the meeting is what makes it work. It signals that it's a priority and allows you to tackle things before they spiral out of control."
from instapaper
6 weeks ago
How To Be Good
"For morality to matter, there had to be real reasons to care about it—objective facts about what was good and worth achieving. But if, like Williams, you believed that our only reasons for acting were our desires, then if a person desired bad or crazy things—to cause someone great pain; to cause himself great pain—there could be no decisive argument against pursuing them.

Williams says that, rather than asking Socrates’ question “How ought we to live?” we should ask, “What do I basically want?” That, I believe, would be a disaster. There are better and worse ways to live.

After years of agonizing over his inability to convince Williams of his position, Parfit decided that it only appeared that Williams rejected the idea of moral truths—that in fact he simply didn’t have the concept. Williams had often said that he didn’t understand what it would mean to have the sort of reasons Parfit talked about. Parfit had always taken this to be a rhetorical gambit, but now he thought that maybe Williams meant it literally. After all, he was a very brilliant philosopher, and if he said he didn’t understand something, then one ought to believe him. This thought came as a relief: if all those years he and Williams had not actually been disagreeing but just talking past each other, then there was hope for convergence after all."
from instapaper
6 weeks ago
No one knew the world's worst problem so we spent 8 years trying to find it
"Does this check out? After years of research, analysts at GiveWell have estimated that spending $7,500 on 1,500 malaria nets through the Against Malaria Foundation is enough, on average, to prevent one death.

In contrast, in the US, it costs over $1m to save a life with health spending. So if we compare health in the US to global health, there is a 130-fold difference.

It’s hard for us to grasp such big differences in scale, but that would mean that one year of (equally skilled) effort towards the best treatments within global health could have as much impact as 130 years – three career’s worth of time – working on typical rich country issues."
from instapaper
7 weeks ago
No one knew the world's worst problem so we spent 8 years trying to find it
"In short, the most urgent problems are those where people can have the greatest impact by working on them. As we explained in the previous article, this means problems that are not only big, but also neglected and solvable. The more neglected and solvable, the further extra effort will go. And this means they’re not what first comes to mind."
from instapaper
7 weeks ago
Fly-Fishing and the Brain | Department of Neurobiology
"In other ways, fly-fishing has been compared to meditation, in that fly-fishers perform a simple, repeated task, often for hours on end. “The motion of fly-fishing is part and parcel of the activity itself and may contribute to its calming effect,” says Benson. “Besides, it’s achieving something—you might catch a fish"
from instapaper
7 weeks ago
Thirty-Three
"Symmetry — Balance in all things, including my body which is stronger on my right side and much tighter on my left side. We also need symmetry in WordPress between the .org and .com products which differ too much.
Stillness — In echoes of Pico Iyer, so much of my life in my 20s was about movement, and “going places to be moved.” In my 30s I’m looking inward. As Saint Augustine said in Book X, chapter 8 of Confessions: “Men go forth to wonder at the heights of mountains, the huge waves of the sea, the broad flow of the rivers, the vast compass of the ocean, the courses of the stars, and they pass by themselves without wondering.”
Yellow Arrows — The idea that there are clear indications of where to go next at every fork in the road, and if not you should paint them. I wrote more on this yesterday."
from instapaper
7 weeks ago
Do Millennial Men Want Stay-at-Home Wives? - The New York Times
Using a survey that has monitored the attitudes of high school seniors for nearly 40 years, the sociologists Joanna Pepin and David Cotter find that the proportion of young people holding egalitarian views about gender relationships rose steadily from 1977 to the mid-1990s but has fallen since. In 1994, only 42 percent of high school seniors agreed that the best family was one where the man was the main income earner and the woman took care of the home. But in 2014, 58 percent of seniors said they preferred that arrangement. In 1994, fewer than 30 percent of high school seniors thought “the husband should make all the important decisions in the family.” By 2014, nearly 40 percent subscribed to that premise.
7 weeks ago
After Great Pain, Where Is God?
"During 1940 C. S. Lewis wrote “The Problem of Pain.” Lewis’s answer to why an all-good and all-powerful God would allow his creatures to suffer pain was a bit too neat and tidy. Among other things, he wrote, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

