Compassion for Child Abandonment

subway baby

I've been rooting for the cops to not catch the mother who abandoned her baby in a NYC subway station.  Turns out they did, and she's facing a felony charge for abandonment of a child.The reason I'm feeling queasy about the trial is the poor incentives it creates for desperate parents.  Given her limited options, the woman picked a pretty good place to leave a child.  I can see the logic in picking a busily trafficked subway platform where there would be a slew of witnesses to see you push a … [Read more...]

Fixing Fights in Ireland

irish catholic talk

I had a great time speaking at the offices of The Irish Catholic this past week on tactics for having better fights about religion.  It also wound up being written up for The Irish Times by Breda O'Brien.  The video is now up on, plus, I've embedded it below:Often, here on the blog, I talk mostly about tactics for online fights, but, during the talk and the Q&A, more of the focus was on engineering productive conversations between small groups or even pairs of people, rat … [Read more...]

Getting Sucker Punched by Satan [Pope Francis Bookclub]


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.In this week's chapter from Open Mind, Faithful Heart, Pope Francis is discussing the danger of punching down (in slightly more highfalutin language). For those experiencing tribulation, the great temptation is fatigue.  The constan … [Read more...]

A Bible for Reading, Not Studying

bible binding

I don't own any copy of the Bible that's particularly enjoyable to read.  I have a massive study edition from my days in Directed Studies, that's much too heavy to carry anywhere casually.  I could use any number of online Bible websites, but it's hard for me to give the text the kind of focus I'd like when I'm in a context I don't use for long, focused reading.  The place where I'm most likely to encounter scripture in a format I enjoy reading is in the selections incorporated into the Divine Of … [Read more...]

Reworking my relationship with John the Baptist


Since I was on holiday in Ireland, I prorogued picking my next Saint for the month until now, and, this time, I drew a familiar face: John the Baptist.I knew this saint from before my conversion (unlike poor Blessed Scammacca who I'd never heard of before drawing him from Jen's generator), and he's already helped me out once.  When I was on College Jeopardy, one of the categories in the first round was "New Testament Places" and I deliberately avoided the column, figuring I knew nothing … [Read more...]

“Piddle Twiddle and Resolve!”

Happy Fourth of July! … [Read more...]

Dispatches from Irish Prisons, Pubs, etc


--- 1 ---   My favorite part of my trip to Ireland avec ma mère occurred on our last full day when we visited Kilmainham Gaol, a prison built in the Benthamite style and used to incarcerate (and execute) many of Ireland's most famous political prisoners.  As you can see above, the panopticon design of one of the prison's wings lets guards observe all of the prisoners as easily as possible.The museum and tour were excellent.  I wish I'd gone earlier in the trip, since this was the stop that … [Read more...]