When’s the last time I spoke to a *real* adult?

modern family-wallpaper5

This weekend, when I was hosting a debate on "R: Send Your Children to Public Schools" one of the speakers said she thought the most destructive assumption of the public school system was that children should all be partitioned into same-age groups, moved about in those sets, and that any cross-age interaction is abnormal and disruptive.  (I'll note that this tends to hold for most non-public schools as well).  Critics of homeschooling tend to bring up worries about "not being socialized" but, a … [Read more...]

Finding Fellowship in Exile [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.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...]

Endless War without a Proving Peace

Still from Restless Heart, the Augustine biopic

My parish here in DC is very lucky because, now that the summer's over, we get to have Adult Sunday School after the 9am Mass with two of the Dominican friars from the House of Studies.  The new semester started this past Sunday, and the first topic was just war theory.  The Dominican who presented melded encyclicals, excerpts from the Catechism, Ecclesiastes, as well as the writings of Aquinas and Augustine.  He cited this passage from chapter 12 of my patron saint's City of God: Whoever gives … [Read more...]

Charity for Society’s Canaries


After Robin Williams's suicide, SlateStarCodex wrote a thoughtful meditation, and I'd like to highlight one of the points he wound up making.  Scott works in mental health, and he wound up discussing the idea of "being a burden" and pointing out that this isn't an intrinsic fact about a person, but the result of who they are and how their society relates to them. Society got where it is by systematically destroying everything that could have supported him [a patient] and replacing it with t … [Read more...]

Purity, Anxiety, and Effective Altruism

mark for Vetta pse jane

During the past weekend, I got into a conversation with some folks about the knock-on effects of getting involved with effective altruism (and outlets like GiveWell).  Effective Altruism, at core, is the attempt to make sure your charity dollars are spent effectively.  For a long time, people tried to just use "overhead" as a proxy for effectiveness, since a group that mostly spends your money on its own salaries and office spaces isn't doing a very good job.GiveWell takes a much more d … [Read more...]

Parallel Meltdowns at Burger King


There's been a (possibly apocryphal) story flying around the interblags about a confrontation between a man and a child.  In the anecdote, the man is waiting in a long line at a Burger King and becomes more and more frustrated with the tantrum-throwing child in line behind him, who kept shrieking for an apple pie.So, when he finally got to the front of the line, the man bought all of the apple pie snacks in stock, and lingered to watch the meltdown when the mother and kid found out that t … [Read more...]

What’s the Difference between Forgiveness and Self-Deception?

repairing vase

An atheist friend of mine recently posted the following question to Facebook (and gave me permission to reprint it here):I don't think I grok forgiveness in the absence of Catholicism. I keep trying to imagine what I might mean if I asked someone to forgive me. I certainly wouldn't ask anybody that they purposefully have poorly calibrated beliefs about me, or that they have emotions poorly calibrated to their beliefs. The best I've got at the moment is "please keep in mind that decision … [Read more...]