Now flash forward two decades to the publication of “A Grief Observed,” which Lewis wrote after his wife’s death. God’s megaphone didn’t just rouse Lewis, it nearly shattered him. In writing about his bereavement, Lewis described what it was like to go to God “when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence.” He added: “Not that I am (I think) in much danger of ceasing to believe in God. The real danger is of coming to believe such dreadful things about Him. The conclusion I dread is not ‘So there’s no God after all,’ but ‘So this is what God’s really like. Deceive yourself no longer.’ ”

Years ago I had lunch with a pastor and asked him about his impressions of “A Grief Observed.” His attitude bordered on disdain. He felt that Lewis allowed doubt to creep in when his faith should have sustained him."
from instapaper
7 weeks ago
was the sexual revolution so revolutionary?: on the benedict option and conservative christian models of culture
"And this gets to something Dreher is very worried about and for what it’s worth, I think he’s right! Christianity in a certain strong form might well be dying, at least in the United States and Western Europe. Of course, Peter Berger famously changed his mind about secularization theory, so, you know, we might be wrong about this as well. But it does look like a certain form of Christianity–the kind that insists only Jesus can get you into heaven and the institution of marriage must look a certain way–is dying out. Now there are a few ways to think about that. One is to think that Christianity is in some senses dying but in other senses has done quite well: it’s not at all a crazy argument to suggest that the ways we think about human rights and social progress have roots in Christian agape and eschatology. There are smart people who disagree, but there also many who don’t. Believe it or not: it’s possible be an atheist, hate the Crusades and the Inquisitions, remember the countless pogroms, and nonetheless recognize historical Christianity has done some good"
from instapaper
7 weeks ago
was the sexual revolution so revolutionary?: on the benedict option and conservative christian models of culture
"Yet the basis of critique is an ongoing and important questions within the academic left, and it’s something that we too often take for granted. If not because humans are made in the image and likeness of God, then why is racism wrong? What about sexism? Autonomy you say? Sure, fine. But why is autonomy so great? What is the vision of flourishing to which we should direct that “agency” we’re all so worried about? You can make fun of critical realism all you want, but I appreciate that those folks are thinking about these questions, even as I really appreciate how other folks-like Paige Sweet and Timothy Rutzou– within critical realism are posing really important queer unpackings of what it means to flourish."
from instapaper
7 weeks ago
was the sexual revolution so revolutionary?: on the benedict option and conservative christian models of culture
"So it’s about the sex. But here’s where things get even more interesting. Because was the sexual revolution really so revolutionary? Of course it changed a lot in a local context: the 1970’s does look different from the 1950’s, as Kristin Luker brilliant captures in her book, Yet you don’t have to be a full-on Foucauldian to recognize Foucault got something right about his repressive hypothesis* in Indeed, I wonder how much Dreher’s worldview would be a bit more cheerful and world-affirming had his medieval sage been Chaucer instead of Dante. You’ve got the Wife of Bath, you’ve got the Pardoner who’s a “gelding or a mare,” and you’ve got the Miller’s Tale, which, well, just, don’t bring your children is all. Now the Canterbury Tales is no more obviously representative of high medieval Christendom than is The Divine Comedy, but, well, if I were a betting man I’d wager there were a lot more folks like the Wife of Bath than like Dante’s Beatrice."
from instapaper
7 weeks ago
was the sexual revolution so revolutionary?: on the benedict option and conservative christian models of culture
"That’s right enough, I suppose, even if it’s a very Evangelical Protestant way of thinking about religion, emphasizing right belief (orthodoxy) over right action (orthopraxy). One of the weird things about the history of the category of “religion” is that it was developed by Protestants who are, on both global and historical scales, the weirdest form of religion. Most things we’ve come to call religions care a lot more about what you do (praxis) than what you believe (doxa): so it’s actually not super surprising a lot of religious people have no idea what the hell they’re talking about. Of course, Smith et al would say this is a problem not just for non-Protestants, but for Protestants too: the intricacies of belief don’t seem to matter even for the ostensibly orthodox."
from instapaper
7 weeks ago
How And Why To Keep A “Commonplace Book” | RyanHoliday.net
"After you finish the book, put it down for a week or so. Let it percolate in your head. Now, return to it and review all the material you’ve saved and transfer the marginalia and passages to your commonplace book.

