Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Open Letter on Secretary DeVos' Nomination

This morning I called Indiana Senator Todd Young. I was kicked to voicemail, presumably with the staff overburdened with calls related to things that came up over the weekend. Young is on the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions, so I wanted to speak with him regarding the confirmation hearing for Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. Not able to get through, I left a quick message expressing that I'd like to be contacted to give my concerns.

Since I wasn't able to speak with anyone, I jotted down my thoughts here:

Today President-elect Trump's Secretary of Education pick, Betsy DeVos, is having a confirmation hearing. I have worked in the educational field for nearly twenty years, first in Detroit with a non-profit math enrichment program and then in the educational publishing industry, working with the testing company CTB for a decade. I have an undergraduate degree in physics and a Master's in Mathematics Education, and I have worked with more than a half-dozen states on developing, designing, and writing their mathematics assessments, including two national assessments: the TASC high school equivalency test and the Smarter Balanced Coalition test. For the last two years, I have been working self-employed as a freelancer in educational publishing, with the majority of work that supports me and my family being with testing companies and textbook companies. 
I have two concerns regarding Mrs. DeVos as a potential Secretary of Education.  
First, she seems to be singularly unqualified. She has made statements that make it clear she does not understand educational policy, specifically the Common Core. And when I say she "does not understand," I don't mean that I disagree with her stance on the issue or her conclusion ... I mean that her rhetoric has made it clear that she is fundamentally confused about some of the basic facts related to the defining educational policy of the last 6 years. She appears to think that "local control" means "eliminating the Common Core," but any state that is utilizing the Common Core is doing so because it has chosen to. An educational policy of "eliminating the Common Core" means coming in and imposing federal educational restrictions on the states. It is not clear that she understands this crucial distinction. I would hope that questioning during the confirmation hearing can help clarify her thinking on whether her objective is "returning local control" or "eliminating the Common Core," because you can't do both.  
Nor, for that matter, is it necessarily good policy to do so. Indiana, for example, voted to get rid of the Common Core for partisan political reasons, and had to go through the expense of developing a new set of state standards ... which, not surprisingly, are really just superficial cosmetic changes to the Common Core. The vast majority of the Common Core was retained in the new Indiana standards. I don't complain about this too much, as part of my work over the last year has been working on a math textbook that is designed for the Indiana standards, but as a citizen and taxpayer in Indiana I wish they had just stuck with the Common Core. 
My second concern is that Mrs. DeVos was the head of the All Children Matter PAC, as I understand it. That being the case, I feel that anyone in the committee, or in the Senate, who has received money from that PAC (or from DeVos personally) should recuse themselves from voting on this nomination. Or, at the very least, she should be asked about which Senators she has given money to in the past. 
I'll admit, I have not been particularly political in the past, prior to seeing what happened in this election. Maybe it is normal in Washington for active lobbyists to be appointed to Cabinet-level positions, but mixed with her bizarre lack of educational qualifications and my extensive experience in the field, I find this really a problematic nomination. 
I am not opposed to school choice. I've taught in charter schools in Detroit. I have sent my son to both private and charter schools in the Anderson area, though ultimately we found that the public schools have been a much better fit. I do not oppose school choice, but anyone who is going to support school choice in the role of Secretary of Education has to be committed, first and foremost, to maintaining a quality educational standard in our public education system. Mrs. DeVos does not appear to have demonstrated that commitment.

NOTE: Due to morning brain, I accidentally called Mrs. DeVos "Senator DeVos" in the original title. I've fixed the title, but it's obviously still incorrect in the link. And, of course, since she isn't yet confirmed, calling her even "Secretary DeVos" is a bit premature, but seemed appropriate anyway. So I know all of that ... the e-mails can stop now.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 Books Read

End of the year, so time for my annual accounting of books consumed for 2016!

