If you can’t take the heat, turn into a tardigrade!

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent" is a quote that is frequently attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt (without sourcing). I found it for the first time while I was in middle school in a Dear Abby column and adopted it as a mantra until some point in college.  This can be a helpful coping strategy, especially in middle school, but I was definitely too enthused about it.I flashed back to my younger self when I read Ted Seeber's comment on my post about the campaign against Jen … [Read more...]

Ave atque vale, Jen McCreight

Jen_McCreight_Boobquake_2010

After enduring a coordinated, relentless campaign of harassment, Jen McCreight of Blag Hag is done.  She's just posted her farewell message at Freethought Blogs. I love writing, I love sharing my ideas, and I love listening to the ideas of my readers. But I simply no longer love blogging. Instead of feeling gleeful anticipation when writing up a post, I feel nothing but dread. There a group of people out there (google the ironic term FtBullies to find them) devoted to hating me, my friends, and … [Read more...]

Welcome JT Eberhard to Patheos!

JT Eberhard, formerly of FreeThought Blogs and the Secular Student Alliance is moving to Patheos today!And given that he's already lit into Timothy Dalrymple before he moved, I imagine it will be a high-spirited housewarming party.  So, before the punch bowl gets overturned, I would like to propose a toast (not that kind!).JT did great work for the Secular Student Alliance.  (And, honestly, for Christians as well).  The kind of tradition that needs to graft itself onto the public schools … [Read more...]

The Virtue of an Almost Right Solution

Square Peg in a Round Hole

Earlier today, in my final Sondheim post, I was writing in praise of the grotesque.  This post is on the same topic, but I'm code-switching a bit and doing it a more analytic, not aesthetic framework.  Over at LessWrong, there's a great illustration of how positive bias works: I am teaching a class, and I write upon the blackboard three numbers: 2-4-6. "I am thinking of a rule," I say, "which governs sequences of three numbers. The sequence 2-4-6, as it so happens, obeys this rule. Each of you w … [Read more...]

Teaching Fish the Word for Water

In the last Sondheim Symposium post, I talked about Giorgio struggling with Fosca's implacable love.  If his reluctance to accept her unconditional love parallels the flinch away from grace, does it follow that Fosca is a Christ-like figure?Probably not.  For a while after I saw the show, I suspected her of ostentatious humility.  In fact, I hoped that some of her prostrations were insincere.  She was starting to remind me of the awful, self-abnegating image of love on display in "Unworthy of … [Read more...]

Who Gets to Give the Courtier’s Reply?

blackadder courtier

How fortuitous that the same day I asked people to trust me and do the reading, Yvain (who you may remember from the Natural Law post that launched a thousand ships) has written a post examining the usefulness of the Courtier's Reply.  You should read the whole thing, but I'm going to cut and paste for a blockquote: In other words, any version of the Courtier's Reply strong enough to shut down people who want you to spend the rest of your life reading about reptilian British monarchs is also st … [Read more...]

The Danger of Cheap Shots

I was chatting with some Catholic friends, and (as happens more and more frequently as the election approaches) the subject of Mormons came up.  Which means you can pretty much set an egg-timer until someone says, "Not to mention magic underwear!"(I think in this case the elapsed time was about a minute thirty.  There's never an egg timer around when you need one.)The 'magic underwear' crack is pretty common (it's the featured visual on the billboards American Atheists are putting up for … [Read more...]


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