-It doesn’t have to just be material from books. Movies, speeches, videos, conversations work too. Whatever. Anything good."
from instapaper
7 weeks ago
How And Why To Keep A “Commonplace Book” | RyanHoliday.net
"Mark down what sticks out at you as you read–passages, words, anecdotes, stories, info. When I read, I just fold the bottom corners of the pages. If I have a pen on me, I mark the particularly passages I want to come back to. I used to use flag-it highlighters, which can be great."
from instapaper
7 weeks ago
City of Rod
"Further, it isn’t clear why Dreher, who envies Medieval man’s eye for enchantment, would identify politics as a realm closed to grace. Father John Hughes, the late Dean of Chapel at Jesus College, Cambridge, and a brilliant Christian socialist wrote that “the dynamic tension between Church and state is a distinctively Christian achievement…Without religious concern for ultimate ends, we will become a society dominated by instrumental utilitarian ‘understanding’ rather than reason and its ideas.” Perhaps Dreher feels society has slid as far as it can in that direction, but I rather doubt it; the wise tend to note things can always get worse. And it is the duty of Christians qua Christians to oppose the erosion of liberalism into wanton, inhumane technocracy, even when it means setting out into risky waters."
from instapaper
9 weeks ago
City of Rod
"Whatever the reason, the Benedict Option is also a set of best practices, and Dreher’s Option is his own rule. Dreher provides two separate, but apparently mutually exclusive, accounts of what the Benedict Option is supposed to accomplish: “[T]he Benedict Option,” Dreher writes in his first chapter, is “a strategy that draws on the authority of Scripture and the wisdom of the ancient church to embrace ‘exile in place’ and form a vibrant counterculture” which requires “focusing on families and communities instead of on partisan politics, and building churches, schools, and other institutions within which the orthodox Christian faith can survive and prosper through the flood.” Later, he advises Christians to “see their Benedict Option projects as building a better future not only for themselves but for everyone around them.”"
from instapaper
9 weeks ago
City of Rod
"One can chase what one believes to be the good life, but one cannot place moral claims on others. This is the “catch,” as it were, of liberalism: “Liberalism,” political theorist Judith Shklar wrote, “has only one overriding aim: to secure the political conditions that are necessary for the exercise of personal freedom.” Or, as Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain had it: “Obey none but yourself.”

Even where Americans are Christian, then, they’re only nominally so in Dreher’s imagination."
from instapaper
9 weeks ago
City of Rod
"Once upon a time, people tried to attain unity with God by cleaving to his will as they bore out their vocations as fathers, wives, laborers, or lords; now, we can hop online after Ubering home from sterile office jobs to swipe right or left and then watch, I’m told, more than 380 videos of nude yoga instruction promised to “create a closer connection with the body, yourself and your surroundings.”"
from instapaper
9 weeks ago
The Benedict Option and the Way of Exchange | Alan Jacobs
"In the meantime, if you are a Christian who is called to life “in the midst,” in the world, you would do well to find ways to turn regularly inward, towards the traditional ways and means of the Christian faith by which you may regularly renew yourself, lest you end up being not just in the world but also of it. And if you are called to a “community of virtue,” you would do well to find ways to face outward, towards mission, towards the saeculum for the salvation of whose people Christ came. An intentional Christian community is not a sacrament, but is like the sacraments insofar as it hopes to be an outward and visible sign of an inner and invisible grace. To that degree that hope is realized such a community exists, or should exist, in the words of Fr. Alexander Schmemann, “for the life of the world.” And it can have that quasi-sacramental efficacy only if it knows itself to be related by Blood to those still fully in the world, who will, if they know what they’re about, reflect from time to time on those oddball groups of believers who just may be learning something of great value that is mostly hidden from the rest of us."
from instapaper
9 weeks ago
The Benedict Option
"Faith seems to come in two personalities, the purist and the ironist. Purists believe that everything in the world is part of a harmonious whole. All questions point ultimately to a single answer. If we orient our lives toward this pure ideal, and get everybody else to, we will move gradually toward perfection.

The ironists believe that this harmony may be available in the next world but not, unfortunately, in this one. In this world, the pieces don’t quite fit together and virtues often conflict: liberty versus equality, justice versus mercy, tolerance versus order. For the ironist, ultimate truth exists, but day-to-day life is often about balance and trade-offs. There is no unified, all-encompassing system for correct living. For the ironists, like Reinhold Niebuhr or Isaiah Berlin, those purists who aim to be higher than the angels often end up lower than the beasts."
from instapaper
10 weeks ago
The Benedict Option
"The right response to the moment is not the Benedict Option, it is Orthodox Pluralism. It is to surrender to some orthodoxy that will overthrow the superficial obsessions of the self and put one’s life in contact with a transcendent ideal. But it is also to reject the notion that that ideal can be easily translated into a pure, homogenized path. It is, on the contrary, to throw oneself more deeply into friendship with complexity, with different believers and atheists, liberals and conservatives, the dissimilar and unalike.

Rod and I have different views on L.G.B.T. issues. But I think we genuinely respect each other and honor each other’s lives. To me that means the real enemy is not the sexual revolution. It is a form of purism that can’t tolerate difference because it can’t humbly accept the mystery of truth."
from instapaper
10 weeks ago
How Has Parenthood Informed Your Writing Life?
"It wasn’t until I became a father that I could imagine giving up being a writer. Just to be clear, I haven’t given up writing, and I have no plans to do so. But until my daughter, Dina, was born, writing stood at the apex of my value system. I believed that to it, above all, I must be true. No longer. I have a daughter, and I have a son, Vali, and somehow they have barged their way into the center of my moral universe. I may or may not be a good father, but I recognize good-father-ness is the standard I’m most likely to measure my worth in this life by."
from instapaper
10 weeks ago
How Has Parenthood Informed Your Writing Life?
"Well, this is a deep one — a complex pancake, a snorter, as Sergeant Pluck in Flann O’Brien’s “The Third Policeman” might classify it. Clearly the proper thing would be to declare without hesitation that fatherhood has enlarged my sympathies and grounded my libido, and thereby in the natural way — organically — expanded and improved my writing."
from instapaper
10 weeks ago
The Wisdom of Weight Loss
"Eating properly is a 24-hour-a-day business because losing or maintaining weight is actually harder than overcoming alcoholism. Once alcoholics take that first drink, they are lost but they can refrain from taking that drink in the first place. With food addicts, however, there is no option to give up eating. To overcome food addiction, one must learn to limit, not stop, one's consumption. Your metabolic rate dictates how much food you need in order to maintain, lose, or gain weight. If you eat a single excess apple a day you will gain fifteen pounds of fat in a year."
from instapaper
10 weeks ago
Illiberal arts colleges: Pay more, get less (free speech) | Brookings Institution
"We have crunched some numbers using data gathered by the non-partisan Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, and found that the schools where students have attempted disinvite speakers are substantially wealthier and more expensive than average. Since 2014, there have been attempts at some 90 colleges to disinvite speakers, mostly conservatives. The average enrollee at a college where students have attempted to restrict free speech comes from a family with an annual income $32,000 higher than that of the average student in America.

In the figure below, we plot every university in America based on the proportion of students from families with incomes in the top quintile (vertical axis) and from the bottom quintile (horizontal). Marked in red are the “disinvitation colleges” described above. The pattern is clear: the more economically exclusive the institution, the more likely the students have attempted to hinder free speech:"
from instapaper
10 weeks ago
There Really Was A Liberal Media Bubble
"I recently reread James Surowiecki’s book “The Wisdom of Crowds” which, despite its name, spends as much time contemplating the shortcomings of such wisdom as it does celebrating its successes. Surowiecki arguesSee ”The Wisdom of Crowds,” page 10. that crowds usually make good predictions when they satisfy these four conditions:

Diversity of opinion. “Each person should have private information, even if it’s just an eccentric interpretation of the known facts.”
Independence. “People’s opinions are not determined by the opinions of those around them.”
Decentralization. “People are able to specialize and draw on local knowledge.”
Aggregation. “Some mechanism exists for turning private judgments into a collective decision.”
Political journalism scores highly on the fourth condition, aggregation. While Surowiecki usually has something like a financial or betting market in mind when he refers to “aggregation,” the broader idea is that there’s some way for individuals to exchange their opinions instead of keeping them to themselves. And my gosh, do political journalists have a lot of ways to share their opinions with one another, whether through their columns, at major events such as the political conventions or, especially, through Twitter."
from instapaper
10 weeks ago
People who speak multiple languages make the best employees for one big reason
"Evidence is growing that proves cognitive benefits for bilinguals, such as that they can end up with improved attention, intelligence, and better verbal and spatial abilities. We also know that individuals are inclined to make more rational decisions when they think in a non-primary language. A study with bilinguals in the US and South Korea showed that using a second language eliminates a tendency toward loss aversion, and therefore reduces decision-making biases that unduly influence how risks and benefits are perceived. They propose this happens because speaking an additional language provides greater cognitive and emotional understanding than just the native tongue.

Evidence is growing that proves cognitive benefits for bilinguals, such as that they can end up with improved attention, intelligence, and better verbal and spatial abilities. Likely as a result of structural changes in the networks and connections of the brain, this would suggest they have an increased capacity to process information. This is thought to happen because, like any brain games, logic, or visual exercises, language learning can stimulate and alter the structure of the brain in the same way that a person can build muscle mass. This could explain why multilingual individuals in a team promote cognitive diversity: Their brains all see problems and solutions in different ways."
from instapaper
10 weeks ago
Confessions of a Catholic convert to capitalism | America Magazine
"My search for the “why” of this miracle required almost no detective work. Virtually all development economists, across the mainstream political spectrum, agreed on the core explanation. It was not the success of international organizations like the United Nations (as important as they are) nor benevolent foreign aid that pulled billions back from the brink of starvation. Rather, the responsibility lay with five interrelated forces that were in the midst of reshaping the worldwide economy: globalization, free trade, property rights, the rule of law and the culture of entrepreneurship. In short, it was the American free enterprise system, spreading around the world, that had effected this anti-poverty miracle.

