Monday, October 23, 2017

Podcasts I like:

A friend recently asked me what podcasts I like and, being an audial learner I'm a big fan of podcasts so it became a long list. Since I am always looking for good podcast recommendations I thought I'd share it here. I use the Player FM app mostly so most of these links head there--the app is good, but there are some limitations so I couple it with Podcast Addict when I bump into problems (it's hard to subscribe to specialized feeds or find things outside the Player FM world in P-FM).

The podcast I've been listening to the longest and have been the most consistently impressed with is EconTalk with Russ Roberts. He discusses economic implications across the board; interviews hair salon owners and oyster farmers about the economics of their business systems, talks to third-world development analysts about what aid isn't working (and got Jeff Sachs to come on because Sachs didn't like the bad press!), and what could work, etc.

I've also really enjoyed Strong Towns with Chuck Marohn; a civil engineer who began to feel that the current city planning/infrastructure/development pattern is a Panunzi scheme and is trying to offer alternatives focused on fiscal responsibility and stronger communities. Aaron Renn's (from The Urbanophile) analysis of cities is also interesting.

Dan Carlin's Hardcore History is really good: I've listened to his series on WWI, WWII's eastern front, the Kahn's empire, and the Punic Wars, and his individual episodes on the atomic age, the Anabaptist uprising at Munster, the Gilded Age, etc. All very good; I've also enjoyed A History of the United States which starts early enough to be of some use for just broad context with my dissertation. The Napoleon Bonaparte Podcast turned me into a fan of Napoleon, which, as a Patrick O'Brien and Bernard Cornwall reader, was very unexpected.

Dan Carlin's political commentary cast called Common Sense is good and comes from a perspective that's outside the lines of either party. I also discovered The Rubin Report recently and am surprised how much I agree with the perspective of a gay, Jewish atheist (politically he's a Classical Liberal/Libertarian). For balance I've also liked Decode the News: it's very left-leaning though I think it falls into the trap of thinking it's being objective, but is done by a PhD in journalism who is trying to explain the techniques being used in news-reporting so you can see how you're being manipulated which is very helpful.

I've gotten interested in personal finance through the Mr Money Mustache blog and that led to The Mad FientestRadical Personal Finance (who answered one of my questions on the cast!), and Bigger Pockets.

Devotionally I like Every Day in the Word's ESV through the Bible in one year cast (it's just one of the ESV audio recordings arranged for daily reading) and I like hunt-and-pecking The Gospel CoalitionThe Bible Project and Research on Religion, and any Keller sermons I can find; our new church in CT, Christ Presbyterian Church of New Haven has a good sermon feed, and their classes on the Mission Anabaino feed are good. I have also really enjoyed Rick Downs' preaching at Christ The King in Boston.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Daniel resources

A friend just asked my opinion on Daniel resources. Having never preached through Daniel nor done extensive academic work in Daniel, here's my quick-and-dirty way of approaching Daniel resources:

The ESV Study Bible has great material: Iain M. Duguid (Grove City College Ph.D., The University of Cambridge) and Paul D. Wegner (Phoenix Seminary Ph.D., King’s College, The University of London) did the notes on Daniel there. 

Probably the best resource I know is G. K. Beale (who comes from an amillennial perspective), who wrote the definitive commentary on Revelation, and does extensive exegesis of Daniel in the process, thought that's a bit of a roundabout way to get at the material. I just preached through Revelation and used his A Shorter Commentary on Revelation as my primary resource (because it was available as a kindle [= searchable] and was WAY cheaper than the definitive edition); I'm not sure if it would have as much exegesis of Daniel as the definitive (he was primarily cutting out his extensive work on Rabbinic and intertestamental literature in producing the smaller edition), but the fact that it's digitally searchable would make its Daniel material more accessible.

Having never preached through Daniel I don't have personal recommendations offhand for commentaries, but this is what the faculty of Covenant Sem. put out a few years ago as their recommendations (from perusing the list, I'd say Chapell would be very approachable and probably do a good job of dealing with dispensationalism from a practical standpoint [while being academically responsible], Ferguson and Longman would be my "scholarly" pics): 

Baldwin, Joyce G. Daniel: An Introduction and Commentary. Tyndale Old Testament Commentary, vol. 25. Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1978.

Calvin, John. Commentaries on the Book of the Prophet Daniel. 2 vols. Translated by Thomas Myers. Calvin’s Commentaries. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1948. (Available in various reprint editions--or for free in public domain through, Christian Classics Ethereal Library, and Classic Christian Library [scroll down to Daniel section for Calvin])

Chapell, Bryan. Standing Your Ground: A Call to Courage in an Age of Compromise: Messages from Daniel. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1989.

Collins, John Joseph. Daniel: A Commentary on the Book of Daniel. Hermeneia. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993.

Ferguson, Sinclair B. Daniel. Mastering the Old Testament, vol. 19. Waco,TX: Word Books, 1988.

Ferguson, Sinclair. “Daniel.” In New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, edited by D. A. Carson and others. Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994.

Goldingay, John E. Daniel. Word Biblical Commentary, vol. 30. Dallas: Word Books, 1989.
Keil, C. F. Biblical Commentary on the Book of Daniel. Translated by M. G. Easton. Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1955. (the complete Keil and Delitzsch OT commentary is available for free at Classic Christian Library under "Complete Old Testament Commentaries")

Longman, Tremper, III. Daniel. The NIV Application Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1999.

Wallace, Ronald S. The Message of Daniel: The Lord is King. The Bible Speaks Today. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.

Young, Edward J. “Daniel.” In The New Bible Commentary: Revised, edited by D. Guthrie and others. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1970.

Monday, July 03, 2017

In a recent article on Fortune, David Z. Morris summarizes a couple of recent studies explaining "Why Millennials Are About to Leave Cities in Droves."

The argument basically goes that millennials don't actually like cities, that they have just been trapped in them by the Great Recession, and that now that jobs are back to normal they're going to suddenly abandon them which "will start returning urban/suburban living patterns to their historical norms."

This assumes a number of things:

(1) That the suburban living pattern has a historical precedent (in the form discussed here it is very much a post World War II phenomenon: the auto-dependent suburb trend is the historical anomaly, not the trend of living in cities).

(2) That millennials started out in cities in the first place (due to the post-World-War-II-auto-dependent-suburb-phenomenon most millennials started out in hard-to-escape suburbs and actually chose to move into cities in a pattern different than the previous generation or two of suburb dwellers).

(3) That, assuming this idea that poor young professionals move to cities for jobs then move on once they get them is the norm, we're running out of people to put through this paradigm (while there are certainly ebbs and flows in population, "millennial"--depending on who's defining it--refers to born between about 1980 and about 2000. While 1990 may be the peak, people continued being born in significant numbers throughout the '90s, and have continued being born in significant numbers up to the present. If the theory is that young people live in cities for a little while and then move out, we're still producing young people who will conform to the theory...).

(4) That millennials presence in cities or suburbs is an indicator of their preference rather than a consequence of laws, codes and external pressures forcing them where government idealists want them (this is a big case to make, but the historical reality is that we've spent almost a century mandating auto-dependent development due to the lobbying of powerful elites. A good starting source for this is Charles Montgomery's Happy City).

A last point that I think is worth noting is that the author may be talking about big cities, while my critique pertains to cities in general. If you don't make a living from agriculture it is far more efficient--and, for most people, far more pleasant--to live in a place where sitting in a car for an hour or two a day isn't mandated. To the extent that cities try to be more like suburbs they will fail to retain people who want "city life"; the difficulty is that, without efficient cities to provide the tax-base for inefficient suburbs, suburbs will become increasingly economically unsustainable.


Thursday, March 30, 2017

Woodward Ave., Detroit, circa 1917:

"When streetcars and private automobiles moved slowly, everyone shared the street. Speed--and a concerted effort by automobile clubs and manufacturers over the next decade--changed the dynamic forever."

"Drivers joined with automobile dealers and manufacturers to launch a war of ideas that would redefine the urban street. They wanted the right to go faster. They wanted more space. And they wanted pedestrians, cyclists, and streetcar users to get out of their way. They called this new movement Motordom....

"Motordom faced an uphill battle. It did not take an engineer to see that the most efficient way to move lots of people in and out of dense, crowded downtowns was by streetcar or bus. In the Chicago Loop, streetcars used 2 percent of the road space but still carried three-quarters of road users. The more cars you added the slower the going would be for everyone. So Motordom's soldiers waged their psychological war under the cover of two ideals: safety and freedom.

"First they had to convince people that the problem with safety lay in controlling pedestrians, not cars. In the 1920s auto clubs began to compete directly with urban safety councils, campaigning to redirect the blame for accidents from car drivers to pedestrians. Crossing a street freely got a pejorative name--jaywalking--and became a crime.

"Most people came to accept that the street was not such a free place anymore--which was ironic, because freedom was Motordom's rallying cry."
-- Charles Montgomery, Happy City, 70-71

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

ALL Our Brands are Crisis...

...If you're a US President with any popularity. In the movie I'm alluding to in the title (Our Brand is Crisis), we watch as the campaign team for Pedro Castillo, a fictional contender for the presidency of Bolivia, realizes that their candidate will only be perceived as electable if the public perceives the country to be in crisis: so they set out to sell that fiction, and shortly after the election, it becomes a reality. A more chilling example of the same plot is the closing episodes of the fourth season of House of Cards as the Underwoods become aware of the same reality: their only path to re-election is if the US believes itself to be in crisis, and so they refrain from intervening in an ISIS-style hostage beheading--and choose not to prevent the event from being broadcast live--in order to ensure the country falls in line behind them as the strongest power to provide protection in chaos.

What is more chilling is Russ Robert's recent interview with Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, in which de Mesquita discusses his book, The Spoils of War, which demonstrates how US presidents who have chosen to take the country to war--even when better alternatives were available--consistently win re-election, while presidents who preside over peace and economic prosperity tend to be discounted, disliked, and not re-elected (for example, Warren Harding, widely regarded as one of the worst Presidents in United States history, saw 0 war deaths under his presidency and also saw the average income rise by 8%, contra Abraham Lincoln who presided over 750,000 war deaths, and saw average income rise by only 2%).

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

How Immigration Beats Government Aid

We saw Meet the Patels recently--a great movie by the way--and an observation a character made got me thinking: she immigrated to the US in 1972 and was commenting to her children that there was not an Indian community to be part of. Indian immigration picked up in the '80s and '90s. This made me think of Slumdog Millionaire, a story about a boy growing up the horrific life of an orphan in Bombay in the '80s, who then competes in the titular game show in the 2000s. You get to see a surprising shift in the nature of poverty between the boyhood scenes and the adult scenes: while there is still injustice and in the interplay of poverty and power in the 2000s portion, the pervasive, grinding, dehumanizing poverty of his youth