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Weekend Reads 10/10/20

How COVID Kills the Economy

If you used to work in an office with large numbers of other people and you can accomplish that work at home, many people now do that in order to cut down on potential exposure. This is a perfectly reasonable precaution that has nothing to do with a “lockdown.”

But working from home has downstream effects. For instance, there is an entire economic ecosystem of goods and services designed around high concentrations of office workers in urban and suburban settings.

US states stopped their pandemic social restrictions too soon

Most states started relaxing these rules in late April. But as the authors note, they did so without the capability of controlling infections through other means. "Relaxation of such measures is intended to be accompanied by appropriate behavioral practices (e.g., mask-wearing and physical distancing) and control measures (e.g., contact tracing and increased availability of testing), so that epidemic control can be maintained," they wrote. Given that testing capacity was limited and flouting of behavioral practices were widespread, that simply wasn't possible.


I don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus

Years later, I was stunned to realize that this phrase “personal relationship,” which saturated my religious upbringing, does not come from the Bible. Nor does the Bible ever instruct me to “invite Jesus into my heart as my personal Savior.

”I’m not saying that these expressions don’t hold value.  But as I struggle through week after week of coronavirus-induced isolation, connecting with fellow Christians only on screen or by phone, I wonder if contemporary Christianity’s emphasis on personal religious experience has more to do with Ameri­can individualism than it does with the Bible or with Christian tradition.

Facebook is banning political ads ... after the election

There’s a lot a political ad ban doesn’t do — it doesn’t stop politicians from lying in ads in the days leading up to the election, and it doesn’t stop giving political campaigns the ability to hyper-target ads to tiny groups of voters with very specific messaging. (Microtargeting makes it super easy to precisely target negative and misleading ads to certain voters, and it makes it harder for opponents and other groups to know those ads are out there and counter them.) Plus, banning political ads after the election doesn’t solve the, you know, before-the-election problem.

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