Again, this is a mainstream scholarly finding, not some political cliché. Informed people from left to right agree on these basic points. As no less an avowed progressive than President Barack Obama put it in a 2015 public conversation we had together at Georgetown University, the “free market is the greatest producer of wealth in history—it has lifted billions of people out of poverty.”"
from instapaper
12 weeks ago
Why Is Snap Calling Itself a Camera Company?
"The early entrants into the world of A.R., as with its cousin virtual reality, were disappointing: the phones were too weak, the networks were too slow, and the applications were too nerdy. But now the technological pieces are in place, and a whole generation—much of which is on Snapchat—has come to consider the camera almost a third arm. Yes, Snap is a camera company. It’s just that the camera isn’t a camera anymore."
from instapaper
february 2017
Why Is Snap Calling Itself a Camera Company?
"Lens allows you to perform a visual search—for clothing, furnishings, recipes, and so on—using your smartphone camera. It’s a self-evident-enough idea, but the reason Lens and other A.R. technologies are being introduced only now is that software is finally capable of supporting them. In the past couple of years, companies including Microsoft, Facebook, and Google have used vast repositories of photos available on the Internet to build intelligent systems that can accurately identify everything from dogs to babies to flowers. The more training data—that is, images—these systems have, the more accurate they become over time. If and when Snapchat makes its foray into A.R., it will have those 2.5 billion user images a day to learn from."
from instapaper
february 2017
Why Is Snap Calling Itself a Camera Company?
"WeChat’s founder, the technology constitutes a “third hand for humans.” Indeed, several years ago, at a time when barely anyone used QR codes, he described them in language similar to Snap’s. “The entry point for PC Internet is the search box,” he said. “The entry point for mobile Internet is the QR code.” Perhaps it’s not surprising, then, that earlier this month Snap began expanding the use of QR codes on its platform. And, as Bloomberg’s Mark Bergen and Sarah Frier reported a couple of weeks ago, Snap was at one point in talks with Google to introduce a feature that would have allowed Snapchatters to perform Internet searches merely by pointing their phones at objects in the real world."
from instapaper
february 2017
Why Is Snap Calling Itself a Camera Company?
"Snap is betting that the cameras we carry in our pockets could be even more powerful. In its S.E.C. filing, the company contends that “images created by smartphone cameras contain more context and richer information than other forms of input like text entered on a keyboard.”"
from instapaper
february 2017
Why Is Snap Calling Itself a Camera Company?
"Much of the tech-world buzz centered, as it has for months, on the question of the company’s future potential, given that larger and more established platforms such as Facebook and Instagram have already proved themselves adept at mimicking Snapchat’s features. As the S.E.C. filing acknowledges, “We face significant competition in almost every aspect of our business.” But hidden in the opening pages of that filing is a more interesting declaration. It appears in emphatic black lettering against Snapchat’s signature yellow: “Snap Inc. is a camera company.”"
from instapaper
february 2017
Cities and Ambition
"You don't have to live in a great city your whole life to benefit from it. The critical years seem to be the early and middle ones of your career. Clearly you don't have to grow up in a great city. Nor does it seem to matter if you go to college in one. To most college students a world of a few thousand people seems big enough. Plus in college you don't yet have to face the hardest kind of work—discovering new problems to solve.

It's when you move on to the next and much harder step that it helps most to be in a place where you can find peers and encouragement. You seem to be able to leave, if you want, once you've found both. The Impressionists show the typical pattern: they were born all over France (Pissarro was born in the Carribbean) and died all over France, but what defined them were the years they spent together in Paris."
from instapaper
february 2017
Andrew Sullivan: The Madness of King Donald
"There are moments — surpassingly rare but often indelible — when you do hear the voice of God and see the face of Jesus. You never forget them — and I count those few moments in my life when I have heard the voice and seen the face as mere intimations of what is to come. But the rest is indeed silence. And the conscience is something that cannot sometimes hear itself. I’ve rarely seen the depth of this truth more beautifully unpacked. Which is why, perhaps, the movie has had such a tiny audience so far. Those without faith have no patience for a long meditation on it; those with faith in our time are filled too often with a passionate certainty to appreciate it. And this movie’s mysterious imagery can confound anyone. But its very complexity and subtlety gave me hope in this vulgar, extremist time. We cannot avoid this surreality all around us. But it may be possible occasionally to transcend it."
from instapaper
february 2017
Andrew Sullivan: The Madness of King Donald
"I think this is a fundamental reason why so many of us have been so unsettled, anxious, and near panic these past few months. It is not so much this president’s agenda. That always changes from administration to administration. It is that when the linchpin of an entire country is literally delusional, clinically deceptive, and responds to any attempt to correct the record with rage and vengeance, everyone is always on edge.

There is no anchor any more. At the core of the administration of the most powerful country on earth, there is, instead, madness."
from instapaper
february 2017
Mobile 2.0
"These devices also, perhaps, point to what might come after 'Mobile 2.0'. Web 2.0 was followed not by anything one could call 3.0 but rather a basic platform shift, as the iPhone triggered the move from desktop to mobile as the centre of tech. AirPods, Spectacles, watches and Alexa also reflect or perhaps prefigure platform shifts. In some of them, on one hand, one can see the rise of machine learning as a fundamental new enabling technology, and in some, on the other hand, more and more miniaturisation and optimisation of computing. I think one can see quite a lot of hardware building blocks for augmented reality glasses in some of Apple's latest little devices, and AR does seem like it could be the next multi-touch, while of course machine learning is also part of that, as computer vision and voice recognition. So the things that are emerging at the end of the mobile S-Curve might also be the beginning of the next curve."
from instapaper
february 2017
Mobile 2.0
"Conversely, the most interesting new apps have interfaces that embrace more and more of what's different about a smartphone, and especially a high-end smartphone. So they use swiping as primary navigation, not just for scrolling a list, and touch for things a mouse could never do; they use GPUs for transparency and effects that would have been beyond a 2007 PC, never mind a phone; and they use the image sensors, often combined with touch, as a primary input, on equal terms with the keyboard. Combining all of these, you often get an experience that would make no sense at all to try to build on the desktop - not so much mobile first as mobile only."
from instapaper
february 2017
The Normalization Trap
"There is, fortunately, some good news. However deeply ingrained this cognitive tendency may be, people are not condemned to think this way. You are certainly capable of distinguishing carefully between what is typical and what is good. You are able to understand that something occurs frequently without also thinking that it is morally acceptable, or that something occurs infrequently without thinking that it is weird or deviant.

But this type of thinking, which takes some discipline, is no doubt more the exception than the rule. Most often, we do not stop to distinguish the typical from the acceptable, the infrequent from the deviant. Instead, we categorize things in terms of a more basic, undifferentiated notion of normality, which blends together these two importantly different facets of human life."
from instapaper
february 2017
How the Poet Ron Padgett Spends His Sundays
"POET’S ALMANAC The thing is, I don’t recognize Sunday as being all that different from any other day. I don’t have a job to go to. The sun comes up, the sun goes down.

TEA AND TOAST I wake up when I wake up. I get up and I tiptoe out into the kitchen and living room, my little writing area, and I make a breakfast for myself. And I have a cup of jasmine tea and a slice of toast.

PLEASURE PRINCIPLE As soon as I hear my wife stirring, I put the little Bialetti espresso pot on the stove and I make her a pot of espresso. I froth milk and I deliver it to her in bed. And she’s usually sitting up, rubbing her eyes, and she invariably says, “Thank you.” She thinks I’m doing her a big favor and I suppose I am, or a small favor, but I think I get more pleasure from doing it than she does in having the coffee."
from instapaper
february 2017
Trump’s half-baked travel ban is a picture of American shame
"This executive order is a security measure that very few actual security professionals would prioritize, given that refugees are some of the most carefully vetted people who enter the country. Meanwhile, the downside of (in effect) targeting foreigners by their religion is immediate and considerable — worrying American Muslims and embarrassing the United States’ Muslim friends and allies in the world. When some radical cleric in, say, Central Asia, says, “The new American president hates Islam,” he does not require a conspiracy theory to support his claim. And all of this may have been done with no security upside at all, given the utter incompetence with which the order was drafted and the likelihood that the courts will prevent its implementation."
from instapaper
february 2017
The Three Frameworks You Need to Create Powerful Presentations and Tell Compelling Stories
"Duarte argues a successful presenter convinces the audience to believe in a new idea. To achieve this goal, the presenter must deliver a compelling story that paints the ordinary world of today and contrasts it with the special world of the future.

The presenter must call the audience to embark on the adventure, handle their immediate objections to this invitation, and then establish the presenter as the mentor through the process. Those are the first four steps of the Audience’s Journey. The diagram above shows the remainder of the twelve steps through which a great presenter leads her audience.

If this feels familiar, it should. This journey forms the arc of every great story. To prove the point, Duarte diagrammed the audience’s journey with Luke Skywalker in Star Wars and the book has many similar examples."
from instapaper
february 2017
Charisma / Power
"People who are powerful but uncharismatic will tend to be disliked. Their power makes them a target for criticism that they don't have the charisma to disarm. That was Hillary Clinton's problem. It also tends to be a problem for any CEO who is more of a builder than a schmoozer. And yet the builder-type CEO is (like Hillary) probably the best person for the job."
from instapaper
january 2017
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