Volume 3.12 (March 17-23)

Pick of the Week– Contraception as a test of equality (Walter Dellinger, WaPo)– “For all women, denying practical access to the method of contraception that is right for their health and life circumstances, as well as the well-being of their families, can represent a serious incursion into their individual moral autonomy.”


Why Charity Can’t Replace the Safety Net (Jordan Weissmann, Slate Moneybox)

A Primer on Inequality and Economic Growth (P.a.P. Blog)

The Automatic Corporation (Vivek Haldar)– “Corporations can be thought of as information-processing feedback loops. They propose products, introduce them into the marketplace, learn from the performance of the products, and adjust. They do this while trying to maximize some value function, typically profit.  So why can’t they be completely automated? I mean that literally. Could we have software that carries out all those functions?”


The Most Righteous Man at ESPN (Marc Tracy, The New Republic)– Jay Bilas’ Twitter feed is a national treasure.

Foreign Affairs

We Finally Start to See What Drove Snowden (Jonathan Coppage, The American Conservative)

Moral Injury (__, Huffington Post)– “Most people enter military service “with the fundamental sense that they are good people and that they are doing this for good purposes, on the side of freedom and country and God,” said Dr. Wayne Jonas, a military physician for 24 years and president and CEO of the Samueli Institute, a non-profit health research organization. “But things happen in war that are irreconcilable with the idea of goodness and benevolence, creating real cognitive dissonance – ‘I’m a good person and yet I’ve done bad things.’””


The Emptiness of Data Journalism (Leon Wieseltier, The New Republic)– “Many of the issues that we debate are not issues of fact but issues of value. There is no numerical answer to the question of whether men should be allowed to marry men, and the question of whether the government should help the weak, and the question of whether we should intervene against genocide. And so the intimidation by quantification practiced by Silver and the other data mullahs must be resisted. Up with the facts! Down with the cult of facts!”

Finally, a Formula for Decoding Health News (Jeff Leek, FiveThirtyEight)


Our Naive Innovation Fetish (Evgeny Morozov, The New Republic)– ““Innovation” is no substitute for a robust technology policy. It must frame its arguments around big themes of equality and justice. Of course, those goals are buried somewhere in its information agenda; it’s just that the left, mesmerized by the jargon of TED Talks and Al Gore, has simply preferred not to emphasize them. Instead, the left accepts that these questions require economic thinking, with its fascination with efficiency and constant change. But the genuine act of innovation would be to redefine the idea altogether.”

Trapped: There Are No Simple Solutions to Houston’s Traffic Crisis (Jeff Balke, Houston Press)

Betrayed (Charles Simic, NYRB)– “It is the selective morality of our interventionists that offends me. They judge acts of violence not by their consequences, but on whether someone else or we are the perpetrators—if the acts are done by us they tend to have their full approval. Hypocrites who are blind or indifferent to their own country’s atrocities are not well suited for playing the part of moral conscience of the world, especially when their claims to desire democracy in these troubled countries has a long and notoriously checkered history.”


The Technology is Out There’ But Satellites Don’t Track Jets (Jad Mouawad, Christopher Drew, Nicola Clark, NYT)– This is the most insane thing about this whole story to me.  As the article points out, my iPhone can be tracked within a matter of feet at practically any time of day and my car is tracked via GPS satellite all day long.  How we don’t have at least comparable technology following planes carrying hundreds of passengers is beyond me.


Students See Many Slights as ‘Microaggressions’ (Tanzina Vega, NYT)

Black Pathology and the Closing of the Progressive Mind (Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic)– “I view white supremacy as one of the central organizing forces in American life, whose vestiges and practices afflicted black people in the past, continue to afflict black people today, and will likely afflict black people until this country passes into the dust. ”


A Quick Way to Cut College Costs (Steve Cohen, NYT)– “So let’s get serious instead. Congress and the president should drastically cut the E.F.C. — by around 75 percent, to reflect the fact that since 1980 tuition has risen at nearly five times the rate of the Consumer Price Index. Doing so would force colleges to construct financial aid packages without the artificial price supports of inflated contribution numbers — and make paying for college less agonizing.”