The 2016 Book List
  1. Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs: The Astounding Interconnectedness of the Universe by Lisa Randall
  2. This Will Make You Smarter by John Brockman
  3. The Koran
  4. A Night of Blacker Darkness by Dan Wells
  5. Sworn in Steel by Douglas Hulick
  6. Procrastinate on Purpose by Rory Vaden
  7. Your Deceptive Mind: A Scientific Guide to Critical Thinking Skills (The Great Courses) by Professor Stephen Novella
  8. Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor
  9. The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert
  10. The Higgs Boson and Beyond (The Great Courses) by Sean Carroll
  11. Geek Heresy: Rescuing Social Change from the Cult of Technology by Kentaro Toyama
  12. Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future by Martin Ford
  13. The Industries of the Future by Alec Ross
  14. Common Sense by Thomas Paine
  15. The Other Side of History: Daily Life in the Ancient World (The Great Courses) by Prof. Robert Garland
  16. Revisionary by Jim C. Hines
  17. Chupacabra's Song by Jim C. Hines
  18. Quantum Night by Robert J. Sawyer
  19. Future Visions: Original Science Fiction Inspired by Microsoft
  20. The History of the Ancient World: From the Earliest Accounts to the Fall of Rome by Susan Wise Bauer
  21. You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day
  22. Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord
  23. There Was No Jesus, There Is No God by Raphael Lataster
  24. The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems ... And Create More by Luke Dormehl
  25. Jesus Did Not Exist: A Debate Among Atheists by Raphael Lataster w/ Richard Carrier
  26. Did Jesus Exist: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth by Bart Ehrman
  27. Answers to Aristotle: How Science and Philosophy Can Lead Us to a More Meaningful Life by Massimo Pigliucci
  28. The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself by Sean Carroll
  29. The Ark: Children of the Dead Earth (Book One) by Patrick S. Tomlinson
  30. Babylon's Ark: The Incredible Wartime Rescue of the Baghdad Zoo by Lawrence Anthony and Graham Spence
  31. Trident's Forge: Children of the Dead (Book Two) by Patrick S. Tomlinson
  32. Jesus Before the Gospels: How the Earliest Christians Remembered, Changed, and Invented Their Stories of the Savior by Bart Ehrman
  33. Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
  34. The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson
  35. The Hero of Ages by Brandon Sanderson
  36. Extraordinary Zoology: Tales from the Monsternomicon, vol. 1 by Howard Tayler
  37. Mr. Monster by Dan Wells
  38. I Don't Want to Kill You by Dan Wells
  39. Partials by Dan Wells
  40. The Devil's Only Friend by Dan Wells
  41. Necessity by Jo Walton
  42. Doing Good Better: How Effective Altruism Can Help You Help Others, Do Work That Matters, and Make Smart Choices About Giving Back by William MacAskill
  43. The Lady Astronaut Club by Mary Robinette Kowal (beta reader of draft edition)
  44. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill (with commentary by Steven Barnes) (re-read)
  45. How Great Science Fiction Works (The Great Courses) by Prof. Gary K. Wolfe
  46. Agent to the Stars by John Scalzi

  • Audiobooks: 26
    • Audio courses: 4
  • Kindle: 13
    • Kindle shorts: 1
  • Google Docs: 1
  • Dead tree books: 6
  • Total Fiction: 22
    • Classics: 2
    • Science Fiction: 8
      • Young Adult: 2
    • Fantasy: 13
      • Horror: 3
  • Non-Fiction: 25
    • Science: 9
      • Physics: 3
      • Psychology: 1
      • Biology: 3
      • Technology: 4
      • Math/Statistics: 1
    • Religion: 8
    • History: 8
    • Politics: 5
    • Education: 1
    • Economics: 5
    • Business: 6
    • Philosophy: 7
    • Humor: 2
    • Writing/Creativity: 2
These numbers don't quite match up, because some books cover multiple areas, and so I've included them in all relevant categories. So, for example, a book on free will would fall in both Psychology and Philosophy (and possibly even Religion) categories.

Similarly, some books I read using Whispersynch-for-Voice to jump between the Amazon Kindle and Audible audiobook versions of the books, so they got double-counted in the format section. I've also included The Great Courses audios that I listen to through Audible.com. Though not actually books, I figure that a 10+ hour course on a subject contains about the same informational content, if not presented structurally in quite the same way as it would take in a written book.

The History

And for anyone who is interested in looking into the past to see some of my previous book lists...
Prior to 2008, I didn't keep a precise running record of the books that I read.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Why I Hope to Vote for Donald Trump in 2020

There has possibly been no political contest in my living history that I have felt more strongly about than this one, so the result that Donald Trump has been elected as President is really devastating. These aren't quite my first thoughts on this, because I had to get up, see my kids off to school, take my youngest to a doctor's appointment ... you know, the stuff of living that actually matters, far more than this political stuff.

But the political stuff matters, too, when people's healthcare, and their family's marital status, or ability to stay in this country, or the integrity of their control over their own bodies are on the line.

At about 10:50 last night, the results were coming in were devastating, and I convinced my wife to go to sleep rather than suffer through hours of stress watching the results come in.

I woke up at 4:00 am (because my phone went crazy with a bizarre series of junkmail texts) and saw that Donald Trump had won ... and could not get back to sleep.

I have been fundamentally wrong at every stage in this election, sure that the Republicans would nominate a reasonable candidate, and then sure that the American people would reject the man they eventually chose. I clearly had too much faith in the American people to make the moral choice - yes, the moral choice - in this election. I was wrong about what America would do.

Now, I find myself in the position of hoping that I am wrong. I truly hope that I'm wrong about the character of Donald Trump, that I have misinterpreted his statements that were strategic attempts to gain support and do not represent his actual views. I hope that he will be a centrist, with conservative economic policies and a concern for individual civil liberties.

I remember reading about President Bush's first advice to Barack Obama:
Trust yourself. And know that ultimately regardless of the day-to-day news cycles and the noise that the American people need their president to succeed, regardless of political party.
We are in the position where Donald Trump, along with the Republicans, have the run of the table. And, as much as I loathe the way he has run his campaign, and indeed his whole life, and the way the Republicans have handled themselves the last 8 years, I cannot wish the government abject failure.

Americans need a government that succeeds. We need economic and tax policies that promote jobs and growth. We need a President who can deftly maneuver the various threats to our national security and national interests.

And, much as I loathe President-Elect Trump's rhetoric during the campaign, I hope he rises to the challenge. I hope that the White House brings out the very best in him, in fact that he leads in such an exemplary fashion that in four years, when he runs for re-election in 2020, it is not primarily among rural white voters that back him, but that he has broad approval among women and African-American, LGBT, urban, and Latino populations, and that he has earned that because his policies are really working, and he's proven himself to be a thoughtful man with deft leadership.

I doubt this will happen ... but I truly have never hoped to be wrong more in my life.

Friday, February 19, 2016

On Scalia: Letter to Dan Coats

In this February 16 interview, Indiana Senator Dan Coats said that he didn't believe President Barack Obama should nominate a replacement for Justice Antonin Scalia. Here is the point he made, in particular:
“I think that ought to be put to the American people and let them decide who they want to be their president and who they want to nominate,” Coats said. “But at that point, that person has to be evaluated in a non-partisan way, in my opinion. Does he have the experience? Does he or she have the criteria to be a justice? The temperament?"
He isn't alone. There's been a slew of this talk from Republicans, and some Republicans have actively broken ranks to say that Congress should do its job, including the definitely-not-pro-Obama Tea Party governor of Maine. While I'm willing to attribute this behavior strictly to political opportunism, and a real fear about losing strong conservative voices on the court, some have attributed far more sinister motives to the call.

The end result of all this, for me, was the following letter to Indiana Senator Dan Coats:
Dear Senator Coats,  
I was disappointed to read today that you had publicly expressed the desire to push off a decision on a Supreme Court nominee until after the election. In the interview you claimed that this was a desire that it "ought to be put to the American people and let them decide who they want to be their president and who they want to nominate."  
It occurs to me that this question has indeed been put to the American people twice, in 2008 and 2012. I voted for President Obama in both cases, but I'm non-partisan, and in each election I seriously considered all of the candidates. I intend to do so again this year, but I will confess that this sort of obstructionism on the part of Republicans is troublesome to me. If Republicans have a hope of winning over enough moderate voters in a general election to win the White House, they have to convince the American people that they can actually govern. 
In this case, that means allowing President Obama - whom the American people decided twice to be their president - to perform his duties for the fourth year of his second elected term. What it seems to me you are actually saying in the above quote is that you feel uncomfortable with the decision the American people made in 2012 and hope they make a different one this year. You are certainly free to be uncomfortable with it, but your Constitutional duty as a Senator is clear. If President Obama puts forth a qualified nominee, and Republicans obstruct it on purely political grounds, I suspect it will cast a very poor shadow on Republican prospects among moderates in the general election.  
I know it will for this moderate.  
Thank you for your time. 
I don't know if this sort of thing ultimately has any impact, but it seems good to have one's voice heard. You can leave a message for Indiana Senator Dan Coats here.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 Books Read

End of the year, so time for my annual accounting of books consumed for 2015!

The 2015 Book List
  1. Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines (reread)
  2. The Martian by Andy Weir
  3. Arctic Rising by Tobias Buckell
  4. Codex Born by Jim C. Hines (reread)
  5. How We Learn: The Surprising Truth About When, Where, and Why It Happens by Benedict Carey
  6. America's Bitter Pill: Money, Politics, Backroom Deals, and the Fight to Fix Our Broken Healthcare System by Steven Brill
  7. Out of My Later Years: The Scientist, Philosopher, and Man Portrayed Through His Own Words by Albert Einstein
  8. Unbound by Jim C. Hines
  9. Abraham Lincoln: A Presidential Life by James McPherson
  10. The Just City by Jo Walton
  11. The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap by Matt Taibbi
  12. The Future of the Mind: The Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empower the Mind by Michio Kaku
  13. Does Santa Exist?: A Philosophical Investigation by Eric Kaplan
  14. Thinking About Cybersecurity: From Cyber Crime to Cyber Warfare by Prof. Paul Rosensweig (The Great Courses)
  15. On the Plurality of Worlds by David Lewis
  16. Terrorists in Love by Ken Ballen
  17. Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton
  18. Beyond the God Particle by Leon Lederman & Christopher Hill
  19. The Android's Dream by John Scalzi
  20. Lock In by John Scalzi
  21. Less Doing, More Living: Make Everything In Life Easier by Ari Meisel
  22. Death of a King by Tavis Smiley
  23. How to Win an Election: An Ancient Guide for Modern Politicians by Quintus Tullius Cicero & Philip Freeman
  24. The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America's Favorite Planet by Neil deGrasse Tyson
  25. Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman by James Gleick
  26. The Clockwork Universe: Isaac Newton, the Royal Society, and the Birth of the Modern World by Edward Dolnick
  27. The Quantum Moment: How Planck, Bohr, Einstein, and Heisenberg Taught Us to Love Uncertainty by Robert P. Crease and Alfred Goldhaber
  28. The Time Machine by H.G. Wells (reread)
  29. The Practicing Mind: Developing Focus and Discipline in Your Life - Master Any Skill or Challenge by Learning to Love the Process by Thomas M. Sterner
  30. Animal Farm [audio dramatization] by George Orwell
  31. The Science of Liberty: Democracy, Reason, and the Laws of Nature by Timothy Ferris
  32. Gemini Cell by Myke Cole
  33. The Evolution of God by Robert Wright
  34. Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes by Maria Konnikova
  35. Finding Your Element: How to Discover Your Talents and Passions and Transform Your Life by Ken Robinson and Lou Aronica
  36. Behavioral Economics: When Psychology and Economics Collide by Prof. Scott Heuttel (The Great Courses)
  37. Scientific Secrets of Self-Control by Prof. C. Nathan DeWall (The Great Courses)
  38. Writing Monsters: How to Craft Believably Terrifying Creatures to Enhance Your Horror, Fantasy, and Science Fiction by Philip Athans
  39. A Beautiful Mind by Sylvia Nassar
  40. Love in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction: A Novel by Judd Trichter
  41. The Death of Ivan Illyich by Leo Tolstoy
  42. Monster by A. Lee Martinez
  43. Heroes and Legends (The Great Courses) by Prof. Thomas Shippey
  44. Forged: Writing in the Name of God - Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are by Bart D. Ehrman
  45. The Philosopher Kings by Jo Walton
  46. Gentlemen Scientists and Revolutionaries: The Founding Fathers in the Age of Enlightenment by Tom Shachtman
  47. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  48. Leviathan Wakes by James A. Corey
  49. The Theological Origins of Modernity by Michael Allen Gillespie
  50. A History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russell
  51. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  52. Among Thieves by Douglas Hulick
  53. The Strange Affair of Spring-Heeled Jack by Mark Hodder
  54. The Sacredness of Questioning Everything by David Dark
  55. Off to Be the Wizard by Scott Meyer
  56. Spell or High Water by Scott Meyer
  57. Islam and the Future of Tolerance: A Dialogue by Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz
  58. The Scorch Trials by James Dashner
  59. An Unwelcome Quest by Scott Meyer
  60. Emperor Mollusk Versus the Sinister Brain by A. Lee Martinez
  61. Fable: Blood of Heroes by Jim C. Hines
  62. How Ideas Spread (The Great Courses) by Jonah Berger

  • Audiobooks: 45
  • Kindle: 10
  • Dead tree books: 10
  • Total Fiction: 25
    • Classics: 4
    • Science Fiction: 12
    • Fantasy: 14
      • Urban/Modern Fantasy: 9
      • Young Adult: 
      • Steampunk: 1
  • Non-Fiction: 37
    • Science: 17
      • Physics: 7
      • Psychology: 8
      • Biology: 1
      • Technology: 2
      • Math/Statistics: 1
    • Religion: 12
    • History: 15
    • Politics: 11
    • Education: 4
    • Economics: 6
    • Business: 2
    • Philosophy: 11
    • Humor: 1
    • Writing: 2
These numbers don't quite match up, because some books cover multiple areas, and so I've included them in all relevant categories. So, for example, a book on free will would fall in both Psychology and Philosophy (and possibly even Religion) categories.

Similarly, some books I read using Whispersynch-for-Voice to jump between the Amazon Kindle and Audible audiobook versions of the books, so they got double-counted in the format section. I've also included The Great Courses audios that I listen to through Audible.com. Though not actually books, I figure that a 10+ hour course on a subject contains about the same informational content, if not presented structurally in quite the same way as it would take in a written book.

The History

And for anyone who is interested in looking into the past to see some of my previous book lists...
Prior to 2008, I didn't keep a precise running record of the books that I read.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Science and the Big Bang Theory: Richard Feynman's van

The Feynman family with the family van.
From its first joke, CBS' The Big Bang Theory has proven adept at mixing humor and science. Many of the science jokes hinge on comprehending the subtleties of quantum physics in the Shrodinger's cat thought experiment (or making a self-aware lack of comprehension), but some are not about scientific concepts themselves, but jokes that focus on the culture of science.

For example, in a previous episode, Sheldon took Amy to a book signing by noted theoretical physicist and author Brian Greene, specifically so that he could heckle Greene for attempting to demystify string theory in a language accessible to the common, non-scientist reader. Science communicators and scientists ranging from Nobel Laureate George Smoot to Bill Nye to Stephen Hawking have made cameo appearances on the show.

In the handful of episodes this season, the direct scientific references have been slim, but there's been one notable scientific cameo. Not by a scientist, though, but by his family van.

Since Leonard and Penny eloped in the last season finale/premiere, the guys hadn't gotten a chance to throw Leonard a bachelor party. To make up for it, they decide to drive down to Mexico (abducting Sheldon to bring him along, although one has to wonder why they would ruin their weekend in this fashion and not just leave him behind). And the vehicle they use for their bachelor party road trip was a van that had belonged to Richard Feynman.

Richard Feynman was the famed CalTech physicist, filling the gap of popular face of physics between the eras of Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking. He worked on the Manhattan Project, was one of the key figures in developing quantum electrodynamics (for which he received the 1965 Nobel Prize in Physics), inspired the fields of nanotechnology and quantum computing, and famously demonstrated the likely reason for the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster with a glass of ice water. Feynman had a big personality, as well, and is as well known for the strange stories about him as for his physics. He became known as a safe cracker at Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project and played bongo drums at strip clubs, to name just a couple of his unusual hobbies.

And his van is, to my knowledge, the only real vehicle that has been repeatedly mentioned in physics books. (The Enterprise and the Batmobile probably have been referenced.)

Though not explained in the episode, Feynman's van is famous in physics circles because of the curious squiggly markings on the outside of the vehicle. These look random, but they're actually diagrams used in physics to describe the quantum interactions of particles. They are, to the physics community at large, called "Feynman diagrams." Though he displayed uncharacteristic humility in avoiding calling them by this name, he was very proud of their creation, as they were a key tool in comprehending the quantum electrodynamics interactions that he had defined mathematically. He was so proud, in fact, that he detailed his van with these Feynman diagrams.

The van was restored recently, and the show note at the end of the episode does indicate that it was actually Feynman's van that was used in the episode, not a replica ... a scientific cultural icon that became part of a popular culture icon. (Despite the events of the episode, we are assured that the real van survives intact.)

Episode 9.3: The Bachelor Party Corrosion
Air date: October 5, 2015

Thursday, April 02, 2015

The Religious Beliefs of Corporate Persons

I still think the Catholics should go with this
more-inspiring sigil for the modern age.
Back in 2012, well before it occurred to me that a corporation could be said to have religious beliefs, I commented on the idea of "corporate personhood."  I focused on this idea at length in that post, but recent events have made it worth looking at again.

Indiana RFRA and Corporations

In the 2010 Citizens United decision, the Supreme Court decided that these corporate entities had the ability for unlimited, unregulated political speech, which can also be made behind a mask of secrecy about the funding sources. And in the 2014 Hobby Lobby decision, it was made clear that, at least for "closely-held corporations," they also had religious liberties.

This was recently codified into law in my home state of Indiana, as part of the controversial Indiana state-level version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which resulted in widespread concerns about discrimination of LGBT members. I happen to agree that the original wording of the law would have given some additional support for this sort of discrimination (which is already legal in Indiana, actually, due to no anti-discrimination protections for LGBT groups).

In comparing the Indiana and federal RFRA statutes, one difference that stands out is Section 7.3. In this section it seems that the Indiana law specifically sets very broad definitions of what sorts of organizations/institutions may make claims of having religious freedoms burdened, broader than the "closely-held corporation" rule from the Hobby Lobby decision:
(3) A partnership, a limited liability company, a corporation, a company, a firm, a society, a joint-stock company, an unincorporated association, or another entity that:
(A) may sue and be sued; and 
(B) exercises practices that are compelled or limited by a system of religious belief held by: 
(i) an individual; or 
(ii) the individuals; 
who have control and substantial ownership of the entity, regardless of whether the entity is organized and operated for profit or nonprofit purposes.
The question this leaves open is whether courts interpret the above wording as applying only to closely-held corporations, as the Supreme Court ruled for the federal RFRA under the Hobby Lobby case. Nothing in the wording above indicates to me any such limitation as being an inherent part of the law, so I think corporations can at least argue that the limitation doesn't apply. If a publicly-traded entity is owned 51% by people who want to invoke a claim under RFRA, it would seem like it should be allowed under this wording. A non-closely-held corporation that wants to exercise these sorts of religious interests is free to, at least, make the argument that they should be able to under the Indiana RFRA, in a way that they couldn't under the federal RFRA.

This is followed up by the other major difference between this legislation and others, which is Section 9:
Sec. 9. A person whose exercise of religion has been substantially burdened, or is likely to be substantially burdened, by a violation of this chapter may assert the violation or impending violation as a claim or defense regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity is a party to the proceeding. If the relevant governmental entity is not a party to the proceeding, the governmental entity has an unconditional right to intervene in order to respond to the person’s invocation of this chapter.
It seems that when applying the federal RFRA, there has been dissent within the courts about whether protected religious liberty can be claimed in a private dispute between individuals or not. The clear and unquestioned intended goal of RFRA was to provide defense of religious activity from government regulation, from what I can tell. Its use of the phrase "and obtain appropriate relief against a government" can be interpreted as restricting its claims to those of the government, or of including the government among those relief can be sought from. Different circuits have ruled different ways in this.

The wording of the Indiana law under Section 9 makes it explicitly clear that protections of religious liberty can be invoked in disputes between private individuals ... which, in conjunction with Section 7.3, would seem to mean that corporations can invoke religious liberty defenses in completely private disputes.

Against Corporate Personhood

This attribution is false, but I like the quote
and don't feel like changing the graphic.
Here's how I, as a small business owner of a sole proprietorship that operates without corporate protections and have looked into whether I need those protections, view the way a corporation functions:
A corporation is an entity that is used to perform an act on behalf of an individual or individuals, in a way that isolates the individual from harm. Should an individual attempt to use a corporation to perform an act, retribution strikes the corporation rather than the individual. The corporation may be terminated only by bankruptcy or willful dissolution, but is otherwise immortal. Even if terminated in this way, it may pass its essential essence along to another entity which, in most particulars, may function as essentially identical to the original entity in service of the owner. The person behind the corporation is unharmed, except by the inconvenience of having to create a new entity.
Gamers and fantasy readers will recognize this:
It is a construct of some kind, possibly a necromancer's undead minion, a golem, a wizard's homoculous, or some other kind of summoned/crafted proxy creature. In Shadowrun, it would be Rigger's robotic drone (or a corporation, since they have those in Shadowrun too).
So, essentially, we now have immortal non-human entities with the ability to amass wealth for unlimited political speech and able to invoke religious beliefs in disputes with other people and corporations.

I do not think this is a good outcome.

Because, simply put, corporations are not people.

The corporation does not, as a corporation, possess the ability to have a religious belief or conviction, it can only express the religious beliefs and convictions of the owners. Any claim to religious liberty, and the ability to exercise religious liberty, is only as a second-hand consequence of the rights held by the individual who runs the corporation. Those rights are protected for the individual, and may be protected as expressed through a corporation, but the corporate entity itself does not possess those rights.

There may be many perfectly valid reasons for supporting the broad freedom of corporations to serve as the means of expressing personal liberties held by their owners, but corporate personhood is not among them.

You'll hear all kind of people quoting nonsense about how corporations are people, but this diminishes the richness and complexity of what it means to be a person. It is offensive in every way, and as a rhetorical tool needs to end.