Weekly Meanderings, 25 March 2017

9781587433948David Gibson, Princeton Theological Seminary and Tim Keller:

(RNS) Faced with mounting criticism for its decision to give a major award to the Rev. Tim Keller, founding pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan and one of the country’s best-known conservative Christian thinkers, Princeton Theological Seminary has reversed course and said Keller will not receive the honor.

In an email to faculty and students on Wednesday morning (March 22), the president of the venerable mainline Protestant seminary, the Rev. Craig Barnes, said he remains committed to academic freedom and “the critical inquiry and theological diversity of our community.”

But he said that giving Keller the annual Kuyper Prize for Excellence in Reformed Theology and Public Witness – named after a famous Dutch neo-Calvinist theologian – might “imply an endorsement” of Keller’s views against the ordination of women and LGBTQ people.

Barnes said the seminary would not award the Kuyper Prize to anyone this year.

But he said that after he and Keller talked, and after discussions also with the chairs of the Kuyper Committee and the Board of Trustees, Keller had agreed to deliver the annual Kuyper Lecture on April 6 as planned.

“We are a community that does not silence voices in the church,” Barnes wrote. “In this spirit we are a school that can welcome a church leader to address one of its centers about his subject, even if we strongly disagree with his theology on ordination to ministry. Reverend Keller will be lecturing on Lesslie Newbigin and the mission of the church – not on ordination.”

Adam and the Genome

Obamacare remains. It takes a lot more time than this to get our lawmakers to come to reasonable agreements on major changes. President Trump may be the president but he’s not (yet) the leader of the nation or the leader of the leaders in DC.

House Republicans scrapped a vote on their health care replacement plan on Friday after defections from both the right and center that made it clear the bill would not pass.

“Obamacare is the law of the land. It is going to remain the law of the land,” House Speaker Paul Ryan admitted shortly after he pulled the bill. “We’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future. I don’t know how long it’s going to take us to replace this law.”

Ryan may have admitted defeat, but President Trump chalked it up to a “learning experience.” Trump also tried to spin the setback as an opportunity for a potential “bipartisan” bill in the future.

“Both parties can get together … and have a better bill,” he said, adding, “Having bipartisan would be a big, big improvement.”

But Trump and Ryan both said health care is being put on the shelf for the time being. They’re moving on to tax reform.

Way to go Tim Mackie:

HT: AG

Ina Jaffe:

Most baby boomers say that they plan to keep working past conventional retirement age. But to do that, they have to get hired first. New research shows that can be harder when you’re older.

The study was conducted by David Neumark, who is a professor of economics at the University of California, Irvine, and two other economists. They sent out 40,000 resumes for thousands of real jobs. The resumes for any given job were identical except for age.

“The call-back rate — the rate by which employers contact us and say we’d like to interview you — drops from young applicants to middle-aged applicants and drops further from middle-aged applicants to older applicants,” Neumark says.

He also found the results were worse for older women than for older men. For women, he says, “the call-back rates dropped by around a quarter when you go from the young group to the middle-aged group. … And they drop by another quarter when you go from the middle-age group to … around age 65.”

Blatant discrimination against older workers is illegal. For example, an employer couldn’t advertise a job saying “people over 40 need not apply.” A 50-year-old law called the Age Discrimination in Employment Act prevents that.

Bumble bee concerns:

By Laura Zuckerman

The rusty patched bumble bee became the first wild bee in the continental United States to gain federal protection on Tuesday when it was added to the government’s list of endangered and threatened species.

The bee, once widely found in the upper Midwest and Northeastern United States, was listed after U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration lifted a hold it had placed on a plan for federal protections proposed last fall by the administration of former President Barack Obama.

Bumble bees are key pollinators of crops such as blueberries and cranberries, and are almost the only insect pollinator of tomatoes in the United States, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Conservation groups that had called for the new classification welcomed the move.

“The listing helps mediate threats for this species and for all of those other animals out on the landscape that are suffering similar setbacks,” Rich Hatfield, senior biologist at the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, said by phone on Tuesday.

The rusty patched bumble bee, or Bombus affinis, is one of 47 varieties of native bumble bees in the United States and Canada, more than a quarter of which face risk of extinction, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Naming the clouds, with Sean Rossman:

The world’s cloud authority, having not classified a new cloud in three decades, arose Thursday to name about a dozen new types, including a rolling, slalom-like form known to blanket the Iowa sky.

The asperitas cloud is among the stars of the World Meteorological Organization’s scarcely published International Cloud Atlas. A new version of the atlas, last published in 1987, was unveiled on Thursday, World Meteorological Day.

Adding asperitas to the atlas’ about 100 cloud combinations was the work of the world-wide Cloud Appreciation Society. Photos of asperitas clouds “captured the popular imagination around the world,” noted the WMO. The society’s website said they proposed the asperitas back in 2008 after receiving photographs from its members across the world. CAS first learned of asperitas clouds in 2006, when a reader sent in a stunning image of one from Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

“Asperitas was first identified with the help of citizen science, enabled by modern technology,” said Cloud Appreciation Society Founder Gavin Pretor-Pinney. “When Cloud Appreciation Society members send us photographs of dramatic skies from around the world, it is possible to spot new patterns.”

European uncertainties:

By Peter Apps

March 2017 is an uncomfortable time to be a European. Almost wherever you look, traditional certainties are unraveling in the face of a perfect storm of crises.

This week Britain will trigger Article 50, firing the starting gun on its departure from the European Union. A second referendum on Scottish independence will likely follow, with speculation growing that Northern Ireland might now be more open to leaving the UK and joining with the Irish Republic.

In Holland, right-winger Geert Wilders and his Freedom Party may get the largest share of the vote in the general election, even though the collaboration of more mainstream Dutch parties will likely keep Wilders out of power. In France, Marine Le Pen and her National Front will almost certainly finish second in the first round of presidential elections this spring, although centrist Emmanuel Macron looks set to beat her in the second round.

Further east and north in Europe, worries about an increasingly assertive Russia still dominate. Sweden this month announced it is reintroducing conscription – abolished in 2010 – to bolster its military against the perceived threat from Moscow. Finland – which has maintained it throughout – is conducting military exercises aimed at pushing back against hybrid warfare techniques. In the Baltic states, NATO is in the midst of its largest European deployment since the Cold War.

Nor has the crisis for the European single currency gone away – indeed, having struggled along ever since the financial crisis of 2008, it may be entering a new and volatile stage. The next Italian election – perhaps as soon as June – could well hand the balance of power to political parties hostile to remaining in the currency bloc, which many Italians blame for years of slow growth and rising unemployment.

Not everything is collapsing quite as fast as naysayers might suggest.

What’s your favorite dog?

By Laila Kearney | NEW YORK

The friendly, and often clumsy, Labrador retriever has retained its long held title as the most popular dog breed in the United States, while the fearless Rottweiler has climbed to its highest ranking in 20 years.

The nation’s most sought after dogs of 2016 were unveiled in New York City on Tuesday by the American Kennel Club, a purebred dog registry that releases a list of top dog breeds each year.

Labrador retrievers, commonly called “labs,” have held their slot as the most popular breed for each of the past 26 years, making them the longest reigning leader of the pack.

“Labs, they’re just great with people; they’re great with everyone,” said Theresa Viesto, who breeds labs in her hometown of Newtown, Connecticut, and is registered with the Club. “You never hear about a lab getting into a dog fight.”

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