An Ecumenical Ministry in the Parish of St Patrick's Catholic Church In San Diego USA


Friday, March 9, 2018

The Pope’s Report Card

We Need More Babies

That and a couple of other things are what’s desperately need in the US right now. That, at least, is the provocative thesis of Lyman Stone on Vox: “More babies, more immigrants, more integration. This will yield an America that is larger, stronger, richer, more diverse, and more American than ever.” A great deal of the piece makes sense to me. It’s also the type of problem (especially the one in the title) that Galli Report readers, or their adult children, can do something about immediately, or at least in the next few months … (Hat tip to my wife).

Technology Dystopia

It’s not news that technology has a dark side, but sometimes the specifics can be disturbing. For example, belief in algorithms to make us smarter and more efficient often only makes things worse. For example (this from a book review by Joseph Bottum of Automating Inequality: How High-Tech Tools Profile, Police, and Punish the Poor):
Los Angeles … announced with great pride that it had a solution to the urban disgrace of thousands of people living in the tent city known as “Skid Row.” And the solution, of course, was an algorithm. A computer program would identify who most needed housing, and thus the city could prioritize: finding the at-risk, like flowers growing amidst the weeds of those who didn't need help. …
It collected reams of intrusive personal data—none of which required a warrant for prosecutors and police to examine—and it committed such interpretive absurdities as downgrading ex-convicts, not on the grounds that they had been criminals but on the grounds that they had recently had housing. In prison.
Then there’s the very culture of Silicon Valley, which is examined by Emily Chang in her new book Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys’ Club of Silicon Valley. Among the issues she raises is sexism and hedonism. Regarding the former (as summarized in this book review):
Women are held to higher standards in job performance; for instance, code written by women is more highly scrutinized. And they are subject to appalling amounts of sexual harassment. One study Chang cites found that 60 percent of women in Silicon Valley reported “they had been sexually harassed or received unwanted sexual advances, most of the time from a superior.”
Regarding the latter (this from the book, as quoted in the review):
Much of the troubling behavior that marginalizes or excludes women happens outside the office, including lavish, drug-fueled, sex-heavy parties hosted by some of Silicon Valley's most powerful men, who cast the odds in their favor by inviting twice as many women. The attendees speak of overturning traditions like marriage and monogamy and claim to be reinventing social mores, just as they are reinventing the future within the companies they found.

The Pope’s Report Card

The current pope is said to create what’s called the “Francis effect,” that is rejuvenating the Catholic church by attempting to liberalize—sometimes directly, sometimes by innuendo—certain church teachings (e.g., on marriage and divorce) to, as they say, “catch up with the times.” The goal is to inspire greater faithfulness, not to mention church attendance. A recent Pew poll suggests it’s having the opposite effect. Catholics might want to pay more attention to what happened to mainline Protestantism when it took a similar tack.

The Bible in Five Minutes

If you made a New Year’s resolution to read the Bible in a year, and you are already far behind, have no fear. The Babylon Bee has created a “Bible”—all 66 books, no less—you can read in five minutes. Not five minutes a day, either. Just five minutes. Enjoy and be edified. (Hat tip to my wife—again!)

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