A mad world (Joseph Pierre, Aeon)– “People worry that psychiatrists think everyone is crazy because they make the mistake of equating any form of psychiatric illness with being crazy. But that’s like equating a cough with tuberculosis or lung cancer”

The Glorious and Necessary Torture of Dark Souls (Joseph Bernstein, Buzzfeed)

What Lies Beneath (Linda Greenhouse, NYT)– “In that state of ignorance — and in contrast to my past professional life as a reporter, during which I knew at least enough about every case on the court’s docket to know which ones I didn’t have to care about — I was like most people who might encounter a stray Supreme Court decision without any prior buildup and wonder what it was that the justices had done. The experience, a natural experiment in a way, was instructive enough to share.”

The Overprotected Kid (Hanna Rosin, The Atlantic)



The Problem of Gendered Voice in the Church Memo to the Leaders of Ordain Women (jupiterschild, Faith Promoting Rumor)– “The problem of voice in this press release might strike one at best as an ironic category error, and at worst as a feint that displays the weakness of the position. It is a category error in that it employs the voice of a woman to declare through official channels that women cannot use their voice to declare through official channels. On the other hand, besides the obvious adoption of a female persona to defuse cries of sexism, the problem of voice also reveals what might turn out to be a major chink in the armor.”

Many are Chosen, but Few are Called (Angela C., By Common Consent)– “What is the result of our current gender-restricted Priesthood?  One result is that we must dig deep into the male-only talent pool while ignoring completely the female talent pool.  When we dig that deeply, we are not always putting our best people at the helm, particularly at local levels where there are many rotating leadership roles to fill.”

Why the LDS Church’s statement on Ordain Women convinced me to join OW at Temple Square on April 5 (Joanna Brooks, Feminist Mormon Housewives)– “If there has been a “conversation” about gender equality in Mormonism, it is not because the Church has led or even supported it.  It is because generations of Mormon feminists have continued to ask faithful but agitating questions of the faith we love, even when it has discouraged, rejected, and disrespected us. We’ve asked questions in our prayers, in our families, among friends, on our own blogs.  The national media–including the New York Times–has done more to proactively acknowledge and advance serious conversation about gender issues in Mormonism than the LDS Church, which has been on the defensive on women’s issues for decades.”

I’m a Mormon feminist, not an anti-Mormon protestor (Jana Riess, Flunking Sainthood)– “In other words, the best-case scenario of these “thoughtful discussions” is to leave Mormon women hoping that conversations about their spiritual future are occurring . . . in all-male leadership meetings to which they have no access.”

Ordaining Women is Not Going Away for LDS (Taylor Petrey, Peculiar People)– “In spite of these challenges, Mormonism has a gender inequality problem, not only culturally, but structurally.  This issue is one which the leadership is aware of and has been tinkering with in various ways. Whether such tinkering can satisfy enough of the moderates for the short term to relieve pressure on the call for women’s ordination remains to be seen.  Still, perhaps ordination is the only true solution to the problem and all such tinkering only puts off, and makes more painful, an inevitable necessity.”

Denial and Deniability: The Church’s PR Strategy on Female Priesthood Denial (Christopher Smith, Worlds Without End)– “The press release’s female authorship and informal format has another important implication as well: it gives the Church’s leadership plausible deniability with respect to the letter’s central assertion that the all-male priesthood is a “matter of doctrine” and that female ordination is “contrary to the Lord’s revealed organization for his Church.” Ironically, this statement was penned by a woman who doesn’t have the priesthood and therefore doesn’t have the institutional authority to make novel assertions about revelation and doctrine. Should the Church decide, in twenty years, that the denial of priesthood to women was merely a mistaken “policy” rather than a revealed doctrine, this PR statement will present no real obstacle.”

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