Worth Reading - 2/17

1. From the New York Review of Books, The True History of Fake News. An interesting and engaging article.

The production of fake, semi-false, and true but compromising snippets of news reached a peak in eighteenth-century London, when newspapers began to circulate among a broad public. In 1788, London had ten dailies, eight tri-weeklies, and nine weekly newspapers, and their stories usually consisted of only a paragraph. “Paragraph men” picked up gossip in coffee houses, scribbled a few sentences on a scrap of paper, and turned in the text to printer-publishers, who often set it in the next available space of a column of type on a composing stone. Some paragraph men received payment; some contented themselves with manipulating public opinion for or against a public figure, a play, or a book.

2. An amusing blog post about the trouble of making life's little celebrations into absolute blowouts. This should make you smile.

Because as soon as Mother had made breakfast, Mother had to begin making lunch. Now, remember, my thyroid looks like it’s been beat with a blunt instrument. It is definitely healing on its own, but I still stand around, wan and pale, looking like someone who’s thyroid has been beat with a blunt instrument. In my world, I either make food, or I do something else, Like The School We All Need To Be Doing. Furthermore, I’m not a big fan of not doing school just because it snowed or it’s someone’s birthday. I don’t have a house full of little kids for whom school can entail making play-dough or taking a nature walk, or, worse yet, Helping Mother Cook (spare me, O My God, for the waters are rising up to my neck). But this brave new world meant that we didn’t do school. Or, at least, I didn’t, which meant only the two children who can function on their own did anything.
Little Eglantine picked her Special Birthday Lunch out of the perversity of her heart that we have all come to endure day by day–Ham, Mashed Potatoes, and, wait for it…Broccoli. Mmmm Mmmmmm. Of course, she didn’t really want to eat this lunch, fattened as she was on pancakes, and neither did anyone else. I mean, mashed potatoes are delicious. But most children pick the lyrical delights of Peanut Sauce, Meat Pie, or Crepes. No one, literally No One has ever picked broccoli. Anyway, I burned it so we don’t have to eat the left overs today, thank heaven.

3. An opinion piece in the LA Times that asks whether proponents of radical gender theories are undermining science through wishful thinking.

Gender feminists — who are distinct from traditional equity feminists — refuse to acknowledge the role of evolution in shaping the human brain, and instead promote the idea that sex differences are caused by a socialization process that begins at birth. Gender, according to them, is a construct; we are born as blank slates and it is parents and society at large that produce the differences we see between women and men in adulthood.

The idea that our brains are identical sounds lovely, but the scientific evidence suggests otherwise. Many studies, for instance, have documented the masculinizing effects of prenatal testosterone on the developing brain. And a recent study in the journal Nature’s Scientific Reports showed that testosterone exposure alters the programming of neural stem cells responsible for brain growth and sex differences.

Gender feminists often point to a single study, published in 2015, which claimed it isn’t possible to tell apart male and female brains. But when a group of researchers reanalyzed the underlying data, they found that brains could be correctly identified as female or male with 69% to 77% accuracy. In another study, published in 2016, researchers used a larger sample in conjunction with higher-resolution neuroimaging and were able to successfully classify a brain by its sex 93% of the time.
We read the stories and ask, “How could the Israelites possibly abandon God to worship the idols of their surrounding culture?” But we never consider how much our own individualistic, consumeristic culture pulls us away from God.

We critique the legalism of the Pharisees and wonder how anyone could want to challenge Jesus the way they did, yet we frequently reject grace and use the law (or our own expansion of it) to hammer others or ourselves.

We lament the people who stopped following Jesus because they found His teaching on morality and sexual ethics too difficult. But then we seek our own escape from the force of His spoken words and the other written words of God in Scripture.

If we are honest we are ourselves, we can easily find ourselves in the pages of the Bible—just not among the heroes.

We are the failures, the rejects, the idolaters, the sinful, the prideful, the villains. But that’s the most wonderful part. God hasn’t called us to be the hero, only to follow the One who actually is.

5. The commercials during the Superbowl this year were pretty boring. There were a huge number of activist commercials, which were generally targeted toward the Left, approving of their approach to cultural issues. Most on the Right have learned to ignore this, because we've come to recognize the bully pulpit liberals have created in their microcosm of reality. Surprisingly, though, Saturday Night Live took a swipe at the heavy-handed antics of Madison Avenue: