Mind Continuing this Argument in a Counterfactual World?

01Crisis on Infinite Earths

Cass Sunstein is mounting a defense of historical counterfactuals in The New Republic.  At their simplest (and, he would argue, most useful), they are baked into the entire historical discipline: Yet the most fundamental problem is that Evans does not grapple sufficiently with the fact that historians do not only offer narratives; they also offer explanations. They say that some event—the rise of Nazism, the Vietnam war, the election of Ronald Reagan, the attacks of 9 / 11—had particular causes. … [Read more...]

If Someone Put Me in Charge of Yenta-ing You All…

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Prompted by our discussion of modern dating, PEG has offered his thoughts on how to build a better model for dating and discerning marriage: Frankly, what is needed is a way to connect people with similar goals. I did the hedonic thing in college and law school, and at the ripe old age of 21 found out that it was wrecking my soul, and desperately wanted to settle down, but there were no takers for that. It was only sheer random luck (a.k.a. the mighty grace of the Holy Spirit) that threw the … [Read more...]

Finding Fellowship in Exile [Pope Francis Bookclub]

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In 2014, I’m reading and blogging through Pope Francis/Cardinal Bergoglio’s Open Mind, Faithful Heart: Reflections on Following Jesus.  Every Monday, I’ll be writing about the next meditation in the book, so you’re welcome to peruse them all and/or read along.This chapter is called "The Solitude of Prayer" but, as I read Pope Francis's meditations on exile -- the first, individual one, experienced by Adam and Eve, the Babylonian exile endured by the Jews, the state of Christians described … [Read more...]

Fumbling (sometimes productively) with Prayer

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I have an essay up today at Fare Forward on some of my experiences muddling through prayer, while I've been trying to get my Catholic sea legs: Since my conversion, I’ve had a lot of awkward moments at the dinner table. It’s not that I’ve been having awkward conversations about my decision to leave atheism and be received into the Catholic Church. It’s that my friends keep pausing and looking inquisitively me at meals, and then saying, “Should I wait for you to say grace?” If I’m not reminded by … [Read more...]

7QT: The Hat of Scotland and the Sleeves of Me

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--- 1 --- Happy Absence-of-Scottish-Independence Day!  Perhaps you would like to celebrate/mourn by learning more about a famous Scottish monument's famous hat? THIS MY FRIENDS IS THE DUKE OF WELLINGTON STATUE IN ROYAL EXCHANGE SQUARE IN GLASGOW AND YES HE HAS A TRAFFIC CONE ON HIS HEAD NOW LET ME TELL YOU I HAVE LIVED IN GLASGOW FOR 18 AND A HALF YEARS AND NOT ONCE HAVE I SEEN THIS MAN WITHOUT A CONE ON HIS HEAD IT HAS BEEN REMOVED SO MANY TIMES BY THE COUNCIL BUT SOMEHOW IT ALWAYS SEEMS TO … [Read more...]

And You Shall Know the Free Thinkers By Their Cussing?

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Last week, an atheist friend of mine posted a link to Mark Oppenheimer's feature article on misogyny in the atheist movement, sharing a quote and a comment: "Jillette embodies that side of the freethought movement that prizes absolute free speech above feelings."In other words, the only side that enables free thought, period. The Oppenheimer article had written up several instances of alleged sexual abuse or harassment, but Penn Jillette had wound up included in the piece because he … [Read more...]

Debunking the NYT’s Numbers on Contraception

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You may have seen the New York Times's much shared infographic on contraception failure rates, and I'm here -- statistics cop badge in hand -- to tell you that it ain't necessarily so.  There are some huge methodological flaws in the way that the NYT chose to model the risk of unplanned pregnancy over ten years, and I'm explaining just how badly they went wrong at The American Conservative. The NYT generated these graphs by looking only at failure rates for contraception over one year, and then … [Read more...]


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