Weekly Digest: The Price of Gambling
Plus new Richard Reeves videos, what women want, and other pieces of note from around the web
Welcome to my weekly digest for January 5, 2024, with the best articles from around the web and a roundup of my recent writings and appearances.
If you haven’t yet, please don’t forget to pre-order a copy of my book, Life in the Negative World: Confronting Challenges in an Anti-Christian Culture. I really need to you pre-order to help make the book a success - and you get free bonus material if you do.
In response to my article this week on the evangelical resistance, a couple people reached out to say that the “Outliers” group I mentioned was a book club. (Did the name come from Malcolm Gladwell’s book?) I don’t know for sure if this is accurate but if it is, this would explain why there was a pre-existing group in Fall 2015.
Richard Reeves Short Videos
Richard Reeves, author of the book Of Boys and Men, and president of his new non-profit the American Institute for Boys and Men, has put out a series of short videos talking about various aspects of the challenges facing boys and men. Here are a couple of them.
What Women Want
A friend of mind subscribes to the newsletter of IYKYK Dating, which bills itself as “Bridging the gap between the Church and Single Christians.” It appears to be primarily aimed at women but has a men’s newsletter as well. I know virtually nothing about it, but you can read this profile of founder Mel New. My friend forwarded me a copy of her latest newsletter, which says:
Your female friends will do their best to tell you guys what women want, but they aren’t giving you the full message. They’ll tell you that they’re looking for a Godly, selfless, nice, and emotional guy.
Some of these things are certainly attractive, but they paint an incomplete picture. Many women will never tell you that they are also attracted to dominance, confidence, financial security, leadership, status, physical fitness, and killer ambition. For many Christian women, it sounds bad if they say they want these all these traits, so they don’t reveal this side of female nature. For others, they are simply unaware that they are hyper attracted to these traits because a lot of female attraction is unconscious to female themselves.
Regardless, make sure you bring the full package my dude. You need to embody the stuff women say they want and the stuff they will never reveal to you (even though, I just did. You’re welcome by the way).
It’s interesting to see a female dating coach making many of the same points I made back in newsletter #17 on the basis of attraction.
The Problem With Sports Betting
You don’t hear Christian activists or pastors talking much about gambling these days. But people on the left are actually raising alarms about it. Ben Krauss, writing for Matthew Yglesias’ newsletter, devoted a recent piece to arguing against being able to place bets on your phone.
Having a highly addictive vice like mobile sports gambling sitting in your pocket all day is a real problem. Since 2018, $220 billion has been wagered in legal sports books, with the annual total increasing by an average of 22% year over year. And with all that easily accessible gambling, addictions have increased.
In New Jersey, calls to gambling addiction hotlines doubled in the four years after legalization. In Michigan, calls doubled in just a month. The Gambling Helpline Network received over 270,000 calls in 2022 nationwide, a 45% increase from the previous year.
In a Slow Boring piece last year, Milan outlined a pretty strong case against the legalization of gambling as a whole, arguing that the cost of addiction really isn’t worth the revenue. But as we’ve seen over the past five years, and as he admits at the end of the piece, the cat is really out of the bag. We can’t reasonably expect for public outcry to lead to sports gambling to be outlawed again. Sixty-six percent of the public wants to keep the practice legal, and honestly, I’d like to keep tossing $10 long-shot bets every once in a while.
What we need is to diminish its accessibility and cultural salience.
He linked to a Guardian piece from last month called “‘We’re killing the youth of America’: calls grow for crackdown on US gambling.”
Placing a bet in the US has never been easier. Access to legal gambling, once confined to casinos and racetracks, now sits in millions of pockets across the country. Smartphones “made all avenues available to all people”, said Brad Ruderman, of the Beit T’Shuvah treatment center in Los Angeles, California. “This is the first generation where this is normal.”
Gambling is “getting to be a younger activity”, Ruderman observed. As brains do not typically finish developing until people reach their mid-20s, those placing bets before this point cannot fully process the associated risks, he said. “They’re very susceptible to dopamine, endorphin rushes.”
But with digital sportsbooks now live and legal in more than two dozen states, the authorized market is far more visible – and its leading operators are thriving. Americans wagered a record $93.2bn on legal sportsbooks last year, according to the industry, which says that cash-strapped states received some $13.5bn in taxes from the wider sector, including land-based sites like casinos, as a result.
It’s very curious that gambling has basically fallen off the radar of the American church just as it is becoming a major social problem and becoming ever more predatory.
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Best of the Web
WSJ: Stay-at-Home Girlfriends Are Having a Moment - Sugar Babies 2.0: “Before she met her ex-boyfriend, who ran his own company, she earned money modeling and making OnlyFans subscription-based content.”
The Atlantic: Why parents struggle so much in the world’s richest country - The article of this piece makes some valid points about the US’s lack of support for parents. But it ignores the #1 cause of difficulty in parenting in America: single parent households, of which we have the highest share in the entire world.
First Things: From Occupy to Wall Street
At the outset, Occupy Wall Street had a genuinely oppositional character. Though some in positions of power may have sympathized with its message, the movement enjoyed no institutional support from the mainstream political parties or their closely related NGOs and foundations. But it seems the system has learned to head off “anti-system” movements by funding oppositional stances less threatening to the one percent. In the summer of 2020, the Democratic Party held its first convention at which, as the Washington Post put it, the party “fully embraced the imagery and themes of the Black Lives Matter movement.” Many state-level Democratic Party websites have sections devoted to Black Lives Matter. In the summer of 2022, the Democratic Party unveiled a “Transgender Bill of Rights.” Though Democratic Party leaders in 2011 had to signal support for Occupy to shore up their base, ultimately the movement was shut down by riot police. Black Lives Matter and transgender activism, by contrast, can be embraced. It’s not hard to see why. Neither one materially threatens the interests of the financial and corporate establishment that funds the major political parties, as the Occupy movement in its initial form undoubtedly did.
The transformation of “oppositional” movements into fully funded constituents of the mainstream center-left has resolved a longstanding tension in American and international politics.
New Content and Media Mentions
I was also a guest on the Throwing Mountains podcast talking about self-mastery and more.
New this week: